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September 6, 2008

Melbourne Saturday

Filed under: Australia 2008, Travel — anotherheader @ 11:58 pm

Saturday was our last full day in Australia. We had no particular plans, but found out that there was the yearly, month-long, food and wine festival going on in Melbourne. For the first time Australia, we had unlimited free Internet access and were able to check the event out online. The festival sounded like it was right up our alley, so we wandered around along the Yarra River on a warm, moist day under

Yarra River

Yarra River

partly cloudy skies sampling the slow food and wine offerings. The term “slow food” made us flashback to our dinner at the Universal Wine Bar (UWB) in Adelaide. Somehow, the UWB version of slow food did not seem to be the type thing that would be promoted, so we decided to give the festival a shot. We didn’t come away with any better understanding of what “slow food” actually means (you can check the Wikipedia link at the end for enlightenment), but we knew the food sure was tasty. Before our arrival in Melbourne, we had no notion that a Food and Wine Festival was scheduled. In retrospect, this event is something we would have planned for. Melbourne is quite the food city.

As the day began, we had some thoughts of a day trip to the Yarra Valley to sample the offerings from yet another Australian wine region. Good sense, fears of a post trip visit to rehab, and thinly veiled threats from the BeckBeck navigational system made us come to our senses. Instead, we explored, on foot, the central area of Melbourne that extends along the Yarra River.

Culturally and climate-wise, Melbourne reminds us of San Francisco. Melbourne, unlike San Francisco and Sydney, however, misses the stunning setting geographical setting. The city is on relatively level terrain and its center city is built along the banks of the gently flowing Yarra River. What Melbourne lacks in geography, it more than makes up with interesting architecture and public art works. The density of public art and eye-catching architecture make Melbourne the “Paris” of Australia. Well, at least to us. It’s a tough choice if you had to choose between Australia’s two big cities, Melbourne and Sydney. In some ways they are very contrasting places; both cities have a lot to offer.

An arcade in Melbourne

An arcade in Melbourne

In our wanderings, we had to stop at the Crown Casino, which is located along the Yarra. The Crown Casino is the home of Joe Hachem, WSOP Main Event winner in 2005. I tried my hand at poker, this time on a new fangled electronic machine where 10 players sit around an oval while playing against each other through individual computer monitors. It was not quite like playing through the Internet nor was it like playing with chips and a dealer. It gave me a strange, disembodied feeling while playing. The stakes were low so I was only down a little bit when the system crashed. I guess there are still bugs to be worked out. Fortunately, I was able to cash out my remaining money and return to our Melbourne exploration.

This looks particularly painful

This looks particularly painful

After dinner, we returned to the streets to take some more pictures in the evening amongst the revelers. The bar scene was hoping every bit as much on Saturday night as it was on Friday.

Back in the room, we started packing for our trip back. We were able to get all of the wine into the luggage saving us from a major bender and a massive hangover for our flight back. Shoot, we had space to carry even more wine back in the luggage. And that’s without leaving any of Becky’s (a.k.a., Imelda’s) shoes behind.

The Melbourne's Central Railway Station at night

The Melbourne

Pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/wonderdog1/MelbourneLastDay

Slow Food link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Food

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