#G’dayMelbourne


Getting to the Bangkok airport 62 minutes before our flight to Australia was cutting it much too close for comfort. So close, in fact, that I was tempted to slather on more deodorant in the back seat of the Uber when he finally showed up.

We’ve found that when we book an Uber in Bangkok, the initial time they give for when they will arrive varies from actuality. It always seems to say the wait is seven minutes and then seven minutes later the estimated time jumps all over the place: eight minutes, 12 minutes, seven minutes, 15 minutes. Only about 10 per cent of the time they are actually as far away as the initial estimate.

The Uber we booked to take us to the airport was only “seven” minutes away, what a surprise. More than a half an hour later we were still waiting.

By the time we jumped in we had already begun to think about how we were going to need to rearrange the flight we were sure we were going to miss, our subsequent connection and our hotel. CHA-CHING.

Once at the airport, we ran to the check-in counter. The Emirates agent smiled and said that we just made it with two minutes to spare because they close the counter an hour before the flight. I’m sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.

Thankfully we chose to only go with carry-on for this trip. If we had checked our bags they would never have made it on the plane. And because we had a tight connection to Melbourne once we landed in Sydney, it would have been days before we saw our bags.

Planning to just take carry-on was a bit tricky since the airline has a strict seven kilogram limit. To prepare, we performed a few ‘test packs,’ weighing our bags each time and making alterations. In the end, we had a good selection of clothes, but sadly our laptops didn’t make the cut. So this post comes to you from my phone, which is not the easiest thing to use to tap out paragraphs of riveting content, nor easy to edit, so your understanding of typos and formatting hiccups are much appreciated.

We had originally planned to only visit Sydney and then head on to New Zealand. We added Melbourne at the beginning of our itinerary so we could visit friends from Calgary who spend more than a month in Melbourne each winter.

Having friends who know the city really helped us make the most of our three days in Melbourne.

We rented a one-bedroom, serviced apartment, which was only a ten-minute walk from our friends. One of the first things we noticed was that the sidewalks are wide and smooth, which made traipsing around on foot a breeze. And if we had to go farther than we could walk, we relied on the city’s impressive network of buses, trams, trains and ferries. Similar to Bangkok, payment requires that you have a rechargeable card that you tap when you get on the vehicle and again when you get off. It deducts the appropriate fare for the distance travelled – beyond simple and streamlined – a far cry from the “system” back home in Calgary where visitors need exact change or need to buy individual tickets from limited retailers.

A highlight of our trip to Melbourne was a full-day wine tour in the Yarra Valley. We visited four wineries, tasted what amounted to liters of wine, had a sumptuous lunch and snapped some photos of the stunning valley along the way.

Another day we took a small ferry to Williamston (less than an hour ride) so we could take in a view of the city from the harbour. Once in Williamston, we found a restaurant on the shore that we thought would make for a great pit stop for drinks. The only problem was that it was mid-afternoon and they weren’t open — the staff was just setting up for dinner when we pressed our faces against the window.

Instantly they saw the look of panic in our eye’s and they opened the doors and kept our glasses full for several hours. Now that’s good customer service (oh yeah, and it’s a rarity to tip in Australia!) Bless their Ozzy socks.

That evening we visited the Queen Victoria Night Market — picture every type of food vendor in a semi covered, outdoor food hall that resembles an old bus barn or covered parking lot. The night market happens every Wednesday evening in the summer. The place was PACKED with people of all ages. Large groups of friends and tourists like us. It was like a carnival of food and I found it amazing that they could sustain that level of attendance each week.

The temperature during our stay was in the high teens and low 20s, and the higher than normal winds made it feel fairly cool. Jackets and pants were necessary, especially when we were close to St. Kilda beach. One good thing about the wind was it made for some great moments to watch kite surfers work their magic.

We only just scratched the surface of Melbourne. Not sure if we will make it back this way again, but we feel we got a good, first taste of Australia, which leaves us craving more — now off to Sydney.

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