on the second leg of our journey, we visited melbourne – the second largest city in australia and the capital of state of victoria. marvelous melbourne, as it is commonly referred to, is famed for its victorian architecture, breathtaking gardens & parks and lovely pedestrian lanes. it is often considered the culture capital of australia.
melbourne is also known to be the food & coffee capital of australia. all kinds of biological / gluten free / vegetarian & vegan meals may be found here. melbournians get their goods & fresh produce at queen victoria market, one of the city’s best hang around spots.
we went to queen victoria market several times, since we were staying in the neighborhood. it felt great to stroll around while buying exotic fruits (and eating it right away!). also, dianne, our hostess in melbourne, informed us that during the summer months every wednesday there is a night market, where you may buy your dinner at the stalls offering street food from across the globe, while enjoying live music.. of course, we went there & had a great time!
unlike sydney (one simply has to compare these two cities), melbourne doesn’t have a splendid harbor. on the other hand, it’s got the yarra river, dividing the city in north & south melbourne. we took a walk down the southern bank of the yarra river on our first day in melbourne, arriving all the way to docklands. we got to admire the fantastic architecture & enjoy the company of dressed-up melbournians!
while walking down the southern bank of the yarra river, we noticed a colorful building on the northern bank, which was definitely dating from the victorian era. that building is flinders street station, the central train station of melbourne, its most famous landmarks and one of the city’s favorite meeting points. generations of melburnians were meeting at the station’s steps or as it is more commonly known “under the clocks”.
in the vicinity of flinders street station is the federation square, one of the newest open spaces, it opened only in 2002. it soon became one of the most frequented spots in melbourne, as it hosts more than 2000 events every year. when we were in melbourne, there were big screens showing the cricket match between austrlia and india (apparently, melbourne is also the cricket capital of australia) and a lot of people were watching the match (while sunbathing in comfy chairs). we even tried to understand the rules of the game, but when our friend told us that the match can last up to five days, we kind of lost interest.
in the introduction of this post, i said that melbourne is known for its parks & gardens, the most famous being the royal botanic gardens. these internationally renowned botanical gardens were established in 1852, on the south bank of the yarra river, where once used to be a swam on the edge of the city. the gardens follow the english garden design and include a mixture of native and non-native vegetation, hosting over ten thousand floral species.
a lot of people asked us which one did we like better, sydney or melbourne. when we first arrived to melbourne, we immediately said we liked it more than sydney, since there were a lot of coffee houses & all kinds of restaurants, the architecture was truly amazing and people were so relaxed. on the other hand, sydney’s got its splendid harbor, as well as several beaches close by. also, when we came back to sydney at the end of our travels, we discovered some areas, which were as relaxed as the ones we encountered in melbourne!
so what i say now is that we liked them both so much. they are both very beautiful cities and they got to us in a different way. in our view, one of them has to exist in order to keep reminding the other one that it can do better.