royal exhibition building and carlton gardens, no.1131 [australia #5]

the royal exhibition building and the surrounding carlton gardens were designed and built for the 1880 and 1888 international exhibitions. in 2004 they were inscribed to unesco heritage sites’ list, as the representative of the largest events staged in colonial australia, which helped to introduce the world to australian industry and technology. the royal exhibition building is one of the very few remaining buildings from XIX century world exhibitions.

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the royal exhibition building is constructed of brick and timber, steel and slate and it combines elements from the byzantine, romanesque, lombardic and italian renaissance styles. like the majority of exhibition buildings from that period, its aim was to present material and moral progress through displays of industry from all nations.

the building itself is in the northern part of melbourne, away form the CBD and crowded city spaces. it is also close to brunswick street and fitzroy – former student quarters, now up & coming neighborhoods. while we were in the area, we took a walk and checked out numerous caf├ęs & bars, artisans’ workshops and alternative fashion shops. in this neighborhood you can see melbourne in its true colors.

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while i was admiring the building itself, i couldn’t help thinking how the focus of the world’s interest changed with respect to the XIX century and especially in the last decades. the focus of the world’s exhibitions at that time was mainly achievements related to the industrialization, along with art, science and education.

this year, almost 150 years after the melbourne international exhibition, universal exposition (expo 2015) will be hosted by milan, the city i have been living in for seven years. expo 2015 will be held under the theme “feeding the planet, energy for life”. even though i will not be living in milan during the expo, i plan on visiting it. aside from wanting to see what’s new out there, i would like to explore the link between technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity with food and diet. i can say for sure that i would be wondering how these events used to look like in the past, when the focus was totally different. and of course, i will be asking myself what what will be the focus of future world exhibitions.

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marvelous melbourne [australia #4]

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.

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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!

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

australia – not a moment too soon!

oh, december is finally here! – those were my exact thoughts several days ago when i realized that the time for a big trip has come. it’s been more than a year since we started planning this trip – and i cannot believe that in a couple of days we’ll be flying off to the land down under.

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so, how did we get here..

it all started last year when our friends went for a 7-month trip to south america. we started talking how great it would be if we could go for a bit longer trip.. and somewhere as exciting as south america. just for fun, we started discussing the places where we would like to go. my top two were australia & south africa, while tarik talked about canada & australia. since it was in both the lists, we figured it would be australia. as simple as that..

then, of course, we had to figure when to go to there & for how long we can stay. okay, anything less than a month is definitely not worth it, for many reasons.. where do you want me to start – the price of tickets, the distance, or the size of a country.. and when would we want to go – well, in december. we already have plenty of holidays.. and it’s summer there!

so, we started preparing for our trip..
first, we opened a savings account and made a plan to put a certain amount of money every month, so that we don’t come back without a penny!

then, we purchased several guide books & downloaded a couple of documentaries so that we can decide where to go. well, australia is quite big and very soon it became clear to us that we’ll not be able to see all of it and that we would have to narrow it down to several points of interests.

i would like to recommend the documentaries we watched; the first one was “australia with simon reeve”, where we got to see his trip starting from the “red centre”, i.e. the ayers rock, continuing through the northern territories and the great barrier reef, and ending the journey in sydney and melbourne.

the other documentary i really liked was the one prepared by the coast team & neil oliver – “coast australia”. the team visited all the coastal regions of australia: the kimberley, coral coast, victoria, sydney region and of course, tasmania.

and finally, we made a plan: we’ll visit the east coast of australia, the cities of sydney and melbourne, go for a ride on the great ocean road, experience tasmanian wilderness, dive in the waters of the great barrier reef, hike in the blue mountains.. and finally, we’ll spend the new year’s eve looking at the fireworks in sydney.

so, yes.. that’s what we’ll do.. God willing, of course.