Rediscovering Melbourne

Great title, no? I’ll come up with something snappier as the days progress but for now, this will do. After arriving in Melbourne, we got to our apartment and found that it would not be available until after lunch (we landed in Melbourne around 8:30 AM), so we dropped off our bags and headed down the street to look around, and find some lunch. My first observation of being in Melbourne for just a short time. It was the same, but different.

We found a place to eat called “Alpha Cafe” which had an incredibly good Pumpkin and Pesto soup, and our first “latte” since being in Oz. Both were very pleasing. After we wandered around a little in the city, we headed back to our apartment to check in and get settled (and most importantly get a shower).

After wandering around a little more and reacquainting ourselves with some of the stores in the area, we meet up with my friend Richard for a drink over at the new Federation Square. One word describes this place for me, “Wow!” Where Federation Square is now, used to be an old railway station called “Princes Station” and as I later came to find out was where these two horrible looking buildings built in the 50’s were (the Gas buildings). Now it is a vibrant square with a totally modern look that appears to be a very popular place for people to meet and hang out.

After a couple of drinks with Richard, our friend Tony made an apppearance and we headed off to dinner and to catch up. We ate at the “Chocolate Buddah” (a noodle bar / Japanese style place), and the food was really good. The evening was getting a little cooler, but sitting out on the patio under the heaters was extremely pleasant and we had great company, so what did it matter.

At this point, I think I calculated that we’d been awake (for the most part) for approx. 48 hours and we were ready to crash, and after walking back to our apartment that is exactly what we did.

Following the yellow brick road

It’s been a while since I blogged, and I had hoped to blog more as I prepared for our journey back to Oz, but alas this did not happen. So in an effort to make up some lost ground, I am using my time (at 6:30 in the morning) wisely.

So for those that don’t know, Chris and I are in Australia for our vacation and to visit with family. It’s hard to comprehend that it has been just on 9 years since I was last home, which is another reason why I was prompted to blog.

After having our first flight cancelled, we left stormy Dallas on Wednesday. The trip from DFW to Los Angeles was somewhat uneventful, only just long enough that my butt was numb by the time I got on the ground. I’m not sure why, but I’m always more nervous when flying American Airlines, and I’m not sure if that is because they really just don’t care about their job (“we are here for your safety” (i.e. not customer service)) or if it is something else.

Arriving in LAX we were greeted with the hustle and bustle of people running trying to make connecting flights (our flight was late, and people had paper-thin margins of time to get to their next flight). We headed over to the Tom Bradley International airport to check in for our flight, and the way we got there was by shuttle that ran across the tarmac. I thought Chris was going to pee himself … he was that close to the planes. TBI is going through major renovations, so we arrived at a location that had wires hanging from the ceiling, and the air conditioning running at 300% (it was perky). We grabbed some dinner at The Daily Grill (quite good for airport food), and watched the few people with face masks wander around downstairs. We also took advantage of grabbing some duty-free booze, which was actually a bright thing to do, and then headed over to the gate for our flight.

On board the A380 we were really impressed with the layout, the style and the staff of Qantas 94. The plane was not completely full, and Texas Eric was able to keep his own seat between Chris and I. The “380” is very well designed for the traveller. The seats are more comfortable (although after 14 hours, the butt does start to wonder what it ever did wrong to you to deserve this), and the personal entertainment system was brilliant. It even has the option of Sky Cam (which is not that exciting when you fly during the middle of the night for most of the night) which was great when we departed and landed, and pretty awesome when we were coming in for landing. Chris even snapped a video of the landing (post link) through the eye of the Sky Cam. The food was pretty good, and the new ‘Q bar’ is actually a very clever idea, as it gives you the opportunity to get up and wander, and get a drink or snack when needed. It seems to have kept the aisles clearer than other flights I have been on, as the staff only have to do a couple of trolley runs for the main meals.

After landing, we got through immigration (Chris actually took the same amount of time as me to get through, even though we were in separate lines), and then we had to wait a while for our bags and then to clear customs. Then we both walked through that sliding door, and we knew that we had made it home to cold Melbourne.