Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello Melbourne!

Melbourne has all sorts of interesting buildings like the Flinders Street Station which sells very expensive umbrellas when the skies suddenly decide that yes, in fact they would like to pour rain over everything even though we thought we were out for a nice stroll.

We walked along the river to the Botanical Gardens.

If you look at a map, there are the This Gardens and the That Gardens and then also the Royal Botanical Gardens and perhaps it's a matter of jurisdiction or Intent (it appeared that the Alexandra Gardens were about, I don't know, water conservation? Something like that) but I couldn't quite figure out why all these separate Gardens, let alone the boundaries.

All free though.

The actual Gardens were gorgeous, beautifully maintained and varied.

There was even a photo shoot at an impressive bamboo stand.

Jennica (who came home after three on New Years Eve and had to get up two hours later for our flight) was tired and went back to the hotel to nap, while Stuart and I went to the National Galleries.

The Arts Centre is actually a theatre with the Galleries next door (to the left in the picture above; you can barely see the building) which turned out to be an amazing and utterly unexpected wonderful surprise.

The interior space was incredible - the picture above shows the lobby or entrance area. I can't really tell you what the foreground thing is, sort of an introduction to the place. It has low stools or tables with iPads locked to the Galleries' website so you can see what's there. I suppose.

In the background you can sort of see part of the stained glass ceiling in the hall behind. People were lying on their backs on the carpet and just gazing up.

That was barely a hint of the rest of the vastness.

There's a European section with works by names everyone recognises, all the way from fifteenth century and earlier to Gainsborough and Van Dyck and Van Gogh and Picasso and Rothko and Man Ray. A somewhat brisk stroll through took an hour or more.

There's an Asian section which we really didn't see, a design section with furniture and housewares, a prehistory section with four thousand year old artefacts, and I glimpsed a costume section with what looked like Chinese robes.

And it's free.

After all that we needed some serious chocolate therapy.
Oh yes we did.
I found it interesting that more than half the items on the menu were milk chocolate rather than dark - I guess Lindt plays to their strengths as well as what's popular.
We all needed a bit of a walk and then a rest to recover from that much chocolate.

Around sunset we went on the Melbourne Star.

It moves at a snail's pace, never stopping, and you hop on and off as your cabin reaches the platform at the bottom.

You can't feel any motion and the maintenance of the orientation of the cabin is unnoticeable. There's a bench in the middle of the cabin (which we had to ourselves) and I'm guessing each could accommodate probably thirty people, though more likely they'd allow about half that.

The views would have been spectacular if it wasn't located in the Docklands area and if Melbourne had more in the way of topography.

The whole area was really sad. We'd thought to take a ride and then get dinner, but the place was a deserted wasteland of fast food, video arcades and cheap name brand shops. A huge deserted wasteland, very new and clean and closed and empty.

We ended up returning to the downtown area around the hotel and getting unexpectedly excellent food from a little hole in the wall.


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