Day 01: Melbourne City Tour

Finally arrived at Melbourne after a long 7 hours flight at about 7:30AM local time (the country is 2 hours ahead of Singapore). Located in Victoria state (south-east of Australia), Melbourne is the second most populous city in the country with a population of 4,245,345 (as of June 2012). Did you know that Melbourne was the temporary capital of Australia between 1901 and 1927 before Canberra became the capital in 1927. This city is also known as the cultural capital of Australia with its extensive architecture, museums, galleries, and theatres. 

DFS at Melbourne Airport. 
Be sure to grab a copy of the Melbourne Official Visitor Guide before you leave the airport. Lots of useful information and hidden discount deals in the guide!

The city's autumn breeze greeted and welcomed us! 
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The SkyBus take you to and from Melbourne Airport and City (Southern Cross Station). This 20 minutes direct service is conveniently available for 24/7 (including public holidays), each adult ticket is available at AUD17 (one-way)/ AUD28 (return). Not exactly very cheap for a bus ride but there is no cheaper way to get to the city other than this. This is the cheapest way!

If you intend to take a cab, the estimated taxi fare for the same route will be AUD41.53Calculation by Taxi Fare CalculatorHow scarily expensive it is! No wonder this city is ranked among the world's top 20 most expensive cities. Talking about taxi, do you know that for all taxi trips (between 10PM and 5PM) in Melbourne are prepaid (regardless of the taxi company) i.e. you will have to pay the estimated fare to the driver and the exact fare will be calculated at the destination. Interesting.

Anyway, you can purchase your SkyBus tickets in advance online or over at the ticketing counter. Not to worry that you can't find the booth, there is a very big signage to lead you to there!

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Grabbed a quick bite from Pie Face over at Southern Cross Station. Read a lot of good reviews about Pie Face prior to the trip. Not too bad, worth giving it a try! Not exactly very cheap though. Each pie cost about AUD5 onwards. Spot the prince's face below! That's the kind of face you get when you realised a packet of tomato sauce costs you AUD0.55!

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After our quick bite and we were ready to explore the Melbourne's famous tramway system! It has been operating on Melbourne's streets for more than 150 years, is the largest outside Europe and the fourth largest in the world! It stretches along 244km of track and has 450 trams. Impressive isn't?

You will need a myki card (same concept as our Singapore's EZ-link Card or the Hong Kong's Octopus Card) to use the public transports (trains, trams and buses). We bought our myki cards (AUD20 each) from the the 7-Eleven convenience store right over at SkyBus terminal.

If you still have no idea of what tram to take, an tram journey planner is available online here.

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Cosmopolitan Hotel Melbourne. Located in St Kilda, that is about 10 minutes drives off the heart of Melbourne. For the price of AUD90/ night, it comes with complimentary WiFi and parking. Our room was not ready for check-in so we deposited our luggage over at the counter (no extra charges needed) and off we went for our Melbourne City Tour! 

Random street shot while walking towards our first stop from our hotel. Loved the blue sky! 
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First stop was the icon of St Kilda - Melbourne's Luna Park, located just minutes away from our hotel. Established since 1912, the world's oldest amusement park under private management, this amusement park celebrated its first century birthday just last December. Entry to the park is free but the 20 rides require you to purchase a ticket. Such a pity that we didn't get a chance to enter this historic park, it was closed when we were there.

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Right next to the park is Palais Theatre. A former cinema, now functioning exclusively as a concert venue. It is the largest seated theatre in Australia! 

Loved the architecture!
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Next to that is St Kilda Esplanade Art & Craft Market, opens every Sunday morning till evening. It's a long stretch of over 150 stalls that offers a variety of unique handcrafted gifts and souvenirs, buy directly from the artisans that created them.

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It's pretty easy to navigate yourself in the city, all you need is the city's map which can be found in the Melbourne Official Visitor Guide that I mentioned earlier in this post or download a copy of the city's map online here. Otherwise, I believe your smartphone can do the job as well.

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Flagstaff Gardens, the oldest park in Melbourne (established in 1862),  is notable for their archeological, horticultural, horticultural, historical and social significance to the history of Melbourne. The garden is now one of the most visited and widely used parks in the city by nearby office workers and tourists. People are having picnic, reading a book or just chilling at the park. Also witnessed an interesting sport, known as bike polo, at the multipurpose court at the one end of the park.

Loved the autumn leaves! 
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Queens Victoria Market, officially opened on 20 March 1878, is the largest (7 hectares) open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. A major historic landmark, a popular tourist attraction and an shopping institution in Melbourne. There are almost thousand traders in the market sell everything (from exotic Australian fruit and vegetables and local and imported gourmet foods, meat, fish and poultry to lots of other products like hardware, manchester, clothing and authentic Australian artefacts and souvenirs).

We were looking forward to some nice fruits but sadly autumn isn't the season for our favourite berries. The strawberries we saw were even more expensive than Singapore. Anyway, if you are interested you can check what is being produced in the different season on their website here

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The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up with some sleep in the hotel, too drained from the 7 hours flight.. That's our Petite Room (known as Small Double Room on Booking.com) for the first two nights. Our room is indeed petite we can hardly have space to walk after we open up our luggage. Anyhow, other than that everything was good. Definitely recommendable! 

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First night's dinner was settled after our nap at the 24-hour McDonald near to our hotel.

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Information you might be interested in:

SkyBus
http://www.skybus.com.au

Southern Cross Station
99 Spencer Street
Docklands VIC 3008, Australia

Yarra Trams
To find out more about the Melbourne's extensive tram network, Journey Planner, Tram Tracker etc..
http://www.yarratrams.com.au

Melbourne City Map
Available for download:
http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutMelbourne/CityMaps/Pages/CityMaps.aspx

Cosmopolitan Hotel Melbourne
2-8 Carlisle Street
St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
http://www.8hotels.com/melbourne-hotels/cosmopolitan-hotel/
TripAdvisor Reviews

Melbourne's Luna Park
Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
http://www.lunapark.com.au

Palais Theatre
Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
http://www.palaistheatre.net.au

St Kilda Esplanade Market
Upper Esplanade, St Kilda
Located between Fitzroy Street and Acland Street,
beside Luna Park in St Kilda
Opens every Sunday, 10AM - 5PM
http://www.stkildamarket.com

Flagstaff Gardens
309-311 William Street
West Melbourne, VIC 3003, Australia

Queens Victoria Market
Cnr of Victoria St and Elizabeth Street
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Closed on Monday and Wednesday 
http://www.qvm.com.au/

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