A Tale of Two Cities: Part One

Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
Trip End Jul 30, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Thursday, March 17, 2011

We realise we've been rather lax with our blogging recently, but hopefully by the end of this two part extravaganza it will be obvious as to why.

We were met at Melbourne airport by a very jetlagged Alex and an excited and enthusiastic Meighan, Jen's Aussie friend from uni, who took us in her mum's van down a somewhat outback-style track to Carly, Jen's other friend from uni's house.

Despite the jetlag and effects of the lack of sleep we had had in Christchurch airport, we all perked up once we stepped into this amazing mini-mansion, where we were met by Sharon, Glen and Gemma the German Shepherd. Complete with a king-size bedroom each, pool and the biggest fridge we'd seen in 6 weeks, we could tell we were going to like Melbourne!

The girls did well showing us the highlights of this Southern city, with Meighan taking us on a taster tour of the city on day one, complete with her mini collision with a precarious pole in the carpark! Carly enjoyed a rare day off and took us to Ramsey St, aka the Neighbours set; possible the most overrated street in the world! Despite the inevitability of needing to take numerous photos, we did feel a bit odd snapping away at some random suburban Melbourne houses. Then it was on to St Kilda, one of Melbourne's best beaches where we were your typical Brits Abroad and indulged in good old fish and chips after soaking up some Aussie rays.

After a good night out with the girls, Meighan's new potential love interest and some $4 pizza, we relaxed by the pool with a neverending supply of soft drinks (from the other, outdoor fridge) and some good books while Carly's mum whipped up a classic roast dinner for her starved English backpacker guests - nice one Shazza!

With only one whole day in Melbourne left we committed to a full on city sightseeing extravaganza. After Jen aka ultimate coffee fiend, got her morning hit of supposedly the best coffee in Melbourne, we hopped on and off the central tram to take in sights from the old Melborne Gaol to the grand Parliament buildings, finishing off in Chinatown for a dumpling lunch. The culture precinct then gave way to the sport precinct, where our budding physio and all round sport kid Wells was in her element, with Melbourne offering stadiums for every sport imaginable. From the Rod Laver arena which holds the Australian open to the F1 track  to swimming, soccer and netball stadiums (yes it is a big deal here!), there is something for everyone, yet all were dwarfed by the mighty MCG (Melbourne cricket ground). Home to both cricket and Aussie Rules, the stadium has even held the Commonwealth and Olympic games. A cheeky tour around the ground led to many a "how's that?!" impression and had us all, even Jen, wishing we were one of the greats or at least part of the barmy army watching the ashes, in this glorious 100,000 seat stadium. Sadly we were a week away from the start of the Aussie Rules season so couldn't watch a game but a discarded tennis ball out side the ground led to spontaneous sporting fun, while the many rowers on the Melbourne river left George and Wells oar-gasming.

Our last stroll along the river lead us to the 80+ storey SkyTower where we spent at least an hour stairing out at the 360 degree views of the city we had just explored and contemplated the possiblitly of how easy it would be to live there....watch out parents!

After picking up our mighty new hire car, a causal Nissan X-trail (4x4) which we named Shazza in homage to our amazing hosts, we headed out along the costal road to Sydney. Expecting NZ style scenery and unbeatable Aussie weather we actually spent the next few days in the car as rain thundered down around us, stopping at tiny towns, with caravan parks doubling as hostels. Australia, erm, what are you doing to us? With a few cockroaches met along the way we decided it was best to head back to a city...Canberra was just the ticket and saved us from our negative country experience. Although it also rained, an annual fireworks event and an artistic parliament building and war memorial confirmed that the Aussies definitely do the cities best.

...and then there was Sydney.
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