The next day we woke up fairly early, though it was still later than we had anticipated. I don’t know if it was just me, but the sun seemed to rise a lot later in Melbourne than it did in Brisbane. It was nearly 7:30 and the sun still had not risen properly, compared to Brisbane where the sun always seems to be up ungodly early and lights up your room at 4:00am. Today the plan was to try out the trams, visit the Docklands and explore the CBD.
After getting used to the late sunrise, we ventured outside. It was a rather grey morning, but the clouds were light and did not look like they promised rain, which was surprising really since everyone says Melbourne is notorious for rainy weather. It was also nowhere near as cold as I had anticipated for mid-winter, and the cool temperature was actually quite pleasant under my jacket. Last time I had been in Melbourne we’d nearly froze to death. Gladdened by the tolerable weather, we crossed the Yarra and managed to get on one of the free city loop trams with only minimal confusion. This was a pretty great way to see city as not only did it take us through Melbourne’s heart, but it also had a voice-over providing facts about the areas and buildings we passed. The tram itself was a restored tram from the early 20th century, which gave it character and added to the historical atmosphere. We passed many beautiful old style buildings on the trip, including historic churches, hotels and an opulent government building. Every bit of Melbourne we say seemed to have its own history and story, and everything had so much character. There was so much to take in that I found it hard to keep track of everything. Everything in Melbourne just screamed “culture”, both old and new.
Our tram trip finished at the Docklands- a collection of shops and attractions near docks which gave the area its name. It was oddly deserter though. In fact, I think I only saw about ten other people in the whole area, which was saying a lot since it was quite a large precinct. I figured that would be better for us, since there would be no crowds. However I found the shops themselves somewhat disappointing as it was the usual stuff you’d find back in Brisbane. I’ve never been one for shopping on holidays anyway, mostly due to the fact I can shop at home, and that I usually don’t have enough money (or suitcase space) to go nuts on holiday.
The highlight of the Docklands was undoubtedly the Melbourne Star, one of only four giant observation wheels in the world. The massive structure is 120m tall and offered views of up to 40km away. Despite the cloudy weather, I think we easily saw that far. Our ride on the Star allowed us unrivaled views of Melbourne and its surrounds. From the peak, we had unobstructed views of the city skyline and the Yarra flowing out through the port into Port Phillip Bay- a huge and almost entirely landlocked bay renowned for its fishing. Even though the clouds had somewhat thickened, the experience was still spectacular. You really got to see Melbourne as a whole and when you are up there locking across at the city, you almost feel as if it’s your city- like Batman standing atop a building in Gotham, gazing at his city below.
After some morning tea (and the best Chai latte I’ve ever had, courtesy of the Coffee Club), we decided to look into an activity suggested by a friend of mine- black light mini-golf. This was basically an indoor mini-golf course in almost total darkness, save for some cool black lighting and glowing wall paint. The effect was very cool, and each room had a theme like underwater, jungle and outback. It was a fun experience, even though the place was kind of falling apart (I think I did actually break something loose, but let’s not mention that) and smelled kind of funny.
Our foray into the Docklands was now done, since we had seen everything likely worth seeing. On the way back we stopped in at “the Minotaur”- a popular comic book shop in the CBD. While the store certainly was all my wildest, nerdiest dreams come true, it was very expensive. While the selection was amazing and I swear they probably had a Action Comics #1 in that massive collection, the high pricing meant I left with only one item- a plastic 30cm Winter Soldier figure for $30 (which I later found in Brisbane for $20). But that aside, I do still love the atmosphere of an authentic comic book shop- something that is unfortunately dying out these days with the rise of digital comics.
We proceeded back to the hotel for a hearty dinner of 2 minute noodles which we purchased in a convenience store in the CBD. I should mention that the CBD itself is actually rather unremarkable, mostly because it was depressingly similar to Brisbane’s. Day two had come to a close, and we spent the evening with two minute noodles and an 80s music channel on TV as we watched the sun set and the lights of the city twinkle to life.
Day 3 is on the way!