Meeting Melbourne

It occurred to me when I was sitting at my computer in my suite at the Oaks at Market that I could be anywhere in the world at that moment and it wouldn’t have made a difference.  My first three days in Australia were spent taking a tram to watch tennis at Melbourne Park, coming back to my hotel and sitting in front of the computer until it was time to go to sleep.  It was definitely not the way an Australian adventure should be (though the tennis has certainly been good) and it was time for an immediate change.

I shut off the computer and actually left it in the room so I could travel light (we don't part often, so it wasn't easy).  I walked right past the tram and kept walking down Flinders Street, the main thoroughfare in Melbourne.  I noticed for the first time that my hotel is just a block from the Museum of Immigration, and a few more away from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image – currently featuring a Disney exhibition – and the National Gallery of Victoria.  I noted both on my to do list, as I walked through the streets filled with people walking in and out of shops and coffee houses, or watching the giant televisions in Federation Square that were broadcasting the matches.

Before I knew it, I had passed all the tram stations and was continuing the mile walk to the Australian Open matches at Melbourne Park.  I noticed for the first time the sign I kept walking by announcing free entry to press at the Melbourne Aquarium, something I’d love to do. I watched one of my favorite players (on and off the court), John Isner, lose a tough four and a half hour match, but like the other days when I walked past a smiling Venus Williams, Isner joking with camermen or Novak Djokovic playing soccer (excuse me, football) in the parking lot, I smiled and said hello to tennis friends I hadn’t really spent any time with since I arrived.  And, I made plans with photographer Cynthia Lum , a longtime friend, to see Melbourne at night.

Nighttime in Melbourne confirmed what I felt during the day, this is a fun city all around.  We went to Transport down at Federation Square.  It was full of people of all ages listening to 70s pop music (there’s a lot of that around here), weak drinks and lots of laughing.  The crowd was big considering countryman Bernard Tomic was playing Rafael Nadal on a screen in front of literally thousands.  People were picnicking, singing and literally dancing in the streets!

Cynthia and I took a walk down Swanston and looked at the city over the bridge, both wishing we had our cameras for the incredible view.  We walked a bit more, peaking in a few clubs before settling in for a drink at the Grand Hyatt Radii Bar.  I decided to seal the night with something sweet, and enjoyed a T Gallant Juliet Moscato, a perfectly tasty inexpensive Australian Wine.

After a good enough night's sleep, I packed up this morning and made my first hotel switch,  to the opulent Langham Melbourne. The weekend will be all about tennis (see my columns at College And Junior Tennis) before I embark on my first journey through Australian wine in Yarra Valley.


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