January 22nd and 23rd
We took the 14 hour flight to Melbourne starting in Langkawi, flying to KL then on to Hong Kong where we only had an hour to change planes but made it and finally landed in Melbourne at 7 AM.
Taking a bus and then a van to our hotel, we arrived at the Novotel-nothing fancy but in a great location. Melbourne is a lovely city with a river running through it. There are many exquisite buildings left from colonial days but most of it seems very new. We took the free tram to the Australian Open Tennis grounds after having dropped off our luggage at the hotel and watched tennis all day, feeling a little blurry with jet lag. The main stadium has a huge retractable roof in case of rain, which happens often during this time of year, and also in case of extreme heat but it wasn’t needed. In fact, it was rather cool. What a difference in food at the Australian Open when compared to the French Open. There are only sandwiches for the most part in France but here there was everything you could think of including some Chinese food, salads, great looking beef sandwiches, just a really great variety of food. Afterwards, we walked from our hotel to the very nice river side area and had a good Italian dinner. Early to bed after such a bad night before on the plane.
January 24th and 25th
Yesterday, more tennis. It is really well organized from the people helping everyone boarding the tram with someone on a loud speaker telling you where to go as you arrive, to very helpful people everywhere at the stadium and even on the street corners wearing red vests. We had a nice dinner at an old hotel. I’ve been drinking alot of Australian white wines which are very good. We discovered a neat little alley heading back to our hotel lined with little places to eat and had breakfast at one the next day much more cheaply than we could have at our hotel. Later, as we walked around, we saw many alleys set up the same way. It is a very nice city for walking around. The weather was on the cool side but the heat is back today and I think it will be very hot in Sydney. Melbourne, while very English, has a strong American feel. It is very casual and full of friendly, talkative people. Very expensive, though.
One of the alleys lined with places to eat.
The famous tennis court, just like on TV.
The giant retractable roof which takes about 30 minutes to close and open. The summers can be really hot in Australia and players need the shade to prevent heat exhaustion.
The Melbourne train station, very colonial in style.