Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004

Re-discovering Melbourne

I awoke at around 0700 and lay dozing for maybe a further quarter of an hour. A peek through the curtains told me that it was going to be another fine day here in Adelaide. I went downstairs for breakfast, making use of a voucher that allowed me to have a cooked breakfast for the price of a Continental. I was checked out and heading for the airport by nine. My taxi driver was an exceptionally talkative Macedonian, who asked whether my accent was Canadian or American   Of course, it was morning rush hour, so the traffic conditions were rather different from the previous day.

Soon enough, I reached the airport and had a trouble-free check-in. Strangely, the agent seemed to think I wouldn't get into the Qantas Club lounge, even though I was travelling on a Business Class ticket and was a BA Silver. There was even a comment along the lines of "Because we're in Adelaide, there's really not that much here". Once I actually got there, I was nodded in with a smile and was delighted to discover a spacious, comfortable lounge that, frankly, made the facility back in EDI look decidedly poky by comparison. What had those comments at check-in been all about

(Link to flight log in side panel)

MEL turned out to be yet another airport that managed to give the impression of being spacious and near-deserted. I think it's becoming clear to me that UK airports are just one more example of how our national infrastructure isn't up to the job. I was soon aboard the Skybus shuttle to the city centre - Spencer Street, in fact, which in theory at least, was meant to be handy. I half-killed myself (ok, I exaggerate ever so slightly!) dragging my suitcase along Spencer Street and was delighted when I eventually came to the Holiday Inn. Now, how clear is your head right now? I ask, because you are about to be confused. Trust me on this! When I got to the Reception desk, the agent did a quick check on the computer and shouted to another member of staff : "You're going for another drive." Turned out my hotel was another 200m down the street and, amazingly, they were going to take me by car. Apparently it happens all the time.

And no wonder!!! Get this. I was booked into the Holiday Inn (Spencer Street). I had arrived at the Holiday Inn on Flinders, which is not on Flinders Street, but rather on Spencer Street. It gets better. The Holiday Inn (Spencer Street) is not actually on Spencer Street, but on its continuation on the other side of Flinders Street, which by this stage is called Clarendon Street. Confused? GOOD ... because it makes me feel better   As a shareholder in Intercontinental Hotels, I think I shall be writing a stiff letter to their Lord High Hotel Naming Person.

All was forgiven, however, because of the car transfer and the fact that I was given an upgrade to an excellent room with a stunning view along the Yarra River.

After a brief stop to get organised and to don my shorts once more, I headed out to re-acquaint myself with Melbourne. I had last been here in 1993 and, oddly, hadn't liked it all that much. Here are some of the things I saw :-

Yarra riverfront - an example of one of the buildings lining the rver Flinders St Station - if only all railway stations were as attractive as this! Flinders St Station
Treasury St Patrick's Cathedral State Houses of Parliament
City Circle tram - a very useful, free facility Royal Exhibition Building Royal Exhibition Building

I honestly can't understand my less-than-enthusiastic reaction last time around. Melbourne was very busy today. It turns out that it was a local public holiday, which also explains why so many kids were to be seen. It should all be very different tomorrow. After walking for much of the afternoon, I rode the City Circle tram (which is free ) back round to the hotel, the long way, i.e. not going back over the ground I had already covered on foot.

For dinner, I had an excellent Chinese meal in one of the restaurants attached to the hotel.