After a few days on the road from Sydney we arrived in Melbourne – the second largest city in Australia and the capital of the state of Victoria. Aside from a stroll though the Botanical Gardens and along the Yarra River, we spent most of our brief visit to the city at the Queen Victoria Market and at the Melbourne Zoo.
Since Dave had visited Melbourne in the past, he had an idea of a few highlights of the city that we might enjoy. The 125+ year old Market is definitely one of them. Lucky for us we arrived on a Wednesday just in time to stumble upon the weekly summer Night Market where a smaller number of venders fill one of the buildings with an array of delicious food and live music. It was fun to feel like we were “out on the town” for a change. We enjoyed a delicious hippy-made burrito and some raucous steel drum samba music topped off, of course, with bretzel (not really sure why the b) dipped in Belgian chocolate.
The following day we returned to the market so I could see the real deal in all its glory. You can buy just about anything there from $10 soccer jerseys (Dave’s holding out ‘til China) to gourmet cheese to fresh meats and produce. We lamented not being hungry after eating the free breakfast at the hotel and settled only for some dark chocolate covered almonds and coffee beans. Still yummy!
After the big market tour, we ventured further out of town to the zoo. A few of the newer areas are quite spectacular. Rather than grouping animals together (i.e. big cats – which incidentally sleep all day) like at a traditional zoo, they have created habitats such as the Asian and African rainforests where you walk down a path and observe animals in a more natural environment. The Asian rainforest was particularly clever with little roadside shacks set up as if you were on a little road in Thailand. Quite enjoyable, though there were no animals eating out of our hands today.
We wrapped up our all too short stay in Melbourne with what we’ll call the “Jeanne Connection – Part 1.” We had a wonderful dinner with Eric, Jeanne’s friend from graduate school, and his partner Elsie. We traded travel tales, Peace Corps stories (Eric’s are definitely some of the best EVER!!) and heard the inside scoop on life in Oz. We really do appreciate and enjoy these opportunities to connect with people as we venture around the world!