Melbourne 16th November 2015
We’re finally here, after a couple of loooong flights. These have, however, caused Etihad to join our list of favourite airlines, and the Airbus A380 remains at the top of our favourite aeroplanes list. The B777, however, we rank towards the bottom of the list; it’s not really for long-distance flights.
We were staying at the Ibis Styles Victoria Hotel, on Little Collins Street, located right in central Melbourne. It was rather a trek to get to our room, but they promised to move us to one a bit closer to the action the following day. Since we arrived in Melbourne after dark, I didn’t form my first impression until the morning, when I looked out of my window and saw … a wall.
Did they ever see the sun here? I wondered. Indeed, did they ever see the sky? Little Collins Street is extremely narrow, and was probably originally a service lane for the buildings in the parallel Collins Street.
If you’re planning a number of tours, therefore, the Victoria, pleasant as it is, is probably not the best place to stay, unless you’re prepared to walk to an alternative meeting point. The coach driver that took us to Phillip Island picked us up at the nearby Novotel, and said there was no way he’d take his coach down Little Collins Street … and, seeing the size of his rig, I don’t blame him.
Fortunately, the rest of the city is nothing like as bad. There are plenty of green, open spaces and the wide streets are laid out in a grid-iron pattern. Down the centre of most of them runs what’s claimed to be the most extensive tram system in the world. The trams are the way to get around the town centre and, within the Central Business District, they’re free. Around the periphery of the CBD runs the circular Route 35, again free; always run with a vintage tram, with a recorded commentary … which ‘plugs’ so many shops, restaurants and night spots, I wonder if the advertising revenue pays for the tram?