Monday – July 6, 2009 –
After our flight left LAX on Saturday night, we had to fly for 15 hours to Sydney. Our Delta flight was nice. We noticed that as Delta started to invest more heavily in international flights, their service was markedly better on their international than domestic flights. Jeff and I tried to sleep as much possible.
Around 5:30 a.m., we woke up for breakfast as we flew over the Tasman Strait. We could see the blue Pacific stretched out below us. Not long later, we saw the coast of New South Wales and then passed over Sydney Harbor. We were definitely Down Under! Around 6:40 a.m. we finally touched down in Australia.
At customs, we had to present our AUD$20 entry document (you had to complete online before leaving the U.S.). After that, we had to take a bus to the domestic terminal on the other side of the airport.
Upon arriving at Terminal 3, we realized our Qantas flight to Melbourne was delayed. The flight was supposed to leave at 10:30 terminal three domestic, but our plane had broken down. We ended up not leaving until that afternoon. We would have rather they fixed the plane anyway. Jeff and I had Qantas airpasses that allowed us to fly several times with them for a reasonable price. I didn’t know until today that Qantas name is an abbreviation for Queensland and Northern Territories Air Services. It is one of the oldest airlines in the world. Interestingly enough, they have never had a fatal accident in their history.
That afternoon we left for Melbourne. Instead of traveling over the ocean, this time we flew over southern Australia. We passed over the mountains of northern Victoria before arriving in Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city.
For AUD$26 (Roundtrip), we took the SkyBus from Melbourne’s airport to the Flinders Street bus station. We saw the iconic street trolleys of Melbourne traveling all sorts of different directions. In fact, Melbourne has the largest city municipal trolley system in the world. We walked to our hotel, the Melbourne Marriott and checked in for two nights.
After checking into the Melbourne Marriott, we decided to go see some of the city? No rest for the weary, right? We attempted to find the right trolley outside to take us where we wanted to go. In our jet-lagged fog, it was a little mind numbing trying to figure it out with scores of trolley lines passing. As the most extensive trolley system in the world, we there had to be a right one to take us the Southbank Promenade.
Later some nice Melbourne residents told us the number we needed. It was cool, and felt like we were in Vienna or Prague. We rode down through Melbourne’s Central Business District to River Yarra and Southbank Promenade. The River Yarra empties at the city’s port into the Indian Ocean, though some scientists refer to it as the Southern Ocean instead.
When we arrived on the Southbank Promenade, we enjoyed checking out all of the shopping, dining and entertainment. It kind of reminded me of a London shopping/entertainment street like Covent Garden. Then we decided to tour the nearby Eureka Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere and tallest residential building in world.
For AUD$ 16.50, we took the elevator to the SkyDeck for spectacular nighttime views. We could see the River Yarra Promenade below us, all of Melbourne, the Indian Ocean and way off into Victoria suburbs. We paid extra money to do something touristy but completely worth it: The Edge. We entered a glass room called the Edge on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower Skydeck. The windows became cloudy and the platform started sliding out of the side of the building as a glass cracking sound resonated in our ears. Then, the windows cleared up and we had a stunning view surrounding us. We could even see Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the MCG is the largest cricket stadium in the world).
After admiring the view, we walked next door to a huge casino. We admired the fancy indoor fountain that shot choreographed jets of illuminated water that climbed a water staircase. Then we had dinner in the food court. I had Chinese and Korean food while Jeff had some barbecue. It was a really nice and huge casino, but we decided to only play a slot once each.
Afterwards, we walked by a Hungry Jack’s, whose emblem looked familiar and made us give a double take. It was Burger King, but called Hungry Jack’s in Australia!
We then walked by the Flinders Street Railway Station, one of the largest in the nation. That’s when we decided, after a few photos, to head back to the Marriott for a good nights sleep. We decided to tour the Victoria mountains tomorrow by going on a ski trip.