Melbourne has been so great so far, for so many reasons… We arrived last night late, around 11:10pm, to Avalon airport (in the middle of no where). When we booked our flights we simply booked them based on price, so we didn’t realize that Avalon was the airport outside of town. We had to take an airport shuttle into Melbourne for AU$36 each (round trip) for about an hour to our hostel in the CBD, Nomads.
Early Friday morning we were up and ready for our day; we had to wait until around 10am to book our tours for the weekend, but after that we headed to Queen Victoria Markets, about 2 blocks away. The markets were awesome!!! They were cheaper than the Paddy’s Markets in Sydney with just as much selection, with everything from socks to souvenirs to salami. There were people peddling their handicrafts, too, along with a huge organic fruits and vegetables market. My favorite part was an area with lunch food; greek food, fancy sandwiches, home baked breads, and lots of lollies. Laura saw an American Doughnut Stand (in a big van) and had to splurge (absolutely delicious, rolled in sugar and filled with strawberry yummy-ness). For lunch we split a chicken schnitzel on a big roll, and it was perfect.
After a little too much time spent at the markets we headed down the main streets, like Elizabeth Street, and Queen Street, towards the center of the city and Federation Square. On our way we found the ‘Graffiti Alley,’ a place where graffiti is actually appreciated as art; some other tourists where there at the same time, taking as many pictures as possible. The art was unbelievable! It is really cool that there are graffiti artists that take what they do so seriously, and really while the graffiti in Wollongong is mostly just words, the graffiti at graffiti alley was all pictures and ideas, even some faces.
We really toured the city on foot, and saw as much as we could before we headed to Haights Chocolate store to begin our chocolate tour at 1:30. Our tour started at Haights, a family owned gourmet chocolate company that began in South Australia. Everyone on the tour sampled dark and milk chocolates, and also fancy champagne truffles, and almost everyone bought something from the shop. It was located in an arcade built into the city modeled after one in Europe- the architecture was beautiful, and it felt old and special. The arcades really had a lot of character, and I could probably spend all afternoon wandering around them, or trying desserts, or eating snacks… We went to some other chocolate shops, like a place called Chocolait, where we were served delicious liquid chocolate (disguised as ‘hot chocolate’), and Coco Black, where we were given fancy truffles rolled in chocolate shavings. Our tour guide, an older lady who was a self-proclaimed chocoholic, also commentated our walk around the city with fun facts about the history of the area and the history of the chocolate in the area. Our tour ended at a fancy café, and we were happy to be served breakfast tea and fancy, pretty desserts that WEREN’T chocolate.
After the chocolate tour we went back to Queen Victoria market and bought some bread (on sale because it was so late). We headed back to Nomads and made tomato soup for dinner, and then got ready for a Australian Football League game! We took the trams to Ethiad Stadium, which holds 50,000 people, and planned on buying tickets when we got there. Fortunatley for us, some people had three extra tickets and were happy to invite us in with them. Their tickets were awesome, and we had a great view of the game. They also explained the game to us- the field is round, and it doesn’t stop like American football. Instead, the players kick the ball around to one another and ultimately try to kick it between two posts. The game was a really close one between the Carlton Blues and Geelong Cats; it came down to the last 3 minutes on the clock, and the Geelong Cats won in the end. It was so fun; I had the best hot dog that I have had so far, with lots of ketchup. I think maybe it was the last one in the place, because when Laura went to get one a few minutes later they had run out! … The game ended around 11pm, and we were worn out, so we headed back to Nomads and were happy to get into bed.