I've just spent four days in Melbourne with Julie to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. The kids were dropped at friends and relatives (their godparents for two days, then their granddad for the other two), the dog taken care of, the garden watered, and the car stored away. We bought flight tickets online (which turned out to be a mistake) and booked and paid our hotel online as well (which turned out to be a smart thing to do).
We arrived at Melbourne Airport on friday morning, taking the SkyBus which dropped us to Spencer Street Station, and we walked to our hotel on Dudley Street. The hotel had a good reception area but really bad rooms and was located quite a big walk away from pretty much anything (and both of these things are not good factors when you're pregnant, so, yes, Julie is pregnant again), so we cancelled the next two nights, went to an internet cafe and booked ourselves into the Crossley Hotel on Little Bourke. Many thanks to the fantastic WotIf.com.au service for online hotel bookings, and the fantasticly friendly staff at our first hotel (which I won't mention by name).
I'm not going to go through all the little things we did and saw throughout the city, but I'll try to summarise it as best I can; we loved it! Melbourne is a beautiful city with a European feel to it, lovely people, not too busy (as Sydney, for example) and fantastic architecture and art everywhere you turned. I was quite taken with it.
One of the highlights for me was visiting the State Library of Voctoria, a fantastic building situated centrally and close to the university. What a feel and ambience! I spoke to some nice reference librarian about various bits and pieces, even talked about E-Resources and new search engines / interfaces, so if the library needs an manager / techie / EL1-2, I'm right there. :)
We ate and we ate and had coffees and drinks everywhere, too many to mention. the food was great everywhere, but the coffee highlight was indeed Pellegrino's (corner of Little Bourke and Crossley) who knew exactly how to make a mocha right! Thanks.
The Melbourne Natural Museum was also great. So was the art centre, although we missed most of the Australian Art that's somewhere else. I loved going on the trams, as Oslo (my hometown) also is a tram-town. I loved the arcades and the alleyways. We ate in one of them with live jazz music one night. Fantastic!
We went to Bennets Lane Jazz Club to see and hear Elena Stone Band which we knew nothing about. It turned out to be freakin' fantastic! Elena was a fantastic performer, singer and composer, and we enjoyed the concert so much. I noticed that the drummer was not only damn good and played smack on to my liking, but also a leftie, which of course made me warm and fuzzy inside, as I'm a leftie percussionist myself. (Wish I could remember his name, though)
The only negative thing on the whole trip was that we misinterpreted the flight details, and missed our flight. Because these tickets were bought online (but not cheap!) there was nothing they could help us with, and we had to buy new tickets; 600$ later, and the vanishing of our christmas budget. So the take here is that Qantas sucks, and don't buy your tickets online.
Thanks, Melbourne, for a fantastic four nights. It certainly gave us a craving for more. See you in a little while.