Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Friday, March 30, 2007


Well, it's time to leave Sydney, so with heavy but really excited hearts we flew to Melbourne early on Friday morning.

We got into our hostel (Flinders Station), dumped our bags and started wandering around the city. The first thing we noticed was how cold it was compared to Sydney! I can't remember the last time the temperature went below 20°!

Melbourne is a great city. Over 3 million people but it seems a lot smaller than Sydney and it's so much more laid back. Nobody was rushing around and everyone seemed really friendly. There's a tram system in the city and its cool to see the trams trundling along the middle of the roads, although you're literally taking your life into your hands crossing the road - we didn't know which way we should be looking. To often we found ourselves standing in the middle of the road only to look down and see we're in a tram track!

There are coffee shops everywhere which suits us down to the ground as we've become slightly addicted since leaving home. So after some great coffees in beautiful cafes in winding little alleyways, we headed back to the hostel to get ready for a night out. Friday night we went to see an AFL (Aussie Rules) game. Melbourne V St. Kilda in theMCG. It was a cracking match - really like Gaelic but faster paced. St. Kilda won 93 - 62. The MCG is a brilliant stadium and we had great seats - just behind the goal line where most of the action took place.

We were supposed to be meeting Nic (who we know from Sydney) before the match but it was her first time driving in Melbourne and she got slightly delayed by about 2 hours or so trying to find parking! Beer was the first thing on her mind when she eventually did get in to the MCG!

After the match we jumped on a tram to the Corner House to meet Kate and some of her friends. Kate is from Melbourne and we met her in Ilha Grande in Brazil. It was great to see Kate again and it felt like we'd only seen her last week! The bar was great with live music, but so different from most places we went out in Sydney (we couldn't get over how different the cities are!). We eventually stumbled home late...

Saturday 31st - Today we got the free City Circle tram all around the city and got off in the docklands for a wander around and to grab a nice coffee. There's so much weird architecture in Melbourne - lots of buildings built at strange angles with odd paint jobs etc.

That night, we met Kate and her friend at Riverlands bar at the side of the river Yarra. It's a great bar and sitting outside under the patio heaters we could see ourselves staying there all night. But Kate had different plans. She decided to show us the places in the city that tourists wouldn't find.

First, she brought us to a restaurant called The Waiters Club. We went down a laneway, through an unmarked door and up these rickety stairs. When we walked in we thought the place looked like a bit of a dive, but the atmosphere there was great and the food was just gorgeous. Kate then took us to a series of bars and clubs that you would just never find on your own in the city. The last club we were in we had to walk up a rubbish strewn alley past loads of graffiti and dumpsters and at the end there was a doorway in and then a really nice bar/club on the inside. It ended up taking Nic over 2 hours to find her way back to the hostel even though we were only 15 minutes walk away. That could have been something to do with the cocktails as well as the series of winding alleys we had to walk though!

On Sunday we had a lazy brunch and coffee with Nic in a great cafe (did I mention that Melbourne has great cafe's?!). We then had a look around the huge Queen Victoria Markets, said a last goodbye to Nic and the caught a tram out to St. Kilda for a walk along the beach and the pier as the sun was setting. We also saw some guys doing capoeira beside Luna Park there - very reminiscent of Brazil!

We've decided - we love, love, love Melbourne!

Monday, March 05, 2007

March In Sydney

March in Sydney got off to a great start with the Mardi Gras. A huge parade of glitz, glamour and lip gloss - and thats just the men!

We saw some sights we could have done without seeing - middle aged men wearing chaps and not much else is not something you want to see, or something you can forget too fast either!

The atmosphere in Hyde Park was electric. The place was packed - a much bigger celebration than we'd seen for Australia Day. There were 6'5" drag queens everywhere who were more than willing to pose for photos, a big Kylie Minogue float and bizarrely a police band going by on a float playing Aretha Franklins R.E.S.P.E.C.T.! Maybe they should be known as the boys in pink instead of the boys in blue!

After that came St. Patrick's Day. The parade was on the weekend before (there were 75th birthday celebrations for the Harbour Bridge on the weekend of the 17th) but we didn't quite manage to get into town to see it. It was a scorcher of a day and Bondi Beach was calling us so we skipped the parade but made up for it on the day itself. We went to the Cock n Bull at about 11am and had a huge breakfast washed down by a pint of black slop in a plastic glass they were trying to pass off as Guinness - ah well you can't have it all. We stayed in the Cock n Bull most of the day. There were great trad bands on all day and by mid afternoon there was many a sloppy person.

We went into town later on to try and get into PJ O'Briens but the queue was around the corner, so back to the Cock n Bull it was. We watched a hard fought win against the Italians in the 6 Nations and we went home thinking Ireland had won! We were pretty disappointed the next day to find out the French had spoiled the party.

After the excess of Paddy's Day we decided it was time to be a bit more sophisticated. We went to see Macbeth in the Opera House. We got dressed up, had a pre-show drink in the Opera Bar and went in. It was my first time seeing Macbeth and I loved it - the performance was brilliant.
Afterwards we went to the Shangri La Hotel. They have a bar on the 40thfloor and the nighttime views of the city form up there were amazing.

Apart from that we've been loving "The Spot" in Randwick to take in a film in a nice old cinema followed by by dinner in one of the many great restaurants there, the whole area has a great atmosphere.

For one of our last evenings in Sydney we decided to have a nice night out in Icebergs at Bondi Beach (really really posh bar sitting right on the water) followed by a walk on the beach. Clear skies, crashing waves, soft sand - a perfect night. We're really, really going to miss Bondi so much....