Head Over Heels In Love With Melbourne

We only live once. A lifetime is probably not enough to fulfill every little dream or capture every sweet memory. So whenever life presents a chance to explore an uncharted terrain, I am always game. Suffice to say, the charm of the unknown attracts me the most.

I've traveled to ten countries in the past eight years – either for work or education – and each time returned with bags full of experience and adventure. In fact, South Korea became my second home from 2005 to 2012, a period of time when I was employed with Samsung Electronics. 

Surprisingly, I've never been down under.

A Soil Untouched, A Continent Unvisited

The only visa stamp missing on my passport is that of Australia.

Australia, its interesting shape and location on the world map, and the clear waters that wash its shores have always beckoned me. Even when my favorite celebrity Oprah Winfrey rounded off her 25th season with a surprise visit to Oz, I watched her each step of the way … penning down my own itinerary and the must-see places.

And there it stood out, the city of Melbourne. A chic and vibrant mélange of style, sport, diverse cultures, fine exquisite dinning and high fashion boutiques. To me, Melbourne is like a mysterious maze of laneways, a city blessed with breathtaking natural beauty and landscapes … and unarguably home to some of the most astonishing architectural wonders in the world.

Laneways of Melbourne
(Image courtesy: http://linksservice.com/melbourne-laneways/)

Melbourne – My Next Holiday Destination

Melbourne is the beautiful capital of the state of Victoria and is the second most populated city of Australia. Often lauded as the most livable city in the world, Melbourne is also one of the country's leading financial centers. No surprise then, it was tagged by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as the fourth most expensive city in the world in the year 2013.

Stop 1: Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)

The holiday would ideally kickstart with a visit to the Mecca of all cricket lovers, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). For a cricket aficionado like me, it'll be a dream come true to have a firsthand, real life experience of the ground that has witnessed enumerable historic cricketing encounters.

As Australia prepares to host the ICC World Cup 2015 in collaboration with New Zealand, the best time to visit the MCG is surely early next year. A golden opportunity to experience the hard work, preparation, and enthusiasm of the locals.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
(Image courtesy: http://www.epicure.com.au/)

Stop 2: Federation Square

Talking of enthusiasm, another landmark and an absolute unmissable place in Melbourne is its ever-so-vibrant Federation Square. Touched by around 10 million visitors annually, Federation Square plays host to nearly 2000 events per year. The events are as diverse as the cultural festivities, exhibitions, event launches, performances, films, concerts, fashion shows, and so on. In short, a one stop shop for cultural attractions, world-class events, touristic expositions, specialty stores, and simply, the best of everything.

If you're a foodie like me, allow the culinary diversity of the place to take over. Don't forget to enjoy a multicourse meal at any one of its sixteen most exquisite restaurants, bars, or cafes.

Federation Square
(Image courtesy: https://cristianruboniphotography.wordpress.com/)

For the art connoisseurs, visit the Ian Potter Center or the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) where you can enjoy and explore around 20,000 Australian artworks comprising of paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and textiles.

Fortune of Sir Ian Potter, one of the country's most acclaimed businessman and philanthropist, the gallery houses an ensemble of the oldest artworks.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
(Image courtesy: http://www.sydney-australia.biz/)

Another distinct offering of the Federation Square is the ACMI or the Australian Center for Moving Image. The place promises to be a journey into the evolution and growth of the moving image. This one-of-a-kind facility not only preserves but also exhibits and promotes Victorian, Australian, as well as International screen content.

ACMI or Australian Center for Moving Image
(Image courtesy: http://alida-altemburg.com/)

Stop 3: Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

Melbourne, the city of joy, is located on the south-eastern part of the Australian island and enjoys a pleasant oceanic climate for most part of the year. The nearby Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges provide and preserve Australia's diverse flora and fauna.

Yarra Valley
(Image courtesy: http://www.visitmelbourneblog.com/)

Blessed with natural bounties, Melbourne offers its nature-loving visitors innumerable destinations for exploring and admiring God's canvas. The world-renowned Royal Botanical Gardens, situated in the heart of the city, is a picturesque landscaped garden spread across 38 hectares and houses nearly 10,000 native and exotic vegetation. Abundant greenery, wildlife, and a “hidden in the woods” cafe makes for a day well spent.

Royal Botanical Gardens
(Image courtesy: http://www.gardensonline.com.au/)

Stop 4: Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens

If traveling with kids, make sure to visit the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens (also known as the Melbourne Zoo) and have a tête-à-tête with nearly 320 animals from Australia and around the world.

Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens
(Image courtesy: http://melbourne.diarystar.com.au/)

Additionally, please your little ones with a visit to the sea life Melbourne Aquarium, the house of Southern Ocean and Antarctic creatures. Let them watch the penguins play at the Penguin Playground or enjoy the breathtaking Mermaid Garden Oceanarium and have a look at the Grey Nurse Shark and the Sandbar Shark as they swim alongside 2000 other marine creatures.

Melbourne Aquarium
(Image courtesy: http://commons.wikimedia.org)

Stop 5: St. Kilda Beach and Luna Park

To experience the sun and sand, try a host of beaches in the city. Though similar looking, each promises to be a distinct experience for the traveler of all ages. Like the St. Kilda Beach that welcomes you to fantastic cafes, bars, hotels, and restaurants.

St Kilda Beach
(Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pierodamiani/7949029934/)

It extends to the Luna Park, Australia's oldest theme-based amusement park. You can enjoy alongside fellow Melbournians something they have loved for over 100 years. Then there is the William's Town Beach or the Altona Beach that offers several water based activities.

Luna Park
(Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/12121270906/)

Stop 6: The Shrine of Remembrance

For the admirers of architectural wonders, the city has enough food for soul. The Shrine of Remembrance, located on the St. Kilda Road, is a memorial built to honor the brave Australian men and women who served the country during war. The shrine has a classical style and its design is based on Mausoleum of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Shrine of Remembrance
(Image courtesy: http://www.lodgebros.com.au/)

Stop 7: St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral is another major Melbourne landmark. It is the seat of the Anglican Primate of Australia. The cathedral is located on the very side where the first public Christian services were held in Melbourne. Build in the neo-gothic transitional style, the structure breeds history into the city's center.

St. Paul's Cathedral
(Image courtesy: http://static.panoramio.com/)

Stop 8: Eureka Skydeck 88

Fear heights? Then you must visit the Eureka Skydeck 88 to overcome it. The observation deck of the 297.3 meters high Eureka Tower offers a spellbinding view of the city. Spread across the entire 88th floor of the tower, the Eureka Skydeck 88 is the highest public vantage point and has around 30 view finders to aid visitors, have a closer look at the landmarks around the city.

Eureka Skydeck 88
(Image courtesy: http://national.atdw.com.au/)

The glass cube or "The Edge" extends from the building and adds on to the terrific viewing experience.

Stop 9: Her Majesty's Theatre

Some other architectural attractions include Her Majesty's Theatre which was built in 1886 and can seat around 1700 admirers. The place has also been visited by some very important people in the history. It currently plays the Phantom of the Opera to full capacity, which is also its longest running and most successful production. On your way around the city, visit the Melbourne Town Hall, the Central Municipal Building, and the Seat of the Local Government.

Her Majesty's Theatre
(Image courtesy: www.hmt.com.au)

Stop 10: Rippon Lea House and Gardens

Rippon Lea House and Gardens is a fine grand suburban estate and the first to achieve the national heritage listing. This estate boasts of a huge mansion situated within a vast garden spread across 14 acres and houses a windmill, a lookout tower, a heritage orchard, a lake, a waterfall, a fernery, and lots more. Built in 1868, the estate has a rich heritage and acres of greenlands waiting to be explored.

Rippon Lea House and Gardens
(Image courtesy: www.nationaltrust.org.au)


Yay! So finally, I get to host the first-ever contest on my blog.

Q. Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?

The best answer on every valid entry will win a gift voucher. The contest ends on January 4, 2015.

[Visit the Tourism Victoria website at http://www.visitmelbourne.com/India.aspx
Come Alive in Melbourne (see http://bit.ly/CAMvideos)