Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Melbourne Montage : why I Love the City!



MCG on Boxing Day 2013 Ashes (image : indiatimes)

 90,831! 
I gaped in awe as the television screen flashed the gigantic figure displayed on the electronic score board at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day in the last Ashes series Down Under . As the mind numbing figure registered itself in my brain , I went back to a lazy evening in Kolkata more than two decades back, when my Dad was cradling me in his lap, while keeping the Guinness Book of World Record open in front , flipping through its pages. I was poring over its pictures, listening to dad as he explained what they meant. It was then that I first came across Melbourne, when Dad showed me a picture of a lush green cricket field, thronged with people, strewn across both pages of the books, that mentioned that the MCG holds the record for having the highest number of spectators to assemble on a day to watch a test match. As a tiny cricket enthusiast, from the city of the Eden Gardens, it was my first introduction to a ground overseas , and I had told Dad, " I will see a match here someday too! " Dad and smiled and said, " of course you will"! The memory stayed with me , and Melbourne had made a mark on my impressionable mind quite early ! As MCG renewed its tryst with the record , I felt strangely happy. I was no longer the curious kid, wanting to admire Melbourne from the books , I wanted to step into the city sooner than ever before. Somehow , I felt Melbourne was very similar to my city of Kolkata, and this ignited the desire to visit it even more.


               There are several uncanny resemblances that I find between the so called 'most liveable city in the world' Melbourne , and my own 'city of Joy' . Both of these are homes of absolute sports fanatics , and house two of the world's most fabulous cricket stadiums , where people turn up in huge numbers to support their teams. Apart from this, I've been a tennis enthusiast , and spending a January evening cheering for the world's most famous faces at the Australian Open in Rod Laver Arena remains a wish .  If possible, I'd also like to slip into an Australian Rules Football game at the MCG , and soak in the atmosphere there, sitting with raucous fans! 
                                                         
The illuminated Rod Laver Arena (image: ABC)


      Coming from a city that celebrates heritage , and is often referred to as a city of palaces, owing to an abundance of historical structures, it's natural that I'd fall for the wonderful celebration of modern architecture in and around Melbourne , that is manifest in the iconic buildings like the World Heritage site - enlisted Royal Exhibition Building and others like the Gothic Bank , St Paul's Cathedral , the Shrine of Remembrance . I'd want to have my eureka moment , when I look down at the cityscape from a transparent capsule jutting out of the 88th floor of Melbourne's highest building , the Eureka Skydeck  , which is also the highest structure in the Southern Hemisphere . On a date, I'd wait for my lady beneath the giant clock at the Flinder's Street Railway station ,and start off my romantic trail from the iconic landmark !! 

                                              

    
  We, as Bengalis are proud of our own culture , and our spirit of embracing art . Melbourne has something that entices any lover of art : it has the finest display of street art that is available anywhere on the globe. How I would love to join in the creations of the massive road canvases on Hosier Lane that brings alive mundane buildings by splashes of colouring sprays ! I would also look forward to viewing the live performances of the  Australian Ballet and theatre performances in the cultural hubs of the city. Taking part in the MOOMBA , Australia's largest free community festival held annually , is also an immensely delightful prospect. 

                           


       Kolkata has a rich history of its trams , and despite its slow movement , trams have continued plying in our city just because of our obsession with the sedate two-bogeyed transport , that never causes pollution . When I got to learn that Melbourne has the world's largest network of tram line , that spreads across a whopping 1773 tram stops on 28 routes over 250km of tracks, I was thrilled at the prospect of going sight seeing around the city on them, that too , for Free . My happy-go-lucky spirit would mingle with the gentle speed of a tram that loves to travel at its own leisurely pace , never caring to joust for more speed and compete with more fancied rivals in the road. Melbourne's trams are just the chariots that fuel my enthusiasm! 
I also rejoice at the fact that Melbourne caters its bicyclists to segregated cycle facilities . The fitness freak in me would have a field time, riding cycles though the city on the dedicated lanes , without worrying about being hit . 


                                        

      We Indians love to share our anecdotes and experiences with new friends , over a simmering cuppa . There's nobody in Bengal who'll turn down an invitation to discuss sports or politics , while sipping a cup of tea or coffee. Melbourne's cafe lined streets would provide me with ample such opportunities to pick the brains of native citizens , and cause a cascade of cultural interaction with them. My outlook would definitely be enriched , by the intermingling of ideas. I'd also love to tuck into the seafood delicacies that would be on offer from the chefs at the various eateries around the city . Being a foodie, I know Melbourne wouldn't disappoint me on the culinary front. I would look forward to gorge on the delicacies on offer at the huge Queen Victoria Market , that is sort of a melting pot for all of Melbourne's shoppers !! And did I forget to mention about the wineries on the Yarra River valley ?? Yes, I would perch myself on a Segway and roam around the scores of wineries to choose from ! The wine taster in me would be having a gala time......hic !! 

                            
    The chance to pamper ourselves come few and far between for us guys, but when one has the access to the services of the Peninsula Hot Springs , there's no reason why one should decline the offer of a refreshing spa in the natural water spring , that has mineral laden waters ! And how can I let go of a lengthy spell of fun at Panny's Amazing World of Chocolate , that houses every single of my childhood fantasies : from a fountain of chocolate , to a town made of chocolate ! I wouldn't care about the calorie count as I would drink up chocolate shots at one go! 


         The wildlife enthusiast in me would place the Seal Concert and the Penguin Parade on my priority list in the Melbourne itinerary! It isn't everyday that one would get to see a bevy of penguins walk out in their wobbly gaits to lay eggs, but Phillip Island gives us this luxury, and it is  for this magnificent view that tourists flock to this place .  Another lucrative prospect is the Hot Air Balloon ride, that would take us up several thousand feet above the ground! Sounds like an awesome place to propose your girl amidst the clouds , doesn't it?

Going on a drive on the Great Ocean Road will also be a must , as I would be itching to have the saline ocean breeze blowing across my face as I drive along the mountain road , that overlooks the ocean. It would be my tribute to the war returned soldiers who constructed this amazing road on the Victorian southern fringe . I'd also not miss viewing the 12 apostles, which are limestone stacks jutting out near the coastline standing precariously, that are being degraded naturally by 2cm/year .  Before one more of them falls apart, I must be visiting them !

    Lastly , I would like to mention that Melbourne is home of my elder sister , who has been living here with her young family for the better part of the last decade. Melbourne's cosmopolitan outlook has helped her gel well with the society here. She also has an active part in the Indian cultural Association here, comprising of Indians who reside at the city , without ever feeling detached from homeland. What more can one ask from a city in a foreign land ? This is why I feel Melbourne has a heart and soul just like my own city of Kolkata . She exudes glamour , frenzy and charm , but she embraces all cultures and likes to wear her heart out on her sleeve, which is evident in the passion of the 90,831 turning up at the MCG for a match of cricket ! With the cricket World Cup just days away , I can feel the excitement palpable in and around Melbourne , where the grand finale is slated to be held! Me, the Kolkatan, another passionate city of the world, can't wait to visit the Victorian capital and revel in the joyride that is Melbourne! 

for my readers: There's a contest for all of you! Tell me in the comments below, Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why ? The best answer would win a fabulous gift voucher!


Written as part of the " What's your reason for falling in love with Melbourne, the most livable city in the world" contest by Tourism Victoria in association with Indiblogger . Find out more about Melbourne ,  here.


p.s. : Thanks to all the visitors on my blog for the wonderful comments and your insights on Melbourne. It was a pleasure reading them , and finding out about individual prefernces. But, with his beautiful comment about the trams in Melbourne , the best answer goes to Aritra Guha !! Congratulations !! You'll be contacted soon for your prize!! 

15 comments:

  1. Great write-up, Titas! Melbourne is a great city to visit in my opinion and more so now that you mentioned the famed landmarks and similarities with our very own City Of Joy, Kolkata.
    If ever in Melbourne, I'd love to travel around the city on the City Circle Tram soaking in the view of the cityscape, getting down whenever I wanted to explore the city streets and hopping aboard the next to move on. It would be a very economical and eco-friendly way of exploring the city and I could even compare the experience to the pleasure rides on the trams of Kolkata as well. A drive along the Great Ocean Road would be a must mainly because I would love to gape at the magnificent oceanscapes and other breathtaking scenery on view as we drive along the coast. No trip to Melbourne could be complete I guess without a visit to the 12 Apostles from the sky. The magnificent limestone rock stacks formed over eons through natural erosion would be a sight to behold, more so from up above in a chopper which would provide a wonderful coastal panorama. While around, a visit to the Loch Ard Gorge would be hard to resist because of the serene and poetic setting that it provides. At the end of the day, soaking in the naturally heated waters of the Peninsula Hot Springs would be the best way to sooth the traveller's aching limbs. Finally, no Bengali's day could be complete without a dash of gastronomic delight and what better place for that than the Chateau Yering which serves the most authentic Australian BBQ.

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    1. Ah Saptarshi, you put in the BBQ in the perspective and that adds more spice to the recipe that is Melbourne! Yep, me too would go after that! And I agree, there's nothing better than a a hot spring to freshen the limbs..... Ah yes, the limbs are bound to get tired after the hectic travel schedule!! Cheers!

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  2. Awesome write up T2..love ya!!

    A friend of mine who's recently been back from Australia was narrating why Melbourne has been named the "most liveable city in the world" for the fourth time in a row...his narration gave me an the outlook of a city..so rich in history,heritage held together by the simplicity of its people & their lives..as i started looking up more about the city..i found how a cornucopia of things tell a story in ways words alone can never do...
    I hv always been an ardent fan of history...and as i read more,one thing dt stood out for me was how Melbourne was home to the largest urban tramway network in the world running continuously since 1884.Trams have formed a distinctive part of Melbourne's character..Starting with 11 horse-drawn buses..through the ages of Cable trams to the Modern day YARRA trams..the network has spread across the city..its city's pulse..connecting evry nook and corner..forming its web across 1773 tram stops over 28 routes..
    For me this 250Km of tracks spread across the city..is the perfect getaway to have a feel of Melbourne from its very core..It wl gv a me perspective of the city..from a common man's point of view on his daily commute..to have a look around..enjoy the gentle pace of the ride..coz history cannot be experienced in a flash, it needs to be slow to soak in its flavour..Melbrourne trams have come come off age..from being mere horse drawn bogeys they hv become "RHINOS ruling the FAIRWAY"..and a ride across Melbourne in a tram would give the most comprehensive outlook of the sights & sounds of the city..its history as well as its modernness..its people & the lives it touches..
    May b an odd choice...but being a fan of tragedy,
    Mehmet Murat ildan's quote,
    “There is always something sad about the trams, may be because they are like our lives: They appear from nothingness and disappear in the horizon of the crowds”, strikes a cord... making me yearn to go around the city of Melbourne in a Tram!!

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    1. Do u see the Heritage fan here?? Yes, I think so!! Any romantic Kolkatan would agree that a tram ride is the most leisurely activity of a city, that brings its own perks!! Yes, it doesn't afford breakneck speed, but it does yield us that extra moments to glimpse at the scenery outside! Melbourne's trams are delightfully decorated, and I see no reason why a person wouldn't fall in love with this well maintained vintage machines!!

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  3. Great post! After reading your post & watching all the videos, I’d most like to visit the Dandenong Ranges for it’s scenic beauty, breathtaking view and cool breeze blowing through my hair. :P I’d give anything away for driving through the winding roads which are present throughout the ranges. I’d love to stay at one of the bed and breakfast cottages and go on frequent excursions in the forests with my camera which provides excellent views. And not to forget the famous ride in the Puffing Billy, a day reserved especially for that. To add to that, there are also several picnic spots for me and my friends to spend a fun-filled day and the ranges are a perfect spot for hiking and cycling.

    Wish you and your blog a happy new year! :D

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  4. Wonderful post and interesting videos that make me feel that
    Melbourne invites the eternal romantic in me to hold hands with my beloved and go see the Twelve Apostles .Go on long drives on the great ocean road. In the middle of nowhere in a vineyard spread a table and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine with my dear one. Enjoy the sunsets holding hands and do lots of shopping at the Queen Victoria Market and see all the graffiti being created at the hosier lane.
    Great Post and interesting videos watching them I am sure to visit Sovereign Hill for spending some time in the era gone by. The lure of gold and panning for some nuggets is a temptation that is too much to resist. After I have found the gold I am bound to celebrate it with some wine so I will visit the vineyards and enjoy some great wine from the Yarra region .Visit the Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory and have my fill with this yummy delight.
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  5. Interesting Post
    After reading your post and watching all the videos
    I feel I have stepped into a kaleidoscope called Melbourne
    Where Vistas of experiences would unfold one after another
    The nature lover in me is enticed by the thought of watching the penguin parade.
    Traveling though the great ocean road, soaking up the freshness as the breeze ruffles my hair gets me in the mood to pack my bags for Melbourne.
    But before I can move ,Puffing Billy whistles and invites me for a ride. The kid in me jumps with joy at the thought of visiting Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
    Even before I can deside on the list of places that I would like to see in and around Melbourne.
    What’s that noise that I hear ?
    Oh its loud cheer from MCG as the cricket world cup 2015 is about to kick start.
    So many plces to see and so much to do.
    I am thetimetraveler ( http://goo.gl/wdXDzu ) and I have decided … Melbourne here I come ( http://goo.gl/RvUCQf ).

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  6. I would like to visit the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) which is located in Yarra Park. Cricket has fancied me since childhood. I still remember those days when the elders in my neighbourhood used to start shouting and hunting for us the moment the cricket ball hit by me broke one of their window panes. Running away from them was even more exciting than playing cricket itself.

    I used to follow every cricket match played by India religiously and used to analyse and discuss it with friends and siblings for days and months. Being such an enthusiastic fan of cricket, visiting one of the world’s largest cricket stadiums is one of my dreams.

    The thought of being seated amongst 95,000 other fans of cricket and cheering the players itself sounds exciting to me. Such large cricket stadiums are one of the ways to explore how much the passion for cricket has penetrated among the people of the world. MCG is located in Yarra Park, which also has many other sporting fields. This would allow me to explore not just cricket, but also many other games.

    - Ranjith (http://www.alightheartedtalk.com)

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  7. Hi!
    We know beauty never need words but without words it cannot be explained and when you get wordless after seeing it... your mouth still get open wide and WOW comes out. Dear! Your explanation about Melbourne is wonderful and picturesque description. I am a person who always attracted to nature first of any place so I would love to see the Melbourne Nature & Wildlife. The 12 Apostles rock formations is world famous rocks which changes its color in sunrise and sun set. And then I will see the Phillip Island Nature Park where I want to see the animals which I hardly see in India. I never saw Penguins, Koala and other animals.
    Driving on a smooth road with natural beauty around you, it always gives you a feeling of heaven on Earth. I would love to drive on Great Ocean Road which is also famous in world to give you a scenic experience and the pleasure of that driving is amazing.

    Bhawna

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  8. A lovely Post! After reading your post and watching all the videos, I feel I am witnessing a kaleidoscope called Melbourne! To answer your question, I'd love to go to the Queen Victoria Market, operating since 1878, to watch the locals sell fresh fruits and vegetables in such a vibrant environment.
    Thanks for sharing :)

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  9. Hey ,Superb post ,so all set to pack bags to have a thrill at Melbourne…Now being high on my wish list:)U’ve very well covered "the best of Melbourne" & for the entry in contest ,there cannot ever be a single place for me..It has to be a bouquet of places to feel calm down my zest to explore it..So naming ,first comes the Great Ocean road not just to linger or have a decent walk but to amaze myself with Jetskiing ,Scuba diving & to try swim with Dolphins & seal! Yay ! these b’ful creatures would be lucky to share a swim with me;) .Then it would be "Eureka Sky deck, to have an awe inspiring experience to be closest to sky & get the sky deck view of this liveable city & MCG to watch & cheer the players on one of the worlds best cricket ground!

    Wishing u Best of Luck & a great year ahead!!

    Visit my blog@http://jhilmilbhansali.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/a-date-for-life-timea-date-with-nature-wildlife-art-cuisine-ah-melbourne/

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  10. I am an adventurous soul so it would be a thrilling ride on the Great Ocean Road. I want to witness all the natural and lush green beauty along the drive. After the drive I would like to soar high on the hot Balloon and want to experience the holistic view of Melbourne from the balloon.

    Visit my entry for the same on
    http://rubysingh147.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/mesmerizing-melbourne/

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  11. Given a chance to visit Melbourne, I would absolutely make a run for Eureka Skydeck 88..Imagine the view of the city from such a great height of over 300 metres and while you are suspended in air in a glass box!
    This is an experience not to be missed and I hope I get a chance to visit Melbourne and go explore Eureka Skydeck 88 soon :)
    -Nikita @Njkinny's World of Books & Stuff

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  12. Being a person who loves to travel this place has struck my eye.
    And here, Eureka Skydeck 88 is going to be first on my list.. i can just imagine the view after reading about it and i feel its going to be awesome.
    Then the St. Kilda Beach,the long walk on the beach during the sunset will be just perfect.. And finding gold is also there.. :D
    why not get my pockets filled with some tresure hunt..Laneways and Arcades is going to be the place to explore my "Lara croft" skills.. :D :D
    Melbourne is going to be a great place to visit and enjoy a holiday..

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  13. :) Thank u Dr. Kar.. its an Honour!

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