Back from April 14th Spotlight on Australia - Melbourne

Hi everyone. Sherry I noticed you are on posting about our trip also.
This post is about Melbourne (pronounced Mel bin). I am only mentioning pre- Tauck activities.

I have to mention that several people on the trip had cameras breakdown. I toyed with the idea of bringing alone a throwaway box camera. I didn't but those who had broken cameras probably wished they had done this. If they aren't used you can always take them back to the place of purchase.

Start dieting now because you will have an opportunity to eat a lot of good food. Shaking the pastries upside down does not remove the calories. LOL All the walking helps keep off the weight.

Unlike some my sister and I didn't have the mileage points to pay for our trip so we forked over the money for the Virgin Australia experience. I enjoyed, as much as possible, the 15 1/2 hr flight from LAX to Melbourne and the return 14 hr flight from Sydney. Both flights were direct. I would hate to do the flight to Sydney, wait around for another hour to catch the flight to Melbourne. What ever you fly, fly direct. Virgin treats you well in business class. Yes, I put on my Virgin PJs, lay back, and watched tv until I was tired enough to sleep. I actually used my headphones instead of their earplugs to block out noise. My first experience tasting Vegimite was on that plane. Yuck, but please try it for yourself.

We went in 2 days early but decided not to book an extra excursion. Granted we didn't see the fairy penguins come to shore but we did see a few of the little guys at Featherdale Park. On our free pre-days we walked around the city. We went to the Immigration Museum, very good experience. Be sure to listen to the interviews of people wanting to enter Australia.

We also did the very long walk to the Queen Victoria Market. Make sure you check the closing times before you make the walk.

In Melbourne, we found the lane ways that were recommended and the Block Arcade. Both are very interesting. Great place to catch a bite to eat, see little shops, and the locals flowing through the city. We also strolled the waterfront and headed to the casino. Yep, just like Vegas they have slots and tables. The hotel actually connects to a small mall. This is a place to also catch something to eat, but there are loads of places along the water.

If you want fruit or extra goodies to take back to the hotel look for the Coles Market on Elizabeth. If you get to the KFC you have gone too far. Yep, I said KFC. Check out the Pie Face places. Crap I'm still taking food. lol

Gary, our Tauck guide was great. He gave ideas on things to see and do on your free afternoon.

Comments

  • edited April 2014
    Hi VA2Aussie,

    I'm glad you made the point of taking as direct a route as possible. I just can't believe the geographically challenged routes some people take to get here. Reminds me of the time I chose to fly, all in one go, from Melbourne to SFO, via Singapore and Hong Kong. That was really dumb. I've flown that route many times and there are really good reasons for it … Singapore Airlines. Check. Excellent service. Check. Arrival via SFO. Check. But never do it in one go. Separate the legs in either Singapore or Hong Kong. I've made my travel agent promise never to let me do that again!

    I'm really surprised to hear they had vegemite on the plane! I guess they do that for returning Aussies who just have to have something to remind them that they are really and truly on the way home. It's comfort food, you see. It's a potent symbol that the days of over-salted, over-sweetened, over-sized portions and just plain over it food is … nearly … over! Some people pine over grits. Can't imagine why, except for sentiments similar to the above. Horses for courses!

    Glad you enjoyed walking off your jet lag. And yes, you will always find junk food joints near busy transport hubs, pretty much all over the world. Sad but true. My constitution can't even stand to let me look at the Pie Faces places……. urgh…..;)))

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • Hello VA2Aussie

    I'm wondering how early the flights were on your trip. We've done tours before, so are quite used to the early hours. But, were there any legs that were particularly difficult?

    Perhaps, you could also pass along any useful bits of information that you wish you had known beforehand.

    We were thinking of taking the great Ocean Road tour on the second day after we arrive. Do you know if any of your fellow travelers decided to take this tour? We have heard that you really need two days to do this, but we would only have one day available for this.

    I realize I'm asking a great deal, but like you, I have many questions. If I can "pick your brain", i'll be much further ahead. Thanks so much.
  • lori wrote:
    Hello VA2Aussie

    I'm wondering how early the flights were on your trip. We've done tours before, so are quite used to the early hours. But, were there any legs that were particularly difficult?

    Perhaps, you could also pass along any useful bits of information that you wish you had known beforehand.

    We were thinking of taking the great Ocean Road tour on the second day after we arrive. Do you know if any of your fellow travelers decided to take this tour? We have heard that you really need two days to do this, but we would only have one day available for this.

    I realize I'm asking a great deal, but like you, I have many questions. If I can "pick your brain", i'll be much further ahead. Thanks so much.


    I don't mind the questions. I am not giving info on the places Tauck visits unless there is something I think might be helpful. Too much info on the Tauck tour, itself, will mess with any surprises.

    I looked at my Quantas stubs and the earliest we flew was 8:55 a.m. That day of course we probably had to be on the bus by 7:30. The hotel to the airport is probably 30 min ride. If you are flying Quantas or a partner of their's check to see if they will let you count the mileage from city to city. The earliest time of departure was for those taking the helicopter ride. They actually left the hotel at 4:00 a.m. Of course times might change with seasons.

    I would advise anyone traveling to have:
    - a hat because you will need it to hold up the fly net at Uluru.
    - good walking shoes.
    - a light jacket, unless going in the summer.
    - a luggage scale. Somehow that weight starts to creep up with your purchases.

    Don't forget to make copies of your passport to have on you. Each hotel has a safe where I kept my passport.

    You have to declare any medication on your departure from Sydney. Take meds in the original bottles. If bottles are too big maybe your doctor can give you a prescription (which cannot be filled in Australia) just to carry on the plane with your 2-3 week drug supply, just in case of questions. Tauck gives you a form that will get you through customs faster. Since there are people in wheelchairs, and elderly you know they most likely have meds. They let them go in the fast lane. The customs people will ignore the checked box and ask what you are carrying and if for resale or personal use.

    Don't forget to check the weather at least 3 weeks before you leave. Final check should be 12 days before departure. This gives you a general idea of what to pack.

    There is a post "Follow Us Down Under" that gives highlights of the Road trip you mentioned. That post also has pictures of the trip they took in March. It was still hot at that time. Our April weather was simply lovely.

    My next post will be on Alice Springs (Uluru), and Queensland.














  • Thank you for all the helpful tips. I'll be looking forward to your next post.
  • We are traveling this fall. Thanks for sharing your travels with us!
  • As always, I am happy to answer your questions. As a Tauck veteran and a Melbournian … let alone Australian. I had great fun researching the Melbourne lane ways question referred to earlier. I often walk through the CBD so I'm more than happy to pass on any tips. I'll do my best with other Australian questions, too. You can't stop a research librarian from researching. Or a writer from writing.

    And anything that might prevent travellers from putting their foot in it, or otherwise committing an unforgivable social faux pas, I'm all for that, too. Been there. Never want to embarrass myself or my hosts like that again. I've learnt a lot since I was a naive, first time traveller, thank heavens! :-0

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • Oops - Correction

    Someone asked about the early times. I said "the earliest time of departure was for those taking the helicopter ride. They actually left the hotel at 4:00 a.m. Of course times might change with seasons."

    I meant to say the balloon ride in Queensland. Those who went were back by 8:30 and felt better than I would have considering the early time.

  • For Lori:

    We did not take the Great Ocean Road trip, but we did take the VIP tour to see the little penguins on Philip Island on our second day in Melbourne, the day before the Tauck tour. It was definitely worthwile and worth the extra $ for the VIP experience. We recovered from any jet lag by napping on the bus and were totally in synch with Australia time by the time our Tauck experience started.

    For Jan and others:

    There are several free self-guided walking tours available on the lower level of Visitor's center just across from the Flinders St. station across from your hotel. One of these tours is about a 1-1 1/2 tour of the little shopping lanes and arcades, some of which you would never find without the map. Its a fun and easy way to get oriented around Melbourne,
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