Melbourne is a bustling metropolitan, and not unlike Toronto in terms of its amenities, culture and pace. The shopping was amazing and I took full advantage of that opportunity, putting a dent into what little room I had left on the credit card.

Fortune shone down on me – Opa!!! There was a Greek Festival on the weekend I arrived just 1/2 block down from my hotel on Lonsdale Street. Live entertainment and a colourful array of rides, crowds and tasty food – a feast for the eyes, ears and tastebuds! The area in and around Melbourne’s CBD is heavily populated with Asian, Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants and I found the fare quite reasonably priced. The trams run along a main line which was just a few blocks away as well. One can get virtually anywhere in Melbourne through a well-connected public transportation system that includes buses, trams and trains.

My first day, I went about 10 km on foot exploring much of the CBD. The Victorian State Library is quite impressive (thanks for bringing it to my attention, Richard!). One of the neatest little shops I came across was “Underkammer: scientifics, curiosities and ephemera”. I must have spent 45 minutes in there, poking through its queer menagerie of fossils, dioramas and other oddities including antique – no, ANCIENT – bottles of nameless fluids, goops and ‘magic’ powders. The shop’s murky depths revealed treasure after weird treasure. Very cool experience. The owner/manager reminded me of Gandalf, without the beard. Further up the street, an exclusively ‘romance’ book store that was appropriately named “Rendevous”, was an interesting find as well. Helloooooo bodice rippers!

Joan and Richard G are in Australia; Richard spending part of his year-long sabbatical there. I joined Joan and Richard for a wonderful dinner at a beach-front restaurant in Port Melbourne. The views were spectacular! We enjoyed the caramel-coloured warmth of an Australian sunset while we noshed on fresh salmon (which, by the way, was paired with a beautiful Borassa Shiraz). Mmmmmm….

The following night, my last night in Melbourne, Joan and Richard invited me and a couple of other colleagues over for dinner. I was introduced to Sparkling Shiraz which was SO delicious! This bubbly concoction is made at the vineyards from really old stocks of Shiraz. In my opinion, this is recycling at it’s best! Dinner was great, as was the company. And, after two trips to Australia, travelling from one end of the country to the other, I finally saw a kangaroo. Note: it was medium rare… Mmmmm!