Stopover in Melbourne

Australia wasn’t an objective on this trip. I was there for a month in 2004, loved it and applied to emigrate. I had enough points when I filled the form in. By the time it arrived they had moved the goalposts; increased the points requirement out of my reach. My reason for not wanting to visit on this trip was purely financial. Southeast Asia and South America are relatively cheap places; Australia is not. However, airline timetables meant I couldn’t get from Shanghai to Queenstown without an overnight stop in Australia. So I decided to have a couple of nights in Melbourne and try to catch up with an Australian tanguera I met last year in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately I couldn’t get in touch with her. With no friendly tanguera to guide me around the Melbourne milongas I didn’t even look into when and where they were. After six months with almost no tango is my addiction wearing off?

On the first day, a lovely crisp Spring morning with crystal blue skies which developed into a nice warm afternoon I wandered the city and rode the circular route tourist tram. The sights were all familiar from my previous visit. They presented the same photographic challenge as last time too: overhead tram wires. There is lots of photogenic architecture. There are even more overhead tram wires strung along many of the streets. Without a super wide fisheye lens you need to be across the street to fit in decent chunks of the buildings. And that means an unsightly mess of black cables across every picture. Consequently I didn’t take many photos but there are a few over at Flickr.

My hostel, Greenhouse Backpackers in Flinders Lane  had free wifi. I spent most of the second and third days sat in front of my laptop planning the imminent New Zealand leg of my journey. They also had free breakfast every day and one other free meal most days. All good news for budget travellers. Single ensuite rooms are out of my budget while I’m back in the first world but their four bed dorms were pretty civilised. On the day I arrived I was the first one into an empty dorm so got choice of bed. The location was good too, just a block from Flinders Station.

On my last night I walked to the bus station for the airport express and then spent four hours at the airport waiting for checkin to open. The benches in Melbourne domestic terminal departure hall are the hardest I’ve ever tried to sleep on. At 04:00 the hall started to come to life but it was a good 45 minutes before I was checked in and through security. Let’s not talk about airport security. Really, let’s not.

My journey to New Zealand was in two parts. First a commuter hop to Sydney with all the smart dressed business people. Second a quick dash through Sydney airport from the domestic arrivals to the international departures terminal and then the international flight to Queenstown. I made sure I had a window seat for the second flight to be able to enjoy the hopefully spectacular scenery on approach to Queenstown.

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