Melbourne Travel Guide
Welcome to "What Everyone's Buying," a new series on souvenirs, wherein we investigate what tourist trinkets are the hottest selling in hotspots around the world.
In a country almost the size of the U.S., Australia has plenty of things to see, do, and bring home to your friends and family as little memento of your travels. One thing which Aussies take seriously is their wine, and this is doubly true in the Melbourne area. With vineyards around the country churning out award-winning bottles, bringing home a super special sip is often on the list.
Melbourne is located around 90 minutes away from some of the more popular wineries, (like Chandon and de Bortoli) for tasting, wining, dining, and best of all, purchasing favorite bottles. And if you'd rather follow a path less trodden, lots of smaller, boutique wineries dot the landscape in the Yarra, Goulburn, Rutherglen, and Alpine Valleys.
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Last week we got pretty excited about United's news to bring some 787 Dreamliners across the Equator for the long trip from Los Angeles to Melbourne, beginning in fall 2014. While this won't mark the first flight from SoCal to Australia's cultural capital, it is the first for the US airline; United used to first stop in Sydney, then hit the sky again to Melbourne.
If MileagePlus isn't your preferred loyalty program, there are plenty of other options to hop on the nearly 16-hour flight down under. In fact, there are two other airlines running here nonstop from the US, making that long way over the Pacific.
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As the very first Dreamliner to wear an Australian tail number, VH-VKA is a breath of fresh air for Jetstar, featuring amenities such as USB charging in each seat, video on demand and adjustable headrests. This is all in addition to the features that come standard in every new 787, such as larger, auto-dimming windows, LED lighting, and improved cabin ambiance.
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This has been quite the week for stray animals wandering into airport facilities. First, there was the story of the adorable kitty cat who took an unintended ride in a SWISS plane from Athens to Zurich, surviving the ordeal and finding a new home in the process. Now, there's the equally cute tale of a small kangaroo who, likely attracted by the red roo logos of Qantas, showed up at Melbourne Airport.
The little guy wasn't there on vacay, however, but he actually hopped into a pharmacy in the terminal after suffering minor injuries from being hit by a car outside. After subduing the animal, airport workers kept him cozy in a Qantas blanket.
To update passengers and the curious on the incident, Qantas then took to their Instagram:
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Some tourism boards just "get it." And by get it, we mean thinking outside the box creatively and attracting tourists in flocks to their city, state or country en masse. With its latest campaign, Melbourne can now head to the top of that list of boards that just nail it.
The folks behind Tourism Victoria, the Aussie state that Melbourne calls home, have developed a campaign of two remote-controlled tourists that are outfitted with helmet-mounted cameras, microphones, GPS and some clever mobile live streaming technology to document their every step in the city. This gives the chance for fans of Melbourne to "go before you go," possibly giving some inspiration for a first hand visit to the city.
From October 9 through the 13th, armchair-tourists controled each traveler at home by logging onto the website and sending their human webcams to any location they desired in the Australian "second city." Audiences were able to interact with the tourists and send them on mini-adventures or challenges that are unique to Melbourne.
Yesterday, we gave you a birds-eye view over Melbourne and today our feet are firmly planted on the ground. With only a day remaining, let's explore the little nooks of the city: the iconic laneways!
First, a little background. The city is considered the culture capital of Australia and with that comes the love of fashion, food and a general joie de vivre. The weather can get quite chilly here (the mercury, abnormally, hovered around 75 degrees for our visit), so the style is that of more Northern Hemisphere flare.
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Yesterday we filled our belly all around Melbourne and, at the end, hinted about getting high. Today we continue to explore while avoiding any hint of the Australian Open, since there's so much more to this city than tennis.
Our alarm went off earlier than we would like to admit, all in prep for a morning filled with flying high over the city via a hot air balloon. Since the balloons are very dependent on weather patterns, the early morning is the best time to head out and enjoy fresh air from in the air.
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This might be the world's largest group handle
Last week we headed down to Melbourne, Australia's second city, for a quick trip chock-full of revisiting old favorites and picking up new ones. Our trip can be considered a whirlwind tour as we were on the ground for just about 72 hours, keeping our explorations non stop.
Typically at this time of year, the city has one thing on its mind: tennis! You see, the Australian Open started this week and has quickly engulfed the city in a tennis fever that is hard to shake. Let's explore what the city has to offer besides tennis.
Dust off your fascinator or air out your seersucker suit, because it's Melbourne Cup time! The most prestigious horse race in Australia is just around the corner and this one is big. It's so big that Victoria, the state that hosts the cup, gets a public holiday to enjoy the races and maybe place a few bets.
In its 152 years, the Emirates Melbourne Cup has maintained its status as the Aussie horse race with most spectators, highest prize winnings, and most outrageous hats. Not everyone has their binoculars on the thoroughbreds; just like it's Kentucky counterpart, this is the event to see and be seen in your best spring fashion.
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Travelers flying through Melbourne on Virgin Australia will have a much more pleasurable experience when checking in and heading to their gate. Currently, the terminal is a bit tired and in definite need of a spruce up andhey!they're giving it one.
Virgin's Aussie airline has already commenced works on the shiny new terminal and hopes to have it completed by the end of the year. Of course, the redesign of the space will be a modern facelift to create a more contemporary and spacious feel. This is just part of the massive overhaul we have been witnessing with the Virgin Australia brand for the past 12 months.
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The whole of Australia is consumed with the Summer tennis circuit currently touring around the country, and the pinnacle of the tennis season down under is marked by the Australian Open played in Melbourne. As the only grand slam tennis tournament held in the Southern Hemisphere, the city is showcased not only as a sport capital, but the cultural capital of Australia.
Melbourne is located on the southeastern Aussie coast and it boasts a vibrant cafe society and an avant garde fashion scene. Originally established during the Australian gold rush, Melbourne's rich history and causes it to be called the "Paris of Down Under." If your plans bring you to the city for tennis, plan to soak up more experiences than just seeing top seeded Novak Djokovic or Caroline Wozniacki.
It might be fall in States, but spring has just sprung up Down Under and we're ready to get out and play at some of the continent's best seasonal festivals. The biggest event this season is definitely the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne. You might wonder that a bunch of horse races grabs the attention of so many Aussies and anyone visiting at the time, but the highlight of the carnivalthe Melbourne Cupis correctly dubbed "the race that stops a nation".
And you don't have to know the slightest thing about horses to get involved. Come next Tuesday afternoon, you won't be able to get service in any shop in Australia as everybody will have their eyes glued to the TV to watch the Melbourne Cup race. Over 100,000 people attend the race in person, and most of them get dressed up either in their best dress or a crazy costume; like at the Kentucky Derby, the most important thing is to have a great hat.