Australia Travel Blog: Part 7 - Qantas International Business Lounge

At Melbourne Airport: Going to New Zealand

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 4

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 5

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 6

At Melbourne (MEL) airport I went to the Quantas Business Class counter to get my boarding pass. I was expecting a lot more hospitality like what I got at EVA AIR counter, but it was nowhere near that. Actually, it felt like an economy class counter. Once I was done at the counter, I was heading to the security gate.

Unexpectedly, I was chosen, along with a couple of female flight attendants, for a special random security check. All airports do this kind of random checking, but this was my first time I had this experience pulling me out from the regular queue.

All of us were taken to a small room, asked to open our luggage and lay it flat. I did what I was told. A security person went through my bag and ran a detector. It was very quick. After finishing there, I had the idea that I didn’t have to go through the regular security check, but I was wrong. I had to go through the usual security check again, but this part was quick as well.

Where Is the Lounge?

Quantas Business Class travelers to foreign destinations get to experience the Qantas International Business Lounge. It took me a while to get to the lounge because I was looking for the lounge on the ground level.

But the lounge is actually located on the basement level 1. Quantas Business Class lounge is used by Quantas, Oneworld partner airlines, and even non-alliance partners such as China Eastern.

In the next post, I will talk little more about the Quantas Business Class lounge. I am flying to Auckland, New Zealand, but I will be back to Australia again, in Sydney from Auckland.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 4

Supermarket Trips in Melbourne

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

I have visited several supermarkets or grocery stores such as Coles and Woolworths in Melbourne to compare prices with grocery stores in Toronto. I was expecting most of the items to be higher priced than Canada because that’s what I have heard in the past.

But I was surprised that prices are very comparable and some items are even cheaper than Canada. Dairy products are really unbeatable in Australia. Soft drinks and some other dry foods were also better-priced. On average, if you compare everything, I have to say it’s pretty much very comparable with what I have seen in Toronto. Some items are more expensive in Toronto and cheaper in Melbourne and vice versa.

What struck me in the meat section is the Kangaroo meat. It’s a common item in Australia, which I haven’t seen in any other country, for obvious reasons.

Roundabouts in the Intersections

In most of North America, we have intersections with either stop signs or traffic lights. In Australia, I saw the roundabouts, which was a totally new concept for me. Roundabouts control the traffic flow in intersections without any signals or stop signs.

Motorists are forced to slow down and follow certain rules to go through these roundabouts. At an intersection, for instance, someone can go through straight, beating the red light or not stopping, but at a roundabout you can’t do that because you need to go around the roundabout. I find it safer and more efficient. It’s just a matter of getting used to it if you never used it before.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

Wandering in Melbourne Downtown

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

After visiting the waterfront of Melbourne, I started to walk nearby surrounding areas. One environmentally-friendly transportation policy I noticed is that public transit is free within certain boundaries in downtown. This encourages people to take public transit and not to drive. I hopped on a tram and stayed within boundaries, going around to see as much as possible.

I liked Melbourne’s downtown a lot. The friendly people and excellent public transit network, along with many other things, make it one of the top ten best places to live in the world.

Although population- and area-wise Melbourne is bigger than Toronto, I noticed that it’s got a lot less skyscrapers than Toronto. It kind of reminds me of how Toronto was 20 years ago. I saw a lot of construction, but possibly its priority is not building too many skyscrapers.

And that’s what I found the most striking about Melbourne; you will feel like you’re living in a city with all the modern amenities a metropolis has to offer, but it’s not a chaotic and hectic place like many other big cities. Just 45 minutes from the city will take you to suburbs where the pace of life is even more relaxed and gives off the vibe of living in a small town.

It’s no wonder Melbourne ranks so high and is always one of the top ten best places to live. One thing I found very weird is the weather in Melbourne. It fluctuates a lot and can change within hours. Because houses in Australia are not equipped with a heating system, at night I felt cold when the temperature dropped significantly, but during the day it was very hot.

Some days, even during the day, I had to wear a light jacket in Melbourne in November. This did not happen in Sydney, where I found it was always hot. So Melbourne weather is full of contrasts and fluctuations.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Australia Travel Blog: Melbourne Highlights & Impressions

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Public Transport

My first To Do List item for Melbourne was to see downtown and I decided to take public transport to reach it. I had to take a train from Wyndham Vale station, change at Southern Cross station and then get off at Flinders Street station.

Melbourne has a lot more routes than Toronto and there are a lot more variety of colorful trains. The transit system I found very efficient and functional; I had no problem reaching my destination. Whenever I was in doubt about the transfers or right stations, I asked either passengers or transit employees and they were beyond helpful.

Southern Cross station is a huge, mega transfer hub for various routes and I spent a lot of time at the station making videos and taking pictures. This station has a shopping complex or mini mall inside and I had my coffee and a snack. Small, medium, and large coffees cost $4.00, $4.65, $5.00 AUD and I find coffee is more expensive in Australia than Canada.

Flinders Street, Yarra River, Melbourne Downtown Waterfront

After changing to a different train from Southern Cross station, I got off at Flinders Street station. Flinders Street is an iconic, historic station which happens to be the busiest railway station in Australia. Its dome-shaped arched entrance with tower and clock give it a distinctive look and it is one of the city's most recognisable landmarks. The full station stretches two whole city blocks in the heart of Melbourne downtown.

A few steps from Flinders Street station is downtown waterfront along the Yarra river and there are tons of restaurants, including open-air restaurants and floating restaurants on the river. There is a cute, white pedestrian bridge called Even Walker bridge, which adds a different charm to the downtown waterfront part under the shadow of the skyscrapers.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3