Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 5

Where Is Burger King? I See Hungry Jack’s

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 4

The fast food restaurant Hungry Jack’s struck me in Melbourne because of its similarities with Burger King. Later on, I found out that Hungry Jack’s is indeed Burger King in Australia. Burger King could not trademark its name because it was already taken, so it’s called Hungry Jack’s in Australia.

The Whopper tasted the same at Hungry Jack’s in Melbourne as it does Canada or USA. When I went to New Zealand after finishing my Australia trip, I saw a Burger King actually called Burger King in New Zealand.

No Regular Coffee in Australia

I usually drink 2 cups of coffee a day. The difficulty I had in Australia (and New Zealand as well) is that there is no regular coffee (coffee with cream and sugar). Wherever I asked for regular coffee, they looked at me like they had no idea what I was talking about.

Australians love their coffee, but they prefer barista-made coffee. I did not find anywhere where they would pour brewed black coffee and add cream or milk and sugar to make regular coffee. So the trick I learned after trying a few different barista-made specialty coffees is that latte and Americano are very close to my favourite regular coffee.

Fast Food Chain Aesthetic Looks

McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s, 7-Eleven, or any other multinational companies or restaurants have one thing common in Australia and that is they all look better in Australia than they do in Canada or USA.

The designing, cleanliness, furniture, aesthetic looks - basically everything looked better and more higher-end than their North American versions.

However, I compared grocery chains, both value and upscale, and Canadians are unbeatable in grocery stores.

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

Australia Travel Blog: Melbourne Highlights & Impressions

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

At the MEL Airport

I expected to meet live immigration officers at the Melbourne Airport Tullamarine Airport (MEL). But all the necessary immigration formalities were done by a SmartGates automated machine. I obtained my Australian Electronic Travel Authority or ETA online months before my trip, which is just an electronic visa for Canadians.

At one point when I was walking, a police dog came to my luggage and started sniffing. I stopped and let him sniff, but he lost interest right away and moved onto sniffing someone else.

The whole airport process went so fast and smooth that I thought I missed something. So I asked the standing immigration officer near the exit gate if there was something else. He pointed me to the exit gate and I was relieved.

First Hour in Melbourne

Once I found my relatives at the airport, we headed for the parking lot. The first thing I noticed was that it was not as warm as I was expecting. I was coming from Singapore, so expected hot and humid weather. But it was rather cool and even a light jacket would be appropriate.

If you are a world traveler, you know the feeling the first few hours in a new country. I was trying to notice everything surrounding me to my heart’s content.

Vehicles operate on the left side of the road and drivers sit on the right side, which is opposite than North America. Road and highway signs and markings look noticeably different than Canada as well.

Destination Wyndham Vale

We were heading towards Wyndham Vale, which is a suburb of Melbourne with 25,000 population. It took about 35 to 40 minutes to reach. Wyndham Vale reminded me of suburbs of Toronto like Ajax or Markham.

The first thing I noticed was that average houses are smaller than Canada and tress or plants are different too due to the hot weather. I noticed lots of birds and crows and their chirping was loud.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2