Melbourne has a great transport system…especially for tourists, offering a free, half-hourly shuttle bus around the city, as well as free circle-line trams. We often find that a good “first look” around a city is to purchase a ticket for the tourist shuttle bus, from which you can get on or off at the main tourist sites…so, WELL DONE MELBOURNE for providing this valuable service free of charge.

Today we visited the Royal Exhibition Building and World Heritage Gardens, as well as the Melbourne Museum, before making our way to the Italian District of the city, and in particular…Lygon Street. Once again the atmosphere was vibrant…with bars, cafes and restaurants thronging with people and, because this IS the Italian area…with lots of chatter and arm gestures! We stumbled across a pub called “Jimmy Watson’s”…which is now run by the founder’s son, Alan. It seems that the tradition is that on Monday lunchtimes (only) they have a DIY BBQ at the rear of the premises set in a little oasis of bamboo that you really wouldn’t know was there, until you wander inside. Michael had three lamb chops and two huge sausages, and I had an enormous Porterhouse steak…as well as salad and bread for $15 AUD (about £8 or 9). Everyone was SOOO friendly chatting whilst we were barbeque-ing our food, and we got on so well with a number of people that we have all been invited to go back again next Monday!! For those of you that know it…it was just like being at the back of The Taps in Lytham…including the chat about rugby! Yaay!

We also reaquainted ourselves with Flinders Street Station, and Federation Square, which was in the process of being built when we were last in Melbourne in 2002. Fed Square is the enormous glass and camoflage type building, covering almost a full block and housing art galleries, lecture theatre, museum of image as well as many bars, restaurants and cafes. There is also a huge outdoor screen in the open square area…and at the time we were there, they were showing footage of the Winter Olympic games from Vancouver.

There was still time to wander across the bridge over the Yarra River to watch the setting sun. It’s good to be back in Melbourne. What a great city!

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