Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Melbourne Trip
Went on an official trip Down Under to Melbourne for two weeks. Landed on the evening of the Australian Open Mens final, got to hear the radio commentary on the taxi!! Later found out that my hotel was a 5 min walk from the Flinders Park Station, and about 10 min to the Rod Laver Arena.
Melbourne is a great place for sports enthusiasts; the city has some of the best sports stadiums in the world, and another good aspect is they are so accessible. MCG, Telstra Dome and Flinders park, are just 5-10 min drive away from each other.

The public transport in Melbourne is the best I have seen. Though Mumbai could give it a run for its money only if it had around half the number of commuters and cars, with the frequency of buses and trains remaining the same.
Melbourne has regular trams, trains, buses criss-crossing the entire metropolis. The tourists can also hop into special trams and buses and take a round of the entire city free of charge.

The two weeks went off in a trice. The highlight of the trip was visiting MCG during the 20-20 Ind-Aus match. Though the match was a damp squib. But the thrill of sitting in a packed MCG, with a grandstand view and glugging away Australian Beer was memorable. Cricket wise it was a treat to watch Gilly hammering away. I gave him a more raucous ovation than even the Aussies themselves. Gilly has been a sweetheart, one of the nicest blokes in World Cricket. Also since it was the season of the "maa-kis", so I gave a primer to my Australian colleagues on Indian expletives.

Another interesting experience was visiting the Melbourne Zoo, was quite intrigued with the idea of seeing the unique Australian fauna, and it was a treat. Especially the playful Platypus,which was darting around furiously in its exclusive darkened enclosure; the serene koala and the cute Meerkats. Also enjoyed seeing the Gorillas and Orang-utans in action.The Kangaroos and Penguins were a disappointment, they were too small and frail than what I expected. Not that it is a valid criteria for feeling dejected, but somehow that was my first impression. After roaming in the zoo, walked around 90 min to go back to the hotel because we couldn't get a taxi. The walk was pleasant though, and we covered a lot of Melbourne on the way.