In all fairness it’s hard to say too much about a place you only get to spend a day or so in.
But then again it’s been well-documented that one can fall in love at first sight.
The first experience I had of Australia proved to be exactly like an episode of ‘Border Security’ the series that highlights the stringent measures in place for tourists entering Oz. Not that I was flagged or needed a customs agent to dig through my luggage looking for any contraband but the entire process of getting through to the luggage collection point did take a while.
But don’t let that put you off, Melbourne was an absolute gem especially considering that the ICC Cricket World Cup was taking place at the famed MCG. That was, ultimately, why I had made the 27 hour flight via Dubai to get there.
In a way I’m glad that my trip, courtesy of the kind folk at SAP who flew me over as part of a media contingent that was given an exclusive insight into how they ran the analytics at cricket’s showpiece, was condensed into two days. It meant that jetlag didn’t have time to set in.
For the times when my eyes grew heavy there was coffee. Fantastic quality at that given that Melbourne is considered one of the coffee capitals of the world.
Every single turn I took down the graffiti lined alleyways seemed to bring me out at some new, hidden gem of a coffee shop. It’s no wonder that in a single afternoon I traversed the length and breadth of the city centre before ending up back at my hotel, the Crowne Metropol.
The one thing that struck me about Melbourne was that it did definitely feel a lot like home. In fact it was like a cross between Maboneng, the inner-city development where my missus and I shared our first flat for a year, and the trendy suburb of Parkhurst.
The only difference was that you could freely walk about safe in the knowledge that nobody was going to try and relive you of your wallet and iPhone. I even saw a 20-something woman sitting on a park bench reading the newspaper while I made the 5km or so walk from the Melbourne Cricket Ground and my hotel after the quarterfinal between India and Bangladesh.
In the short time that I was in Melbourne I stumbled upon China Town, got to grips with the tram system and had a lengthy chat with a guy in a main street tattoo shop about the culture of ink that seemed prevalent. I was also told that Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia and having seen the MCG, AAMI Stadium (home of the Melbourne Rebels), the Rod Laver Arena – scene of the Australian Open – and the Olympic Stadium, still in excellent condition considering the event was held there in 1956, I can fully understand why.
But the real question, and I ask myself this every time I travel somewhere, is would I go back? It’s a simple answer really. Abso-bloody-lutely.