Every year the main Body Shop conference is held in August in Mebourne so, as I am doing quite well, this year we all decided to go over for a weeks holiday.
We flew Tiger which was basic but at $90 each one way, not to be sniffed. Did the red eye flight over (aptly named for a 1am flight) and it took 3.5 hours. Got the skybus from the airport to Southern Cross Station and didn't see the best of Melbourne on the way through. It reminded me of old Market/ Easton in Bristol with lots of very old decript buildings, very built up, lots of tagging and high rise flats. Not a great start. We then got a free shuttle to the head office of where we were to stay to pick up the keys and then a taxi to our appartment. Taxis are plentiful in Melbourne which was great to see as in WA you really don't bother with taxis as there are so few of them. Our apartment was fantastic. Two beds, bathroom, and open plan kitchen and living room. There was a pool and gym too at the base of the building. All clean, modern and on the 20th floor so we had some fantastic views too although the balcony was scary !!
We spent a few days shopping (and didn't get anywhere near round them all - I could shop there for a year I think and still not see all the shops!) and also went to the visitor centre (which is really good!), gaol, DFO (outlet centre) and hopped on and off the free tourist shuttle and tram. We never really got to grips with the trams which run down the centre of the roads and had a few narrow misses !! We also, at night, went up to the 88th floor of the Eureka building and did 'The Edge' and have the photo and wristband to prove it !! Fantastic views - just wish we could have got the binoculars on the stadium Pink was playing in !! We even tried out the krispy creme doughnuts that everyone raves about but, I have to say, I don't get what is so special about them. Still, I must be missing something as on the flight home people were bring back boxes and boxes of them !!
On Friday I had the Body Shop Business school so Paul and the girls hired a car and headed off to Philip Island where they saw the penguins, chocolate factory and spent many an hour (and $!) at the go karting circuit, they even stayed over night and came back via the aquarium on Saturday. I had my conference on the Saturday and was proud to be nominated for the Values award. I didn't win ... but there's always next year ! Then Saturday night was the gala masquade ball. Very dressy, must have been the first time I wore a dress since my wedding day but it did feel good to get all dressed up for a change.
Although the drink was free and flowing all night, Paul and I paced ourselves so Sunday morning we were able to get up and out without so much as a headache and we spent the day at the markets. There were three markets on that day but we only made two with my favourite being the one at the Arts Centre. Here there were all locally made arts and crafts including some fabulous cupcakes, beautiful pictures, scarves, jewellry etc etc. If we weren't already close to our luggage limit we probably would have bought more !
On the Monday we headed up on the train to Berwick where we met my online pal Hevs. We spent the day being shown the sites around the Dandenongs including lots of little villages we could have spent hours wandering around, feeding the wild parrots who ate out of your hand (and landed on your head !) and admiring the views. We saw areas where the bushfire hit in the summer and you just wouldn't believe it now. Obviously Hevs can see the difference as there used to be loads of trees there but, for us, it just looked like normal green fields. It is amazing how things grow back so quickly. Hevs was fab and even cooked us a lasagne for tea, it was great for Nakita as she met up with Niall who also has dyspraxia and ADHD and Flynn who was so much in our thoughts and prayers for such a long time when he was born.
On Tuesday we checked out and left our bags at head office before spending the day at Chapel Street (more shops) and finished off with a meal at TGI Fridays (we don't have one in WA) before heading back home.
My overall impressions ? I loved it. In the end I likened it to London, so many things to do (I didn't go with a list of things to see but I have returned with a long list of things I want to see when we go back), so many shops, so many people of different cultures which was reflected both in peoples' attitudes to you and in the food at the thousands of cafes and restaurants ... finally decent take aways and loads of vegetarian food to chose from. There were lots of the little birds everywhere, not full of magpies and rooks. Although it was colder temperature wise than where we lived, it didn't 'feel' as cold as there wasn't a wind, the sky was grey most of our time there but it didn't bother me as there was so much to do. It was busy, anytime, day, night, Sundays, there were loads of people everywhere and I loved that. However, that was the CBD of course,. When we ventured out I noticed that the houses were very much like UK ones, closer together, less garden etc but we only saw a small part of VIC obviously. What I did see though made me want to go back again, soon ! Not a place I'd want to live as yet though .. that search is still on !!
02:39 - Sun 9 August 2009
- 'That' call
- geordie mandy
- by the sea side