Something that I always look for it in the big cities is the walking Free Tours, that aren´t actually free but you decide at the end of the tour how much you thought the tour was worth. Usually they last around 2 hours and are perform by locals. In this case, they meet everyday at 10:30 and 14:30 in front of the State Library of Victoria, by the Sir Redmond Barry Statue. You don´t need to book but find more info here.
So, at 10:30 we meet the green shirt/sweater guy (free tour guides) in front of this Melbourne´s landmark and cultural icon, which is a 19th century building. We talked a little bit about the library and its statues, walked to the Old Melbourne Gaol, where our guide told us the youngest prisoner was recorded to have 3 years old (Michael Crimsons) and spent 6 months in the prison in 1857 for being idle and disorderly. Also, in 1880 the bushranger and infamous Australian character Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly was hanged for murder at the Melbourne Goal.
We noticed that the city sidewalks and some of its buildings were made of dark stones, which our guide told us were from volcanoes that were between the cities of Adelaide and Melbourne.
We continued walking down Russel street, saw beautiful victorian houses, talked about aboriginal history while we walked to the Royal Exhibition Centre, Carlton gardens and Chinatown, which technically it is the oldest one in the world, because the real oldest chinatown was destroy by an earthquake in San Francisco.
Our guide took us to some specific points to admire the world known street art and coffeeshops of this city, including Bourke street, Block place, Colon st., Centre place, ACDC lane and Hosier lane.
The famous Flinders St. Station, with its distinctive clocks under its dome, was our next stop, where our tour guide told us its original manually operated clocks were replaced in 1983 by digital clocks as part of a redevelopment of the station, but a public discontent reversed the decision in 24hours, and instead, the original clocks were only altered to be automatic operated.
Our next stops were: St. Paul´s Cathedral, the Visitor Centre that used to be a morgue, Federation Square that won the “World´s Fifth-Ugliest Building” award in 2009, the Eureka Tower which it´s the tallest building of Melbourne and has a gold crown and a red stripe at the top that represent the gold rush and blood spilt during the revolt, respectively. We saw the Shrine Remembrance from the distance.
The tour ended up by the Arts Centre, next to the National Gallery of Victoria, where our tour guide explain us that the Centre´s metal structure is influences by the billowing of a ballerina´s tutu and it reaches 162 meters, so people would know where it is.
He recommended us to visit the bar of the Sofitel Hotel, which apparently has an stunning view of the city from its bathroom, but I was so hungry that I went straight to Burger Shack rooftop bar that is hidden in 252 Swanston street on the 7 level. Like most of the things in Melbourne, you´ll never imagine by looking at the building that there is a nice place to eat inside. But besides being peaceful, the burgers (vegetarian also) are amazing. Just take the elevator to the 6th floor and then 1 more floor trough the stairs and you´ll find it. I paid 14 AUD$ for my veggie burger and french fries. Also, the same building has a nice bookstore on the second floor.
After my delicious lunch, I went back to the State Library to get inside and be amaze with this building (for free), to then visit the skydeck of the Eureka building where you get a view from the city for 20 AUD$. They also have a coffee shop there, but if you don´t have enough time I´ll say this building shouldn´t be priority. I did all of these walking, also stopping at different spots to take nice shots of the city.
By the time I was done taking pictures, I took the tram to Mr. Miyagi, to meet my friends there and have one of my own top 10 dinners in the world. Don´t get me wrong, there are probably tons of better places to have dinner in the world, but I really enjoyed the food, drinks and company. So, if you trust my criteria, go to this place and try the nori tacos, the happy´s hand rolls, the bun with pork belly and if you like “lychees” try the Hello Kitty Sour cocktail (girly drink). The only downside is that you can´t book, and according to my friends you´ll always have to wait around 1.5-2 hours to get a table, but if you go knowing this, you´ll have the perfect time to have a few drinks before dinner in the bar they have at the back. Including the before dinner drinks, dinner and 1 bottle of wine, we paid 167 AUD$ for the three of us. We then took a taxi home.
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