My flight out of Honolulu was delayed so I missed my connection in Sydney. I finally arrived in Melbourne at 10pm and after a lengthy taxi ride with a Pakistani driver, who was bemoaning the fact that he had spent two years in a detention center and had been waiting six years for an interview with immigration officials, I was glad to be at my hotel, the Mercure Welcome, in the center of Melbourne. I was exhausted from the long flight and quickly unpacked and fell into bed.
The next morning, I started walking toward the Botanical Gardens stopping along the way to take a few photos of the National Gallery. It wasn’t open yet, so I went on my way taking photos at the bridge over the Ybarra River (it was a little eerie realizing I was standing on the bridge where a terrorist had struck down and killed several pedestrians a few months earlier), capturing the red hat ladies at Flinders Street Station, and spending a couple of hours wandering through the Botanical Gardens. I hopped on one of the free trams and got off at the National Gallery, where I viewed some interesting exhibits, before making my way back to the hotel.
The concierge at the hotel, Chris Pappas, was great. I made reservations for an AATKings Tour of the Great Ocean Road the next day. I also booked a tour with the same company for another all-day tour when I returned from my New Zealand cruise. Chris recommended several restaurants a few blocks away on Hardware Lane. I chose Max’s Bar and had some delicious cannelloni and a glass of Pinot Gris. I decided to check out the huge shopping mecca, The Emporium, across from my hotel. I found a place to get my nails done before heading back to the hotel. My body was confused from all the time changes and I decided to put my feet up and relax for the rest of the day.
The tour of the Great Ocean Road was even better than I had hoped. AATKings picked me up at the hotel at 7:30 and took me to their central distribution point where I boarded the bus for my tour. Our driver, Steve, announced that we were going to do the tour in reverse to avoid some of the long delays and parking problems experienced the day before. The weather was perfect, and I was able to take lots of photos while we were at the area called “the twelve apostles”. We made several stops at “London Bridge” and other attractions before returning to Melbourne via the twisting, turning road that followed the coast line.