I won’t deny I love living in Melbourne.
It is a fantastic thing about a place where you live when you continue to discover new precincts/areas and things to do. This is what Alex and I experienced this weekend when we went to the Australian Open at Melbourne Park and stayed at the Hilton Hotel, South Wharf, Melbourne.
The Australian Open tennis tournament is currently on in Melbourne and Alex loves the event so he organised tickets for us for the Friday night session and also booked a night’s accommodation at the “new” Hilton Hotel at South Wharf in a twin room (why a twin room you ask?).
Alex has finished his latest work contract and, after being taken out for lunch by his (now ex) boss, organises to grab the car and drive to the Hilton and check us in. I have a busy afternoon at work and we arrange for Alex to meet me outside my office in the city after I finish work. It’s just gone 5:30pm and I am keen to get out of the office and I ring Alex to see how far away he is… he tells me he is still at the Hilton. Alex explains that we have been given a twin room. He said he has been telling them (the Hilton desk) that it is our anniversary… why would he book a twin room…. blah blah blah.
Suspecting it is possible it may not be the error of the Hilton, I tell Alex I will check our Agoda booking before he does any more foot stamping. Alex is still in the room (with the twin beds) waiting for word from the hotel desk as to moving us to a queen room as the hotel have already told him they are fully booked. I am still on the phone with Alex and I can hear the conversation at the other end…. they can move us to a queen room for an additional $300 (which Alex quickly declines). Having logged into Agoda I can see our booking … “Alex, you booked a twin room”.
So, even though Alex thought he booked a queen room (not a twin room), the Hilton were gracious enough to listen to Alex’s ramblings, find an alternative option and even arranged to deliver some champagne and strawberries to the room. I love this Hotel already and I haven’t seen it yet. Maybe the champagne is for me for having to put up with Alex?
Anyway, with the puzzle of the twin beds now sorted, Alex can now leave the hotel and we decide to meet at Federation Square and head to the tennis from there.
I make my way across town via Swanston Street, which is buzzing.
I guess, given it is a mild Friday night with the Australian Open being on as well as a soccer match and all the other stuff Melbourne does it is not surprising. There are buskers and artists lining the footpath, there is Sandalwood incense burning and people (both scary and not so scary) of all sorts making their way to their various destinations.
I get to our meeting spot and Alex is not there yet… hmmm… so I ring him…. “I am five blocks away” is his reply … “are you walking?” I ask, reasoning in my head that would be the most logical explanation for him taking so long (and considering the hotel is only 6 blocks away from our meeting spot). “I forgot my ticket and had to go back to the hotel” … yep, would forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on…. so I wait.
I end up just jumping on the tram Alex is on which will take us direct to Melbourne Park (the home of the Australian Open with a fantastic venue and annual event).
Our night ticket ($110 per ticket) allows us into the main arena, Rod Laver Arena, to watch both the women’s and men’s third round scheduled matches (day 5).
First to play are the women and this match is between Venus Williams (USA) v Maria Sharapova (Russia).
We find our seats which are in the nose bleeds, row “oo”.
The very last row of seats in the stadium are “pp”. We are the second last row in the stadium… hmmm… and then…. just when I had come to grips with our seat location, Marge Simpson sits in the seat in front of me… no way, who wears their hair like that to the tennis? You cannot be serious!
Maria Sharapova makes an easy game of it.
The next match is the men’s game between Marcos Baghdatis (Cypress) v David Ferrer (Spain). This is a relatively convincing win for the Spaniard.
With the tennis over we are looking to catch up with Alex’s nephew who is transferring to his work’s New York office which is very exciting (also for us as we are planning to visit him in New York). We need to find the bar he is at which is called the “Emerald Peacock”.
Some Melbourne bars tend to think it is a good idea to not advertise they are actually there… we are near the right address but there are no signs, in the end I decided to ask some bouncers who are outside an open door leading to a staircase… (sounds obvious) and yes jackpot! We are ushered inside into a dark and seductive interior. I love these interiors, despite not being able to see where you are going, I always look better in dim lights so I am figuring I am looking like a goddess in this lighting (or lack of it). We do a couple of laps of both levels and eventually find our target.
Two drinks and a tequila shot later … we are invited to continue on for an after midnight kebab and … while I am up for some dancing… I don’t need a kebab and Alex is pulling a grandpa act on me to go back to the hotel so we hop a taxi for the $10 cab ride to the Hilton.
I now get my first look at the “new” Hilton (as opposed to the old Hilton which is located near the MCG) and it is very sexy and so Melbourne! Again with the dark and mysterious theme but it is so very chic and fabulous.
Up the lift to our room and the troublesome twin beds. This is an excellent room with gorgeous bathroom
and those lovely fresh crisp white hotel sheets that I love, of course even nicer because the bed has been made by somebody other than me!
Grandpa Alex says he has now got his second wind and is watching some sport on the TV and wants to chat… “Too bad…go to sleep”.
It is now morning and after our twin bed booking situation, Alex claims the price of the room ($280) includes breakfast for two. I choose to reserve my delight until this is substantiated by the staff at breakfast as I don’t want any surprise breakfast bill to pay.
It is confirmed, our breakfast is included and what a breakfast, the breakfast spread is fantastic and the staff are brilliant. I would recommend a stay at the Hilton in a second just for the breakfast.
We are rolled out of the breakfast dining area and the staff is still offering us take away coffees.
We grab our bags and do the checkout thing.
Time for a bit of window shopping at the Direct Factory Outlet “DFO” which is right next door to the Hilton. Plenty of stores here including a Homemaker centre (for all those Susie’s) plus the DFO for clothing etc.
Leaving the shopping complex section, we exit onto the restaurants and cafes which line the boardwalk along the Yarra River which is part of the South Wharf precinct.
Other “attractions” here also include the Polly Woodside (a boat) and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, locally known as “Jeff’s Shed” (Jeff being the former state Premier responsible for the exhibition centre’s inception).
South Wharf is a spot I haven’t seen before. It is situated a little further on from the casino at Southbank (and is accessible from the casino by foot).
There is more here than I was expecting and with the lovely sunny day that Melbourne has put on we grab a drink and sit for a while.
As all good things must come to an end, so do our drinks and we head home to Meow Meow (the cat). We have some time to relax at home this afternoon before heading off to dinner with Alex’s family.
Thanks Melbourne… the Australian Open and the Hilton Hotel, South Wharf have been ace!