Melbourne

IMG_0548I definitely feel like I've grown up in a pretty small town when I come to Melbourne and the tall buildings impress me. It feels like Vancouver but bigger. There's an older feel to it though. There are some older churches and other buildings scattered throughout the new high rises. From the Federation Square I could see a couple of churches that I have no idea of their age. They seem to be quite old because of the architecture and they look even older because of the brand new glass buildings all around them.I was told there were a couple things to watch out for in Melbourne, the trams and the dreaded hook turn. Hook turns are just a crazy way of doing a u-turn. There aren't as many roundabouts here as in other parts of Australia that I've seen. I'm assuming it's because they take up too much space. U-turns are a piece of cake with round-a-bouts, it's almost as if someone was thinking when they said lets make a lot of roundabouts. You want to do a u-turn? Just go around the roundabout all the way. Simple. You're not sure where you are going? Go around the roundabout again. Easy. Don't go around too many times as you might get dizzy and drive off the road. I haven't done it yet but I've not had a reason to go around a roundabout more than once.Trams are all over the place in downtown Melbourne. At first, all I noticed was a bus-like vehicle screeching down the track, throwing sparks off the cables and stopping every once and a while. As a pedestrian and driver you have to watch out for them as they sort of have their own rules of the road. Tram goes and then everyone else goes. There are a few signs that flash "Watch out for tram", but they don't appear regularly. I had very little idea about how they operated when I first arrived but the idea seems pretty simple. There are a bunch of different tracks and they are numbered. They go from one end to the track and then back. Certain tracks go to certain areas of the city. For example number 16 goes from the University of Melbourne to St Kilda. It hits the end, and then turns around and comes back. Pretty simple. They pretty much stop and open their doors and every intersection they stop at and you can hop on or off. There are some actual stations that they stop at and people can line up at but most of the "stations" are a strip in the middle of the road with a railing that you stand by. Trams whiz by on one side and traffic on the other. It's not very relaxing.Once you get on the tram you can ride it as far as you want. Tickets seem to be $6.80 for a day pass before 6, and they drop to $3.70 after 6. Getting a pass lets you ride all day. Getting a pass is not exactly an easy task though. There is a large machine about the middle of each tram that you stuff change into(no cards or bills) and you get a ticket. There are 3 rows of buttons and you select one button from each row depending on what kind of ticket you want. I asked someone how to do it when I got on the first one and he did it for me so I still don't know which buttons to press. After you have a ticket you just stuff it in a little validation machine each time you get on and off and it says stuff on the screen like "validated". I'm not sure what happens if you try and use the tram without paying. Most people seem to pay somehow but some don't. I'm not sure if they have a ticket and just don't validate it or they actually haven't paid. I was going to ask the driver when I got off at my stop but apparently it's against the rules to talk to the drivers.Downtown Melbourne is set up as a gride of streets about 5 blocks by 10 blocks. A free tram called City Circle runs around this grid all day and doesn't cost anything to ride. It's a neat way to see the city and get around if you've got a bit of extra time. There is also a bus that goes around the city but out a further than the tram. I'm not sure exactly where this goes which means I have to go adventuring!IMG_0554I'm in Melbourne for a few more days to catch a footy game on Sunday so there will be another post about this pretty city and some photos to go along with it! ( Uploading photos from the hostel takes forever!!)