Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coming Home

Colours of Melbourne - Part 1

MY HEART was in my throat. I could literally feel the blood coursing through my veins. The air was filled with an atmosphere of both excitement and trepidation that were in direct competition with one another.

As Jetstar flight number JQ8 from Singapore touched down on the tarmac of the Melbourne International Airport, it was a cool yet beautiful sunny spring day in this, the capital of Australia’s ‘garden state’.

As we made our way down the concourse of Terminal 2, along with the other nine winners of the 2011 OMY blog awards, I was abuzz with the expectation of the next few days’ coming adventures, spanning the south-eastern parts of the state of Victoria.

Upon stepping out of the terminal and into the fresh breeze, I couldn’t help but notice that there was not a cloud in the sky. Although the weather forecast had indicated overcast and even wet weather, I personally took this as a positive sign of things to come.

And I was not to be disappointed!

I was actually unsure how I would react or feel returning to the city which I once called home for more than a decade of my (relatively) short existence. However, as the shuttle bus navigated its way along the streets of the CBD to the Citigate Hotel in Flinders Street, it quickly became apparent that although some things seemed slightly different, the majesty of Melbourne had essentially not changed in the past five years since my last visit to what I consider to be one of the most (if not the most) beautiful cities on the face of this earth.

As I pointed out some familiar landmarks to my fellow travelers, and we discussed such things as the obvious ‘Victorian’ influences on architectural design and the unique inner-city transport that is the ‘tram’, I was once again grateful for the sunny weather, which enabled me to wear my sunglasses to reduce the glare… the shades also covered my emotions, and if anyone else happened to notice the tears welling in my eyes, I would have needed to explain that there must have been some errant pieces of dust collecting in my tear ducts… that would have been my story anyway, and I would’ve stuck to it.

It is my intention to break the visit down to a series of articles, because the few days which we spent indulging ourselves in the food, the heart-stopping scenery, some breathtaking activities, the lights and sounds and the unique atmosphere of this Mecca of arts and culture, can definitely not be captured and described in one sitting or reading. Furthermore, I managed to take more than 2,000 photographs along the way, so after I filter through to select the ‘best of the best’ I will post just a handful here and will create links to the online photo albums for some of the best snapshots I have ever taken (even if I do say so myself).

Each of the articles will be posted at my Aussie Pete blog, my OMY star blog, and most importantly at our ‘shared’ blog, 'The Colours of Melbourne', where each of the travelling bloggers also will be sharing their experiences and personal insights and highlights from this amazing adventure, with sincere thanks to Tourism Victoria who organized our itineraries.

As an aside it is important to mention that, as expected, along with Jerome and Lawrence who I have had the pleasure of travelling with before, I have made some new wonderful friendships with my fellow award-winning bloggers from Singapore and Malaysia… an absolute great bunch of people, all unique and gifted in their own way – from experience, I can tell you that these kind of bonds are not easily broken and I am positive that we will all remain close friends for a long time, with common stories and memories to lean back on.

Finally – if, dear reader, you enjoy my series of articles covering our Melbourne escapades, there are some wonderful prizes up for grabs for both you and me… simply click on this link and vote for me on the ‘Colours of Melbourne’ website. Voting opens on 15th September and closes on the 5th October. Voters stand to share in Jetstar travel vouchers among other cool prizes.

Click here to view more pictures of 'The Arrival'

I'm sure I won't forget to thank our fabulous hosts throughout the upcoming Colours of Melbourne series of articles, but here they are anyway - the very bubbly and knowledgable, Jenny, and the one and only Tony - a gentleman through and through (although he has some dubious tastes in regards to local Melbourne football teams):

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