Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Australia - Day 7 - Melbourne and Victoria Market

Today was our "city" day. Margaret drove the bus to pick up Sue, Heather, Jeff and the boys, and we were off to our first stop, which was the Victoria Market. I'd forgotten that I'd been to the market when I was here in 1991 until Auntie Edie reminded me that this was where I'd purchased sheepskin rugs. (Some as a wedding present for Heather and Jeff, and some for myself.)

The first part of the market we went into was mostly flea-market. Tons of vendors selling mostly touristy type things. We bought some camphor laurel cutting boards (which smell heavenly and have really cool grain patterns), then moved on.

While we were enjoying ourselves at the market, Dave and I didn't get really excited until we made it into the produce area. Very Victorian looking and lots of gourmet food stalls. It would have been fun to really shop there, but traveling with perishables would have been problematic.

From the market, we headed to Federation Square. This is where driving the bus proved challenging. Turns out, we were a little too tall from many of the parking garages. When we finally found one that could accommodate our height, we had to search for a stall on the ground level, and once found, Margaret had a real tricky time maneuvering into place. She did an outstanding job, even if some people inside the bus were afraid to watch.

We walked to Federation Square, where we popped into the Australian Center for the Moving Image to see the Pixar: 20 Years of Animation exhibit. My nephews, Dave and I were all excited to see this exhibit, which showed how Pixar has brought stories like Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc. to life. A highlight of the exhibition was the zoetrope, which contained all sorts of models from Toy Story. The zoetrope would spin in sync with a strobe, making the models appear animated.

The writer in me really liked all the commentary about how Pixar brings a story to life. One quote that really stuck with me was by John Lasseter: "Computers done create computer animation any more than a pencil creates pencil animation. What creates computer animation is the artist."

Once we had finished the Pixar exhibit, the fog had cleared up outside and we were able to enjoy Federation Square a little better. The square has a really modern look that a lot of people apparently don't like, although most people seem to admit that it's functional as a community gathering place. I found the square to be interesting and fun to explore. I even liked the juxtaposition of the modern architecture against the more Victorian architecture of its neighbors. To me, it made the city seem more vibrant and alive, as though it's never stopped growing and changing.

From Federation Square, we walked along the Yarra River to find lunch, then we went to the top of the Eureka Tower to enjoy the views. Unfortunately, the wait was too long to experience The Edge, but we were able to watch it in action. It's a little room with glass walls and floor. You board The Edge when it's tucked inside the building, then it gradually pulls away. The glass on the walls and floor appears to be LED, so that when it's moving away from the building, the glass is obscured. Once it's all the way out, the LED turns clear, and those inside get the illusion that the floor has dropped away, revealing a view of the ground 88 floors straight down.

From the Eureka Tower we walked to the casino, stopped to rest, then wandered back to the bus, enjoying our views of the city as we walked.

For all the time I've spent in the Melbourne area, I've spent very little time in the city. Maybe someday I'll stay in downtown Melbourne for a night and get the true city experience.

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