Hotel Fever

Australia’s second largest city, spreading out from the banks of the Yarra River, gives a good first impression



And when you dig into Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria, it just gets better. In the Central Business District downtown, turn any corner and you can end up in a little alley filled with café patrons by day, bar patrons by night


Some of the outer neighborhoods don’t disappoint either. Fitzroy just northeast of downtown is renowned for its hotels, so on a magnificent Saturday afternoon, with an all day tram pass in hand, I decided to take a tour. My travels through the day took me to The Builders Arms Hotel


The Napier Hotel


The Rainbow Hotel


The Union Club Hotel


and the Standard Hotel


As you have probably guessed by now, none of these hotels offer overnight accommodation. Instead they serve as the neighborhood lounges where locals get together. Each one has its own unique atmosphere, with great decorations and memorabilia


Interestingly enough, a pot of beer in most parts of Australia is a small cup not more than eight ounces. Does that make “a pot of beer” an oxymoron? Pots seemed like the way to go given the early start time of the hotel crawl.

After a great afternoon in Fitzroy, I decided to continue the crawl down by the beach in St. Kilda, and caught the tram that way. The Hotel Esplanade, or Espy as they call it, seemed like a good first stop


A great day turned even better when a guy named Phil Para and his band got on stage at the Espy. With the falling sun streaming in through the front windows


these guys started to play. Pretty soon Phil Para and his Fender had the place going crazy


He absolutely ripped it up, playing Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Santana tunes as the crowd went berserk. It was awesome.


If you are ever in Melbourne, you must see this guy play. His website has his schedule and a few cool comments:


An unforgettable Saturday, spent entirely in hotels. And the sun hadn’t even gone down yet
After a few hours of shooting pool down the road at The Prince of Wales Hotel, it was time to head back into town for one final stop. The best named shop in town


It goes without saying, the fries are excellent. The cashier looked at me blankly when I insisted that their newly added mini-burgers be renamed Piggy-burgers. Shut up and eat your fries seemed to be on her mind, so I left it at that. Maybe it’s not required reading anymore.

It was Super Bowl Monday here yesterday, live coverage started at 10:00 a.m. Watched the first half in bed, along with the hideous Rolling Stones halftime show, before heading out to catch the rest. Favorite line from the Aussie commentator after Big Ben got intercepted right at the goal line and returned for 70 yards: “If I were his coach, I would throw him to the ground and back a truck over his head right now, that throw was so stupid.” Good commentary at least from a not so good game, although I know a few Steelers fans who are elated.

And that’s it for Melbourne, best city in Australia so far in my opinion. All of the Aussies I have met along the way keep saying I should see Tasmania, so I’m catching a flight to Hobart in a couple of hours to see what all the fuss is about.

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