Christmas in Melbourne

Christmas in Melbourne. Ron has this obsession with going to church on Sundays, but even more so on Christmas. Some years I go with him, while other years I find a coffee shop to bide away the time. This year, he decided attend the services of the Episcopal Cathedral, so I went just for the show. Our seats were in the back, put I could not see a nativity anywhere in sight. Ron said there was a tree, but that passed me by also.

Talk about deadly dull, this is one of the most morbid “celebrations” I have attended. For what is supposed to be regarded as a celebrated occasion, the music was most maudlin. It was difficult to tell the difference. Each song sounded like a funeral march, not celebratory in any stretch of the imagination. It is no wonder that most of the people were seniors, there was nothing here to inspire young people.

Streets were emptier than yesterday, but still fuller than what would be expected for Christmas in the city. All of the stores were closed, but a smattering of coffee shops and restaurants were open. Others had signs showing they were closed until January 5th extending the holiday for their employees. With limited choices to amuse ourselves, we went to the Royal Botanical Gardens. The garden was founded in 1846 by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller and William Guilfoyle, the first two directors. The Baron was considered the greatest botanist of the 19th century. Today, the garden is over thirty-eight hectares with more than 52,000 individual plants, representing 10,000 different species from around the world. We have been to a number of botanical gardens, but this ranks as one of the more beautiful. Each section is lush, well categorized, and filled with interesting specimens. On the outskirts, there are wonderfully assorted statues dotted here and there to add a special stop and pause moment.

What was most intriguing for us were the Christmas picnics. We had seen notices of this in butcher shops and grocery stores, but it was still funny to see people sprawled out on a blanket with Santa hats on and the Rubbermaid storage containers spread around with serving utensils. It seems to be quite common here to have picnics from the looks of the number sharing the lawns of the gardens.

With the movie Australia released, we decided we should see it here and today was a choice day for some entertainment. The casino multiplex was where it was showing at 3:45. Similar to Hungary, the seating is assigned, but they showed us where seats were available and let us choose our own. The cost of a ticket was a shocking $16.50 each!! Ron decided to opt for popcorn, but I did not; the smallest size popcorn was $6.00. The coming attractions literally took up thirty-five minutes before the feature film began, but since we had no where to rush off to, it did not matter much.

Did I like the movie? Yes and no. The scenery was at times breathtakingly beautiful, but I could not see myself wanting to spend any amount of time in most of the places shown. Sure, I would like to visit them, but after one night’s stay, move on. The story was disappointing. It seemed like it took part old Western movie, part WW movie and reset it into an Australian setting and viola, you have a new movie. Change the Native Americans to Aboriginals. I cannot say that would miss anything that Hugh Jackman is in, but Nicole Kidman seems disingenuous in her role. Lasting close to three hours, it was entertainment, nothing more. Would I take the history portrayed as factual? Hardly, but it may make me ponder and dig deeper into investigating it for sure.

We decided to eat at the food court at the casino; both of us could have whichever cuisine we had a hankering for, but both of us chose Indian. Food whether restaurant or grocery store is beyond expensive. Restaurants use entrée to mean appetizer or as in some places a starter. For what we would call an entrée, they call a ‘main’. Every establishment seems to love the 20s; most ‘mains’ seem to start at $20.00 or more. There has hardly been a night when we have left a restaurant spending less than $50.00 for the two of us and that only includes one beer each. If we had a heavy bar tab, I could understand it, but we never do.

Our time in Melbourne is coming to a close soon. We both are in love with the city. It is going to be difficult to leave here, even if we don’t know what pleasures Sydney will bring. With that in mind, we headed back to the hotel again expecting a quiet night, but not finding it. Since so many obviously cannot find holiday comfort with family, it is gratifying that they could find it with each other.