Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Aussie 2: Melbourne and The Boxing Day Ashes Test

We reached Melbourne early in the evening well in time to prepare for a nice Christmas eve party. Our hotel staff in Melbourne gave us a nice Christmas gift as they upgraded our room. So now, we had a nice two room suite on 23rd floor giving us a great view of the city. It was around 6 when we entered the room giving us a nice sunset view while we sipped some coffee in our living area. 
MCG over the Yarra river
View from our 23rd floor suite
When I started to find a place to go to in the night, I was surprised to find that most bars in Australia tend to be closed or have an early closing on Christmas eve as most locals prefer to spend the evening at home with their family and loved ones. We anyways needed to go out for dinner so we walked to Red Pepper, the Indian restaurant close to our hotel. Thankfully, it was open and we had a nice filling dinner of Indian food cooked the Indian way right here in Melbourne CBD. After the dinner, we thought of trying our luck in the Crown Casino. 
Us in the street with Graffiti
Flinders Street Station
Considering how full our bellies felt, we thought of walking to the Casino. We passed Federation Square & Flinders Street Station while walking and hung out their for some time. Some friends had told us about Transport Bar at Federation Square so we thought of having a few drinks there. But they refused us entry as they were about to close as well. Finally, we reached Crown Casino with tired legs as the walk turned out to be way longer than we initially thought. This Casino was good but considering that I have been to Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, it seemed pretty small. However, we decided to try our luck. I played Blackjack and others played Poker. After two hours in the Casino, we were up 200 Australian dollars and decided to call it quits there. 
Walk to the MCG

Rod Laver Arena
Next day, we didn't make any particular plans and thought of just wandering around in Melbourne CBD hoping to catch some Christmas events happening in the area. Lunch at Red Pepper was followed by some riverside drinks at Transport Bar. After this, we wanted to go to Eureka Skydeck, the tallest building in Melbourne, to get a bird's eye view of the city. Thanks to it being Christmas Day, even the skydeck closed early.

While we were walking around the city, we found a street near Federation Square which had some really nice Graffiti in it. Considering that we were unable to find any major attraction open, we treated the street as an attraction and clicked lots of pictures of each other with the interesting Graffiti. As the weather was pleasant, we took a long stroll on the banks of Yarra river stopping at some of the riverside restaurants. We had an early dinner tonight as we wanted to sleep early to be able to wake up in time to attend the first session of the BOXING DAY ASHES Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

KP in the nets
For those who don't already know, MCG is the biggest cricket ground in the world and this cricket series, Ashes, is supported very vigorously by the cricket watchers of both nations, England & Australia. To understand how high the passions run, we Indians can compare it to a India-Pakistan cricket series. Even though Australia had already won the first 3 matches of this 5 match series, it was expected that the record for the biggest audience was to be broken at MCG on boxing day. 
Anthem time
Here is a video of Mitchell Johnson hitting the deck hard!!
Considering our experience of attending matches here in India and the time it takes to get into the venue, we woke up very very early and left our hotel room by 8 in the morning. After a quick breakfast, we walked to the MCG. It was just a short walk away on the other side of Yarra river. From the walkway, one also gets to see the many practice courts of another sporting Mecca, Rod Laver Arena - the home of Australian Open. Just outside the MCG, we found Kevin Pietersen practising in the nets. Also, Brett Lee came out of a cab just in front of us. A few kids asked him for an autograph which he refused as he clearly seemed late and was rushing to the ground.
Watson to Carberry
And the record was broken!!!
We got into the stadium with minimal fuss as there was hardly and queues. Once we reached inside, then I realised the overwhelmingly huge size of this ground. The stadium wasn't full yet as there still was time for the match to start. But once the crowds were in, the whole atmosphere changed with 91000 spectators cheering every ball of a test match. We saw just the first session of the day as we had a flight to catch to out next destination, Townsville. It was only later that I found out that watching the boxing day test at MCG is on the bucket list of a lot of cricket fans and I got to attend it thanks to the guys who were travelling with me. I won't have watched this match otherwise for sure.
A packed MCG
Read on to: Aussie 3: Scuba Dive on The Great Barrier Reef and Townsville


sachin jain said...

Being the part of this trip ;I can say that this was one of the memorable trip of my life.It was all because of Sachin Dixit's planning I was able to see the other part of the world.Whenever I feel tired of my work ;I usually see these blogs to freshen myself. Good work dude.

sachin dixit said...

Thanks Sachin. Its a pleasure to travel with friends like you. Looking forward to many more trips together!! :-)

gh0D! said...

boxing day test..naam hi kaafi hai
u gotta be der to feel words..
thanks man :)

sachin dixit said...

Yes..truly so!! Its an unbelievable experience. I never thought even watching cricket could be so awesome. Thought all the awesomeness is in Football stadiums. :-)

deepak said...

sahi hai...but synchronise the write up with the pics