Melbourne, the home of Lezanne and Heath, my hosts for my 4-day stay here!
Also the venue for the Melbourne 2006, XVIII Commonwealth Games and I managed to arrange to hit the beginning few days! 4500 athletes from 71 nations, representing one third of the world's population were due to compete, so Zan, her sister Kerith and myself headed to Federation Square to watch the grand opening ceremony on the big screen. Such was the event that even the Queen popped over to read her message that has been carried on a microchip in the Commonwealth baton through all of the competing countries over the past year. Thinking Federation Square would be jam packed I was pleasantly surprised that we could sit comfortably (well bums did get sore sitting on the cobbled street but it wasn't overly busy as screens everywhere and we were right by the Yarra River where the final steps of the baton relay were being completed). The atmosphere was great, and although we only saw a small proportion of the firework display, they were incredible.
The following day I attended the Telstra Dome where the Rugby 7's was taking place. It was the first morning and the stadium was far from packed-out, but I watched England successful thrash the Cook Islands and that evening they were to play Australia, the eagerly awaited match in that draw which England won (although only 5 Oz's on the pitch at one point!).
Lezanne and Heath looked after me like the Princess I would like to be. We took brunch in Brunswick St. coffee and cheesecake along Lygon St. Carlton and pubbing/dancing in Sydney St. all the hip and trendy areas to be!
Also caught some of the Festival Melbourne 2006 at Alexandra Gardens which was taking place alongside the Games, which was Australia's biggest free culture festival ever held. It featured 3 diverse and colourful programs - performing arts, exhibitions and a youth program. I sat on the grass one afternoon and watched a variety of performances from balancing people on sticks, to Indian music and Samoan dancing.