Three Perfect Days: Melbourne - United Hub
Hemispheres

Three Perfect Days: Melbourne

By The Hub team , October 04, 2014

Story by Jacqueline Detwiler | Photography by Mark Roper | Hemispheres, October 2014

Some cities, like dogs rolling over for a belly rub, give themselves up to you at once. These are places that clamor for your attention—the hip and the new announce their presence in sidewalk tables and neon signs, while terms like “biggest" and “best" are liberally conferred. Artier and more enigmatic than its shining sister city Sydney, Melbourne is not this kind of city.

After traveling to Australia in 1895, Mark Twain said that the country is “the most beautiful of lies ... full of surprises, and adventures, the incongruities, and contradictions, and incredibilities; but they are all true." In Melbourne, this sense of wonder is best represented by the city's apparently endless maze of alleys (or laneways), which would be seamy and uninviting were they not bursting with art, eateries, retailers and a theatrical lust for life.

A night out in Melbourne can have you in a fake gymnasium drinking a cocktail out of a syringe, or driving in a car with a snorkel protruding from its hood. There are dessert-themed hotels, forest-themed desserts and animals that don't even make sense. You can tell from the moment you arrive that some of the best stories of your life will come from here. You can only hope that people will believe them.

DAY ONE | The problem with waking up in the Flinders King Suite at the Adelphi Hotel—a “dessert-themed" property with dangling couches and zigzag floor patterns—is that every day the staff refills a glass bucket with free candy. It sits there as you shower. It sits there while you peer out at Flinders Lane through the warehouse-style windows. Here's the thing about this candy: You can tuck it behind the loveseat or under the desk, but you will eat it eventually. “Fine," you say, popping a handful of confectionary into your mouth, “what's a half dozen Honeycomb Clonkers before breakfast?"

Before the candy can make a second stand, you ride the elevator down to the lobby. You have plans to spend the morning exploring Melbourne's prime dining and entertainment area, the Central Business District (or CBD), which is right outside your door. To find a proper breakfast, you'll need to look for the scrum of trendy locals jockeying for a table in front of The Hardware Société. You secure an alfresco perch and merrily dip hunks of bread drizzled with olive oil into a pot of baked eggs with chorizo and manchego cheese. Your iced coffee comes with ice cream, a spoon and a straw covered in polka dots. By the end, you feel like a kid at a malt shop, only much more caffeinated.

Service with a smile at Das T-Shirt AutomatService with a smile at Das T-Shirt Automat

Buzzing, you head off to explore the city's squiggle of alleys with the help of Michael Fikaris, an artist, illustrator and guide for Melbourne Street Art Tours, who knows the local street art scene so well he may have been born with a can of spray paint in his hand. He leads you through the labyrinth, leaning over balconies and darting across streets to point out his favorite bits—little characters made of repurposed garbage and affixed to telephone poles; cell phones painted gray and pasted to the curb. “There's a French artist, Invader," Fikaris says, indicating a small alien made out of colored tiles. “He came to Melbourne and put these all over the city. Now that you know about them, you'll see them everywhere."

After three hours of this, your legs are screaming, so you hop a tram to Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, one of two excruciatingly hip enclaves northeast of the CBD, and take an elevator a few floors up to Naked in the Sky, the rooftop bar at the Basque tapas joint Naked for Satan. From here, you can look out across Fitzroy and Collingwood—both blocky and pastel and broken only by the periodic spikes of church spires. You contemplate the view over indulgent appetizers—cheese and walnut croquettes with quince aioli, a fried soft-shell crab in red pepper sauce, roasted figs with goat's milk curd—and a sprightly Cascade Bright Ale, brewed in Tasmania.

The afternoon stretches away from you in the way that lazy rooftop afternoons tend to, and you only reluctantly abandon your post to poke around the area's many bookshops, clothing stores and galleries, one of which prominently displays an AC/DC-themed kimono surrounded by crosses. Inspired by your street art tour earlier, you pick up a hoodie with a picture of a crying lemon, courtesy of Das T-Shirt Automat, a storefront that will print the shirt of your choice in four minutes.

From here, it's a short jaunt to Saint Crispin, a pleasantly unadorned boîte in Collingwood whose lighthearted vibe belies an impressive menu. Your dinner starts with a “snack"—a bite of cantaloupe sprinkled with powdered breadcrumbs cooked in jam, a seaweed rice cracker topped with whipped taramasalata (Greek-style carp roe). The meal continues through a dish of marron with vegetables, pickled mushrooms and herb puree that's so artfully composed it could be a watercolor. Having never heard of a marron before, you inquire about the main ingredient.

The Fitzrovia Deli's healthy, farm-fresh fare is perfect fuel for a stroll at the nearby St. Kilda PierThe Fitzrovia Deli's healthy, farm-fresh fare is perfect fuel for a stroll at the nearby St. Kilda Pier

“It's like a cross between a yabby and a …" the bartender pauses at the quizzical look on your face. “Do you know what a yabby is?"

By way of an extended conversation involving at least four kinds of shellfish, you learn that marron is a sort of freshwater crayfish indigenous to Western Australia, and that it's mighty tasty. The next course requires less explanation: pork so crispy you have to fight your neighbors for the cracklings, served with blood plums, baby fennel and mustard.

After dinner, you're too stuffed to walk, so you float back to the Adelphi via cab. “Hey," you note, as the car starts to cover some of the same ground as your art tour, “there's one of those Space Invader things!"

DAY TWO | Despite being a buzzing, avant-garde city in its own right, Melbourne is not immune to the Brooklynophilia sweeping the globe. You stop for a New York–inspired breakfast of a lox and dill cream cheese bagel at Bowery to Williamsburg to see how the Aussies do your native nosh. (Pretty accurately, it turns out.)

Bagel in hand, you head off to the Shrine of Remembrance, a World War I memorial that looks like a cross between an Aztec pyramid and a Greek temple, flanked by Italian cypress trees. Inside, light from a chink in the ceiling illuminates the word “love" in the phrase “Greater love hath no man," which is inscribed on a memorial stone set in the floor. The chink is situated so that this effect only occurs (naturally, at least) once a year: at 11 a.m. on November 11, the time and date of the armistice. Today, through the use of artificial light, visitors can see it every half hour.

Tranquility prevails at the Shrine of RemembranceTranquility prevails at the Shrine of Remembrance

It's a five-minute stroll to your next stop, the exquisite Royal Botanic Gardens, where you've signed up for an Aboriginal Heritage Walk. It begins when your guide, Charles Solomon, builds a fire so you can waft sweet-smelling smoke onto yourself—a traditional aboriginal welcoming gesture. Next, Solomon leads you through the greenery, explaining the traditional uses of plants like kangaroo apple (food, when treated to remove poisons), foambark (fishing aid) and tea tree leaves (antiseptic).

The walk ends with a cup of lemon myrtle tea, which provides a refreshing segue to lunch. It's a perfect beach day, so you tram it toward the bayside suburb of St. Kilda, hopping off near Fitzrovia, a homey farm-to-table deli. The plate that appears before you contains charred corn, avocado, quinoa, black-eyed pea and pomelo salad with cilantro and minted yogurt dressing and chorizo. You dispatch it handily and, feeling healthier than you probably are, take a stroll down to St. Kilda Pier, where you while away the afternoon watching a parade of fit-looking locals stroll down the beach.

After a quick shower at your hotel, it's back to the laneways, which seem more promising and more foreboding in the dark. In a dim room with metal mesh chandeliers that remind you of Warhol's “Silver Clouds," you find Tonka, the newest outpost from the much-lauded Adam D'Sylva. Tonka specializes in high-concept Indian food, a neglected culinary pigeonhole if ever there was one. You order a lamb curry with roasted coconut and cardamom, which arrives with naan in a bag, and a small pile of smoked trout with coconut, chili, pomelo and kaffir lime, which you wrap in a betel leaf and eat like a taco. This last bit, delightfully sour in the way of Filipino food, is inspired.

It's deep evening now, and everyone's a little loopy. You make friends with a local winemaker and his girlfriend in the line for the elevator at Curtin House, a nightlife version of an office tower. Every time the elevator stops, there's something new to see: A restaurant, a dance hall, a restaurant, a bar, a bar, a bar. As you bounce between floors like video-game characters, your new buddies suggest that you visit the Yarra Valley tomorrow and check out the winery. You suggest that they hang out with you tonight and show you around Melbourne's best bars. A deal is struck.

St. Kilda Pier, with its famed PavilionSt. Kilda Pier, with its famed Pavilion

After several hours, you find yourselves dancing next to a palm tree at Workshop, an art space that serves coffee in the morning and hosts local bands and DJs at night. Unbelievably, you are hungry, so as dawn approaches, you and your assembled coterie stop off for meat pies at Pie Face, a chain that seems to be on every street corner. Later still, miniature pie in hand, you have a standoff with your room's candy jar and, having been soundly defeated, go to bed.

DAY THREE | You may have been tipsy enough to eat a pie with a face on it last night, but you don't make idle promises. So after breakfast at the hotel's Om Nom dessert bar and restaurant—banana bread with vanilla mascarpone cream, a passion fruit–poached banana, vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup—you hire a driver to take you to the Yarra Valley wine region, located about an hour northeast of the city. As opposed to the sweltering Barossa Valley in South Australia, which is known for fruity shirazes and heavy cabernets, the more temperate Yarra Valley produces pinot noirs and sparkling varieties, which you intend to taste.

You've been told by friends that if you don't snap a picture of a kangaroo while in Australia, you're not to come home. Luckily, Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo and animal refuge in the valley, is home to dozens of photogenic red and gray kangaroos—along with wallabies, wombats, koalas, dingoes,Tasmanian devils, platypuses and all manner of colorful birds. Given the heat, you're surprised to find most of the animals capering in their enclosures; only the wombats are sleeping (“They do that a lot," says a park attendant). Even the koalas are having a romp, climbing on each other's backs and heads on their way to better perches.

Watching the koalas munch eucalyptus leaves makes you crave salad, so you have your driver stop at Innocent Bystander, the glass-walled restaurant at Giant Steps Winery, where you order a pseudo-niçoise, with anchovies, green beans, potatoes, olives and an implausibly breaded soft-boiled egg, alongside a brisk rosé and a plate of thick truffle and parmesan frites.

Marr park is tucked between the Central Business District and the Yarra RiverMarr park is tucked between the Central Business District and the Yarra River

Now it's time to fulfill some promises. At Yering Station, you find your buddy from last night driving a forklift before the purple panorama of the Dandenong mountain range. What a place to work! By the time you air-kiss goodbye, your hands are full of bottles you're not sure how you'll pack. You also stop at TarraWarra Estate, where you stroll among the vines, breathing in the scent of steaming fruit. There's an art gallery on the grounds, inside which you fall in love with a painting of a gruff bushman surrounded by parrots.

The ride back flashes by and you emerge sleepily in front of your hotel. What you need is an invigorating dinner, and you're in for one. Back in the CBD, a short walk west, you are swept up to the 55th floor of a perfectly ordinary-looking office building and released into Vue de Monde, a succession of dark rooms bordered by windows. White neon lights on the walls echo the twinkling city below and the stars above, and there are so many mirrors that you get lost on your way to the bathroom. Twice.

Your table is set with an array of rocks and twigs that morph into knife stands, plates, a mortar and pestle. Your meal includes perfectly flaky fried barramundi collar with lemon myrtle salt, followed by a pine mushroom with figs that tastes the way a forest smells. There's plenty of red wine, and plenty of white. Dessert is a eucalyptus ice cream that reminds you of a better, creamier Vicks VapoRub.

By the end, you feel like Alice in Wonderland—loosed from the earth and not entirely sure which way is which. You can be certain only that you are somewhere in Melbourne's hidden otherworld, where everything is more than it seems.

Former Hemispheres senior editor Jacqueline Detwiler has never actually tried to eat Vicks VapoRub, but she did sniff it really intensely once.


This article was written by Jacqueline Detwiler from Rhapsody Magazine and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team , April 03, 2020

When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.

We have operated more than 68 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 9,200 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.

Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.

Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Roatan, Honduras
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Melbourne, Australia

We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom, a video conferencing tool that many people are using to stay connected.

So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).

  1. Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
  2. Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
  3. From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.







Domestic and international schedule reductions

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

While travel demand and government restrictions continue to impact our schedule, we know some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home. While our international schedule will be reduced by about 90% in April, we will continue flying six daily operations to and from the following destinations — covering Asia, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe — in an effort to get customers where they need to be. This remains a fluid situation, but United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times. Learn more about what we're doing to keep customers and employees safe.

Flights continuing from now through May schedule:

  • New York/Newark – Frankfurt (Flights 960/961)
  • New York/Newark – London (Flights 16/17)
  • New York/Newark – Tel Aviv (Flights 90/91)
  • Houston – Sao Paulo (Flights 62/63)
  • San Francisco – Tokyo-Narita (Flights 837/838)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (Flights 863/870)

In addition to the above, we will continue to operate the following flights to help displaced customers who still need to get home. In destinations where government actions have barred us from flying, we are actively looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.

Atlantic

The following flights will continue through March 28 westbound:

  • New York/Newark – Amsterdam (Flights 70/71)
  • New York/Newark – Munich (Flights 30/31)
  • New York/Newark – Brussels (Flights 999/998)
  • New York/Newark – Cape Town (Flights 1122/1123)
  • Washington-Dulles – London (Flights 918/919)
  • San Francisco – Frankfurt (Flights 58/59)

The final westbound departures on all other Atlantic routes will take place on March 25.

Pacific

  • We will continue to fly San Francisco-Seoul (Flights 893/892) through March 29 and San Francisco-Tahiti (Flights 115/114) through March 28.
  • Our final eastbound departures on all other Pacific routes will take place on March 25.
  • We will maintain some Guam flights as well as a portion of our Island Hopper service.
  • Hawaii's governor issued a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine order for all travelers arriving or returning to Hawaii. Travelers must complete a Hawaii Department of Agriculture form that will be distributed on board their flight which will also include the requirements for the 14-day quarantine, as well as the penalties. You must show a government issued ID upon arrival along with your form. You can find more information on the governor's website.

Latin America/South America

  • We will continue to fly Newark/New York – Sao Paulo (Flights 149/148) through March 27 outbound.
  • The last southbound departures on most other routes will take place March 24.

Mexico

  • We will reduce our Mexico operation over the next five days. After March 24, we will maintain a small number of daytime flights to certain destinations in Mexico — more to come in the next few days.

Canada

  • We will suspend all flying to Canada effective April 1.

In destinations where government actions have barred us from flying, we are actively looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.

The revised international schedule will be viewable on united.com on Sunday, March 22. We will continue to update our customers with information as it's available.

If you're scheduled to travel through May 31, 2020, and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. Please visit united.com for more information, or reference our step-by-step guide on how to change your flight, cancel and rebook later.

Domestic schedule

Effective April 8, we are further reducing our domestic service between some of our airport hub locations and 31 airports across the United States. We will continue offering service to all of these airports through other United hubs. Additionally, effective April 8, we will suspend service between the mainland and Hilo, Maui, Kona and Lihue - and we will maintain our daily service between our San Francisco hub and Honolulu, which has been reduced to one flight daily. We will continue to operate daily service between Honolulu and Guam.

We are closely monitoring demand as well as changes in state and local curfews and government restrictions across the U.S. and will adjust our schedule accordingly throughout the month.

These the changes result in a 67% overall domestic reduction from a previous 52%, and our overall capacity will now be down 78% overall.

Hub city Route suspensions Remaining service
Denver Arcata/Eureka, CA
Appleton, WI
Hartford, CT
Charleston, SC
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Hobbs, NM
Jacksonville, FL
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Kahului, HI
Shreveport, LA
Santa Rosa, CA
Syracuse, NY
SFO
ORD
IAD, ORD
EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
SFO
IAH
EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
IAH
SFO
IAD, ORD
New York/Newark Austin, TX
Burlington, VT
Buffalo, NY
Akron/Canton, OH
Grand Rapids, MI
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Las Vegas, NV
Kansas City, MO
Milwaukee, WI
Madison, WI
Minneapolis, MN
New Orleans, LA
Omaha, NE
Norfolk, VA
Portland, OR
Phoenix, AZ
Providence, RI
San Diego, CA
San Antonio, TX
Seattle, WA
Salt Lake City, UT
Sacramento, CA
Orange County, CA
Syracuse, NY
Knoxville, TN
Fayetteville, AR
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
ORD
ORD
IAD
SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
Washington-Dulles Austin, TX
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Portland, OR
Sacramento, CA
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
ORD
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
Houston Hartford, CT
Boise, ID
Akron/Canton, OH
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Lexington, KY
Ontario, CA
Norfolk, VA
Palm Springs, CA
Richmond, VA
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
IAD, ORD
DEN, LAX, ORD, SFO
ORD
ORD
SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, EWR, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN
Los Angeles Arcata/Eureka, CA
Austin, TX
Boston, MA
Baltimore, DC
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Eugene, OR
Honolulu, HI
Hilo, HI
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Orlando, FL
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Madison, WI
Kahului, HI
Palm Springs, CA
Redding, CA
Bend/Redmond, CA
Reno, NV
San Antonio, TX
Stockton, CA
Seattle, WA
St George, UT
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
SFO
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN
Chicago Albuquerque, NM
Asheville, NC
Bismarck/Mandan, ND
Bozeman, MT
Kearney, NE
Panama City, FL
Eugene, OR
Fresno, CA
Spokane, WA
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Wilmington, NC
Jackson, MS
Kahului, HI
Palm Springs, CA
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
Valparaiso, FL
DEN, IAH
IAD
DEN
DEN
DEN
IAH
DEN, SFO
DEN, LAX, SFO
DEN
IAD
SFO
IAD
IAH
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN
IAH
San Francisco Albuquerque, NM
Atlanta, GA
Nashville, TN
Baltimore, DC
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Detroit, MI
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Spokane, WA
Indianapolis, IN
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Kansas City, MO
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Madison, WI
Minneapolis, MN
New Orleans, LA
Kahului, HI
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Raleigh/Durham, NC
San Antonio, TX
St Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
Fayetteville, AR
DEN, IAH
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
Scroll to top