It was around seven in the morning. The day was as usual the same. I woke up, did my morning chores, sat on the couch to read the newspaper. I was dwelling on the magazine section wherein there were advertisements about different locations around the globe. Secretly, I started planning the vacation in my head. I remembered last time when I was in XIth standard and we planned a vacation for Malaysia and Singapore via Sri Lanka, my first international vacation. I was enthralled that time.
A message beep on my phone distracted my attention. It was Ayesha, my fiancee. She was inquiring about my day's plan as it was Saturday, the day we usually spent together. We made up a plan to meet at Saket. I got ready, dressed in glad rags. We were supposed to meet up at around 11 AM. I told her to meet up early so that we could spend all day together. She was excited that day which I sensed as something special was there.
'You know what's the date next Saturday?' she asked with that cute smile.
'Yeah, it's 24th, why? Anything special?' I asked surprisingly.
'It's your birthday, dimwit' She said closing the menu card which I was reading.
'So...' I paused.
'So let's plan a vacation out! It will be exciting!' She said.
I was left astonished. Is she a mind reader or what? I stood there agape, pondering about the exciting tour packages I was reading in the morning newspaper. One place which I was attracted mostly upon in my thoughts was Melbourne, Australia.
'Hello, where are you lost?' She asked waving her palm to grab my attention.
'I am here only. So where were we?' I asked blinking my eyes twice.
'We were planning a vacation for your birthday.' She said removing the small tufts of hair from her forehead.
'Oh yeah, where are we going?' I asked as I took a sip of water.
'How about we leave for Melbourne?' she said tying her loose hair backwards.
I was completely surprised now! How did she know what I am thinking? It was the only question which was running in my mind that time.
'How did you....' I jumped from my chair literally.
The food had arrived. I decided to ignore and started eating. We did some shopping, had a great time. I returned home after dropping her at her home. I entered my home only to see my father waiting for me. He looked preoccupied in his own thoughts.
'Good evening dad!' I wished.
'G...good evening!' he stuttered as I had broken his chain of thoughts.
'Dad, is everything alright?' I asked in utter astonishment.
'Y...yeah. Son I want to tell you something.' he said holding me by my shoulders.
I stood there marveling about what he was going to say. After ten minutes of prodding he began talking.
'Son, its been so long that me and your mother hadn't been on a vacation. She misses those days. I too miss our times when we enjoyed our vacations to the exotic locations!' He said without a pause.
'I want to take her to a vacation again. I want her to rejoice. I want her to show that life is so much beautiful outside these four walls!' he sighed.
I stood there listening to him. After all they also have a life. I thought. I need to plan a vacation for them for sure. I was thinking about the location.
'Son, how about Melbourne?' he said.
I was surprised to see the reaction. Why everybody is talking about going to Melbourne today. First Ayesha, then Dad. Has everybody turned a mind reader today? God! I was busy talking to myself as I heard Mom saying something.
'That would be great!' she said in delight. Secretly, she was overhearing us.
'Melbourne is final. Son, can you do us a favor?' He asked importantly.
'Dad! C'mon, anything you say!' I said meekly.
'Can you please prepare an itinerary for four nights in Melbourne for us?' he said. My mom already left for a bath, so it was only me and dad talking.
'Sure dad! Don't worry. This is going to be the best vacation for you two!' I assured him.
'And yes, one thing I forgot to tell you!' He interjected.
'Yes dad?' I asked.
'Plan it as if you and Ayesha are going. I want to relive those days of ours when we were young!' he said excitingly. I was imagining me and Ayesha in Melbourne but by those latter words of his broke my chain of thoughts. Some other time, Ayesha! I brushed aside the broken pieces of my dream strewn here and there.
'And what about the Visa and Tickets?' I asked him.
'That I will take care of. I have a friend in the passport office who will handle it all.' he assured me. I stood up, picked my laptop for preparing an itinerary for my parent's errand to Melbourne.
I called Ayesha notifying her that the next weekend would not be possible for the vacation. I also told her that Mom and Dad were planning the vacation in Melbourne. I thought she would be sad at this but instead she jumped in joy on hearing this. A reaction which came as a shock to me.
'That's really great! After all they also deserve a vacation. They also have a life!' she exclaimed.
'But I wanted...'
'Nothing leave it! I need a favor from you.'
'Sure. Anything for you!'
'I want this vacation to be memorable for them. So I want you to help me plan it.'
'B...but how can we plan a vacation for them?'
'Dad told me to plan it, that too according to how we both would have planned if we were to go there.' Those last few words were difficult for me to say but I said somehow.
'Well, if its their wish, I will surely help you!' She said. We talked for about an hour about the journey and the different places to visit there. It was a daunting task at first but seemed exciting after a while. We looked on the internet about the various hotels, restaurants, markets, bars, theaters, bookshops, spas etc. After pondering over a lot of places to visit in Melbourne, we shortlisted the following places according to our interests as we were bound to cut short the trip to four days. We shortlisted Melbourne Marriott as the best suited hotel.
Day 1: Know the roots: History and heritage of Melbourne.
While visiting any foreign land, it's essential to know the history of the place. The day would be dedicated to knowing about the history, culture, heritage of Melbourne.
Places to visit: Goldfields, Gippsland, Great Ocean Road, Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne museum to know about the Aboriginal history of Melbourne, National gallery of Victoria.
Day 2: Know the culture: An introduction to the great places in Melbourne
When visiting Melbourne, one would love to see the places which attract the tourist. The place which would leave the tourist delighted and leave them wanting for more!
Places to visit: Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Cricket ground, Eureka Skydeck 88, Federation square, Sovereign hill, Werribee Mansion, Melbourne lanes and arcades walking tour(3 hours 30 minutes).
Day 3: Know more: Shopping and Entertainment
No place visit is complete without shopping. This day would be dedicated to visiting the markets and to know more about what Melbourne has to offer.
Places to visit: Queen Victoria Market, GPO, Melbourne Central, Marais, Shweshwe (arts and crafts), North Melbourne Market, The Rose St. Artists Market, Yarraville Market, Maribyrnong Makers Market, Crowns Entertainment Complex.
Day 4: Know the food and relax: Wineries and more
After three days of visiting places, tiredness is obvious. In order to relax,this day would be dedicated to visiting the places that relax on this day of the tour.
Places to visit: Aurora Spa retreat, Colonial Tramcar Restaurant tour of Melbourne, Yarra valley wine and winery tour from Melbourne, Spirit of Melbourne dinner Cruise,East day Spa.
I made a proper itinerary and went to show it to dad. He was in his room busy on a call, so I placed it meticulously in the drawer besides his papers. He ended the call. I was about to leave but he insisted me to stay and discuss the tour.
'Son, I am glad to see that you have made the itinerary. Can we discuss the tour if you have time now?' he said.
'Sure dad!' I took out the itinerary from the drawer and produced it in front of him.
I told him about the various places of interest which he would love to visit on each day. He seemed excited about it. I told him about the public transport he could use to visit these places there.
'Dad, you can use the buses, trains and trams there for traveling. But remember, on Friday and Saturday nights, when trams, buses and trains stop running (after midnight) you can use NightRider buses departing hourly from City Sq from 12:30 am to dawn to many suburban destinations.'
'You can get Metcards to travel to various places in Melbourne via buses, trams or trains.' I gave each and every detail and mentioned it on the itinerary along with the map of Melbourne to him.
'Thanks son! You really did a good planning.' He said sliding the itinerary and the map inside the drawer.
'So dad, when you are leaving for Melbourne?' I asked enquiringly.
'Maybe by 23rd. The visas and tickets should also be confirmed by then.' He said.
'That's great!' I said and left.
I called Ayesha to let her know about the plan. She was also happy on listening about the trip.
'Hey we would also come at the airport to see them off' she jumped in excitement.
'Sure...bu-' I paused.
'But you would miss them on your birthday, no?' She said.
'Yeah...But anyway, this trip should make them happy and that makes me happy too!'
We talked for a while before hanging up. I kept checking more about Melbourne giving every updated detail to dad. Finally, he was happy as the tickets and visas arrived on time. Everything was well planned in advance. The day had arrived, 23rd. We reached airport on time. I was going to miss them on my birthday, but seeing them happy made my day. Soon, Ayesha's parents joined us at the airport. I wondered where was Ayesha.
'Auntie, when will she be here?' I asked.
'Ah! You know na beta, girls take a lot of time to get ready. She would be here any moment.' She exclaimed.
The check in announcement was yet to happen. I was waiting for Ayesha desperately now. Then after about five minutes the check in announcement was made. I stood up, went towards the seat on which dad was sitting.
'Dad, it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!' I asked him to follow the check in queue. But a gaffe happened. I was shocked to hear the words which he said.
'No son, it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!' He said handing me the ticket and passport.
I was standing there surprised, dumbstruck. What? They all were standing, smiling at me. I wondered what was happening but whatever was happening, I was feeling good. Those words of him fell like a mellifluous tone in my ears.
'Wait, who's going with me?' I said pointing at the second ticket and passport.
'As if you don't know!' They laughed. Dad indicated me to look towards the entrance gate. I saw Ayesha dressed in black Spaghetti that accentuated her beauty even more. She was approaching towards us. She was looking damn pretty that day.
'So, everything is ready?' She said. I didn't realize when she came close.
I looked at the passports again to confirm that they were ours. That day made me feel proud about my dad. It was all planned the day I saw the advertisement.
'But how you all knew about this?' I was curious to know.
'Son, I also read the newspaper. That day you marked the Melbourne tour that insisted us to give this surprise to you. Your birthday was also approaching.'
'And who was the master planner?' I asked.
'C'mon son! The one is standing beside you. Ayesha was the one who made the entire plan.' I was very happy. That was the best-est ever gift of my birthday.
'And don't forget to blog about the places every night!'
'Sure dad! Thanks a lot!' I hugged him.
'Thanks a lot!!' I held her in my arms as we headed for boarding the flight.
'You are welcome my tube light!' she smiled and we hugged each other. That was the perfect gift to souvenir!
This post is my entry for the contest '...it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!' hosted by Indiblogger and Tourism Victoria.
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