Carl has gone back to Canberra, some trivial excuse about seeing Deb & the girls and earning a living to support them. I hesitate to call him a lightweight as he’s put up with me for two and a half weeks, almost unbroken, which must count for something! It means, however, I have several days looking after myself now….
Which means there’s not a lot of excitement to report for today…
Carl’s flight was 13:15, but the journey was a little tortuous for him, or else stump-up well over $40 for a cab. Public transport it is, then. The usual tram into the city following the usual morning routine (though breakfast was really busy this morning, the hotel presumably being full lat night). Change at Collins Street to Southern Cross station and the Sky Link bus to the airport. We said our – temporary – good byes at Southern Cross and I left him to the mercy of the bus queue.
Now what do I do?
Go to Starbucks, of course! There’s a conveniently located one at Southern Cross station and, as well as providing much needed caffeine, it allowed me to “plan” my day using their free 30 minutes of WiFi. In the end, the plan (such as it was) was built on a series of throw away remarks. I’d said, complimenting the Melbourne tram system, that I could spend a day exploring it. I’d also noted that at weekends, the $3.50 Myki fare cap applies to zones one and two, meaning the entire Greater Melbourne area is my oyster. Finally, at some point in our travels, Carl had made a throwaway remark that Toorak is an interesting suburb.
Those seeds all planted, I exited the station and climbed aboard the first 96 tram which happened along. This uses a former ‘real’ railway to skirt around the city to the bayside suburb of St Kilda. I spent over an hour and a half here, first walking out onto the jetty and beach area, before going into the really busy ‘high street’ part, lined with shops and restaurants, the latter especially doing roaring trades. I really enjoyed that part of town, but felt the need to keep moving.
The 3A tram took me out to an area called Caulfield where I knew the metro rail would take me back into the city, via Toorak. The first train I got on didn’t stop at Toorak, so I got off at South Yarra and retraced my steps on the next train that did stop. Luckily for me, even though it is Sunday, there’s a fairly frequent service. Toorak, at least the part around the station, turned out to be pretty with its autumn foliage, but not a lot happening. Thus, a mere 15 minutes after I’d got off one train, I was on another headed into the city.
Metro trains do a ‘City Loop’, albeit mainly underground in the CBD, but eventually end up at Flinders Street station, where I alighted. By this point it was 15:00. The CBD was very busy with shoppers and street entertainers. I followed my nose, amazingly managing to find little nooks and crannies our previous jaunts around the city centre had failed to root out. For example, Mag Nation on Elisabeth Street is a fantastic idea. Three floors devoted to selling magazines from all around the world, but not only that, browsing is positively encouraged with seats provided and coffee on sale. What a fabulous place, and I only hope it is a sustainable business model.
By mid afternoon, breakfast was wearing off, so I ate at Schitz — predictably schnitzels are their stock-in-trade. Very edible they are too, but once again the chips are served pre-salted. I’m sensing a national style here?
It wasn’t long after eating that I decided I’d seen all I wanted to see The third footy game of the weekend at the MCG was evidently drawing to a close, so I decided to head back to the room. The rest of the day’s report gets even more boring for here. Laundry, with a relaxing hot tub & sauna while it was doing, then a lazy evening in the room. I watched the premier of Cliffy on ABC1, a docudrama about a guy who – unexpectedly – won the inaugural Sydney to Melbourne ultra-marathon in 1983 and instantly became an Aussie cult-figure. Passably entertaining.
Off to Tasmania (or ‘Tassie’ as the island is universally referred to here!) tomorrow on this…. (as photographed from St. Kilda)