Aaaaaaahhhh…..niiiiiice. A hot shower to start the day. Simple but blissful. We were informed on our return to the hotel yesterday that an entirely new hot water cylinder had been required and it had been swiftly installed and our chilly water temperature had turned into delightful warmth. Loovely.
We headed downstairs for “breakfast included” and commenced our invasion of the buffet. Really…”breakfast included”, you hotels don’t know who you’re dealing with. We are masters of milking the breakfast buffet. There began our leisurely 4 course breakfast. Muesli? Yep I’ll start with that. Baked beans on toast? Yeah, I’ll have me summa that. Bagel? Oh, go on then. Fruit toast? Hey, why not, bring it on. We inhaled the variety on offer, washed down with several cups of tea and we were good to go.
First stop was Federation Square and the Gingerbread Village. This was a miniature model of Melbourne’s iconic sites, completely made out of gingerbread and fondant. So clever. The first thing that hit me on arrival was the smell…a room just wafting with the aromas of sugar and ginger! We strolled along the various scenes of Albert Park, Flemington Race Course, the MCG, Flinders Street Station and many others, all done up as Christmas scenes in gingerbread. I thought it a little funny that they chose to make it of Melbourne with white fondant snow in each scene, because they aren’t likely to see a white Christmas in the middle of summer, but it was very clever and very festive.
Steve again put his Go Pro into action, because, well, he has one now so everything is up for the video treatment…even the Christmas tree outside…that was standing still…not moving…as in stationary…but still, the Big Fella has a Go Pro now so dang tarnit he’s gonna use it!
After a long and leisurely stroll and then a tram ride to complete some final errands, we picked up some small morsels for lunch (because we clearly needed more food!) so we could picnic in the park. Off to the QV Gardens we went where Stork Theatre Company were putting on a non-stop 12 hour reading of Homer’s The Oddysey performed by members of the company along with a who’s who of Australian stage and screen, with readers such as Magna Szubanski and Sigrid Thornton. We sat under a tree and I enjoyed my nori roll and Steve tucked into his vegan mozzarella sandwich and brownie and we listened to the exploits of Odysseus, Athena, Zeus, Achilles and the rest of the gang, read by someone who was unknown to us but very good.
The fabulous Max Gillies was waiting his turn to go on and although we didn’t get to hear him, we saw him waiting and watching with the rest of us.
It was a great event and something we should do more of in Tassie. A free event in the park, with people sitting on their picnic blankets and in some cases, with their own copies of The Oddyssey, following along with the readers. Homer groupies. The sun shone, it was warm, the park was lovely and it was a very pleasant time in the greenery with the busy city right there, but also seemingly so far away.
Time to be off though, to continue our day of experiences, so we set off for the museum. I love Melbourne Museum and can never come to this city without a visit. We strolled through and I had to visit the exhibit that I’ve been going to every time I visit, since I was about 10 years old and that’s to see Phar Lap. I had every book, movie, newspaper article and documentary on Big Red when I was a kid and have always been fascinated by his story of triumph and tragedy, so I paid my old mate a visit.
Then we walked through the exhibition of all the Myer Christmas windows going back decades. There was information about the tradition and models from themes past. It was fun to pick the characters and I recognised a few from familiar story books such as The Wind in the Willows, Wombat Divine, Olivia and Russell the Sheep. So we had another dose of Christmas festiveness and I curbed my bah-humbugs because it was great and, well, I guess it is officially December.
As we rode the tram back through the city we were given the treat of a crooning tram driver. We were standing shoulder to shoulder with the other sardines in the packed interior when over the speaker came, “Iiiiiii’mmmmm dreeeeeaming of a whiiiite Christmaaas…” in a tone that would have rivalled Bing Crosby himself. “Welcome aboard, welcome aboard,” came the voice, followed by, “Dashing through the snow, on a one horse open sleigh…” it was great! As we alighted from the carriage, I tapped on his little window and gave him a round of applause. He was a silver haired gentleman with a very distinguished matching silver moustache and he returned my clap with a “Thank you. You have a nice Christmas.” Well really, who can bah-humbug that!
One of the things I do like about being in Melbourne is how diverse it is compared to home. We stand in a tram completely surrounded by every possible country. At one point we were walking down the street amongst a sea of people and of the faces coming towards us there wasn’t a single Anglo face to be seen, instead it was a mix of countries from Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, the Middle East and beyond. I love that, I think it’s great. I love the global nature of a community and back home in our little part of little Tassie, with our decidedly monoculture we don’t see much diversity at all, let alone that level of diversity. While we walk the city streets, these country bumpkins from Australia’s small island, love being part of a place that is truly multicultural and puts us in the minority occasionally.
We’d had a couple of days of solid roaming so we thought it was time we took to the wheels. We hired a bike each from one of the city docking stations and set off to pedal down to the beach at St Kilda. We set off in a bike lane on the busy Bourke Street, then turned down William Street and that’s where the bike lane stopped and we were in it…in the thick of it…in the cacophony and chaos that is Melbourne city traffic. We zipped…we zigged…we zagged and there was no 1.5 metre rule being adhered to because we had taxis at our elbow and Vee Dubs on our shoulder and they weren’t moving over. To be fair, there ain’t much wriggle room in the maelstrom of Melbourne traffic, with the tight lanes and its bumper-to-bumper and wing mirror-to-wing mirror congestion, but we were right in amongst it, with the traffic on all sides and the HOOOOONNK and HOOOOOOOT of horns in front, behind and around us. A for Adrenalin!
We finally managed to turn off near South Wharf and headed along the shared path beside the river, on our way towards beachside St. Kilda.
We know Melbourne, we can make our way to Station Pier no probs, we’ve even cycled there before. Well…this is us…so guess what happened…go on…guess…you’ll never guess…of course you will, because this is us, trying to get to a specific place…on bikes…of course we got lost! Well, we ended up in some industrial estate in the middle of I’ve no idea where, underneath the freeway with the spectacular views of shipping containers. We turned left, we turned right, we went straight ahead but no roads seemed to lead to where we wanted to go, so…we turned around and went back the way we came. We didn’t get to the beach or anywhere near St Kilda, but we managed to make it back to the river and along the shared path again. The fierce and blustery wind was a ripper and it was touch and go a couple of times whether I would be blown into the drink. It was a real bushfire wind – hot and strong and unrelenting.
So that was the end to our day, a typical pedal in Steve and Heidi style of riding into a blistering head wind and getting completely and utterly lost. Aaah bless…we are nothing if not consistent!