Come dinner time we toodled off once more to Gouger Street with Chinese food in our minds but, for the first time, we had a failure and the particular restaurant we were looking for was closed. We walked along trying to choose from the hundreds of options and stopped to look at the menu for a Thai place. A young lad raced out and eagerly propounded their menu and told us he could do us an entrée and main for $30 so we decided ‘why not?’ and went in. He was not pushy, he did leave us to look at the menu after doing his spiel or we’d have run away. We were the only ones in there but with every person that slowed to view the menu, one of the staff raced out and before we were half way through our mains the place was chokkas. The food was really nice and we would go there again very happily. No dessert, we were too full.
Back in the hotel we watched ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ which was actually a really cute film – very light viewing and a happy ending, and then packed our cases pretty much – the contents of which had grown considerably between new clothes and gifts for grandchildren. Possessions always do grow somehow when you’re on holidays huh?
Breakfast. Thank goodness this is the last scrambled-eggs-on-toast-lacking-decent-tomato-sauce followed by stale bakery items. It was alright, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t yummy – not by a long shot. Then back to our room to shower, wash hair, shave for some, and put the final items in our cases. We had to check out by 10 am but the bus for the boat was not to arrive until 2 pm so we got reception to look after our cases for us but David lugged our most treasured items in his backpack. My idea of treasured items included more things than David’s so he did do just a little grumbling about the weight and the necessity but I won 🙂 No surprises there. He gets a lot of pleasure out of moaning but he is very helpful while he does it so we’re both happy in the end. And he doesn’t care in the least that I laugh at his moaning. In fact he encourages it and does it all the more for my appreciation of his skills!
We wandered beside the river once more but this time to the Migration Museum. This museum was waaay more interesting than the ‘normal’ museum had been and we both really enjoyed it. There were a lot of interactive displays, buttons to push, panels to slide, displays behind others where you had to peek through a window to see, but all fascinating and informative. The other reason we were here was to settle a dispute. My understanding was that Colonel Light had planned the city block as it remained today – as far as street layout was concerned. David was convinced that they would not originally have made a city block the size it was today. Humility prevents me from telling who was right ROFL
I have no idea what we did for lunch this day, really can’t remember, but by 1:30 pm we were back at the hotel ready for the coach to collect us and take us to Mannum for the boat yaayyyyy! There were a few people milling around with their luggage and we presumed, correctly, that they were also waiting for the same coach. It arrived on time and we had our names checked off by a friendly driver and of course David helped him load the luggage in the pannier things, whatever they might be called. (Certainly not panniers!)
Other than one couple already aboard the only passengers were those from our hotel so we were a very light load of about 10 people in a full sized coach. We drove along up the hill the same way we’d travelled to Hahndorf but the driver gave us a bit of a commentary along the way.
Once we were over the hills it was new territory and we were surprised how very flat the terrain was – and how brown. Why do we say brown? It isn’t brown at all is it? More of a cream colour, but dry anyway. There’s not a lot to report along the way other than when I saw a truck with Ielasi Transport written on it. I know the wife of the owner of that company so that kept me entertained for a short while.
I think we were only aboard the coach for a bit over an hour – maybe 90 minutes or so. We got to know the couple in the other front seat a little – we were sitting behind the driver. Their names were Chris and Maria. Chris asked lots of questions and wanted to know the ins and outs of everything. Reminded me of myself a great deal and saved me asking anything. And then we were in Mannum and going down a steep hill, still with no river in sight. But suddenly, there it was. Not only the river, but the Murray Princess, sitting there in all her grandeur. So exciting!
In our week in Adelaide I’d taken 50 photos – a good third of them of public transport as that’s what interests David. During the 7 days on the boat I was to take 200. Oh, we had a ball.
We were told just to go aboard and check in – we’d already filled in our paperwork while we were on the coach but had to be sighted and welcomed by the crew. Some of the crew had already raced out to collect our luggage and we were told it would meet us in our cabin later. Hmmm, there was a yummy sailor I’d happily have had deliver it too! Sorry, I can’t help myself 🙂
We were welcomed without excess fuss and given a name badge each. On the back was our cabin number in case we forgot it and on the front were our names and the number 2. This was our dining table number. We could sit anywhere for breakfast but they asked us to sit at our allotted table for lunch and dinner. We were delivered to our cabin by a gorgeous young girl who showed us the tea and coffee facilities, the bathroom, and told us the coffee mugs on the dresser were ours to keep after the cruise. Our luggage was already inside the door.
Of course we explored all around the boat, up stairs and down, excitedly seeing what there was to see. We found the bar and bought a drink each and went out to watch cast off. I’d had a straw in my drink but as we turned the corner to the front of the boat it just vaporised. Forget blew away, it didn’t take that long. One minute it was there, the next microsecond, gone. I did laugh.
We got talking to another couple, Heather and Ray, and then suddenly noticed they had a 2 on their name badges as well. Out of all the people on board we’d got chatting to 2 people who would be sharing our dining table! They were waving to a younger couple on the shore and were the only passengers that had someone to wave them off. Heather said it was their daughter so we waved to her as well.
This is one side of the dining room. It had lovely wooden ceilings and was probably the most beautiful room on the boat. Carpeted, other than a small wooden dance floor.
Soon, at 4:30pm as scheduled, we had cast away from the berth and were on our way down the river with the captain telling us a few things about Mannum over the PA as we went.
Then he sounded the horns – whoar! that cleaned the ears out! This was to announce to the other river craft that we were about to chuck a Uey and head upstream.
We popped back to our cabin after a while and ‘our girl’ knocked on the door and delivered some flowers. We guessed that everyone in staterooms got them which was such a lovely touch.
We had been told that if we wanted coffee or tea at any time, day or night, we could take our mugs to the aft lounge – there were a dozen flavours of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk and biscuits and you could sit there on the lower floor, or the mezzanine level, and watch the paddle go around. I simply cannot describe the peace on board. The paddle just chugged away and seemed to set the tone for the whole vessel. We had our own tea/coffee and kettle in our cabin but the flavoured teas were back here, and the company of fellow passengers too.
Here’s David on the mezzanine balcony looking over the paddle wheel.
And below is the fascinating wake that the paddle made.
I should add that the temperature only reached 28°C this day so it had been very pleasant in the coach and standing out on the deck.
There wasn’t a lot happening this day other than getting settled, and that was fine. All new passengers had been asked to attend an orientation talk by the cruise director and captain where we were told things we needed to know. One of these was that in the case of problems they would ask us to all go to our cabins and get our life jackets and put them on and then go to one of the 2 mustering points where we would be instructed further. It was very important, we were told, to tie a pretty bow with the life jacket webbing as the best bows would facilitate a preference amongst the staff as to who they rescued first. For the rest, the captain told us, once we got sick of not being rescued we could just put our feet down and walk out as the river was only about 4 feet deep!
All meals would be announced over the PA 5 minutes before time and that was about all we needed to remember. Other than the bar opening time which was 11 am LOL And I know, I never drink alcohol, but for some reason on this boat I did, and loved being ‘normal’.
Before we knew it dinner was announced and we were caught on the hop. The brochure had asked that we dress up a little for dinner and we were still getting dressed after showering, so hurried as quickly as we could only to tip toe, outright last, across the dance floor to our table when we got to the dining room. Everyone else was seated and settled. Whoops! Our cabin must have been closer than any other to the dining room and bar. Isn’t it always the way that those closest are the ones who are late?
Here’s a video of the paddle wheel working and the wake it causes.
Dinner was truly outstanding and the service likewise. I have not recorded what we ate at each meal and I’m sure you are all saying thank goodness for that, but suffice to say that we were spoiled rotten and fed like kings. Myself in particular as I had special vegetarian and/or fish meals cooked just for me. Out of 90 passengers I was the only one that I saw get ‘special treatment’. The cruise director, Jason, came to me many times over the course of the cruise and told me what arrangement had been made for me at each meal. The chefs were amazing! Because of the small size of the crew, 22 people, Jason also waited at tables as did the girls that cleaned the cabins each day. They were all so very friendly and helpful, and obviously all got on really well together, it was just perfect.
Anyway, back to getting seated at our table and our fellow passengers. Once everyone was seated (blush!), Jason announced the menu and encouraged us all to our best ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhh’ skills in response to each item, and then we got to chat and introduce ourselves to our new friends. Two of them, Heather and Ray, we’d already met. It turns out they lived in a neighbouring town to Mannum, hence the daughter to see them off, and had always promised themselves this cruise. Two more we had met already as well, it was Chris and Maria from the coach ride! They were from Victoria. There was a young lady named Donna from country Victoria travelling alone, a man with his wife and mother who were all from WA, but south of the river (we’re north), and a Danish couple. The Danish man had excellent English but the lady never spoke. She smiled back during the first couple of days but that quickly deteriorated into quiet isolation. A shame – for her. We all metaphorically took our hats off to Donna but, together with Heather and Ray, the 5 of us became quite the little loving family group.
I had taken a single travel-sickness tablet soon after we got on the boat. Not because I felt sick but more as insurance, because if I’d have felt crook (that’s Australian for feeling unwell) even once I would spend the whole trip worried it would happen again. The movement of the boat was extremely gentle, as the river was almost like glass and we found out more about its stability later. I was very grateful to have taken the tablet as we sat down to dinner because the only seats left were facing backwards to our travel direction and of course that’s the worst scenario. As it happens, we tied up for the night midway through the main course but I was still happier for the insurance. And I was very bad in that I had a cocktail – alcohol and the tablet together is rather naughty but I’d only had one tablet and it was a couple of hours before.
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Dinner each day consisted of 3 courses, lunches were 2 courses and breakfast each day was a buffet. A little more on some of those later, but not in depth. During each lunch and dinner we were entertained (more by David’s antics in response) by a pianist. This fellow, Alex, was very talented indeed but I’m afraid that piano is one of my 2 least liked instruments and Alex played every song in one of four ways – too slow; too fast; a mixture of both of those things or; correctly but sang the tune wrongly to accompany it. Argh!!!! He was fond of playing 12 or more quick, tinkled notes where only one belonged and the whole package drove me to distraction. My problem, not his! Unfortunately, David had the same opinion and, for those who know him, you can imagine the antics! Hands over ears, telling everyone on our table not to applaud for fear of encouraging Alex etc etc. And to make it worse we were the table directly in front of where Alex was seated. I’m sure the poor man knew – there’s nothing discreet about my David!!! Alex had ‘some weird accent’ that I couldn’t place so we asked and it turned out he was Ukrainian. He also had rather a high voice where David and I definitely prefer lower tones. Poor Alex. Talented but unappreciated in these quarters and shame on us! Others loudly appreciated him enough to make up for us though!
Oh, the other thing was that because of being the closest table to Alex we had it louder than anyone else. And when Alex swapped to his keyboard we had the speakers blaring right at us too. One night he played an Everley Brothers song that I know well because my mum and her 2 sisters used to sing it as one of their numbers. I started to sing because for once Alex was playing the song correctly and even at the right speed. But then he started to sing an alternate tune. ‘Oh no!’ thinks I ‘I’m not having this!!!’ so I looked at David, seated next to me and also trying to sing and we fiercely sang the correct tune – probably loud enough for Alex to hear us!!! At the end David said to me “Don’t look so serious!” but when I said fiercely, I meant it hehehe.
I fear I may do a bit of this non-chronological reminiscing because some things were the same every day and others don’t have a Day (as such) in my memory, but I’ll do my best.
So after dinner on the first night we stayed and listened to Alex for a bit but only because we were talking to our table-mates. And then to bed. Well, then to clean our teeth which turned out to be interesting. You know me, I can talk about anything LOL The bathroom taps in the dinky little basin were the kind that you push and you only get water while you’re pushing. I learned to be able to push the tap with my elbow and reach backwards with my hand if I’d soaped my hands and was trying to rinse them both. Most impressive if I do say so myself. I found out after about 5 of our 7 days that if you push the tap hard enough it would stay down for about 3 seconds – great excitement hehehe
On the subject of the little bathroom It was laid out like this…
L-R Loo, basin, shower, and the lower oblong is the outwardly (wonder why!?!?) opening door. There was a towel rail next to the loo, a tiny bathroom cabinet with a sliding door above the basin and 2 hooks on the inside of the door. On about the fourth day I said to David “You know, you could fit 3 people in here at once as long as the one sitting on the loo didn’t stand up or they’d headbutt the basin user to join the one showering!” The cabin itself was short enough that my hands touched the ceiling easily and the bathroom was up a step, so shorter still. The shower was yet shorter – my elbows almost touched the roof as I washed my hair.
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