Wednesday 21st Continued
We finished our visit and drove around a couple of corners out of sight and stopped the car for me to turn on the phone and ask its advice once more. We had 2 choices… take the car back now, or visit St Kilda as we’d hoped to do. We had thought we had to get the car back for 6pm but apparently it didn’t matter, and we could take it back any time before morning and put the keys down the chute. I hadn’t realised this and it took all the pressure off! Fortunately, David did know this, because we never would have got it back by 6 anyway; it was now past 5pm already!
I turned on the phone with my fingers tightly crossed and typed in St Kilda and then quickly wrote down the route, as I had before, turned the phone off, and we set off. We had absolutely *no idea* that we were still so far out from the city, and the *traffic!!!!* It took us 4 changes to get through 1 set of lights alone! We headed along one road for ages, turned right (this was the very long wait to do so), went for ages and ages down this road and then turned right again. Did we really do 3 sides of a square? Surely not! But I still don’t know the answer to that – maybe I should look it up, but it would be far too disheartening if the answer is yes.
And the most difficult part of all was that I’d forgotten to write down the distances before each required turn. On one road we passed a major intersection with no street name so had no idea whether we should have turned down it or not. I was worrying and David was saying it didn’t matter – both of us true to form LOL In the end, to David’s embarrassment, as we were stuck in a queue – well we never got out of one! – I watched for a male driver. Do you know why? Not because I’m sexist but because I discovered very quickly that women drive with their windows up and men don’t. Once we were parked almost next to a guy I called out “Excuse me Mate, can you tell me if we’ve passed ??? Street yet please?” He assured us that we had not… as both of us edged forward a bit in the traffic… and that there would be no mistaking it when we got there. Woo hoooo! Now I felt more at ease.
The journey was long. Even if not for the traffic, it was a journey through suburbs on main roads, but they all had side streets and shops, businesses, parks, homes and all manner of things that needed total attention to the road and the quantity of vehicles on it.
The third side of the square, if that is what it was, was back onto a big highway and I think it was another toll road. Oh how I hated those. Not knowing if we were doing the wrong thing was doing my head in! We were absolutely amazed to go down the on-ramp and be met with traffic lights at the bottom of it. In Perth, the point of an on-ramp is to get up to 100 kph so that you can blend into traffic without causing everyone to slam their brakes on. Ideally. I hope all you 60 kph morons read this tee hee! But we were allowed to join the flow of traffic on the motorway in drips and drabs and the lights seemed to be gauging the quantity of traffic already on the road and was only allowing us in when the traffic was fairly light. How incredible!
This journey really was hard work on us both. Strange routes, strange traffic conditions, not knowing how far between roads that we were looking for, and such heavy traffic. By the time we got to St Kilda we both wanted nothing more than to collapse into a café and have something reviving, but that was not to be.
We got beeped quite thoroughly on the last roundabout – we have no idea why, because there was a tram bearing down on us, so there’s no way David was going to drive forward for anyone – bad mood on their part or not! And then we saw the very famous Luna Park entrance and pulled up in a parking spot facing over a wall, a park land and then to the ocean. The wind was so fierce it just about lifted our small car and threw it across the road once we got out of it!
We walked the few metres back down the road to take a photo of Luna Park – which was shut. I had thought this would be open every day of the year, but it said weekends and school holidays. Not that we’d have done more than have a look around anyway – and not even that if you had to pay to go in. Maybe there are too many more people like us LOL
There were no cafes, no restaurants, no night-life (it was yet soon after 6pm I think), and as we approached the car once more, with the intention of passing it and walking along the beach-side to the jetty we noticed that you had to pay for parking. Even at this hour, with nothing to do other than get a thrill at the parking metre dishing out a piece of paper. It didn’t take much of a decision to get back in the car and drive further along.
Soon we did find the street full of shops and restaurants. But absolutely no parking. The street-side bays were all taken and we passed 2 signs that pointed to paid parking (bragging 26 bays or something on one of them), but both were to the right and there was no way to get across there. We had to travel the whole street, watching carefully not to get in the way of trams, and make a right turn, chuck a Uey, and then travel back down again hoping to take the correct turnoff for the parking. We managed it, and by the time we found a spot on the 3rd floor of the parking lot the light was starting to fail. The wind was not!
It took a great deal of time to cross a road using the pedestrian lights. We got half way and the other side didn’t seem to be registering so we made a run for it and headed to the dreaded brick public toilets. These were not a pretty sight, but when you’ve got to, you’ve got to, and the lock on the door didn’t work so we made it a twosome, with one to hold the door shut.
Then we walked towards the jetty but spent a long time (well, in that cold wind when you’re not dressed for it) watching the wind surfers. There were so many of them!!! And how they did not get all tangled up together I will never know! Quite a few were jumping and turning and were very impressive to watch. We were happy that someone was benefiting from the ‘stiff breeze’!
I have to own up that I’ve brightened these 3 shots – Luna Park, the wind-surfers and the pier. I just could not leave photos so dull, as they really were.
I can’t say ‘we then walked to the jetty’ because it was just a case of turning around really 🙂 David asked if I wanted to walk along it but with the amount of salt water being sprayed across it I did not want to get wet or cold, nor cover my camera and glasses in sticky, salty spray either, so I gently declined.
You can see the waves in this shot and imagine the wind that was causing them!
We decided to go back to the street of shops and see what there was to see but the first thing we saw was a very welcoming looking restaurant with candles on the tables and a lovely warm décor. We looked at the menu and it appealed to us both so in we went!
The guy that greeted us was really friendly and bubbly, and the girl that served us was really lovely and had a beautiful Irish accent. David couldn’t drink alcohol of course because he was driving the rented car, so we shared a huge bottle of mineral water which was really nice. And we were very, very happy to be out of the cold and to take a break from the worries of navigating.
The restaurant was named the ‘Elbow Room’ and we both chose the vegetable soup. Then I had coriander lemongrass fishcakes, and David chose the grilled barramundi.
The meals and the décor were both very nice, and the time passed quickly until we decided that peak hour would be over and we should be safe to drive south-to-north through the city block to get the car back to where it belonged.
The toilets at the restaurant made me laugh because there was a hand-drawn light switch on the wall, marked ‘On’ and ‘Off’. Well, it made me giggle anyway and I’d only been drinking mineral water!
Before we left the restaurant I turned my phone on once more, with a prayer to the battery god, and hastily wrote down the directions to Franklin Street. Too hastily – I forgot the distances again. We had travelled this way in the dark the night before on the tour coach as he dropped some people off and we did OK to get to the city, and then well enough to get onto Franklin Street, but it all looked totally wrong! And when the instructions said to take the 2nd exit at the roundabout… Firstly there was no roundabout, as we would know one, and why the bl**dy h*ll it couldn’t have said ‘turn right’ I don’t know! (There was no straight ahead.)
We got lost. And we got lost well enough to be off the top of the city walking map that was the only map we had. If I was feeling fresh and energetic I’d have had the sense to try my phone GPS once more but I was neither of these things, I was completely drained and exhausted and just slumped in the seat and begged David to ask for directions. It was now after 10pm but he did manage to find 2 guys that had just come out of a gym and asked their advice. Thank you David!!!
We headed in the direction that they had advised. We were just metres away from the end of Franklin Street, which had changed its name or we’d have realised we were still on it. And this time we saw the ‘roundabout’, which would be better named as a small section of wonky kerbing in the middle of the road, and continued straight through, which should have been our right turn some time before.
The entry to the carpark was the most welcome sight we could have seen right about then until the sudden realisation that in our concern to find the place in the dark we had both completely forgotten about refuelling the car! After a discussion that lasted all of 30 seconds we decided that we didn’t give a toss how much they charged us to refill the tank themselves, it would be worth it, and David drove in and parked the car back where we had got it from.
I wrote a long note for the rental company telling them that they had our old address on the paperwork, giving them our new one and home and mobile phone numbers, and apologising for the lack of fuel and asked them to charge our credit card – which I believe they had swiped for just such an occasion. And I once more cursed the lack of information about the toll roads.
Very tired, we began our walk back to the hotel and I was absolutely *dying* for a coffee. We had not seen any late night coffee shops or restaurants at all and this was quite a surprise. We’d understood that Melbourne was a 24/7 buzz of life but if it is, it was tucked away somewhere we hadn’t looked!
However, at one point we did find a tiny little place with 2 men sitting at a table and a girl behind the counter selling coffee and a very small range of cakes. We sidled in, hoping against hope that she would remain open long enough for us to sit and enjoy a coffee – and we were greatly relieved that this was so. Now everything felt alright again. The troubles of the day were all now behind us and we could sit and get our minds back onto the beautiful and amazing and joyful parts of the day – and that is what we did. The place was named Pie Face and it seemed to be one of a very large chain.
The rest of the walk back to the hotel room was peaceful and relaxing, and when we got back into our room David asked if I wanted to pay the etag on the phone or computer. Is it just me, or am I alone in being surprised that he would ask such a stupid question LOL No, I did *not!!!* If it was going to go smoothly then I would love nothing better and I could go to sleep with peace in my heart. If it was going to be a hassle then I wanted no part of it!
We went to bed with the curtains open, but neither of us stayed awake for even a few seconds to admire the view.
We woke determined to get the etag thing paid and done, but several attempts on both the web and the phone did not resolve anything. The phone was only a robot (or a ‘plastic person’ as someone once said to me ROFL) – no friendly person to help tourists who had no idea what they were doing. The computer was asking questions that only seemed to relate to people who owned the car they had been driving. And, most scarey of all, it said that there were TWO toll companies and you should be sure to pay the correct company or risk being fined. I’m Mrs Goody Two-Shoes and never do the wrong thing – this was killing me! I suggested to David that we go to the Tourist Information Centre and beg their help! So we got dressed to go for a run down the river side to get to it, but as we passed reception David decided to ask there. The first guy knew nothing. Why are these toll roads such a mystery to everyone!?!?!? But he handed us over to a second man and after making a phone call that took him around in a circle 3 times, he finally managed to pay some money from our credit card on our behalf. Whether he paid the correct company, whether he paid them enough, we may never know, considering the hire company had the wrong address for us and we don’t know if our letter was delivered from the car to the office. The key return tube was far too slim to have been able to put the letter down it.
Somewhat free of the problem (for me), we went for our run and of course exercise is always the best thing to calm the mind and refresh the body. We ran over Queens Bridge, left in front of Southgate and the rowing clubs to Swan Street Bridge, left past Federation Square and back past Market Street to Kings Bridge, left in front of the Casino, and then left once more back over Queens Bridge. 4.94 kms. It was a really wonderful run and we enjoyed it so much!
Back to our room for a shower and dress with more decorum and then we went for a walk through the city. It was nearly David’s last walk anywhere! We were walking innocently along the footpath when suddenly a ute reversed at speed out of narrow laneway and nearly hit David! If I hadn’t pulled on his arm they most certainly would have collided. And how he missed other pedestrians I just do not know! The ute wasn’t happy with just that, but then continued to try to reverse into 3 lanes of cars who were stationary in the road waiting for some traffic lights to change. Everyone was beeping him like crazy but he kept going until the absolute last second! David says there was a guy with the ute that was supposed to be directing him. I assure you the guy was not only a failure, but the ute driver could not possibly have been following the instructions or he’d have seen there were none!
Hearts back into their rightful places and beginning to slow to a normal rate, we continued on our way to just past Federation Square on our way to the Botanical Gardens but changed our minds, realising that we would have to bolt around the Gardens at break-neck speed to get back to Federation Square for 12:30 to meet with my friend for lunch.
Instead of this, we stayed on the south side of the river and walked back to Southgate foodhall and decided to try a chai latte. We liked them! A little sweet, but definitely a very nice change from coffee. And we had all the time in the world to enjoy these in peace. It was actually now that we saw the little sparrow eating the Grill’d bread rolls, but never mind.
We still had heaps of spare time after we’d enjoyed our drinks. Isn’t it funny that we’d have been too rushed for the gardens, but now found ourselves with still about 45 minutes to spare. We crossed the river once more into the city block and found some of the famous laneways to explore. Here were the quirky cafes, spilling out into the streets. They were certainly ‘no car zones’ but it was a great pity they weren’t also ‘no smoking zones’. We could not begin to imagine eating in any of these places! You pay for food, you taste and breathe smoke – no thank you.
Well aren’t I a bright ray of sunshine on this page? But don’t despair, we’re back to happy news now.
Finally it was time that we could make our way to Federation Square. We were about 10 minutes early, so sat and watched the people seeing themselves on the massive screen and enjoying the sunshine, and quite soon after that I got a text message saying “We’re here!” I managed to stop myself sending a reply “So are we!” LOL So we went down the few steps to the Time Out Café and scanned the patrons for our friends. Not outside… but as soon as we went through the door, there they were!
This was our first ‘in person’ meeting and it was so wonderful to meet up in real life and the 4 of us just hit it off instantly and talked and talked and talked. Just ask the waiter, who had to come back 3 times to see if we were ready to order!
We discussed their recent very exciting holiday tour in China as well as what we’d been up to so far, and still had planned. The food was really lovely and the company even better and the time absolutely flew by! Before any of us knew it we’d been there almost 2 hours! I’d had ‘fried goats cheese w/- jam’ for my meal which was small (it was only an entrée, I’m not complaining) but delicious. The 2 men ordered ‘chicken Caesar salad’ and I can’t for the life of me remember what my friend had. I suspect she’ll remind me 🙂
Once we managed to tear ourselves away, because they needed to catch the train before peak hour hit, David and I resumed our plan to walk to the Botanical Gardens and set off at a good pace. The entrance to the gardens presented a fairly steep hill to work off our lunch and we wandered around and explored and took photos. And yes, I know it’s well more than time that I shared some.
We also found the Flame of Remembrance and the Shrine of Remembrance as we explored. Looks rather Egyptian here doesn’t it?
The building was actually quite large and very impressive. The views from the roof were pretty spectacular too.
You can clearly see the Eureka Tower on the left and of course when we were up there we had seen this Shrine of Remembrance. We also liked this memorial with its poppies.
From here, and you can see the dome in the photo above, we went to look at the Old Observatory, but it was shut. And there was a bit of a café but it was a ‘high turnover’ place and we didn’t feel like being a number. We picked up a map here though of the botanical gardens and saw that there was an art show being held here so we made our way to the building where it was to be held, only to find that it had shut about 10 minutes before. But never mind – La Trobe’s house was right next door! But it shut at 4 as well. We lost count of how many things we tried to view at about 4:10 or 4:30 that had shut at 4. We could only laugh!
So we walked more around the beautiful gardens instead. Flowers, trees and grass can be trusted to be open for business, I find LOL I was so very excited to find rhododendrons in the garden. These are totally my very favourite flowers and they just don’t grow well in Perth. In fact I’ve only seen 2 in my 40 years here.
By now though I was about ready to sit down and have a rest somewhere and we made our way back to Southgate and were going to choose one of the restaurants along the front of the buildings, overlooking the water. We’d walked or jogged past them often enough by now, it was about time we stopped and used one. So we walked wearily along but just didn’t fancy any of them now it had come to choice time. There seemed to be many more people walking along the wide footpath at this time of the day and far too many of them were smoking. We were well aware that it was going all over the diners trying to enjoy their meals, and just decided that we did not want to be a part of it.
Too tired to try walking any further in the hope of finding somewhere nice we ended up back at our hotel and decided on our way to eat in the restaurant there – if it was open. And it was! The waiter was the one that had served us in the bar (was it) 2(or 3) nights ago. “You’d like a ‘cherry bomb’” he said to me. Wow! I think David had a beer and then a red wine, but I can’t remember now. But for our food, I ordered a barramundi with pesto potatoes and David chose a steak. Oh, and we started with some garlic bread – of course!
We were in our room by 7pm, but you can’t do that when you’re on holidays, so we decided to walk around to the Crown to photograph and film the gas fireball show. Here is what the individual towers look like in the daylight…
And here’s David acting the goon, as I’d asked him to do, in front of one of them as we got there this evening.
We walked around for a little while and found ourselves a spot on the foot bridge that we thought would offer the best vantage point, and were very happy with it. And we were right! Here’s David’s video of what goes on with these gas fireballs each night. If you can hear a ticking noise in the video it’s my camera shutter! I didn’t give it a thought to turn the noise off LOL
And a couple of photos from me.
Out of one eye while we watched the show I could see an ice cream stall and David was rather surprised when I suggested that we have one each. It was just after 10pm, and cold. Neither of those things usually lend themselves to a desire for ice cream *hee hee* But he chose a jaffa flavour and I chose a chocolate fudge.
And then it was most definitely time to return to the room and go to bed!
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