Style, Class and a Casino victory
09.10.2012 26 °C
After dropping the camper we walked into town via the Flagstaff Gardens, we arrived at Greenhouse Backpackers with plenty of time in the day to spare, the hostel by the way was another great find, brilliant room, free internet and very clean and modern (recommended). So off we went to see the trendy Fed Square, we hopped on a tram and headed for the Royal Botanical Gardens via the Shrine of Remembrance. This was a personal favourite of mine, well one of my favourite things anyway, it told you so much about Australia’s war against Japan, it was so interesting and informative. We then headed for the Botanical Gardens which played host too many beautiful sights, including a volcano which ended up being a little pond and not much of a volcano at all unfortunately, though it was surrounded by some pretty cool sights. After we finished here we jumped back on the trams to Fed Square where we went into the Information Centre to see what we could do over the next few days, we managed to get the most helpful and informative old lady in Melbourne I think. We had lots to do and a few days to do it, so we grabbed some dinner in KFC and headed back to get some well-earned sleep.
Next day we started with a walking tour, which may sound boring but was actually brilliant. It takes you down so many streets and little arcades that you’d never go down, which we actually ended up returning to throughout our stay in Melbourne for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. After the tour we headed for the Queen Victoria Market, which was a lot bigger than North Weald, you see so many little things you’d like to buy at these markets. We managed to hold off for the most part until Lucy and I made a couple of purchases before we left including a campervan belt buckle (me) and an Aussie hoodie (Lucy). Upon leaving the market we had a couple of Spanish doughnuts and headed for the free city circle tram, we took this to the Melbourne Aquarium. Now the Aquarium wasn’t amazing all the way through but some stuff on the Antarctic was pretty interesting and the Penguins were absolutely amazing. They were brilliant running around, lots of them kept swimming around as well, it’s also mating season for one of the species of Penguins they had, and they all kept stealing each other’s stones to make their own nests. They were hilarious and probably one of the best parts of the trip for Lucy. After hanging around the Penguins for a good hour or two we decided it was time to head back for some dinner and a quiet night in with sweets and a movie.
The following morning we topped up on breakfast and water as it was the day we decided to jump on the bikes. They are basically the Boris bikes in London back home, we got a couple of what we thought were cool helmets from our hostel and headed off down the riverside. We past plenty of sights and bridges along the way, we found the crown plaza where we were going to be that night. We then ventured across the river into the Docklands and back through the city centre before replacing our bikes at the bike shares. We then strolled through the Carlton & Fitzroy Gardens, there were plenty of nice buildings and little cottages dotted around as well as ponds and wildlife. We preferred the Royal Botanic Gardens. After the gardens we headed over to the Sport District, where we checked out the MCG - Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Rod Laver Arena, they are both huge and very interesting with statues everywhere, this is where I found out the capacity at the MCG is 100,000, this I didn’t know. Once we were all sported out we ventured back to a graffiti hotspot I wanted to take some pictures of and then went home to get ready for the big night. Firstly we went to Guilhemes (or something along those lines) for diner at the riverside, then we hit the Casino for Lucy’s first ever visit to one and to get my fix. We went for Roulette to begin with, we went for the strategy of always picking a colour and sometimes a third, then every other round we surrounded a number, now our luck was in as we hit numbers several times, so $250 we left whilst we were ahead and I wanted to show Lucy Blackjack, lady luck followed us there too as I won another $50, made up for my Darwin losses! We had an amazing night.
Since we knew the sun was out on our last full day we decided to venture down to St Kilda beach, it ended up being lovely weather for most of the day and we had a sun bath, walked up and down Ackland Street which seemed very cool. Unfortunately Luna Park was closed so we’ll have to go again when Lucy returns (maybe I’ll visit before, probably not) but St Kilda was another nice and trendy area with a lovely little beach where everyone seems to walk their dogs, we watched a couple of dogs causing havoc for ages which was hilarious, as well as an old bloke who seemed to talk to everyone with his tiny little speedos leaving little to the imagination.
It was our last morning waking up at the fantastic Greenhouse Backpackers (very good hostel), so we checked out and went for some breakfast down Centre Place. We then ventured to the Melbourne City Library, which was huge and to be honest beautiful. They had the proper reading rooms you see mostly in films upstairs on the 3rd floor, we were impressed as we hadn’t seen any in the flesh (wood) before. So we had a nose around read up on a bit of history and found another Burke book, that name is everywhere in Australia, we need to find out about the Burke ancestors I think. We then headed off to the Melbourne baths but didn’t find what we expected, it was a swimming pool and a gym, with some expensive back massages, so we left and walked past a building with a massive climbing wall inside, since we were both scared of heights…we went in. I signed up to climb and Lucy was my Beelay (hope I’ve spelt that right), basically she held the rope as I climbed, yes your right I was packing my pants at the thought of Lucy holding my weight, but it’s all good. Lucy was great and I climbed a few walls and gave up on a few when I bit off more that I could chew, it was hard work and I was knackered! So with sore arms and a partially dented ego (though I was proud of what I did climb all the way) we went back to greenhouse to pack and head to the stop for our night ride. We jumped on the bus and settled in to listen to Tony (the driver) give the longest speech you could possibly give for a bus journey, I’ve never heard someone say please so many times, hilarious though. I then had the pleasure of watching Shawshank Redemption with Lucy for her first time, what a film, voted number 1 movie of all time on IMDB by the way.
After a rough nits sleep on the coach we got into Sydney at around 7am, we head straight for the Swisotel which we’d booked as a secret deal on lastminute.com, what a catch we found. The hotel was beautiful with one of the most helpful receptionists in the world, she knew the bus journey was tough, so we got a complimentary breakfast, full use of the shower & spa facilities all before we even checked in, which wasn’t meant to be till gone midday, she got us in at half 9 in the morning, massive thanks to Fify. We chilled in the room for a couple of hours, I setup in my study…yes study, and then we had a snooze and awoke to go for a swim and a dip in the Jacuzzi before we had to get ready for a lunch with Lucy’s friend Amy who was now living in Sydney. We met them in a lovely little Australian pub Lord Nelsons Brewery on Kent St, they make all their own beers, so I decided to have 3 pints of Three Sheets, it was actually quite nice. We had a fantastic lunch with Amy and Jamie, the food was nice the beer was good and the company was great. After an extended lunch we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel a little tipsy, on route we grabbed a couple of cakes, dessert. Once back at the Swisotel we got ready for bed and ordered up some room service and watched Into The Wild, to which Lucy fell asleep! To be fair we were both shattered and needed some sleep, also the room service dinner was lovely, I recommend Swisotel if you want to do Sydney in style.
On our last morning together we went for a traditional Pie Face before returning to Manly Beach (our favourite beach out here). It was packed but for good reason, the weather was great, we had a couple of ice creams and gave into a Hungry Jacks lunch later on. After a while we went back to the otherwise on Manly, the quieter side, to chill for a bit before we jumped on the ferry back to the Circular Quay, oh and we had another ice cream. Once pack we grabbed Lucy’s things and sadly jumped on a train to the airport. I stayed with her till she went through customs, we made the goodbye a quick one, though it was the saddest part of my trip so far especially after the greatest 2 weeks I’d had in Australia so far. After she left I wiped away a few tears and we back to solo life in my new bed at the Home Hostel.
I love you Lucy, I had the best time with you and can’t wait for you to return for another amazing adventure.
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