The friendly gal at the table selling tickets to the hop on hop off bus had told us to get there early for a good seat. We thought we were there in plenty of time but the seats were already filled in the front on top—with our friends! The ones we’d told about the bus and our plans. It was going to be a fun ride.
There were two loops for the bus—one that ran around the city proper and another that came out to the beach and shore area of St. Kilda and back down to the ship’s pier. We took the black line to the red line and began our trip around the city. The view was so much better than the tram and we could hear every word of the commentary. What a joy!
Melbourne is quite a mixture of architecture from the very old to the very new. Somehow the city planners seem to have done a good job of mixing the two. There were many places where the really new buildings were done with stones or other building material that matched or complimented the colors and textures of the older buildings.
Of course nothing dates back much farther than the mid 1800s since that was when Australia was being settled. It’s kind of funny that there are places where the convict legend is talked about with pride and other places where they are proud to say the area was colonized without convicts. I like the convict legends best. Good coming from bad—although in those days I’m sure some of the convicts were not as bad as they were made out to be.
We all stopped at the Victorian Market. Bob and I mainly to make a pit stop and get some coffee, our friends to shop for didgeridoos. The market was full of all sorts of things from Australian souvenirs to flea market items to crafts and jewelry. Somewhere there was supposed to be produce as well but we never got that far. I think you could have spent all morning there. All of us made it back to the next bus forty minutes later and we continued on.
Our friends, one of whom is Chinese, wanted to get lunch in Chinatown so they hopped off at the stop nearest the good restaurants. We had planned to eat somewhere near the beach in St. Kilda so we waved goodbye from the bus and continued on.
Once our red loop was finished, we hopped off to hop on the black one only to learn that the black loop bus for the 12:45 run had been canceled. Canceled? How could they do that? What was it with us and hop on hop offs? We’d had a similar problem in Wellington.
When you travel, you roll with the punches or else you will ruin your experience completely. Since we had almost two hours to wait for the next bus, we started off down and around the block to see if we could find a pizza—a real pizza. While waiting for the light to change, Bob spotted a historical tavern on the opposite corner. “Isn’t that the one Ken talked about having that art picture in it?”
“Yes,” I answered. I could hear the wheels turn in his head. He really needs to get them oiled.
“Why don’t we have lunch there?” He raised his brows up and down Groucho-style.
I shrugged as I mentally discarded the picture of a cheese and mushroom pizza in my head. We crossed the street and got a seat in the downstairs dining/tavern area.
The picture, said our waitress, was upstairs and yes, he could go up and take a picture. Which he did. I waited. I spent four years in college studying art and nudes. I knew what they looked like even if this painting did have quite a past since it had hung in the bar since the 1860s.
Back at the Federation Square, we found free internet and used our remaining time to update our phone apps where needed and buy some flowers to replace the Valentine bouquet that had finally bit the dust. Then it was off to meet the black loop bus which showed up thankfully because by now quite a few people from the ship who were counting on it being their ride back had gathered. There might have been a historical rebellion of sorts had the bus not come.
Rain squelched our idea to get off a couple of stops early but it subsided by the next to last stop and we got off and walked for about a half hour to the pier. There was no one on the beach. It was way to chilly. After all, this was the beginning of their fall and temperatures were dropping. We were also quite a distance from the equator but not so far that it would threaten to snow any time soon. Whew!