11.25.2014

Melbourne Unlimited

Melbourne Australia was ranked the most livable city in the world by the people who rank that sort of thing and today we saw why.

We took the Sandringham line train to downtown Melbourne today, after we got our Myki public transit cards. The customer service agent at the Sandringham station where we got on explained the Myki cards to us very clearly. The Myki card system is a little clunky, and quite a political hot potato according to my buddy Paul who lives in Melbourne, but basically it is a fully automated and centralized digital system for easy on/off trains, busses, and trams, of which there are a ridiculous assortment in Melbourne (America's poor public transport system is shamefully weak by comparison). You put money on the cards and then you can use the card freely until the money is gone. There is a daily cap on charges so you cannot be charged more than about $12 AU in a day, no matter how many rides. The card itself costs $6 though which is a bit steep.

Anyway, we took the train down to Flinders Street Station (akin to Union Street Station in Chicago or Grand Central in New York) and cruised around the downtown, taking a couple trams here and there. We went to the Victoria Market, which was a huge marketplace, with a lot of fish vendors. All kinds of fish. We showed Ty and Millie, my niece and nephew, what a flathead was. This is a kind of fish with a quite flat head (appropriately enough) that we used to fish for when we lived in Australia for a couple years in the 80s.

There was a huge food court there too, so we ate some lunch. I had a couple of meat pies, a staple Australian foodstuff akin to a pot pie in the USA, as did Ty and Millie. My mom and pops got a couple bowls of Asian vegetables.

After lunch we had two options - Botanical Gardens or St. Kilda Baths.

We opted for the latter and took a tram southwest to Luna Park in St. Kilda, a famed old amusement park where the entrance is the grimacing face of a clown (you enter its mouth under a frightening set of teeth). A couple blocks from Luna Park, on the beach, is the St Kilda Baths. In the old days, they used to heat sea water and people would bathe in it outdoors as a restorative. They still do, except now the baths are indoors alongside an olympic size lap pool. It's basically an aquatic center but they still use real seawater. In the old days, a section of ocean along the beach was fenced off (from sharks) and people would swim there.

We took another tram back to Flinders Street to hop on the Sandringham train back to our hotel at the terminus of that line. In Sandringham, we had a rather expensive dinner at the Hobson Stores restaurant, then my parents and I walked down to the beach to watch the sun set. However, we were too slow. Although the sun was just above the horizon when we left the hotel room, it had sunk behind distant low lying clouds before we made it to the beach. We walked along the beach a short way (the offshore breeze was chilly). The tide was in again and the waves were quite fierce because of that and the wind.

Overall an action packed day. After I finish this post I will hit the hay and probably sleep like a baby.

Pictures from today are attached.

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