Monday, October 26, 2009

Come A-Waltzing Matilda with Cubbies to Melbourne! - PART 4


So we're gonna continue from where we left off in Melbourne.

Day 4 & 5: Touring the City and Off to the Beach Town of St. Kilda We Go!

So here's the deal... When you purchase 2 tours from the travel agent, you'll get a free City tour - that is a half-day sightseeing (mostly done while you're on the bus, but sometime you get off) to key landmarks and areas within the Melbourne CBD. This came free after we purchased GOC and the Penguin Parade tour and thank heavens it is... I'll tell you why i said that!

But first up, pictures i took that was interesting enough to snap from the bus:

How can this be interesting? Come on... Its Louis Vuitton... 'nuff said.

And a neo-gothic Church

I'm guessing that at least a good 90% of those who was on the City Tour got them for free. But for those who paid a whopping US$60 for the 3hrs 45 mins tour - God Bless You :) You have done Melbourne tour companies proud because it was probably not worth the time nor the money spent :) But, yes, you get to see places you don't think you'll go on your own anyway! So................

Some of the places they'll take you on the tour include Federation Square (Hint: You board the bus from Fed-Square), Queen Victoria Market (lovely little paradise), Chinatown (every city has one... whaddaya see, Chinese!), Flinders Station (famed train station next to Fed Square), Arts & Cultural Centre (across the bridge from Flinders Stn), Royal Botanic Gardens etc.

Demonstrators at Fitzroy Gardens promoting their cause. We have this back home too.

The Epoch Times. Hate the word, Epoch, by the way... Don't know why.

I guess the only place that i truly enjoyed during the tour was the visit to the Botanic Gardens. Cubbies love gardens and parks - walking, pouncing, pawwing, relaxing, stretching and playing with dried autumn leaves... that's the only treat of the tour :)

And that... That's Meebops' feet :)

I personally think the quality of life of children in Australia is so much better than its Asian neighbours... that's just my point of view, being a kid meself... haha! Asian parents are, sad to say, too uptight, very demanding and hard on their kids sometimes, especially when it comes to grades.

More beautiful tree-lined parks such as this one at Fitzroy Gardens. Makes for a nice walk on Sunday morning or early evenings.

OK so you've heard... Cubbies didn't thoroughly enjoyed her free tour (even though she likes free stuff) and slept for the entire 3 hours journey on the bus, waking up only to pee. Besides, the commentating by the domineering "cat-woman" tour guide sucked anyway. Her monotonous yakkating and all that fake smiling and hostility - uurgh! Either that or she's simply edgy, like she's trying to quit smoking or something. So... Cubbies didn't tip her! Hmph!

They also promised a souvenir at the end of the tour, but we didn't get any (maybe because its free?).

TIP! For those discerning travellers who probably thought that the money could be better spent buying souvenirs for loved ones at home - YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! If it comes free, what the heck, hop on the bus, pay attention for the next 3 hours and then go do whatever you need to do. But do not fork out US$60 for it. Cry tears of regret if you do. Unless, of course, you have loads of moolas to spend :)

After the tour ended, we went back to the hostel and checked out. Not before we had lunch first! We cooked some dinner the night before - made use of the free rice and pasta every day and finished some wrap / fish we bought couple of days back. The thing about moving place to place is that you don't quite get to "mark your territory" as often as you'd like. So TTT had to clear out the food before we left the hostel. Things we can reuse, we take them to St. Kilda; things we can't like leftover bread, hummus, we left it on the shelf so others can use them before it expires (you'll be surprised at the speed of which these perishables... perish!).

Urban Central's kitchen.

The fried fish wrapplicious i made *curtsies curtsies*

And a tad too dry pasta Arrabiata.

Meebops didn't take these very well (appeared very blurry) but you get the picture :) Meebops also didn't like my pasta nor my wraps - but hey, beggars can't be choosers. She is a bloody picky eater too :)

Then it was BUH-BYE Urban Central!

St. Kilda is 6km away from the City Centre and takes 2 tram change before you arrive at the heart of it all. All in all, from where we boarded the tram, it took us approx. 10 mins and VOILA!

We stayed at the St. Kilda's X-Base hostel - which is a nifty little establishment - clean, very very small (toilet door hits the side of the bed when open it!) but funky little crowd. Not as warm and diverse as you'd get from UC but good enough for a night or two. Here are some pictures of the interior:

A club that runs from god knows when till god knows when. Especially crowded on weekend nights.

Communal area - good for merry making and reading.

After a few hours of resting our tired little paws, we were out exploring the town area.

Our first impression of St. Kilda??? A quaint haven, cosmetic town that is akin to all beach town the world over. Cosy little streets punctuated with palm trees, background music courtesy of street buskers, children, lollipops, cakes, fairground and to top it all off, tourists amidst the small eccentric crowd.

That's the beach town of St. Kilda. Main attraction - The Beach!

Quaint shop houses lined the streets of St. Kilda's Acland Street.

Eccentric much? Harley enthusiast showcased their pride on the littered pavements - making it quite difficult for passer-bys to pass through.

The reason why all people should be in St. Kilda - honest to goodness cakes.

Lots and lots of them!

What we had that evening, together with a nice hot cup of latte... Cubbies had a knack for double-layered cream Blackforest cake - a classic birthday cake number. Meebops said maybe i didn't have enough birthdays as a baby. Whatever... *rolls eyes*

Meebops had the super-sweet Turkish pistachio halwa.

And a blueberry pie - which was simply kick-a** gorgeous.

Incident No. 2: Both Meebops and i were quietly enjoying our deserved cup of hot lattes and a big lip smackin' slice everything above, while we people-watch along Acland Street on that lazy Saturday evening. Seated right next to our table was an odd, old and unkempt couple who were almost too pitiful to look at (Cubbies has a soft spot for very old people :( by the way). Husband was reeking of alcohol; probably a drunkard since that's all he smelled like. Wife was just pitiful looking :(

Anyway, after a glass of wine each, they both wanted to move off. Hubby who was a little stronger stood and moved off first. Wife, who was definitely very very tipsy and who has a major case of arthritis going on, with painful bony parts of her arms and and legs sticking out, stood up wobbily and PLOP to her back, down to the floor, with her head hitting the concrete curb! It was a pretty hard fall for an old lady and she MUST'VE HURT REALLY BAD but thankfully she wasn't bleeding or anything. Cubbies went rushing to her feet (like how Mighty Mouse would've donw it) and helped her up. Haizz.. It broke Cubbies' little heart to see such things happening to what was once probably a strong beautiful woman in her heydays :( So Cubbies asked if she was OK - she nodded. Then came 2 other Italian-Australian ladies who spoke to her, called the ambulance and everything and stayed till the Ambulance is in sight. TTT stayed too till everything was under control.

Oooh... whatever happened to the husband you asked? He went away, disappeared. At some point he realised wife was missing, saw the commotion, walked past the old lady and pretended like he didn't know her. Yes, he's an a**. But what good can you expect from someone who care more about where he can get the next booze?

You think that was some sort of bizarre behaviour? That is equally the attraction on Acland Street! So when you're there, pick a spot, order a steamy cup of your favourite brew, a nice big slice of heaven (i mean, cake...) and people-watch - you won't be disappointed! :)

The rest of the evening was spent buying snacks and light breakfast from Woolsworth supermarket. We were just outside the iconic Luna Park when it was closing for the day at 6pm. Then we strolled along the beach, sitting, chatting and gazing at lovers smooching under the starless night sky... it was love. Love for life :)

That night we cooked up a storm, God knows why. There were fried noodles (which Meebops cooked), eggs, excellent frozen spinach, and some nasty canned peas, plus, calamaris. It was a buffet! One guy commented: "I'm impressed by your cooking..."

OK i just have to show off my plate and the way i like me eggs...

We woke up late the next morning, had some cup-a-soup and bread breakfast and walked around the Upper and Lower Esplanade areas - all the way to the beach jetty. Entrance to Luna Park is free but rides are pay per entry. They had some Corporate event going on that Sunday so the rides are totally out. Besides, we're not crazy about thrill rides either.. heh heh heh..

So here are more pictures of St. Kilda...

Boats and yachts littered the sea front... With a view like this, what more can you ask for? Tsk...

Isn't this just stunning?

What i want to do when i grow up... Fish and bask in the chilly winds under the sun. Doze off and find yourself in Hawaii... why not.

That's right, the iconic big-mouthed clown of Luna Park. Always laughing, always welcoming.

After the long stroll, we headed for our last stop before moving back to Melbourne - Monarch Cake Shop who probably had its interior preserved in a bottle and presented in a time machine.

And i'm talking antiques people. They even kept the original cash register alive and running ka-ching ka-ching!

Their house speciality - the MUST TRY KUGELHOPF. Can't miss this one folks, its a must-have. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Its of Polish origins, it has chocolate fillings covered in savoury pastry... what more can you ask for? Real honest to goodness - no bull about it.

So that was it! St. Kilda was a purrrfect weekend getaway for TTT - and a much needed one (after all the touring!).

We packed our bags and checked out. Hopped on the tram and off to our next accommodation - Pensione Hotel on Spencer Street!

Oh before we go off, i just have to put up this picture of 2 little girls riding on their skate-scooters along the beach - one enthusiastically paddled on and the other, confidently rode with her pink tutu on. Guess what happened next? The one in tutu hit a lamppost and fell. Cried ever so loudly. You know why? Cos she wasn't paying attention to what's coming up ahead! So be mindful of the future, cos if you're not prepared, that's when they getcha!!! Ha! Ha! :)

Till the next post: Day 6 & 7 - Puffing Billy, Petting Zoos and Wake Up! Its The Fire Alarm!



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