Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Australia Trip (Days 3 & 4)

Day 3: Tuesday, December 27
Eureka Skydeck, Victoria Square Market, River Cruise
We both woke up a bit early (jet lag + time change) and worked out before going to breakfast in the Exec Lounge, where we enjoyed breakfast out on the open terrace overlooking the Yarra River, including the heli-pad just across from us. Several helicopters came and went as we munched on smoked salmon, eggs, and fruit.

Based on the weather conditions, we decided to visit the Eureka Skydeck as our first activity of the day so that we’d have a good view from the 55th floor. 

After taking in the view from each side and indulging in a souvenir photo opportunity, we headed across the river and jumped on the free City Circle tram to Victoria Square Market. Unfortunately, all of the fresh food vendors were closed since it was a public holiday (Xmas on a Sunday + Boxing Day public holiday on a Monday = Official “observation” and holiday for Xmas on Tuesday). We did browse through several of the souvenir and craft stalls that were open and put a pretty good dent in our souvenir-shopping list.

The rain had started just before we reached the Market, so as we walked back towards the river by following a suggested route from our Lonely Planet Pocket Melbourne guide, we actively searched for someplace to buy an umbrella. We finally found a Target (!) when we reached Chinatown and selected a small purple umbrella (matches my glasses!!!).

We later realized we could have asked the concierge at the Hilton to borrow umbrellas after seeing some other guests doing so, and Mr. E took advantage of this option in the evening when we headed off for our two-hour river cruise. Our walking tour took us through some of the popular laneways in Melbourne, which are studded with street art of various kinds on the walls, including AC/DC Lane and Hosier Lane.

We decided to stay mostly on the north bank as we walked back to the hotel so that we could get a different perspective on the river and the environs.

We had enough time to get some sustenance in the Exec Lounge before retracing our steps along the Southbank Promenade to the boat dock area for our Twilight river cruise. Unfortunately, the rain continued throughout, and Mr. E stayed out on the back deck with his large Hilton umbrella while I managed to snag a chair inside up near the bow. At first, the only entertainment was some music, so I asked one of the crew about when the commentary would begin, as that was part of the description we had read and a reason we had selected this cruise. From some of what I overheard by sitting up near the Captain, there was some sort of miscommunication internally about what the Twilight Cruise was supposed to entail, but luckily the Captain was game to provide the standard tour commentary for both the upriver and downriver portions of the cruise. Much better than the musical soundtrack!

On our way back from the cruise, we stopped for cocktails and pizza at Plus 5. The name of the restaurant comes from the original structure, which is a series of connected sheds along the waterfront that used to have a more industrial function. The next-door property is an event venue composed of sheds 3 and 4, and the same owners decided to open a restaurant in the contiguous space, which makes the name Plus 5 quite logical.

Day 4: Wednesday, December 28
Federation Square, NGV Ian Potter Center, Lui Bar
After breakfast in the Exec Lounge, we crossed The Seafarers Bridge (ped/bike only) right at the base of our hotel and followed Flinders Street on our way to Federation Square. We got a relatively close-up view of the iconic Bruce Armstrong bird sculpture, “Bunjil,”and the historic Flinders Street Station. 

At Fed Square, we joined the free daily walking tour and learned lots about the history of the area from our friendly and informative guide. Fed Square takes up an entire city block and includes the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI), the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Ian Potter Center, the Koorie Heritage Center, and several bars and restaurants in addition to large public gathering spaces and a Tourist Information Center.

The weather continued to be unsettled, with bursts of rain interspersed with strong winds and overall hot and muggy conditions. Yuck! All of the locals whom we encountered told us that this weather was very unusual for the season in Melbourne, and we certainly hadn’t expected such a humid and clammy climate.

After the tour ended, we stopped for a break at the ACMI Café and then returned to the NGV to explore the free exhibitions, which included some beautiful and brilliant paintings and weavings by female Aboriginal artists. My favorite art was Bruce Armstrong’s carved wooden animals and other creatures, especially the sculpted cat in front of its own portrait, which created the effect as if it were looking at itself in a mirror.

Although we had cooled down quite a bit during our time in the NGV, we got heated up again quickly once we stepped outside and headed down to the river bank to get lunch at Riverland. The shade and strong breeze made sitting outside bearable, and we both enjoyed the healthy quinoa salad as we overlooked the river.

We made our way back to the hotel to cool down and change clothes, and we then indulged by taking a taxi to Lui Bar across the river, on the 35th floor of the Rialto Tower, which also houses the Intercontinental Hotel. By arriving right at the opening time of 5:30pm (thanks to advice from the Lonely Planet guide!), we didn’t have to wait long for a table and were seated right by the window, looking south out over the river. Mr. E had some wagyu sliders for a snack in addition to our shared nuts & olives to accompany our craft cocktails

We left Lui around 7pm and hailed a taxi for the quick ride back to the hotel, where we still had time to hit up the Exec Lounge for food and drinks. According to one of the staff, the Lounge had been extremely busy earlier in the evening, so our later arrival was quite fortuitous, as the place was quite tranquil by the time we got there. Oh – but the prawns didn’t reappear after that first evening – must have been only for the Boxing Day holiday! The other offerings were still quite tasty and filling, including veggie dumplings, bread and cheese, dried fruit, and different types of raw veggie sticks.

Once we got back to our room, we happened to look out the window just in time to see the flame show at the nearby Crown Casino. This scene is actually part of the Qantas on-board safety video, too!


Post a Comment

<< Home