Friday, April 26, 2013

St. Kilda, pastry, mass transit and parrots

On Tuesday, I left my hotel/apartment, and headed off to meet Alison, my New Zealand friend, for a spin around parts of Melbourne that I had not yet explored. I had to meet her at Southern Cross Station, which was on the other side of town. I briefly considered one of these bikes, which you can rent at one of these nifty stations located around town. But I still have bad memories of a bike accident when I was 11 that left me with two broken bones in my leg, a fractured skull, a concussion, and about two days of unconsciousness. (I have gotten on a bike since, but rarely.) And since Australians drive/ride on the opposite side of the street from American, riding a bike through busy rush hour traffic did not seem the wisest decision.

I bought a Myki mass transit card and loaded it up with a day pass (about $20), and hopped on a train at Parliament Station. Mobs of people came and went on the platform (the photo shows it right after the train departed). They were crowded, standing room only, at 8 a.m. in the height of rush hour.

 I rode until I got to Southern Cross Station. This is the front of the building:

With time to kill until I had to meet Alison, I wandered around the station taking photos of the very cool interior, where about a zillion workers, sightseers, and school children moved about like bees at the hive:

The ceiling undulates beneath a structure of twisted rods, giving a definite sense of movement to a building that is all about moving people and trains:

From the second floor of the station, you can view some interesting contemporary buildings like this one that looked like its walls were made of shreds of aluminum foil under glass:

I love whatever these curvy red things are (below). Perhaps something structural, perhaps just for visual impact.

This building had panels that shimmered gold and red in the sun:


After meeting Alison, we set off for St. Kilda, a seaside suburb about a 15 minute tram ride south east from the city center. It was named after the schooner Lady of St. Kilda, and is now a somewhat bohemian area with many artists and musicians.

St. Kilda’s beach is lovely and wide. It was cold and the beach was deserted, except for a few older men who were running from the heated salt-water baths into the chilly ocean, and back again. Brrrrr!

The city skyline viewed from St. Kilda’s pier:


The tea house at the end of the pier:


 A team was boxing near the beach:

On the street, huge palms line a wide sidewalk that looks down to the beach:

We heard birds and looked up. Do you see the parrots hiding in the palm fronds?

Here is closer viewer. How beautiful! These two Rainbow Lorikeets had carved out a little cave/nest, and were making quite a racket:

We walked downtown, which has great boutiques and some truly astounding pastry shops. It was nearly as fun to look in the window as to indulge.  Notice I said “nearly.” (We did indulge).

The case inside Acland Cake Shop held even more treats:

Outside, patrons sat in the sunshine, eating and drinking tea or coffee:


And when they left, the clean-up crew arrived en masse:

Here are some more photos of mouth-watering pastries. Hope I am not making you drool on your keyboard!

Lots of cool coffee shops, including one with this contraption:

My coffee drinking American friends tell me that the coffee in Melbourne is excellent, by the way. Far better than the average American coffee. Apparently a few years ago, Starbucks made a run at carving out a bit of the market share here and failed. I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t comment, but I can tell you that the range of tea varieties here is wonderful.

Meringues the size of saucers, about 5" across!

A poster advertising the “Lunatic Halloween Party” last fall:

St. Kilda’s beautiful clocktower:

Luna Park is St. Kilda’s iconic amusement park, and reminded me of NYC’s Coney Island. This amazing figure is the entrance! It was under construction that blocked some of the mouth, but I got a few nice photos of it anyway.



The Palais Theatre is just next to Luna Park:

Still more photos of Melbourne to come in the next day or so.