11.01.2017 - 14.01.2017
Singapore Air Flight SQ207 to Melbourne, flight 2 of 4. So the outbound flight was a bit of a letdown for me mainly due to the disappointing inflight entertainment . I didn't think things could go downhill but honestly what a shambles. You may recall that on the outbound flight there was no anticipated screening of Series 2 of Poldark and so I settled for TV drama,The Durrells. Having watched episodes 1 to 3 outbound, I presumed I would be able to pick up where I left off on the next flight. As I knew there were 10 episodes to get through in all I wasted no time in getting started. I scrolled through the entertainment list only to find there were just 2 episodes available - 5 and 6! What the dickens happened to Episode 4? Not only that, as SQ207 was an old 777 the sound and picture quality on the monitor was abysmal.
In flight meal - we had a very early start having been picked up at 4.20am by shuttle arranged by Singapore Air. So I was quite looking forward to the first meal which turned out to be their version of a continental breakfast - a dry sweet roll with a frozen butter pat, a piece of rubbery cheddar cheese and a muffin so dry it would choke you. 👎 oh I nearly forgot the little pack of strawberry jam. Maybe dinner would be better (I hoped). I requested a vegetarian meal as the other options were pork and a noodle dish and I don't eat either of these things. I can see why vegetarians often feel they get a raw deal in restaurants and other establishments where choices and standard of meals are poor. I don't know what the vegetarian meal actually was but at a guess, it might have been some kind of flavourless couscous with a dollop of salsa on the side - thats it. I didn't eat it.
Apart from the above - the Singapore Air flight was fine but nothing outstanding.
We arrived into Melbourne around 6.10pm. After getting through baggage halls, customs etc. We took the Skybus to Southern Cross station and from there we used a free hotel shuttle service. Brilliant service, the Australians couldn't make it any easier for us. We checked into our hotel, the Stamford Plaza, and as we were starving, wasted no time in getting out to eat then a couple of drinks and back for an early night.
12 Jan - Today was our first full day in Melbourne, unfortunately I slept late having had several nights of not being able to sleep much at all, This resulted in a later start to the day than anticipated however, after ablutions and a cup of coffee we were off and running. We set off to find a store selling the Myki travel card - Melbourne's own version of our Oyster card. So, the system is that you pay 6AUD for the card itself and then load on your chosen amount of credit. You "tap" on and "tap" off whenever you make a train, bus or tram journey and cost of trips vary according to travel across city zones but seem to average 2AUD each and, If I understood correctly, travel is capped at 8AUD daily so that's what I purchased - two cards at a total cost of 28AUD. We walked to Flinders Street station to get a train out to the beach, I duly tapped on and went through the station barriers but when I turned to look for Graham he's nowhere to be seen. I scanned the concourse assuming he had come through a different barrier and then spotted him the other side of the barriers frantically patting himself down searching for his card. In less than 10 minutes Graham had managed to lose his Myki card 😖. I passed 15AUD across the barrier to him and patiently waited while he went off to buy another card! Anyway, drama over, we got on the train and set off on a 30 minute train journey in search of the infamous Beach Huts located at our namesake Brighton Beach. We walked half a mile or so along a dedicated cycle/joggers path 😂before dropping down on to the sandy beach .
To set the scene, let me tell you that the weather was hot with not a not a cloud in the sky. A very high factor sunscreen was needed unless you are on a death mission. Decent UV sunnies are also essential (I had my bejewelled Thai knock offs with me and they seemed to do the trick) but straw hats and velcroed sun visors are optional.
The beach was quite busy with sunbathers and families and, as you might imagine, the beach huts attracted the usual selfie stick wielding tourists who seem to want to strike and photographically capture as many poses imaginable. Melbourne's Brighton Beach is very much a residential area, there are few services of any kind (none) where you might be encouraged to sit and spend a few hours. There was one converted VW camper van selling burgers and soft drinks from whom we purchased a bottle of water and then made our way back to the train station to return to the city in search of sustenance (no breakfast included at the Stamford Plaza) after all, by this time it was nudging 2pm. We settled on a nice little Italian bistro and broke our fast so to speak.
After a quick 40 winks back at the hotel we then took a tram journey out to St Kilda. This is another beach area, again, about 30 minutes out of the city. St Kilda is a beautiful vibrant beach area with a cycle/joggers path, lovely manicured grassy areas where people sunbathe or picnic and there are beachside bars and restaurants too! It's now 5pm, we sit and each have a couple of alcoholic drinks before we go to wait for the fairy penguins who come ashore at a rocky area at the end of the pier after sundown, to escape predators and to mate/nest. Many people take an organised full day tour out to Philip Island to see the Fairy Penguins there. Apparently, there is a slick set up with seated viewing areas and you get a decent view depending on how much you are prepared to pay for your ticket. For the cheapskates like us, there is the small colony at the end of St Kilda pier which is free and monitored by volunteer Rangers. The downside is that it's a bit pot luck if you get to see the Penguins. Believe it or not we sat and waited from 6pm in an endeavour to gain a decent view of where these little beggars come in and it was gone 9pm before any sighting. I was at the wrong spot on the boardwalk and therefore didn't really get much of a look in and so decided we should call it a day and head back to the city. As I made my way off the boardwalk, I made a cheeky manoeuvre and shoved my head and camera through a small gap in the crowd and 'bingo' I got a sighting and a picture too. One lone little Fairy Penguin; check out my photo but be patient, it's like one of those magic eye pictures - stare at it for long enough and the image will appear 😂😂. I did get a few nice pictures of the boats and a lovely full moon though so not all was lost.
Hey ho and so to bed.