Our tour leader gave us oodles of suggestions for how to spend our free day in Melbourne. As I expected, it was frustrating trying to do as much as possible, both because there wasn't enough time and we weren't very efficient getting around in a city we haven't spent any time in for 35 years. We took the free tram to the Yarra River and were looking or the Sunday Market. I stopped a local looking lady to ask for directions. She wasn't local at all, but knew exactly where to go, assuring us that we have been very lucky with the weather here. She said she expected constant drizzle when she came here to visit her sister and found bright sunshine and summery temperatures instead. The Sunday Market was somewhat disappointing because it was quite small; we expected more in such a large, dynamic city. The vendors sold their own work and I managed to find a blown glass pendant containing gold flakes reflecting Melbourne's history as a gold mine town. I will think of this beautiful city whenever I wear it.
Then we went to the Yarra River for a boat tour. It sailed inland for an hour past the Rod Laver tennis stadium where the Australian Open is played and the cricket field, which is supposed to be the best cricket stadium in the world. When Melbourne hosted the Olympics in 1956 they inspired an infrastructure for athletics that is still apparent today. Then the boat turned around and headed toward the sea. The skyline was full of one dramatic sky scraper after another, reflecting in the water. This part of the river is the restaurant and night life mecca in Melbourne. Some modern looking condos with glass for walls had yachts parked in front of them. No poor folks living around here. Our boat turned around at the container port, where trade and commerce flourish.
On such a beautiful day there were many folks sculling on the river and riding bikes along its banks. People spread blankets on the grass and lay in the sun and picnickers threw another shrimp on the barbie.
In the evening our travel group reunited for a nice dinner in St. Kilda, a seaside suburb of Melbourne. The trip would have been more fun if the tram lines weren't shut down in spots. Two different tram rides were interrupted by a bus transfer and the trip out of town took almost an hour. Although the ocean is only 66º this time of year, there were lots of folks in bathing suits lounging on the beach as the sun set. After dinner we walked to the end of a long fishing pier to see a small colony of Faerie Penguins. These creatures are the smallest penguin species and lovingly hang around in pairs, even when they are not raising babies. They cooed and chirped to one another. It was an idyllic scene, but challenging to document by camera since it was too dark.