Melbourne

Closeup of Tasmania on a world globe. Deliberate Shallow depth of field

If it weren’t for passengers, Cruising would be brilliant. Obviously, this isn’t true. One of the attractions of cruising, apart of course from the variety of places one can visit in just one trip, is meting up with friends you haven’t yet met, and let’s be honest the worlds is full of such people but cruising seems to be able to bring such friendships to the fore. But, every once in a while something happens to make you think:

If it weren’t for passengers, Cruising would be brilliant

This morning in Melbourne was just one of those occasions, though the feeling passed by as soon as it came. But what caused such a feeling?

The cause was MyKi, Melbourne’s equivalent to Oyster!

To get into town from the where the boat was parked, we really did need to get a bus and/or tram. To do this we would have to obtain a MyKi card. This would cost $6 for the card(!) and $8 for a days worth of travel. The only place we could get a MyKi card was in the cruise terminal (unless you were prepared to walk all the way into town) and apparently, they only took cash. At this point, it’s worth pointing out that immediately after we had parked our boat, a Holland America boat came in and parked next to us. Each of the two ships held around 2500 passengers. Both ships were scheduled to be in Melbourne from 08:00 to 17:00 (ish). So everybody naturally wanted to get off early to get the most of their time in port. Can you imagine what it’s like when two ships disgorge their passengers together? That’s when I decided:

If it weren’t for passengers, Cruising would be brilliant

Obviously, not all 5000 passengers turned up at once, many went on excursions, many stayed on board and the rest staggered their departure time but nevertheless, queues were an inevitable outcome. After what seemed to me to an outrageously long time, we finally reached the pay desk; were asked if we wanted to pay by cash or card(!); elected for cash and obtained our cards, which, we were told, were valid for 4-years. So, if anybody wants a MyKi for getting round Melbourne any time in the between now and 2018, we have two J

Looking back, it wasn’t really that bad, if it took 20 minutes, it wasn’t really that big a deal.

Partly because of the passengers, Cruising is brilliant.

In due course, our ‘packed to the gunnels’ bus delivered us into town close to the river and train station. As we alighted we were met by a number of red topped tourist advisers who took time to explain on a map where we were and asked if the was anything we anted to see in particular. I think to myself, ‘I’ll get him here’ and asked where the nearest camera shop was. Straight away, he marked it on the map, explained how the Mall was close by and also where we would be able to get the tram back to the ship. He also mentioned that if we got lost or needed more information to look out for other groups of advisers in red tops and hats that are stationed around the town at major intersections. Now that, London, is how to look after your tourists/visitors.

As instructed, we made away along Collins Street and then up Elizabeth Street and sure enough we came across the camera shops and $300 later, I left with a shiny new wide-angle lens. Naturally, having spent so much money on myself, this was a green light to the future Mrs Me to spend at least twice that on shiny sparkly things, but first, she wanted a pair of Ugg Gloves – why not, it was after all [well] below 80°

For the records, the Ugg Gloves were followed by one Australian Opal ring, one Clogau Necklace and one pair of Clogau earrings. No doubt the remaining bracelet will join the collection in due course. She did however treat me to a pair of Calvin Klein socks!

Anyway, back to my lens buying experience. Having sourced the lens and left the shop we continued back towards the river, or that’s what we would have been doing had we left by the same door as the one we entered, which we now know we didn’t. Doh. Eventually, we realized something was amiss; the sun being in the wrong place was the clue. We looked at our map and worked out that we were at the intersection of Collins Street and Queens Street: we therefore continued down Collins Street to the next junction, which was also an intersection with Collins Street and Queens Street. This confirmed it; we were lost, disorientated and confused. Now, I don’t mind admitting that sometimes, I can be a little bit clever. I worked out that the river to be down rather than up the hill so we continued down Collins Street J, until we saw going back up. I gave in. I did what us blokes hate to do. I asked for help. I asked for help from what turned out to be a very helpful traffic warden who said we should cross over, continue down the next left, cut through an arcade, turn right and we would be there.

While in the arcade of course, Mrs Me naturally smelled out a shop with things we needed, like a sterling silver coaster with a koala on it, a glass koala, a postcard with a koala and a pewter koala. Finally, we got out of the arcade and reached the riverside where we now needed a drink in what looked like quite a nice little Italian bar (those that know Mrs Me won’t be too surprised at that). Where we finally persuaded a little Italian Waiter to make a table for two on the Veranda. Our quiet little drink turned into wine, water, pizza and fries. And, very nice it all was. As with all good things, we finished our repast and made our way to the tram stop, stopping to check with people in the red tops and hats that we were going the right. At the tram stop, was a tram travel assistant who kept us up to date with the progress of the tram. As the arrival time drew near, it was clear that passengers from both ships were heading back at the same time. Boarding the tram was a bit like boarding the Northern or Circle Line in the rush hour and we were all on it to the end of the line. This did of course mean that we all arrived at security at the same time. This was however where Mrs Me’s cunning plan fired into action and stopped at the Australian Opal store to purchase said Australian Opal Ring. By which time the crowd was but a few stragglers. And so, on to the ship, up to the cabin, pour a drink and relax before dinner where we announced to our table friends that we were to be married by the Captain and asked if they would be happy to be our witness. Their excitement for us was apparent and jumped at the chance. So much so that they started to work out what they would have wear (more on that after the big day). Dinner itself was itself its normal satisfactory affair before Mrs Me and I retired for a quiet drink in the Crows Nest before retiring.

It was in the Crows Nest that we Met Jack (our future best man and nearly 80 years young) and his sister, Joy (86 years young). They both asked us to join them for a drink to celebrate our forthcoming marriage, as Joy was to be leaving the ship two days before hand. Well, one drink led to another and before we knew it, it was 1 o’clock in the morning and both Jack & Joy were just a little bit tipsy. So we found ourselves escorting two wobbly octogenarians back to their cabin so as to make sure they were both ok.

Then, it was time for bed for ourselves. Next Stop, Adelaide…..

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