The first two hours of the day was spent eating breakfast, packing bags and stashing them with the front desk of the hotel after checking out. Our plan was to get on the free tram that circles the CBD of Melbourne, so we backtracked the way Kelly and I walked the night before through the greek district and the Queen Victoria building.
Max Brenner just happened to be open and even though I had just had breakfast I figured I could fit a hot chocolate and chocolate babka in. Max Brenner is a chocolate store that also operates as a cafe. The others perused the chocolates on display while I waited for my order at the table. Kelly said that the place is very busy but at that time of the morning it was pretty empty. They took their time delivering the food to the table which caused Mum to say that it only looks busy because people are sitting there waiting to be served. The wait was worth it though as I was rewarded with a hot chocolate to rival the one I had at Ghiradellis San Francisco (the supreme lord of all hot chocolates).
The drink is served in an oil burner type egg looking contraption that has a burning tea candle at the bottom and a container at the top to put your milk and chocolate drops at the top. You decide how much chocolate goes in by adding the drops with the silver spoon that doubles as a straw. How good the drink tastes depends on how long you heat the milk, the amount of drops you put in and how well you stir it. It was an extremely decadent drink that stimulated all my taste buds which have been refined over the years in to a super chocolate tasting machine. I wanted to buy the contraption immediately but was convinced by Pauline that she could make her own version of it. She didn’t think $45 was a suitable price for chocolate ecstasy. Everyone had a taste and Susan was especially impressed by it. Kelly purchased the white chocolate drops to take home to her boyfriend Matthew. My only complaint with it was that there wasn’t enough of it and it disappeared way to quickly.
In addition to the drink I still had the chocolate babka to enjoy which had a side serving of chocolate dipping sauce. This was a perfect complement to the hot chocolate and I showed great willpower by not licking the dish. Although the hot chocolate did not surpass the Ghiradellis version the whole experience of the cafe, the tea candle, the babka and the bloody brilliant chocolate combined to rocket it to number two in my newly created all time favourite chocolate eats list. There is a Max Brenner in Sydney as well so if you ever get the chance to go one I highly recommend it.
Not content with my sugary overdosing we continued on to the tram, momentarily stopping at the Suga store to watch them make boiled sweets. They make it using the method of dragging the boiled sugar over a hook on the wall and then rolling it in to shapes on the table. I bought a mixed jar for about $6.40 (cheaper if you bring the jar back) which had shapes such as smiley faces, pineapples, oranges, words and plain old school boiled sweets. There were musk, citrus and licorice flavours in the pack and were sublime. You could also buy two bags of humungous stuffed up boulders of boiled sweets for $5. Bargain if you own a hammer.
Leaving the Queen Vic building we made it to the next free tram by racing between cars and jay walking. There were a few tense moments as Susan got stuck on the other side of the road while we were all on the tram but she made it in time. The next 30 mins were spent listening to the tram’s recording indicating where were and the history of what was around us. Pauline and I had lived on the tram the last time we were down so it wasn’t new to us until it headed in to the newly formed docklands. This area is near the Telstra Dome and has a lot of new highrise buildings and parks. Not much there to make you want to get off but I imagine the park will be more interesting soon. The National Australia Bank building is pretty vibrant though.
Once we got to Swantson St we disembarked and made our way over to the St Kilda Beach tram to check out Acland St. This street is well known in Melbourne for the pastries in the window but I was still living off the calories from my early pigout and wasn’t to concerned with drooling all over them. Pauline and I had been here before but I don’t recall all the sculptures on the roof of stores so I took some photos of that. Mum wanted to head for the pier so Pauline, Kelly and I went ahead as we were sick of waiting for the stragglers. Auntie Sue and Fiona caught a tram back early as they wanted to check out the Melbourne Gaol so Mum and Susan caught up to us at the St Kilda Baths. It looks like they have been renovated for some posh health club. It is a very attractive building and I’m glad that it is still going to get some use.
Aware of the few hours we had left we decided to leave St Kilda and try and make an afternoon trip to Williamstown. The tram we took back stopped at Spencer St Station where could catch a train out to our destination. Navigating our way through the wooden walls and following the blue line we made it down to the metro trains area but discovered that there wasn’t going to be one for half an hour. That was too long if we wanted to actually see Williamstown so uing my highly honed timetable skills I discovered that if we caught a train to Flinders St we could get a train there in 15 mins.
A few hop, skips, head prefects and canadians later we were on the right train to Williamstown. I can’t get over how helpful Melbournites are when you are on public transport. They fall overthemselves to give you directions. I sometimes feel that I miss out by being a timetable nazi. I wonder if I just let go and was a little bit helpless I might meet some new people or make new friends. Mum and Kelly managed to have and interesting conversation with the very hot Canadian guy from Montreal and the good looking head prefect who helped them discover that it was the right train.
The 40 minute journey took us past famous names such as Footscray and Spotswood. I can’t help thinking of Anthony Hopkins whenever I go by but all I remember about the movie was shoes, Ben Mendelhson and industrial buildings. All I saw of Spotswood was the industrial buildings. The train we were on required us to get off at Newport and then get on the Williamstown train that only goes between 4 or 5 stations. It’s an interesting setup and makes me wonder about the history of why it only goes those few stops. We discovered once we got to Williamstown that we could have taken a ferry from St Kilda but you live and learn.
Williamstown was the first port in what was to become Melbourne and has a long history (as far as history in Australia goes). There are some lovely buildings in the main street and a view of Melbourne that is worth the 40 minute journey alone. The station seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere but you instantly feel at ease wandering past the lovely gardens at the front of the cottages with their smoking chimneys. You are spoilt for choices in terms of food but we chose a small cheap cafe that was serving foccacias. The place didn’t have the expensive decor that the others had but my cajunn chicken focaccia was freshly made and extremely good. After lunch we had an ice-cream at the great australian ice cream shop but the ice cream was really crap. I felt annoyed by their false advertising saying it was good and cursed Delta Goodrem for having her picture in the store.
An uneventful train trip back to the city gave us about 1 hour to kill before we had to meet up with Auntie Sue and Fiona to catch the taxi to the airport. Mum had to go back to Target to return some pants she bought so Susan went with her. This left Kelly, Pauline and I to wander the arcades of Collins St. I knew that Melbourne was renowned for it’s arcades and shopping mazes but this was the first time I’ve experienced it. The element of discovery adds so much to the shopping experience and Brisbane has nothing that compares to it. There are a lot of specialty stores hidden in odd passageways which makes it exciting to go further. Our time exploring went by to quickly and before we knew it we were back at the Paramount Apartments waiting for the others.
We retrieved our luggage, then I walked outside and spotted the cab arriving. A mercedes van no less. Auntie Sue and Fiona squeezed in the front while the rest of us jumped in the back. It had a better seating formation than the tarago as we faced each other. This seemed to give us more room. We arrived a little early at the airport so killed some time eating, browsing the newsagency and buying out the alcohol store. Once on the plane we had to wait for some paperwork to arrive which meant that we missed our scheduled take-off slot. This meant we were grounded for half an hour so our plane was a late when we got back to Brisbane around 11pm. Pauline and I said goodbye to our fellow travellers and caught a taxi home.
Travelling with 8 people has lots of advantages but it does mean you have to make concessions for others. We made it through the journey without killing each other and had a tonne of laughs on the way. I enjoyed the trip and discovered an affection for Melbourne that I didn’t get from my last stay. I got to experience all the things Melbourne and Victoria are famous for and share it with people that I love. As Kelly would say, it was “Awesome”.