Thursday, 02-10-2014. Day 43.
Queen of the Markets, Free Trams
You may have already figured out how much Samantha enjoys visiting farmer's markets. So you will not be surprised that the first thing on the day's agenda was a visit to the Queen Victoria Market, a Melbourne tradition since 1878. We took a train to the heart of Melbourne and strolled up the street to the market, which took up a couple of city blocks.
We wandered around for a little bit, feeling somewhat disappointed. It reminded us a lot of the Farmer's Market at 3rd & Fairfax in Los Angeles. There were a lot of vendors, and a few sold some interesting wares, but a lot of it was lackluster, unremarkable, inexpensive stuff. However, once we crossed Queen Street and got over by Market Lane where many of the food and produce vendors set up shop, the quality of items improved significantly.
We ate a little lunch in the food court and discussed what we wanted to do for the rest of the day. We were pretty much done with the Victoria Market, so we walked up the road a little way to catch the City Circle Tram. This is Melbourne's free tram system (not to be confused with the pay-to-ride tram system) that makes a circuit around the the CBD. You can easily recognize these because they look a little like cable cars.
Because they're free, they're also very crowded. When we got in it was standing room only and very cramped. Eventually, as the tram made its rounds, the crowd thinned out, only to fill up again at certain stops. At one point a whole gang of tourists got on and had to take pictures of each other on the tram.
Our intention was to take the tram down to Flinders Street Station and then walk along the river for a little bit. Well, that was the intention some of us had. Jackie was intent on trying to sell us on going to Sealife so she could see the giant saltwater crocodile. We managed to resist.
Frankie and Jackie were both down a pair of pants due to wear and tear, so before we started our river walk we thought it might be a good idea to check in at the nearby Uniqlo to see if they had any suitable replacements (they did).
On our way to Uniqlo, we saw a sign for Minotaur, a comic book/pop culture shop I was somewhat familiar with. We were compelled to stop in and take a look, if only to see how far behind we were on our comics (two months).
After so much shopping, it was too late to start the river walk. It always takes longer to buy clothes than I account for (you think I'd have learned by now). Instead, we thought we'd check out this world-famous Melbourne coffee scene. Melbourne is full of these great little alleys (laneways, they call them) that have all manner of shops and restaurants.
We ambled down one of these lane ways to Degraves Espresso Bar, a place of some renown—as much for their coffee as for their re-purposed antique movie seats.
The coffee was pretty good, too.
Melbourne is the coffee capital of Australia (and, if you ask anyone there, the world). There are so many coffee shops, all offering different beans, one is tempted to try them all. So we walked a little bit to try out another well-reviewed shop, the League of Honest Coffee. This was one of the first places we'd found that offered a pour over coffee (made with a Chemex), so we had to try that.
It was a good bean, if a little light. For some odd reason, this place closed at 5:00 (and would start to close at 4:30 in another week), so we couldn't really lounge around, leisurely sampling coffee.
We were shuffled out of there (albeit politely) and hoofed it to Melbourne Central Station (which is a little bit like a shopping mall in its own right) and jumped on a train back to West Footscray, at which time we started considering the eternal issue of dinner. Our hosts operate a food truck (well, food airstream, really), Happy Camper Pizza. We wanted to try it one of the nights we stayed in Melbourne, and this was a pretty good night to give it a go.
We quickly checked their schedule on Twitter and saw they were going to be at a park not too far from the next train stop, so we hustled off and walked down to Yarraville Gardens (past some nice clay tennis courts) to where the food trucks were parked and tried some of their pizza.
After we ordered, the guys hand-tossed the dough and made the pizzas on the spot, and they gave us a look at the oven as the pizzas were cooking.
They were ready in about five minutes, and it was really good stuff (though Jackie still liked the pizza from Santiago "a little better").
We walked back to the train station to catch our ride home, but not before a quick stop at the Exeloo to learn about the future of public toilets.
- Trains ridden: 3
- Trams ridden: 1
- Pizzas eaten: 3
- Pants purchased: 2
- Comics purchased: 0
- e-cigarette smokers observed: 3
- Futuristic toilets used: 1