Melbourne - Reservoir, 4 days at Neil's House
31 January: Melbourne, to Neil's home, first ride to the Merri Creek
We arrived in Melbourne 40 minutes late. Jenny had told us to expect that the airport would be very busy due to many people travelling to Tasmania for a cricket match. We took a public bus from the airport to the suburb of Reservoir. The bus stop was far away, - the furthest one from the airport terminal! The bus trip was extremely slow, and many passengers seemed dissatisfied and were arguing amongst themselves as the bus remained at traffic lights for long periods of time. Finally we reached the train station in Reservoir in the early afternoon (even though it is only 20 minutes travelling time by car!).
We had a late lunch in a Chinese restaurant - we found that there is international cuisine in Reservoir, and in fact all of Melbourne as there is a mixture of many different cultures in this city: Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, French to name just some of them. We discovered that Reservoir takes its name from a large water reservoir in the centre of the suburb. The locals pronounce it 'Reservwar' for some reason that Neil does not understand! Neil has a nice small - but comfortable - house, with a beautiful garden and a bee-hive. There are two lovely dogs: Tilly who is about 12 and a younger cocker spaniel called Gus who is about 7 years old. They are very friendly and always greeted us with wagging tails. Even Christian liked them, and they liked him also!
Neil had to go away the first evening so we went for a look around on the two bicycles he lent to us. We wanted to go swimming and nearby found a two lane cycle path along Merri Creek, which leads into the city centre.
On the cycle path we found an Olympic size (50 metre) pool in Coburg, but unfortunately the pool closes at seven, however a helpful staff member directed us to the nearby indoor pool at Coburg Leisure Complex, which stays open later so we were able to have a swim. After that, as dusk fell we rode 15km back to Neil's house.
1 February: 1. day in Melbourne, to St.Kilda and Brighton Beach
It's Saturday, and many cyclists are riding in both directions (towards the city, or away from it) on the Merri Creek trail which is an attractive cycle path following a stream (or 'creek' as the Australians call it) spanned by several bridges, - some of them new, some old. We found an information panel on the way: 'In the morning when the sun shines, you may see the shy Tiger Snakes warming themselves on the path.' (Imagine in the city of Zurich on the "Limmat" river path, highly poisonous snakes sunning themselves! No one would go there!)
Half way to the centre of Melbourne on the bike path itself, we found Velo Cycles which is both a coffee shop and a bicycle sales and repair workshop. Outside there was a charging station for e-bikes and a tent where you can service your own bike. There was also a light sensor which detected how many bikes had passed the site. (On this morning it was already about 1000) .
When we reached the city centre, we went to the tourist information centre in Federation Square and obtained several cycling maps of Melbourne and the surrounding area. We will come back there on our last day and buy a few gifts - all the things that an Aussie would never buy!! but were perfect souvenirs for us as many things had a kangaroo or a koala bear on them!
On the way south of the city to St. Kilda beach, we stopped for a coffee at Albert Park Lake. The beach was very crowded because it was a nice hot Saturday of almost 40° C! The water in Melbourne is much warmer than on the north coast of Tasmania. We had a long swim and later we followed the bike trail (that never seems to end) along the beach to east Brighton Beach and from there we took the Metro back. First to Flinders St Station, and then changed to the South Morang line for Reservoir. Bikes can be taken on the Metro for free.
The Metro network is well developed, all lines run in the center on a circle of about 5 stations where you can easily switch to any other line. Nevertheless, there are better and worse connections, depending in which direction the Metro runs. While we were on the train we sent an SMS to Neil to invite him for dinner with us at an Indian restaurant in Reservoir we had noticed earlier. The three of us rode there together and had a very good dinner, although it was a little quiet in that place. In Reservoir it is generally quieter as in the City!
On our return home, the dogs greeted us again, tails wagging fast! Their beds are mats in front of the door and immediately they fall asleep!
2 February: 2. day in Melbourne, along the coast to Rickett's Point
It's Sunday and still 40° C - very hot! We ride again from Reservoir along the Merri Creek trail, all the way to the city - 15km - and on to St.Kilda Beach, then to Brighton Beach and then on to the Ricketts point. Here it is absolutely beautiful and a paradise for birds. Cliffs stand at the edge of the sea. On the terrace of the restaurant at Ricketts point, it`s nice and cool. We enjoyed the food and drink there.
In and around Melbourne it's really very good for cycling. A lot of two lane cycle paths. However the crossing at junctions is not good, and you have to find a way to the other side by yourself. The rush hour is not too bad - then the traffic is slow.
3 February: 3. day in Melbourne, Shopping and St. Kilda beach
Today it is Monday and it is going to rain, so we go shopping in the city centre. However we do not shop for too long and in the afternoon we are back at the beach. On the way there we look at the tennis arenas close to the city center. At the Rod Laver Arena there is Federer and co (see photos) and for each year a plaque with the winners of the Australian Open for the last 30 years. Wawrinka will get the newest panel.
The wind was strong and therefore the waves were stronger than on previous days! We watched the windsurfers for a while and then cycled home with a southerly wind in our backs.
That evening Neil cooked a vegetable curry for us, which we enjoyed together. He has to leave early, in order to fly to Sydney. He bought an old BMW (R90s) from a town in northern NSW, about 1200km from Melbourne . He will ride it all the way home His dream is to load the BMW in his equally small antique wooden horse trailer and go on tour: - next to the big campers for cars and yachts on camping grounds. Such retired people, who travel in luxury with caravans, washing machines and all the modern conveniences of life are known as 'grey nomads' in Australia.
We say goodbye to Neil and hope to see him again soon!
He leaves us at home with the dogs for our last day.
4 February: last time to Rickett's Point beach - and back home
We enjoy our last day in Melbourne and decide to return to Ricketts point, this time we go a little further to a beautiful beach where there are pelicans.
In the evening we leave early enough to catch the public bus to the airport, where we will buy same gifts for home! (Neil sent us a text message, that we can find a lot of gifts for tourists with kangaroos on it, although he does not understand why the tourists show so much interest in it!)
We look forward to the flight. High in the sky we wave to Naika near Singapore. We change flights in Dubai and enjoy a coffee there in the transit lounge before the final flight home. There we are joyfully welcomed by our two cats and on the table is a fine "love you Zwetschgenwähe" (Fruit Pie) that Peter has baked for us. With the note telling us he was there at 20.00.
Since our return home, we get up each day at 6 o'clock and use the time until 7 to make this website. We are anyway the first time in the morning very early, very awake!!