Big Question Marks

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What is that menacing-looking blue thing over there???

Last weekend we decided to get a bit brave and took our first train to a far-off suburb of Melbourne. Actually, the heat was driving us crazy in our apartment (it was around 34 degrees) and we knew St Kilda Beach, which is more central to downtown, would be crammed with people... and plus, that oily film on the water's surface isn't very appealing to swim in.

We heard Brighton Beach had charm, and was decorated with a row of colourful beach huts. Sounded perfect! We felt a lot like tourists again, timidly crossing the gates at Flinders Street Station (the big, grandiose mustard-yellow train station at the south end of the CBD)... but once we made it on board, we couldn't help but think how impressive the transit is here. One ticket gets you on the tram (like a Toronto streetcar, but way more frequent and on time), the bus, and the trains (which serve the outer and faraway suburbs). Single tickets ($3.50) get you 2 hours of riding around, or if you validate it after 6pm, you can use it until 3am the next morning. Since it was Sunday, we decided to try a "Sunday Saver" card, which got us all-day access to transit for the day for $5.20. We've heard it's one of the best-kept secrets in Melbourne- not anymore!

It was definitely weird to think about it being mid-February and we were sweltering on a beach, drinking wine and snacking on fancy cheese and crackers (and snapping photos), while everyone at home was getting buried in snow. Here in end-of-summertime Melbourne, the Speedos were out in full-force, and so were the jellyfish. Dayle had gone in for a dip-- still trying to overcome her fear of sharks-- when, looking around the crystal-clear water surrounding her, she noticed one, then two, then three blue wiggly blobs. EEK! She ran out of the water as fast as she could, and there wasn't a chance Adrian would go in after that either. (We were told later by local friends that "Oh, those blue ones won't do much to you" but WHATEVER!) We don't know how people handle the heat here when there's all these monsters lurking in the water. We were telling some Aussies about the Great Lakes and a swim in Lake Huron is sounding more and more appealing all the time.

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