The alleyways of Melbourne

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are back in Sydney after a few days in Melbourne. This worm is feeling good. A bit flat around the edges, mark you (uh, no, Mark is me not you) but mostly good.

My impressions? In Melbourne, it all happens in the alleyways.

Black is still, or again, in in Melbourne. Goth is too. And dark magic. Dark chocolate. Just the TC’s sort of town.

While in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to bump into Albert Stone. The TC waved me right under his nose. Albert does not move fast, but he does it with plenty of style. The inevitable pictures are below.

I met Chloe too.

Travel tip

Live in the moment. Or in the book about it.

That thought came to my mind while I was browsing through Albert’s web site. He’s one awesome dude.

Recommended restaurant

Any self-respecting chocolate lover must drop in at Koko Black, for Belgian chocolate indulgence.

Recommended accommodation

The Vibe Savoy hotel. Lots of mirrors, Art Deco plus a bit on the side, friendly service, excellent quality. The food is very tasty. But this worm has to warn that I spent some time in the TC’s bag next to her purse and noticed said purse grow considerably leaner. The Vibe Savoy is not cheap.

The book I’m in

Saturn’s Children, by Charles Stross.

The book tells the adventures of Freya Nakamachi-47. Like me and Albert, she is a remarkable creature. She is a humanoid (alas poor thing) robot, one of a series designed to be the perfect companion (er, concubine) for real humans. Unfortunately for Freya, humankind died out just a few years before she came into being. So she’s never met a real man. Not yet…

This worm recommends the book without reservation. It’s clever and funny (like me), fast (unlike Albert) and interesting (like me and Albert both). Luckily for this worm, the TC loves a good SF.

The photos

Me and Chloe:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Chloe resides behind a pane of glass (hence the reflections on the photograph) in the Young & Jackson Hotel, just next to Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station. Here’s another picture of her, sans reflections and regrettably sans moi too:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Young Chloe was painted in 1875 by a Frenchman called Jules Lefebvre. She is well loved by Melburnians, especially by beer lovers, and has pride of place in the bar on the first floor of Y&J’s. This is Chloe’s bar:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Here’s the Flinders Street Station as seen from Chloe’s window:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

There are tales galore about the girl who modelled for the Chloe painting. Sadly, they have her committing suicide at the tender age of 21. But Chloe lives on. This worm heard that a painting of Chloe’s sister hangs in a Melbourne museum somewhere too, but that the National Trust and Heritage of Victoria has declared that Chloe herself will stay at Y&J’s.

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Albert Stone, now there’s a man who knows how to live in the moment, how to make the moment last, and how to do it with style. To walk past him is impossible. To linger is essential. Here’s a picture of Albert, taken just as he notices yours truly thrust inelegantly into his space

Me and Albert:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

He has an inexhaustible set of props that somehow just appear in his hand, even though he’s moving at the speed of a sluggish slug. Albert gave this worm a red carnation. I was most touched. Thank you dude:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Me and Albert, caught in the moment:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Alleyways rule in Melbourne:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

This worm recommends a visit to one of the cafes in the Central Places alleyway, if only for the grimy Dickensian atmosphere:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

The trams are tremendous. Here’s one in front of the GPO in Elizabeth Street:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Here’s another tram with a city backdrop:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

If you prefer wide open spaces rather than alleyways, there’s plenty for you in Melbourne too. We came across a Tamil demonstration at Federation Square:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

More of Federation Square:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

The Yarra River runs through the city, with eating places and recreation spots on its banks:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Autumn colours:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

For more colours, here’s a sunset view from the Vibe Savoy hotel, looking out over the Southern Cross Station roof towards the Melbourne Docklands:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Did anyone miss Peg?

That’s all for today dudes.

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On top of Table Mountain

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have been in Cape Town, South Africa, for the last week. While we were there, we went up Table Mountain.

My impressions? “The purpose of evolution, believe it or not, is beauty.” (Joseph Brodsky.)

The TC is feeling philosophical at the moment. This is affecting me and all who travel with her. The top of Table Mountain is a good place for quiet reflection.

Travel tip

To boldly go where no man has gone before — that’s “marvellous”, as the TC’s father would say. This worm adds: Do split those infinitives and question other rules that may prevent you going where you need to go.

The book I’m in

World without End, by Ken Follett.

Dedication

For Peter and Kay, the TC’s parents, two travellers dauntless and generous.

The photos

Me and Peg on top of Table Mountain, near the cable car station and looking out over a fog-covered Atlantic seaboard:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

We went up the mountain on a day when the city and coast were shrouded in fog. At first we thought the cable car would not be running. But as we drove up Kloof Nek Road we rose up over the fog bank into the bright sunlight.

Here’s a view from inside the cable car going up, seeing the other cable car coming down to meet us:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Below is a closer view of the top cable station as we approach it. Those last few metres are very steep. The cables creak and grind and the ground falls away on both sides to reveal a breathtaking view of Camps Bay as well as the city. When they’re not covered in mist, that is:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

The top cable station is at an altitude of 1067 metres. Take a look at the cables that anchor the station. The man sitting on the wall next to the cables gives you some idea of scale:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Here’s another view of the cables with the back of the top cable station behind them:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

The cable car going down, with the top cable station on the left and Lion’s Head (the round mountain top) on the right:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

The cables leading downwards, with Lion’s Head (669 metres) on the left and Signal Hill (350 metres) on the right:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Dassies on a rock overlooking the Atlantic seaboard beyond Camps Bay:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

What is a “dassie”, you may well ask? It’s a cute fat furry creature, about the size of a cat. And it’s the elephant’s closest living relative! You’ll see many of them sunning themselves on the rocks on top of the mountain, especially on the side that overlooks Camps Bay. They’re not too bothered by humans but if you get too close they disappear into a crevice. Here’s one that we saw on the city side of the mountain top, taking advantage of an empty bit of path at a viewing site:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Starting from the top cable station, we walked along the top of the front table with the Atlantic seaboard on our right. The vegetation up there is lovely:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

The Cape Floral Kingdom is famous for its diversity, and Table Mountain in particular is home to many unique and lovely species.  There are only 6 floral kingdoms in the world, and the Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest but richest. The vegetation is called the “fynbos”, which means “fine bush”.

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

It really is flat on top of the mountain. Most of the plants are short, because the soil is shallow and the mountain-top climate is harsh. Still, even up there, you see some beauties like this protea overlooking an empty dam:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

A closer view of the protea:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Another bit of fynbos that caught the TC’s eye:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Still overlooking the Atlantic side, here’s a view of Hout Bay:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Now you’re looking over the eastern side towards Fishhoek and Simon’s Town, except that they’re covered in fog today:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

If you’re more energetic than the TC, you can walk up the mountain via Platteklip Gorge or one of the other gorges. You do need to be careful, especially if it’s misty. Every year a few tourists simply walk off the edge and fall to their deaths. The mountain seems friendly because it’s right in the middle of the city. But it’s a mountain after all. One of the gorges is named “Skeleton Gorge”, appropriately enough. Here’s a view of Platteklip Gorge, at the point where you would emerge if you walked up it:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Below is another view over the top of Platteklip Gorge. The TC’s sister Tracy crept to the edge and attached me and Peg to a meagre bush overhanging the precipice. It seems that that ruthless desire for adventure-by-proxy, with this worm as the proxy, runs in families!

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

Back to the mountain-top restaurant safe and sound, and a rock pigeon joined us for tea:

On top of Table Mountain

On top of Table Mountain

That’s all for today dudes.

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town, the place where “gravel” rhymes with “level”.

Now that the TC is back in the city of her birth, this worm has noticed her accent regressing. She has been sitting with her father, reminiscing about her teenage years when people used to say things like:

“Ja no, man, it’s level with the gravel.”

Translation: “It’s cool.” Note that you must pronounce “gravel” as “grevel”, otherwise you just don’t belong in Cape Town.

Or: “Lekker like a cracker.”

Basically, that means it’s good. “Lekker” means tasty, and the same rule applies to the pronunciation.

Travel tip

Tread lightly on this Earth. Crawling or slithering is good too.

The book I’m in

World without End, by Ken Follett.

The photos

Me at Bloubergstrand, a beach on the shores of Table Bay where most of the chocolate-box pictures of Table Mountain are taken:

Blaauwbergstrand in Cape Town

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Behind me in the above picture are Devil’s Peak on the left, Table Mountain in the centre and Lion’s Head on the right.

Do you remember Jonathan Livingstone S, whom this worm first encountered in Surfer’s Paradise? Here he is again, attempting to look picturesque in Bloubergstrand with Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak as his backdrop:

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Me and Peg got up close and personal with a puffer fish on Bloubergstrand. You can see one of the fish’s gray eyes and its yellow beak at the bottom:

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Here’s a worm’s eye view of some pebbles in a pool of crystal sea water:

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

And a collection of shells:

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

The TC is feeling unaccountably sentimental about this VW Chico. It used to be her car. Now her parents have it and so she gets to drive it around while we’re in Cape Town:

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

Bloubergstrand in Cape Town

That’s all for today dudes.

Armed response in Cape Town

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Cape Town, South Africa. This worm is feeling a tad jaded today.  As a result, you may find yourself exposed to some purple prose. Here it comes.

Table Mountain looms with imposing and impervious beauty. Birds soar with ancient elegance across a huge sky over a pounding sea. Under the mountain and the sky, next to the sea, lies a city that is at times impressive too.

At other times, it’s not.

Nothing bad has happened to this worm, I hasten to assure you. But coming back to the land of my printing, I am struck again by how careful everyone is at every step they take, how many layers of steel and locks they put between themselves and the outside world before they can relax, and the edge of excitement this puts on every day life. By the way, the TC is fine too.

Armed response outside the window

Cape Town, 2am. The burglar alarm blares next door. The TC has already been awake for an hour, because in Sydney it’s now 10am. She’s a bit sad because coffee is a long time away. She perks up at the prospect of some excitement.

Armed response arrives fast. Two big men with guns. From the way the TC was reading, or rather not reading, her book, this worm could feel her excitement levels rise.

Big-man-with-gun number 1 phones the absent owner of the blaring house. We hear the entire conversation on his walkie-talkie. Including the part where the absent owner asks him for the secret code to confirm his identity and he tells it to her. Now the TC knows it, I know it, and any would-be assassin lurking in a nearby bush knows it too.

Absent owner wants big-man-with-gun to leap over her wall and check her house for intruders. Armed response control centre asks big-man to comply with the request. “Negative, control, negative. Wall is too high and is covered in spikes. Negative. I can’t get over it.”

So, would-be rescuers cannot get in. That’s bright huh.

At this point, the TC and her mum meander outside to offer assistance. That’s probably not too bright either. This worm stays snugly inside a book on the window sill.

TC’s mum shows the armed response guys how to get onto the vlei so that they can check the back of the neighbour’s property for any baddies.

TC’s mum to big-man-with-gun: “Be careful hey, they hunt in packs.”

Big-man-with-gun number 2: “Ja, but we shoot in packs.”

Wrapping it up: They did a thorough check. An hour later, the SA Police drove round too. And at 4am the absent owner arrived, escorted once more by armed response. A false alarm, yet another big man with gun announced, but there were two robberies in the area yesterday. At this point, the TC gave up on any prospect of sleep and brewed that first cup of the day.

Travel tip

Double lock everything. Look around you always. Don’t trust anyone who approaches you. Ever.

The book I’m in

World without End, by Ken Follett.

This is the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth. Both are marvellous. Even if you’re not a Ken Follett fan, this worm highly recommends that you give these books a try. Especially when travelling through a part of the world where much seems chaotic and the course of events arbitrary, it’s good to dive into a book where people make do and live their lives despite having little control over them.

The photos

Me not quite under lock and key in Table View near Cape Town:

Armed response in Cape Town

Armed response in Cape Town

Table Mountain lurking behind a veil of rushes at Flamingo Vlei, Table View:

Armed response in Cape Town

Armed response in Cape Town

Table Mountain lurking behind a sign post in Table View:

Armed response in Cape Town

Armed response in Cape Town

“Beware. This may be a high risk area.” And so on.

Ag man, what a shame hey.

That’s all for today dudes.