Sunday, October 27th, 2019 – Sandringham, Victoria to Glenferrie Hotel, Melbourne, Victoria

Distance travelled – 17 km

When we woke up, in a pleasant “domestic” bedroom, it was a little bit confusing. After almost a month of constant travelling this confusion was not that an unusual feeling. We had stayed in an endless succession of places and, no matter what the “standard” they had all been broadly similar and largely utilitarian. This room was bright and had frills ! And a computer ! And knick-knacks ! Light was streaming in through a large window, although it did not appear sunny and birds were singing outside in the greenery. Rick was already up and amusing Maya and I suspected he had been up some time even though it was still before eight. As I have said, Rick knows his food and he had already prepared a “homemade” breakfast with fruit, yoghurt and a variety of cereals. Although principally geared towards the tastes of a two-year old, all of these were delicious. Gőknur appeared and we ate a merry, if somewhat chaotic, breakfast.

Rick is the son of one of my good friends and I have known him for a big part of his life and through what I think I may fairly call a slightly fraught adolescence. We have a strangely good relationship. Although we had seen Gőknur and Rick briefly about three years before on a New Year’s Eve in Prague, that had been the first time since their wedding in Turkey seven years before that. As a consequence, we did not really know Gőknur well, but luckily, we all got on nicely. Maya had recently celebrated her second birthday and we had previously only seen her in photographs.

The suburb in which they live, Sandringham, they speak of as “our village“. We wanted to spend time together, but Maya was still at a stage where she needed to have periods of sleep during the day, so that limited us slightly. By coincidence, that day Sandringham was having an “Oktoberfest” which was an Australian excuse for a big street party. Rick suggested that, after breakfast, we should wander down and take a look, which we did. It was all still in its early stages, but we wandered along, trying delicacies from the stalls. We had some very nice Turkish food, ordered, in Turkish, from the vendors, by Gőknur. Good pick !

Rick had also thoughtfully obtained a couple of cards for MYKI (Melbourne’s public transport system) so we loaded those at the station. When Maya went to bed after lunch, we packed everything onto the Harley and rode away to check into our hotel. Although it was lovely at Rick and Gőknur’s house, we were quite looking forward to staying in one place for three continuous nights. Thanks to Mapy, we negotiated both the weekend traffic and the occasionally confusing road configurations safely and made it to the central Melbourne suburb of Glenferrie without incident.

The Glenferrie Hotel was of some vintage, but although slightly careworn on the outside, it was one of those places that had been built to last, which seems to be an Australian maxim. On the inside it was beautifully maintained and had everything we needed. The room was quite large, in the grand old style, the bed was huge and the ornately plumbed shower was both powerful and refreshing.

We got settled in and a little civilised and then set off back to Sandringham on the MYKI. As well as boasting the world’s largest tram network, Melbourne has a comprehensive system of intra-city surface trains, like a German S-Bahn. Even with a change needed, it took us just over an hour to get back to Sandringham. I doubt that, even had I been familiar with the city, I could have bettered that by much on the Harley.

We met Rick, Gőknur and Maya in the village where we again ate tasters from a variety of stalls, drank a few beers and coffees and listened to the various bands that were playing. It was all very pleasant indeed. Rick and Gőknur were obviously “known” around the town in that charming, non-intrusive, Australian way and were warmly greeted by many people.

Finally, we returned home and ate a fabulous dinner, cooked by Rick. It is a sort of tradition in Rick’s family to be a cook and his father, Ric, is a great one. Rick, also like his father, is an IT expert, but he is definitely on the right culinary track as well. When Maya fell asleep, we talked for ages and could probably have chatted until morning. Rick and Gőknur were visibly excited to have guests. They both live a long way from their respective families in Europe and it is great for them when someone comes, from there, to see them. But in the end, we had to go and again, the MYKI made it easy.

I was a little afraid I might have been developing a slight cold after the freezing dampness of the previous day. We were well supplied with pills, just in case, but I never like to take them unless it absolutely necessary. Lucie put a couple of “preventative” Clarinase tablets where I could see them, but I left them untouched.

Australian hotels are good at giving you tea, coffee, milk and water in your room. The Glenferrie Hotel topped even that by also putting sachets of very nice drinking chocolate by the kettle. Coffee for Lucie and chocolate, rapidly followed by dreamland for me.