Well . . . ‘G’day Mate . . . here we are back in the land of ‘down under’.
(photo courtesy of Melbourne Colonial Tramcar Restaurant)
Melbourne, Australia’s “cultural” centre, an amazing city in an amazing country! We had never before seen such a delightful mixture of old and new architecture, a tasteful blending of the best features of both styles. This mingling of old and new was also apparent in the city’s transportation system. Standing on the curbside by our hotel, we were intrigued by the sleek, modern tram-cars that glided quietly by, then periodically one of the free, old “colonial” tram-cars came along, clanging its bell, changing the ambience to one of an earlier century.
Some of these old, fancy ones have been decorated by owners from other countries who love to over do things, even ringing the bells constantly! Before one could become too immersed in a previous time, we then noticed a high-tech computer screen, as large as a person, standing on the street corner, which provided all kinds of local information at the mere touch on the screen . . . sort of an instant tourist office!
This juxta-positioning of old and new technology seemed standard for Melbourne.
In addition to the few old tram-cars that circle around the city carrying tourists, there are some (I think three when we were there) of the old burgundy classics that an enterprising firm has converted into mobile restaurants. These are not just the old local diner for a coffee and hamburger, but a very sophisticated, high-class restaurant with all the white linen, china and crystal wine glasses you could hope for. The entire car has been outfitted with a small dining area at each end, and a fully equipped kitchen in the middle. Started in 1983, they are the only travelling tramcar restaurants in the world. They have thought of everything for the comfort and delight of the diners. Items like burgundy carpets underfoot, plush velvet covered seats, brass fittings and background music.
We had booked a reservation weeks before from Canada, and I had even telephoned their office and arranged to have a nice corsage for Diana when we arrived. A little surprise, but just one more special thing for our evening.
Once onboard, champagne was served, beginning a continuous treat of service that lasted the entire evening as we cruised the streets of Melbourne, from the stylish Toorak Road, the famous Paris end of Collins Street, the stately St. Kilda Road, the Arts Centre and Luna Park.
When I looked at the menu, I was surprised at the choice and quality of meals that the tiny onboard galley managed to produce. For instance:
There was no language problem here – we had already mastered “Good day Mate!”. With the wine and other drinks lubricating the conversation, we scarcely noticed the evening hours passing.
The outgoing, relaxed friendliness of the Australians, as well as all the tourists on board that evening created a perfect atmosphere for a fantastic dining experience. During the meal, we became very friendly with some of the other diners, both beside us and across the aisle. Stories and jokes flew back and forth all evening. By the time we were dropped off, we were aching from all the laughter and barely managed to stagger back to our hotel which was thankfully only a couple of blocks away. We both agreed it was one of the best evenings we had ever enjoyed.
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