Two days in St Kilda

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On Tuesday Rod's son Harry and father Ken kindly drove me into Melbourne proper to a beach community called St Kilda.

I've arranged places to stay in Melbourne and Adelaide through airbnb.com, a kind of worldwide dating site for travellers and rooms. Through it, people who'd like to make a little change from the extra space in their residences can advertise it, and people can sign up to stay.

So anyway I arranged to stay with Marlene and Remi in their place in St Kilda. The downside was that the two are both working stiffs, and they had lodgers UP TILL Tuesday, so I wasn't able to check in formally till Marlene came home to clean up. While I WAS able to drop off my bags (though the lodgers were still there, which made me a TAD uncomfortable), I had to spend the rest of the day largely without a "base."

So I walked down to St Kilda beach, had a pretty decent lunch at Beachcomber Cafe (right on the beach—cool, but expensive), and spent the rest of the day generally heading for downtown on foot, resting every now and then because it was really hot, finding some shade and reading.

I'm currently reading Something Fierce, a memoir by Canadian-Chilean Carmen Aguirre, daughter of members of the Chilean resistance to the Pinochet dictatorship, in a time when resistance could mean gruesome death. Though in interviews Carmen stresses it's about what it's like to have parents who are often away doing dangerous things, Carmen was clearly an active, very willing member of the resistance herself. It's quite the gripping read, and I recommend it highly.

Later that evening, 'round suppertime (terrific seafood at Rococo, on Acland St) my two days with the Massons came back to haunt me, as the wonderful South Australian reds they'd served me caused uric acid crystals to congregate in the joint of my right, big toe—gout! Now to those who'll jump to the immediate conclusion that I'd been stupid, I'm afraid they're right. South Australian reds are notoriously rich and delicious, and occasional gout-sufferers like myself should probably steer clear. But they're so, so good, and I"m currently on a very strong regimen of allopurinol, so I thought I was safe.

Anyway, it slowed me down quite a bit, and I wasn't able to get much done the next day, though I DID ride a tram downtown, walked around the core, saw the weird and wonderful Bourke Street mall, and visited Federation Square, where a fairly entertaining street performer-juggler was holding court. (NB: I don't often have kind things to say about malls, but the Bourke Street one is kind of like a clean Casbah—not a big, ugly building with retail spaces cookie-cut into the archtecture, but more like a mall fashioned out of the buildings that are already there, with lots of small passages, narrow alleyways, and nooks and crannies to explore. The retail isn't all chain stores—one of the ones I saw was a trendy, Kensington Avenue-type second-hand clothing store.)

Back to my St Kilda base, I met Ron and Jan at the Prince of Wales Hotel for a beer ($9 a pint!), and then I treated them to dinner at Circa the Prince, just around the corner. Wow! What food! Jan had the duck breast, Ron the corn croquettes, and I the John Dory (a local fish), with astonishingly fresh oysters to lead. White wine for me, though.

Next day, up early for the flight to Adelaide.

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