After an amazing, but exhausting day on the Great Ocean Road, it was time to explore the city of Melbourne on Tuesday. My brother had to work this day, so during breakfast, my sister and I planned out our day. At this point, my sister informed me that she wanted to visit the Hotel Windsor for ‘high tea’. I was not really sure what high tea was. I like tea, though, so it sounded good to me.
It turns out that high tea is typically something women get together and do. And, since my sister did not have a readily available female companion, she reluctantly selected me as her companion. She made the reservations and we headed out from our hotel to the Hotel Windsor.
Melbourne has an intricate grid system of trams that intersect the downtown area. As long as you stay in the downtown area, the trams are free. We took a couple different trams and eventually arrived at the Hotel Windsor. My sister selected the hotel since it was a common location in a series of books she had read. The hotel had a lot of history and old world charm to it. I can see it making an interesting locale for an Agatha Christie like mystery.
High tea was served in the elegant dining room within the hotel. There were primarily women in attendance but, thankfully, I saw a few men in the room as well. Don’t get me wrong. Agreeing to this folly, I knew damn well I would have to quietly turn in my man card at the door by being here.
Upon taking our seats, we are given a menu of many different teas to select from. Being a fan of Earl Grey, my choice was easy. My sister made her selection and shortly thereafter, two steaming pots of tea were brought out followed by a tray of cakes, sandwiches and other mini bites.
They were all quite good (except for the egg sandwiches) and the waitress kept stopping by with more food. By the end of the meal, I was full and my head was spinning from the 4 or 5 cups of tea I had consumed.
It was an interesting experience and, while I would not consider it a ‘bucket list’ item for me, I had a good time.
After leaving the Hotel Windsor, it was now time to do something to reclaim my man card. The best I could come up with was to go to the Melbourne Cricket Grounds just south of the city. Now, the sport of cricket may not be the manliest of sports. But, they also play Australian rules Football there as well and that is a pretty brutal sport.
Anyways, my sister was gracious enough to tag along (perhaps it was the guilt of me attending high tea with her). My primary reason in visiting was that I thought my son Evan would get enjoy seeing and hearing about the experience. We walked about a mile south to the stadium and we arrived just in time for the hourly tour of the grounds.
The first thing one of the tour guide asked me was ‘what do you know about cricket?’. I told him that I knew absolutely nothing. He was slightly surprised but understood when I indicated I was from the States where baseball was the king of sports involving a bat and a ball. There were several Indian couples on the tour as well. It was interesting just to see the awe and respect in their faces for this hallowed ground of cricket as the sport is incredibly popular in both Australia and India. It is an intriguing sport in that one variation of the game is played for five days and, amazingly enough, may not produce a winner in all that time.
Regardless of one’s knowledge of cricket or Australian football (called footie in Australia), the immense size of the stadium is truly impressive. I believe the guide indicated over 120,000 people can attend a game. The diameter of the stadium is much bigger than a (American) football or baseball stadium.
I spoke with a few of the Indians who were also on the tour. They impressed upon me the popularity of the sport of cricket. They take it very seriously and it is a source of national honor for the country of India. My primary link with cricket is that one of the big cricket stars from India had the same rare cancer I had. His name is Yuvraj Singh and he also had a malignant tumor above his heart. These conversations made me think of him.
As the tour concluded we said goodbye to our Indian friends and made a stop at the MCG gift shop. I picked up for Evan an authentic practice jersey of the Melbourne Stars cricket team that plays at the stadium.
While not a breathtaking, awe inspiring visit like the prior day, it was nice to take in some local history and learn more about a huge sport that the States know virtually nothing about.
From here, my sister and I headed back into the city to meet up with our brother for some more sightseeing.