January 06, 2010

Once upon a time...

We went on a holiday.
Few and far between, they are.

It was a nightmare! Okay, not all of it. Just the trip down on the train was. But you know how the mind works...sometimes you feel like nothing will go right.

What could I expect, really? I went by train, with an almost 5 year old and an almost 2 year old, to Melbourne...my first time on my own, the children's first time in the city. My 2 year old's first time on a train.

If I remember correctly, it started out okay. We were near the wheel chair access, with a nice long window, and the two girls were content to play there for a little while, looking out the window as the scenery sped by. But it is a four hour trip, with irregular stops along the way, and they soon grew bored.

By the end of the four hours, I was almost in tears along with Georgia, my 2 year old, who had been forced to sit in her stroller so I could get her to sleep. She needed to sleep. I needed her to sleep!! After growing bored with the window, she had started to want to run up and down the aisle, go through the doors, play with the toilet door...I'd had enough.
Therefore I was relieved when we reached the destination station and knew exactly what I had to do. With Georgia in the stroller, Ashlie hanging on, I carried our on board luggage over the handles and Ashlie pulled her suitcase along. We then collected our big suitcase and headed for the city loop train we needed in order to get to the City Limits Hotel at the other side of the city.

Alas...What I had failed to discover was that the train I needed only ran at certain times of the day...The next one was due in a couple of hours. Um. Right. No thank you. I couldn't hang around the station, nor shop, with two irritable children and all our luggage. So I decided to walk to the hotel. It's only along the one street, then to the left...

And up and down several hills.

But we walked. And walked. Across busy streets, up the hill, Ashlie struggling with her suitcase, me with the stroller and the large suitcase, constantly flipping off its wheels if we hit a bump or turned too quickly and having to stop often to rearrange the load at the same time as preventing the stroller from tipping backwards. Nobody offered to help. All in their suits, rushing around as if they had lives to lead.

Eventually, I'd had enough of that too. We crossed the road to a waiting taxi and I asked 'Please take us to the City Limits Hotel' to which the driver replied 'Where is that?'

(It's in Little Collins Street, if I remember correctly, but shouldn't the city cab driver know the major hotels in the area?)

I showed him the map I had and pointed it out. We got underway....and then stopped. The whole city stopped. Wondering what on Earth was going on, I was getting cranky, all I wanted was to get to the hotel and RELAX...then I remembered...It was November 11th...and 11am...Remembrance Day. Inwardly embarrassed, I lowered my head for the one minute silence...only to have to shoosh the children who didn't know what was happening.

Eventually, we got to the end of Collins Street, and I got the cab driver to let us out just before the corner. Or did he ask to do that as it was easier for him to go right than left?

As we pulled up, the doorman of the very expensive hotel hurried over and opened the door for me...then he helped the driver take our luggage out. I said politely that we weren't guests there, that we were staying around the corner, and he smiled and replied, that's okay. It was genuine. Or he gets paid a lot.

I saddled up the pack horse that was the stroller and we began to walk again, when a lady rushed over and said here, let me help, and she took the large suitcase without waiting for a reply. I did protest, saying we only had to go around the corner, but she shook her head and she too said it was okay, as she worked in the restaurant across the road. She walked with us to the door, I couldn't thank her enough. It had taken us an hour to get from the train station to the hotel.

Now..this hotel was 4 star. I was thrilled to be staying in something as fancy as a 4 star hotel! We were only staying three nights so I was happy to pay a little extra. My heart sank as we walked into the room. Which is all it was. 4 stars? I'd stayed in 2 and 3 star motels that were nicer. The kitchenette was tiny, the bathroom the same size, and there was barely room to move between the three single beds.

I remember sighing, defeated, thinking it was going to be a long three days.

It was. But they were lovely. We went to the zoo, museum and the aquarium. We caught trams everywhere, wandered the streets, window shopping, a little real shopping. We visited a park with magical water fountains that appeared innocent enough...but when the girls approached the empty square, water would suddenly spurt down at them and they would run off, squealing with delight.

Despite the effort it took to get to Melbourne, we had a wonderful time. After our three days in the city, my aunt drove up from Geelong and we went to stay with them for another few days (Aunt, Uncle, Grandma and my three cousins). Beaches, Fairy Park, nasty seagulls that terrified my grandmother...These are precious memories for me, that I share with my girls as they have grown and forgotten our first holiday together.

I don't even want to think about the trip home...In fact, the memory of it seems to be lost...suppressed, perhaps? Surely it can't have been THAT bad?



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