28 October 2009
This hotel is fine and it appeals to my antique soul. There is a picture of it on the wall from the 1880’s and the original structure is the same. The old doors have window transoms that are now painted that were used a one time to let the breezes through. The breakfast room has the old mahogany shutters around and most of the old molding is there under paint. The rooms are small but adequate, not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are only coming back to sleep they are fine. My favourite part of the hotel is the wide veranda on the second floor where we have ‘breakfast with the birds; every morning. There is a wide banyan tree that hosts all manner of birds; tiny curious sparrows; the distinctive black and white magpie, that visitors think are so attractive and Aussie’s dislike for their aggressive behavior; warblers, and fig birds with their startling yellow beak and eye. They sing constantly and it feels like the tropics based on sound alone. They hop off and on the backs of the breakfast chairs looking for crumbs. The wide pedestrian boulevard below has its own street theatre – this morning only early morning workers made their way through the tropical drizzle, while the birds took this opportunity to shower and preen their feathers. About 3 pnm the aboriginal workers spilled out onto the benches that line the pedestrian path and by 3:30 foreign voices started filling the bars and the birds were drowned out by laughter and conversation. There is a great $10.00 food value in the bars below with wine or beer included, but the tables fill up with young people who do not encourage 50 year olds to share the bench tables on the patio. They are ‘saving the seats’ for people who have just gone into the bar.
With weeks of travel ahead we are trying to alternate restaurants with a way to eat that doesn’t break the bank or involve ‘chips’. Today we found takeout steak pies and garden salad at a wonderful little bakery called Meldrum’s. According to their window they came second in the Great Australian Pie Bakeoff. The food was delicious. Another thing we try to find is quiet retreats for time to read. Tin the casino in Cairns they have a beautiful rooftop terrace where we impersonated weary gamblers. We had a beautiful view of oceans and mountains from the rooftop.
A walk along the boardwalk at dusk allowed us to see lorikeets flocking in almond trees for the night, the racket was deafening. No wonder the natives saw they drive them wild. We also saw a group (not a murder, a fishfry?) of pelicans on the flats for the night.