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The Middle Park Hotel, Albert Park, Port Melbourne Beach - Queen Elizabeth Cruise 2020

Middle Park Hotel, Melbourne.
Getting from Melbourne Airport to our hotel in Middle Park was such a process that I never really was able to pause and reflect, that this was actually my very first trip to Melbourne, until Enigma and I were in our hotel room.

We had arrived a day earlier to minimize any chance of missing boarding our cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth, due to flight delays, cancellations, or the off chance neither of us had any aptitude for finding a boat you can see from space (probably) in a city very much bigger than Adelaide.

If you haven't read the previous (and first) post, Automobiles, Planes, Buses, Trams, and Boats, in our Queen Elizabeth Cruise, eight day holiday, you may like to start there before reading further.

The Middle Park Hotel

The Middle Park hotel, in Middle Park (who would've thought?), not too far from the more widely known St. Kilda, and a little down from Albert Park and Port Melbourne Beach. As it happens it was located directly across the road from the tram stop so finding it was a breeze.

As our second stay in an historic hotel this year, Enigma and I have come to learn that the word 'historic' is probably latin for 'no elevator'. While the staff did offer to help us carry our bags up two flights of stairs to level 2 we declined (and quietly regretted it by the time we reached level 2). Not that it was a hard climb with two 12-15kg bags but we definitely felt it.

Our room could be best described as functional in that it had everything you would expect of a modern hotel room packed into a small space. Room enough for a queen size bed, small couch, side table, TV, fridge etc, along the wall at the foot end of the bed, with the ensuite bathroom a separate room running along the front wall.

Melbourne CBD Skyline from our hotel window.

It was perfectly nice as far as rooms go. What was memorable is that our room had a relatively good view of the Melbourne CBD skyline. There was also an interesting photograph of topless showgirls in their dressing room on the wall (possibly eluding to some earlier history of the hotel perhaps?).

During our stay at the hotel the restaurant section was closed off due to renovations. All meals were temporarily housed in the front bar (or I believe you could also have them sent to your room). Enigma and I opted to get food from the nearby fish and chip shop across the road for our evening meal - which we ended up taking back to our room.

In the morning we took advantage of the continental breakfast that came complimentary with our booking. This was also in the bar where a good range of self serve breakfast options were set up. The atmosphere was pleasant, with other guests enjoying their food, and looked very much like you'd expect a historic hotel bar to look, with lots of wood styling etc. Our table happened to be located underneath a taxidermied deer head - which I'm sure there was probably a story behind from back in the day.

As we were checking out the young woman at reception noticed we were having a harder time getting our bags down the stairs and immediately stopped to help carry both our bags down the last flight to ground level. She clearly had done this many times as she carried both our bags the rest of the way (one at time) with almost no effort and no time to object.

Overall it was certainly a pleasant stay with friendly staff, and the complimentary breakfast was very welcome for our budget. Being above what seemed to be a relatively popular bar wasn't an issue in terms of noise floating back to our room (not that it ever got overly loud). I'd definitely stay again if we were ever in the area.

Beaconsfield Parade, Port Melbourne Beach

Enigma and I didn't have a lot of time to explore Melbourne but given the beach was just down the road alongside Beaconsfield Parade we spent what time we did have there.

Beaconsfield Parade, Melbourne.

Middle Park and Albert Park are clearly more affluent 'lifestyle' suburbs of Melbourne. There's a high volume of restored heritage homes, with a mixture of more contemporary architecture along the foreshore.

Beaconsfield Parade itself has everything you need to maintain an active, fitness lifestyle, from sealed walking/bike paths along the entire coastline through to free, public gym equipment that has become common in local parks around the country. Then, of course, you also have the beach. Everything looks fairly well maintained.

Our first evening in Melbourne we walked along the beach, almost half the distance to where we would board our cruise ship at the Spirit Station Pier. It was a fairly warmish Saturday evening, with plenty of people enjoying the beach.

Our decision to get fish and chips for tea was partly based on, that was pretty much all that was open near our hotel on a Saturday night, and partly because we often get fish and chips when we go to the beach. There were plenty of other cafes near the hotel but the majority mainly opened for breakfast and lunch.

The next morning it was a little cooler and, as it happened, Australia Day. After breakfast we decided to wander down and just sit on the beach until we had to come back to the hotel for check out at 11am.

Sunday morning on the foreshore was very different with hundreds of people walking, jogging, cycling, along the bike paths. Which makes it sound crowded but it really didn't feel that way. It was just busy along the paths.

Plenty of people were taking advantage of the time set aside for dogs on the beach - which I think was between 7am-10:00am.

I imagine this part of Melbourne is probably quite an expensive place to live in terms of buying or renting a house, but it is the kind of place I could see myself living. Particularly if I could live in one of the historic homes rather than a modern box.

Getting to the Queen Elizabeth

I've already told some of this story in the previous post but for the sake of putting our journey back into chronological order I'll retell it here with a few extra details.

Sunday was actually the sketchiest part of our trip in terms of planning. Enigma had thought about getting an Uber to the pier but hadn't really committed to the idea. We had time to kill and the issue was that sightseeing with large suitcases is somewhat problematic.

Not knowing what there was to actually do around the pier was also an issue. Our only experience of boarding a cruise was from Adelaide where there is nothing touristy at all within walking distance of the pier.

Kathy definitely didn't want to get a taxi because the cost to drive literally five minutes up the road to a place we could see from the end of the street was ridiculously high. I think that was the same for the Uber but still cheaper than a taxi.

The view from the end of our street in Middle Park to the Station Pier.
Photo: © 2020 Google Maps, Street View.

We thought about catching the tram but that was taking something of a scenic route back into the city and out again. Which we could have done, as it turned out or tram passes were still fully loaded, but we didn't know that at the time. We thought we'd have to find somewhere to add more credit to them first. There wasn't any place we knew of nearby.

In the end I convinced Enigma we could probably just walk the distance stopping about halfway to take a break. I was pretty sure if we walked along the back streets, rather than Beaconsfield Parade, there would be less people to dodge and a lot more shade from the street trees.

We made fairly good time, and we were able to stop for ice-creams from a perfectly placed ice-cream shop on the beach front at the halfway mark. Enigma calculated that we walked a distance of about 4.6 kilometres from our hotel to the ship.

Spirit Station Pier.
Photo: © 2020 Google Maps, Street View.
By the time we arrived at the Pier we were able to make our way onto the boat. The pier staff were kind enough to give us a trolley for our bags for that last couple of minutes walk up the pier for bag check in.

In the next post we go through the boarding process and spend our first day on the Queen Elizabeth.  If you would like to find other posts in this series just click the Travel and Places Menu item or search for Queen Elizabeth Cruise 2020.

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