In Melbourne, we have trams. In the US, you call them cable cars and of course San Francisco is also famous for them.
They’re an awesome form of transport, actually.
Super convenient for going where no train has gone before, and while they’re not exactly fast, they beat the hell out of taking the bus.
There is one particular tram route in Melbourne that is uber famous. It was voted one of the Top 10 Trolley Rides in the world by National Geographic. And they should know.
It may sound like a lot of fuss for a cable car, but the thing that makes this tram ride extra special is the places it takes you. Stretching from one extreme of inner urban Melbourne to the other, the number 96 tram encompasses all the sights of trendy St Kilda to hipster East Brunswick in one fell swoop. In between, you travel right through very cool South Melbourne and even the middle of the CBD.
What’s not to love?
When Den decided we were going on this date, I was actually looking forward to it. But, being that it’s just a tram ride, expectations were set low enough to be surpassed.
We picked a beautiful sunny Melbourne day and started our journey in St Kilda.
St Kilda is a beachside community full of artists and alive with bohemian spirit. On a warm day, it becomes full to the brim with people enjoying the cafes and bars, walking the beachside and lying in the gardens.
There was an interruption on the number 96 line (one drawback of trams) that left us waiting under a palm tree for about 20 minutes, which wasn’t a bad way to start the morning.
When the bright yellow Bumblebee tram finally pulled up, we jumped on and headed for South Melbourne. Ten minutes later we were alighting right at the South Melbourne markets ready for our first adventure.
Chez Dre is a fairly new Boulangerie tucked down an alleyway not far from the markets. We ordered coffees and decadent looking pastries made fresh in their kitchen. I had a chocolate AND almond crossiant (all wrapped up together in a buttery parcel of deliciousness) while Den got stuck into a caramel dome with like, twenty-seven kinds of caramel and chocolate layered through it. Amazeballs.
After that, we were hankering for some actual food without sugar so we swung past the South Melbourne Market Dim Sims stand and treated Den to his first ever dim sim. These guys have been making their steaming, fist-sized dumplings for nearly 60 years. They stock them all over town and if you happen to be in South Melbourne, you go out of your way to stop and get a couple for lunch. Believe me, they’re fantastic and it’s ridiculous that in all his years in Melbourne. Den has never wrapped his gob around one before.
South Melbourne done with, we got back on the number 96 and continued on. We didn’t get off in the CBD as we know it so well already, having lived in the heart of it for nearly six years. We watched it slip past and jumped off again at Nicholson Street, Brunswick, ready to explore.
It’s a part of town we know because we drive through it a fair bit, but we definitely don’t hang out there much. There are awesome cafes, specialty produce shops and secondhand thrift stores too. We settled on a tea and a juice in the courtyard of Figs, sitting under their huge old fig tree with the sun streaming through. It was gorgeous and relaxing and we didn’t want to leave.
Eventually, though, we did. We were almost at the end of the line for the number 96 as it was, so we hopped back on and headed for home.
While trams and romance don’t usually go together, let me tell you this was a great date!
It killed a few hours, we spent some quality time together and got to chat along the way and it didn’t cost more than our requisite $30. Would do it again, actually. There are tons of places to explore on that tram route… You could do the same date five times and never have to go back to the same cafes or bars.