Up early again and into town with Brian. The day was a bit gray and threatening rain, so I left my camera at the house. A repeat of yesterday’s train ride brought me again to the Wynyard station, from which I set off on foot. I made my way up George Street, turning in at The Strand, a favorite from previous trips. Built in 1891, this splendid Victorian arcade is home to high-end clothiers, impressive jewelry stores, fun gift shops, and charming coffee shops. To clarify, this is an arcade not in the American sense of a place with games to play but rather in the British sense of a narrow “side street” that takes advantage of the space between larger buildings and offers opportunities to smaller businesses. It’s elegant and bustling, and because arcades have roofs, one can window shop on damp days and stay dry.
Then onward to Market Street and the State Theatre. Didn’t have plans to see anything, but based on its reputation, I wanted to at least take a peek at this opulent venue. Timing wasn’t good for a tour, so I just admired the foyer and then continued on.
Next stop was the QVB—local shorthand for Queen Victoria Building. With that name, one could reasonably guess Victorian era, and one would be right. A full block long, the magnificent building offers not only lovely shops, but also with stained glass and grand staircases. The clocks are mechanical wonders—chimes and “action figures” portraying events in English history. I was fortunate to be standing right next to one of the clocks at 10:00, when it struck the hour, and so enjoyed the “show.” Most of the shops I passed were upscale, and on the upper level, most focused on Australian goods. There were also exhibits, from ones on Queen Victoria to ones on Chinese culture. But the building itself was the chief delight, with wood trim, high domes, carpeted floors, with a piano playing in the background. Just lovely.
On the lower level, it was a bit less posh, but offered a lot of little places to eat. I grabbed some chicken satay and a cappuccino for breakfast. And then I was off again.
But before I share the afternoon’s adventures, here’s a video to give you a bit more info and insight on the QVB. I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the experience.