Walking sucks, according to Freddy.
He led tours in Berlin and Melbourne for many years so he’s probably talking from long experience of sore feet.
However, anyone who has read my blog knows that I love walking and, as a local, I’ve only ever walked around the city of Melbourne.
Mind you, I love cycling too.
One reason is because it’s BYOB – bring your own breeze – which was handy on the 32 degree day I joined Freddy’s bike tour.
For a city tour though, the best reason is because you can cover so much ground.
One couple, who had arrived from England the night before, said they always book a bike tour on the first day they arrive anywhere, to get a feel for the city and pick where they’ll go for the next couple of days.
And Freddy’s Bike Tours certainly delivered.
We set off from Freddy’s shop near the conference centre along the river, heading south around the Botanic Gardens, past the Shrine of Remembrance and back over the river towards the sports precinct where grand slam tennis, rugby, soccer, cricket and of course, Aussie Rules Football, all take place in various arenas, including the iconic MCG.
This is a part of Melbourne you would miss completely on a city walking tour – the Botanic Gardens is a tour in itself.
Freddy stopped regularly to point out landmarks and tell us about their historical or cultural significance, highlighting the people who have made Melbourne the thriving city it is today.
Cycling up the east side of the city, with stops to see Captain Cook’s Cottage (well actually his parent’s cottage) and the State Parliament building, we set off for Fitzroy.
Once a run down inner-city suburb, Fitzroy is now the centre of all things cool, including bars, cafes, breweries, vintage fashion and our lunch stop, Grub Fitzroy.
Whizzing down Brunswick Street, we turned a sharp corner into Grub’s garden oasis, centred around a dazzling 1965 Airsteam van – the perfect backdrop for our troop of Dutch-style city bikes.
We enjoyed a convivial lunch in the courtyard, where I discovered that the four Americans were here for a conference and only had one and half days to see Melbourne; that the couple from Perth had just spent eight days traversing the Great Ocean Walk; and the couple from England love a boutique beer.
It’s great meeting fellow tour members, but it’s the tour guide that makes a tour. And Freddy is that kind of tour guide.
On first name terms with everyone before we set off, he’s like the great teacher at school who effortlessly brought their subject to life.
In fact, I asked Freddy if he was a teacher.
He said he started out with a degree in finance but managed to escape actually working in finance by becoming a tour guide in Berlin and Melbourne before setting up Freddy’s Bike Tours three years ago.
I’d say he’s definitely found his niche. I can’t imagine Freddy in a suit negotiating a finance deal in one of the high rise office blocks – he’s having much more fun out on the bike tracks of Melbourne.
After cycling past Melbourne Museum, catching great city views from the Old Melbourne Gaol, admiring graffiti in Hosier Lane and finishing in Federation Square, we really had seen a large part of Melbourne.
And while I’m still not convinced that walking sucks, I am sure that cycling rocks.
To join a bike tour or rent a bike, go to: www.freddysbiketours.com.au
More things to do in Melbourne