Summer Vaca – it is more than half way through, and it feels like it’s been rushing by at warp speed. This summer, B is also on a “summer vacation” with a 3 month sabbatical from work. B and I started off the break with a month long trip to Australia, hitting up both coasts and a little island along with way. It’s all too much for one post, so I’m breaking it up into 4 parts: Melbourne/Queensland/Perth/Sydney. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen some of these already, but get ready for photos overload!
First, some background info: B is Australian (with dual citizenship), but he’s been living in the states since the early 2000s. I’ve been to Oz before, but in the 5 years we’ve been together, we’ve never traveled back to his motherland together. So you can imagine how excited I was to be going back there with him, my ultimate Aussie boy-mate. I’d been pushing to make a summer for us/winter for them trip to Oz for about a year already, and then good timing kicked in. B’s brother Kai was getting married! B had a 3 month sabbatical waiting to be taken! The stars were aligned right around my summer vacation, so we booked tickets with the miles we’ve been saving up especially for a trip down under.
We started the Aussie Adventure with Melbourne. Melbourne is the San Francisco of Australia – it’s got the weather, the diversity, and the culture. All that was missing was the hills (Sydney’s got that one). My favorite bits of Melbourne were all the interesting tucked away alleys. Almost all the really neat coffee shops, restaurants and bars were in tiny alleys that in the states we only associate with garbage pick ups and muggings. The alley ways of Melbourne are places for public art (sanctioned or not), and so much of it was right up my alley that I had to remind myself to take photos of only my absolute favorites.
B and I spent 5 days in Melbourne, and we stayed near the CBD at Fraser Place which worked out well in terms of location, price and comfort. Right around the corner was a great cafe, and stop #1 in Oz always has to be coffee – Flat White, specifically – which they do perfectly. For the rest of the trip, B and I started off every morning and broke every afternoon hunting for a cool coffee shop. One in particular I liked, as it was styled like a little Japanese cafe. B and I looked very much like the giants that we are, surrounded by tiny furniture in a tiny room. Stand out coffees in Melbourne: League of Honest Coffee, Little Rouge Coffee, and Brother Baba Budan.
Prior to leaving Denver, I started a temporary Pinterest board of all the sights I wanted to check out in Melbourne. First was the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail), a sufficiently creepy but cool place to visit, complete with wax busts of prisoners made post-hanging. We splashed out and took the tour, and I learned about Ned Kelly for the first time. The next day, we went to Queen Victoria Market, where I did most of my souvenir shopping. I didn’t buy Ugg boots but B did buy a classic Aussie hat, and we picked up a kangaroo skin – which B instantly modeled for me in stereotypical Aussie fashion. Since B and I love the Denver Botanic Gardens, we also spent a day at the Royal Botanic Gardens. My favorite part was a little nook called Fern Gully, where I imagine is were all the fairies of Melbourne live. We ended the walk through the garden at the Shrine of Remembrance. If you ever find yourself in Melbourne, I recommend jumping in on a I’m Free (tips only) walking tour. B and I did it and it was pretty cool.
Asia is to Australia as Mexico and Central America is to the US. So you can imagine how excited I was to eat all of the yummy asian foods. I made a list, and we went to all of them and ate all of the things. I was a very happy camper, though our wallet very quickly was not. Australia is not cheap. Standouts were Din Tai Fung (they also have locations in CA and Seattle), the Dainty Sichuan, and Gami Chicken & Beer. As far as drinks, B and I checked out a couple bars but were generally disappointed with the cocktails in Australia. Berlin Bar was worth the trip in that first you had to ring a bell to be let in, then you had to chose which side of the bar to sit it: the East German minimalist/survival side or the West German posh velvet chairs side. The bar itself was really neat, and so was the stairway leading up to the bar. Cocktails were interesting on paper and presentation, but pricy and not particularly tasty and drinkable. Whiskey & Alement had an overwhelming 5 page whiskey menu which B liked, but I generally go for whiskey cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan and Im not a fan of peaty, smoky flavored rye whiskeys. The bar standard Old Fashioned I ended up with was exactly that. I choked it down anyway. B was a big fan of this place, though it was weird/confusing with 2 bars in one. There is a side bar within the bar that serves only Japanese Whiskey, but you have to pay at the main bar and convert AUD to Yen.
That’s it for Melbourne! Part 2: Queensland up next!