sat 6.13-6.22 (pdx-tpe)
mon 6.22-6.28 (pdx-melbourne)
sun 6.28-7.1 (mel-Hamilton Island)
wed 7.1-7.4 (hmi-Sydney)
sat 7.4 (syd-PDX)
1. after a week in taipei, i flew to Melbourne via HK arriving 6am, 6/23/09. after we met up at airport, we wnt to Mim's place [Brunswick] which is just north of city center. then we all wnt to chinatown for some chow's. too bad the intended resto was closed, so ended up at Post Mao nearby. it's ok food. i find chinese food in restos tend to b a bit heavy on the oil & salts. still, it was good lunch n time spend w/just mim & nicky. a great discovery today for me is a couple of aussie products. the very popular skin care line, Aesop, their most famous product being the parsley seed stuff, which i ended up buying 1 to use, very nice indeed! the other is Papaw, pronounced [poe poe] according to locals (mim). this ointment, i absolutely adore! it is as great n versatile as mim claims. so i bought a tube n a big tub... tho i'd already lost the tube traveling.
anyhoo. we spent the 1st day wandering thru town. exploring the various alleys n lanes tht is so melbourne. then we wnt back to mim's, exhausted, to try the famous aussie snack... Vegemite, altho it's not too bad, it won't b my 1st choice over P&J, ever! we then drank some wines while waiting for nick to show up to take us to his place nearby. nick jones, pls meet my frnd nicky jones! was very funny indeed. we dropped off our luggage n wnt to find dinner in the neighborhood. apparently, mel is a great place to find italian food since ther's a large immigrant population fr/italy. heard ther was even a mafia problem ther. imagine tht. i never wd've thought so. Rumi (mid-eastern fare) was the original resto we intended, but it was full. we ended up going to a sicilian place, Bar Idda, just down lygon street from Rumi. very tasty food, newly opened, 2 months maybe? we had osso buco soup n a pork pasta. afterwards, we stopped by a bar for drinks. in the back "garden" area, i can c several older italian men hanging out. it's alike a scene strait out o Godfather movie!
nick was really sweet to vacate his bed to us n slept on his own couch. felt really bad about it. he's got a really sweet cat, Mimi. boy, melbourne homes r cold in t/winter. apparently no 1 really uses heat. hmmmm. def not for me.
2. sunny day. ate breakfast at the bakery by tram stop. then we head to Federation Square to meet mim/nicky. wnt to c the John Brack retrospective ther.
then of course, we had to visit the aquarium since the penguins r in town! i just adore them! the way the swim n move about. my next fav thing ther is actually the jellyfish. love seeing how they just float w/the currents. it's at the aquarium tht we learnt a new word. BILLABONG! all this time, i just thought it's name o a surf brand or place, like Patagonia! was starving after aquarium, Satay Bar, found ths tiny tiny place nearby, seats about 5? basically the 4 of us took up all the space, maybe can fit 1 or 2 more. the grills r yummy, tho rice could improve a bit, too wet 4 my taste.
ths nite, we met up w/Nick for drinks at Cookie, pub (loads o selection on beers, great pre-dinner place) then Dainty Sichuan food, for dinner. i believe ths is wher all the chinese n melbournites go when they miss authentic spicy (everything was red!) food. too spicy 4 me, i had to drink soy milk w/my food.
i learnt tht, in aus. the restos cannot always allow take-home food unless they'r licensed for take-away. so if u hv leftovers (portions here r also quite "american" meaning "big") some places will reject ur requests for a box. something about food sanitation or safety.
these r some other place we've been to while in MEL, but i'm not remembering the order o places eaten, i will just list them here: Bambuand Hairy Canaryand Hells Kitchen i heard also ther r many nice bars on nearby fed'n square, facing the yarr river. can't remember the names tho.
3. day 3 in MEL, w/rented car, picked up neil/berta who's arrived previous nite. we woke up super early, expecting to b picked up at exactly 7am. we were in fact, too early for the Filou's Patissier, apparently a well known n loved place, nearby nick's home.
we drove out onto the Great Ocean Road with the 12 Apostles as our final destination in mind. tho we finally learnt last minute tht it takes 4-5 hrs to reach...it was unanimously decided tht we'll do Erskine Falls and Aireys Inlet Lighthouse then lunch in Wye River, ther's a semi-grocery store with a sort o cafe/pub, very nice food too. then our final goal o t/day was to c Koala bears. we managed to spot several stoned out bears high on trees in Kennet River... well mainly their very cute round asses! after their glam foto sessions, we rushed home so t/car won't b charged an extra day... the drive home was great cuz it sprinkled a little n revealed to us beautiful double full arch rainbows [taste the rainbows]!!! then home for brief rest n back to our nice dinner at the Italian, expensive formal resto, but very good food/ service. ate the chicken, simply grilled. we often forget how simply the chicken can taste w/just some salt n grilled as is.
4. in MEL, wine country tour o yarra valley!!! we gotten up bright n early, picked up by the driver (yes we got a vanbus tht comes w/driver) n off we go, still a bit sleepy tho not as early as previous day, it's now 9am. these r the stops we made, b4 lunch... no one was really into drinking wine ths early... [on ths morning, we heard the sad news o michael jackson's passing in oz]
1) PUNT ROAD, my scribbles were tht we like their Chardonnay, Cab, Bortrytis Semillon. their Etoile restaurant looked amazing. but on we go.
2) DOMAINE CHANDON, we loved their Heathcoe Shiraz n their sparkling wine, Vingtage Brut 2005. tasty. think neil made some purchases here.
3) Giant Steps/ Innocent Bystander, which is winery & bistro. after the morning of wine tasting with near empty stomach, we had to eat our lunch 1st b4 hitting the wine tasting tables. we started out with cheese platter which mim recommended. then moved onto their pizza. it's very good crust.. but the tomato sauce is the most basic n theirs was just not as good as wht Ken Artisan serves up in PDX. they do serve lots o very yummy dishes besides tho. and their giant steps line of wines carries more depth than innocent bystander line. right beside ths spot, is the beer brewery, White Rabbit. It caught our attention immediately cuz it's stood out in the midst o all these wineries. we were curious n interested to taste something other than wine, crossing the parking lot over to it, we ventured to try their brew. TASTY! is it cuz we were under t/influence? dunno, but we bought a few to take home w/us to try later on. our last tasting was 1 suggested by some1 at chandon, Red Shed Cafe, a very small hand-crafted winery along with restaurant tht is fare in price n great in taste, from wht i read on their menu n other reviews online.
back to the city we go, leaving the yarra valley, content. today, we move to our hotel room in St Kilda, the internationally & locally loved beachside o MEL. ths is wher the wedding will take place, at the poshy The Prince boutique hotel. our place, Hotel Tolarno, is also very sweet n interesting. i've never seen clrs so diff yet so well put together in harmony. thruout the hotel hallway, rooms, lobby, resto, they hung interesting yet varied art purchased from the grad class o art schools nearby. our room came w/a kitchenette. the 2 burner stove is also a mini oven! love love love its adorability o style n space... best part is, to hv a heated room! all 3 of us were quite relieved to move to hotel. wedding is only another day away! yeh! dinner was just down the street, barely 2 blocks away at Kyma. i've been wanting greek food since the cruise n didn't hv chance to eat local cuisine back then. we were not disappointed by the food. ate too much as usual, even tho we've been sharing our meals... [the white rabbit beer is very good]
5 sat in St Kilda, MEL. WEDDING DAY 4 mim n adie!!! breakfast n walk down by the boardwalk. ther's a Luna park here with all sorts o rides, but no one is interested in going for any ride. apparently, here at the pier, ther r penguins here around sunrise/set times. we c signs but don't c them. we do c a pair o very elegant black swans tho. i then heard tell tht all white swans r property o queen o england in UK. really? why? wht does it mean?
o, forgot to mention, ran into Anna!!! hadn't seen her for nearly 2 yrs since she was transfered to New Zealand. anyway, it's an evening wedding today, so still hv a few hrs b4 prepping for t/wedding to wander about a bit.