Category Archives: Travel

The honey-est of moons

Skipping forward in time from our wedding in late December, the following morning my husband (!) and I travelled to Victoria for our honeymoon.  We flew into Melbourne on New Year’s Eve just in time for dinner (a degustation menu with matched wines) at Vue de Monde.  Let me just say that this was one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life.  Highlights of the evening included a single baby marron with a crunchy butter to hand-dip into, an enormous chocolate souffle with chocolate sauce poured over the top at our table, salted caramel shell chocolates and an amazing cheese course (pictured below), hand cut from the Vue de Monde cheese cart roaming the floor.  We finished dinner at 11:30 pm, just in time for our waitress to escort us through the kitchen to the restaurant’s Lui Bar, where we rang in the new year while watching the fireworks over the Yarra and drinking old fashioneds.  It was magic.

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On the first day of 2014, Mike and I hired a car and drove out to Victoria’s Yarra Valley where a revamped old farm dairy house was waiting for us.  Much to our excitement, the weather turned rainy and cold just in time for us to bunker down for our first evening in the country and light the fire in the dairy house.

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We spent three lovely days in the Valley, during which we checked out local wineries, drank a lot of pinot noir and shiraz, ate very well (including at the Healesville Hotel and the Innocent Bystander cafe) and managed a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula.  Doesn’t Mike look handsome with his wedding ring on (above).

Finally, to round out the trip, we checked back into our amazing Melbourne hotel, The Olsen, one of the city’s Art Series hotels, this one modelled around the work of Australian artist John Olsen.  The weather was still crazily cold for summer (I refer to my jumper below), but we ventured out to Mamababa around the corner from our hotel where I ordered a crayfish pasta below that changed. my. life., did a little shopping and drank some delicious Melbourne coffee.  As part of her wedding gift to us, Verity had orchestrated a romantic tour of Melbourne (complete with snack money and mini Nutellas to keep up our energies), which ended in us leaving a lock engraved with our names and wedding date somewhere in Melbourne (I’m not going to say where).  I really hope Melbourne’s street cleaners take pity on our little lock and don’t take to it with bolt-cutters any time soon.  We loved Verity’s idea and were so glad to be able to leave behind a little memento of our Victorian honeymoon.

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So far, married life rocks.

China

Last month I had to travel a couple of times for work, most recently to Sydney and also to China.  It was my second trip to China (the first, last year, also for work).  This time around was a lot less overwhelming for me, a lot warmer (we were last there during winter), and a lot prettier than I remember it.

We travelled to Guangzhou, in the humid Guangdong province of southern China, and then went by car to Zhongshan.  During this trip, we also drove around to Shenzhen, and then crossed the border by car into Hong Kong before flying home from there.  A couple of the pictures below show how tropical and green China can be in parts (away from the more dense industrial zones), something that surprised me.  My memories of my first trip were of a chilly, grey and thickly polluted city that felt very foreign and far from home.  I felt more aware of my surroundings this time around (I guess you always pick up new things when revisiting a place) and more comfortable with my knowledge of local culture and customs.

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Contrary to what is implied by the photo of the caged snakes above, we ate really well at most of the places we were taken to while in China.  The Guangdong province is known for seafood and mild flavours, and I really enjoyed the whole steamed fish, dumplings and gelatinous desserts especially.  And yes, that is the minibar menu from my hotel room, which offered the option of purchasing paper underpants (in female and male versions, helpfully).

Melbourne

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I flew over to Melbourne last week for an appeal hearing, and took the opportunity to have a quick catch-up with my good friend Verity, who has called Melbourne home for three and a half years. Verity is always so thoughtful and organised when it comes to planning activities in her home city. Just after I arrived, we visited the night markets at Queen Victoria Markets and ate our bodyweight in different foods (including salted caramel macarons, mini cupcakes and fudge for dessert).  We spent Thursday night as audience members for The Project screening, followed by a little dinner at Fonda near where Verity lives.  With all the Valentines Day red roses around Melbourne that day, it was nice to see a couple having dinner near us with a bunch of yellow gerberas wrapped in brown paper on their table. The following day we walked from Richmond into the city, where we came across this amazing structure (below) made of tree branches and twigs, and walked up and down Melbourne city’s lane ways and back streets. Thanks Verity (and Melbourne) for an awesome few days.

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USA – In pictures

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I’ve finally got around to uploading and reviewing our massive haul of photos from our trip to the US over the holidays. I have Mike to thank for braving the bitter cold (and sometimes, the snow) to take the vast majority of these snaps, while I kept my hands warm inside my gloves. Over two weeks, we visited San Francisco, New York City and Las Vegas (with a side trip to the Napa Valley). These are a small selection of images from our album.

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We stayed with Mike’s family in San Francisco.  Rajah and Wael were the most warm and gracious of hosts, not only welcoming us into their home, but also being our own personal tour guides of their wonderful city. My favourite experiences in San Fran were, in no particular order: our drive through the Napa Valley on a gorgeous, sunny Californian winter’s day; our first all-American In-N-Out burgers (our first Stateside meal, in fact); shopping at midnight (it was just before Christmas); the view of the Golden Gate bridge from the top of a hill with the city lights in the background; my first basketball game.

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To New York – one amazing, diverse, surprising, exhausting and unforgettable city. We walked what felt like the entire length and breadth of Manhattan, taking in the sights and stopping wherever looked interesting.

We found an amazing rice pudding shop (of all things) in Nolita, Rice to Riches, that we frequented three times in the space of 48 hours. I could live anywhere in the West Village (I loved Marc Jacobs’ own bookstore, Bookmarc, just opposite Magnolia on Bleecker in the Village). I experienced one of the best meals of my life at Marea on Central Park South.  And we had a pretty romantic Christmas day ride through Central Park.

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The New York Public Library had one of the more beautiful Christmas displays that I saw (and we saw some cracker Christmas trees). We witnessed both classically elegant and innovative architecture all over the city, including at The Guggenheim, Grand Central Station and St Patrick’s Cathedral (where we visited on Christmas day).

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We capped off the trip in Vegas, where we rang in the New Year with a huge tapas dinner and fireworks out on the Strip.  Vegas was a crazy, over-the-top city, and such a jarring departure from New York City.  The panoramic view of the canyons from our hotel suite was stunning, and sat in complete contrast to the bright, artificial light of the tourist district and the colourful, outrageous decor in the hotels.

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This little trip was such a great way for Mike and I to round out 2012 and welcome in this new and exciting year. I’ll forever hold close my memories of our Stateside experience, and we have already promised each other that this trip won’t be our last.

The Big Apple

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We are still just settling in after having spent the festive season in the States.  It was fantastic being back in a country I hadn’t visited since childhood (and in particular, seeing NYC together for the first time ever – wow, what a city).

Can I just say, this pizza from Pomodoro may have actually been tastier than the ones everyone talks about from around the corner at Lombardi’s (and without the 15-minute wait in the snow). 

I’ll post a few more photos from the trip as soon as they’re uploaded.