We left Dulles at 4PM on November 5th, and arrived after 24 hours of traveling (and stopovers in San Francisco and Auckland) in Sydney at 8AM Sunday the 7th. We took the subway to Circular Quay, and walked over to the Four Seasons where we were staying that night. They let us check our luggage and (most importantly) grab a quick shower in their spa. Refreshed, we headed over to Darlinghurst via Subway. We got there too early for lunch, and wandered around the stores until enough time has passed.
Spice I Am was a delicious Thai place. Unfortunately no cocktails at lunch, but the food was worth it – I had duck, and Jill had a chicken and curry with two types of eggplant. When we returned to Circular Quay, we wandered around The Rocks and stopped at The Australian Hotel for beers.
That evening, Jill enjoyed a massage and pedicure while I headed to the nearby Opera House to see the 2010 ARIA Awards (basically their version of the Grammys). It was GA, so as soon as I picked up my ticket at will call, I headed over to the back of a very long line. I still got a decent spot near the stage, and soon they were doing a concert before the show. Not bad, but the real talent was to come. Opening the Arias was Powderfinger, whom I’d seen on their only US tour, still excellent. My favorite new act and live performance was Birds Of Tokyo, though Washington put on quite an extravaganza. It was also nice to see INXS (fronted by bluesy Dan Sultan)
The next morning it was back to the airport and a lovely Eggs Benedict at the Tap House before the short flight to Melbourne. We took a bus from the airport to the city center, then subway and a tram to The Blackman, a charming hotel with Alice In Wonderland themed art by Charles Blackman.
After we relaxed a little, we went down the road in the afternoon to the Belgian Beer Cafe Bluestone where we enjoyed some beers and split a Croque Monsieur with the best fries of the trip (and house made aioli). We kept going south and got off the tram in St. Kilda, a lovely beach town. We wandered down the boardwalk on the beach, stopping for drinks at Republica and enjoyed the view.
We walked back into town, found a bookstore and started looking for dinner. The menu at The Table rang our bells, and it was very good, followed by ice cream from the Cold Rock Creamery (where we mixed in strange Australian candy) that we took back to the beach to watch the sunset.
Tuesday the 9th we had breakfast at Fleur Depot De Pain in the hotel (quiche for Jill, egg sandwich for me), then headed north to find the Ugg factory. It wasn’t in the nicest part of town, and the outlet was there (once we got past the surly factory worker). Jill not only found a pair of boots she liked, but a very nice pea coat. We stopped by some book and record stores up there, then back to the center of town where we had a plate of tapas at Young And Jacksons (I really liked the duck shanks with a sweet soy and orange glaze).
We had pretty much the only guide book failure of the trip which told us to eat dinner at Donovans in St. Kilda and enjoy the sunset. First, you can’t sit outside during your meal, second they only open the blinds at sunset, third we didn’t have a very good table, and finally Jill didn’t enjoy her meal (linguine with seafood, though I really enjoyed my pork platter with pork four ways).
Wednesday was our last full day in Melbourne, and we spent it mostly shopping. We headed over to Fitzroy, the hipster area. Breakfast at Birdman Eating was tasty, the Baked Eggs of the Day were served with lentils and tomatoes, and the banana bread with Nutella and the house made crumpets with leatherwood honey were very good. My favorite place to shop was the very first place I went, Dixons Recycled with lots of good (and cheap) CDs. But we hit a number of yarn, book and record shops over the day. We stopped at Threshermans Bakehouse on the way back for a quick snack (Jill had a curry chicken pastry).
That night we ate at MoVida Aqui for the best meal we had in Melbourne. It was a tapas place, and everything was excellent. In fact, I’m just going to list everything we had:
Bomba Catalan: Potato bomb filled with chorizo
Bocadillo de calamares: Calamari sandwich with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise
Esparragos: Charcoal grilled green asparagus with romesco
Vieira: Scallops grilled with jamon on pisto, braised manchego style vegetables
Buey: Roast Beef wagyu with tocino de cielo, potato crisps, pickled garlic and black garlic
Butifarra: Housemade Catalan pork and pepper sausage with braised black beans and piquillo peppers
Churros con Chocolate: Spanish doughnuts with rich drinking chocolate
We stopped and looked at department store Christmas displays after dinner. So strange to be so warm and thinking about the holidays.
Thursday morning the 11th we again had breakfast at Fleur Depot De Pain (more Eggs Benedict), then checked out and headed to the airport. We had lunch there at P.J. O’Brien’s Irish Pub, where Jill who had been craving a hamburger got some kind of meatloaf sandwich they tried to top with a slice of beet (I wisely opted for the corned beef and potatoes).