CUWAM- Mini break in Melbourne

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I love Melbourne, the wonderful Victorian Capital…I love the place so much that it prevented my from my usual Monday blog….apologies.

I was in St Kilda yesterday, indulging in my second coffee of the day at Galleon Cafe on Carlisle street, when I spotted an internet cafe. Ahhh, I thought, I could go on inside and write about the week that was…Another sip of coffee, another thought….No, the sun was out and I was in St Kilda…the day was to be enjoyed, I could write any old time…So I took myself to the beach, lay day on a bench, and as I soaked up some rays I thought about writing…..

Melbourne, you NEVER dissapoint…..Sydney, on the other hand, has over the last two weeks!! Summer, where are you? The sky has been a permanent shade of gray since the 1st of December, Summer you have abandoned me!!

A  soggy week in Sydney, the usual gym sessions in King Cross failing to inspire, my mood, like to weather, was gray…And when you aren’t feeling on top of your game, Kings Cross is not the place to be….The usual kick I get from being immersed in Sydney’s underbelly could not be rallied, the Cross felt ugly, dirty and depressing….I saw sadness everywhere, the homeless, the drug addicted…

Lunch date with the parental in Newtown did lift my spirits somewhat. We ate lunch mid-week at Berkelouw Bookstore and Cafe, Newtown. It was the first time in 5 years that my parents had dared to venture on public transport to my place of work. My Dad, looking like an intrepid traveller, complete with backpack and water bottle, my Mum, always side stepping to admire the everyday art in shop windows and buildings…Happy to be out and about, soaking up life Sydney style. Heres to more lunches!!

A Thursday movie session, leaving work 15 minutes early to catch the 5pm time slot at Hoyts Broadway…the film, ‘ Puss in Boots’…A film I hoped with be the ray of sunshine my week needed…It would be  wonderful, amusing, entertaining on many levels.. Alas, I left the cinema disspointed…for it was none of those things!! Antonio Banderas aka Puss failed to ignite the screen, and even a Spanish inspired dance off with love interest, Kitty Soft Paws aka Salma Hayek…left the audience feeling flat….There was no feline love for Mr Boots…Oh well, onwards and upwards….

Friday and my mood was starting to lift….yes there was a day of office administration, but the evening, the evening  was all about celebrating….a work  Christmas Party, followed by drinks and Tapas in Glebe..Fun times for all, sore heads all round!!

Friday Night celebrations  turned into Saturday early morning hilarity…a cab ride home and lights out at 1am…..Only to awake some 5 hours later to my mobile phone alarm….Guaranteed headache!! An early morning flight to Melbourne, pre arranged some months earlier, now seemed like a very, very, very bad idea….And flying Tiger airlines, the airline that had grounded my mid holiday back in July, seemed just as dubious!!

But despite my lack of enthusiasm for weekend away, I arrived at Sydney airport by bus, Melbourne airport by plane ( Tiger was GREAT!!) and Melbourne city by bus. I then headed on foot to my hotel on King Street and slept the afternoon away….I awoke at 5pm, and feeling somewhat more in the land of the living, started my day afresh!!

On foot I walked to Lygon Street, Carlton…I ate at University Cafe, a bowl of spaghetti, some fresh bread, tiramisu from Brunetti’s…and then back on foot to my hotel…8pm and bed was calling…it had been a hard day of enjoyment, all 3 hours of it!!

Sunday I went to Collingwood Children’s Farm, caught up with my cousin Andrew and his divine daughter, Benjamine Rose…what a sweet heart!! Over coffee, passionfruit yo-yo biscuits and hot cross buns, we caught up…a breif stroll  around the farm grounds, saying a friendly hello to Goats, Cows and the very friendly Children’s Farm cat…A pit stop at my cousins home, conversation, chocolate and more coffee with Emma, Andrew’s wife, and then back to the streets, solo…..exploring Fitzroy, the Lost and Found Markets, Brunswick and Gertrude street, a snack from Colombian cafe, Sonido….Yum, and then more market madness, in Rose Street…

Dinner with Jen, my travelling companion circa 2001 and a change to meet her new four legged friend, Lambert, the wonder dog!! Food and Jen are always  inspiring…Jen knows the hot spots and Sunday dinner was hot…the Wesley Anne in Northcote…another stunner, thanks Jen! Beers, good conversation and meal, pork sausages, mash, brocolli….food coma soon followed by tram ride

Monday, back on tram to Northcote, to sample breakfast at the much talked about ‘ Penny Farthing’…breakfast, balsamic vinegar mushrooms, avocado and sour dow toast, coffee…Perfect start to my Monday, a day normally set aside for office madness, data entry, emailing and the like…But NOT today!!

Tram ride to St Kilda, more coffee sipping, window shopping and sun baking….Tram ride back to the city, embracing the Christmas cheer, looking briefly in the direction of the Myer Christmas Windows, walking in and quickly out of large department store, a late lunch at Mc Donalds ( I am on Holidays…don’t judge me!!) and then in a heart beat…well two bus rides, one plane flight and a bit of light walking…and I am home…in Sydney…and all is gray, cold and miserable…and I want to be back in Melbourne, lost in a laneway, staring at street art, back where the sun shone ( or at least appeared on a daily basis)…But Sydney, you are my home, and I am back giving you a second chance, whatever it takes, a third, a forth…please just let summer know that we miss her!!

Food lovers guide to eating out in Melbourne

The Galleon Cafe, St Kilda

Sonido, Gertrude Street

Collingwood Children’s Farm

Wesley Anne, Northcote

Penny Farthing Cafe, Northcote

CUWAM….July and the tale of a Tiger that would not fly

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I have poured myself a wine, as recalling the event of the past three days would have driven anyone to drink…

Ah, the tale of a long weekend in Melbourne and three girlfriends with varying ideas of what to do in the city with an advertising campaign asking people to ‘ Come and Play’….

To set the scene three girls planned a girls weekend to Melbourne back in May 2011….flights were booked, accommodation secured and car hire arranged…then accommodation and car hire was cancelled, one of the girls decided to hostel it, the other two decided to book only the first nights accommodation and hope for the best for Saturday night….as the prospect of securing two consecutive nights in the same hotel was at short notice ie the day before, no longer possible.

Arriving at the airport was stress free, Jen (JK) and I smiled as Tiger airlines announced a 30 min delay to our flights boarding time…Having heard nothing but Tiger-mares from friends regarding the plight of the Tiger flights, we felt ever so smug that all we were being subjected too was a travel time delay…

More worrying was the fact that our comrade Fiona, was a no show…a text confirmed a missed flight, a lost passport, and just before we boarded the flight, even more concerning was a text from a work mate informing us that the she had gone into work….Our party of three would be a party of two for the next three days….

Jen and I took it in our stride, we had technically been dumped at the airport!! Though we felt slightly heart-broken that Fiona would not be with us in person, her spirit would live on if we chose to rise to the challenge that was head…a good time in Melbourne City ( not too hard a task!!)

Our flight was fine, our transfer on the Sky bus and Sky shuttle satisfactory, our accommodation, devine…Perched on the banks of the Yarra was our home for the night…the Crown Plaza, with complimentary Pink Lady apples to eat on every floor!! Happiness.

Lunch on the banks of the Yarra, coffee and cake in a laneway, and ticket purchasing to ‘Love Never Dies’, spur of the moment, living on the edge….a real treat as our friend, and fellow data entry colleague, Mr Ben ‘ Phantom’ Lewis, held the starring role of the Regent Theatre production..

And what a night….Jen and I were in raptures as Ben took command of his role, a man born for the stage, it truly was a wonderous site…the music soared, and so did our hearts…all the data entry back in the office block were I had worked with Ben only months before finally paid off…( rumour has it that is was his typing speed set him apart in the final phantom audition!!)…After the show, Jen and I stood on Flinders Lane, in the cold and waited at the back stage door…to greet Ben and gush at his brilliance….

Saturday, a slow start to the day, an 11am check out…Blissfully unaware of the impending drama, Jen and I dropped into the Crown Plaza business centre secure that nights acommodation…St Kilda here we come…We frequented the business centre a second time for that morning for a spot of emailing…cause we could I guess!!..a quick glance at my facebook account detailed a tale of woe that had befallen my friend Lauren and her families Tiger travel plans to Melbourne…Lauren was using expletives….the anger and frustration was oozing through her facebook account…and I felt compelled to call…to console my mate…surely it could not be THAT bad….

And that is when our Melbourne holiday took another battering…the entire Tiger fleet was grounded indefinitely…. We were to be flying back to Sydney the following day with Tiger….as Lauren so eloquently put it ‘ Not f+$%kin anymore’ ( that line was never actually uttered…just putting it in for dramatic effect!!)

At this point I feel it is necessary to click on song below….for it aptly summarises how JK and I would face the airline debacle….

United we will stand in the face of the Tiger Airline crisis!!

And so began the mad dash to rebook a flight, anything that vaguely resembled a mode of transport back to Sydney on Sunday….Flight prices began in the low $200.00 mark, and extended up to $800.00…By a sheer miracle, Jen secured two flights at $191 each…and after much stress, and a lengthy delay in receiving email confirmation that booking even existed…we could smile and call ourselves friends once more!!

Breakfast at 1pm in another lane…a large coffee as I just wasn’t stressed enough…and then a break from each other to’ re-group and re-focus’….I hot-stepped it to Curtin House, Swanston Street, and told anyone who would listen that I had no shopping budget left due to my Tiger travel experience…Wondering aimlessly through graffiti lined laneways, smiling at strangers,  lashing out ( like a tiger) and spending $10 of jewellery at DIVA, along with some glucose jelly beans for Jen ( just in case we needed another sugar hit should we encounter any more high drame in the remaining 24 hours)

Another coffee in a lane, a tram ride to St Kilda, wine in hotel room, dinner at a swish Italian restaurant, gelato on Ackland street, tears at the ending of ‘ Marley and Me’, Channel Nines saturday night movie….and sweet dreams in deluxe beds with crisp white linen.

Early morning rise, locked self in lobby toilet, rang directory assistance from mobile for reception number, only to realise I was basing my theory of being a damsel in distress locker in a lavatory on the wrong entrance to the bathroom, and a quick pirouette and I faced another door…the correct door, with a turn of the door knob I was free!!

Tram ride to city, train ride to Collingwood and reunion with new parents, Andrew and Emma in delightful Abbortsford……Hugs with Benjamine Rose, whose outfit of choice was a teddy bear sleeping bag…perfect for cafe culture on a Sunday….Short stroll to yummy cafe ‘ Thee Bags Full’…were low and behold, was served by local Austinmer girl….you just cannot escape your south coast connections…

I met another Jen at ‘ Three Bags Full’, my travelling buddy of 2001, Ms Jen Brennan, who had secured us a table at the cafe…which was no small feet…this cafe appeared to have a bouncer and line of people clambering to get inside the building that stretched as far as the eye could see…

I had read prior to coming to Melbourne, that the sign of a good cafe is such a scene, for if people are not queueing en mass for the hot cakes and coffee, there is something terribly wrong with the venue…

Needless to say ‘ Three Bags Full’ did not disappoint, and we ate at a communal table, with fellow diners admiring the little bear who had joined us for breakfast.

An airport run ( thank you Andrew), reuniting with JK, boarding a Qantas flight ( pure bliss) and settling in for the 53 minute journey back to Sydney…Touch down.

Rumour has it that the food served on the Qantas flight was off, the warm beef roll had been branded with a best before date of the 1st of July…JK had been given a $20 voucher after she had voiced her concern….Me, I had eaten only the beef and I began to wonder when, and if , I would be struck down with a violent case of food poisoning….

And that my friends was Melbourne….True to form, JK and I took it all in our stride, many a time it would have been too easy to be overcome with disappointment at how things turned out, but we had too many pink lady apples to munch through to get carried away on those thought trains…

JK, thank you for a great weekend away….Will we be travel buddies again? Will we travel interstate, hell even Internationally?..You bet your pink lady apple we will!!

And as for the here and now….I need another wine!!

Love Never Dies…The Phantom Sequel

Three Bags Full…Lovely cafe in Abbotsford, Melbourne

And the cafe that got rave reveiews over breakfast on Sunday… Penny Farthing in Northcote….Check it out!!

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