Thursday, April 14, 2011

Australia! Part 2

So from Sydney I flew down to Melbourne. Originally I was to fly to Alice Springs but bad weather combined with other dramas led to cancellations and blah blah blah so I ended up extending my time in Melbourne and I'm glad I did. So what can I say about Melbourne? Well, I know it's Toronto official twin city which at first made sense because as I was being driven into the city from the airport you honestly couldn't tell the difference between the two based on the scenery outside: same type of highway leading from the airport to the downtown core; same big box stores; same suburbany houses. It's only when you get into the CBD you start to notice the differences. The pictures above are cases in point: while one highlights the buildings next to a recently redesigned water/river front (Toronto is still working on theirs), the other picture shows the unique and famous Melbourne city laneways which is a must-see for anyone who goes to visit there. The longer I was in the city the more I began to wonder and ask myself why exactly are they twinned again? Honestly, Toronto has much more in common with corporate, suit and tie Sydney than mellow down to earth Melbourne. Oh well.

I loved my time in Melbourne I must say. Unlike my time in Sydney I was back to being on my own which meant a lot of different tours and walking around. With two of the tours I managed to spend some time outside the city – one being a culinary tour in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula which is situated about forty or so minutes away from Melbourne and is a hotbed for local food and wine production. That day was spent in a fantastic haze of food, wine and cooking and food talk (Chef and I could not stop babbling about food and to be honest I love that hence the reason I took the tour in the first place). We visited farms specifically a goat farm where I got to sample various and delicious types of goat cheese. We went to a winery where I proceeded to drink I have no idea how many "samples" . We also took a detour to take a look at Chefs new project: bee hives . So I strapped on the white protective suit and mesh hat and ventured with him through farmland to visit the bees. That was so cool and nope no pics of me in the white suit - oh wait yes there are but Josh has them and I really don't need to know how ridiculous I looked but it kept me from being bitten and that's what matters!! It all culminated in a fantastic lunch prepared by Chef Jason, with almost all ingredients made and/or bought locally - even the seafood was caught fresh that morning by the local fishermen as you'll see in the shots! Seriously, this was one of the best days I ve had on this entire trip! The following day was scheduled to be a full day: 8 am to 6 pm – I was warned by my guide to be prepared for a very long day but thank God it turned out to be totally worth it. We drove along the coast and made a special trip to view the 12 Apostles (which is a collection of huge but separate rock formations along the Victoria coastline and I know how it sounds but you have to see it to understand just how incredibly impressive and absolutely beautiful it is – oh and there were twelve formations once but now it's down to eight), Loch Ard Gorge and viewings of Koalas and parrots in the wild. Both tours were amazing (special shout outs to Josh and Chef Jason on Day 1 Tour and Bruce for Day 2!!)
Now on to the pics!

Mornington Culinary Tour

12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge Trip/Ocean drive and the Koalas

A little more of Melbourne

Next up Australia – le finale

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