Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Zealand: To Do

We recently got back from 2 weeks on the south island of New Zealand, which was our big vacation for the year.  Did you know that New Zealand is made up of two halves, a north and a south?  I didn't, until I moved to this hemisphere and became their neighbors.

I think we struck a nice balance of activities, relaxing, sight seeing and stuffing our faces while we were there.  The activities were definitely the highlights of our trip, so I'll go through them in chronological order:

Queenstown: Skyline Gondola (+ buffet dinner with this view)

Queenstown: Shotover Jet

Fox Glacier: Hiking on a glacier

Franz Josef: West Cost Wildlife Centre

Marlborough region: Biking to wineries

Kaikoura: Swimming with dolphins

Kaikoura: Albatross feeding trip

Christchurch: Quake City Museum

Lake Tekapo: Hot Pools

Lake Tekapo: Stargazing tour

Doubtful Sound cruise

Milford Sound cruise

We also did a fair bit of hiking.  I would like a medal for this because some of those hikes were not easy!  Here's a picture of us after walking uphill for 2 straight hours:

New Zealand is, hands down, the most scenic place I've ever been.  It is so different from Australia, which I wasn't expecting at all.  The Lord of the Rings movies were filmed here, due to the scenery which I have deemed "totes beaut".

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An Eating & Drinking Guide to Melbourne

I recently made my second trek to Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, again for the purpose of visiting friends.  Martin and I went in February this year, but this time he stayed home as Laura and I went down to visit our girlfriend Olena who's moved there from Brisbane to do her MBA.  Yay, ladies weekend!

I said this in my previous post but it's worth repeating: Melbourne is not like Australia.  At all.  Or what you think Australia looks/feels like.  It didn't help that there was a cold snap going on, so the warmest day of our 3-day trip was way, way colder than any winter day I have ever felt in Brisbane.  For real!

It is exactly like being in Europe!

The weather, the architecture, how people dress, the cafe culture.  All identical to Europe.

So it's only appropriate that we spend all of our time inside eating, boozing and drinking coffee.  Do as the Europeans do!

Allow me to walk you through everything we ate and drank, to use as a handy pocket guide if you ever go to Melbourne.

Snacks - boozey:
Jetstar airplane

Nothing but class (meat pie + warm white wine) for us

Seven Seeds

Eggs Benedict
French toast with bacon
Baked beans with cornbread
Snacks - sweet:

Diabeetus (part 1)

Snacks - boozey:
Miss Chu

Oops, I forgot to take a pic of the dumplings before diving in
Borsch, Vodka & Tears

Perogies - probably my favorite food ever
Polish beer
Naked for Satan

Salted caramel vodka on the rocks is to die for!
Made ourselves at home

We are budding chefs
Snacks - sweet:
Koko Black

Diabeetus (part 2)
Snacks - boozey:

Love everything about this place, especially the polenta chips
Shanghai Village

The crowds don't lie - cheap 'n cheerful

Cocktails from every decade of the past 200 years
Madame Brussels

Booze is best served in pitcher form
Golden Girls vibe - Miami circa 1985
Snacks - sweet:

Diabeetus (part 3)
Yes, that is a cronut!
Rockwell & Sons

Down home American biscuits and gravy
If you don't gain 5 pounds in Melbourne, you're doing it wrong.

You could spend a lifetime eating and drinking out in Melbourne and not get everywhere worth visiting.  My theory is the cafe/bar/restaurant culture is so finely tuned because the weather is such shite that people have no choice but to seek refuge indoors and stuff their faces. Not that I'm complaining!

Melbourne is great for what it is, but real Australia?  That's back home in Queensland.