A walk, a bike, a wine

My tram home from Flinders Street to the corner of Swan and Church Street took less then 10 minutes. Bliss. Today I was a local and a tourist at the same time, and it was one of the best days I’ve had in Melbourne yet!

So what if my Saturday night consisted of staying home alone watching an all night marathon of Modern Family? For the first time in a long time, I woke up on a Sunday morning bright and early, ready to take on the world and the only thing on my agenda was a shiny new bike.

Then I thought a crazy thought. What if I walked all the way there? Yup, a whole 5 kilometers! Yes, this is the solution. I won’t feel guilty about not running, nor about the 3,000 wines on Friday night. I’m excited; this will be an adventure.

Walking up from Church Street to Bridge Road my first stop was brunch at Gypsy & Musquito with Anne Marie. Oy what a fancy menu. I ended up with some healthy sounding zucchini and pea fritters, her with avocado smash with delicious mushrooms as we took notice of the grandmother-esque interior. Water served out of an oversized jam jar, mismatched utensils, recycled wooden chairs and is that a backseat of a car converted to a table bench? Mmm smack my lips good, this could become a weekend regular.

We walked on as we digested. North on Church Street then across Victoria Street, passing Little Vietnam. Our voyage took us beyond notorious I Love Pho, then by a large Asian grocer, glazed ducks hanging by their feet in the window and fresh yum cha signs called my name. I made a mental note of where to eat on future visits.

Pushing further on, we strolled along the tram tracks against the exterior of Collingwood, Fitzroy, then Carlton, hugging Carlton Gardens before we were on the edges of the inner city seeking out Elizabeth Street and the Queen Victoria Market. But before we divulged in the shopping mecca, I needed to stake out my potential new bike.

I’ll admit it. I want a hipster bike. I want a vintage looking bike, half beach cruiser, half traditional. I want comfort and color and a basket and bell and to relive my glory days riding my bike to the bar, and work, and everywhere in Hoboken, New Jersey. Lucky for me Reid Cycles was having a sale!

As usual I couldn’t choose. I took the 6-speed for a test drive around the block but still couldn’t make my decision. Dear readers, I need your vote – check out the color options here and vote below:

Queen Victoria Market Elizabeth StreetI still couldn’t call it a day there. Down the block I encountered my first visit to Queen Victoria Market. The locals say that it’s a bit of a tourist haven and market-wise, a bit over-rated. Apparently there are better city markets. But for my first visit I took in all its glory. I thought of potential Christmas presents and food options for future dinner parties. From cheap trinkets and souvenirs to smelly cheese, fresh produce and raw meats I vowed to return on a day where I actually had a shopping agenda. There was nothing but a long line standing between me and the Spanish donuts, aka churros with chocolate dipping sauce. But after zigzagging up and down rows and rows of unneeded goods, there was no other option. Onward to wine.

We walked down Elizabeth Street into the city to little lane ways where we could hide from the rain and warm under outdoor heaters. The little Italian restaurant on vibrant Degraves Street was the answer and after a few, then another few at Hells Kitchen on Centre Place, I let my legs rest from the long walk and finally felt at peace. It was a Sunday after all so we called it a day around 5 pm and caught our respective trams outside Flinders Stations.

Perfect end to the day!

Perfect end to the day!

I didn’t make my bike purchase  today but likely will soon. So I ask again, what color?

Could this be beer heaven?

We crawl through Hells Kitchen and down restaurant row. Although its cold outside, it’s not cold enough for us to see our breath. The glow of Christmas lights outside the boutique restaurants gives a sense of comfort, despite the holiday having gone. Onward, march.

Approaching 10th avenue there isn’t too much around except a vast Hess Station on the corner of 45th street. Taking up nearly a whole block, this immeasurable vicinity sticks out as awkwardly as your grandmother at a gay cabaret. But there is another defining characteristic to this street corner, The Pony Bar.

Stouts, hefeweizen, IPA…hops upon hops upon hops! Glorious days, I think to myself, this has to be the best place on earth. What makes this place so unique is that it serves only craft brews from across the US. That means you may try a Belgian ale or a delicious German wheat but its going to be grown domestically.

I feel like I’m on Family Feud when I scan the large board taking up the back wall behind the bar. Each listing depicts the brewery, beer, and alcohol content (ABV). No need to mention price because they’re all only $5. Try and find another steel like that in Manhattan. I dare ya.

I’m intrigued by the breweries and curious to learn more. Where is Goose Island and what’s their speciality? How about Sly Fox? I’m seeing a theme here that many brewers choose names from animals, uhum, Dog Fish Head.

I take notice of the clock on the wall. It’s permanently stalled at 4:20. I find it no coincidence then that their happy hour which earns patrons $1 off all drafts runs from 4:20-5:20 daily. I approach the bartender and ask for one of their large score sheets. This allows me to keep track of each beer I drink and give it a rating. Once I hit 100 I get a free t-shirt. Clearly obtaining this goal is my latest priority.

I now spend my days daydreaming about the next time I will be able to stop in the Pony Bar, grab a seat at one of their large picnic tables, and dabble with the thought of which beer will catch my fancy. For starters, I cannot get that Cappuccino Stout out of my mind!