Goodbye Melbourne, Hello Again… London

These Two Eyes are on the move again, just a few weeks shy of leaving behind Australia to relocate back to my favourite city in the world, London!

But now this part feels too short; the waiting part. All of the songs I hear sound like home, like Melbourne. The familiarity of my apartment, my commute on my cherry-apple bike, the banter between me and my roommate, the smells and tastes of my favourite restaurants on Bridge Road – they are all reaching out to me saying, don’t go! The red wine and fun times keep flowing though, we stumble a bit but just go with it. Then I smile and remember that this is just another step on an amazing journey.

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Australia is a special place I know I’d like to come back to, even long term again one day. I recognize now the things I’ve taken for granted; the best beaches on the planet, world class food and wine, proximity to remote islands, a refreshing outlook on life, and lifelong friendships.

I’ve learned so much in my close to 4.5 years here and want to always keep these lessons front of mind:

  • Slow down, have fun and stop worrying about getting to the top.
  • The world is both small and accessible, keep traveling, always.
  • Do what you love and don’t settle for anything, or anyone, less. Life is what you make of it and there is no formula to follow.

Making a move is never easy but the outcome is also never regretted. I think it’s because there is so much you can’t anticipate.  When I’m content I associate it with the place I love at the moment, the fun factor. But then the next minute I have a conversation about a 15-year old dying of cancer, and it hits me that life is so short. Do what you want and be happy, yet that is also difficult when family and friends are so far away and traveling to you for a visit isn’t an option. So is happiness Europe on a whim or a swim in Bondi over the weekend? They both win for different reasons.

I’ve always been one to follow through when I say I’m going to accomplish something and this is no different. Australia has given me the opportunity to pursue my dreams time-and-time again and now is just another chance to stay true to what I’ve always said; I want to live in London again one day.

In fact, when I first moved over to Australia I created a bucket list of sorts – check it out, and stay tuned because I will also do the same for this move too. I’m proud to say I’ve ticked off each one and so much more. I’ve snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef 3 times. I’ve visited nearly every major wine region across Australia and New Zealand. I’ve seen and tasted wallaby, kangaroo, crocodile, and a few other interesting creatures. I’ve visited every state in Australia and lived in 2. I’ve watched and learned to play AFL, NRL, croquet and lawn bowls. Visited the outback and red center, various coasts and hinterlands and conquered crazy fears like skydiving and shark diving. And I’m lucky to be a permanent resident and not just a backpacker restricted by timeframes; I got to do it all!

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Australia has also turned me into a food snob. I have a lot of very expensive average dinners. Or maybe that’s just how pretentious my palette has become. I’ve had to learn to fight the urge to eat before I fly, whilst in the lounge, on the plane and after to maintain a tinge of self-control (and moderate weight). And that’s partly because I fly so regularly my obsession and loyalty to the national airline Qantas is not sane.  I’m like that movie Up in the Air – always reaching out for that higher frequent flyer status.

And sometimes I sit on the tram and look at Flinders Station and think how beautiful it is. Melbourne is beautiful, especially at night. I watch the meter tick by as it gets more and more expensive, but it’s not London. It’s not supposed to be. There are trams instead of tubes, different arts, music and entertainment, secret bars and graffiti-clad laneways and then there’s the food and wine, of course. There’s nothing like it.

Flinders station

Flinders Station and passing tram

After seeing old friends in Brisbane this past weekend, I questioned to myself – why am I leaving all the people and things I love? My response was to also be with those I’ve loved first.

I popped back in London in July just to double check. At times it seemed a bit primal. A true melting pot changing neighbourhood by neighbourhood offering something to meet everyone’s wants. I went to sleep that last night thankful for Tommy and Paul and Jake and Dave and the people already in my life. I’m also thankful to show up in a city and call it my own. I have too many of these situations in too many cities: Brisbane, Philadelphia, Melbourne, New York, London. I love getting off the plane in each of these cities knowing I’ve already mastered the place. I know where to go for a beer, a bite and to kill time shopping or exploring.

Last year after returning from London I was nervous of the influence Australia was having on me. It’s almost as if life is too good. It’s a bit of a utopia of sorts. I realized as I tried to explain my dilemma how disillusioned it sounds. In comparison to the US my income is high, it’s safe, there’s minimal crime, you get free stuff on planes and people accept regular travel as a normal part of life. Oh, and they shorten everything they say which fits in perfect with the vocabulary I acquired as a teenager. So, what’s the prob? Right, I actually feel like I’m losing my street smarts. I’ll become unnecessarily cautious in some situations and too aloof or trustworthy in others that require alertness. I assume affluence is standard and have overlooked aspects of my fortune. This has caused me to recognize how removed from the society I grew up with I actually am.

So do I really just love London because it was my first? It was my first time abroad, my first time living overseas, and my first time traveling alone to new countries. But that’s what happens when you fall in love with a city at 13 years-old.  It will always be ‘my’ city. People respond in shock when I tell them it’s my favourite city in the world. I’ve lived there at 19 and 22. What will it be like 10 years later? American accents are everywhere – I won’t be unique anymore. I won’t have people asking every day where I’m from or how long I’m staying. That is my life on repeat, always asking ‘what’s next’ and despite a bitter sweet goodbye to Australia, I’m more excited than ever to begin life again in London.

I can’t wait to visit old haunts and make new ones. To sit in a dodgy pub with friends I’ve yet to meet and those I know will help me transition. To travel like a big kid all of Europe on weekends and evolve my palette even further on French and Italian wines. To fall in love with boys with funny accents, achieve success in my new international job and to live somewhere where friends and family can and will come visit. There is still so much unknown to get excited about.

Recently, standing in an old warehouse converted into a music venue in a trendy Melbourne neighbourhood watching the Brisbane band The Jungle Giants, I drunkenly smiled a bit and said, “I want the whole time to be awesome, not just the last 20 years.” And so here I go, it continues…

Lisa Vecchio, Tower Bridge, London

Lisa Vecchio, Tower Bridge, London

Top 5 New Wine Learning’s From the WSET Level 1 Course

In my effort to become a professional wine drinker I’ve decided I’ll need to step up my game. I’ve been to nearly every major wine region in Australia and New Zealand, have visited vineyards in the US and South Africa, and next month I’ll tackle the ever famous Bordeaux and often overlooked vineyards of coastal Croatia.

But recently I accepted, with increased encouragement (i.e. nagging) from my mother, that a wine qualification outside of the many wine festivals and events I attend throughout the year, in addition to my far too regular consumption within my own apartment, would really provide the deeper understanding that I need – both as an enthusiast and one with interest in working with the industry.

Last weekend I completed the internationally recognized Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 Award in Wines (QCF). I walked away reassured of my pre-existing knowledge of wine varietals, tasting, pouring, storing and food pairing. However, there were definitely a few new things I learned as well. And while I’m pretty confident that I passed the exam, I’m still eagerly waiting for my old-school pencil-filled-in-scantron test to be sent to the UK, then the results mailed back to Australia, so that I can receive an email notifying me that I have passed and then I will go to the Wine House to pick up my certificate and lapel pin.

WSET: Level 1 Course

WSET: Level 1 Course @ The Wine House: Melbourne

Top 5 new wine learning’s from the WSET Level 1 Course:

  1. A Champagne bottle should be tilted at a 30-degree angle and you should twist the bottle, not the cork when opening.
  1. Rinse my wine glasses thoroughly before pouring wine. I’ve never previously considered the affects of detergent on the wine flavors.
  1. I don’t quite have the whole food/wine-pairing thing down as well as I thought and should practice more on how acid, sweetness, spiciness, salt and bitterness affect the taste of wine.
  1. Confusion between Burgundy (pinot noir) and Bordeaux (cabernet sauvignon and merlot) is now clarified. Great timing since I had already booked my trip to Bordeaux.
  1. Sauternes is a sweet white wine I’ve never heard of but will likely try while in Bordeaux very soon.

Next up on my list is completing WSET® Level 2 Award Wines and Spirits (QCF) to learn more in depth knowledge on wine making, wine regions, varietals and food pairing. The challenge here is the astronomical cost associated with it so you could say I’m open to sponsorship. Wink wink. If you’re interested in where classes are offered in your region, visit the WSET website. And if you’re ever looking to share a great vintage, you know who to turn to!

3-Day Pressed Juice Cleanse

The evening before I started my pressed juice cleanse I had nightmares. I dreamt about being tempted by chocolate, steak, waffles and cold beer which made me fail at the task of staying ‘clean’. I agonized about the unattainable. Not only because I was on a strict no-solids, no-alcohol, no-caffeine regiment, but also because those delicacies I fantasized about also weren’t available to be purchased or consumed from my office, where I unfortunately was in my dream. Plus, I don’t even like waffles.

My decision to cleanse was fast and without waver. Coming back from a long New Year’s celebratory weekend in Sydney my body felt overworked and screamed for a rest, both mentally and physically. I even contemplated running off to a wellness retreat for a few days, and a few thousands of dollars of debt. Luckily once I discovered I didn’t have the transport means to get there I came to my senses and started brainstorming on something much more sensible albeit my first time ever going 3 full days without a solid meal. Others may not deem that as sensible.

I chose Pressed Juices simply because they are a Melbourne based company and they made the whole experience easy for me. After a bit of research, I felt confident that I would get the right balance of nutrients to sustain off solids for 3 days at the same time do my body some well deserved recovery and rejuvination. The process was simple:

  1. Choose your cleanse: Basic, Advanced, Master
  2. Choose for 3, 4, or 5 days
  3. Choose 6 of 8 juices to consume daily. The options online were presented from a drop down list in a calculated way so that from whichever option I chose I had the right balance of fruit, veg, nuts and nutrients in the next.
Pressed Juice: Almond Mylk

Pressed Juice: Almond Mylk

Juice 1: Black Lemonade – pre-selected (Alkaline Water, Lemon, Activated Coconut Charcoal, Cayenne) Juice 2: Green 6 (Spinach, Cucumber, Silverbeet, Cos Lettuce, Pineapple, Lime, Mint) Juice 3: Earth 3 (Beetroot, Apple, Lemon, Ginger) Juice 4: Green 2 (Spinach, Cucumber, Lettuce, Celery, Kale, Parsley, Apple, Lemon) Juice 5: Earth 5 (Carrot, Orange, Pineapple, Celery, Lemon, Turmeric) Juice 6: Zest 3 (Grapefruit, Mint) Juice 7: Save the Date Almond Mylk (Filtered Water, Almonds, Vanilla Bean, Sea Salt) Juice 8: Slippery Elm – pre-selected (Alkaline Water, Licorice Root, Marshmallow Root, Chia Seeds, Slippery Elm Bark Powder, Cinnamon)

  1. Pick up (with 8 stores to choose from in the Melbourne area and apparently a pop up coming to Richmond soon!) or Ship for an additional charge. The shipments were made to my office in two installments containing a day and half’s worth of juice per delivery. Because they have no added preservatives and are unpasteurized, the daily delivery meant that I knew that what I was drinking was fresh.
  2. Start juicing!
Pressed Juice: Delivery

Pressed Juice: Delivery

Day 1: I woke up hungry from a light dinner the night before in which I’m still unsure was a good thing, or set me up for success. I was excited and eager to try each juice, anticipating one before the next in the hopes that it would be equally as tasty as the last, or in the cases where it wasn’t my favorite, at least better. As the 6 primary juices are meant to be consumed over 12 hours, I found myself constantly checking the clock every two hours in anticipation of my next juice. In fact, I’d even argue that it made me more productive at work as I rewarded myself in between small tasks and projects.

Around mid-day I was relieved to know the Earth juices tend to have more fruit than veg and the sugar intake was most definitely welcome. Coming down from Earth 3 I started to feel a slight light headedness. By Earth 5 I was starving. I managed to maintain my composure and stand by my cause at dinner time while my roommate cooked the most enchanting smelling pasta.

I found Zest 3 absolutely refreshing and the almond mylk interesting to say the least. By the last juice it was nearly 10 pm and I was spent. I must have started too late in the morning as I felt like I had been consuming all day and a bit bloated with water weight. I went to bed hoping to feel lighter in the morning.

Day 2: I approached the second day with the same amount of enthusiasm as the first and was really ready to do this thing. I didn’t feel in the slightest that I would break. Two juices in however my tummy gave a rumble.

Throughout the afternoon I truly got to understand what the meaning of ‘cleanse’ was all about. By late afternoon I felt back to ‘normal’ in juicing terms and looked forward to one juice to the next. Simple mentions of solid food items and the normal task of walking by a restaurant made me talk in detail about the ‘could be’ but I knew it was all in my head. Things became a bit awkward that evening when I went to a friend’s house and BYO’d my juice to his dinner gathering, strong and proud.

Day 3: Despite not being able to finish my Slippery Elm the night before, I woke up hungry again. However, overall for the last day I felt great! While my intention wasn’t to use this as mechanism for dieting, overall I felt lighter and tighter and I anticipate over the next few days as I transition back to solid food the water bloating will reduce.

As the afternoon wore on I noticed that my intervals between juices were getting shorter. The hunger pains were definitely increasing, but I also wonder if it was my subconscious knowing I was getting closer and closer to ‘real’ food.

During  my first two days I felt the need to keep my juicing a secret in the office but by day 3 I had a few converts convinced. On the last day I joined my friend to Hawthorn’s Pressed Juices store as he wanted to try it out on a one day trial. Shopkeeper Morgan did an awesome job explaining the various cleanses and juice combinations and for a second I was tempted to even go for day 4.

However, going to bed knowing that I completed this awesome, healthy challenge made me feel empowered and gave me the want to continue to think more healthily about how I approach my eating and drinking habits – even if it is just for a short time before I get distracted again.  Baby steps are best but I will definitely take Morgan’s recommendation of trying a 3 day cleanse seasonally.

Favorite Juices: Earth 3, Zest 3 and Black Lemonade
Least Favorite Juice: Slippery Elm, Green 2
Pressed Juices: Thanks for such an awesome experience. One tip, your bottles are so hard to open butI look forward to seeing you move from plastic to glass in the near future, and in Richmond soon!

Lisa Vecchio with Pressed Juice

Lisa Vecchio with Pressed Juice

How I accidentally became an AFL fan

Okay I’ll admit. I like AFL.

The revelation came to me last night during the semi-finals of Hawthorn vs. Port Adelaide. My eyes were focused, my pulse was racing and the comments coming from my mouth were volatile. In fact, I never anticipated when entering the dark, unassuming warehouse of Moon Dog Craft Brewery that I would witness a large screen projecting the second most awaited game of the season on its back brick wall. Hipsters don’t like football. But Melbourne hipsters do.

And that’s what I think makes it all more appealing. It’s a game like nothing else; call it football or footy or Aussie Rules. It’s a sport that combines the skills of soccer and rugby with a very visually stimulating set of athletes – tall and lean, toned arms and quick speed.


My second live AFL game at the MCG

Maybe it’s the fact that Melbourne breeds AFL. There are currently 18 teams in the Australian Football League (AFL), half of which are based in Victoria and around Melbourne. It’s a bit of a religion, and during football season you better know which team you support.

I’ll fess up though, I don’t have a team. Nearly a year and a half living in Melbourne and I just can’t choose. I live in Richmond, yet previously lived with a Geelong supporter, casually dated a guy who went for Essenden, but then again Hawthorn is number one. There was also that one time that I partied with a handful of the boys from the Sydney Swans, my other housemate went for Fremantle, and I used to live in Brisbane so have a soft spot for the Lions even though they aren’t very good. You can now see my predicament.

I can only blame this on the boys. Living with two faithful AFL fanatics for a year seemed to have influenced more than I would have thought. During football season our townhouse became an AFL haven. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. From watching countless matches I learned about goals, handballs and kicks. I could associate names and numbers with those players I deemed as hot and which teams they played for.

What pushed me over the edge was my voluntary entrance into the work tipping (betting) pool that lasted the entire season. I’m proud to say I came in 4th place, which is pretty darn good for a first timer. Because there was potential to win a few hundred bucks, I even surprised myself by checking the scores on my phone over the weekend and ensured I got my bets in on time while traveling overseas.

The best part about the madness of football appreciation in Melbourne is that Richmond, the neighborhood I live in, is where the action takes place. The MCG (Melbourne Cricket Grounds) is the 13th largest stadium in the world, and can host 100,024 people. Because there’s a guaranteed game every weekend during season, along with the fact that all of the pre-game bars are a short walk from my residence, whether I want it or not, I’m surrounded by AFL hype. Plus, the large stadium lights are now an iconic symbol of what I’ll always remember Melbourne by.

Melbourne Skyline

Melbourne Skyline and the MCG from my old rooftop

The biggest game of the year, the Grand Final, is scheduled for this coming Saturday. And while I think it would be an experience of a lifetime to attend, the cost for the ticket is what is dissuading me. At the least, I can rest assured that instead of being turned off by the madness that is Grand Final Day at the MCG in Richmond, I welcome the sport and all that comes along with it.

Sneaky Melbourne

Melbourne is a sneaky city. There are a plethora of bars, restaurants, pop up stores and hidden secrets behind unmarked doors, down unsuspecting stairways and concealed within graffiti-clad, ‘street art’ painted laneways.

Last weekend I was on a personal mission to get out and about. After spending more weekends away from this city then in it, the bars of Melbourne were calling.

A Friday night in the city is great for after work drinks while suit-donning professionals let off steam after a long workweek. Making our way across Bourke Street, Wes and I found ourselves staring at an obvious office building. Despite the address saying this is where our sought after destination resided, it was only until I noticed the sign within the stairwell pointing us up three flights of stairs that we arrived at Madame Brussels.

Madame Brussels

Madame Brussels

Self described “a rather fancy terrace and public house,” this cute rooftop bar specializes in cocktails and punches and overlooks the eastern side of the city. The inside parlor resembles your grandmothers back garden, with faux grass carpet and flower patterned seat cushions. Although the menu and branding is over-the-top cheesy pink, and the limited food menu wasn’t too impressive, this is the perfect place for a girl’s soiree to sip cocktails and gossip out on the all white balcony in the summer months.

A colleague recommended our next destination – down a laneway in Chinatown, the door more or less unmarked aside from the small coat of arms of Berlin (bear) sign above the black paint. Up one-flight of steps takes you to a door and a glowing green doorbell. After being greeted by a hostess you will either get seated in posh West Berlin, with leather couches and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling or sinister East Berlin, neon lights and all. Being our first visit to Berlin Bar, we opted for the bar stools over the bunk beds in East Berlin and chose our respective beverages from the list of German imports.

Berlin Bar

Berlin Bar

On Saturday afternoon the outdoors were calling so I headed back into the city to meet a friend at the James Squire Brewhouse. I was excited to order a paddle and try five different brews but easily became disappointed as the service was slow and menu options overpriced. After a few pints of their One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale it was time to move on.

As we were craving another pub vibe it was off to the Sherlock Holmes Inn down unsuspecting Collins Street. Dark and rustic with exposed wood beams and Holmes paraphernalia, the atmosphere was a cozy alternative as the sun went down. Best yet, they had on tap all classic British beers that I haven’t tasted in years such as Kilkenny, Hob Goblin and Old Speckled Hen.

Sherlock Holmes Inn

Sherlock Holmes Inn

On with the bar hopping theme it was time to try something different, Robot Sushi. Hidden down a laneway this Japanese bar is a nerd’s paradise. Specializing in Japanese beers and sake, with authentic Japanese bartenders and all, the small bar is decorated with Godzilla posters, fun robot paintings and classic video games. Tuesday nights they even do free anime screenings.

Sticking with my new tradition of brunch and a walk through a new neighborhood on Sundays, I ventured on foot through the shopping haven of Chapel Street in South Yarra, onwards window-shopping through Prahran and Windsor, and finally ended up along the Esplanade of St. Kilda.

St. Kilda Esplanade

St. Kilda Esplanade

Although the beaches of St. Kilda aren’t the best, it’s still reassuring to know that they’re just a tram ride away. Sipping wine over looking the beach and listening to live music at Republica, it really got me pumped for the summer months approaching and all outdoor areas all over this town.

Luna Park, St. Kilda

Luna Park, St. Kilda

Its no wonder that Melbourne was just voted the number one city to live in the world for the third year in a row!

Goodbye Brisbane

Southbank skyline

Australians say Brisbane is a big country town. Despite being the 3rd largest city in the country, its small town feel is what makes it fit perfectly in Queensland culture. It’s the sort of city where your bound to know someone who knows someone – where its easy to get wrapped up in the social scene – be invited to opening launches of new restaurants, follow a local band from their early days to making it national, and enjoy the sunshine and moderate weather year round. It’s as far removed from New York as one could imagine and after I swore up and down I’d never love again – both London and New York are unbeatable to me – I find myself with a tear and sorrow saying goodbye to my home in Brisbane.

I’ve fallen in love with New Farm – a neighborhood of trendy, delicious cafes, a luscious park with river views, and thriving nightlife at my doorstep. It’s the type of neighborhood that I like to say that if I didn’t live in New Farm, I’d desperately be envious of those who live in New Farm.

New Farm

Sure, the CBD (Central Business District) is minimal, and I can walk from one end of the city to the other in an hour – but on these Sunday afternoon ventures I would come across giant lizards called Goannas blocking my path, weekend markets selling trinkets and fresh produce, and healthy people just enjoying the outdoors. So what if I was the only one in the park tanning in my bathing suit – only NYC dwellers know that when there is no beach or pool – a park makes the perfect spot to show some skin.

I’ve left my heart in my local The Scratch – although its not local to my apartment, it is to my work and the boys work hard to make sure that my pallet is tempted by craft beers from all across Australia. I’ve left my head at nearly every bar in the Valley – from the backyard of Rics to the mismatched couches of Kerbside. I’ve left my stomach to the avocado smash and roasted tomatoes of Ponycat – and to the pork belly fries of their sister Kettle & Tin.

The place I called home for the last two years is no longer. My bright blue kitchen, convenient en suite and balcony overflowing with plants now are someone else’s. My Brisbane family, Sam and Jake and Quentin will always be special to me, and although I can no longer call them my flat mates, I know that we will be lifelong friends – along with all the other beautiful people who have entered my life these last two years.

It’s time for me to say goodbye Brisbane, hello Melbourne.



Brisness to Melbourne

Some graffiti off of Flinders

Stop being so secretive Melbourne! With your graffiti-laden laneways that just scream “I’m soooo cool!” Well, damnit Melbourne you are! Now stop showing off your multi-culturism, excellent public transportation, and ethnic pots melting. I get it already! I get that there are people having fun down some secret ally that I  have no idea exists, at a bar behind a turn next to a statue above a lamppost. The problem is, I want to be in the know so so bad and you’re rubbing in the fact that I’m just a clueless tourist!

Flinders Station & passing tram

For years Melbourne has been on the list of must visit cities, however, I’ve always been a bit nervous that I’d fall in love with it and never want to return to where I came from. A bit of  a habit of mine. So off I went, a little bit of business, and little bit of pleasure. Am I rushing to move? Not quite yet, but give me a couple more goes with some people who are actually in the know and you may be hearing more from me about the 2nd biggest city in Australia.

So obviously on the quick two-hour jaunt down south I wrote down a few things I wanted to accomplish while in Melbourne:

  • Manicure
  • Laneways (Alleyways)
  • Penguin Island (Prince Phillip Island)
  • Wineries (Yarra Valley)
  • Wes (Friend from Splendour)
  • Street art!

I did you a favor and decoded some for you. Now, I guess the only things on that list I did not accomplish were seeing the penguins (awww, I know!) and going to Yarra Valley. Don’t worry; I made up for it partying with Wes till the wee hours the night before. Figured, hang out with someone “in the know” and save the penguins for later. I’m sure they’ve been there for hundreds of years.

I also wrote down a couple of general Australian observations that have nothing whatsoever to do with Melbourne. Firstly, snakes! Yea snakes! They’re gummy candy (or what they like to call lollies here, whatever). And they’re just like everywhere. All the time people are like oh hey, do you want a snake? And I just laugh and go heck yea, throw me a snake!

Also, when was the last time you remember getting served a full course meal, with booze, on an economy domestic flight? I mean, I’m pretty sure Continental even got rid of those cute little turkey sandwiches that gave them such a competitive advantage. Gave me a reason to rack up the frequent flyer points at least. But in all seriousness, it’s been ages. But Quantas however, the official Australian airline, bangs out meals like nobody’s business. Full dinner, beer and wine, and a Cadbury thank you very much. Just saying.

And I’ll leave you with one more before heading back to Melbourne. Taxis. You sit in the front. Yea, weird right? Like, they get mad if you don’t. But what’s also really neat, is they have a system called Cab Charges. So for work, if I need to take a cab anywhere in Australia they give me these tickets that act like credit cards and it automatically bills the company. Sweet.

So I spent my first free night in Melbourne after a long day of giving presentations roaming around Degraves Street. It’s a cute laneway lined with tons of cafes, outdoor seating, and just had a vibe about it. So…everyone gets it, right, that the farther south you go the colder it is, farther north hotter etc. I live in the north, Melbourne is very far south. But! Nobody in Melb seems to care and they all just chill outside in a very European way and smoke their faces off. So, I found myself a spot in the corner of Degraves Espresso Bar, had myself a glass of Sauv Blanc from Yarra Valley and ordered the stuffed octopus. Think I surprised the cute red-haired waiter with my accent. Oops, happens sometimes.

Cafes and such

I then wrote down another list of things to do, most likely forgetting that I had already done that the day before.

  • Take pics of sweet street art
  • Make local friends and learn the laneways
  • Love this city!

Center Place

Crossing Flinder’s Lane, Degraves turns into Centre Place and it’s even cuter! Tons of boutiques resting next to cafes. A wrong turn, some graffiti, another laneway. The following evening I tried a different route after scouting around all day, and ended up at the Crown Casino. Gorgeous interior with high-end fashion and dining. I ended up in the food court eating Mousahka (huge Greek influence in this city – second largest Greek population in the world next to real Greece) before heading off to a backpackers bar where I befriended Gabe and Sara and ended up at a bar called Trash Bar in the middle of the city with their dreadlocked friend named Rabbit. Nice to meet you, time for me to head out.

A view of Melbourne from St. Kilda

Thankfully Saturday arrived, I had a lovely sleep in, and then Wes, one of our besties from Splendour in the Grass whisked me off to St. Kilda. Now that’s where I want to live! Along the coast, streets lined with palm trees and high-rises overlooking the ocean I just thought, so California. Although it was a bit chilly out, we walked along the water, and I got so excited at the thought of spring approaching, and it has. Goodbye longest winter of my life!

Wes walking the beach

We dined at the Beachcomber and again I was caught off guard with the odd coupling of seafood and Greek dishes that seem to be so apparent in this city. We munched over tapas and wine catching up about the cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and traveling. Wes and his flat mates later had me over dinner for lamb lollipops and kangaroo skewers. I didn’t even know it was kangaroo until after. And I didn’t mind. It was good! Wes then showed me his local scene out in Collingwood where we danced and laughed and mingled and danced until my cabby dropped me off in the city as the sun was rising. Needless to say, I didn’t go see the penguins on Sunday. This was also the day I found out that Beyonce was pregnant. Global news here people!

Wes, a drag queen, and me out in Collingwood

Monday through Wed back to the grind at work. After dining at the work event Tuesday a friend took me to the scariest bar in the world! For realz. So there it is, another laneway floor to ceiling in graffiti. Another turn, and then another. At this point I’m saying, “This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about! No idea, I would have had no freaking idea!”

Yea, well so Croft Bar has this whole mad-scientist/institute theme. There are test tubes and odd décor all over. No biggie. We’re pretty much the only people in the bar, and Ryan the young bartender is chatting to us about crazy cocktail mixology stuff and local beers. But then, I have to pee. HOLY SHNIKES! So, you go up these stairs and it looks like an insane asylum. In the ladies room, there is even like a hospital bed and stuff. I’m getting the heck out of here! Like seriously, I need to be accompanied to the bathroom the next time around. And even better, apparently there are multiple floors in this place with different themes. Not super cheesy like Jekyll and Hyde in NYC, but just super scary.

The ladies bathroom

So I guess the best part was, aside from me being totally freaked out, was when we asked Ryan if we could take a pic of him he posed with his to wrists out in front of him, facing down and said “I pose like this because I have a baby roo at home.” I gave a Whhhhattttt! And he responded, “yea, I’m way Aussie mate!” and I think that is the best quote I’ve ever heard.

So I just flipped my head over, took a pair of scissors, and straight up just cut my hair. Just like that. Pause. It sounds way more dramatic than it actually was. It was like an inch. Not Brittany style or anything. I could feel myself starting to get scissor happy so I scooped the contents up from my bathroom sink, and moved on to dinner. I don’t think anyone will even notice. But that’s okay, they aren’t supposed to. Shhh.

Note to self: don’t eat fish curry while sipping pink grapefruit juice.