Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Daytrip from Melbourne

When I heard about a local festival featuring tulips and Turkish food, I knew we had to attend! It's like this event was created just for us!

Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, the Tesselaar Tulip Festival, now in its 62nd year, features more than half a million tulips and a million other spring bulbs planted on 25 acres of farmland. The festival runs through October 6th and includes an upcoming food, wine and jazz as well as Irish weekends. There’s something for everybody here!

Since we lived in Istanbul for three years, I took countless photos of the Turkish lale (tulips). I ended up doing the same thing at the Tesselaar Festival, although my husband insisted that I surely had enough tulip photos in my collection. Never enough, I told him!
We arrived right as the doors opened at 10 a.m. so we could beat the crowds and have better tulip photos sans people, of course. I was slightly disappointed more tulips weren’t open yet, but apparently the Victoria region's winter had been longer and colder than usual this year. No worries. The festival workers gave us two free late-bloomer tickets to return again.

Seeing row after row of colorful blooming tulips is certainly a feast for the eyes, don’t you think?
There once was an old woman that lived in a shoe…but I don’t consider myself old!
This wooden shoe is recorded to be the largest in the world and was carved by Aussie-born and internationally renowned chainsaw artist, Robbie Bast.
By now, you may be wondering what does Turkey and tulips have in common.

Well, tulips are native to Turkey and Central Asia and were brought to Holland in the 16th century. Because of the growing popularity of Turkish tulips, Holland experienced a period known as “Tulipmania” during the 17th century with excessive tulip prices and oversupply which resulted in market crashes. Then, during 1718-1730, known as the “Tulip Era” under the Ottoman reign of Sultan Ahmed III, tulips became an important symbol in Turkish arts, folklore and daily life. The lale symbol is still found all over Turkish ceramics and textiles.

After taking plenty of tulip photos, we wandered over to the Turkish side of the festival where a live band was playing. The only Turkish word I could grasp was “şey,” which is the American equivalent of saying “like” all the time.

Next, I found a Turkish woman from Izmir demonstrating how to do ebru, which is the art of creating patterns with colored pigments in a pan of oily water and then transferring this pattern to paper. I paid 10aud and she helped me create my own vibrant masterpiece.
By now, we were hungry so we wandered off to check out the Turkish options for food. The gözleme stand was calling my name. The Turkish family from Ankara making these spinach-cheese filled flatbreads (or pancakes) were thrilled to speak with me in my bir az Türkçe. The only item missing was the pickled veggies that are usually served alongside like at the Turkish pazar.
Since we shared the gözleme, we were still hungry and soon were tempted by the tantalizing smells coming from the nearby Adana kebab grill. We shared the kebab and an ayran to drink while we soaked up the spring sunshine and planned where we wanted to go hiking.
Even though I haven’t lived in Turkey for more than two years now, I still miss it and I think she will forever be a part of my soul. At least, this Turkish weekend and the blooming tulips brought back so many wonderful memories of my former home.
Am I really in Australia? The festival also featured free tractor rides around the farm and a sculpture garden.

My Traveling Joys

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

wow...what a fun festival.i would have loved going to it.

Joy said...

@Joyce, Thx! Anything with food is bound to be a good time! :)

jenny@atasteoftravel said...

The tulips reminded me of our visit to Keukenhof, just out of Amsterdam. How lucky that you can return and see them again and indulge in more wonderful Turkish food

Unknown said...

all tulips look amazing! I used to live in the Netherlands and spring there could be really lovely!

Julia said...

Ahhh, you can never tire of tulips, can you? So beautiful - and great you go to taste and experience a bit of Turkey over there in Australia, too. The gözleme certainly looks the part. :)

Joy said...

@Jenny, I would love to visit Kekenhof someday! The photos I've seen look gorgeous! :)

Joy said...

@Traveling Rockhopper, thanks! We'd like to visit the Netherlands as well someday! :)

Joy said...

@Julia, Never! The gözleme was certainly the highlight for me! ;)

benilhalk said...

Turkish food!! I just love it. There are various LA venues that offer so yummy Turkish food. Whenever I visit my favourite restaurant I always order Turkish food. I think you must try their Turkish cuisines!