Monday, March 28, 2016

Since we’ve travelled about every other weekend since January, we thought we would spend a staycation right here in Melbourne.

For Easter in Australia, people are given off both Good Friday and the Monday after Easter, so hubby had four entire days off from work. What would we do with ourselves?

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that we don’t sit still very often. We keep ourselves busy by exploring new destinations, eating at new restaurants and hitting the road. Unfortunately, we were obligated to take care of some normal day-to-day activities like our American taxes, grocery shopping, doing laundry, calling our parents, etc. However, we still found plenty of time to discover some new things in Melbourne and enjoy our pleasant autumn weather here.

Soaking up Sunshine and Culture Along the Yarra River
Since we live in Southbank, we regularly walk along the Yarra River, which divides the city’s CBD from the other nearby neighborhoods. The river isn’t exactly picturesque as we often see trash floating in the muddy waters. But the Southbank Waterfront is a pleasurable place to enjoy an afternoon walk or drink. We did both.
A local wine and cheese plate at home.
On Sunday, we tried to see the Andy Warhol exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria, but the ticket line was like an hour-long deep. (Note to self: save time and buy the tickets online before April 24th.) Instead, we visited NGV’s collection of 17th-19th century art and the architecture park outside.
For a few laughs, we attended two evening shows as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. We haven’t seen a decent comedy show in a long while (minus watching political-satire comedians John Oliver, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert on television) and already are planning to see a few more shows this coming weekend.

Trying New Restaurants
We love food and decided to try some new-to-us restaurants. For Friday night dinner before the show, we dined at Pastuso, a Peruvian tapas bar along the popular ACDC laneway. This place has been on my must-try list for a while and ended up being one of the better meals we’ve had in Melbourne so far!

We started off with pisco sours to drink and a dish of red snapper ceviche garnished with crunchy, roasted Andean corn kernels. We moved on to coriander tamales with shredded duck confit, melt-in-your-mouth 12-hour roasted beef ribs and chewy fried cassava chips with spicy rocoto mayo. We also tried a dish of 30-day-dry-aged alpaca loin tartare that was mildly spiced and quite flavorful. Llama is delicious! We ended the meal with an intense chocolatey dessert topped with fairy floss (aka…cotton candy).
Celebrating our 6th Wedding Anniversary
On Saturday night, we dressed up a bit and dined at the 160-year-old Melbourne institution known as the Railway Hotel near Port Melbourne. We wanted to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary with a special dinner. This historic hotel-pub is known for its dry-aged steaks, but is definitely not a dressy place as we found ourselves surrounded by sports paraphernalia and TVs showing the current footy game. Still, the service was good and the steaks certainly were some of the best we’ve tried here. As a Midwestern girl, beef is quite sacred to me and these steaks were top notch! You can even select your steak from the counter in front of the grill!
Easter Celebrations
In the days leading up to Easter, I figured out two things about Australia’s Easter traditions. First of all, Aussies are obsessed about hot cross buns! These spiced and fruit-speckled buns are baked in every bakery shop and grocery store around the city. People line up for special ones that might be chocolate glazed, chocolate chipped or filled with ice cream in the middle. I tried a few gluten-free versions and wasn’t impressed while hubby licked his fingers clean after sampling a chocolate hot cross bun from Chez Dre in Southbank.
Secondly, Easter is just another excuse to eat good chocolate. I stopped at KokoBlack and Haigh’s Chocolates, both well-known local chocolate shops that were mobbed with people. I bought a small bagful of chocolate eggs to keep us entertained.
A home-cooked Easter dinner with roasted herbed lamb, basalmic-glazed cippolinis and roasted root veggies.
Lavender Farm in the Countryside
Well, we almost spent the entire weekend in Melbourne. On Easter Monday, two friends invited us for a drive and lunch out in the countryside. We had a good pub meal in Daylesford (about 90-minutes away), wandered around a bit and then spent the afternoon at the Lavendula Swiss Italian Farm in Hepburn Springs. The farm, started in the 1850s by a Swiss-Italian family, features gorgeous French-like lavender fields and manicured gardens. You could simply spend an hour strolling through the heavenly-scented gardens and admire the resident farm animals too.
The café is filled with rustic charm, and there are plenty of lavender-scented delights like champagne, lemonade, buttery scones and chocolate brownies to tempt you. Plus, don’t forget to stop in the farm shop on your departure for lavender soaps, aromatherapy and body products, lavender bundles and sachets and much more.
As you can see, even though we had a “staycation,” we kept ourselves plenty busy here in Melbourne!

How did you spend the Easter weekend where you live?

My Traveling Joys

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Unknown said...

I also live in Southbank, and love the waterfront, although you couldn't pay me enough to go for a swim in the Yarra ;). Also, I stopped into Haigh's this weekend as well for a few chocolates! Happy Easter!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

after a lifetime of traveling, staycations are now the best! it looks like you had a great time.

Joy said...

Hı Laura! İ totally understand...the Yarra looks so dirty to me as well...unfortunately. Haigh's has wonderful chocolates, don't they? Wishing you a belated Happy Easter too!

Joy said...

@Joyce, lol...well I know the staycations aren't a permanent thing for us, but they are nice to do now and then. :)

Joy said...

@Joyce, lol...well I know the staycations aren't a permanent thing for us, but they are nice to do now and then. :)

BacktoBodrum said...

Lovely lavender photo of you