Getting down to biz after getting down in Australia – just returned from a fantastic holiday to Sydney, Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast. Traveling always makes one reflect and appreciate. Because Australia is super expensive (even though our dollar is just below theirs, everything is about 2 or 3 times the price of what we pay here…eek!) it really hit home and appreciate what a qualitative lifestyle the average Canadian leads for what it costs. Thought I’d launch my blog and write about what I loved most about Australia.
1. the beaches and surf culture
The beaches were spotless (as were the streets) and what’s there not to love about watching surfers play with waves? Swimming in the salt water feels like a natural high.
2. coffee culture
Melbourne must rival any big Italian city for number of espresso machines per person. In fact, I never saw a drip ‘Bunn’ machine – every coffee was made on an espresso machine. A ‘flat black’ was $4.50.
3. aboriginal art
I gained a new appreciation for Australian aboriginal art. Pattern making, earth palette, primal: beautiful.
4. the National Gallery of Victoria http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/
Incredible gallery. Fantastic building scale, and a wonderful collection of old and contemporary painting – and also aboriginal art, arts and crafts design from deco and Bauhaus.
5. the trees
Of course being in the southern hemisphere it’s easy to be awed by new shapes. But the trees were unbelievable in the botanical gardens of Melbourne and Sydney, and also on the streets….most tree lined with a density you don’t see here. It seems Hydro hasn’t done their slaughter there, and it made me realize that how little we are able to ride or walk down a street that is heavily shaded by majestic trees…
6. Sydney Opera House
This Sydney icon is multi-layered, wonderfully positioned so the ferries ride by it, and is connected to the botanical gardens. A delight! It’s made of off white brick…so has a mosaic feel. Much more interesting up close.
7. Melbourne transit system
Melbourne is sprawl city, but has a very complicated and efficient tram system that makes Toronto’s look like kindergarten. Plus they offer a bus tour for tourists around the city with 13 different on and off stops – for free. How cool is that?
8. kangaroos and parrots!
It was a magical experience to see my ‘first’ kangaroos quietly gazing outside our room at the Coolum resort. And to see a joey in the pouch was indescribable.
9. Mornington and Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
Billy and I took day trips to these two wine areas and were really impressed. You can read his report on www.billysbestbottles.com shortly. In general I learned that Australian reds as a whole are not as cloying and over-oaked as we have been lead to believe in the Ontario market – there is a lovely sensibility of restraint combined with abundance. This fall the LCBO is doing a big Pinot Noir blast from Mornington, so check them out.
10. corkage charge in Melbourne
Only $6.50 to buy a bottle of wine and take it to a restaurant. Made dining affordable, or more affordable (it was very expensive to eat out – appetizers were in the $20′s, mains $35-50 and desserts about $17)
11. Sydney & Melbourne: blend of old and new world
For some idiotic reason I thought Australia was ‘young’ and more like Vancouver. Wrong. It was more like Quebec City meets California. The best of both worlds.
12. Bondi Beach cliff walk
Bondi Beach is a little beach community outside Sydney, and it was fantastic. A big bay that often on Sundays attracted 25,000 people. Full of surfers and beautiful bodies. There’s a long cliff walk that takes you several km south, with breathtaking views of rocks, surf and aquamarine colour, with lots of picnic spots and beaches to stop along the way. The rocks are often of sandstone with patterns and carved crevices that were like contemporary sculpture. Divine.
13. clean streets and little advertising
I never saw garbage on the street (seriously) – nor begging or dog crap. Also the roads and buses were not littered with signs and videos – unlike Toronto. It was refreshingly calm. Bravo.
14. flying executive class with Air Thai and Air Asiana
Part of the fun was flying with these two airlines that put Air Canada to shame. Fantastic service!