Sunday, February 22, 2015

Family in Melbourne!

Peter and I have had a great time showing my mom and grandparents around Melbourne these past few weeks. Here are some highlights so far:
Upon arriving in Melbourne we took my family to the Prahran Market, near their hotel in South Yarra, to pick up some groceries. They enjoyed looking at all the fresh produce and we even met a butcher who knew of Northfield, Minnesota! It's rare that we run into someone who can locate Minnesota on a map, let alone identify a small town. 
Mom, Grandpa and Grandma waiting for the tram on the way to our apartment. 
Mom and Grandpa enjoying drinks outside- something they can't do in February at home! 
Introducing my mom to the greatest dessert in Melbourne- and that's saying something- flourless chocolate cake at Adriano Zumbo. Their hotel is right around the corner, and I may or may not have chosen it for this reason alone. 
Classic tourist photo in front of Flinders Street Station. 
Mother/daughter selfie while waiting for the Visitor Shuttle.
The Visitor Shuttle was a great deal. For only $5/day you could hop on and off at any of the 13 stops around the city. We got off at the Queen Victoria Market and wandered around for a few hours, picking up some souvenirs along the way. 
Testing out the cupcakes at my favorite place, Little Cupcakes. Still trying to figure out how to make "cupcake tasting" a career. 
Grandpa, me, and Mom on the Lock Bridge over the Yarra River. 
View from the 88th floor of the Eureka Skydeck. You can pretty much see the whole city and beyond from this vantage point, so it's a great place to bring visitors! 
My grandpa at the Eureka Skydeck (and a Harry Potter doppelgänger in the background). 
We took my mom to LuxBite, a dessert shop in South Yarra. 
This was on Valentine's Day, so we of course ordered the heart cake. 
We visited St. Kilda Beach on a particularly hot day. 
We moved to the shade pretty quickly! 
Sitting under a palm tree on the beach- not a bad way to spend the day. 
We enjoyed a cheese plate and some fries at a beachfront restaurant. 
It was too hot NOT to be in the shade! 
The view from the balcony of my family's hotel in South Yarra, looking toward the ocean.

White Night Melbourne

Yesterday was Melbourne's White Night festival, essentially a collection of dance, music, and art exhibits throughout the city. The festival started at 7 pm and continued all night until 7 am this morning. Peter, my mom and I headed downtown around 7:30 pm to check it out. Here is my mom waiting for the train in South Yarra: 
It was ungodly hot yesterday, so even after the sun set the temperature still hovered around 90 degrees. I don't think that deterred many people though, as the streets were packed. For my Minnesota readers, it was like the state fair and then some. 
Crowds are pretty much my least favorite thing ever, so we headed straight to the somewhat-less-crowded river area. My mom and I took a selfie while waiting for the first performance to start:
As the sun started to set these huge inflatable lilly pads lit up in various changing colors: 
This particular exhibit was Indian themed, complete with Bollywood dancers performing on a floating stage: 
Close up of the dancers on the stage. A boat pulled them up and down the river as they performed- I was morbidly rooting for someone to fall off to add a bit of drama to the performance, but no such luck.  

We then headed toward the Wonderland exhibit on Flinders Street across from Federation Square. There were colorful animated projections on each of the buildings:
St. Paul's Cathedral was the highlight of the night. It was illuminated in all kinds of colorful designs accented by organ music. The whole thing was somewhat eerie and gothic but really awesome! The line to get in was long and it was extremely hot inside but totally worth it. 
Looking toward the back of the church 
The organ 
The front of the church 
As we were exiting, the colors on the ceiling changed to green 
Leaving the church, I got a good view of the crowd in front of Flinders Street Station. Apparently last year the station was lit up and I was kind of disappointed they didn't do it again this year! We kept walking until we got to Brunetti and stopped for some dessert. We then continued down to the Bourke Street Mall where there were independent films playing in the street, complete with couches. 
We circled back around to the side of Flinders Street Station, where there were some Frozen (I think?) projections on the side. Sorry if I incorrectly identified the animation here...I pretty much hate all things animated/cartoon and haven't seen any of these movies.
We decided to call it a night around 11 pm and headed into the station. We could only make it halfway up our platform, however, due to the crowds. It quickly became clear that we weren't going to make it onto the next train, or the one after that, so we headed over to our apartment to catch the tram back to South Yarra instead. We dropped my mom off around 1 am and then got back on the train to Flinders Street. The crowds had not dissipated and once the train stopped and the doors opened, tons of people came stampeding in so fast that we weren't able to get off the train! We got pushed back about 10 feet into the aisle. It was my worst nightmare coming to life. The train left before we could make our way through the crowd to the doors and we rode it 5 stops in the wrong direction before we were able to get off. So we finally got off, waited about 20 minutes, and then caught the next train back into the city. This time, we got off at the less-crowded Parliament Station on the east side of the CBD and walked home. By this time it was about 2 am and the crowds on Flinders Street had thinned out a bit. 
Aside from almost getting trampled while
attempting to exit the train, we had a really fun night and were glad we got to see the White Night festivities in action! 
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Best Selfie Ever

Yesterday we visited the Royal Botanic Gardens for a tour and some afternoon tea. The best part of the day happened when I was taking a picture of my mom and grandparents and an older man offered to take a picture with me in it. I could tell he was confused about how to work the iPhone, so I showed him and then jumped in the picture. He snapped a couple shots and gave it back to me. When I went back to look at the photos, I found these two gems. Apparently he had accidentally turned the screen around:
Best. Selfie. Ever. 
Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sydney Day 3

On our last day in Sydney we took a boat cruise around the harbour. It was sunny and supposed to be hot, so we set out early in the morning to avoid literally melting on the boat. The best part about Sydney hands down is its focus on the harbour. There is a great ferry system making it quite easy to get in and out of the downtown area; commuters and tourists alike use the ferries. Our tour took us around to the zoo, Manly Beach, Darling Harbour and a couple other stops. We bought the "cruise" ticket which meant we stayed on for the whole two hour trip, but you could purchase a 24 hour ticket and get on and off as you please. This would be ideal with a group that was interested in a bit more walking than our group wanted to do! 
Beautiful morning! 
The boat had a covered area down below and an open second story. Peter and I started up on the top but eventually joined the others down below; the sun got pretty unbearably hot and I started to burn, as usual. The top deck was ideal for pictures, though! 
Random guy squatting in the corner. Couldn't crop him out without cropping part of the Harbour Bridge in the distance. 
Lower deck selfie with Mom and the bridge barely visible in the background. 
The Opera House from the harbour! 

After the cruise, we got some lunch and a drink at a bar across from the train station and enjoyed some much needed air conditioning. 
We decided to head back to the hotel and sit by the pool for the rest of the afternoon. 
Mom representing Minnesota at the pool!

On Sunday night we had a great Italian dinner which I failed to photograph at all! Monday morning Peter and I were up early to catch our flight back to Melbourne with the rest of the group on a flight a couple hours later. We had a great time on our first trip to Sydney and we hope to return with any subsequent visitors! 
Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sydney Day 2

We began our second day in Sydney with breakfast, joined by these super aggressive parrots. They would hop up right next to you and steal packets of sugar off the table. It sounds fun and exotic, but it was really quite annoying! 
We then caught this hop-on-hop-off tour bus. There were about 20 stops throughout the city and buses came by every 20 minutes, so you could get off at any point and rejoin the tour later, hence the "hop-on-hop-off" name. Our tickets were good for 24 hours, and we rode the bus for most of the day. 
Peter listening to the tour bus commentary. We rode on the top deck, even though it was quite chilly and windy in the morning. 
My mom and me! Somehow she and my grandparents weren't jetlagged. I couldn't function for a good 3 days after moving to Australia, so I admire their ability to adjust quickly! 
We stopped at The Strand, a shopping center downtown. We didn't buy anything (other than coffee and cake, of course) but we enjoyed looking at all the shops. 
We then took the bus to the Opera House, one of the coolest buildings I've ever seen. The pictures don't do it justice; it really is an amazing sight and has to be experienced in person to be appreciated. We considered taking a tour of the inside, but it was quite expensive and involved a lot of stairs (not ideal when traveling with grandparents), so we opted to admire from the outside. 
The Harbour Bridge from the steps of the Opera House. 
A cruise ship in the harbour and a portion of the Sydney skyline. The sun finally came out! 
We then hopped onto the second section of the tour, which included a trip to Bondi Beach. I was really excited about seeing Bondi, and it did not disappoint! The sky cleared completely and we had a great time watching surfers and exploring the beach. Sydney definitely beats Melbourne in terms of quality of city beaches. 
I was most excited to see the Icebergs, the famous swimming pools on the beach. Apparently you have to swim there every Sunday for some ridiculously insane number of years (I think 4) to become a member of the club. 

We returned home from the tour at about 6 pm and played a few card games before ordering a pizza and going to bed!  


Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



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