Saturday, October 31, 2015

Friday Adventures

It was supposed to be warm and sunny on Friday, so Peter and I originally planned to head to the beach. It ended up being windy, hot and cloudy (worst combination ever), so we walked across the bridge to the Arbory Bar instead. The bar is attached to Flinders Street Station and was constructed somewhat quietly last year. We saw a bunch of construction going on at the time but just assumed they were updating the station or building another entry point. All of a sudden one day we walked by and a bar had opened seemingly overnight, which was definitely a happy surprise when we were expecting a ticket booth.

This Tuesday is the big Melbourne Cup horse race, which is also a statewide holiday. That's right, everyone gets the day off work for a horse race. Epic. Anyway, the Arbory set up a floating bar on the Yarra called Arbory Afloat for the duration of the racing season. I was under the impression that said bar would actually travel up and down the river, but apparently it's just docked. Peter and I went to check it out on Friday in lieu of the beach and despite its stationary nature, we had a good time! 
The sky started to clear and we wandered over to the State Library of Victoria to sit on the lawn and attempt to become less albino. Sadly, mission not accomplished. 
We actually sat on a bench because of the pigeons. I have a low-level phobia of pigeons and consider them the most disgusting creature on the planet save perhaps the huntsman spider

This is the single most spectated chess game I've ever seen. Actually, it might be the only spectated chess game I've ever seen. 
Peter was interested in heading into the library since we had never been, so we looked around for awhile. There were a few art exhibits and this beautiful room. 
I mean look at all those students studying on a Friday afternoon! Peter and I decided that we may have spent more Friday afternoons in our college libraries if they looked like this. Then again, unlikely. 
After resting up at home for a little bit we headed back out for an early dinner at a Thai restaurant. I chose the Pad Thai because that's pretty much my standard order when it's on the menu. It was a huge portion and I couldn't eat it all but for the first time ever the waitress asked if I wanted a takeaway box! I definitely did. 
On our walk home from dinner we played a fun game of what we called "costume or real". Halloween isn't really a thing here for kids but there were some adults who took the opportunity to dress up and head to a party or bar. "Costume or real" consisted of us guessing if the strangely-dressed people we passed were in costume or if that was just their everyday outfit. It was shockingly hard to tell in a surprising number of cases. 

And that pretty much sums up our day! We don't have much on the schedule for the next week and are mainly just gearing up for our trip to New Zealand! 
Sunday, October 25, 2015

Random Things

Sometimes coming up with a post title is like coming up with a subject line for an email. "Random Things" is equivalent to "no subject". 

New Zealand

Our New Zealand trip is just two weeks away! We booked the plane tickets quite awhile ago and the trip kind of crept up on us. I just booked our accommodations about a week ago and options were a bit slim so I'm hoping we don't get stuck in some hostel-esque situation. I'm too old for those. As usual, we've packed our 8 days on the South Island with plenty of exploring and activity. Our vacations aren't usually of the relaxing variety, which is fine by us! We'll sleep when we're dead. We plan to check out the Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, and a winery or two along the way. We haven't booked activities yet, but we are thinking a cruise on the Milford Sound is a must-do, and I kind of want to try the Shotover Jet in Queenstown. Mainly, we will just drive around and explore, as I've heard New Zealand is pretty much the most beautiful place in the world. And don't worry, I won't forget my selfie stick this time!

DOC Pizza

As usual, we enjoyed some awesome food this weekend. On Friday we went north to Lygon Street for pizza at DOC. Lygon Street is known as the Italian part of the city, but the food can be hit or miss. It's a popular tourist area, so many of the restaurants are quite expensive but not necessarily that great. DOC is an exception. We ordered a salami pesto pizza and a margherita pizza and both were delicious. Zomato (formerly UrbanSpoon, which I liked much better) gave it a 4.2 rating, which is hard to come by!
Peter and his obscure Italian beer...served in a wine glass.

 My New Obsession

I am on a blueberry kick. When I was younger, I never understood why my dad thought of blueberries as a suitable dessert option. Ice cream? Yes. Fruit? No. However, I'm older and wiser and now very much agree that blueberries are the greatest thing in the entire world. Naturally, they're super expensive. Why can't I be obsessed with, like, apples? I feel like this happens a lot in life. I'll walk into a clothing store, pass a bunch of normal-priced things and then walk straight to the one item in the store that's a million dollars. Such is life. Anyway, here's what $4 got me:
Pretty brutal.

Blog Update Coming!

I am in the process of updating my blog design, so stay tuned! I know absolutely nothing about computers and the one time I tried to make a small change to my blog layout I lost a bunch of pictures from old posts. So, I'm going to purchase a template on Etsy and have the seller install it, just to be safe. Exciting times!
Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Week in Pictures

We have had a pretty quiet week over here. Thankfully, the weather has stayed pretty nice so we have been enjoying a bit more time outside. Last weekend we headed back to the same bar where we watched the Grand Final the previous Saturday for an afternoon drink. It was hot again, and we sat in the same booth in the sun, per Peter's request. He's a much bigger fan of hot weather than I am. I tried to hide behind this plant to get a bit of shade and was only partially successful:
I ordered an extremely potent Sex on the Beach (I felt like I was sipping on a shot of Vodka) and Peter got his usual.
We went to an Asian food market on Friday night with Matt and  Lauren, but I didn't take any pictures, which is so not like me. I'm pretty sure I've become that annoying friend who constantly whips out her camera every five seconds. No shame.

We usually venture to the market on Sundays and last weekend was no exception. I absolutely love buying our produce at the market and can't get over all the different colors. Healthy food has never  looked so good!
On Wednesday I met some friends for dinner and ordered something a bit different. I don't remember exactly what was all in this dish, but it was some combination of grits and polenta and was amazing. 
Peter and I walked down to the grocery store one day this week and saw this sign on an office building door. There's CCTV everywhere in Melbourne so it's hard to get away with anything and businesses have no hesitation in publicly shaming shoplifters or, in this case, newspaper thieves. I kind of wonder how many hours of footage exists of me walking down the street texting and/or glaring at people walking too slowly in front of me. Slow walkers are my absolutely least favorite people in the world. Other than, like, murderers. 
I met some friends for a drink on Saturday evening and we enjoyed wine, champagne, and some polenta fries. I was really feeling the polenta this week for some reason. I'm not sure if my friend Janet has made it on the blog yet (she's in the middle), but she's from Wisconsin and went to the University of Minnesota! Midwesterners unite! There aren't many of us around here. Janet met Katie when they both lived in San Francisco and then decided to move out here for a year after visiting Katie last Christmas. I thoroughly enjoy having someone here who doesn't stare at me blankly when I say the word "pop" or mention random Minnesota landmarks. 
I absolutely loved the pretty drink menu at this place.
Saturday night Peter and I tried a Mexican restaurant in the city called Fonda, but again I failed to get any pictures. I'm really off my game lately. We loved the food and will definitely be back!

Today I met some friends for brunch at Rustica Canteen, a new spot in the city nestled in a hidden laneway, of course. So Melbourne. 
Instead of my usual avo toast, I ordered brioche toast with Nutella, hazelnut, and bananas. It was so good, but more of a dessert than a meal! We were seated next to a girl who spent at least a half hour arranging and photographing her food and we concluded that she must be an Instagram star. We overheard the waitress say something about the "free food" and we all immediately started our own food accounts in hopes of becoming stars too and eating brunch for free. Kidding, but it's a thought! Actually Sylvie has a food Instagram account, but has yet to receive any free meals. Sylvie if you're reading this get on it! After watching the Instastar's production, I didn't feel quite so ridiculous snapping this picture of my own food:
Peter and I hit the market this afternoon and then headed to our favorite dessert spot, Brunetti, after dinner. The weeks are going fast these days, which isn't such a bad thing given that we are counting down the days until our New Zealand trip!
Monday, October 12, 2015

Grand Final Day

Last Saturday was the AFL Grand Final. It's a pretty big deal here in Melbourne evidenced by the fact that Friday was a holiday in preparation for the event. To put this in perspective, it would be like if the day before the Super Bowl was a national holiday. A lot of stores and restaurants were closed and it was the first really warm day of the season, so Peter and I spent the afternoon at the beach in St. Kilda

Saturday was also quite warm, but the city was buzzing with footy excitement, so Peter and I walked around for a bit before settling in to watch some of the game at a restaurant on Southbank. Unfortunately, the only open table was in direct sunlight, so we pretty much baked in the sun. We had a few drinks and watched some of the game. I honestly don't even remember who was playing, but the match ended up being a blow out, so we didn't pay too much attention. Our friends Matt and Lauren came down to join us and then this random man stopped and wanted to take a selfie with us. We of course obliged, because selfies with random strangers are the best kind of selfies. I honestly think the was trying to create an alibi of sorts- he told us he had just lost $200 at the casino after telling his wife he wouldn't go. He also told us his wife is Asian and "loves the selfie stick". Go figure. 
After the game was over, Matt and Lauren invited us to join them on a bike ride down to St. Kilda. They bike everywhere and we have a running joke about my lack of coordination/inability to ride a bike. Not that I never learned, but I just hadn't been on one in years and wasn't sure I would even remember how to stay on. After much encouragement, I reluctantly agreed to go for a test ride in our apartment parking ramp, and sure enough I remembered! 

We got to St. Kilda just in time to grab an ice cream and watch the sun set.
Posing with my (Lauren's) bike. And yes, bike helmets are required in Australia. I think there's a $75 fine if you get caught without one and they're pretty diligent about enforcement, so everyone pretty much obeys the law. 
We headed back home and arrived just after dark. The whole trip ended up being about 10 miles, so I was pretty proud of myself! I managed to stay on the whole time, not hit any pedestrians, and avoid getting hit by a car so I'm calling it a win.
Saturday, October 3, 2015

Beach Day at Last!

I know my Minnesota family and friends will have zero sympathy for me, but despite the mild winters here in Melbourne, the season truly felt like it dragged on forever. It wasn't necessarily cold, but there were quite a few rainy 50-degree days that had us eagerly awaiting the arrival of sunshine and warmer weather. Thankfully, it looks like we've finally turned the corner; yesterday was the first 80-degree day in months, so we hit the beach!

Peter and I set out for St. Kilda around noon and stopped to pick up burgers on the way. St. Kilda is pretty much our go-to beach. It's only about 10 minutes from the city and although it isn't the nicest, cleanest beach in the world, it's convenient for times when we just want to spend a couple hours near the water. Clearly we weren't the only ones:
We ate our burgers on the grass behind the sand, waded in the water for a bit, and then took a walk down St. Kilda Pier. We've been to the pier many times, mostly with visitors to view the little penguins that swim in every night. 

A look back at the Melbourne skyline from the pier.
We wandered down the docks for awhile to check out some of the boats in the marina before heading for home.
It was the perfect start to beach season, minus the fact that despite sitting in the sun for a few hours I am still borderline albino. I will never understand why sometimes I'll sit in the sun for hours and get absolutely no color and other times I'll turn into a complete tomato. Meanwhile, Peter tans steadily all summer like a normal person. Naturally. 

Anyway, here's to many more beach days in our future!


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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