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Posts Tagged ‘South Bank’

There is so much to do and see in Melbourne I’m starting to think that we won’t get it all done before we head for home.  Maybe that’s okay but it’s an unsettling feeling for two planners like ourselves.  Daily deal sites like Scoopon, Living Social, Spreets, etc, have been great ways for us to explore Melbourne as they’re constantly offering deals to restaurants and attractions across the city.

One of the latest deals we picked up was for 3 hot attractions at a very discounted rate.  First on the list was the Melbourne Aquarium.  I should mention that I’m not much of an aquarium go-er.  My trip to the Shedd Aquarium several years ago in Chicago with a dear friend was a blast but was my first and last fish-fest that I can remember.

At the Melbourne aquarium there we were with hundreds of families and little kiddoes running amuck among the displays (it should be mentioned that I love kids…when they’re quiet…or when they’re still babies) but I could understand their excitement.  The first display was a bunch of Gentoo Penguins.  You could watch them on the ice and in the water.  “Cheeky and feisty” so said the sign but truly adorable.

If you’ve read or heard much about Australia, you’ll know that it’s lands and waters are home to some of the deadliest creatures (spiders, snakes, crabs)  known to man, like the box jellyfish.  Think of the worst unimaginable pain, multiply it times 100 and by the time you’ve done that, you’d be dead, or wishing you were.

The aquarium had some great tanks with a ton of different underwater species.  The displays were interactive and educational.  You could feed and touch fish in certain sections. The aforementioned kiddoes were loving it.  (Have I mentioned before how kid-friendly Melbourne is?)  The most interesting display (for me) was the Seahorses.  I just find them so funny and cute and majestic at the same time.

And The Weird award goes to the Axolotl which comes from Mexico where it’s known as the Mexican Walking Fish.  According to the oh-so-informative display, axolotls aren’t fish but amphibians.  What makes them an oddity–besides the obvious creepy appearance–they can regenerate their gills, heart, tail, liver, kidneys, parts of their nervous system, and their arms and legs.  These little guys are critically endangered worldwide.  SAVE THE AXOLOTL!

Ryan is the same way I am about aquariums so I’m not sure we would’ve felt that the steep admission fee at the aquarium was worth it if we didn’t have the killer discount but for those with kids I reckon it’s a great outing, especially with the family discount…an alternative to the “Ryan-and-Laura-are-frugal-aka-cheap”  rate.

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From regular reading of our blog, you’ve probably gathered the fact that we like to eat.  But more than that, we’re slowly but surely making our way into eating more natural and organic…or, at the very least, trying to figure out what that all means.

Rockpool Bar & Grill, on Melbourne’s Southbank, promised to be a must-eat-treat for those looking for a fine-dining experience and who are conscientious of what they’re eating and from where it originates.

According to the website, “Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne was inspired by the great steakhouses of North America. With an uncompromising focus on excellent produce – in particular the meat program – beef sourced from only Australia’s very best producers, an outstanding wine list and sharp and enthusiastic service, this is a dining venue that offers a refined yet relaxed experience…the menu is simple and uncomplicated, the room luxurious.”

Everything from the ambiance to the customized daily menus made it feel like a fine-dining experience.


Our waitress was very knowledgeable about the menu, including the over-50-page wine list.

The only disappointment is the fact that the food was (in my humble estimation) over-priced.  My dad had a steak, which was prepared a perfect medium-rare, but lacked the tenderness we anticipated.  My hunch is that our American tastebuds are so used to Midwest beef that it just wasn’t quite what we expected.

Ryan had the Grilled Coorong Yellow Eyed Mullet with Tomato Confit, Olive and Basil Dressing which was good…just good.

I had the Wood-fired rotisserie chicken with Tuscan bread salad.

This was probably the best of all three dishes.  The chicken was tender and the salad was not too heavy but still filling.  I was, however, slightly disenchanted when I found the exact recipe on the Rockpool blog and realized I could’ve made the same thing at home (to serve 4) for way less than $39 (for one).

Bottom line: You pay for the name, the ambiance, the great service, and knowing that what you’re eating has been raised and procured ethically and responsibly.  Just don’t expect to be blown away by the food…perhaps just the prices.

Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

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Brisbane evenings were just as they should be.  I’d anxiously await Ryan’s return from work as the not-so-patient wife and immediately have some ideas for our “relaxing” night together.

Two of my favorite little hangouts while on the South Bank were Little Stanley Street and Grey Street.  Full of cafes and restaurants of all ethnicities –including one called Beastie Burgers, which you KNOW we gorged on one night– and just a few minutes walk from our hotel, these two streets were the “it” place for me.

When Ryan returned from work each night we’d meander to this area and pick a restaurant for dinner.  One night we had dinner outside at a jazz café while listening to familiar tunes like, “Georgia on My Mind” and “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” and the following night we dined at a lovely Chinese restaurant, called Obsession.  I consider this serendipitous  as it’s quite the appropriate word to describe my feelings towards this type of food.

On the afternoon of a different day, I grabbed a cuppa, did some work, and watched people work diligently to set up the tents for the market later, which we were able to enjoy, later that evening.

Little Stanley Street also was home to Movenpick.  A Swiss Ice Cream shop that could rival (and please don’t come after me for this statement) even the best gelato. Ryan [cough cough] insisted that we get ice cream on our first night in town and we stumbled across this amazing little gem with to-die-for Mint Chocolate and Crème Brulee ice cream.  We, of course, had to return the following night.  I am either the CHAMPION of Lactose Intolerants everywhere or the dumbest of them.  I’ll let you decide.

And because dessert is such a staple to any meal of mine, one night we visited the gourmet chocolate cafe called Max Brenner, which invites you into the cafe by a bright lit-up sign outside that says, “Chocolate by the Bald Man.”  How could you resist?  Inside you’re met with quotes devoted to chocolate, including this one in the photograph below.  

I SO hear you, Max.  Ryan and I indulged ourselves with a dark chocolate truffle and a dark chocolate raspberry bite.  Every bit as gourmet (read: expensive) as I would’ve guessed.

I didn’t mind, however.  It was well worth it for the beautiful atmosphere and experience of Little Stanley and Grey Street.  Silly me, I guess that’s what they’re counting on.


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I could be falling in love with Brisbane.  Or it could be an infatuation.  It’s still too early to tell really.  To love a city is quite the commitment and in my life I can probably only claim to love two or three.  But here’s how Brisbane has begun to work its way into my heart.

Another one of Ryan’s work obligations took us up to Brissy so I tagged along so we could have a long weekend.  (Honeymoon leg #4?)  Brisbane, located in sunny Queensland, is located 1,700 km (1,000 miles) north of Melbourne.  Needless to say, we flew. 🙂

Even as early as the first morning, I felt that tingling excitement that I hadn’t felt since Sevilla, Spain.  It’s the sort of feeling that begins as sort of a crush but has the possibility to develop into something much deeper.

And really, what’s not to love?  It’s a beautiful, lively city on a river, with a warm climate, a bustling economy, museums, theater, cafes and mountains and ocean within driving distance.  Even better, it’s clean and safe.

Located in “Sunny Queensland”, according to Wikipedia, Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia (in terms of population) with over 2 million people.  In otherwords, not TOO big, not TOO small.  It’s easy to see why I’m lovin’ this city.

But you all know might know that I am not one to jump right into a commitment, I had to explore the city a little, before a profession of love could be stated.

Our hotel was located on the South Bank, which was, in a word, FABULOUS.  It’s a young and fresh part of city, near the Brisbane river.   After a gorgeous brekkie (of which gluttonous details are explained in a previous post) and while Ryan was hard at work, I meandered around South Bank exploring the great walkways.

I was alone on the streets for most of the morning which also enhanced the “sleepy-little-small-town” feel of the South Bank.  (I should note that this is temporary and that at night, the South Bank becomes one of the most lively and happening parts of the city.)

I stopped at Streets Beach — yes, a beach in the middle of the city — to take some pics.

On the river promenade I clicked some pics of the Wheel of Brisbane .

I also ventured to the famous Queen Street Mall and Brisbane’s multi-cultural West End .  Both uniquely added to the charm of Brisbane.

The city made an impression on me.  Enough so that I’d be willing to spend some more time getting to know it.  And I’m not playing hard to get.  I just liked to be woo-ed.

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Brekkie is one of my favorite meals.  There’s something about knowing that you’re fueling your body with the energy it needs for the day.  There’s also something about pancakes, croissants, and bacon, if I’m being honest here.

I love to indulge in nice brekkies, especially when on vacation.  I think it stems from my travelling in Europe (and no one hosts tourists like Europeans) where breakfast consisted of mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, ham, etcetera, etcetera.  My travel companions and I would eat large breakfasts because we knew we’d be walking all day and (presumably) walking of our large breakfasts.  I highly doubt this theory is correct and that not all calories are effectively burned off but it’s an age-old saying so who am I to reject fact?

In Australia we’ve found the same sort of breakfasts at our hotels.  We spent the past several days in the lovely city of Brisbane.  On our first morning in Brissy we feasted on a spread large enough for a king; complete with a pancake grill and custom toppings…

An assortment of sweet rolls, croissants, and FRESH honey…

Mini fruit smoothies and yogurt parfaits…

And of course, bacon, salmon, onions, cheeses, eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cereal for those would even dare.

The problem with these types of buffets is that they’re so expensive that you feel like you have to “eat your money’s worth”.  Therein lies the rub – as the expression goes.  As I bravely soldiered on (aka went back for my second helping) I could hear my mom saying, “Food is fuel” and shaking her head at me.  When in Oz, I thought.

In the end, I should’ve nearly been carried out in a wheelbarrow but  I somehow think that would’ve been frowned upon.  And anyway, it didn’t matter much since I knew I’d burn it off walking around all day, right?

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