Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Favorite Australian City: Melbourne

Without a doubt, Melbourne was my absolute favorite city to visit in Australia. I adventured through the artsy district of Fitzroy, strolled through the People's Market in Collingwood, and frequented the many vegan/vegetarian restaurants in town. I even met a few Aussie friends.

View from my hotel room

Come on guys, is this really necessary? 
Royal Botanic Garden, Melbourne
Per usual, I visited the botanical garden on several occasions. The garden is not as vast as the one in Sydney, but it still has its share of beautiful flowers and serene landscapes. During my morning jogs I loved zipping along the different garden paths which generally had less foot traffic than the main roads:

View from the garden

The People's Market and Fitzroy:
If you're looking for a crowd of young Indie hipsters, then Fitzroy and Collingwood are the neighborhoods for you! I attended the People's Market  on a Thursday afternoon and was a bit disappointed. I had imagined a grand market with a variety of different food stalls and retail booths; instead, I was underwhelmed by a small parking lot of 3 food stations and 4 pop up shops. If I had known this I might have reconsidered the 40 minute walk from the city center:

The People's Market

Other Miscellaneous Fun:
I felt an incredible sense of adventure while in Melbourne. After visiting the People's Market I strolled to a nearby cafe called Proud Mary's. The reviews on Yelp were good and they had something on the menu that appealed to my hungry stomach. I ended up ordering "The Avocado" which is a delicious plate of ripe avocado, goat cheese, and a spicy quinoa salsa on top of farmhouse rye. YUM. That same day while I was walking back to my hotel from a wine tasting in the city square, I saw a sign for a Tame Impala show. I downloaded the band's album "Lonerism" not too long ago and really enjoy their music. I somehow managed to snag a ticket for the sold out show and had a blast!
AMAZING Avocado Toast at Proud Mary
My new Melbourne friends: James and Nick
Tame Impala at the Ford Theater in Melbourne
The amazing food, friendly people, and an ever-growing list of interesting activities makes Melbourne by far the city I enjoyed the most. And it's been a while since I posted show pictures, but here's one taken by an audience member:

Can you find me?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Biding Time in Brisbane

We didn't spend too much time in Brisbane, but here are some of the most memorable sights:

A random market where people sold recycled clothing out of suitcases
The manmade "beach" by the river
The most surprising characteristic of Brisbane is the difference between the city center and the city's outer edges. I suppose one can say the same about most major cities, but in this instance it seemed much more heightened. The architecture and design in the outskirts seemed like those of a developing Asian country whereas the structures in the city center were more modern:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sweet Sights in Sydney

Sydney, Australia: A bustling city of tourists, bankers, and students. Or is it an oasis of tropical greens,  blooming flowers, and natural wonders? I didn't hesitate to fill every single day (even show day) with a new activity to experience and a new destination to explore.

Art Gallery NSW
We arrived in Sydney on a Wednesday night, and lucky for me the Art Gallery NSW that was a five minute walk from our hotel had an, "Art After Dark" event. The gallery, which usually closes at 5PM, has extended hours and special activities on Wednesday evenings. As soon as I dropped off my luggage in my room I dashed to the gallery and headed straight for the contemporary art wing:

A frame within a frame within a frame
Warhol's "Flowers"
Royal Botanic Gardens
My absolute favorite part about Sydney is the giant botanical garden that is located right along the harbor. Whether it was for a jog, a picnic, or a breathtaking view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, I visited the park every single day. Cara and I spent the first part of our first day off exploring every nook and cranny of the park:

Sydney Opera House
After our lengthy stroll through the park, Cara and I ended up at the Sydney Opera House, which is located at the northwest corner of the garden. For $25 (using my Bruin Card for the student discount) we took a tour of the iconic building. The tour gives people access to both main concert halls and other areas restricted to the general public.

State Library NSW
After my Opera House tour I checked out the State Library NSW down the street. There were banners all over the city advertising an exhibit called, Time in Motion: 50 Years of The Australian Ballet, which seemed interesting. It features old costumes, photographs, and video footage from select works the company performed over the years. Additionally, the library offers a variety of other miscellaneous galleries and exhibits, including a poetry project with works from grade-school students:

Museum of Contemporary Art of Australia
The next day was show day, and Cara and I decided to spend the morning at the MCA of Australia. There was a great exhibition called, "Primavera" featuring young local artists:

Harbour Bridge
Perhaps the most tourist-y activity I did in Sydney was to climb to the Sydney Harbour Bridge the day after our show. I  was hesitant to pay the hefty price of $228 AUD, but in the end I think I made the right decision! We weren't allowed to bring cameras onto the bridge which is a "safety precaution" and in my opinion a brilliant business ruse. Climbers are essentially conned into paying $25 for the first photo and an extra $10 for each additional photo. I think the guy at the counter was annoyed with how long I was taking to decide between two pictures that he ended up giving me both photos for $25. So indecisiveness paid off in this case!

Other Random Fun
Cara and I found ourselves in a food truck battle happening in Hyde Park!
Paddington Market. Not really worth the hour long walk. 
Casual view from Royal Botanic Garden
Harbourlife Festival 2012. Didn't have a ticket but still enjoyed the music :)
World AIDS Day 2012 goodies