Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Road Trip

It's been a week and a half since Shawn and I got back from our little road trip. It went something like this.

On Saturday we drove to Canberra and stayed for two nights. I haven't been there since I was 12 so it was kind of all new (again). First impressions: very quiet, very leafy, very suburban. Dinner on our first night was at Alto, the restaurant at the revolving Black Mountain Tower. Yummy. Dessert was my favourite. A type of chocolate pudding with a mandarin salad that was warm and spicy. Really good. Next time we'll go for lunch so we can actually see the city design a little better.

We managed to wander around Floriade at Commonwealth Park for a while, but I probably wouldn't bother again. The highlight was seeing varieties of strange-shaped tulips I hadn't seen before. The lowlights were all the people and the rather boring displays. The park itself was far more pleasant to me.

From Floriade we walked down to Lake Burley Griffin and got a half hour boat ride, which at $5 each was worth well worth it. It gave my pregnant self a chance to rest while taking a look at a lot of different landmarks and getting a commentary on them.

We also took a guided tour at the War Memorial. Guided tours in general are great. You hear a lot of interesting stories that aren't always written on the little white cards next to exhibits and tend to take in a lot more as a result. Some stories are best not heard when you have pregnancy emotions though.

We were going to drive on to Wagga to see family, but we had a call from my Aunt saying the farm was pretty much under lock-down due to Equine Influenza. Another time.

So from Canberra we drove on to Melbourne, arriving at Narelle's place, where we stayed for three nights before staying at a serviced apartment in the city for a week.

It was weird being back in Melbourne after being away so long. If Melbourne could be relocated to Sydney, I'd be very happy. I really love Melbourne, but I think the weather is better up here and it's closer to family.

Melbourne activities included:
- spending an inordinate amount of money at The Chocolate Shop
- catching up with friends (sad that I have more friends in Melbourne than in Sydney)
- a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria to see the Guggenheim exhibition
- eating great pub food in Brunswick
- driving around old neighbourhoods
- making very good use of our weekly tram tickets
- visiting the Botanical Gardens
- buying treats from the cake shops on Acland Street in St Kilda
- pointing out The Esplanade Hotel to Shawn so he could see where RocKwiz is made
- Visiting Queen Victoria Markets and buying a new wallet in a great shade of green
- Melbourne zoo
- walked along the Yarra for a bit

We did one day trip out of Melbourne to Phillip Island to see the Little Penguins. We booked a ranger talk beforehand as well. It was cold and wet, but it was very cool to see them all hurrying to their burrows in the sand. Extremely cute.

It was sad leaving Melbourne, we'd almost convinced ourselves that we lived in the apartment.

(Crappy pic, but it was a challenge getting a good shot from the car.)

We drove back up the Princes Highway. A lot prettier than the Hume. Lots of green hills, Canola fields and happy looking cows (a very different experience to seeing how cows are kept in the US).

We stopped in Merimbula overnight and by a total accident, looking for food, we happened upon the Zanzibar Cafe, just when we were thinking we'd be stuck with fish and chips. This worked out perfectly because we'd planned to have at least two high quality dinners on our trip, but after Alto in Canberra, we just didn't seem to get around to it, then we hit this place. Given a 14/20 by The 2007 Good Food Guide. We have a tendency to agree with them.

On our last day of travel we stopped at Bateman's Bay for Lunch. Fairly uneventful, except for the high winds and my fear that the poor little echo was going to end up with something punctured by the branches and twigs strewn all over the road... Did I say uneventful?

It was, right up until we hit the highway that is. We rounded a bend, to see a tree laying across the road. It must have only just come down because we were the first car on our side to come across and people coming from the other direction had just gotten out of their cars. Thankfully, one of them had one of those fluorescent road workers vests and started running past our car waving it around so no one ran up the back of us. Lots of nearby men shoved fruitlessly at the tree (which I could have told them was not going anywhere in one piece), while the slightly more practical started trying to get through to SES or the RTA. After a very short time (with the arrival of the sixth car back) a man drove up and got out of his car with a chainsaw!

What luck!.. or do a lot of people around there carrying a chainsaw with them? So the tree was dismantled and the pieces pushed off the road in no time. Interesting experience.

During all our driving we stopped approximately every two hours so I could stretch and I have to say that on the way back it was definitely needed. My growing uterus is now pushing up against my ribs causing me a lot of discomfort. By the time we got to Nowra my ribs were killing me so we stopped at this park. We happened to have some bread in the car so we spent some time sprawled on the grass and feeding ducks.

We arrived home and enjoyed a 3 day weekend before work again on Monday. I was even relatively chipper on my first day back at work... weird.