Thursday, May 25, 2017

Melbourne break

We enjoyed a rendezvous with some dear friends in Melbourne this week - including our favourite old inner city hotel - the Rendezvous in Flinders Street, just a short stroll from Flinders Street Station and the famous, vibrant laneways of this most cosmopolitan city.
We drove down from Canberra on Monday - an easy 7 hour drive. It was getting dark by the time we'd settled in to the hotel so we took to the neighbouring streets and laneways to absorb some Melbourne city charm and shake off the inactivity of a day driving. We celebrated afterwards with a glass of ale at the top floor bar of our favourite Young and Jackson Hotel - and raised a glass to Melbourne's iconic Chloe.

Our main aim on Tuesday was to rendezvous with the Vincent Van Gogh  and the Seasons exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.
 ..... while acknowledging, on the way in, the latest Ai Wei Wei installation in the gallery foyer - a new 5 metre tall work of crystals and light from his chandelier series....Wow!
The Van Gogh exhibition comprises the largest collection of his artworks ever to travel to Australia - amazing works lent by leading international museums.  Another huge attraction for us is the audio guide to the exhibition: a beautiful, informative narration by David Stretton, and David Wenham as the voice of Vincent (reading the words of Vincent through the many hundreds of letters he wrote over his short life to his brother Theo).

Vincent's south of France pictures are still as buttery fresh and full of energy as the day they were painted over 120 years ago!

...such a treat to see these works in Melbourne - and in late Autumn too, Vincent's favourite season.
Tuesday night we enjoyed a rendezvous with dear friends James and Fiona - at their beautiful old Victorian era terrace house in Gore Street Fitzroy, then on to the atmospheric Builders Arms Hotel on Gertrude Street, before heading to dinner at the Panama Dining Room on Smith Street, a wonderful overview of some of the best offerings in this super cool part of old Melbourne (with the coolest hosts you could ever imagine).
In the pic below Rob and I are about to share a whole slow cooked lamb shoulder with a pistachio crust and quince jus with parsley and sumac salad. It was to die for (and enough protein to last us at least a month)!!
We had a slow start yesterday - before deciding to take a tram ride to St Kilda Beach - all the way down to the foreshore area, past sad old Luna Park.....
 ..... while shivering in the wind blowing off Port Phillip Bay ......
 ..and eventually arriving at Pontoon at the Stokehouse precinct  on Jacka Boulevard (thank you for the recommendation Fiona).
Pontoon proves to be a wonderful spot to chill out for a while over a glass of Pinot Grigio (for me) on a cold, windy afternoon while we try to define how Melbourne is so gloriously different from Sydney.

Our thoughts include:
Melbourne is John Brack, Sydney is Brett Whiteley
Sydney is brash and beautiful and a bit bogan too, Melbourne is bohemian, cultured and cosmopolitan (and no doubt more than a bit bogan too)
Sydney is all colour, energy, bright blue skies and Pacific Ocean, Melbourne is monochrome, gentler, more thoughtful and wise.........   
But we think that James is the one who's nailed it: Sydney is the girl you spend the night with but Melbourne is the girl you marry!!

Love Melbourne!

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