We’re on the road again
Leaving our load behind us
Put a new message on the answer phone
That they can’t find us
Let’s go get a hot espresso
Or maybe a cappuccino
Say get me a cafe latte

Express (All jacked up) by Todd Rundgren

So after the cold we moved to the hot and we couldn’t have travelled further. Lapland to Melbourne. Artic wilderness to a teaming multicultural metropolis. If Polie enjoyed the cold of the Artic then Chris enjoyed the heat of Australia. And what a great place we choose to kick off our road trip. Melbourne, but more precisely the district of Collingwood, a hipster section of the city filled with great coffee shops, craft beers and some terrific food. All served in a comfortable 28C. That’s a 38C swing in temperature over three weeks ago. Parkas off Chris, shorts on boys!

Stomping Ground, what a good starting place to begin an acquaintance with the area. A boutique brewery with its own beer hall filled with inspired flavours, music full of memories and the best vibe. It was midweek and the customers were ticking over. Apparently had it been the weekend it would have been teaming such is its popularity. There’s an advantage in not having to restrict time off to Saturday and Sunday.

Stomping Ground beer

The ‘best vibe’. That described so much of what would follow in the month to come. So much to pack in. We didn’t realise how much there would be to see and do.

As is our normal practice these days when in a new town we bought passes for the City Tour Bus and were guided around the city for the day, noting the things we would like to return too. A guaranteed way to gain an introduction.

Then back to Collingwood for an early supper at Congress, a new restaurant on the corner of Wellington and Peel Street, with an unusual menu of small plates and great wines. We started with grilled Cos (!), Green Goddess sauce and almonds. If someone had told me, prior to this, that I’d order a grilled Cos lettuce as a meal I’d have laughed. Chris did and then frowned. But with the guidance of the attentive staff I did and was wowed. Then we shared a number of other plates which were equally delighting, finishing with figs, juniper yoghurt, honeycomb and ginger granita. Perfect evening.

The mornings would start at Proud Mary’s, one of a number of local coffee shops, for a couple of flat whites each and a bowl of sago porridge, crushed avocado or something equally appetising. Fuelled with caffeine we were ready for the day. The boys were buzzing! The museum, the shops (and they just go on and on) and an afternoon chillin in the Botanical Gardens which are as good as any we’ve been to and the place many locals seem to go to let the stress of life pass them by. Then, a quick beer (two actually…what can I say?) on one of the boats moored on the river that runs through the centre of the city and Chris was revived and ready for the evening and more food.

We only had three days in the city before launching off on the road trip and could have easily spent two weeks exploring the city. But before we left we made the most of Collingwood with pizzas and craft beer at Lazer Pig on Peel Street (strange name, great pizzas). Also we went to steak night at the Grace Darling Hotel, still in Peel Street. Reasonable food and another really good vibe with what seemed like groups of regulars in for the evening. They say that repeat trade is the best recommendation.

Had there been more time a five minute walk to Brunswick Street in the district of Fitzroy would have yielded more restaurants and coffee shops (and shopping!). Next time perhaps.

Melbourne Cartoon

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