Melbourne, Part Deux

Anzac Day is the national celebration of the Australian military (ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), similar to what we in the US would call Memorial Day. Rather than be snugly fit onto a Friday or Monday like Memorial Day, it’s a fixed date: April 25th, the day the Anzacs landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey during World War I. This year, that date was a Thursday. But this year, my company kindly offered us the Friday off as well.

So naturally, whenever an uninterrupted chain of free days presents itself, I immediately started researching plane tickets. My funds weren’t quite extravagant enough to allow for a jaunt to Tasmania or New Zealand, but flights to Melbourne were still pretty cheap even just a week before, so I booked a flight to see my cousin and explore the city a bit more.

My flight was in the evening, which meant I was able to spend the day at a packed Clovelly Hotel on a gorgeous, warm Sydney autumn day. The Anzac tradition is to drink copiously (very Australian), and play a game called Two-Up. The rules are pretty simple: Choose how much you wish to bet. Gambling is massive in Australia, so usually +$20 per round is the norm. If you want to bet heads, tap the bill to your head and shout “Fifty on heads!” until someone who is willing to bet $50 on tails hands you their $50. The person betting heads holds both bets while one person in the center of the mob uses a wooden paddle to flip to bottle caps into the air. If they both land on the same side, heads or tails, the bet is won by whomever placed that bet, and you either keep the cash or hand it over. If they are opposites, the round is re-tossed.

Two-Up at Clovelly

The Scene at Clovelly

A few hours of this and I jumped in a cab for the airport, sufficiently unsober. Somehow I made it through security without triggering any alarms, but the motherly Indian woman sitting next to me on the plane shot a few disapproving glances from the corner of her eye, likely thanks to my beer/cider breath.

And then, I was in Melbourne. I had planned this trip out a little better than my last one, and we had plans.

Plans started with a day at the Melbourne Zoo. We brought along the kids my cousin nannies and some of their friends, because seeing things like zebras and giraffes with young kids helps you reawaken the amazed six-year-old in yourself. And because we thought it would be a nice thing to do for Kelly’s host family since they were letting me stay with them for the weekend. I’m proud to say I navigated five children in a packed zoo with a hangover quite well. Maybe I could be a parent someday.

Butterfly Sanctuary in the Zoo

Butterflies at the Zoo

That evening, Kelly and I charted out our exploration of the city. We started at Las Laneways Fiesta, a mashup of art, delicious Mexican food, and a bar of margaritas (duh). After inhaling four of the best tacos I’ve had in months, we decided to start our bar crawl. To sum it up: Absinthe at Bar Ampere – served in the classic 1930s fashion and not the on-fire shot format common in Ibiza. Then we went over to Fitzroy on advice of our very kind bartender at Bar Ampere and tried a cocktail each at Kodiak Club. We finished up with the most incredible cucumber and jalapeno martini I have ever, ever had (and it wasn’t just because it was my fifth drink of the evening) at Little Blood, just upstairs. Apple Maps failed us when we tried to find the Everleigh, which we took as a sign we should scurry home so as not to waste a beautiful Melbourne day on a hangover.

Margaritas and Tacos in the Laneways

Cuzzies in the Laneways

The next day we hoovered an amazing breakfast at Two Birds One Stone in Kelly’s hood of South Yarra to fuel us up for a day traipsing St. Kilda, eating ice cream and checking out the Vintage Markets at the RSL. In one of those amazing universe alignments that rarely happen, a friend from home happened to be in Melbourne for this exact weekend, mostly because his job is to travel the world and take amazing photos of everything he sees (you should go buy some). So he met up with us and we all went to a footy (Australian Rules Football, or AFL) game. The beers started flowing, and soon enough we were all at Cookie, a four-story drinking and dancing extravaganza in the middle of the city taking shots of tequila.

Vintage Markets

The Vintage Markets
California Kids in Melbs

California Kids in Melbs

Footy Game

After a Few Carltons…

We poured ourselves into bed somewhere around 3 a.m., and a few short hours later I was up and in a taxi on my way to the airport, since it appears I can no longer take a flight without being desperately hungover.

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