Jan 28

I Licked A Bug on Whitehaven Beach

We’re sailing the Whitsunday’s and have a leisurely stop at Whitehaven Beach. But first we have a little hike so we can get overhead views of Whitehaven Beach, the 2nd? most photographed spot in Australia.
On our hide our guide stopped for a bit when he saw a bug he wanted us to lick.  Yes, you read that right. I wish I could remember the name of the bug, but since I’m not going to be looking for one again, I’m not worried.
Anyway, the aboriginals were very efficient at using every bit of, well, everything, including bugs. This particular bug has a part of it that has a citrus taste to it – they were used to make a soup for when the aboriginals sick. I guess vitamin C was known to the aboriginals before we named in vitamin C.
There weren’t any volunteers, but one of the girls stuck her tongue out and our guide taped it to her tongue and the look on her face was priceless.  She went from shock and horror to, that actually tasted good.  Slowly our group of 16 all “licked” the bug. I wouldn’t do it again, but I’m glad I tried.
After that we went to the beach for a few hours.  We had wear our stinger suites, which is kind of weird and seems to take away part of the benefit of being on a beach, but death sucks too.  While we were there we looked for fish and even saw a lemon shark as well as some sting rays.
The sand on Whitehaven Beach is actually silica and does not store heat so it’s actually a regular temperature, none of that, “oww, hot, oww” as you hop around the beach.  Unfortunately silica reflects the sun like crazy so you have to be extra careful about sunblock here. I did a really good job, I missed a couple little spots or had the sunblock rubbed off – nothing serious.  But I totally missed my lips and let me tell you.  You MUST, MUST wear sunblock, my lips were swollen and stuff for days!

Jul 18

Pancake’s On The Rocks

While I was in Sydney I met up with a friend, we spend the day going to see Bondi Beach and the fireworks at Darling Harbor.  While in Darling Harbor she pointed out “Pancakes On The Rocks” a popular Sydney restaurant, as noted by the long line out the door.

Nellie suggested that I try and eat at the one near my hostel, the one that’s actually in The Rocks.  So, on a rainy morning when I was hoping the weather would clear up I figured I would enjoy a leisurely breakfast there.  The rain didn’t clear as fast as I had hoped it would, but at least I had a nice breakfast.

As you might expect they specialize in pancakes and they were quite good.  As I found during most of my trip the menu was a bit odd, not because it was odd but because Aussies even do breakfast different than we do in the US. As much as this picky eater pretends to appreciate different menus, it is stressful, but at least at a pancake place, you can find something in your comfort zone.

The only thing that really surprised me was that it was empty.  Granted, it was during the week when most people were starting their day at work, but it was dead inside.  The lesson there is, go during the week when people are at work, not on a Saturday night in Darling Harbor.

 

Jul 09

Attacked in Sydney

I often find myself posting about the different places I see on this blog, occasionally an experience will jump out at me, but too often I’m posting about regular touristy stuff.  Today I thought I would post a funny experience from my time in Sydney.

Picture it, a warm, sunny day in Sydney… Ok, the weather was actually clearing after some morning rain. I had a few minutes before tracking down a walking tour of the city and thought I would grab some Hungry Jack’s.  I got two mini burgers and ate them as I walked over.

The setting for the attack (near the terminal)

Well, I took a bite out of one and then a bird swooped in and stole it out of my hand.  It was impressive really, he didn’t touch me at all! It was one of those moments when you look from your hand to the bird, to your hand, to the bird to your hand, to the bird.  You get the idea…

It’s pretty funny in retrospect. But my hiding as I ate the other burger and my fries, not so funny. Nor was the fact that I was scared of the birds the rest of my time in Sydney, and there were a lot of them.

Word to the wise, in the ferry area of Circular Quay, eat INSIDE.

Apr 16

Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne)

While in Melbourne, I decided to do something a little more local after seeing all of the big sights – like the Great Ocean Road and the Little Penguins – so I went to the Queen Victoria Market for breakfast. While the market does have a lot of different offerings, I thought breakfast would be a convenient time of day to go and also a time that might be more authentic.

 I initially walked around the area that offered breads, cheeses and pastries (a good place for breakfast, right?) and the food looked delicious.  In particular the pastries looked delicious, and happy too!

But, I had trouble finding something substantial for breakfast. As cute as those cookies were, I needed something more than sugar.  I moved over to the produce section where I bought myself some fruit to get me through this morning and my last morning in Melbourne.  The fruit was fresh and well, I haven’t got a clue how the prices were, but there was certainly more of a farmers market feeling here then you would get at a grocery store.

After that I went to a little coffee shop outside the produce section where the guy forgot to serve my smoothie.  But once I reminded him it was quite delicious.  I also felt like I was really eating and drinking with the locals, score!

My final stop was in a Christmas shop on the edge of the market, and well, they had a lot of creepy stuff there… Isn’t that part of the experience? It was fun to eat and walk around the Queen Victoria Market, I just wish I had a little more time there to enjoy more aspects.  I highly recommend stopping there, at least for breakfast or lunch and to browse the stalls of food.

Apr 11

Restaurant Review – Pellegrini’s (Melbourne)

I don’t do restaurant reviews very often. As much as I enjoy a good meal, I wouldn’t say I’m a foody.  But every now and then I go to a place that really catches me and makes me want to send others to.  In Melbourne it was Pellegrini’s.

I got the recommendation from a twitter friend and the restaurant seems to be labeled as an Espresso Bar, though I think greasy spoon might be a better description.  Though I guess it depends on what time of day you go there.

When I first walked by it I thought it was a greasy spoon, and decided to look at another place on my list. Well, the other place was a bit fancier then I wanted for lunch so I came back here.  Pellegrini’s was opened in the 60s, hence the greasy spoon feel and serves excellent Italian food.  The menu hangs from the ceiling and does not list prices – I would budget $20 to $25 for lunch. So, it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s good.

I’ve read some reviews that the the staff there is rude.  I did not experience that, in fact, my waiter was excellent, and made me some special drink that was absolutely delicious. I don’t know what it was but it was slushy, pink and tasty.

I was there for lunch and the place was packed with local business people. You could tell it was a local crowd who visited frequently, a good sign for any restaurant. While I was there I met a local man and had a great chat. Turns out the place is a bit famous in its own right and has hosted many a visiting politician, like Bill Clinton. Or so I’m told.

No, it’s not the best Italian food I’ve ever had, but I’ve also been to Italy and Little Italy in NYC, so I do have high standards. But good food combined with that local institution atmosphere makes this a great place to eat in Melbourne.

Nov 13

Glenwood Hot Springs

When planning my trip to Colorado my friend suggested going to hot springs, I jumped on the opportunity. There is a certain mystique of hot springs, warm relaxing, and bubbling water. The ultimate hot tub, luckily our hotel included admission with the room.

GlenwoodHotSprings_4294

Just a short walk across the street was the hot springs pool.  When you enter you have to go to the locker rooms to dress/undress, depending on how you look at it. Take a quick shower to rinse off and then you’re free to go soak.

There are two pools, a hotter and less hot pool.  The cooler pool is about 90 degrees, the warmer about 105 degrees, and their temperature will increase or decrease depending on which side of the pool you are in.

There is an interesting dynamic in the pools, while there is a mix of people; it is definitely an older crowd.  There are some kids (of all ages), but they don’t get rowdy like they do in a typical hotel pool.  The adults just stand around, or sit on the stairs and relax.

Of course relaxing is the idea, but I don’t know, I expected more movement in the pool, instead everyone is pretty calm in both pools. And it was a relaxing experience, worth the effort to relax my body and muscles, I can see why people visit hot springs for a weekend of relaxation.

As for the rest of the experience… The locker rooms had plenty of lockers and were only 50 cents per use. There were plenty of showers and changing rooms.  And although I don’t mind seeing other ladies naked (which totally came out wrong), I wish more of them used the changing rooms.

There was a grill for your dining pleasure. Nothing too fancy, but the breakfast was great – lots of variety and lots of food.  A perfect combination!  I suspect the lunch and dinner menus could be a bit healthier – a grill and an a relaxating environment doesn’t seem like a typical combination.  But, at least with variety you can find something for different tastes.

Oh, and the sulfer smell was minimal. I do suggest washing after going in though, I was very itchy after my visit.

Jul 18

Dining in Chicago

While I was in Chicago I had the opportunity to eat at two notable locations – Weber Grill and Lou Malnati’s.

Weber Grill comes from the maker of Weber Grills, shocking, I know. It is located at Grand and State Street and is Delicious! I had Prime Rib, sweet potato and pretzel bread. The prime rib was well cooked and tasty. The mashed sweet potatos were also tasty and I just love pretzel bread. The wait staff friendly, and offered quick service.

I thought this was a good place for solo travelers, I saw several people dining on their own.

At the end of my dinner I asked the waiter where he recommended for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Lou Malnati’s.

Lou Malnati’s
There are several locations but I went to the River North location at 439 North Wells Street.

When I arrived I was told the wait would be 45 minutes, but I only waited a half hour for a table. They do have the option of pre-ordering your pizza to reduce the wait at the table.

My salad was excellent, lots of veggies in it and a sweet vinagret dressing. Pizza crust was a bit thinner then I expected, and had cheese then sauce. A lot of sauce. Overall, it was very tasty pizza, but I’ll stick with my NY style pizza anyday.