If you have never been to Brunetti, you don’t know what you have missed.

 

 

(picture from the internet)

Yes, absolutely, if you have never been to Brunetti you don’t know what you have missed in sweeter things in life. Whenever I am in Melbourne, I have to make at least one visit to this iconic shop on Lygon Street.

History

The history of Brunetti started in 1985 when the family started trading in Faraday Street.  They set up an authentic  Roman Pasticceria. The founder, Giorgio Angele had started really young at the age of 10 and thus had tremendous knowledge of cakes and pastries.

When he was 23 years old, he came to Australia with the Italian Olympic Team as their Pastry Chef in 1956. After working for some time he got an opportunity to permanently migrate to Australia. Since then he has been behind this iconic brand.

Be it Italian coffee from the Bar, or Cakes from Pasticceria or Gelato or tempting savoury, Melbournians have been loving his creations. In 2005 they opened another cafe in City Square and now they have three more in the city at Camberwell, in Myer’s and in the Domestic Terminal at the Melbourne Airport.

This rich Melbourne experience has helped them expand internationally. Tanglin Mall in Singapore opened with a Brunetti in 2011.  Honestly, it is really difficult to choose what to eat here since each of their creations are masterpieces.

Highly recommended for a visit, next time you are in Melbourne. If you live there, what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

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The best Greek food I ever had.

Over the years Melbourne has become a multi-cultural city and now boasts of third largest Greek population after Athens and Thessaloniki. So now you can find some of the best Greek food money can buy in the city.

One such place is Jim’s Greek Tavern in Collingwood which has been serving authentic Greek Food as you would find in Greece. It is very simply done up with white walls and their focus is on simplicity. It is quite noisy, unlike any place you would have seen.

However, Melbournians simply love the classic dishes this place serves so you have to book in advance. It operates without a written Menu so you have to have faith in your server even though he may not be Greek.

Just let him take you through the pan fried Saganaki, or Calamari, slow cooked lamb before you make a selection. If you can’t choose he will help you in making the right choice of meat or seafood paired with the right dip. Let him suggest the wine too, I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Be assured whether it is the seafood or beetroot or Zucchini chips or even a warm loaf of bread you can be sure of an authentic Greek taste.

 

If you are in Melbourne or visiting it, don’t miss it for anything in the world.

 

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Taxi ride in an undersea tunnel

Hong Kong has many interesting things but what I find most interesting is the undersea tunnel called the Cross Harbour tunnel which connects the main financial and commercial districts across the Victoria  Harbour.

Come join me in a Hong Kong taxi through this thrilling ride under the sea.

 

The tunnel was opened to the public on 02 August 1972 and now is the most congested roads towards the Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong and the world with almost over 116 thousand vehicles crossing it daily. After this tunnel was opened Hong Kong travelled far way from those days of the Star Ferry and other small ferries. There is a toll plaza at the Hung Horn end and it has 14 toll gates.

The Victoria Harbour covers an area of about 41.88 sq km and there are several islands within the harbour like the Green Island and the Kowloon rock.

If you are visiting Hong Kong do not forget to take a taxi ride through the undersea tunnel.

 

Buddha’s birthday celeberation.

Across the World, people follow Lord Buddha and his teachings. However, in South East Asian countries, particularly China, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam etc a very significant population follow Buddhism and celebrate his birthday in a traditional and grand way.

It is observed as a public holiday and there are festivities everywhere. I was witness to one grand celebration in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.

Victoria Park celebrations begin early.

Really early in the morning the Basketball courts and Football courts in the Victoria Park, where the celebrations were planned, were washed thoroughly and stalls put up in rows.

School children and devotees started assembling right from the dawn. Temples and Monasteries were decorated and lanterns were lit to symbolise Buddha’s enlightenment. The altars were adorned with offerings and incense were lit, his images were bathed as water plays an important part in the festivities. In the attached video you can see how people bathe his idol and offer prayers.

It was a real treat to be a part of Hong Kong’s largest Buddhist festival.

 

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Why you should not miss the mid level escalator in Hong Kong.

If you are in Hong Kong you cannot miss the mid-level escalator or the Hillside Escalator link. This unique journey starts at 100 Queen Road Central and takes you up to Cochrane Street.

History

This escalator opened in 1993 at a cost of HK$245 million, six times the budgeted cost and was built by a French company called CNIM. It covers almost 800 m (2600 feet) and rises to 135 m (443 feet) from bottom to top and connects Hong Kong Islands to Central and Western Districts.

It is the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator and is made up of 20 escalators and 3 inclined moving walkways connected by footbridges. There are 14 entrances & exits and it takes about 20 minutes for one way up. You can use it for walking too.

Initially, it did not found favour with the local population as it did not help in decongesting the traffic and it was considered a white elephant. Later, however, as it became popular with tourists the locals also accepted it and now over 55,000 people use it each day. For tourists, it is an excellent opportunity to see the busy streets and old markets of Hong Kong.

Please see the attached video to get a feel of it.

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=-902kQpOq5s

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Van Gogh and the Seasons

Every century great artists are born but some become legends, and their shine does not dim even after 100 years. Vincent Van Gogh is one such artist, but unfortunately, he was not considered successful during his lifetime. Only after he committed suicide did the world realise his greatness.

A bustling place by Sumida river.
A wheatfield with cypresses.
Autumn landscape @dusk.
Avenues of poplars in autumn.

He was born in 1853 in an upper middle-class family. He was serious and a quiet child. He started to draw from a very young age. Once he grew up, he started his journey as an art dealer. He was required to travel extensively, something he did not appreciate. In fact, after he was transferred to London he went into a depression. As his health failed him he turned to religion.

Bank with trees.
Blossoming chestnut trees.

When he was 27 years old he started to paint and created a sort of record with 2100 artworks in just over a decade. His collections include 860 oil paintings, most of which were completed in last 2 years of his life.

He is one of Netherlands’ greatest and most famous artist who truly changed the history of art forever. It is really sad that his greatness was realised by the World, only after he committed suicide at the age of 39 following years of mental illness and poverty.

His works include landscapes, still, life portraits, self-portraits characterised by bold colours, dramatic expressive brush works and is like watching a high drama movie.  He started including olive trees, cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers in his paintings.

Farmhouse in Provence.
Garden at the asylum of Saint Remy
Horse chestnut tree in blossom.

During his illness, he was supported by his brother financially with whom he shared a great bonding. He, however, did not pay enough attention to his health, drank heavily and suffered due to mental health.

As time passed his painting became more bold and colourful, a style he developed while staying in Arles, South France during 1888. As the world turned into 20th century his greatness was increasingly acknowledged.

I had the good fortune of watching some of his great works displayed in The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne during my recent visit.  The exhibition was called Van Gogh and the Seasons and was presented within sections devoted to each of the four seasons.

Roses and peonies.
Self portrait.

 

 

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St Kilda, Melbourne

Melbourne has many beaches around it but St Kilda is the most famous beach in the city, 6 km away from the main CBD. You could either take a taxi to reach here or get on the tram.

History

The original inhabitants of this land called Euroe Yroke, were the Boon Wurrung people who own this sandy place. If you visit Corroboree Tree, a very old red gum tree at St Kilda Junction, you can still find evidence of this.

In 1841, Superintendent La Trobe named it St Kilda after a boat anchored here called Lady of St Kilda. Soon it became a popular suburb of Melbourne and lot of beautiful mansions came along its hills and waterfront. In 1912, an amusement park, Luna Park opened here which changed the course of the history of St Kilda. It still operates here.

After the World War II, it became Melbourne’s red-light area and in 60’s many artists and musicians moved here attracted by cheap housing.

The beach is 700 meters long between St Kilda Marina and St Kilda Harbor located at the northeast corner of Port Philip. The main street is called Fitzroy Street and is lined with outdoor pubs, cafes and restaurants offering a variety of cuisines in line with the multicultural society of the city.

The clock tower.

St Kilda Pavilion is a historic kiosk at the end of the pier. It was built in 1904 and was designed by James Charles Morell. It was called Austral Refreshment Rooms. In 1934 the Kerby Family took over its operations and called it Kerby’s Kiosk.

It was destroyed in 2003 during an arson attack. Later it was rebuilt as per the original design using a lot of salvaged original parts like cast iron roof, decorative cresting etc.

It is now listed as a Victorian Heritage. If you are visiting Melbourne it is an absolute must see.

 

 

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We struck gold at Rutheglen again.

While driving to Canberra from Melbourne, we happen to stop at Rutherglen and strike gold again at Campbell’s Wines. It is a winery with 145 years of history, five generations of knowledge and their dedication to innovation.

History of Campbells.

Rutherglen dates back to the Gold Rush when during the mid 19th century Australia, people from all over rushed to the north east of Victoria in search of Gold.

Some struck it rich,  some didn’t. Some of those who didn’t started to look at their options in tilling the land and making their living in agriculture. They found that the soil was good for crops, livestock and vines.

According to a legend, John Campbell, a Scottish immigrant was told by the first person who grew grapes in the region, to dig deeper but not more than six inches as there is more gold in the first six inches than it is below it.

John started growing grapes and called his selection “Bobbie Burns” after the nearby goldmine he had worked for. In 1870 he established Campbell Rutherglen Wines. The later generations of the Campbells added parts to the original structure, the Cellar, which still stands today.

Immediately after the winery was built, disaster struck and the entire plants were destroyed. David Campbell, son of John was first to start the replanting by grafting European wine grapes which were resistant to the disease which wiped out the first crops.

Like the say rest is history. Today David’s grandchildren produce one of the finest wines of Rutherglen.

 

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Andrew’s Burgers

Part of my family lives in Australia so I go there often to meet them. The moment I land, the first thing which comes to my mind is Burgers. What better place to have a good traditional burger than Melbourne, which is kind of Australia’s food capital.

Good Aussie Beef patties cooked in the traditional way, make the best burgers and what better place than Andrews’s Burgers at Bridport Street in Albert Park.

For the last over 100 years,  they have been selling their burgers made the traditional way using home cooked recipes. Recently they opened their second store in Franklin Street to serve their customers in CBD area.

What makes their burgers so good is the inside story. The onions are cooked & the bread bun is lightly toasted, the lettuce is a crunchy iceberg-cabbage mix, and the fried egg is often cooked through. The patty is made up of grilled beef mixed with cooked onions.

The team at Andrew’s has turned cooking the burgers into an art form and it is pleasure watching them work together like dancers who have had their entire moves choreographed. They don’t back into each other or step on each other’s toes. They side-step, take orders, place eggs, tomatoes, bacon and onions on the grill, toast the buns, fill the buns and put the finished product in their greaseproof-lined bags, handing them over without making a single false move.


No matter which burger you choose, I promise you will not be disappointed. Their burgers are far more traditional than the average American burgers being sold everywhere. According To Greg Pappas, the owner, the greatest thing about Andrew’s is we’ve become a niche now. Also with Melbourne getting more Americanised people now crave for something more original and traditional.

Who knows Burgers better than Greg as he has been working in their store since he was a young boy of 12 years.

 

 

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Brimin Lodge, recharge your batteries here.

This is where we stayed.
In the morning we were greeted by them.
Drive way into the property.

On our way to Canberra we stopped for 1 night at the Brimin Lodge, 15 minutes drive from Rutherglen a famous wine region of North East Victoria.

It is beautiful property run as an Airbnb, run by a very nice couple Simon and Pip,  with three self contained lodges, one of which is by the river called Billabong Lodge. Unfortunately we were unable to meet up with Pip but we met Simon near the river in the morning and had a nice conversation.

The owners stay in this cottage.
Corner of Murray River, a mere 15 minutes walk from the cottage.
We also ran into him during our morning walk.

The property is on a large bend on the Murray River and is also used for commercial farming. There are about 300 sheep, a few Geese, Emus and Cattle on a 400 acres property.

Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2
Living area.
Fully equipped Kitchen area.

The property has everything you need and each of the cottages has a private area allowing you to enjoy your stay to the maximum. The best part is that the mobile connectivity is limited to very few patches on the property which makes it an ideal place to stay over the weekend.

 

 

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