After an amazing few days with Ramsay and Kristy, we headed back into Melbourne to stay with our friends, Jaclyn (“Jac”) and Dave.
I couldn’t believe we were finally getting together!
It was almost two years ago I saw Jac and Dave at our yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. Not to mention Kevin hadn’t seen Jac since Africa, and Kevin hadn’t yet met Dave.
Slightly confused? Let me back it up for a second.
Kevin, Jac and I (and Pam), met on a safari in Africa.
After Africa, Pam and I convinced Jac to come to Costa Rica with us to do our yoga teacher training at Anamaya Resort in Montezuma.
At Anamaya, we met Dave. Jac and Dave started to see each other during our teacher training and within months got engaged!
They are now married and living together in Melbourne.
Whew, I think that sums it up. Needless to say, we had a lot of catching up to do!
Jac and Dave live in a beautiful area of Melbourne called Prahran. Our plan was to stay with them for a few days in the city and then head down to Rye over the weekend for some beach time and wine tasting.
Our first adventure in the city was to the Royal Botanical Gardens for its Moonlight Cinema (www.moonlight.com.au). While food and drinks are sold on-site, we packed our own selection of snacks, ciders and champagne. We didn’t even have to sneak it in.
They have a BYOB policy!
God, I love Australia.
Later in the week, it was Australia Day! We started the celebration at Jac’s friend’s condo for a rooftop bbq downtown. The condo was great with fantastic views of the city.
After, we headed to Southbank for drinks along the Yarra River.
The next day, we were ready for Rye! This coastal resort town surrounded by wineries is located 83 km south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula.
Beaches and wine? Yes, please!
We rented a house through AirBnB and got ourselves settled in for the next two nights. The first night, we headed to the local Mexican Pub for some food, drinks and live music.
The next day, it was wine time! We got up early and prepared an awesome breakfast to start the day. I’ve done enough wine tours to know that food is an important part of survival during wine touring.
While wine tasting may traditionally involve pouring out excess wine, this is not something I practice. I like to enjoy as much wine as possible.
After breakfast, we headed to wine country.
Our day at the wineries and in the vineyards was perfect.
The weather was amazing, the wine was delicious, and the company couldn’t have been better. I still couldn’t believe we were finally all together!
The next day, we packed up our stuff and headed further south to Sorrento before returning to Melbourne. In Sorrento, we took a stroll along the Millionaire’s Walk and soaked in the amazing views.
I could definitely live on a beach!
Over the next couple of days, Jac and Dave returned to work and Kevin and I continued to explore Melbourne.
First stop, we returned to our favourite breakfast bistro – Hardware Societé! Last year when we stayed in Melbourne we ate there almost every day. It’s still the best breakfast we’ve had anywhere in the world!
Afterwards, we walked along the Yarra River and explored more of the Botanical Gardens.
Later in the week, we went for dinner with our friends John and Annette. We met them in Turkey during the summer of 2015 and have kept in touch over the years. They are avid travellers who both love a nice glass of champagne.
Something we have in common.
They took us to Pelican’s Landing in Williamstown where Kevin and I ate the best mussels!
The mussels were served in a roasted tomato herb broth. Honestly, we finished every last drop of that broth like it was soup. I keep telling Kevin I’m going to master that broth one day and make it at home.
I’m not sure how much faith he has in my comments, however. All last year I talked about how I was going to start making fresh iced tea daily after having it at Hardware Societé. Needless to say, he’s still waiting for a glass….
Before we knew it, it was time to say good-bye. While we only stayed with Jac and Dave for a week, we started to feel like roommates and it made me sad to go. Luckily, we plan to be back for their wedding reception in August, so it wasn’t a good-bye, but more of a see you soon!
While we left Jac and Dave’s, we still weren’t finished Melbourne.
Our next stop was to Dan and Natasha’s in Mount Dandenong National Park. After our visit to their house last year, we were ready to go back!
Now, I was lucky enough to have already seen Natasha that week. I called her in for backup to help me find a last minute wedding dress.
That’s right. A wedding dress.
Kevin and I got engaged in Salt Lake City a month before arriving in Australia! Filled with excitement, I immediately began planning a wedding.
Well, kind of….
After a couple of days of planning a big wedding in Canada, I was starting to feel the pressure. Planning a wedding is A LOT of work! This is especially true when you are planning for guests out of country to attend. Location, food, flowers, colours, and guest lists. It quickly became too much. When I was eventually questioned about what my ideas were for centre pieces – I had enough.
One morning making breakfast, tears slowly streamed down my face. Kevin studied me cautiously and bravely asked if I wanted to share with him what was wrong.
A question, I am sure, any man is hesitant to ask.
“All this wedding stuff is A LOT of pressure!” I exclaimed, “I don’t think it’s for me!”
Needless to say, at that moment we agreed to focus on what was important – the two of us getting married. We decided to ditch the big wedding and do it our way.
After some research, we found heli-wedding elopement packages in New Zealand. Fly in a helicopter and get married on a mountain top?! Yes, please!
It was like the package was designed for us.
While the package included everything for the wedding, I still needed to organize one thing. A wedding dress.
So, here I was. A few weeks before our wedding looking for a dress that I could purchase, alter and have ready to take in a week. Melbourne was my only chance. I looked at my options in Queenstown, New Zealand and they had nothing.
This was it.
Luckily, Natasha was available to come shopping with me as Jac was working during the day. After one day and a couple of failed stores, we found the perfect dress.
We spent our last weekend in Australia with Dan and Natasha enjoying their property and wine tasting around the Yarra Valley.
Finally, no trip would have been complete without a stop into the Four Pillars Gin Distillery.
Best. Gin. Ever.
Overall, our time in Melbourne and South Victoria could not have been better. Friends, wine, parks, beaches, and fabulous food, it was the best way to start off 2017.
Next stop, New Zealand!