Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We had two family wedding celebrations - the first one was in my hometown of Tauranga, New Zealand. The majority of our time in NZ was taken up with two things. First was cooking for the celebration:
The celebration was great - my Dad made a lovely speech, followed by T, then me. Everyone seemed to have a fun time, I know T and I certainly did!
Our second major activity was spending time with my family, with everything centred around my gorgeous little niece Cara:
We had a night in Sydney before heading down to Canberra. We stayed at The Grace, which was super nice and just around the corner from Peace Harmony, a veggie Thai restaurant. No photos as I wolfed our food (tamarind veggies, tofu and "chicken") down before even thinking to take a picture, but here are some of the hotel:
We had breakfast at a vegan friendly place the next morning before heading down to Canberra. I forget the name of it, but the hot cider with lemon and cloves was so good I had two:
The majority of our time in Canberra was again cooking for the celebration picnic:
We also managed to squeeze in some meals at the Au Lac (I can never get over how delicious their lemongrass "chicken" is).
It was great to catch up with friends and family at the picnic, including Kristy, Toby and Dan who had come up from Melbourne for the occasion. We also managed to sneak in an extended session of Singstar at Evan & Jess' house after the picnic - I got to trot out Disco 2000 and Brass in Pocket.
At the end of the weekend, it was time to fly back to Melbourne. It was very sad for me (and T) to arrive back in some ways, as it meant a return to our everyday lives, ie, going back to work. In other ways it was great to be back - not having to live out of a suitcase and being able to sit still for a minute without thinking we only had limited time in that place. And of course, seeing our friends again was wonderful!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
No, not the film.......San Francisco, the final stop on the US leg of the trip. It was a long drive from Portland to SF, but we got to see some of the autumn colours in full swing:
At one point I overtook a long silver bus which T speculated as to whether it might be Neil Young's tour bus, given it had the licence plate "Zuma". A little bit of research after we arrived in SF hours later confirmed that it was the very same, and that we were going to be in town for the Bridge School Benefit so we snapped up some tickets.
We ended up at an abandoned naval base on Treasure Island on our first day there. I'm a big fan of abandoned buildings:
Sausalito and Golden Gate National Park were next up:
We dined that night at Herbivore, this time at the Divisadero location. This time we even managed dessert, a strawberry & rhubarb pie for me, and a chocolate cupcake with vanilla bean icecream for T. A couple of the ginger-infused vodka cocktails with pineapple and pear juice were a nice (and strong) companion to the meal.
The following day was the Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View, about an hour or so from SF. We were a bit late, but the highlights of the night were Wilco (for T), Norah Jones (!) (for me - she covered War on War by Wilco that I thought was better than Wilco's version) and Neil Young. Jack Johnson played just before him, and after he played, a good third of the crowd up and left. T and I had had a nap during his set, so we were happy to wake up and be able to move much closer to the front. His set was so incredible that it made T cry, and I got pretty close myself, during "Old Man". He brought everyone back on stage for "Comes a Time".
A trip to Alcatraz was scheduled for the following day, following a two-part lunch at Cha-Ya, a vegan Japanese place, and Weird Fish, a semi-vegan fish and chip joint. For some reason they also serve vegan pancakes, so I gave those a go, and T tried the vegan fish and chips. I wasn't a big fan of the "fish", but my pancakes were fantastic.
While it was a bright sunny day in SF, it was cold, grey and damp out at Alcatraz Island. When lining up for the audio tour packs, the guy looking after them said to us "English?" T said "No, I'm Australian, and my wife is a New Zealander." I said "But we do speak English though," as he was trying to find out what language we wanted our guides in. The three of us had a good laugh about that for a while.
It was a fascinating place though, so incredibly bleak, and not just because of the weather.
We had returned our rental car, so the rest of our time in SF was spent walking or getting public transport.
Our last order of business was going to visit the sea lions that live at Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf. There were hundreds of them lying on pontoons sleeping, swimming around and trying to get up on the pontoons. They were so entertaining (and noisy) that we watched them for over an hour.
Our last 45 minutes in SF, and the States, was spent by T in the Apple Store, and me buying some jeans. We flew out that night to Auckland for the first leg of the family wedding celebrations.