He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich.

Trip Start Jan 03, 2010
Trip End Jan 23, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Sunday, January 10, 2010

It feels so good to be back down under! I was last here in January of 2002 and it quickly became one of my favorite places in the world.  "No worries, mate!" really sums up what I love about Australia.  It's the people more than anything and their laid-back, friendly attitude.  This friendliness, combined with a beautiful landscape makes it a place that is difficult to leave.  Our first stop down under is Melbourne.  With its wide boulevards along the Yarra River, it’s a quieter, charming city (the Saint Paul to Sydney’s Minneapolis).  It’s also a sporting capital- with stadiums all over the place for “footy” (Aussie Rules Football), cricket, soccer, rugby, and tennis.  Sadly, we will be just missing the Australian Open tennis tourney, which I loved taking in during my last visit.

I got my first taste of VB (Victoria Bitter beer) since 2002 and also discovered another favorite in James Boag’s lager from Tasmania.  We arrived late on a Saturday and had Sunday off after flying every day since departure.  For Sunday, I hired a van and driver to take us around the area.  We started at Queen Victoria Market- a flea market that was a huge hit with the group.  From there, we continued on to wine country- the Yarra Valley.  It’s about an hour+ out of town and located in beautiful country.  We stopped at a few vineyards to taste and had a picnic in a park.  We made sandwiches with fresh cheese from a dairy we visited and meats from a Coles supermarket, where I discovered an amazing hot red pepper-crusted salami.  Fantastic!  All the while, there was a kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree, laughing and calling the whole time we ate.  They are good-sized birds!  Our last stop on the way back to Melbourne was the Coldstream micro-brewery- a place where I could have sat all day.  They had a bar where we did a flight and there was a guitar player singing as well.  He played “Land Down Under” which was a lot of fun!

The next day was filled with mall tours, but again, I will spare you the details of that.  It was interesting walking through the Australian Target stores (no relation) with a Target perspective.  They are very good at copying what we do!  It was a bit of a hectic trip to the airport, but everything was squared away and we all flew off to Sydney together on by far the shortest flight of the trip.
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Katie Baker on

I like the picture of you! I miss you! Glad you love it.

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