Last week we had just back to the hotel for a short afternoon rest in the warmth before deciding on dinner. I’d picked out a few possible pizza options and we ended up choosing Briscola. OMG it was freezing out there, and Briscola was a bit of a walk from the hotel in the icy cold Canberra evening. The restaurant was quite busy and to keep warm while we waited, we did a large lap around two blocks. Specifically these two blocks.
I am sure they have a name but I have no idea what it is. The buildings are very pretty and quite old. Every time we visit here they are filled with new restaurants and sometimes there are empty spaces. I think there are maybe four places here which were here on our last visit. Mamas Trattoria might be the one that has been there the longest that I am aware of, because we went there with Sephyroth when he visited in 2011. If we had felt like eating out that would have been our pick – but we had Harry Potter waiting back at the hotel. :)
The next morning we grabbed a quick McMuffin but I flat out refused to purchase coffee there. While waiting to place my order everything I saw from the two staff members screamed at me not to order coffee there and the final straw was the use of a grotty cloth to wipe out the portafilter. Thankfully we will never know if I was right and buying coffee there might have been the death of us. We chose wisely and went to Oliver Brown instead. It was a short walk away but well worth it in my opinion.
You may recall me mentioning the Day Of The Dead skull planter in post #1 of this trip. We kept thinking about it and talking about how we regretted not buying it.. so on our way out to Tulip Top we quickly stopped in to the Canberra Outlet Centre and grabbed it. While there I saw my next regretted non-purchase.. how beautiful is that side table? It was all mother of pearl and I am a sucker for that, but we resisted the urge and left it in the store. I had never seen anything like that before and I thought $79.95 was a tiny price for it. You can click on that image for a larger view.
Back in the car and on the way to Tulip Top at long last. Above and below, you are about to see some shots taken with the Oppo phone camera. I have not edited these other than to make them blog size friendly.
I always enjoy the posts Elephant’s Child does about Floriade and Tulip Top and every year I would read them and think how much I would like to visit.
I was not sure about the walk to the lookout but we made it up easily. Back down was a bit harder for me than going up, I kept feeling like I was going to fall forward. This panorama above can be made larger by clicking on it. That is the final Oppo shot for this post. Now over to my Samsung phone.
Once again we were those super annoying people who took ages taking photos and framing shots perfectly, etc. We probably spent a good two hours here.
We loved the planting here (better than the planting at Floriade, we thought) and I especially loved the weeping willow trees.
The cherry blossoms were gorgeous too.
I have no idea what this plant is, I am sure someone who does know will chime in with the name in the comments.. I loved this plant/flower being included here.
It was a gorgeous day for the drive home..
..with our usual stop at Heatherbrae for the crispy creme donut. I had one third, The Other Half had two thirds. :)
Last time, we had just returned to the hotel room to drop off our shopping before heading out for dessert. Canberra has just got their first Gelato Messina and if you have been reading here long enough you know I am a big fan.. but we had another destination in mind tonight. Lucky for us as there was a massive queue at Messina as you see above in my blurry photo.
We were headed for Frugii Dessert Laboratory. It was only a short walk but quite a fascinating one, loads of people were out and about, and we discovered an impromptu food truck corner at the nearby carwash. Lonsdale Street is a very interesting area.
I had salted caramel and chocolate, as I so often do. The flavours here were really clean and extremely delicious. Frugii is definitely worth a visit.
The next morning we were in the mood for some old school pancakes. Canberra has a version of a place that I grew up with in Adelaide – Adelaidians will know I mean Berties AKA The Pancake Parlour. Capital Pancakes has departed from the Pancake Parlour franchise to keep their prices low. The pancakes were great, the coffee was decent, and it was not too expensive. Plus it was conveniently placed for our walk to Floriade.
We were at Floriade for several hours. Yes, we are those annoying people crouching down taking photos, framing photos, using more than one camera, using our phones as well. We took probably 300+ photos each. I will not bore you with a multitude of flower photos at this time, they will come to you as a surprise on upcoming Fridays. I have put one photo here, as you see above. I was fascinated by the use of parsley as a decorative plant.
It was icy out. Super icy. And windy. I was very glad I had worn all my warm things. Even so we had a lovely walk back to the hotel via City Walk. We discovered a carousel. I sat down and sent a message to Sephyroth to see if he could find out whether this one was originally from Magic Mountain in Adelaide, then got up again to walk some more and found the answer on my own.
This sign told me everything I needed to know, except it did not tell me where the carousel from Magic Mountain went. I did a little googling and it is still at Glenelg, at The Beachouse. This place comes to me as a surprise.
We chose to make another stop at Via Dolce for afternoon coffee and a small snack.
So many choices! The Other Half chose the cheesecake again, which we had shared the day before. When he finds something he likes he tends to stick with it. He paired it with a latte.
Today I chose the passionfruit and coconut slice. It was gluten free and very delicious. Apologies for my photography mishap, I think my photographers eye was worn out by this time. I should have put it in the sun for a better shot. :) I chose the dirty chai and it was amazing. We still did not steal any plates or mugs, we just admired their beauty. At least until we were driven from the white box by some very inconsiderate noisy people.
By this time it was getting very cold. We headed back to the hotel for a short afternoon rest in the warmth before deciding on dinner. Next week, Tulip Top and our journey home – and you will get some flower photos from there.
Ah yes, where were we? We’d just finished up at Kiehls which was in Myer. The layout of Canberra Centre is a little unusual – on the ground floor there are parts which are interrupted by streets but if you go up to the second floor sometimes you will find stores built above the streets.
I had been looking for a unique USB stick, preferably something gold or glittery. Everyone has the same USB sticks where I work and I want to have something which nobody can mistake for theirs. We went into Typo as someone had suggested they might have one. They did not, but they *did* have a very pretty water bottle and that was another thing I needed for work. So I got that on special for $10, and a little packet of tissues which I could carry around with me for $1.
We found a cute little store called Mineshaft which was full of gorgeousness, and here you can see some of it. My Aunt loves rose quartz so I took these first two photos for her to enjoy later.
The book ends are up money but so gorgeous! ;) Though I guess if it is both for $175 that might be ok value given that huge hunk of rose quartz x2?
I have left this photo a bit larger so you can click on it for a closer view of the rings. So many and so pretty and a very varied range of items here.
They had a large range of gemstones which have been carved, most by hand but there are machines out there which can do this kind of thing these days and I believe we have one in the Mancave which might be able to do something a bit like this if set up correctly.
Here you see some Labradorite which makes me think of Meshel from The Muffin Queen’s Closet. I believe if I remember correctly she is getting a kitchen benchtop of Labradorite.
The Other Half had been talking about getting a new phone as he was out of contract on his present phone, and we decided to drop into the Telstra store. Our experiences with them have generally been Not Great, but this time all went well and he walked out with an Oppo which is just as good as a Samsung or iPhone etc but quite a bit cheaper.
He would tell you, after a couple of weeks experience with it, that it would probably be easier for iPhone people to transition across to, as the layout of things is somewhat similar even though the Oppo is Android. He would also say that it is brilliant for people who forget to shut down all their apps – in fact it was so efficient at doing this it kept shutting down our Kakao app that we use to communicate for free and we had to look for a solution. He would also tell you – and next week I will show you with some photos – the camera is fantastic.
Two more quick stops – Bed Bath and Table just to wander their beautiful homewares wall and I found a present for Mother whose birthday was the next week – and H&M, where I found these gorgeous bright red earrings.
After all this it was time to grab some dinner. It was Friday night and at home that usually means Pizza night – and for the past 7 or so Fridays, a Harry Potter movie. I had not seen them and we have been watching them together. These are not movies for children, in my opinion, but they were excellent. We had originally planned to do this at our hotel but then discovered the shops were open till 9, so we decided to swap Pizza to Saturday night this week.
When researching places to eat on our daytrip to Sydney, I heard about Pepper Lunch. We didn’t end up going there because we went to the food court at Westfield Sydney instead. When I saw it in Central Canberra across from Via Dolce, we decided this would be our dinner. The food is served on hot iron plates and you cook it right there on your table. The Other Half chose Waygu Pepper Rice
With its unique design patented in Japan, the iron plate is part of the successful formula of Pepper Lunch. Using a special electromagnetic cooker also patented in Japan, the iron plate will heat up to 260°C in 70 seconds and remain hot at approximately 80°C for more than 20 minutes. Meat that is grilled at this temperature range remains tender and juicy. The hot plate also keeps food warm for a longer time such that customers can enjoy the full flavour of the dish.
I chose Prawn Pepper Rice. The prawns arrive in a bed of egg which is cooking as it arrives on the table. I think the best thing about this meal was the last grains of rice which had been on the hotplate long enough to become super crispy. It was delicious and even more so about halfway through when we gave the sauces on the table a try, our meals suddenly became even more delicious. This is a franchise with literally hundreds of stores in Japan – they are in several states here already. We would go back for sure, even though the Canberra location is quite tiny.
We were out wandering Canberra Centre for several hours and had a lovely time just looking at things and not buying them. I was surprised there were so few purchases, though of course the phone and the shoes are not seen here. I think that has been our biggest takeaway from The Year Of Buying Nothing – we quite enjoy looking with our eyes and not buying things we see.
Some items we see and decide right away that for us we need to buy them because they will likely never be seen again, like the H&M earrings, sometimes the bargain rule applies eg the shoes, other items are things we genuinely need – I’d just taken 4 plastic water bottles home from work for recycling. Spring water is supplied to us, I just needed to get a decent bottle. But sometimes the unpurchased items linger, and haunt, and this was the case for us on this weekend away. But more about that in a later post.
We set off on Friday morning – not too early, we were not in a rush today. As always on a Canberra trip, our first stop was Heatherbrae Pies at Sutton Forest for my favourite Chai Latte. We usually share one of these crispy donuts filled with cream and jam.
I do not usually get my full nails painted – I am more a french tips kinda girl – but on this occasion I went a little wild. My nail lady has some new colours. Photos do not do these justice sadly, and this photo above was taken about 2 weeks in when my eyes start to twitch at the gap of newly grown nail without any paint on it. You don’t notice it as much with tips, that is why I tend to go that way, I can usually get 3-4 weeks out of those.
Our second stop was the Canberra Outlet Centre and TK Maxx, where they had a great range of Halloween items. We do not do Halloween in this country for the most part, though many retailers are trying to make it a thing. This Day Of The Dead skull planter literally screams the name of My Other Half, it was just $12.95 and yet we did not purchase it. We did get some cute coffee mugs with a skull design specifically for work as our work mugs needed replacing.
It is a lucky thing these sparkly Skechers are not my style. How could I do anything or go anywhere? I’d just be staring at my feet all the time. I suppose trying to look at ones feet is marginally better than trying to walk while using a mobile phone – which I strongly do not suggest to anyone!
We were looking at shoes because some months ago The Other Half lost one pair of his Skechers to “an incident” at the very dog-friendly Berry Markets involving the item you least want to step in and which shall remain nameless here for those of you who might be eating at this time.
That left him with two pairs, one he uses for walking and one for running. He did not really have a backup casual pair for general outings, so we have been looking for one pair of shoes for him for a while now.
The Other Half is possibly even more picky than me when it comes to a pair of shoes. I support him in everything but when we visit the 8th shoe store in a row and he likes nothing he sees and/or the things he does like are very Up Money and a price he is not willing to pay I begin to lose hope these new shoes will ever be found..
On this occasion we were very lucky – a shoe store was closing down and they had some lovely Saucony shoes at the insane price of $39. He tried them on and loved them so much we bought the last two pairs in his size.. and then.. there was another incident..
But this time a much more awesome one! I’d looked at similar Adidas shoes back in June 2016 because Sephyroth was going to the Adidas clearance store and he was visiting just a few months later – I took some photos and I asked him something like “if you see these at a good price pls to buy them for me..” They were $240 at that time which is a price I would not be happy to pay for a shoe.
These are a slightly older model than the presently available shoes and some stores have sold out entirely but they are in my favorite colours and I scored them for a tiny $99 instead of $249. What an incredible bargain! I have put them aside to eventually replace my running shoes. For now I will just admire their beauty.
We had spent a couple of hours happily wandering and it was time to head in the direction of our chosen accommodation for the weekend. The entire reason for this trip was because I found an amazing price for The Avenue. I had stayed there once before when visiting Canberra with my parents.v The Other Half was not on that trip.
I was very impressed with The Avenue and the layout of the 2 bedroom apartments, which they can rent as a one bed apartment and a king studio, or as a two bedroom. If it is a two bedroom, the double doors are opened with your key – if separate, then the double doors are locked open and there are two separate entrances – your key only opens your room and someone else has the other bit. What a great idea that is.
There is everything you could need for a short stay in the 1 bed apartment, plus you will find some luxuries like a Nespresso machine. It is just a short walk to Canberra Centre and City Walk and all the goodness right in the heart of Canberra. So much great shopping and eating combined with zero crowds. This is one big reason why we love Canberra. A lot of people are haters of Canberra because of the politicians but do not let them put you off this fantastic place.
A coffee and cake stop at Via Dolce – aren’t the mugs and plates gorgeous? I wouldn’t be surprised if people steal these. We did not thief them, tempting as it might have been. We were good citizens and sat quietly and calmly and shared our delicious cheesecake and drank our coffee in the heated “white box” which was a lovely place to be on this cool day.
I first heard about Kiehls from Sydney Shop Girl and was somewhat intrigued in Sydney when I saw they had a Kiehls area inside the Myer fragrance hall. They were advertising 5 free samples and a skin consultation. We did not have time for this on our Sydney daytrip, but I hoped perhaps they would have the same thing in Canberra where I would have more time.
Then, the week before we set off, I discovered the balm I had been using for my face was no longer available. I was mightily annoyed at this, I can tell you. So my possible drop in to the Kiehls area became a must do. I did a little research online before going there and had identified two possible options which I wanted to try – Ultra Facial Cream and Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream. I was already pretty certain it was the latter I wanted, I like a gel.
I was 100% right – the gel cream is gorgeous. So light and sinks right in and does everything I want. I do not do a lot in the way of skincare – a daily cleanse in the shower and some good moisturizer is enough for me. I got the 50mls which is $40 and one only needs a tiny amount, so this will probably last me a while. I also bought the Musk body lotion which is a very unique fragrance and again I only need a tiny amount. I did get my 5 samples as well, and I will give them a good try.
Best of all, unlike the crowded fragrance hall at Myer Sydney, there were very few people about and I got to speak to someone right away. The Other Half wandered elsewhere while I did this, and right when I had finished he appeared on the escalator coming back to find me.
Next time – the rest of our Friday, and some of our Saturday. ;)
I did photography in high school, right up to year 12. It was by far my favourite subject. I loved the darkroom and became adept at doing things without light or in low light. But I also loved playing around and trying to get certain images to work.
Once during a photography weekend in Port Adelaide while playing with depth of field, I managed to get some flowers in focus with the Port Adelaide lighthouse out of focus in the background. I’ll have to try and dig that photo out of my archives and get it scanned in. But when visiting Floriade I remembered that photo, and tried to get a few images like it by focusing on one flower and letting the others go out of focus.
Surprisingly many of my best photos were taken on my phone. All of the images you see here are from my phone. My poor Lumix shockproof and waterproof camera may be on its last legs. So how do you get shallow depth of field on a phone? On mine, I tap on the flower I want to be in focus until it that flower is super sharp, and then take the photo. There are a lot of flower photos coming your way. :)
A small interruption to the Movie Catch Up files – it has been nearly a month since our Canberra visit and I have not managed to tell you about it yet! We left home super early on a Sunday morning to make it over to Canberra before lunchtime.
Canberra put on some gorgeous weather for us but it was very cold. Our plan was to visit the Old Bus Depot Markets, IKEA, Costco and the Canberra Outlet Centre. When we arrived at the markets it was 11:30am which is peak market time and the carparks were absolutely packed. We decided to head to the outlet centre instead of driving in circles trying to find a park and drop back into the markets later if we had time.
TK Maxx has opened at Canberra Outlet Centre and that happened to be the first shop we visited. I’d gone to the American version of this store on Oahu and loved it. However this is not a place you can just quickly drop in and visit. You need to allocate some time to flick through the racks and find the bargains.
As my main shopping task for Canberra was to find a pair of winter boots, I did not have the kind of time needed for TK Maxx today so we just had a quick look around. These sneakers were $600 or so and as much as I would love some crystals on my feet, I said heck no to that! ;) They have such a range of items at all kinds of prices. I took a leisurely trip to the Warrawong store the following weekend where I spent 2.5 hours browsing, but that is a story for another blog post.
There is now a Coffee Club at the Canberra Outlet Centre – we find the food to be reliable and tasty and the coffee is very good here. I had the smashed avo with feta just like a proper hipster doofus.
The official population of Canberra is less than 400,000 people and these lucky people have access to some of the best and least crowded shopping in Australia. They also have access to a lot of other great things – museums, a great zoo, gardens and nature reserves, and some of the best roads with decent speed limits in the country. It is a fairly short drive for us – around two and a half hours – and we have often gone for a day trip before but this time we chose to stay overnight.
We chose Grill’d for dinner as it was a short but very cold walk from our hotel. Grill’d, what are you doing to me? It was because of you I had to create zucchini fries at home, now you want me to create avocado fries at home? If you have a Grill’d nearby the zucchini & avocado fries are worth trying.
I will have to consider this carefully before attempting my own version. I was served deep fried avocado once at a wedding in the early 90’s, in the days before I ate avocado. Who knew avocado fries would become a thing and that I would love them? Who knows what vegetable will be next!
If and when you visit Canberra, do not waste your money on an expensive hotel breakfast. Head out to IKEA and grab their cheap offering (presently just under $6) which includes a hash brown and a sausage not seen here as I swapped it for the tomato on The Other Half’s plate, swedish meatballs, bacon and scrambled egg. They also have warm danish, if you are into that kind of thing, and the cafe serves excellent coffee as well as the cheap or free stuff you get if you are an IKEA member.
The restaurant opens half an hour before the store itself which is almost exactly the perfect amount of time to eat, caffeinate, and make a quick bathroom stop. Then you can do a quick run or a leisurely wander through the store without the crowds you might find at one of their Sydney locations. We went with leisurely wander and were still through the checkout before 11am. We picked up a couple of LAIVA bookcases for $29.99 along with some other regular items and our HODDE rug..
Just across the road from IKEA is Costco, we always make this our last stop before leaving Canberra because we like to purchase cold items like cheese and milk. They have 3 litre A2 milk for about a dollar more than 2 litres cost us at home. I grabbed a new rug for my chair, too.
Winter boot achievement unlocked! Very reasonable at $159 from the clearance outlet. These are Diana Ferrari Supersoft and they are the most comfortable boots I have ever put on my feet. In fact it feels like I have no shoes on at all, and yet it is like walking on air. They are also a size and a half smaller than my other shoes – I used to be size 11 but these are 9.5 – I think my feet have lost weight along with the rest of me.
Canberra may well be the best city in Australia especially when parliament is not sitting and therefore the accommodation is reasonably priced. We’ve stayed at a lot of different places over the years and my first choice here would be The Avenue however that is Up Money at the best of times. If you can get it at a good price I highly recommend it.
The second favourite is Vibe but that is out at the airport so you would need a car to get around if you stay here and parking can be a bit of an issue at this hotel if it is busy. I think Canberra is a place where a car is recommended and very useful.
We tried a new hotel this time – Rydges Capital Hill – and while it was mostly ok, we would not stay there again due to the shower going super hot and cold as a surprise while showering. So the hunt is still on for our perfect reasonably priced Canberra hotel. Aria is next on the list for us to try. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews for it.
It was super cold when we visited. Summer is the perfect time to visit Canberra weather wise in my opinion, any other time of year it has been my experience that you can expect the weather to be on the cold side especially at night, so BYO layers, gloves and hats are recommended too. We have been to visit so many times and yet we still have so much more to see. Canberra is a much under-rated destination and it has become one of our favourites.