24 hours in the city

Melbourne is a real metropolis now and so Mr Rosanna and I decided to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary last week using a gift voucher that family had given us for an overnight stay at The Langham down near Southbank. I’ve previously been to a high tea in the Aria Bar at The Langham as well as enjoyed a spa treatment at Chuan Spa but have never stayed there.

IMG_9586

While my favourite hotel is The Sofitel down the Paris end of Collins Street, the Langham has river views of the Yarra (view from our room above) and is located right in the heart of the city. We shipped the kids and the dog off to family who had very generously offered to mind them and checked into our hotel on Friday afternoon – something we’ve not done since having our kids.

img_9588.jpg

We got there before peak hour and had a swim in the pool and spa (view of the pool from our room above) which overlook the Yarra river and sun lounge area. On warmer days, the glass doors looking out are opened up to take advantage of the sun. Note to self if I ever return – don’t try and take the stairs down to the pool as there’s no door entry! Somewhat embarrassingly, Mr R and I thought we’d use our legs and walk down as our room was located near a stair exit but then we got stuck on level 9 and had security escort us back up to our floor. The internal door did open if we had been smart enough to return to our floor otherwise if we’d not had a phone on us we would have been even more embarrassed to have to walk down to level 1 reception in our bathers, robes and slippers!

After leaving it too late to get a dinner booking at Ezard at the Adelphi hotel in Flinders Lane, which has been there 20 years but recently undergone a renovation, I had booked an early dinner at Maha (me and Mr R pictured above) and that was probably a better choice given it’s walking distance from The Langham across the bridge over the Yarra and a dark and moody subterranean space downstairs that suits the colder months. I’ve wanted to go to Maha ever since working with Shane Delia two years ago on the Bold Thinking series lecture on the Mediterranean diet. Shane has also just opened Maha East – his new outpost in Windsor.

IMG_5842
Me in the Rendezvous Hotel foyer

The original Maha has a four course sharing menu as well as six, and eight course (full degustation), options. After some consideration, we opted for the six course menu but given we added one of the specials – scallops – to our menu and then were given a surprise course of granita before dessert (an anniversary special), we ended up having eight courses, which was a real indulgence. You can also have wine matching if you’re a serious drinker but Mr R opted for wine by the glass and me as a non-drinker was happy they had a good selection of mocktails with a Middle Eastern twist.

After our dinner, we walked back to the hotel but stopped in briefly to check out the heritage-listed Rendezvous Hotel on Flinders Street after noticing its decorative exterior. It was well worth the stickybeak to marvel at the beautiful domed ceiling in the wood-panelled foyer and while we didn’t see the rooms, the old traveller’s hotel is a beautiful one. We went on to have a late night drink in the Aria Bar at The Langham where we enjoyed some live music from Perolas – a fantastic musical duo on harp (yes – a harp!) and guitar finding out later that the female singer Liana Pearl is a La Trobe alumna who has gone on to post-graduate music therapy studies.

We slept in the next day but enjoyed the full buffet breakfast in the Melba Restaurant where it feels quite international – Mr R said the Langham reminded him of the Shangri-La in Manila where he’s previously been for work and I think the Langham is owned by Asians. Taking advantage of our late check out, we were very lucky to get to the NGV before the crowds for the opening weekend of the Terracotta Warriors and Cai Guo-Qiang, which was fantastic. I’ve grown to appreciate my Chinese heritage and culture a lot more as I’ve matured and some of the works on exhibition are beautifully intricate when you see them up close. It’s a seamless combination of modern and traditional art and Guo-Qiang’s work with 10,000 hanging porcelain starlings and gunpowder art (pictured below) is pretty awe-inspiring – if you go, make sure you watch the video at the end of him lighting up his work and setting it on fire.

After the show, we grabbed a spot outside in the sun by the river (view from our table below) at Waterfront Southgate – a place that looks fantastic for a special lunch out with fresh sashimi and seafood grill on offer from Japanese and Italian chefs. We were still too full from dinner the night before and breakfast to have anything more than a coffee before returning to our hotel to pack up and leave. There are so many places now to stay in the city including boutique and small hotels, not just 5-star places, and I can highly recommend spending 24 hours in our own city as tourists if you get a chance to do it.

IMG_9655

 

Power and privilege

It’s been an interesting election weekend – a lot of people voted early so it was pretty subdued at the local primary school compared with previous elections. I wonder if it reflects the state of the Australian psyche regarding all things political and I wonder too if Bob Hawke’s passing may clinch the deal for the Labor party.

IMG_9574

I attended my first graduation ceremony at La Trobe University during the week – something I’d not previously done despite working at the University for three years now. While Olivia Newton-John received her honorary doctorate last year, this year’s recipient was Kon Karapanagiotidis (above) from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, twice a La Trobe alumnus, whom I was lucky enough to work with in 2017 for the Bold Thinking Series lecture on Social Cohesion in the Goulburn Valley held in Shepparton. My colleagues and I said a short hello to him before official proceedings and have been very proud to call him one of our own.

IMG_9572
L-R: Kon Karapanagiotidis and La Trobe Chancellor John Brumby AO

So while I had seen him previously speak in a public forum, his keynote speech to students was a rousing and impassioned one, if not a little evangelical in nature, where he asked graduands “what are you going to do with your power and your privilege?”. You can watch the full speech here. Kon had also brought his mum with him who was sitting in the row behind me and his speech was also very moving with him tearing up while talking about his parents’ sacrifices in his early days as the child of immigrants who could not speak the language but had a great love of this country. He spoke of love, of hope, of culture and community and the things that bind us together as people and his message regarding the fact that your integrity and your values are things that no-one can take away from you regardless of your circumstances.

On another note, I did want to mention that the next Bold Thinking Series lecture is on Can dogs heal hearts and minds? and there will be two therapy dogs present at the event being held at the State Library Theatrette on 13 June. I read with interest about a recent National Australia Bank study that found that owning a dog, cat or other animal was an overwhelming factor for improving our sense of satisfaction, life worth and happiness as the top influence adding to our wellbeing as recorded by economists.

fullsizeoutput_1ac3

Also on tomorrow is World Bee Day Celebration at the Alphington Farmer’s Market from 9am  – 1pm and I must admit I’m always happy to see the bees happily buzzing around in my backyard which are one of the signs of healthy local ecology and environment. If you are a fan of bees, you might also love the handmade necklaces by UK designer Alex Monroe (above) available locally from The Fairfax Store. My current boss, who is British, has one in rose gold and it’s a lovely symbol to have around your neck!

Local Profile – Helena Mikletic

Mother’s Day is almost here and you may want to drop into Helen Mikletic’s beautifully curated store Issa in Ivanhoe if there is a mother in your life. I’ve previously bought some gorgeous homewares and accessories as gifts there and Helen also stocks womenswear – she has a great eye and visual aesthetic which is palpable when you walk in. If you are looking to buy once and buy well, Issa is one of those stores that offer beautiful high end, quality pieces and an ambient in-store shopping experience. Read on for more about the lovely Helena…

image1 (1)

Name: Helena Mikletic

Occupation: Small business owner

Lives/works: Ivanhoe

How long have you worked/lived here?
My business has been in Ivanhoe for the past 14 years in three different locations, we settles in our current location 2 and a half years ago. I haven’t lived in Ivanhoe but am looking forward to moving into my apartment on Upper Heidelberg Rd in the next few months.

image2 (1)

Describe yourself/what you do:
I don’t have a formal background in interiors or styling but I’ve always had an interest in beautifully made products. This naturally lead into opening my own boutique, I always wanted a space that showcased pieces from talented and considerate designers around the world. It’s become a second home when I can share my favourite items with my lovely customers many of whom have become close friends.

image3

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne’s north-east:
It’s close enough to the inner city that it feels like everything is at our fingertips but being a smaller suburb it has a nice slower pace to it. People can and are willing to spend a bit more time in store which is lovely because you can build close relationships and it feels very community driven.

For more information:

Instagram: @issaivanhoe
Contact: 03) 9499 8501
Address: 170 Upper Heidelberg Rd Ivanhoe
No website, I may set one up but I’m very committed to the in store experience and this is my primary focus.

Mother love

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the amount of Mother’s Day promotions I’ve seen around the place and online – it may reflect the current state of Australian retail at the moment – some brands and stores are doing better than others. Being online definitely helps to reach people who may not be located locally or able to visit your bricks and mortar store. And while I have mixed feelings towards Instagram – I think if you work in fashion, food, art or anything design-related it’s a no brainer…

IMG_9015
This mother in Greece last year…just because 🙂

As for me while gifts are nice, it’s experiences and the giving of time that is more special to me – my kids have previously made me a cake (albeit in the microwave!) as well as breakfast following a sleep in. It’s the thought that counts…

This mother likes to do fun and adventurous things so the Neon Playground light and art installation currently on at Melbourne Zoo has caught my eye as well as the multicultural No Lights No Lycra event at Darebin Intercultural Centre taking place on 9 May.

With cooler weather upon us, Mr Rosanna and I are still putting finishing touches to our place in terms of interior decorating. The vintage poster reproductions from La Brocante have caught our eye and we stopped in last weekend at one of Preston’s hidden secrets – Albi Homewares outlet with up to 70% off retail prices – located at 87 Chifley Drive Preston opposite Bunnings with its own separate driveway. It closes at 4pm on Saturdays so best to get there earlier in the day – it’s well worth a visit.

The Pared Eyewear sample sale is also currently on if you’re wanting to pick up some fun sunglasses at discount prices. I keep a cheaper pair of sunglasses in my car just in case I’m without my normal pair so it’s always good if you can find a bargain! Enjoy your weekend.