I was in a funk. I’d headed into the city to work at the Public Library, somewhere I spent a lot of my early twenties and love visiting when I’m in town. Usually the library has a salubrious affect on me, but today it was over crowded, noisy (which most would view as strange for a library), and I couldn’t find a space in the quiet room to sit and work. I squeezed onto the corner of a table in the main hall, but the constant tap of one patron’s pen accompanied by another’s constant texting and quiet giggles began to get on my nerves. The straw that broke my camels back was when a third guy put on his headphones and proceeded to play music at a level too quiet for me to hear the song, but too loud for me to ignore it. That was it. I packed up my books and bag and headed out into the streets. Where I found…
An adorable, well-dressed, older Italian man who was totally schooling a bunch of twenty-somethings in a game of outdoor chess, with those large knee high pieces and a board you have to walk on. They were playing right out the front door of the library. The sun was still shining and warm, the smell of roasted nuts wafted on the air, and instantly the tension in my neck started draining away. I stayed to watch the game, laughing along with the man as he hurried various people around the board to collect his pieces and talking smack with his opponent.
I had moved on only a few paces when I come face to face with a statue I’d forgotten about. He’s a Bunyip, a mythical creature from Australian Aboriginal folklore. While often portrayed as grumpy and mean, this little guy is from a favourite children’s book “The Bunyip of Berkley’s Creek” by Jenny Wagner, Ron Brooks. I hung out with this childhood memory for a moment and continued down Swanston Street.
Around the corner and down the block I found one of Melbourne’s iconic sights, a busker, and a damn good one. The sound of his electric violin filled the air, and I was one in a large, growing crowd who’d taken a moment in their day to stop and enjoy something beautiful. For some reason, this put me in the mood for a cocktail, and after the second song, I continued my stroll towards a little place I know called Cookie.
I love, love, love, Cookie! The food is Thai inspired and luscious, but their wine menu is really what it’s about for me. The menu is a fantastically good read for any wine devotee, and has some rather amusing hidden suggestions that have nothing to do with wine squirrelled away inside its pages. I am always tempted to, ahh, permanently borrow this tome, because indeed it is not a double sided A5 sheet of paper, it’s a book, and I always forget to bring a bag big enough to fit it.
The staff are lovely and know their business. After my much needed Espresso Martini (because I don’t seem to be able to start a night at a bar without one), my bartender offered me a gin suggestion that was so lovely – Jinzu. It’s an English-style gin infused with zesty yuzu, with a softly smooth and creamy sake finish, but it was the fragrant cherry blossoms that hooked me. So delicate and floral, they filled your senses with Springtime in Japan.
I promise, I didn’t sit their drinking cocktails alone, though. I roped in a childhood friend who, after a few more drinks and a luxurious dinner, continued on my stroll down Swanston Street. We deviated from our path at the bridge over the Yarra River and wandered through the evening crowds that meandered along South Bank and its many bars and restaurants. Ending our evening on a high with decadent chocolate delights from the Lyndt Chocolate Shop.
If you’re in Melbourne, even with kids, I highly recommend taking this little route, wander into a side street and just enjoy the Melbourne summer evening atmosphere.
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