Tag Archives: dining

Fabulously Fractured Facades in Metro Melbourne, Australia

We had just moved back to Melbourne, Australia in 2002 and this contentious and expensive cluster of buildings and paved courtyards were completed that same year. I remember the first time I saw Federation Square (now generally known by the shortened title of Fed Square) and it seemed raw, unfinished looking, and very windy at the time. But over the years it has grown on me and I now find it ‘interesting’ if not beautiful.

Housing the NGV Ian Potter art museum, ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), SBS Television and Radio Broadcasting Centre, and a range of cafes, bars, shops, and other cultural offices, Fed Square continues to provoke a love-hate response from both tourists and the citizens of Melbourne. Click on the first link in the article to read about some of the controversial decisions, negative reviews, and blow-out costs that surrounded this project.

 

The fractured and fragmented facades of the modern buildings at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia are a sharp contrast to the more traditional structures all around it.

The fractured and fragmented facades of the modern buildings at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia are a sharp contrast to the more traditional structures all around it.


 
The buildings of Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia contain a cluster of arts organisations, a television and radio broadcasting centre, and several cafes and restaurants.

The buildings of Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia contain a cluster of arts organisations, a television and radio broadcasting centre, and several cafes and restaurants..


 
Another corner of Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne, Australia

Another corner of Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne, Australia


 

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On The Road Again to Newcastle Upon Tyne

Departing Norfolk on Monday, we were back in travel mode as we faced a 5-plus hour drive north to Newcastle Upon Tyne. After (finally!) getting past the ultra-slow two-lane A-roads of Norfolk, we began to see large overhead signs on the motorway indicating that we were headed to (seriously!) “The North.”

After three hours, we were drooping by the time we were just outside York, so we stopped in one of those mega-roadside-rest-stations that has multiple restaurants, a chain hotel, petrol stations, a grocery store, and a bookstore inside. There might have been a lot of traffic on the motorway, but the inside of this large building was amazingly quiet as you can see from the photo below.

 

Food court at motorway rest stop


 

And since when is it necessary to have music-playing games machines right outside of the toilets in places like this? Sometimes having an iPhone to document things is quite handy!

 

One machine in a row of fun-fair type games parked outside the toilets in a motorway rest stop


 

I’ll be posting pictures in the days ahead of our short term renovation assignment here in Newcastle and some tourism articles about places to go and things to see in Newcastle.

Stay tuned!

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Barcelona Nights Out: Photo of the Day – Shoppers and Diners

In contrast to our own home town here in the South of France which practically rolls up the sidewalks on weeknights, you certainly can’t say that about a weeknight in Barcelona!

The photo below was taken on the very busy Passeig de Gracia at night. Note the happy women taking a break on the bench surrounded by all of their shopping bags as other people continue to stream by.
 

Two unidentified women rest on a bench as people walk by at night on the busy shopping district in Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, Spain.


 
Strolling, laughing, running into friends, people are definitely out an about and not racing to get home and sit behind closed doors.
 

Happy Barcelona, Spain citizens out and about on a week night on Passeig de Gracia


 
And in this photo, people are just beginning to think about going out to dinner and filling up the tables at the very early hour of 8:30 PM.
 

Diners begin to slowly fill the tables of a sidewalk cafe in Barcelona, Spain.


 
We found an upscale ‘toy store’ for grownups called Vincon that carried everything from fabbo art and office supplies to a stunning array of kitchen goods. I had what we called (in Deb and Mark verbal shorthand) ‘a tile store moment’ when there was actually so much in that store that I didn’t know where to look first! I managed to get some shots that weren’t filled with people (and trust me, that was quite difficult), but the store was absolutely packed. At the front entry there were a row of waiting room style chairs for the people who were sitting and patiently waiting for someone else to finish shopping so they could go home.
 

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1-Vincon exterior
2-Pantone Display
3-Moleskin Display
4-Bialetti Bonanza
5-Kitchenish
6-Waiting While They Shop
1-Vincon exterior
2-Pantone Display
3-Moleskin Display
4-Bialetti Bonanza
5-Kitchenish
6-Waiting While They Shop


 
Barcelona is an amazingly vibrant city and I can’t wait to go back!

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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A Night In Nantes

A night in Nantes was part of our three day drive through France, but since it was simply a stopover and there was no time for exploration, we mainly saw the inside of our apartment hotel and the restaurant where we ate a rather bland but far-too-salty faux-Italian dinner.
 

Italian dining 'experience' in Nantes, France


 
But what WAS a humorous side note was the discovery of a popular Thursday night hang-out in the “Atlantis” area of Nantes — a huge restaurant and bar complex complete with a nightclub area, a large pool hall, and a massive bowling alley — all under one massive roof! And I have just realised that I will need to add search-engine ‘tags’ to this story that cover music, entertainment, food and drink, humour, and sports. Cool!
 

Moody blue cocktail bar in Nantes, France


 

Cocktail hour in Nantes, France with Salsa classes in the background


 

Pool tables at the Bowl Center in Nantes, France


 
We’ve lived and worked in various parts of France, mainly Normandy, for 9 months out of our 16 months on the road. Traditional cafes and bistros have been a familiar part of each segment of the four places we have lived in Normandy. But frankly, this glossy and contemporary style of venue was a side of French social life that we had never seen. The crowds inside the bars, restaurants, and the bowling alley itself were a range of ages from twenties through fifties and it was a relaxed and happy bunch.
 

Bowling in Nantes, France


 

Bodega Bar inside the Bowling Center at Nantes, France


 
Mark told me to “look to the right” as we strode up the polished concrete ramp to the slightly elevated 2nd level and we saw a clump of people following along with a dance instructor. Dance classes, too? I thought it was some kind of country line dancing, but it soon became apparent from the swishing of the hips that we were watching something with a distinctly South American feel. We had arrived on Salsa Night!
 

Small poster for free salsa classes on Thursday nights in Nantes, France


 
I asked Mark to go back out to the car and get one of the cameras and while he was gone, a handsome 50-ish Frenchman came up and asked me if I would like to dance. Let’s be honest, I’m improving a bit every week, but my fractured French is still rather pathetic. However, I managed to reply, “Non, merci. Mon mari est avec l’automobile et il retournez dans cinq minutes!” (No thank you. My husband is out at the car and he’ll be back in five minutes.) And then I stood there feeling quite flustered because it had been awhile since someone tried to pick me up! He smiled broadly when he heard my accent, nodded sweetly, and said goodbye. Whew!

Just thought you’d like a wee glimpse into a bit of suburban French night life. And up next? On to the Atlantic seaside!

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Seriously? They Would Consider This Food in France?

We are currently living in the land of Fabulous French Food and loving every minute of it. The sheer amount of choice in the grocery, the cheese shop, the butcher, the baker, and the greengrocer infuses you with a sense of well being.

As I mentioned in a previous article, “Lovely Lengthy Lunchtime In Lisle-Sur-Tarne” — the concept of slowly and lovingly digesting each bite of food seems to be ingrained in the French soul. The government offices and many businesses close for a few hours each day so that a proper lunch can be enjoyed. Even the tradesmen here take a 1-1/2 to 2 hour break for lunch. People everywhere love to linger over their plat du jour at mid-day. So how in the world does that mesh with eating food from a dispenser that arrives in 3 minutes?

 

Pizza from a hole-in-the-wall dispenser in Villedieu-les-Poeles, France


 

We had gone into Villedieu-les-Poules for the afternoon and we were walking back toward the car when we spotted the oddity above. A hole-in-the-wall pizza dispenser??? In France???

At least that’s the closest to anything like fast food that I have seen since we last visited England. May I just say, “Mon Dieu!” Followed quickly by, “Tres YUCK!”

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Photo Of The Day From London: Don’t Treat A Thief

For any of us who have grown up in more safe and secure environments, seeing a sign like this posted so prominently in a public place is a bit of a shocker. This photo was taken in a pub dining room in London and the sign warns the diners to be alert to the presence of thieves.
 

Warning sign in pub dining room in London, England about the presence of thieves


 

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