We had many things to celebrate over the weekend. First and foremost, Ben returned from his trip to Hong Kong. I am super excited to have him back home. He took the redeye Friday night and arrived bright and early Saturday morning. Unfortunately for him, there was no time to rest as there was immediate fun to be had!
The Australian Open has been taking place here in Melbourne. We had passes for Middle Saturday which marks the middle weekend in the two week tournament (no awards for creative naming). I went ahead with a group of friends so that we could ensure good seats and Ben rushed home from the airport to shower and meet us at the venue. I think he’ll tell you that it was worth powering through as it was a great day out!
We were able to watch several matches including women’s singles Muguruza (24) vs Bacsinszky, men’s singles Becker vs. Raonic (8), and Isner (19) vs. Muller along with a brief viewing of one of the men’s doubles. I’d have to say that the highlight was watching Raonic who served up to a 230km/h (143 mph) serve.
Isner in fact is a UGA alum who attended when Ben and I were undergrads. We were thrilled at the chance to see him play… then, the match went forth and Isner fell apart. By the score alone, the game was very tight but if you were watching, there was nothing close about it.
Isner mentally broke down. He let his frustrations set in after the first set and could be seen arguing with his coach in the stands throughout the entire painful match. He even broke one of his racquets in anger at one point. As a spectator, you knew you weren’t watching the match you should have been and if Isner’s head was in it, he would have smashed this opponent easily.
Nonetheless, for us the day was a joy. We had a great time admiring the tennis pros, having a few drinks and obsessively re-applying sunblock all afternoon.
International Food Festival
On Sunday we attended an International Food Festival with some friends. There were tons of food stalls and live music and even some carnival rides but the whole thing felt a bit random. We’ve come to learn that whenever anything is hyped up in Australia, the likely outcome is generally more lackluster.
Still, we stuck around, sampled the food and mostly lazed about on the big lawn while listening for whichever music genre was to perform next – it ranged from 90’s covers to reggae and beyond. We were all waiting to see the headliner performance The Cat Empire and were determined since we had stuck around all day. However, the evening brought low temps and chilly wind. So, while we did manage to see the beginning of the act, we all called it quits early on because of the cold.
Monday was Australia Day (Straya Day) which marks the arrival of the first fleet of British ships in Port Jackson. Lots of people have barbies and celebrate outdoors and of course, there are festivals and events in town. There is also a bit of conflict that comes with the national holiday. Some Indigenous Aboriginals view this as a day commemorating the loss of Indigenous culture and have coined it ‘Invasion Day’. There are always a few protests in the major cities but we did not see any.
In fact, we spent most of Straya Day being lazy and watching Netflix. Ben was recovering from his trip along with the weekend festivities so we stayed low. We did feel a slight obligation to observe the holiday somehow so for dessert we bought some lamingtons and made fairy bread.
Lamington is an Australian dessert made up of sponge cake which is dipped in a chocolate sauce and then coated with coconut flakes. We just bought some store bought cakes but they were still pretty delicious.
Fairy bread on the other hand is something we learned about from our Aussie friends. Apparently, it is something you grow up eating as a kid. You take cheap white bread (like wonder bread), spread some butter on it and then top it with rainbow sprinkles. I guess this is what you give kids here instead of Lucky Charms 😉 So, we gave it a go. The store was out of traditional rainbow sprinkles so we went with stars. It tastes just like it sounds… I suppose I could see how anyone under the age of 10 might be pleased.