There are some things they just don't tell you about Australia that you have to find out on your own.
For example, like, that the pubs look just like Victorian English pubs on the
outside - but that their opening hours can be rather different.....to English ones.....
And inside, no cozy velvet covered banquets and low tables crowded together but rather wide open spaces, with high stools. And that the beer tastes QUITE different too - says Mr. Paradis.
That pub management can be a bit stroppy and selective about the customers they welcome ("this is no gentrified ale house or hipster-filled gastro pub") - or not. And they might not even bother to open AT ALL during your visit to OZ......which is something that must be considered - but more on that later.
"They" also don't tell you that places like the "Bon App'' (run by "Damien, Francoise and Sebastien") exists -which has such a fidelity in spirit
and flavor to your very favorite Paris bistro that you could ensconce yourself in one of it's
cozy corners and never miss the City of Lights
and its churning terraces, its fog of Gauloises, its
crusty croissants in homely paper sacks and glasses of pastis...ever...ever...again.
They don't tell you that in Melbourne a single modest door can be a portal to a universe of entertainments.....oh, maybe o.k., the tourist books DO tell you THAT. But you'll have to see it, to believe it. (Brunswick St., Fitzroy).
They DO tell you that Melbourne is home to a proper olde worlde covered market chock-a-block
with homely olde-world-ie set-your-heart-a-fluttering goodies.
I DON'T think "they" tell you though,
that the fish at Victoria Market are impeccably, IMPECCABLY FRESH. (And at these prices it should be.) So much so, that they will make you want to move to Melbourne and cook fish every day.
"They" don't tell you that many pubs started out as hotels also and retain that as part of their names.
Or that sleek indoor-outdoor entertainment emporia
can be stumbled onto off the scruffiest out of the way lanes (with Bentley's parked outfront!)
when and where you're least expecting it on the coldest January 2 in 20 years in Melbourne. (They also didn't tell the Paradis family that you can experience all four seasons in one day in Melbourne - apparently that is not uncommon. Whereas we spread our seasons out over six days - going from 100 degrees Fahrenheit on a Wednesday arrival through torrential rains on the weekend, to 60 degrees and drizzle the following Monday.)
"They" never prepared me for HOW INSANELY GOOD the food in Melbourne is - from
Singapore noodles, to (those very fresh) traditional fish and chips.
"They" may not tell you that in OZ, fish and chips are NOT consumed with malt vinegar and curry sauce and mushy peas as in Mr. P's native climes, but rather, Dutch style - with mayonnaise, for dipping! (Because once upon a time there were many Dutch in Melbourne on their way to the East Indies - otherwise known as Indonesia. There's always something to learn, isn't there?)
The servers at the Precinct Hotel will possibly not tell you that just down the road on Swan Street, you will find a branch of Australia's famous ("best") Messina Gelato...........
So don't forget that I TOLD YOU. Because.......well, Y'KNOW - you might want to try some.
Finally what "they" REALLY don't tell you.....is that even though the middle of the Australian summer seems like a great time to visit OZ, many businesses close for the week before Christmas. And/or, the week between Christmas and New Year's. (When the Paradis family were there.) Or the weeks right the way through to Australia Day on January 17! (For crying out loud.) It makes perfect sense because it IS. THEIR. SUMMER VACATION.
But seriously. You really wouldn't want to miss anything. (Like we did!) SO.
Try another season. Like the Fall - my Melbourne friends suggest.
until then, and make sure you let me know when you go.......