Arts Centre Market

There is no shortage of markets in Melbourne and of the few I have experienced, the Arts Centre Market is my favourite. The setting, on the lawns adjacent to the Arts Centre and along St. Kilda Road, allow plenty of space for browsing without feeling confined. The landmark spire towers 162 metres above the skirt, designed to represent the billowing of a ballerina’s tutu.

On the same theme, a bronze sculpture by Melbourne artist David Maughan, Les Belle Hélène, depicts two female ballet dancers who seem to be celebrating the sunshine on this magnificent winters day.

We arrived early and took our time investigating the unique treasures on offer and enjoying the bucolic atmosphere. Stallholders are selected based on the quality and originality of their locally produced wares, there was no end to the temptation.

5.Arts Centre Market6.Arts Centre Market7.Indian Myna

Following our noses to the origin of the delectable aroma wafting through the air, we found Choo La La and their French praline nuts. As if the salivary glands weren’t already in overdrive, the free samples helped us choose between peanuts, almonds and macadamias (actually, they didn’t really help – we bought all three).

8.Chooh La La

After a perusal of the roadside stalls

9.Arts Centre Market

it was time to think about lunch. There were many options but we couldn’t resist a ham & Swiss cheese crepe from the mobile French style Creperie, Street Crepes.

10.Street Crepes

Once the artist had created his masterpiece, we found a convenient bench by the National Gallery on which to sit and enjoy the result. It was delicious, just enough to fortify us for an afternoon ambling around the exhibitions at the NGV.

17.NGV

Botswana Butchery

Leaving the ferry after our wonderful day on Waiheke Island we enjoyed a supplementary beverage at Viaduct Harbour before exploring further.

1.Viaduct Harbour

With evening meal time still a couple of hours away, we scouted the restaurant menus along Princes Wharf. There were some definite possibilities but the doof-doof music emanating from the establishments wasn’t really enticing for a relaxing dining experience.

2.Princes Wharf

Returning to the old Ferry Building, we settled in the sunshine at Botswana Butchery for, you guessed it, another beverage.

3.Botswana Butchery

We were very comfortable watching the ferries come and go

4.wharf

and, after perusing the menu, we moved inside to dine as the light was fading.

5.Botswana Butchery6.Botswana Butchery

The stunning décor coupled with genial waiting staff made for a lovely, relaxing ambience.

9.Botswana Butchery

10.Botswana Butchery

Using the best local ingredients, the meals were superb. I had Crispy Half Duckling with blackberries, parsnip puree, baby vegetables, watercress & duck jus, while Michael opted for the Raukumara Venison Loin (from the Raukumara Ranges, Bay of Plenty). Steamed Seasonal Vegetables completed the main event.

There was only one element left to make my day complete – Vanilla Crème Brulee with cherry sorbet, rice flakes, pickled cherries and a meringue cigar.

14.Vanilla Creme Brulee

Grotte di Castro

On our way to Bolsena for a lakeside lunch, we stopped to explore the town of Grotte di Castro. The Etruscans lived here quite happily, even after the Romans conquered in the 3rd century BC. That all changed when the Lombards invaded in the 8th century and the inhabitants, deprived of all their possessions, were forced to live in the many caves around the cliffs. Fast forward to 1537 when the town was bought by the Farnese family and became part of the Duchy of Castro. Hence the name, meaning Caves of Castro. We parked on the outskirts and wandered along Via Vittorio Veneto

to the main square, Piazza Cavour. The colourful buildings added some brightness to the overcast day and the war memorial stands proudly as a centrepiece.

5.Piazza Cavour6.Piazza Cavour

We caught glimpses of Lake Bolsena between the houses,

10.Lake Bolsena

some of which must have magnificent views.

11.Grotte di Castro12.Grotte di Castro13.Grotte di Castro

This is the best way to traverse the narrow, cobbled streets.

We continued on foot through the older part of town

20.Town Hall

21.Grotte di Castro

before returning to the car for the short drive to Bolsena.

22.Grotte di Castro

The vision of Grotte di Castro from the road as we left was stunning

23.Grotte di Castro24.Grotte di Castro25.Grotte di Castro26.Grotte di Castro27.Grotte di Castro

along with another enticing scene of Lake Bolsena.

28.Lake Bolsena

Liquid Light

While in Melbourne last year, we were fortunate to see the Liquid Light: 500 years of Venetian Glass exhibition at the NGV. The island of Murano in Venice has been home for hundreds of years to local artisans who have created the world famous Venetian glass. Evidence of glassmaking in Venice has been found as early as the 7th century but it wasn’t until the mid 15th century that Murano glassmaker Angelo Barovier produced a new glass formula, named cristallo, for its resemblance to rock crystal. The elaborate designs and vibrant colours have changed over the years but the exquisiteness is a constant.

1.installation

A new form of decoration called vetro a filigrana (filigree glass) emerged in the mid 16th century. Canes of white glass are embedded into the cristallo, the result is stunning.

4.wine glass & decanter 1880

Another process that was developed around this time produced an opaque white glass, known as lattimo. It became popular in the 18th century when it was used to imitate porcelain.

5.bottle & bowl

The earlier wine glasses weren’t a lot different to those we use today,

8.goblet 1880

except for the goblets with the ornately embellished stems. I would be very nervous drinking my wine from one of these.

The Venetian glass industry suffered a decline in the 17th century in the wake of a financial crisis following the Italian plague of 1629-1631. A less expensive version of Venetian-style glass emerged and undercut the market for the authentic cristallo. Things went from bad to worse with the Napoleonic Wars and the industry all but collapsed by the mid 19th century. Fortunately, in 1866, The Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company Ltd. was established and the glass making techniques of the 16th and 17th centuries were revived. It seemed that vases and jugs took on a simpler form

16.ewer 1880

although the same can’t be said for this candelabrum.

17.Candelabrum 1880

Moving into the 20th century, the same techniques were used to produce some beautiful, elegant pieces. Designed by Swedish Tyra Lundgren in 1938, this leaf dish is made with very fine vetro a fili decoration (white glass threads).

18.Venini & Co leaf dish 1950

In the 1960s, Dale Chihuly was one of the first Americans to study glassmaking in Venice and in 1969, established the Pilchuk Glass School in Washington where he worked with Toots Zynsky and Richard Marquis. Chihuly began his Macchia series in the 1980s, named for the speckled effect of colours in the shell-like forms (macchia is Italian for spot).

19.Macchia series 198220.Macchia, Dale Chihuly 1993

The vivid colours of the fine glass canes in this fascinating piece by Toots Zynsky were inspired by the plumage of exotic African birds.

21.Toots Zynsky 1990

The name of the Marquiscarpa series is a combination of Richard’s surname and that of Carlo Scarpa to pay homage to the Italian architect. The footed platters have an intriguing mosaic appearance, created using glass canes sliced into cross sections.

22.Marquiscarpa #9, 1991

In the 21st century, the Venetian glass industry has to compete with the incursion of cheaper imports. Hopefully, ongoing collaborations between Muranese workshops and outside artists will secure its future.

Sky Tower

Arising 328 metres from the Auckland cityscape, Sky Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Not only is it a telecommunication tower, there are observation decks offering 360° views and the opportunity for thrill seekers to walk outside on a platform 192 metres above ground or, if you are so inclined, to jump off said platform.

1.Sky Tower

We took the more sedate approach and rode the glass bottomed elevator to level 51 to take in the panorama. We could see for miles beyond the suburb of Devonport and Rangitoto Island to the Hauraki Gulf.

2.Devonport & Rangitoto Island

Looking down Victoria Street to Albert Park, you can see a black cable running vertically outside, I’ll get to that.

3.Victoria Street to Albert Park

Another gorgeous view toward Bastion Point, a perfect day for a spot of sailing (and that cable again).

4.container terminal & Bastion Point

Looking over Auckland Domain with the hospital just right of centre and the War Memorial Museum on the far side of the gardens.

5.Auckland Domain

I will mention here that the tower is designed to sway up to one metre in excessively high winds and to withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. All very reassuring. Puketutu Island is in the southerly distance with Eden Park, New Zealand’s largest sports stadium, centre of photo.

6.south to Puketutu Island

Back on the northern side, Westhaven Marina is home to over 2,000 boats, the biggest marina in the Southern Hemisphere. Auckland Harbour Bridge connects the city with the North Shore across Waitemata Harbour.

7.Waitemata Harbour8.Westhaven Marina & Auckland Harbour Bridge

Coming full circle, Princes Wharf and the cruise ship terminals are below us.

9.Waitemata Harbour & Princes Wharf

Now, about that cable. As I mentioned, those who feel the need can experience SkyJump, a 192 metre vertical fall reaching 85km/h. The jump is controlled by guide cables so the jumper doesn’t collide with the tower in a gust of wind. Two young men, suitably attired for the plunge, accompanied us in the lift on the way up. A video screen shows live footage of the preparations to those on the observation deck and with an element of luck, I snapped one as he sped past the window.

10.Sky Jump

His descent was certainly rapid, presumably he was still conscious when he reached the ground.

11.Sky Jump

The tower is eerily majestic at night, lit with over a hundred LED lights that are sometimes coloured to show support for various celebrations and events.

12.Sky Tower at night

We had already made plans for dinner, otherwise the revolving restaurant on level 52 would have been a fitting end to another wonderful day in Auckland.