Wednesday 14 July 2021

French Impressionists & Italian Food in Melbourne and still we have COVID Restrictions

 It is now sixteen months since the pandemic Coronavirus COVID-19 struck us and for the majority of that time we have been under quite heavy restrictions. It is not possible to take a flight out of the country except for special reasons, and travel & holidays are not special reasons!

We have both had our second COVID jab but there is still a very long way to go before enough people are vaccinated to allow travel to start again.

So where do we stand now? Victoria has been almost COVID free for some weeks but now New South Wales has had a major outbreak and they have gone into lock-down. Hard borders between the states are once again in place.

Another window of opportunity to get away arose last week-end when a memorial gathering was held in Melbourne for a relative who died in May 2020 but the majority of family and friends were unable to attend the funeral. We took the chance to stay over night in the city and enjoyed the change of pace and scenery.

After attending the memorial gathering we went for a light meal in Lygon Street Carlton. The atmosphere was electric because the Azzurri, the Italian football team, were playing in the Euro Cup 2020 final later that night. With press cameras, scarfs, flags and supportive signs, it was fun to be a part of the occasion. The final did not start until 5 am Australian time so we awoke the next morning to the happy result.


In the meantime we enjoyed pizza & red wine, then Nutella crepes with strawberries for me and a caffe corretto for him. Buono!

By the end of this pandemic we will be the most cultured art fans around! The National Gallery of Victoria has an exhibition 'Melbourne Winter Masterpieces - French Impressionism' so after booking tickets and a time to attend (crowd control) we were once again looking at great works of art. 

We are beginning to wonder how many lily ponds, Giverny bridges and hay stacks we have seen around the world but as Monet lived to 86 years I guess there are still more to see. 

This exhibition is beautifully arranged with great quotes segueing between each of the ten rooms; each further enlightening the reader. The circular room with fourteen Monet's was amazing, and there were another three amongst the more than one hundred paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. As well as Monet there are canvases by Van Gogh, Renoir, Manet, Pissarro, Degas, Cezanne and several others. A new name that caught our attention was Eugene Baudin. It was Baudin who encouraged the teen-aged Monet to paint from nature, especially in 'plein air.'

No trip to Melbourne is complete without a visit to Mediterranean Wholesalers in Sydney Road Coburg. First the coffee and then the shopping!

Mid afternoon we were on the road home again...but not finished with art yet. A long-time friend of our daughter's had a small exhibition with the Seymour Arts Society so we called in to see her work. Entitled The Birds and the Bees, both artists used different media to portray their theme. This tiny exhibition only took ten minutes to see but how impressive to have such an opportunity in the small town of Seymour. Well done ladies and SAS.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Covid, the Border Bubble and an escape to Canberra

There has been the occasional benefit from the Covid lock-downs. One of the best was Zoom where we all learnt how to chat in groups, celebrate birthdays with the family and attend meetings ... on-line. 

Another benefit has been the great travel deals that were on offer, mainly for the brave. One which caught our attention was offering 78% off hotel bookings with 24 months to use it. Too good to ignore! With some big exhibitions coming up at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra we decided to test it out.

This was a genuine deal offering 4* accommodation and we had a ball in Canberra in mid April. As it turned out this was a very small window of opportunity when regional Victorians within the border bubble were fairly free to travel  interstate without permits, self isolation or worse restrictions.

The Botticelli to Van Gogh exhibition provided us with a wonderful opportunity to see some amazing masterpieces from the National Gallery, London. A few of my favourites are shown here, but how do you choose favourites from such an exhibition.

Botticelli, Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Canaletto, El Greco, Velazquez, Degas, Titian, Monet, Van Gogh and many, many more incredible masterpieces.

We walked around Lake Burley Griffin taking in the many intriguing and interesting things - 

On day three we visited the National Portrait Gallery for their exhibition Australian Love Stories which explored love, affection and connection in all its guises. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition which included paintings, photography, trinkets and historical documents...portraits all.

We did a little driving to the Botanical Gardens, the National Arboretum and Black Mountain lookout. 

We found a great place to eat near our hotel and enjoyed it every night. Many places were still closed so why go looking when Via Dolce offered ambience, friendly service and great Italian food.

The freedom of five days of being a tourist was exhilarating  and built up a feeling of positivity which I so badly needed.

The day after returning home we had our first covid jab and despite feeling really unwell for five days I was optimistic that travelling was soon to return to our lives. Sadly by late May we were back in lock-down with face masks being compulsory indoors and travel was off the agenda once again. 
Our first tentative steps with our Travellers group on a trip to Bendigo were shattered, the family getting together for May birthdays was cancelled (along with a host of other small occasions planned) and we were back in the doldrums again.

But that 78% off offer is still available and we have booked another and have eyes on a third.   We can't  travel but we can still dream.