Hobart Hype: Burgers.

As the second Dark Mofo raged through town earlier this month, I saw plenty of people passing on travel tips to others.

“Oh, you’re going to Hobart? Don’t miss X! Make sure you get along to Y! And bring me back something from Z!”

Some of the recommendations I heartily agreed with, others I shook my head over. And furthermore, I wondered how more continued to fly under the radar. It’s true that sometimes I like having favourite spots to myself, but for business’ sake I wish more for them.

Plus I needed something to blog about.

So I present Hypebart: each month I’ll (try to) throw light on stuff around town from a local’s perspective (and subjective opinion, of course). Throw light and maybe throw a little shade, depending on how I’m feeling. Sound like fun? Let’s go.

This month I’m in a burger mood.

Just Right: The Standard.

This little alleyway burger nook in the middle of the CBD has only been open for six months but has already won the hearts and stomachs of locals and tourists alike (the ones that are cluey enough to go looking for it, that is).

It’s true that there could be more seating (and warmer seating, in winter) and the fries have been causing some local polarisation (I LOVE them, I know others HATE them) but dang, those burgers. I wouldn’t use the phrase “Huxtaburger of Hobart” lightly, but that’s exactly how I feel. Great size, great fillings, exciting combos, a secret menu, and A+ price. I’m hooked and so should you be, too.

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Underhyped: The Winston.

It’s true that the beer list at the Winston is legendary. But not nearly enough people are talking about the Winston’s cheeseburger, which in my mind is equally legendary.

LEGENDARY.

It’s true they went off the rails a little with those dusty buns (don’t get me started on how much I hate flour-dusted buns, WHAT PURPOSE DO THEY SERVE? EXCEPT TO COVER ME IN FLOUR? WHY WOULD I EVER WANT THAT? Sorry I guess I got myself started) but things have been back on track lately. Straight down the line: a meat patty, cheese, sweet sliced pickles and sauce. Done. Welcome to a perfect dirty burger, in my opinion.

Occasionally the meat patty is cooked right the way through, and sure that’s good and all and what we’re used to as Strayans but as a recent convert to the “slightly rare burger patty” party, I’ve gotta say, my favourite Winston cheeseburgers are the ones that have that slight streak of pink in the middle of the patty.

I can’t tell you much about the rest of the menu here as it’s rare for me to sway from my regular order of a cheeseburger and a pint. I’ll admit that the couple of times I’ve ordered other burgers here, I’ve been disappointed. But it’s also true that the most recent time I ate at the Winston, I had a clam chowder and it was SENSATIONAL. Which is actually a bit upsetting for me because my heart tells me all I should ever eat there are cheeseburgers.

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Overhyped: Jack Greene / Burger Got Soul / Burger Haus

This is cheating a little bit, for me to make this claim. I’ve eaten more than one burger at both BGS and BH but I have to admit that I’ve yet to get my burg on at JG. And yet… a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” and while there may not be a Grill’d in Tasmania, we don’t need one, because we’ve got all these guys who do exactly the same thing. Big burgers with funny names full of ample ingredients that explode everywhere, big thick-cut chips on the side which are delicious but you can barely fit them in if you want to finish the burger too.

I was excited about these types of burgers seven years ago or so when Grill’d first opened in Melbourne but it’s a far too oversaturated market these days and hard to stand out. Which is part of the reason I’ve lumped all three of the above venues together. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same place but just in Salamanca, Sandy Bay and North Hobart.

So, what do you reckon? As I’ve already said, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food.

#30daysofbiking

Now that I’m done recapping my holiday, I can get back to raving about Tasmania.

Late last year I started getting a hankering to get the Night Owl back on the road again. It had spent too long gathering dust in my dining room (look, you can’t keep a bike that beautiful outside in the elements!) because I’d a) started a full-time job and b) gotten a little gun-shy of riding because the last time I rode it, the seat wasn’t fixed on properly and I didn’t fall off but I put my back out trying to ride the rest of the way home on a poorly-fitted seat. Despite my bike technician friend Jarod coming around and fixing it for me, I remained gun-shy and avoidant.

But late last year the weather was warming up and I was giving the Night Owl the ol’ side-eye… and then I broke my ankle, so the dust continued to gather. But THEN! My ankle healed, and the weather stayed lovely, and yet I kept coming up with excuses.

Until, on the 31st of March, I stumbled across #30daysofbiking. A friend mentioned it on twitter and it was a bit like fate. Despite it being a bit late at night for me to be making rational decisions, I pledged, and that was it. I was in. I couldn’t go back on my pledge!

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Pretty pleased with myself.

So, I did it. Well—ok, I almost did it. I did it to the best of my ability, which ended up being 25 days out of 30. I wish I’d written down the exact reasons for the days I didn’t ride. I know for one of them, I had my grandparents visiting from interstate. At least one other day, maybe more, it rained all day. Excuses, excuses. Technically I sat on my bike inside my house and even wheeled it back and forward a little bit, for authenticity’s sake, but hey—after not riding at all for over a year, 25/30 ain’t too shabby.

I’ve seen a minor improvement in my fitness, too. See, Hobart is built on a series of hills. Riding into town from my place is a dream; I barely have to pedal at all. It’s all downhill! Gradual declines, but still declines the whole way. Coming home from the centre of town is the opposite—whatever blocks you choose to travel up, they’re exactly that. UP. At the start of the month there was always a block or two that I’d have to get off the bike and walk up. The Night Owl is pretty but she’s not built for hills. She’s not quite a fixie but in Hobart she may as well be! Three internal gears make things only slightly easier. Anyway, the moral of the story is that I can now ride almost the entire way home, and that’s having tried at least three different routes. I can ride up ‘em all. Until I get to my street, that is, but that’s another challenge for another month.

Thanks, 30 Days of Biking. Thanks for getting the Night Owl to fly again, and thanks for getting me back in the saddle.

New York, I love you.

Let it be known that I’m really good at procrastinating. I finished the text for this post exactly three months after I flew out of JFK Airport at the end of my holiday. I guess I’ve been holding onto it, savouring it, because once the blog posts are done then it’s properly over and I can’t swan about indulging myself any more. My holiday photos are dropping off the start of my photo stream, one by one, and each one to go is a pin-prick of sadness.

The positive of all this time is that my broken ankle is 98% recovered. I’ve been using the 98% description for a couple of weeks now. My foot doesn’t hurt much at all, except when I pivot quickly, but I don’t think ankles are really designed for that anyway. I’ve got a lot of cool scar tissue in my ankle that I can push around, thanks to all the ligaments I tore good and proper, but yeah. All healed up and walking on two legs like I was never crippled—so I guess these posts kind of take me back to those painful days of forward-planning and disappointments and struggling through my holiday as best I could. But I gosh darn did it, and it’s a story I’ll have forever.

Tourista Cool Beans.

Tourista Cool Beans.

So let’s finish the story. Here’s my recap of the last week of my holiday, picking up from the end of my last blog post.

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NO. SLEEP. TILL BRKLYN.

Yes, I am the first person to ever reference that when talking about a trip to Brooklyn. Let’s talk about Brooklyn! I am bummed I didn’t get to explore Brooklyn more, but I’m blaming freak snowstorms for that. What I did see of Brooklyn, I loved. Of course. Nobody is surprised.

This post isn’t entirely about Brooklyn—I decided to break my NYC posts up into Brooklyn and Manhattan purely based on our two different accommodations. There’s a fair bit of Manhattan in this post, but this week was our Brooklyn week. If that makes sense. It does to me.

Check out my boss subway-riding mum.

Check out my boss subway-riding mum.

This time I’ve done all my musing within each day’s rundown, so please click through for a full read of what I got up to!

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From Quebec City, With Love.

Here goes the first of my holiday nostalgia posts. I’m reliving the magic of my North American break via blog post and I’m taking you guys with me! I tried to stay on top of posting while I was travelling, I really did. I even started this post on a train from Québec City to Montréal on December 27th. The one line I had drafted was “I am writing this while on the ViaRail train from Québec City to Montréal”.

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Literally just out the window.

I won’t tell you about the trains yet, though. Let’s talk about my magical week in Québec City. People don’t lie when they say Québec is a corner of Europe in North America. So much French! My rudimentary efforts at learning French on duolingo actually paid off a couple of times (“he wants to stop at the bank” dear taxi driver thank you for humouring me) but the rest of the time I was mostly disappointed that nobody wanted to talk about black cats and eating apples. Every person who asked us where we were from was scandalised that we’d chosen to leave the warmth of Australia for the bitter cold of Québec City. The grass is always greener!

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Or whiter, in this case.

It WAS bitterly cold, too. And we loved every second of it. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time out in it due to my broken ankle, but I made the most of it. I stared at the beautiful snowscapes just outside the window. I told myself that one day my ankle wouldn’t be broken any more and I’d come back to Québec City with two working legs so I could explore within the walls of the beautiful Vieux-Québec and take the boxy funiculaire down to the Rue du Petit Champlain, the beautiful shopping street that is shown in so many stunning wintry Christmas photos. It would have been near an impossible feat on crutches. Even without decent snow shoes, walking around Québec City was treacherous—as my sister in her Doc Martens could attest to!

I found the powdery snow the easiest to hop through, as my rubber-based crutches and my own solo Doc Marten would crunch down into the powder and it’d feel like fairly stable grounding. The worst was old snow that’d been crunched down into ice, and I was even wary of ground that didn’t have a powder covering. The good news was that it snowed often enough in Québec that there was usually powder everywhere! Still, having to go any further on crutches than 50m or so was fairly exhausting anyway, and with the added concentration, balance and mild panic from the new terrain I had no experience with meant I was very easily pooped out. My most terrifying crutches journey was downhill one short block on an icy sidewalk from a lunch spot to the ecolobus and is still seared into my memory a month later! I literally crawled onto the bus once I’d made it to the door. Being temporarily crippled means temporarily sacrificing a great deal of your dignity.

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My sister, the able-bodied jerk.

To be honest, the holiday was probably about as challenging as I’d expected it to be, so at least it wasn’t any worse?

And there were so many wonderful things about it, they far outweighed the negatives.

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Somewhere between Québec City and Montréal.

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Memmy White Cripsmas!

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Hello from snowy Quebec! Wait, WHAT? This holiday has actually been in the works for three years or so, when my family decided we wanted to experience a proper White Christmas for once. We settled on Quebec City so we could also squeeze in some time in New York for NYE and my 30th birthday in the early new year. All our tickets were booked back in July; trust me to break my ankle five weeks out from the trip.

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Yes, it’s a break—a hairline fracture on my talus (ankle) bone and an avulsion fracture (chips of bone) off my fibula, where the ligament tore. Yes, I’ve just travelled for forty hours in a full cast, on crutches. No, it was not fun, and no, I didn’t even get any sweet upgrades because all our big flights were packed full for Christmas. Yikes.

I followed the normal precautions for long haul flights: my fibreglass cast was bivalved (/split by the awesome cast technician at RHH Wellington Clinics and then held together with Velcro) and I began daily blood-thinner injections a couple of days before flying. Unfortunately the packed planes meant there were literally no opportunities to elevate my ankle at all. My leg was mega swollen after the longest flight (13.5hrs from Shanghai to New York) and stayed that way until I finally got some decent sleep (almost 12hrs) in my Quebec bed—it was a big relief to wake up and find it normal again today. There’s a higher risk of DVT for leg injuries so I was pretty panicked last night, but everything feels a-ok today.

The travel itself was exhausting, broken leg or not. My poor sister got lumped with being my packhorse through the airports (four: Sydney International, Shanghai Pu Dong, New York JFK and Quebec Jean-Lesage). We travelled for forty hours and through three time zones. Which way is up? Neither of us are very good at transit sleeping and gathered only 7-8 hours of sleep each in bits and pieces over the duration of the trip, some on flights and some on airport benches.

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There are pros and cons to travelling with a leg cast. The cons generally outweigh the pros, but I’m a big fan of getting whisked through security gates and customs. On the flipside, I’ve been fairly thoroughly patted down four or five times in the last few days (each time by a female security officer at an airport, just to clarify). I haven’t really gotten to browse around at airport shops because once I’m delivered by wheelchair to a waiting area or gate, the wheelchair is whisked away until it’s time to move on, so I’m back to my crutches. I’ve gotten better at them in the last five weeks but they are still exhausting and I can’t go more than a couple of hundred metres without needing a few minutes of recovery time. My sister not only carried my crutches and coat when they weren’t in action but also fetched me food and drinks, and scouted for nearby bathrooms (also a con for some waiting areas I was left at… good job, airport staff). But we survived.

My favourite moment of the trip (apart from my sister bemoaning a little French boy’s ability to speak fluent French when she couldn’t, and the “aviation radish” on our PVG>JFK flight) was our final flight.

“I want to stay awake until we take off, just in case we can see the lights of Manhattan,” said Katie. I agreed.
We both promptly nodded off while the plane was taxiing to the runway.

It was ok though, because we snapped awake just before take-off. We saw…some lights? Maybe Manhattan? Probably not, but let’s say they were. Right after that we fell back asleep, and woke up moments before the “ladies and gentlemen, in preparation for landing:” announcement. Though it felt like only moments after we’d nodded off, it was actually an hour and a half, at least. Perfection.

Now we’re settled in our first accommodation in our Quebec (mum and stepdad arrived a couple of days earlier), it’s time for the real fun to begin! … Except that there’s currently an ice storm raging outside. Hahaha. Oh, dear. An extra full day of resting my leg and shaking off any jetlag is probably for the best, though. We’ve been hanging out in our PJs in our lovely apartment, eating fresh pastries and drinking tea, listening to Christmas tunes and painting Christmas nails, all while watching gusts of white whipping around in all directions outside. Pretty magical.

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Party central.

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A snapshot of my Friday night:

I am tired after two full days back at work. I crouch halfway up the stairs on my hands and knees, my right ankle in a cast. I am watching my cat eat her own vomit.

“Please, go right ahead,” I vocalise. “Don’t let me disturb you. Eat ALL of it.”

I spend five minutes crouched on the stairs and waiting, because if she eats all of it then I won’t have to crawl the rest of the way up there.

Having a broken ankle is tough work.

Baby’s first cast.

I know I was in Melbourne only a few short weeks ago, but I returned again quickly for a very good reason: the wedding of two beautiful long-time friends. Our group of friends (the original posse I was a member of while discovering who I was as an adult) flew in from right along the east coast, from Brisbane to Hobart, in order for a reunion and party weekend of epic proportions. Most of us FIFO guests organised to bunk in together in Airbnb accommodation, in order to spend as much time as possible in each other’s company. These are friendships that will last my entire lifetime and I miss these people fiercely on a regular basis.

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However, as much as I want to wax on about my beautiful friends, this post is for whinging instead. I’m almost thirty years old and I’ve finally broken a bone, hooray! Except not hooray. And possibly even maybe no I haven’t. The joy of injuries! At the least, I have a grade 3 (“severe”) ankle sprain (aka a torn ligament). There’s a small chip of bone that’s come away, too, and at the most there could also be a hairline fracture in there too, but I won’t find that out until Monday’s CT scan (over a fortnight after my original injury, no big deal or anything).

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I mention both the Melbourne wedding and the injury because the injury happened directly after the wedding. Thankfully not DURING the wedding! But literally directly after the wedding. I suppose it’s a half-decent story for the future:

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I love Melbourne. Shh.

When I started quite seriously thinking about moving away from Brisbane, there were two cities that were true contenders: Hobart (clearly the eventual victor for me) and Melbourne.

Everyone moves to Melbourne. Why? The answer is simple: Melbourne is wonderful. I grew up with starry-eyed notions of Melbourne and its street art and cafe culture and ample music gigs (EVERYONE plays in Melbourne). I think I was sixteen when I first decided I would live in Melbourne one day. But years passed, and then some more years, and the urge to live in Melbourne had somehow faded for me by the time I was ready to leave Brisbane.

Yet, I still love Melbourne. I think I will always love Melbourne, unless something terribly and personally tragic happens to me in Melbourne. I think I have been to Melbourne at least once every year since 2005, and I will more than likely continue the trend of spending my Australian playtime holidays in Melbourne. What I’ve realised about Melbourne lately is that I am a bit in love with the idea of keeping Melbourne as just that—a holiday destination.

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Every time I go to Melbourne, I’ve already got a list prepared. The list is full of new things to see and old things to revisit. I try to see as many friends as I can while I’m in town, at either these new or old things, but each year there are more friends to visit and the challenge is greater. Then there are the adventures I stumble across while I’m town, too.

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I was back in Melbourne for a week or so at the end of October, just for a break. This was actually my second 2013 Melbourne adventure—I spent my birthday in Melbourne at the other end of the year, when the weather was warm and the air conditioning was on. It was fun to run around at this time of year in my big green coat.

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Archer & Archer.

I can’t actually remember how it first happened that I stumbled across Archer & Archer on Facebook, but I’m sure glad that I did. The Archers have been running this business for two years as of this week, so I thought I’d get around to pulling my finger out and writing this blog post slash love letter to Troy & Sarah (and Minnie, and Ollie).

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All wrapped up.

While they’re celebrating their second birthday, it’s been twenty-one months now since I officially became a customer of this unique store, where a handful of items are uploaded to Facebook and the first person to comment SOLD on each item gets to purchase it. It’s the thrill of the race, you know? Hitting refresh, judging very quickly whether the item is something you want and then whether the price is something you can agree with/afford and then typing SOLD! ENTER! And hoping you’re the first one there. Rejoicing when you are, despairing when you’re not. Taking your time to read through Troy’s oft-hilarious descriptions of the items. Scrolling through to see who gets what, taking note of familiar faces from months of sales battles, smiling when you see a friend or family member show up out of the blue and throw a SOLD on something.

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Little porcelain planter cat.

My first ever purchase, true to form, was a porcelain cat. Back then the sale was less stressful, less urgent. I strolled in, took a look around, pointed at the porcelain cat and said, Yes please. I’ll have that one. The cat is still with me, with a succulent planted in its back. It lives on top of a shelf under a window, sitting in a timber tray that also came from the Archers. On one of the shelves underneath is an amazing orange ice crusher. On the bookshelf opposite, a few different bits and pieces, including but not limited to a trio of fabulous glasses and a couple of duck men I thought I was going to have a conniption over.

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