Thursday, December 31, 2009

My 2010 resolutions

With only hours remaining until the start of 2010, I wanted to acknowledge my partner, family and friends and say thank you for making 2009 a wonderful year for me. I am excited to see what changes happen in the coming year and hope it is filled with health and happiness for me and those I love.  Although I'm making several resolutions to change certain behaviors, I thought I would also write down a few things about myself that I resolve not to change and promise to continue doing in 2010.

  1. I promise that I will continue to smile at strangers and say "hello" or "good morning" anytime I make eye contact with someone whether I know them or not. 


  2. I will not forget that opening a door for someone or saying "please" and "thank you" is something I was taught by my parents and makes me think of them every time I do it.


  3. I will value my personal relationships with family and friends but not to the exclusion of meeting new people and building new relationships.

Doing these things makes me feel better about myself.  Fortunately, these are also things that come naturally to me now and will require little in the way of "will power" unlike one of my more traditional resolutions (to stop biting my fingernails).  If you are making resolutions this evening, consider what things about yourself are worth preserving for 2010 and start the year celebrating what makes you special rather than what needs to change.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My 2009 retrospective

One of the reasons I started my blog was to record my thoughts and with the year drawing to a close I wanted to include a retrospective. This includes some of the places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit, interesting things that have happened and pictures from 2009.

Although there were no Broadway shows this year, I still managed to see all sorts of performances ranging from the funny Pam Ann who started her U.S. tour here in Boston to the beautiful performance from the Alvin Ailey Ballet. All told I believe I probably saw 6-8 plays and musicals (including a very bawdy drag show at the Sydney Opera House). Although its not quite Masterpiece Theater, here is my favorite video from YouTube in 2009.


I travelled a bit this year too. I started 2009 in a very snowy Provincetown with Dr. Sergio and his boyfriend at the time. The drive will be memorable if only because it took us 7 hours to drive through the blizzard to get there. I went back to Cape Cod three more times – Provincetown in May and July and Brewster in October for my cousin’s wedding. I also visited Ogunquit, ME staying with friends on both visits in July and October (for halloween).

I also hopped on a plane a few times in 2010 and visited three new destinations: Puerto Rico in late January, Austin, TX in October and Australia in November & December.

Changes in 2009
This year my cousin Bill passed away. His passing was relatively sudden which in hindsight was a blessing since he did not suffer much and he did live a full and happy life so even though I’ve thought of him often in recent months it has been mostly wistful memories rather than sad thoughts.

I was also sad to see my Senator, Ted Kennedy, pass this year. Many despised the man but I have nothing but admiration for him. I recall seeing him speak when he received the Gerry Studds award from Fenway Health in 2008. I miss having such a powerful voice in Washington, D.C. Truly the GLBT community was dealt a horrible blow when his voice was silenced. I think his leadership has been sorely missed in the Senate these past few months as Congress struggles to enact meaningful health reform and expand coverage.

Fortunately, this year has not been about missing those who have passed. A lot of excellent changes were welcomed into my life as well, but probably the highlight was the birth of my niece Abby Dion. She is quite adorable.

My parents built a second home up in the lakes region of New Hampshire and construction more or less finished in August. This was a dream they shared for quite some time and seeing them make this a reality is really wonderful. It also shows me that through a lot of hard work (and a bit of luck for sure) dreams no matter how large are attainable – and in this case it was a big dream. Mom & Dad's Lake House

Other things of note
This is sort of my catch-all to comment on all sorts of things, and one thing that I need to record (although I’ve not forgotten) is that in January 2009 I celebrated my 10th anniversary with my partner. We both have strong wills, short fuses and a flair for the dramatic so if I were a casual observer waging on this relationship at the start, I’m not sure I would have bet it would have lasted beyond its first year – let alone an entire decade.

My other half had his parents join us for 3 weeks this summer and I was sorry to see them leave at the end of their stay.  I do feel a sense of guilt that my partner lives so far away from his family, but I feel this sense of separation with his parents is hardest of all so I do love having them with us and enjoy spending time in Brazil visiting.

Something else I wanted to comment upon and had previously posted is my cousin Matt’s book Lifeguard on Duty. This was his first book and it was a labor of love for sure. He is fast at work on his next project which I’m sure will be quite beautiful. 

Thank you for the memories 2009... I look forward to 2010.

Click to play this Smilebox photobook: 2009 retrospective

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas holiday with friends


Unlike many, I find the Christmas holiday very relaxing.  However, this year I did not know what to expect as we were hosting two houseguests (one of whom we had never met).  As it turned out it was one of the best holidays in recent memory due in part to the wonderful time we had with our houseguests. During their 4-night stay, we hosted our annual Christmas Eve dinner; spent Christmas day at my parent's in New Hampshire; and joined a great dinner party on the 26th to celebrate Boxing Day. Spread over three evenings - Christmas cheer seemed to be in abundance.  Each night we were up late chatting and laughing at nothing in particular and each morning I enjoyed exploring my hometown with our guests... Why is it I only do this when people visit from out of town? 

On Sunday morning, I stood on my curb waving goodbye to Joanna and Alicia as they drove off, and walking back to our apartment both my partner and I were commenting on how sad we were to see them leave only to get a message on our home phone from a friend we had not seen in 3+ years.  She was visiting Boston from Rio de Janeiro and was hoping we were in town so we could connect. Hearing Priscilla's soft Brasilian accent speaking through the answering machine was like receiving a late Christmas present - completely unexpected and appreciated all the more precisely for that reason.

Sunday turned out to be like an extension of the Christmas holiday and today waking up to go back to work I found myself more relaxed than I had expected (considering how late I'd been up each night) and extremely content.  I'm sure it is natural for people to think back at the close of each year and I'm no exception.  The past few days have made me realize three things which I already knew but perhaps had not thought much about lately.  1) Good friendships are not always easy to come by 2) If you really value them you'll make the effort to stay in touch 3) Spending a special time of year (like Christmas) with friends really does bring you closer together and make the holiday memorable.


Hot Stuff



More videos from this show which was recorded on Friday, December 4th at the Sydney Opera House are available on the BosGuy YouTube Page. You can also double click on this image to make it larger for better viewing.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boxing Day photos

The annual Boxing Day dinner party my friend hosts was fantastic.  This year there were a few more faces and it had a true internationl flair with our additional houseguests Joanna from Australia and Alicia from France joining the party.  I've included a photo album from last night's festivities. If you have speakers, turn them on to enjoy the cheesy holiday music.

Click to play this Smilebox photobook: Boxing Day Dinner 2009
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day

I hope that everyone reading this has had a relaxing Christmas holiday whether this is a day of special meaning and tradition or not.  Tonight, I will be heading over to my friend's house for her traditional Boxing Day dinner party.

However, before I dwell on today's events, I wanted to say thank you to my other half for surprising me.  We've been together for nearly eleven years now and yesterday in his own awkward way he gathered my family around to let them know that he would be taking me to Paris for my birthday this spring. Although my birthday is not for another few months, in 2010 it will be a milestone birthday and he wanted to celebrate it someplace that he knew had special meaning for me.  Suffice it to say, I am very excited and the planning for this trip will go a long way to distract me from the cold weather this winter.


Our Christmas celebrations really started on Christmas Eve. We had a delicious dinner and friends started dropping by to visit around 9 pm.  The following day was also wonderful.  We spent the day up at my parent's house in New Hampshire. Our two houseguests who arrived on Wednesday, December 23rd have added so much to our holiday celebrations this year and I was pleased that they had such a nice time with all my family.  Both are young women from other countries and with their own family traditions, but I think that everyone genuinely had a wonderful day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Show Tune Tuesday

It is Tuesday.... which means that starting at 9pm videos of Broadway and off-Broadway (in some instances way off) will appear on screen at dbar in Dorchester. I'll definitely be making an appearance next Tuesday, and I am contemplating a visit tonight just to get out and see people. Maybe I'll request this song from Glee.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jingle Bells - Tess Tickle

Sunday I woke to find Boston covered in a thick blanket of snow.  The city was absolutely picture perfect and despite my dislike of the cold, it definitely put me in the holiday spirit.  Considering its just a few days 'til Christmas, a holiday flavored posting seems in order.

I've included a clip from one of the numbers from Drag - Camp as Christmas - the drag show I saw at the Sydney Opera House. I only wish we were able to record the entire number from the fabulous drag queen, Tess Tickle. Check out how she holds on to her wig while she jing-jangles her way across the stage.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Gays love their close-ups

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up...

The phenomenon that is YouTube scaled to new heights this year.  One only need only to type in the words "Single Ladies" (last count shows 119,000+ results) to prove my point.  I would guess that the overwhelming majority of these videos are made by gay men. 

Although I'm not a fan of the camera, I do enjoy most of these videos. I'll be the first to admit that in this regard I'm as deep as the kiddie pool, and I can waste countless hours watching these videos since most are usually either quite humorous or include very cute young men lipsynching their way through their favorite songs.

Today while I was on WGB I happened to come across one such video.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Othello" on the Common this Summer

Hub Arts blog has mentioned that Commonwealth Shakespeare Company will offer "Othello" as its 15th annual Shakespeare on the Common production in July and August 2010. I know that this is quite a ways off, but Othello is one of my all time favorite plays by Shakespeare and dreaming of a warm summer night out on the Common is a great way to escape the bitter reality that it is absolutely freezing in Boston just now.

Exact dates and casting for the performances this summer have not been scheduled, but I'll be certain to write more about this as the time approaches.  Until then, I'll use this trusty promo from the 1995 production which starred Lawrence Fishurne as Othello and Kenneth Branaugh as the despicable Iago.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All About Christmas Eve

On Friday I'm heading to see the Gold Dust Orphans show "All About Christmas Eve" This was an hilarious show that Ryan Landry initially premiered in December 2008, and I initially wrote about this last year in my post, "All about Christmas Eve." The show spoofs one of the best Bette Davis movies of all times, "All about Eve".

Through Ryan's twisted (albiet supremely creative imagination) the show is set in Boston at Christmas time in 1950. The story starts by introducing the audience to an aging actress named Margo Channing (sound familiar?) If you live in the Boston area, check out the play. It is well worth the money and by going you will be supporting local theater. 

Comcast Offering "The French Chef" Episodes for Free

Do you love cooking shows? Do you live in the Boston area?  Well if so, you are in luck.  The blog, Boston Restaurant Talk, has a post today indicating that Comcast has has brought a number of "The French Chef" episodes to their On Demand Service. Partnering with WGBH, the cable company is offering more than 20 episodes of this public television series for free through January 4, 2010.

Julia Child's "The French Chef" series first premiered in 1963 and lasted for 10 years. The series began two years after the release of her now-famous book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which was the centerpiece of the movie "Julie and Julia" a popular movie  released in 2009.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drag! Camp as Christmas: I have the music in me





The clips above are from the drag show I mentioned I saw at the Sydney Opera House. I regret not having a digital recorder, but these bits are better than having nothing and I definitely wanted to share.  There are several drag queens in Sydney that indicated they would be checking to see if I posted anything and I would not want to disappoint.

It goes without saying that this is worth seeing if you find yourself in Sydney the first week of December. Apparently each year it gets more outrageous.  This year's performance ran from Dec. 1-6 and had 22 acts.

BTW: If you double click on the video it will open in YouTube where you can view this on a larger screen or download it in HD.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Speedo Run


The 2009 Santa Speedo Run in Boston (the 10th annual) happened today at 1pm despite freezing temps in Boston.  The wind chill made the air feel as cold as 20 degrees and the steady breeze left me chilled to the bone.  However, the 500 crazy men and women clad in red speedos were all in good spirits (and humor).

Click to play this Smilebox photobook: 2009 Santa Speedo Run

Friday, December 11, 2009

Seductive Sydney


I spent the first two and last six nights of my trip to Australia in Sydney, and I left loving the city wishing I had more time.  I did not fall in love with Sydney right away, because initially I was so busy visiting the locations I had always seen in photographs (i.e. Opera House, Darling Harbour, etc...).  The city seemed one-dimensional and lacking charm until I ventured out of downtown to Sydney's neighborhoods and beaches.  Anyone planning to visit Sydney must make time to visit the tourist sites, but you do yourself wrong if the only view of Sydney you can recall is from standing atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Make the time to venture out - it is worth it.

I was able to catch a drag show at the Sydney Opera House which will go down as the funniest and most extravagant I have ever seen, I'm sure. The show was called, "Drag - Camp as Christmas". You can check out a promo video clip here or do a search on Facebook to see more.  As I said to a few of the drag queens later that evening, they could teach Ms. Spears a thing or two about how to lip sync.


The drag show was only the tip of what turns out to be a mountain of options when contemplating what to do each evening.  In addition to all the activity in the CBD (Central Business District) night ferries provide endless options and are both easy and affordable.  I also enjoyed spending time on Crown Street in Surrey Hills, which is easily accessible from downtown and filled with galleries, antiques, cafes and pubs. I also enjoyed a great meal on Victoria Street which was quite a mixed crowd and near the gayborhood.

Since I never made it out to see the nightlife in Melbourne, I made a concerted effort to check out what Sydney had to offer.  Like many cities, "the scene" is pretty concentrated on Oxford Street. The area is a bit dumpy similar to the Castro in San Francisco, but I enjoyed checking out the clubs, sipping coffees at Coco Cubano (note there is good wireless here and it is free) and even nosing around in the GLBT bookstore, The bookshop darlinghurst, where I made several purchases.  The two main clubs that I visited could not have been more different except that they both had a lot of energy and some very good people watching.  The clubs I visited Arq and Slide will probably end up changing names (as all clubs do) but I had a great time and would suggest even if you are not a club-kid (as I most definitely am not) it is still worth checking out for fun and laughs. 

As with my write-up about Melbourne, I've also included a slide show which is a collection of photographs from my trip, please enjoy.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Australia - Sydney
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Santa Speedo Run: 12/12/09

Don't forget, this year’s Santa Speedo Run will start from Lir on Boylston Street at 1:00 pm this Saturday.                     
Come down to see a Boston tradition and cheer on these crazy runners who will put on their red speedos (and little else) to raise money for two local charities, Crossroads for Kids and Bottom Line.

With wind and freezing temperatures predicted for Boston on Saturday, these 500 runners will be looking for crowds to cheer them on to make them forget the cold.



Victoria: Melbourne & Hepburn Springs

A huge reason I’ve fallen head over heels with Australia is because of a city called Melbourne. There is a magnificent contrast of architecture that compliment rather than compete with each other and provides a sense of charm that I was hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Some of my favorite activities included: strolling down Lygon Street which is chalk full of Italian cafes, shops and gelateria; checking out the ever so hip Gertrude Street which had a definite San Francisco-vibe; seeing the Fitzroy Gardens and in particular the conservatory; hanging out in Federation Square which has been scorned by many but I think is an excellent example of modern architecture and houses interesting cafes, restaurants, pubs and museums – not the least of which is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

Melbourne is surrounded by wine country, which is so easy to visit if you are willing to drive on the other side of the road. I opted to select an overnight in Hepburn Springs, which is next to the quaint town of Daylesford. The drive is easy and picturesque making it a great overnight trip, although I will admit I did not want to leave and would have enjoyed spending more time there. On the positive side, I made the excellent decision to book at the Peppers Springs Retreat which is 1-2 hour drive from Melbourne depending on 1) how fast you drive and 2) how direct your route is to get there. After taking the indirect route to see the countryside, I can tell you that your best bet is to drive directly there (the scenery is beautiful regardless of the route) and the towns prior to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs simply are not worth visting. 


If you do book a stay in the country, I would definitely recommend the Peppers Springs Retreat which is less than a 5 minute drive to Daylesford downtown. Request a room in the main building with a private deck that overlooks the countryside. The two owners, Chris and Wayne, are as warm and friendly as the rest of the staff and the trip provided the perfect respite between visits to Melbourne and Sydney (Australia’s two largest cities). If you want to learn more about the retreat, you can read my glowing review on TripAdvisor.com here. Visiting wineries from the hotel is easy to do, but I preferred the pampering of the natural springs spa on sight and eating at the hotel’s restaurant – rarely have I ever been so full in my life.  Below I've included a sampling of photos from my time in Melbourne, the drive out of the city and the stay in Hepburn Springs.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Australia: Victoria
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Australia


I've only recently returned from a vacation to Australia that lasted just a couple days shy of three weeks and I'm busy updating my blog with information about the trip while it is fresh in my mind. If you are interested in reading more about this specifically, you can access these entries by selecting the label "Australia" in the right column or by linking to http://bosguy.blogspot.com/search/label/Australia.

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef


While I was in Australia I briefly wrote about my snorkeling adventure with Sergio while we were vacationing in Port Douglas.  At the time, I was not able to include our photographs from the day trip to the Great Barrier Reef.  If you are fascinated by the reef or enjoy snorkeling I think you will like these photographs. Thanks to Sergio who took all these pictures.

Expand to full screen to get maximum effect and if you have speakers turn them on to listen to the cheesy music I've selected to accompany the slide show.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Great Barrier Reef
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Baristas of Australia

As I’ve just commented on the coffee-wars (read the entry below). What I did not share was the cafes where I started my mornings or ended my evenings – often with Sergio’s laptop so I could include a tweet or update my blog. The two places I spent the most amount of time was Port Douglas and Sydney so it was in these places that I made friends with local baristas.

Port Douglas is a sleepy little town which made it perfect for spending a few hours each day in a coffee shop to escape the sun. After one day, both Sergio and I staked out Rehab (a local cafe) and it was not long before we started chatting with Daniel. He pours a strong cup of joe and is extremely personable. Daniel has a wedding in Canada in the summer of 2009 and it would be wonderful to have him come out and visit us. We will see what happens but anyone who pours such a nice cup of coffee is a freind of mine.

Equally nice and certainly as cute is Chris (in photo above) who works at QV Bar & Cafe. I hope that last comment does not embarrass him, but he is as sweet and friendly a person you'll meet. Quick with a comment and always smiling, I appreciated seeing him despite being groggy from late nights out in Sydney. Chris too has an open invitation if he ever decides to travel to the States.  I'll be sure to find him an amicable barista to make him his morning coffee. 

On our last day Sergio took a group photo of the team at QV Bar & Cafe which I've included. What a handsome bunch.



An Americans’ observations about Australia

I’m a travel-junkie plain and simple. One of the things I love about international travel is seeing how people live in other parts of the world, because as large and different as the U.S. is, we are a homogenous country.  Life and attitudes in Boston do not differ that much from Boise. If you don’t believe me, check out life in another country (sorry Canada doesn’t count). It is precisely these differences which can cause consternation for American travelers and it is always interesting to witness this firsthand.

The most common frustration I saw on this trip did not revolve around politics, protocol or even language; rather it revolved around coffee. In the U.S. we are accustomed to filtered coffee – whether that is Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or your local cafĂ© – coffee shops all make coffee pretty much the same way. In Australia, coffee is from a French Press or espresso machine with hot water added; Australians call this a Long Black (not Tall Black as I incorrectly requested repeatedly).

Without waxing on endlessly, there were other observations which I found both funny and interesting and if you’ve ever been to Australia, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts – please feel free to share a comment.
1) If going to Australia increase the amount you plan on spending for food. I found it hard to have a meal for less than $25-30 per person - this was especially true in Sydney. Of course if you love junk food you can get a fast food value meal for about $8-10.00 per person.

2) Despite being an English speaking nation, the Australian accent and propensity for slang left me baffled more often then not. This is a country that refers to red heads as “blueys”; Arugula or lettuce as “rocket” and coffee as “long black”. Never has a common language caused such a divide. However, I will admit I did fall for the accent and despite nearly continual confusion I was able to pick up most of the slang.

3) If you are staying in Sydney – beware those large black birds blotting out the setting sun each evening are actually bats (fruit bats I think to be exact) and while they are harmless; several hours after the sun sets and their bellies are full you need to beware of two things 1- bat poop falling on you as you walk under trees; it is truly sickening how much a bat can poop. 2- freshly fallen bat poop, which can result in horrible if not comical slipping, sliding and potential falling. While none of this actually happened to me there were several close calls. Never has Joseph Conrad’s words “The horror… the horror” rang so true.

Men of Australia

Three weeks in Australia resulted in more photographs taken than anyone would ever want to see. Perusing these pictures earlier today, I noticed something not unique to my travels but different from the typical traveler; very few pictures of women. Family members and friends who are not likely to enjoy bare-chested 20 somethings might prefer to skip this slide show. I on the other hand will revisit these photographs to keep me motivated and to get my lazy ass to the gym through out this winter.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

So long sweet Sydney

I'm sitting at my favorite coffee shop - QV bar cafe in the Queen Victoria Building sipping my last cup of coffee (a.k.a. long black) as slowly as I can to savor and reflect upon the past 2.5 weeks in Australia.  My favorite barista in Sydney (Chris - pictures of this handsome coffee maestro will follow) has made me my last cup of coffee and when I'm done I need to go back to my hotel to pack what can only be described as a mountain of dirty clothes; not an enviable chore. 

The 'saudade' I feel in anticipation of my pending departure is sweet because this has been a fantastic trip exceeding my expectations in more ways than I can adequately describe. After I return home I will download my pictures and videos to share. I'll also add my commentary about what I did and what I would recommend others do if / when they travel here so if you know anyone considering a trip to Australia, please feel free to send me a comment. I can guarantee that I will not tire of talking about Australia for quite awhile.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Australia

So much is happening so fast now it is impossible to write about all we are doing and seeing while away on vacation.  I'm doing my best to chronicle these memories by photographing every moment as my vacation down under begins to wind down.  I will also be writing  about this trip after I return home as videos and photos can be reviewed then uploaded to this site. 

If you would like to read about my excursion in the southern hemisphere, you can easily access these entries by selecting the label "Australia" in the right column or by linking here - http://bosguy.blogspot.com/search/label/Australia.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Santa Speedo Run - Dec. 12th

December 12th is the Santa Speedo Run. This is a fun event to watch (if not fun to partake) in Boston for 10 years.  The race sells out each year (they have a 500 runner limit) and each year the run raises money for local charities; this year the recipients will be Crossroads for Kids and Bottom Line. The race is in good fun in the heart of the BackBay extending slightly more than 1 mile.

The race gets a fair amount of coverage by local news stations as one might imagine. I've included a brief clip from NESN's coverage of the 2008 run below and if you would like to see more, visit The Boston Globe 2008 Santa Speedo Run photographs by linking here.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Melbourne & Hepburn Springs

Yesterday (Tuesday, December 1) we left the state of Victoria bidding both Melbourne and Hepburn Springs a fond adieu.  To date, with some brief exceptions such as snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, our time in Melbourne and the wine & spa country outside the city in Hepburn Springs has certainly been the highlight of the trip. 

I can not thank Rhonda & Boyce enough for their hospitality while we stayed in Melbourne.  We ate very well every night thanks to their restaurant picks and on Sunday evening we joined Rhonda's parents at their home for a feast that would give a traditional Thanksgiving dinner a good run for its money.  Each night dinners extended 3-4 hours and the conversation made every evening fly by.  When we checked out of The Rialto in Melbourne and hopped in our tiny red rental car I thought we would regret leaving the city for the tiny town of Hepburn Springs.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sergio did a magnificent job navigating the roads and I have to pat myself on the back for my expert reading of the road maps.  The drive to Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa was very easy and something I would recommend anyone visiting the area consider taking time to do.  We stopped along the way at a few towns our concierge had suggested, but we both agreed these towns were mostly forgettable and not worth seeing. Fortunately, the countryside is spectacular once you get out of Melbourne.  The area is filled with rolling hills for farming and vineyards interspersed with beautiful Eucalyptis forests. I have some gorgeous photos that I'll share upon my return back to the states if only so I have something to remember the trip.

The sleepy towns we drove through from Melbourne were depressing and filled with dingy cafes. It really gave us pause to consider if the trip was worthwhile.  The worst of the drive was when we stopped in Woodend - a sad little town which only made us sadder after visiting it.  However, 35 minutes and about 20+ photographs later we arrived in Daylesford which neighbors Hepburn Springs.  The minute we pulled into the center of town which sort of is a mix between the wild west with the architecture (you'll see what I mean when I post my photos) and something you would see in Napa / Sonoma because of all the cafes, restaurants, wineshops, etc... we knew we were going to enjoy our stay.

Down the road (2-3 kms) is the quaint town of Hepburn Springs which is picture perfect.  The Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa exceeded my expectations after a somewhat disapointing experience at the Peppers Beach Club in Port Douglas.  The owners of the Hepburn location are two lovely gay men Wayne and Chris and their staff was the most attentive and polite I've come across in all our travels through Australia to date.  I'll post more photos of the grounds but suffice it to say, I look forward to visiting both Hepburn Springs and the Peppers Springs Retreat and Spa again.  I'm not sure which I enjoyed more the 3-course dinner which seemed to grow to 5-courses or our relaxing morning at the resort's spa.

Flying from Melbourne yesterday was definitely sad.  I've developed a mad crush for everything and everyone in Victoria and when I come back to Australia, I'll be looking to spend more time there. I'm now in Sydney and hope to explore the city a bit more.  Last night we took a night boat to explore Manly Beach which looks to be absolutely gorgeous.... but more about that later.