Tag Archives: Fruit

Travel Guide: Melbourne

Here is the third installment of our October break trip to Australia! We started in Sydney, drove down the coast, and ended up here in Melbourne, which I absolutely loved.

We arrived in sunny Melbourne after leaving Lakes Entrance in the rain, so it was already off to a good start. We checked into our third and loveliest Airbnb with floor-to-ceiling windows that gave us views that reminded me just a little of New York – and made me realize that I miss it! The rest of the city did much of the same.


We ate a very late lunch and then began to wander, which is my favorite way to get to know any new place. I loved the hustle and bustle of the streets full of shops, people, and streetcars. I loved feeling neighborhoods blend and change. I loved being with so many people after thoroughly enjoying the exact opposite on the road. Many people were dressed head-to-toe in black, which we hadn’t seen elsewhere in Australia, and there were little alleyways and hidden streets with shops, restaurants, and cafés. Australia’s same-sex marriage vote was ongoing and there was pride everywhere, which was so great to see. It had been the same in beachy, chill Sydney but much more creative in bolder, grittier Melbourne.

Our first stop was the State Library of Victoria because we had read that it was pretty. And, truth be told, I adore libraries and don’t really need a reason to visit. I’ve waxed poetic about the NYPL more than once and still donate to them (because I just realized that I can still download e-books!).

Because libraries are the best, there was a free exhibit on the history of Australia since colonization and we thoroughly explored it. As in the Australian Museum in Sydney, I read everything in the exhibit and really enjoyed it because Australia’s history isn’t something I’ve ever formally studied. Outside the library, people were playing chess with giant chess sets. So cool! So community-oriented!


The next day was our only full day in Melbourne and I loved every moment of it. We spent the morning at Queen Victoria Market, though I could have been there for so much longer. I seek out markets in every country I visit and they’re always a highlight. Since I love fresh vegetables and seek out anything locally sourced and locally grown, I would have loved to buy produce and other ingredients to cook dinner. Alas, we’d made a reservation at a very hip, cool restaurant and I didn’t want to miss it!

I did, however, have the foresight to ask my friends to arrange a meeting place and time in case we get separated. I’m a kid in a candy store when it comes to markets (and bookstores and libraries) and envisioned wandering off. Self-fulfilling prophecy.


In addition to some cool local artists’ stands that I felt badly photographing without buying, Queen Victoria Market had a section for stuff . . .

. . . a section for produce and an entire building for perishable food items . . .

. . . and a bunch of restaurant and coffee shop stands. The picture below of the sign is specifically for my dad, who introduced me to (and perhaps invented) the word “under-caffeinated” many years ago. Caffeine, specifically from black coffee, plays a very important role in my family; claiming under-caffeination is the best way to get anyone to empathize when you’re having a moment or in a mood.

In the afternoon, we tracked down some of Melbourne’s famed graffiti streets, which we overheard a tour guide tell his group change almost nightly. It was really neat because nothing on these streets escaped the artists’ hand. There’s clearly a set of rules and norms that are associated with these streets and I’d love to know what they are. I didn’t see anything that could be considered obscene or anything that looked like it was encroaching on anyone else’s work. The streets seemed to be art, and respected like street art usually is, rather than graffiti, which sometimes seems more hurried, frazzled, and incomplete. I took a lot of pictures and narrowed down the list as best I could, but I really just want to share all of them!

We walked along the quiet, still Yarra River that afternoon. It was the only hot day we had in Australia and there was a noticeable heaviness to the air that we hadn’t felt since Singapore.

It was a nice break from the noise of downtown but somehow left me itching to return to the flurry of daily living that was present in the city streets. No one else shared this sentiment, but I don’t mind being out and about alone. I found another pedestrian alleyway, this one full of open-air restaurants and bars, and sat down at a popping wine bar. I flipped past the wine list and promptly ordered a beer, sneakily munching on the granola I had in my backpack.

I people-watched and journaled for a good hour. Some of my best personal reflection has been while traveling because I consider travel as time just for me. And since I’m in new places, or at least places different from the everyday, I seek out new things that make me reflect in myriad ways. I usually don’t travel with cellular data and don’t seek out wifi, so it’s easy to remain in the moment. I generally don’t miss being connected, either. It’s nice to be able to sit and dream every now and then without feeling obligated to do something else or be part of something else.

Melbourne, you are a vibrant, energetic, and liberating place. Thanks for ending the week in Australia on such a high note.

Home for the Holiday

Shana tova! Happy New Year!

I was more than delighted to leave New York City this past weekend and spend Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, at home in Rochester with my family. My brother is a sophomore in college who flew home for the holiday and my sister is a grad student in Rochester, so she was already home. The three of us overlapped in my parents’ house for all of 24 hours over the summer and I was almost childishly excited to be together again.

My grandparents drove from Montreal and Toronto to be with us, as well. I know that I am very lucky to have all of my grandparents and that they are all healthy and able to drive long distances. Without traffic (almost a certainty at Customs) Rochester is five hours from Montreal and three from Toronto, so it’s a significant amount of travel time. I am so grateful to be able to be with my family at any time, but especially at the start of the new year. So far, this is absolutely the best part of returning to the US.

Rosh Hashanah started Sunday night and I arrived Saturday morning, which meant I had time to do a few Rochester-related activities before contributing to the Rosh Hashanah cooking that my mum had been working on all week. I ended up making two cakes, stuffed vegetables, and doing a variety of prep for other dishes. Before getting involved in holiday preparations, however, we had time for a trip to my favorite local place, the Rochester Public Market.

There are a number of farmers’ markets in various Rochester suburbs, but the downtown public market is the largest and definitely the best, both for quality of produce and variety of options. It’s open year-round Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with an increasing number of vendors as we get closer to the weekend. When I lived in the Park Ave neighborhood after college I went to the market every Saturday morning to buy my produce before heading to our local grocery chain, Wegmans (which I dearly miss!), for the rest. I knew which vendors would have what I wanted and where they were located, who would sell half baskets for half the price, and who sold parsley leaves in little bags instead of large bunches. Some vendors have changed in the last few years, but the market is still my favorite Rochester place.

Market shoppers! There’s more diversity here than any other place in the city. (Note: Statement based on personal experience, not empirical evidence.)

My parents picked me up at the airport on Saturday and we headed straight for Juan and Maria’s Empanada Stop for a late breakfast. I meant to get a picture but I was too distracted with my empanada and fried plantains. Next time!

This is NOT Juan and Maria’s. Juan and Maria’s has a cult following complete with bumper stickers, but this place also looks tasty.

And then it was time to buy vegetables, fruits, and pumpkins fresh from the farmers at ridiculously low prices:


In addition to produce, there are meat and cheese stands, local wine vendors, family bakeries, flower stalls, and several craft beverage specialists:


Part of the market is reserved for small household goods and occasionally clothing stands:


Afer completing Mum’s shopping list and heading back to the car, we passed Duke’s Donuts. I’m not a huge fan of sweets but they have apple cider and that’s a very good thing:


Great place to spend an hour, even if you just look around. There’s lots to see, free samples at many stands (my favorites are cheese and wine), and excellent people watching. Planning a trip to Rochester (at a time when I happen to be home)? Let me know when you’re visiting and I’ll wander around with you!

As good as the public market is, however, it doesn’t top being with my family. I have yet to find anything better than that.


Malaysia, Pomegranates, and an IEP

As we stared out the window last night watching a foot of snow fall, two topics of discussion and one fruity experience took center stage.

Map of Malaysia (Map from Lonely Planet)

Earlier yesterday evening, I had a final job interview for a social studies teaching position at a school that is just starting up in Malaysia. Suffice to say, I believe it went quite well. I’ve been waiting on tenterhooks for an email from either of the administrators who interviewed me . . . and I’m bad at waiting. Wish me luck!

 (Delicious fruit from here)

My roommate, E, and I debriefed about the interview over dinner. We talked about when I might move (hopefully August), what my responsibilities would be (to be determined), and what we know about Malaysia (not much). Then E decided she wanted to have pomegranate seeds for dessert. We’ve both been trying to expand our food options because we’re bored of what we usually eat, which presented a problem: E didn’t know how to obtain said seeds from said pomegranate.

The first time I had pomegranate seeds was in middle school. A family for whom my sister babysat sent her home with a pomegranate one night. My mum looked up how to get the seeds out, and we’ve been playing in warm water and banging wooden spoons ever since.

And so E and I cut open the pomegranate, obtained the seed, and had our dessert. There’s something about pomegranates that always make me smile because they’re so pretty to look at and so sweet. They always remind me of being in Israel where pomegranates grow like apples do here. As in, on trees. Everywhere.

(You can see more pictures from my time in Israel here)

I’m going to make the grandiose assumption that most people do not spend their evenings discussing special education policy while doing the dishes and cutting pomegranates, but E and I did. I’m going to miss that when I move wherever I’m lucky enough to get a job. E is involved in a local adult literacy program and told me that the student she tutors, who is our age, had an IEP in high school. E asked me to explain the difference between an IEP and a 504 (used my Master’s degree today – CHECK!). Simply put, there are 13 categories of disabilities for which students may receive an IEP, which provides access to special education services, certain accommodations, and certain curricular modifications. A 504, however, is for students who do NOT fall into one of those 13 disability categories but does have a disability; these students do not need special education services or curricular modifications but may need some accommodations in the classroom.

Perhaps that wasn’t so simple. (For example, you may be wondering what I mean by special education, accommodation, and modification. If so, I apologize for my poor explanation and encourage you to look here for a PDF from the Disability Rights Center, which may help.)

Anyway, I’m rambling so I’ll stop now. Like I said, bad at waiting. Have a great day!