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Australia, Part One!
Koalas, Spaghetti, and A Solid Drizzle
Welcome to Melbourne, readers of my newsletter! I hit the ground running and went straight for the bookstores. Hill of Content and the Brunswick Street Bookstore are my favorite (so far)—friendly, welcoming, lovely spaces.
I bought books at both and then had the most perfect lunch of my life. I want you to prepare yourself for the photo below. It’s more spaghetti than you’ve ever seen in your life, all in one bowl.
Everyone told me to go to Pellegrini’s, and everyone was right. This is the ambiance I want at every restaurant—the vibe is no vibe. The vibe is counters, stools, and four things on the menu. The vibe is two old men speaking Italian with Australian accents, or vice versa. The vibe is reading a book alone at lunch. The vibe is total perfection.
When I looked at the weather in Melbourne, it looked identical to the weather in New York—light jacket weather! No tights necessary! LOL to my packing. It turns out that Melbourne is cool and a bit drizzly all the time this time of year and so I would first like to mention my new best friends, a pair of tights and a long-sleeve turtleneck bodysuit from Wolford that I bought downstairs from my hotel. I am warmer now. (Also, shout-out to the Wolford salesperson who asked me if I preferred a g-string and when I recoiled in horror, gave me the same bodysuit with a regular bottom.) It was expensive and worth every penny.
What else! I had no idea what time it was for days! I have had no idea what day it was all week! Right now it’s Saturday, but is it? Not in New York! It’s still Friday in New York! See what I mean?
Luckily I wasn't the only one scrambled. I found my pal Alison Roman, also in town for the Melbourne Writers Festival, and we went to drinks and dinner and tried to keep each other awake. The power at the restaurant we went to kept shutting off, which felt just right for our first night in Australia, when we both felt upside down and loopy. Was it all a dream? Hard to say! But look at this rainbow.
Mostly I just walked around and shopped and ate. I finished listening to the Bill Bryson book (which reminded me of a fact that I had learned when my 9 yr old was in his Bug Phase, that Australia has more creatures that will kill you than any other place in the world! Fun!) and started listening to the new Samantha Irby essay collection, Quietly Hostile, which is perfect and hilarious and you should pre-order it right now.
I sampled local delicacies. Croissants in a futuristic warehouse! Dumplings in Chinatown!
I did a fun radio interview, I went to the opening night party for the festival, I smooched Benjamin Dreyer, things were busy and fun in my bodysuit. Then yesterday I booked myself a 12 (yes) hour van tour of the Great Ocean Road, which is just what it sounds like. We did not stop at Bells Beach, where this scene takes place, but we were nearby, so I just want you to picture me as Keanu below.
Here’s me on a beach. Same same.
First koala spotted!
Second and third wild koalas spotted!
For all the birders out there (hi Mom), here’s what I’ve seen so far: magpies, cockatoos, parrots, other ones.
My favorite part of the tour was this little forest walk in Otway National Park, which had (our guide Kevin told us) the second largest trees in the world. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that there were ferns twice as tall as me and it felt like Jurassic Park and I loved it.
We got back at 7:45 and I met Benjamin Dreyer, Lord of Grammar, in the lobby at 8:20 and I don’t know quite how to describe what transpired but will say this: we walked in and I was about to make a joke about how Nigella Lawson had arranged these glorious flowers in the entry way, because Nigella had recommended the restaurant to Benjamin on Twitter, but then Nigella herself rounded the corner to greet us and I died and have not recovered.
We stayed until midnight? I remain speechless. I would say more but I signed an NDA with myself.
This morning was my event! With the luminous and brilliant Gabrielle Zevin and Brodie Lancaster. It was honestly and truly one of the best events I’ve ever had, in one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever been invited to speak, 10/10.
If you and your crew don’t all have Books Are Magic baggus, what are you even doing?! After our event, Gabrielle and I went to lunch at Cumulus, which many of you suggested, and it was divine, the best meal so far! After Pellegrini’s! Which has my heart forever.
Off for more adventures, stay tuned for Tasmania!