We spent two weeks in August in Australia: one week in Melbourne, and one week in Perth. Keep in mind that it's Winter during the month of August in Australia, and Aussie winters, while not as brutal as those you'd experience in New York City USA, Aussie winters are definitely unpleasant at times with its heavy rain, harsh cold mornings, and winds that feel like icicles slashing through your skin. Despite this, Australia still wins on so many levels.

Melbourne, city in Victoria, Australia:

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One of the first things we do when visiting a place is to simply wander. Melbourne is the PERFECT city to do that - there are so many hidden alleys covered with gorgeous murals. There are many alleyways to visit, but a couple of memorable ones are Hosier Lane (consider this lane as one long beautiful street art installation) and Degraves Street (busy little alley with tables packed in tight).

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Melbourne is food MECCA. You will find a good range of cuisines here, from Szechuan to Burmese to Italian to British. Here is a list of food places:

Cafe Box (Boueke St at Russell St): Though there are plenty of coffeehouses in Melbourne that do a proper flat white (and I dare say that the best coffee is in Melbourne), Cafe Box is where we found the best flat white.

Cumulus Inc (45 Flinders Ln): We had our first breakfast here - I ordered a bowl of porridge with clotted cream, marmalade, and a touch of whiskey. The ambiance reminds me of those longtime coffee shops you'd find in Union Square in San Francisco, California. Cumulus Inc was love at first sight and taste.

Gewurzhaus (in The Block Arcade): A gourmet spice shop that I would gladly spend all day in, buying ALL THE SPICES.

Hot Sauce: We found this amazing Korean restaurant in some random alleyway in CBD. The Korean fried chicken really stands out in my memory!

MoVida (Hosier Lane at Flinders Lane): A cozy Spanish tapas restaurant. The Cabala ahumada was the most amazing thing we've put in our mouths. Other must haves at MoVida: the cecina and carrillera de buey (the beef cheek was ridiculously tender).

#Hashtag (113 Hardware St): We originally planned to go to Hardware Society for brunch, but when we saw how long the line was, we said eff that and walked further up Hardware Street to Hashtag. This cafe serves its coffee in a molecular fashion (example: a hot chocolate equals dark Mork cocoa served in a beaker and poured over house-made fairy floss, which collapses into a sticky chocolate morass...YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS SHIT UP), and loves to re-interpret classic brunch items in new and inventive ways. I know this type of thing may piss off some people, but I didn't mind it at all.

Queen Victoria Market (513 Elizabeth St): Out of all the farmers markets I've visited, this one wins them all.

Burma Lane (118 Collins St): This Burmese restaurant brought back fond memories of Mandalay Restaurant in San Francisco. Their tea leaf salad is true.

Hells Kitchen (20A Centre Place): Go upstairs, grab a seat by the window, and sip a pint while you watch people walk through Centre Place below.

Perth, Western Australia:

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This was the second time I visited my husband's hometown of Perth, Western Australia. A few things have changed since we last visited seven years ago, but I am glad that most of the places we loved during our last visit were still around:

Alfred's Kitchen (98 James St, Guildford): this burger joint and soup place does not faff around. The burger is humble, homemade and amazing; the pea and ham soup is the best here - even better than the one you find at Andersen's in Santa Nella, California. There is a good reason why you'll find long lines here every night of the week.

Petition Beer Corner (St Georges Terrace, Perth CBD): Petition didn't exist when we last visited seven years ago! Lots of craft beer in a relaxed and beautiful space.

Brass Monkey (209 William St, Northbridge): This two-story pub has a decent selection of beers. Go up to the balcony and lounge in the leather chairs while having a pint.

Mary Street Bakery (507 Beaufort St, Highgate): This bakery (there are several Mary Street Bakeries throughout Perth) is located a block or so from the Aussie's old place, so it was lovely walking through the old neighborhood. Baked eggs with merguez are top notch.

Moore & Moore Cafe (46 Henry St, Fremantle): As you walk in, you'll be greeted with plush red, dark woods, and bikes on the wall. Great ambiance for breakfast at the courtyard. 

Bread In Common (43 Pakenham St, Fremantle): The first thing our friend said as we sat down at our table in Bread In Common is, "This should bring back memories of those hipster places back in San Francisco." This statement caused me to bowl over in laughter, because it's so spot on. The decor is industrial and a little pretentious. Having said all that though, the food itself is very delicious! 

The Monk Brewery (33 South Terrace, Fremantle): This small-batch craft brewery in Freo reminds me of all the amazing small craft breweries you'd find in San Diego, California. Not only do they have an amazing selection of beer, but their food menu is also sophisticated and good! It's here that I had kangaroo meat skewers that were moist and flavorful.

Toast Bistro (60 Royal St, East Perth): I was pleasantly surprised that not only is this bistro still around, but also still producing amazing coffee and breakfast foods. This time around, I opted for a simple nutella on toast.

Luna Leederville (155 Oxford St, Leederville): We didn't get a chance to see a movie at Luna this time around, but the last time we visited Perth was during the Summer season, which is when we saw the movie "Somewhere" on Luna's rooftop.

Indiana's (99 Marine Parade, Cottesloe): The beach, the relaxed ambiance and the friendly service all make this place so special. This is considered an iconic WA landmark.

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