Perth, Glorious Perth!

Hi everyone!

Firstly, I’d better set the scene. My third night in sunny Perth, Australia. Well, at this point it’s not sunny, it’s midnight and I am ensconced in my deliciously heavy blankets, sinking into my amazing hotel bed. Earlier, I finished a dish of beef nachos, joined by friends sour cream and guacamole, delivered to my room. I have nowhere to be, no work to be done. I am on holiday.

I’ll be honest with you, it’s quite the life! And it was my life for a wonderful 5 days last month in beautiful Perth.

Cottesloe Beach
Cottesloe Beach

Usually when I come to Perth, it is pleasant (and of course lovely to see family) but slightly… quiet. Like, country town quiet. As a through-and-through introvert, this probably should be fine with me, but it isn’t. I like knowing that there are people around and things going on. I may not want to talk to any of those people or join in with any of those things, but that’s not the point, see. I just want to know there is stuff going on apart from the tumbleweed’s blowing by.

Okay, now that is a bit harsh and unwarranted, but let me remind you that I am saying this is what I usually feel when I come here.

This time, it couldn’t have been any more different.

I have never been happier to be in Perth!

Enjoying canapes at sunset
Enjoying canapes at sunset

Honestly, the moment I landed and heard all of these Australian accents around me, I felt home. Even when I came through to baggage claim and the grumpy customs lady brashly asked me if my sealed chips were the only food items I was carrying, I felt a surge of happiness. I was finally home.

Making my way through customs and security, I walked through the automatic doors to a throng of people. After 14 or so hours of travelling, I was so excited to see my mum. My big entrance! Groggy yet hyper-aware of all of the staring faces around me, I plastered a pleasant smile on my face and searched for mum in the crowd. No cigar. I know, I thought, she’ll be in the cafe. Nope. With my smile starting to fade, I turned around and saw the back of my mum’s head in the front seat by the entrance. Aww! Crisis averted, I walk over and tap her on the shoulder. Greetings and tears ensued. It was honestly so nice to see mum again, and also I was partly relieved just to have found her! I kept telling everyone (all family members and well aware of my mum’s enormous heart) about the gaff, she kept (rightly) saying she would never live it down. But really, it was the perfect start to my ridiculous holiday weekend in Perth!

Perth's incomparable coastline
Perth’s incomparable coast

Little things would go wrong on the trip, but it wouldn’t even matter because I was just so happy. Like, after we made our way out of the airport we were sitting in our massive hire car (upgraded, boo yah) and I was just thinking how useful those steering wheel protectors are when, whoooosh! The wind picked up and out it went. It was pretty hot that day, especially coming from -3 in Seoul, so a search wasn’t going to happen. We just laughed, everything was hilarious.

Driving along Perth, after a while (not too long – it is Perth after all! (burn!)) we were in the familiar leafy streets of South Perth where my grandma and uncle have lived for many years now. Coasting by the Swan River, I was reminded of what a stunning city it is. It is just so Australian. And that is a very, very good thing.

Perth's Swan River
Perth’s Swan River

My mum and dad had told me that they had planned a surprise for my accommodation, and I knew that they were going all out. When we were driving along Cottesloe Beach, mum pointed out the towering Rendezvous Hotel (formerly Bond Tower) in the distance. I couldn’t believe it, but then again I could, because it’s my parents, and they’re awesome.

Before we got there, we stopped at the Blue Duck Cafe on Cottesloe Beach. This is a bit of a swanky restaurant for which I was appropriately dress in my plane outfit, featuring greasy hair and all. I was so excited to have salmon (a bit of a rarity in Seoul, unless you’re into home cooking, which I am still unfortunately yet to grasp) and this one was melt-in-your-mouth amazing. It was like heaven. Followed by a lemon tart, my favourite dessert? I could now die a happy woman!

Salmon perfection at the Blue Duck Cafe
Salmon perfection at the Blue Duck Cafe
My to-die-for lemon tart at the Blue Duck
My to-die-for lemon tart at the Blue Duck
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Taking a shot of their mini aquarium

After this perfect meal, we  carried on to our amazing hotel. What’s more, it turned out my parents booked the Club Suites for us. These are on the 25th floor and had access to a private rooftop dining area which features canapes every night from 5-7pm (as the sun sets). So beautiful. Opening up the door to my room for the first time, I audibly gasped in amazement. This may have appeared as either ‘uncouth’ or ‘endearing’ to my neighbour who happened to be exiting her room at the time. Wha’eva mate! Welcome to ‘Straya!

And what a room it was! Mine was apparently a ‘single’ but it had more than enough space for someone else and perhaps 20 of their best friends. They had French Connection toiletries (shampoo, conditioner etc. that got replenished daily, so I found out), two terry cloth towling bathrobes and a stunning view of Scarborough Beach. Looked something like this:

The view from my hotel window
The view from my hotel window

So amazing! I loved this room so much, partly because of the hotel, partly because of the beach view and mostly because of the whole dreamlike holiday itself.

What else? So much! Mum and I spent the day shopping and I rejoiced in being back in my spiritual home, Coles. Yes, this is a normal supermarket conglomerate, and I have never felt happier. We also enjoyed some delicious Salsa’s burritos for lunch at Karrinyup shopping centre and just generally had a ball.

The next day, we went to visit my grandma to say hello. Mum hadn’t told her I was coming until a few days before, just in case something went wrong and I couldn’t make it. My Gran is getting older now (90!) and so surprises of that kind aren’t good for her. But everything went well, beginning with this view upon entering her street:

The stunning jacaranda trees in my grandma's street
The stunning jacaranda trees in my grandma’s street

Beautiful, no?

Perth really brought out all the stops; the jacarandas were flowering all over the joint. Amazing.

It was nice to catch up with my grandma, although it was brief as we were to be spending the weekend with her. The trip was for her birthday party, after all! That evening, mum and I went to the airport and picked up my brother and his girlfriend at the airport, then went to dinner and dad met us there. They were all supposed to arrive at roughly the same time but dad’s flight kept getting more and more delayed. However, in true dad style, he made it just in time for us to order before the kitchen closed. Winner! We ate at Solomon’s Cafe in Highgate, which happens to be a restaurant owned by my brother’s friend and which focuses on organic, natural foods. I had another salmon meal (sensing a theme here?) and it was to die for. Yum!

The next day, we all got ready and headed over to my Gran’s house for the unofficial 90th birthday High Tea… via Cottesloe Beach, of course:

Me and my bro on Cottesloe Beach
Me and my bro on Cottesloe Beach

My uncle had arranged for his friend to take professional photos of us, but unfortunately two days before (the day I landed) he had been attacked by a pitbull and had the wounds to show for it… on his face (he’s a vet). As alarmed as we were, he got it patched up and it looked much better than it sounds. Again, this was the theme of the holiday – things going wrong and working out anyway!

We had such a nice time and so many photos were taken – of which I don’t yet have any access to. Soon, my pretties, soon! But the vibe of the party was so special and everything (for once) went perfectly. When we sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to Gran, my brother and I were on either side of her and our family was all circled around her. It was a really special moment and I myself was on the verge of tears (surprise surprise!). Later on, Gran said ‘if I hadn’t married Grandpa none of this would have been possible’. For someone with so few immediate family members, and so little contact to those as well, this was a special day that will be permanently burned in my memory.

That evening, my brother and his gf unfortunately had to leave due to a very important scheduling conflict (the ARIA Awards, whatevs). It had been a brief but wonderful 24 hours catching up with that sibling o’ mine. As always, there was a teary goodbye (on my part), but then again uncontrolled emotions are a trademark of mine!

In the morning, we had a delicious buffet breakfast (again) featuring these old friends:

Coco Pops! Oh how I've missed you <3
Coco Pops! Oh how I’ve missed you <3

Yum! Among all the cooked food, brie, fresh fruit and array of juices, the Coco Pops really stood out as a favourite. I don’t know exactly what that says about me, but I can presume it’s only good things.

So, Sunday morning! My last full day in Perth. We met up with my uncle, his wife and their three boys (my cousins) at the Hyatt for an amazing buffet lunch. And when I say amazing, I ain’t playin’. This shizz was off the chaiiiin, yo. (But seriously it was). For some bizarre reason I have no pictures of the array of food that was available, so you’ll just have to trust me. But believe me when I say that all my gastronomic dreams came true that lunchtime.

How was my grandma going throughout all of this? Honestly, she had been a bit overwhelmed the previous day and was feeling the same way again, but she was mostly happy and touched that we had all made it out to see her for the occasion. It was such a wonderful weekend for me, and for all of us, and I think it will forever feel like a dream to me.

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Me and Gran at her 90th birthday 🙂

After an hour or two, filled to the brim and struggling to stay awake and make acceptable conversation, we wrapped it up for the last time. Saying an emotional goodbye to my aunt, uncle and my three cool young cousins, it once again struck me what a special time this was. I had given the three boys each some Angry Birds vitamins, Angry Birds pencil cases and a Halloween-style skull pen which lit up when you banged it hard on something (first question asked upon giving it to the boys: “does it work on brothers?!”). We barely see them so it was nice to hear about their lives, talents and hobbies. We have a few writers in the family it appears, watch this space!

We dropped off Gran and had another sad goodbye. I told her to hang on until next year and we will do the birthday party all over again, same time, same place.

(This all was a bit sad until mum told me later that Gran has been saying that she isn’t sure if she’ll ‘make it’ since she was 60. Made me feel a lot better! It also reminded me of the spunky attitude my Gran still has, which was also demonstrated after she kept hearing Mario Lanza singing ‘O Sole Mio’ when no one else could. As we walked into her home, she muttered to herself ‘Well, don’t tell me you can’t hear it, because I can and I’m supposed to be deaf!’ Classic Gran, so much sass. Love it!)

On the ride home, we swung by (you guessed it) Cottesloe for one last paddle in the water. I will honestly never get sick of these beaches. So amazing.

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Me and mum <3
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Shady
Ma & Pa <3
Ma & Pa <3

And so ends my sojourn to glorious Perth! The next day, dad left late morning and mum and I hung out and shopped for a while. We got to the airport super early to return the car, said a teary goodbye and then I had a few hours in the charming Perth Airport. It went surprisingly quickly but I was very happy to be on my way back to Seoul!

For any of you wondering, I highly, highly recommend Perth as a holiday destination. This trip really brought it home to me how beautiful Australia is, and Perth honestly has such stunning weather and scenery, it’s hard to beat. Everyone should experience a holiday like this for themselves!

Thanks for reading about the holiday of my life <3

Steph x