Silo Bakery (Canberra)

August 16, 2011 in Canberra, Food, Reviews, Travel

On the morning of our second day in Canberra we took a little drive down to nearby (everything is ‘nearby’ in Canberra) Kingston, home of the famous Silo Bakery.  According to my Canberra resident friend, Silo is only one of two or three places in Canberra where you can get both awesome coffee and pastries, and it’s the best of the lot.

We decided to put his bold remarks to the test and ordered a couple of coffees and pastries.  It was a Friday morning and the little cafe was still relatively packed, with all seats taken up and a few in waiting (so we had to get takeaway and eat in the car).  Apparently on weekends the line extends all the way down the street.

Anyway, my friend was right.  The coffee was fairly good and the pastries were amazing — one raspberry and the other rhubarb.  Both were phenomenal.  Sweet but not overly sweet and the pastry was baked to perfection.  Despite having just finished a moderately sized buffet breakfast we scoffed them down in a hurry.

Absolutely recommended for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Silo Bakery
36 Giles Street, Kingston, ACT
(02) 6260 6060
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 7am-4pm

Canberra Day 1 Round Up

August 10, 2011 in Canberra, Travel

The Canberra skyline at dusk -- you can see some of the foreign embassies from here

Our first day in Canberra was uneventful.  It was a relatively long drive (around 3-3.5 hours from Sydney), which felt longer because I kept expecting wildlife to run into the middle of the road and make slam on the brakes and flip our car.  Fortunately, that never happened but the dozen or so animal carcasses (most were small, like cats, dogs and wombats, but some were HUGE, like almost full-sized kangaroos) I saw were enough to keep me awake.

Canberra is a small place but the roads can get confusing because they seem to run in concentric circles around Parliament House.  Even with a GPS, we got lost a few times before we arrived at our hotel of choice, Hotel Realm.

Located on National Circuit, Hotel Realm is one of the two (as far as I know) 5-star hotels in Canberra, and it’s the newer one.  I had stayed at the Hyatt (the other one) about 3 years ago as part of a young lawyers conference and while it was huge and spacious it was also in need of a makeover (or maybe it was just the super cheap rooms my firm paid for).  It reminded me too much of The Shining.

After settling down we went out and out for a snack, and we decided on the much publicised Tonic Espresso at 7 Mort Street (open Monday to Friday, 7:30am-4pm).  The coffee is supposed to be the best in Canberra, but what really impressed us were the lamingtons.  Get coffee if you want but don’t leave without getting some lamingtons.  We liked them so much that we scoffed them down before remembering to take photos.

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving around the roads near Parliament House.  There are dozens of foreign embassies in that area and it was interesting checking out the different designs and what they said about their country.  I was disappointed to not even see one drug dealer or hobo wandering the streets.

It's actually not a bad looking building

At 5pm, the streets of Canberra came alive.  With mostly public servants working there it wasn’t surprising that everyone bolted out the door at 5 on the dot.  But even with the entire population on the streets it wasn’t so bad.  I don’t think you could call it ‘traffic’.

The open space and pool of water in front of Parliament House

The highlight of the day would be our dinner at this pizza/pasta joint called Italian and Sons (which I will review in my next Canberra post), recommended by a good friend of mine who lives in Canberra (“Let’s face it,” he said, “this place is a dump.”).  We caught up briefly and he took me to the “hippest part of town”, which was an empty street lined by about 10 shops.

I know, so far Canberra has lived up to its reputation, but I assure you, we were just getting started.  It really is fun.  Really.  Promise.

Stay tuned.

Hello Canberra!

August 9, 2011 in Canberra, Travel

About a month ago (man time flies around here) I took the wife to our nation’s capital for a little weekend getaway.  It had been over a decade since either of us had visited and it was one of the cheapest destinations from Sydney that could be reached without a plane or an all-day drive.

The reaction of every single person we told before we went on the trip was the same: ‘Canberra?’

This was understandable as I too would have had the same reaction a couple of months ago.  Over the years, Canberra has gotten a pretty rough rep.  Most see it as a place with nothing to do, a boring dump for politicians and people looking for legal hardcore porn and fireworks.

However, after about 6 minutes of research, I discovered that there was more to Canberra than just that.  There’s still not a whole lot for people that live there, but for people looking for a weekend getaway (or maybe even 3 or 4 days), Canberra actually has plenty to offer in terms of things to see, do and eat.  In some ways, it reminded me of an Aussie version of Washington DC, except with significantly fewer guns.  There are lots of museums, galleries and good food — well, enough to keep you busy and satisfied for a few days — and it’s lighter on the wallet than most Australian capital cities.

So from here there will be a series of posts on my Canberra visit.  Stay tuned!