We completed our two-week stay-cation with a yodel and a thousand steps. To further elaborate, on the weekend, we drove into the Dandenong Ranges, a short distance outside of Melbourne to the twin country towns of Sassafras and Olinda. Both towns are charming for their antique shops, arts and crafts, and delightful cafes and small restaurants. We browsed the shops enjoying the Christmas in July atmosphere (this is winter in Australia), sipped a flat white, and relished in the region's similarity to the Canadian Pacific north-west. Except instead of pine trees, we have gum trees.
However, our destination this day was "The Cuckoo". The Cuckoo is an iconic Bavarian/Swiss style restaurant/smorgasbord/live entertainment that has been in business for decades. Think Bavarian Beer Garden meets The Flamingo in Las Vegas. We were less interested in any potential Branson, Missouri-type experience but were beckoned by the promise of Swiss architecture, authentic Swiss cow bells, and apple strudel.
C2 and I exchanged worried glances as we and a tour bus pulled up in front of the chalet, even J professed some nerves and worriedly asked "is this going to be cheesy; are they going to make me yodel?" Still, the warm glow of the gas lamps, the Christmas decorations, and the smell of food and a warm fire, not to mention the buxom cardboard cut-outs, drew us in.
We had a hoot! We sang along to music from "The Sound of Music" - Austrian/Bavarian/Swiss, nobody was being particular, and Christmas carols. We ate roast beef, gingerbread, and far too much apple strudel. We yodeled, and J stuck his hand up and proudly declared himself "Swiss!" A Santa with a very Aussie accent threw handfuls of chocolate on our table, and Jingle Bells was played on cow bells. Seriously, what more could you want from an afternoon?
After leaving the restaurant warm and sated, we spontaneously drove a short distance to the equally iconic 1,000 steps/Kokoda Memorial Hiking Trail. The 1,000 steps are exactly that, narrow steps of mixed size and depth that ascend about 1.5 km through thick gum forest. Fourteen plaques commemorate the original Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea where Australians and Papuans came together in 1942 to successfuly defend Port Moresby against the invading Japanese at great cost. The plaques were a particularly handy place to stop for a breather when I thought my lungs were going to burst from my chest.
|Barely breaking a sweat|
At about step 950, can you feel the love?