Wifey’s birthday was coming soon and fast and a week before the day I was still thinking of where we were to go and what we were to do. I knew she wanted to go somewhere local. There were still so many places in Victoria that we’ve never been to, yet to be explored by us. I thought of an overnight stay at a bed & breakfast at Daylesford but we’ve already done it. Hot Springs in Mornington perhaps? She wasn’t really keen on it either. Then I remembered a day trip I did a while back with mates where we drove to Queenscliff and took the ferry to Sorrento and ended up hanging out at Rye Beach. That was a pretty epic day. She has never been on the ferry before, plus we’ve heard a lot about the famous vanilla slice that you could only get at a shop in Sorrento. Wifey loves her vanilla slice so much that every cafe we go to, we have to try their vanilla slice if they are serving it. There had only been two cafes where it rated for her, one at Melissa’s Cafe at Altona near the beach and the other at the Cornershop in Yarraville. And so my plan was starting to take shape. All I had to do was book accommodation in Queenscliff where our day (night) was supposed to begin.
That Friday before her birthday weekend, as soon as I finished work I ran to the train station as I had a long journey ahead. I had to catch a V-Line train to Geelong where I was to meet her. It was my first time on a V-Line train which was a little exciting, though excitement quickly diminished by its lateness. From Footscray Station, the train was already packed, I stood in the aisle, thinking to myself “Am I to stand on this train the whole way to Geelong?”. I took my book out and read to pass the time. After Wyndham Vale Station, I spotted a free seat which was snapped up by another passenger longing to rest their legs. I looked the other way and saw another and without hesitation sat down with relief. In the corner of my eye, there was something brushing up against my arm. It was something blue. I thought it was a wrapper of some sort but as I looked closely I realised it was a $10 note! Score! I looked around the train first before I slowly picked it up and slipped it in between the pages of the book I was reading. I was starting to like the train ride again.
It took an hour and 20 mins until I reached Geelong West Station where Wifey was waiting for me. Queenscliff was less than half an hour away. Right in the heart of the town centre, Athelstane House stood; our hotel for the night. Built in 1860 and renovated in 1999, the 10 room guesthouse looked like a period mansion from the outside and when you walk in, it felt very homey. The first room on the left which was the common room for guests looked inviting. A fireplace on the far wall, flanked by shelves full of books arranged by the colour of their covers. Above the mantel hung a moose painting as colourful as the books beside it. There were plenty of comfy chairs surrounding a round wooden table where a tall vase filled with freshly bloomed white lilies stood commanding your attention.
We made our way to the restaurant which served as a check-in desk as well. We were greeted by a lovely lady (really sorry I forgot your name!) who showed us the way to our room. Like the common room, the guest room gave the same vibe of cosiness. It didn’t feel like a hotel room, it felt like home. The bathroom was big and very clean. We only had half an hour to get changed and get ready for dinner.
We were the second couple to be seated at the restaurant. It was quiet for a Friday night though I preferred the more intimate setting. As a tea light candle flickered on our table we scanned through the menu and decided that I was to have the twiced-cooked pork belly and barramundi for Wifey. We also shared a salt and pepper squid entree which was melting-in-the-mouth tender and the tangy asian salad was a perfect accompaniment to the dish. Please note, if you were to have the squid for entree, perhaps choose something else other than the pork belly since it also comes with the same salad or choose another entree so you can enjoy the pork belly more. The pork was moist, the crackling was crispy and the sauce was delicious (I would have liked to have more of that sauce). For dessert, we shared a caramelised lemon tart and by the end of the night, we were truly satisfied.
Morning came and it was time for breakfast. The restaurant was fuller this time around. The sun shone through the glass door just beside our table as we sipped our tea while we both anticipated the arrival of our meal, eggs benedict for me and omelette for her. Without delay, the food came and it was delicious. Before going back up our room to pack we decided to check out the rest of the hotel from the balcony to the garden. I wouldn’t have minded to have stayed another night. After packing, we said our goodbyes and made our way to the ferry dock.
I knew we still had a bit of time before the next ferry was to leave Queenscliff to Sorrento (it leaves every hour until 6pm) and so we headed to the Queenscliff Pier. It was a cloudy day, quite windy too. A couple of people braved the cold like us fishing on the pier. I heard you could catch decent sized squid there. From the pier we had a pretty view of the Black Lighthouse sitting on top of a cliff. The wind and temperature got the best of us and so we hurried back to the car, hoping we would still make the departure of the next ferry. It turned out we were one of the last cars to board. We made it in time.
The ferry was full of passengers, tourist and locals mingled in the cabin. As windy and cold it was at the top (we never learn), I had to see the view.
Forty-five minutes passed and we were in Sorrento. We drove our car towards the town centre. The vanilla slice hunt had begun. Eventually we stumbled upon Just Fine Food Delicatessen, the home of the famous vanilla slice. The shop was dainty inside, the shelves full of appetising sweet and savoury treats. At the bottom shelf, was a tray full of vanilla slices. Since it was close to lunch time, we also ordered a chicken and avocado sandwich to go with our vanilla slice serving. The sandwich came first, to be honest, it was exactly what we ordered, chicken and avocado in bread. I looked at the people eating next to me with their grilled cheese sandwich and wished I ordered that instead. We were both hungry and so we finished the sandwich anyway. Then came the vanilla slice. My expectations were quite high at this point, hoping it would erase the memory of the sandwich that left my palette empty and it didn’t disappoint. The pastry was flaky and crispy, the filling was fluffy, not too sweet. It was so good we ordered another slice to take away.
With the vanilla slice placed carefully in my backpack, we browsed through the other shops. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the seaside/coastal theme within the stores, it was my kind of setting. It definitely gave me some ideas for our own house decorations. As much as I would have liked to have bought something, the prices pulled me back. “I’ll just eBay it”, I said to myself.
Our last moment in Sorrento was spent walking by the beach. It was too cold to swim yet it didn’t stop a few teenagers from dipping in the water. Others laid picnic rugs on the sand, soaking up the warmth of the autumn sun. Fish and chips were the popular choice for lunch. Even the labrador splashing about in the water’s edge was having a great time. I could imagine being there in the summer, the beach filled with people taking advantage of the cool and clear water.
We definitely had a great time, as short as it was, I was able to fulfil and tick off some of Wifey’s wishes for her birthday. She finally got to ride the ferry and tasted the famous Sorrento vanilla slice she’d been craving for.