Comparing Canberra to Europe

8 Aug

It’s been mentioned to me that Canberra “doesn’t even compare” to Sydney. Even though we all know people who say such silly things are wrong, I reckon it’s probably going to be seen as a pretty big call to do a post comparing Canberra to Europe of all places. But after a 5 week absence while I was in the northern hemisphere (hence the lack of T1 posts!), I’m happy to report back on a selection of a much wider array of things which Canberra simply does equal to or better than Europe.


I think it’s pretty clear that I am obsessed with macarons. If I’m at the markets or at a bakery and I see them for sale, you can bet I don’t leave without handing over some money for one (or six, or ten). Same goes for Europe -everywhere we went, I sampled the macarons, and no places moreso than Lyon and Paris. And, I’ll admit it, at most places they were truly extraordinary. The flavours were strong and went all through the macaron and especially in the filling, and the macarons were perfectly shaped. I was in macaron heaven.

But even after all those exquisite tastes, almost none of them compared to Fyshwick’s The Flute bakery. In fact, there was just one store which was better: Pierre Herme. Traditional flavours were paired with basil or jasmine, and we enjoyed a particularly delightful one of orange and carrot. But after trying macarons from more than 10 stores in a variety of European locations, I’m pretty proud (and my tastebuds are very happy) that a local bakery is right up there with some of the world’s best.


Alcron in Prague has recently been awarded a Michelin star and has some pretty extraordinary reviews, so I was keen to check it out. I reserved us a seat in the tiny restaurant (seating only 24 guests total) weeks before we headed off. We were hardly disappointed, but apart from the different setting and a few language barriers and a bit more of a bent towards seafood, and being slightly cheaper thanks to the Czech kroner, it reminded me a lot of Sage. I’m sure Sage is horrified to hear that there is a restaurant similar to them somewhere out in the world (or else I’m just uncultured), but I personally think it’s great. We have some really, really top quality restaurants in Canberra – and Sage is at or near the top of that list – and I’m stoked to know that our restaurants are genuinely Michelin star-worthy (and we don’t have to travel as far).


 I couldn’t wait to go back to Switzerland and do some proper hikes in the Swiss Alps. We stayed for four days in the town of Zermatt, which is situated pretty much underneath the infamous Matterhorn. There’s no denying it: the Matterhorn is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in nature. As well as being humungous, it’s so striking because of its shape. But as amazing as the Swiss and the Austrian Alps were, I’ve seen some even more spectacular things both close to Canberra and within an easy day trip, as compared to travelling almost 10,000 kilometres. The Blue Mountains contain some of the most extraordinary scenery, and the National Pass walk is an incredible walk which I’ve never seen replicated, anywhere.  The Snowy Mountains, the Brindabellas and the Victorian Alps all have glorious, everchanging views which stretch on forever and walks which are much better established – even if fewer people walk them. And that’s probably the best thing – we have mountain ranges which are unspoiled by humans. We are so blessed to have so many great walks to choose from so close to Canberra which afford such beautiful views. Everywhere we went in the Alps, there were tourists (even relatively hard walks)! I’ve gone up to the Brindies in great weather and they’ve been mine to enjoy alone. There’s something really special about not having to share a view with hordes of tourists. We’re in that enviable position of being spoilt for choice, while they also remain one of our best kept secrets. And nothing beats the smell of eucalyptus and the chatters of galahs and cockatoos.

So there you have it: a small selection of the innumerable observations I had where I noticed that Canberra really is comparable to – indeed, better than – Europe. You don’t have to travel thousands of kilometres for delectable French macarons, high-quality service and food or spectacular views: it’s right here. What are you waiting for?


4 Responses to “Comparing Canberra to Europe”

  1. Gary Lum August 9, 2012 at 5:00 am #

    Welcome back. I wondered where T1 had gone. As always a great read 🙂

    • inthetaratory August 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      It’s a pleasure to be back (particularly with comments like that!). Can’t wait to properly catch up with everyone.. only managed to do it once while overseas.


  1. Black Mountain Tower in Spring sunshine « In The Taratory - October 1, 2012

    […] Comparing Canberra to Europe ( […]

  2. Taste and Test at Sage Dining Rooms | In The Taratory - September 11, 2013

    […] It’s better than the macarons at The Flute Bakery – this is a huge deal for me: I have staunchly defended Flute’s macarons as the best in the world. It getes a 9 from me (and would have been a 10 if the blueberries were still […]

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