A Travellerspoint blog

The Last Six Days: Part One

From Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road

all seasons in one day 67 °F

I haven't been able to post much this week because of spotty internet and well...let's face it...I am in Australia. A computer is not where I want to be! It is now, however, just before 6am on Saturday morning here (4pmET Friday in the states) so I thought I would post my pictures and brief thoughts of the last week.
Sunday we rented a mini cooper convertible to take to the Great Ocean Road. If anyone in Australia tries to talk you out of a convertible, don't listen. They are hard to find in Melbourne but it was worth it for what was to come.
The highlights---We drove through Geelong, Torquay (if you are a surfer--you know this town: home to Rip Curl (the brand and the event). We stopped in Torquay because it is home to the surfing mecca: Bells Beach. (more in the photos)
Great little town with a definite chill and surf feel. I could set up post here and never leave. The Great Ocean Road is an incredible drive. Part Road to Hana, part Pacific Coast Highway and all beautiful. We saw a million signs warning of kangaroos and we saw 3. Sadly, they had met their demise before meeting us. The road is full of amazing views, sharp turns, incredible forestry and koala bears!
We rented a house in Skenes Creek overlooking the ocean for a couple of nights. There isn't a ton to do in this area so come for the peace, quiet and views.

On our last full day in this area, we trekked down Great Ocean Road and made a few stops...the first was in Otway at this old lighthouse. Shipwrecks are huge in this area (or were) but for some odd reason in 1994 they decommissioned all lighthouse keepers. We met one who had turned into a tourguide. STRAIGHT OUT OF CENTRAL CASTING :) See below:
From here...we were off to Mornington Peninsula!

Posted by AllFiveHorizons 14:54 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne great_ocean_road torquay apollo_bay skenes_creek Comments (0)

Exploring Melbourne

sunny 65 °F

In my never-ending search for the perfect massage, the day started with a vada massage at the East Day Spa here at the Rialto. Small spa with uncomfortable wicker chairs in the waiting area but the staff was so incredibly nice, the chairs are easy to overlook. The massage wasn't bad either!
Melbourne 100% is a walking city. Do NOT rent a car if you are coming here. The public transit is easy and everyone is so helpful. All around the city there are people in red blazers that are volunteer ambassadors who are there to just help you find your way. The coolest thing is walking all these hidden lanes and "arcades" as the locals call them. Everything is crazy expensive from an American's point of view-- so just be prepared!
For my friends reading this, our day day can be summed up as follows:
Queen Victoria Market, shopping, kick ass cappuccino from a place called Hot-Jam Donuts, something called a borek with beef and onions that tasted fabulous going in but I paid for later, odd but nice people, great street musicians, wine and fried mozzarella, expensive nail polish, sore feet, more wine, sore feet, a search for better walking shoes, more wine but this time with pizza, tiramisu, a few weddings (none of them mine!), and lots of doughnuts (which I never ate!)
The pictures more or less tell the story of our day... :) oh, and since I am HTML-inept, just click on the photos for captions :)
When it comes to restaurant choices, we tend to watch where the people flock as opposed to the Frommer's pick! With that, I recommend +39 Pizzaria on Little Bourke Street. It was consistently packed and the food was tasty. Everyone we encountered working there was Italian and there food shows it. There is a small bowl of olive oil with diced red chili peppers on the table-- it is the real deal, not for the faint of heart and just a little bit awesome.

My overall observation of Melbourne is that the people really make the city. It's a clash of old classic with new modern, the city has a killer sweet tooth because you can't walk a block without running into a doughnut shop, cake store or candy store. (works for me!)

Posted by AllFiveHorizons 13:48 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne food queen_victoria_market royal_arcade Comments (0)

Longest. Flight. Ever.

...but we made it!

sunny 63 °F

It's hard to believe I got on a plane on Wednesday early evening and got off late Friday afternoon but here we are in Melbourne and safe to say not sure which way is up! On the advice of seasoned Australian travelers, an ambien and a good night's rest should cure what ails!
Overall---can't complain, first or business class travel all the way. IMG_0786.jpg
The Delta service was good but the planes were a tad old. We found Sydney's airport very easy to navigate.
IMG_0798.jpgNote to anyone traveling here---ask your flight attendant for the Express pass for customs. Made it easy breezy, grabbed the bags and we then transferred to Virgin Blue for the hour flight to Melbourne.
IMG_0788.jpgSpeaking of...if you are heading this way in the next 2 months, note that the Melbourne airport is down to one runway---making all flights delayed. Now, you would think they would just schedule to accommodate but no...they keep schedules as they have been while they work on the other runway...and just delay all flights. Go figure.
But Richard Branson doesn't mess around and he doesn't cut short the perks on his airline. IMG_0793.jpgIMG_0794.jpgIMG_0797.png
My bag was checked on an earlier flight so my luggage didn't arrive with Kathy's but it DID arrive so no cause for complaint :o)
For my American friends--somewhat alarming: After going through customs in Sydney, we checked into our flight, took a long bus ride to the domestic section of the airport and went through security WITHOUT ONE CHECK OF OUR IDs. Nada. Zilch. And anyone could just walk in and walk up through security. There wasn't even a check of a boarding pass. No removal of shoes and no need to remove liquids.
Shocked the hell out of me...but as the minutes tick on here in Oz, I am beginning to understand.
They are a pretty laid back group.
By 4p Friday afternoon (1am back in the States) we arrived at the Intercontinental Rialto in downtown Melbourne.
IMG_0804.jpgIMG_0803.jpgIMG_0802.jpg It was about a 20 minute drive/45 dollar cab ride to the city. The hotel is pretty cool. It is an old factory converted and the service is amazing.
They made reservations for us at this hidden gem a few blocks away, Portello Rosso.
270_IMG_0807.jpgIMG_0806.jpgAfter ordering some wine, a couple dishes showed up at the table, ordered as a welcome gift from the staff at the Rialto. (nice touch!) ---also happens to be where Oprah stayed!
So after some delicious tapas and a bottle of tempernillo, we are calling it a day!
Tomorrow the adventure out into the streets of Melbourne continues!

Posted by AllFiveHorizons 03:13 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne sydney delta virgin_blue Comments (0)

One Week 'Til Take Off...

overcast 60 °F

So this time next week, I will be somewhere over the Pacific bound for Australia. I have wanted to travel here all my life and am so excited about this two and a half week adventure!
In typical fashion, we only have a few places booked, still don't know if we're going to Cairns or staying south in wine country...the only certainties: Melbourne, Ocean Drive, the 12 Apostles, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Sydney!

Posted by AllFiveHorizons 18:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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