Photo Diary: Melbourne II

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Hey guys, I really hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day over the weekend. I ended up cooking a double batch of my new favourite recipe for both Gareth’s and my parents and spending the night with family.

But tonight: a bit of wanderlust to wrap up!

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I want to share the second edition of my Melbourne trip from late last year. The first part covered the more adventurous parts, mainly the Great Ocean Road and all its beauty.. today we heard to the concrete jungle part of town, the CBD.

Originally, this trip was meant to be a surprise anniversary gift I organised for Gareth and myself.. but he promptly ruined that when he snooped around my inbox and noticed some flight details. I was not happy. But he did take me out to Maha so I’ve forgiven him ;)

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Both of us hadn’t been to Melbourne before, so I didn’t know what to expect although I definitely had hyped it up in my mind so much thanks to friends, that I came away quite disappointed. I enjoyed the trip but I think my expectations were set a bit too high. I didn’t feel it was that much different (or better) from Sydney - sorry Melbournians! The graffiti art and jam-packed laneways were clear winners so I’ll give you that Melbourne ;)

From memory, we visited the CBD, Carlton, Collingwood, Prahran and Fitzroy. I’m not sure why but I thought each of these areas would be massive suburbs and further away from the city, but in actual fact they’re quite close to each other and all form a part of the inner city. 

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This is the main Chinatown strip - it kind of reminded me of Sydney’s version but it seems a bit smaller.

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The Botanic Gardens in Melbourne were lovely! I highly rate it in terms of botanic gardens in cities that I’ve visited around the world. I think it was the luscious and amazingly warm tropical glasshouse that did it for me.

I mean seriously - check out this massive pitcher plant! Amazing. This is the first time I’ve seen one in the flesh so I was taken away by it. You can also see in the photo how humid it was right there!

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Here are some snaps of the popular Hosier Lane graffiti art. It’s really a must see and the art is all over the walls in vibrant colours. You physically cannot miss this. 

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This is one of the many laneways in the CBD. The cafes look really good and cosy but super busy.

We grabbed lunch at an organic cafe in one of these laneways on our final day. I recall that the food was quite good but absolutely shocking service… so maybe it’s a good thing I can’t remember the name of the cafe, hey?

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As anyone will tell you - Melbourne is all about the markets.

We visited a few around town and whilst I preferred the fresh food selection at the Prahran Market, there was a wonderful cacti and succulents seller at the Queen Victoria Market that I found irresistable. I wanted to buy EVERYTHING but alas, that would not have worked out well.

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And to close off Melbourne, here’s a shot of me taken by Gareth looking comically apprehensive. I was probably thinking: “seriously, what are you doing boy?” ha!

We don’t have any plans to go back in a hurry, but I’ve yet to see an AFL game at the MCG or watch the Aussie Open live. These are both things I really do want to do, so Melbourne, we’ll be back but maybe not for at least a few years? I’m sure you won’t change too much!

PS. Don’t forget to grab your free mini travel guide and check out part one if you haven’t already.

Photo Diary: Melbourne I

I feel like it’s been one big fat fortnight of holidays with some random work days in between. Time has gone by quite steadily but not too fast that I haven’t been able to appreciate it. I’ve spent some time with both families, shopping, crocheting and playing board games with my sisters - it’s been fun. But as the holidays draw to an end, I always go into the habit of thinking about the next ones to come! Where shall we go? Gareth and I were thinking of a road trip up north between now and the end of the year - we’ll put our thinking caps on… Terrigal? Foster? Byron? Let us know what you think!

Anyway, whilst pondering about future holidays to come, I realised that I had already finished processing my Melbourne photos from last November. That *may* seem like a while back, but hey it was only five months ago… better late than never, right? ;)

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And as usual with all of my photo diary travel posts, I like to pair it with a personalised map/guide of some sort, so here’s the one for Melbourne! Click the link or image below to grab your free download. 

Melbourne-guide

Now back to the photographic highlights!

In two parts, this first part features the best of our day trip along the famed Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles and a few little scenic strolls thanks to our excellent guide, Paul, of Escape Discovery Adventures.

Seriously, if you ever decide to go to Melbourne for this, I recommend booking a guided trip with Paul. It was a full day of adventure and education. Paul knew so much and he drove and talked to us for practically the entire trip. I’ve no idea how he does it constantly and sometimes, back to back trips in a row!

In case you’re wondering, I’m not being sponsored to say all these nice words. In all honesty, it was one of the best guided trips I’ve ever experienced to date. So make sure to check him out if you guys decide to go visit Melbourne!

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During one stop over, we had the chance to witness some great Australian wildlife including koalas, joeys and plenty of beautiful local birds. Some were not afraid of humans, like that cute parrot on my arm!

We couldn’t miss the opportunity to take a stock shot of the Great Ocean Road signage. Looks at us there, looking all touristy :)

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For morning tea, we stopped over at Anglesea, I’m pretty sure, and Paul had come all prepared with all the typical Aussie things one could think of. Anzac biscuits, tim tams, lamingtons, Vegemite… and of course Australian Breakfast tea!

We were a group of about 10 people and apart from the two of us, everyone else was from overseas travelling around Australia. You can imagine how cool and exotic this meal would have been for them!

A bit after that, we stopped over for a walk around Otway National Park which was a nice change of scenery. I love walking slowly around exploring rainforests and noticing the beauty of ferns and foliage, so this was a perfect stopover for me.

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At long last, we eventually reached the Twelve Apostles, where Paul educated us on the ongoing natural process of erosion, which is changing the landscape of the apostles.

Made of limestone, these rock formations have been formed over time from the erosion of the cliff fronts. If I recall correctly, there are now only eight of the original set left. You can see in the photo below the ruins left behind from the fall of the previous apostle:

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This above is known as the Island Archway and as you can see by the print being held up in front, it’s also changed its shape since 2009

Also nearby is another site of interest, the Lock Ard Gorge and the Shipwreck Coast. Paul told us the sad story behind the name of this gorge, the Lock Ard ship.

In reality, these slabs of limestone rock are so mammoth, I don’t know how I would have survived a shipwreck against heavy current back in the 19th century, without being deadly injured by the cliff faces!

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This day trip was without a doubt the highlight of my Melbourne trip. The Great Ocean Road - please do it soon if you haven’t already or soon more apostles will have fallen! 

Now that wraps up part I of Melbourne. Don’t forget to grab your free mini travel guide and look out for part II coming up soon! :)


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Photo Diary: San Francisco II

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Ahoy, here’s the follow up edition to the San Francisco diaries. Remember the first? That brought up a whole lot of wicked memories and this one did too! I always enjoy the experience of putting together these photo diary blog posts, it’s like mentally going back all over again!

On my very last day, I tried to pack all of the touristy things I wanted to do into the entire day, given I had an evening flight back home.

In retrospect, it was so insane since I also added in a 6km run to and from the Airbnb apartment I was staying at in the Mission to Bernal Heights Park. This was pretty epic for me given my lack of exercise around that time! I guess I had heard so many good things about the view at the peak of that particular park that I didn’t want to leave with regret of missing out experiencing it for myself. So I did it. And boy was it worth it!

Since I decided not to carry my proper camera whilst running, I ended up with only some snaps from my iPhone 4 at the time. This one was my favourite but it definitely doesn’t do it enough justice:

Over the rest of the day, I wandered in a semi-dehydrated state around Golden Gate Park and a few other hot spots. There’s a Flower Conservatorium there in the park but to my misfortune, it was closed on Mondays :( Luckily, there was still beautiful gardens surrounding it including this amazing dahlia display!

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In exploring the park, I fell across a Japanese Tea Garden that I couldn’t make up my mind about: was it worth going in or should I skip it? That is until this little cute squirrel appeared and completely melted my heart. HE/SHE WAS TOO CUTE TO RESIST!

So I paid my entrance fee and kept taking more photos of it! In hindsight, I’m glad I checked it out because the garden was incredibly serene and beautiful - I highly recommend visiting it solo to find some peace and natural beauty :)

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Thankfully San Francisco is such a wired up city that you can pretty much find reliable free wi-fi…. anywhere?! After further exploring the Botanic Gardens (also within Golden Gate Park), I could hardly walk, was completely dehydrated, hungry and fatigued and also lacking phone credit.

By chance, I came across this place, Crepevine, which served delicious comfort food, had free wi-fi AND a yummy drinks menu! What luck, can you can imagine how incredibly happy I was? Definitely on my list to go back.

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And of course playing tourist wouldn’t have been as authentic if I had missed out on a trip to Alamo Square to view the set of Victorian houses, fondly known as the “Painted Ladies”. Most people probably recognise them from the opening sequence of the old television show Full House

But you know, apart from the pop culture reference, I was really glad I went to Alamo Square because the park itself is small and quaint and just has a really lovely view of the city. It’s not as grand as the one from Bernal Heights Park but it’s very much a different perspective of the city skyline. Throw in some nice architecture and dramatic trees… oh and pet dogs and it would make for a lovely afternoon picnic spot.

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In short, I really enjoyed my trip to San Francisco last year and I’m glad I stayed the weekend to really see the city a bit more. I can’t wait to go back and bring Gareth with me one day so that I can play tour guide for him!

By the way, all the hot spots I mentioned here are captured for you in the mini guide to San Francisco that I created. Super useful if you’re planning a visit to this wonderful city! And if you find some great places yourself, do let me know so I can add it to the list :)

Click here to view and download the guide:

mini travel guide to san francisco


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Photo Diary: San Francisco I

golden gate bridge sf

Hey guys! Hope you’ve all had a relaxing weekend, I’ve been catching up with old and new friends which has been really nice. I showed my photos to a friend who came over to visit yesterday and it dawned on me that I still hadn’t posted up anything, whilst being my most memorable trip of last year. Come on Helen! So this will be the first of two photo diary posts on last October’s visit to San Francisco.

Now if you’ve noticed from previous travel posts, I’ve been creating a map of the area using Stamen and then listing out my recommendations. This is where I’m changing things up - for the better for you and me!

I’ll now be providing you guys with mini travel guides to the places I visit thanks to a new site I’ve found online that makes it really easy to create travel guides: Jauntful! I’ve literally just spent the past hour playing around it and created a mini guide to San Francisco, I hope you’ll find this useful if you’re planning a visit. There’s also the option to download it as a PDF so you can print it out and take it with you whilst travelling! Isn’t it great!?

mini travel guide to san francisco

Let me know what you think of it, I hope it’ll be handy and I’m excited to create a few more of previous travels I’ve done! I haven’t quite decided which places yet, so if you have a preference or suggestion, let me know :)

And here are some of my favourite snapshots of San Francisco from October last year when I went for work, and then tagged on a few days extra of leave to explore the city!

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I attended Re:Make 2013, literally buying tickets the night before and I’m so glad I did. Highlights included seeing 3D printers creating stuff in the flesh and listening to a great line up of inspiring speakers from creative/innovative fields like Michelle Phan, Brit Morin and Ayah Bedir. I coincidentally met one of my favourite bloggers, Brittany of The House That Lars Built, and also made new friends!

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Taking the obligatory tram from Powell nr Market to Fisherman’s Wharf, and then renting bikes at the Wharf with friends from work, I cycled towards the Golden Gate Bridge, across the bridge and followed a route to a nearby port town Sausalito!

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During one of the days, I walked from the Airbnb apartment I was staying at to Noe Valley, to meet friends for brunch at a lovely place called Crepevine. It was simply divine: the decor was full of colourful florals and the menu was packed full of tasty options. I ended up with blueberry wheatgerm pancakes which turned out to be enormous and only 8 USD!

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I’ll be posting the second set of SF photos next week - including those of the Botanic Gardens and the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park!

Click here to view and download the mini travel guide to San Francisco.


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