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Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Shades Of Blue

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Look at all those blues! Indian Ocean.

Just a tease.  Tomorrow lots more pics of the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Port Campbell.

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While Tony and I were planning our trip, Tony told me about a place he wanted to see that was a day’s drive from Melbourne.  The Twelve Apostles is a group of monoliths that have broken off of the main shore through years of erosion.  Now they stand in the Indian Ocean, a short way from the shore.  He really wanted to see it and I looked into some tours.  The tours were very pricey (over $250 for each of us) and they didn’t stop at all the places he wanted to stop between Melbourne and Port Campbell.

In the end, Tony decided to rent a car in Melbourne and drive us to Port Campbell.  He also rented a small apartment for us for the night.  He was really excited about it and through his excitement, I became excited too.  However, I was not really thrilled about the idea of Tony driving in Australia where they drive on the left side of the road.  He really wanted to do it and had made all the arrangements so that’s what we did.

Once we found the rental office, which we had to walk to from our hotel, we went through all the paperwork and got in the car.  Lo and behold, everything was reversed.  Not only is the steering wheel on the right hand side of the car, the turn signal and wiper controls and all the “stuff” on the dash is a mirror image of what we are used to.

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The interior of the rental car.

We managed to get the car out of the congested down town area and into the suburbs where we spent some time finding a place to eat and letting Tony get used to the car and driving on the wrong side.  The rental car was out of GPS units even though we had reserved one so we were on our own as far as getting around town.  It was not only scary for Tony, although he played it really cool, it was really horrible for me as the passenger.  It was the strangest feeling to be a passenger in the front seat of the car and be sitting on the left side.  It also seemed that he was getting too close to the left many times.  I would end up grabbing the seat bottom and bracing myself in case he hit the car to the left of us or the curb!  Believe me, it is not easy to get used to.

When the commute traffic let up, we found our way back to the hotel and had to find street parking because our hotel had no spots left in their parking lot.  We ended up parking about three or four blocks away from our hotel and we set the clock for 6 because the place were parked the car was a tow away after 7 in the morning.  To top it all off, it was also raining that night.

The next morning, Tony and I dragged all of our luggage downhill a block away from the hotel where I stayed with the luggage while Tony walked to the get the car.  Once he picked me up, we found our way out of town and on to the freeway to get out of the area and off toward The Great Ocean Road and Port Campbell.

It was a long day of driving in very interesting and varied terrain.  That post will be coming up.  I’m reliving the whole day’s drive just writing about it.  I feel the anxiety I felt then, almost as if it were right now.

 

 

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Melbourne is known for their street art which is encouraged and sanctioned by the government.  There are stray bits of street art all over Melbourne. We knew this before our trip but had it filed away in the furthest recesses of our minds.

Our first night in Melbourne, we tried to get reservations at a tapas bar, named La Movida, which is known as the best Spanish Restaurant in Melbourne but we couldn’t.  They were booked.  Kind of bummed about it, we headed for Federation Square anyway, figuring we would find something to eat there.  We did.  We ended up in the cafe part of Young & Jackson which is one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs.  Tony had read up on breweries and pubs so it was on his list and we ate there.  However, I was still curious about La Movida.  The next day we went walking and exploring in the same Federation Square area.  That’s when we stumbled on Hosier Lane, la Movida, and Australian street art!

Hosier Lane from across the street…

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Hosier Lane from across the street. Pretty narrow!

Once we got to the street (really no more than an alley) we could see why the restaurant was full the night before.  They seat about twelve people at this location.  There is another location a block away but we didn’t know that.

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La Movida wine and tapas bar, Melbourne.

I took a couple of steps into the alley and realized this was the place with all the street art.  I called Tony back and we spent almost 45 minutes taking pictures. Tony walked further down the street than I did and he walked back into little tiny driveways where more art was present.  I was really intrigued with the artwork and with the fact that it is respected and left up, even when it is political in nature.

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I love these colors, don't you?

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This same alley displays quite a variety of styles.

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One of several "mini driveways' or alley within an alley.

This one below is one of my favorites.  It is right outside the door of the restaurant.  You can see in the top portion what is the wooden frame where they place their menu and just to the left is the door to enter the restaurant.

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One of my favorites!

Below is a picture of the alley from the other end.  As you can see, we weren’t the only tourists admiring the artwork.  By the time we left the alley the group of tourists in there had grown more and it was beginning to be difficult to take a picture without getting in someone’s way!

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The length of the alley from the other side.

Tomorrow will be either about driving on the wrong side or about food!

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Today I’m just posting pictures with little commentary because I have had a bad case of the blahs today and I cannot seem to concentrate.

Victoria Parliament in Melbourne pictured below:

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Parliament of Victoria, Melbourne, AUS

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Lighting fixtures outside of Parliament building. Note the crowns.

Across the street in one direction is the Hotel Windsor, Melbourne’s oldest surviving hotel.  Now privately owned, it is truly a “grand hotel”.  Notice how this 1880’s building is set in the middle of modern buildings.

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Hotel Windsor

Across from Parliament in the other direction is the Princess Theatre, an ornate theater dating back to the 1850’s.  There have been numerous ghost sitings at the Princess.  Today it is still a theater.  I believe Jersey Boys was playing there when we were in Melbourne.

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The Princess Theatre in Melbourne

Detail of the front of the Princess Theatre:

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Gold angel and lions atop Princess Theatre, Melbourne

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On one of our Melbourne days, we headed over to the Queen Victoria Market, which is not open every day so we were glad to catch it on an open day.  The market is a huge area, right in the middle of the city, where one can find small temporary shops selling anything from boomerangs to totebags to veggies and fruits.  You can also find inside a covered and permanent area, several delis, chocolate shops, bakeries, cheese stores, and almost anything you’d like to eat or drink while shopping.

It was a wonderful experience.  We shopped and before leaving we each found some delicious “take away” food, some tropical smoothies, a table to sit at, and then we headed for the bakery for a cookie for each of us.  We could have gone back another day but because of our trip’s timing and the market’s hours of business, we were not able to.

Below you’ll find photos of the front of the market place from two different entrances, a shot of kangaroo meat at the meat shop, stacks of chocolate, and colorful artwork!

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Queen Victoria Market entrance

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Another entrance to Queen Victoria Market

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Kangaroo Meat (sign says Peppered Roo)

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Stacks of Chocolate!

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Boomerangs

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Aboriginal art work for sale at Queen Victoria Market

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Heading Home

Our flight is in about 18 hours.  It has been a fantastic trip but it’s time to go home.  We’ll be in the U.S. on Saturday afternoon but I won’t be home to Portland for a few days as I’ll be staying in he Bay Area to see a new niece, Trinity.  She was born the day I left but was born at 33 weeks so she has been in the hospital.  I think she’ll be home this weekend and I am going to try to see her before I head for home.

I’m tired.  It’s time.  I want my own bed.  I miss my kitty.  I miss Tina and I miss being in the same country as Susie.

Sydney Harbor from Taronga Zoo.

Sydney Harbor from Taronga Zoo.

And I am missing the ripened tomatoes on my plants!

Lots of pictures to come and some observations on traveling and on Australia, all wehn I get home to Portland, midweek.

Last night we stayed overnight at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.  It was super but we didnt’ get much sleep.  More on this later.

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We left Melbourne on Saturday and flew to Cairns.  It was a super early day for us.  We had to get up at 4:30 for a 5:30 am taxi pickup to the airport.  Yuck.  But we made it fine and enjoyed the flight to Cairns, although JetStar’s service and their staff leave a lot to be desired.  It’s a good thing we’re taking Virgin Blue when we go to Sydney because I wouldn’t want to travel on JetStar again.

Our hotel is super!  Tony did a great job finding bargain places.  This one was the most expensive of our accomodations but still under $100/night.   We were surprised to find that we were upgraded to a suite upon arrival.  That makes this a super deal.  We have a huge suite on the top floor (7 th) with a beach and mountain view.

Moi on our balcony in Cairns.

Moi on our balcony in Cairns.

Sunday we boarded a catamaran which took us on a 90 minute ride out to the Great Barrier Reef!  Once there we had 5 hours to explore the area by snorkel, diving, glass bottom boat, semi-submersible, and the underwater theater.  I don’t swim so I didn’t get to go in the water.  However, I did get to check out the other options and took some neat pictures.  Tony went snorkeling and it was a kick to see him enjoying this as much as he did.  This was the highlight of the trip for him.

Before taking off from the Great Barrier Reef, they feed the fish which brings big and tiny fish from all over.  This picture was taken through the glass of the underwater theater.

Before taking off from the Great Barrier Reef, they feed the fish which brings big and tiny fish from all over. This picture was taken through the glass of the underwater theater.

One of the things I love about this place is the birds!  We have been treated to a concert of chirping and screeching by no fewer than 20 different kinds of birds including lorakeets, herons, cranes, and many others.  They hang out in the trees around our hotel so early morning and just before sunset, the trees serenade us and put on a beautiful show as they fly up high into trees and swoop down to the water and back to the trees.  I wish I had thought to bring a mini cassette recorder so I could record it all.  I might try recording the sound on the cell phone or something.

Tomorrow will be a day of exploring the local area then on Tuesday we will be going to the rainforest!!!  Should make for lots of great pictures.

Internet is very pricey at our hotel ($20/day) so we didn’t pay for it yesterday and probably won’t pay for it again after today.  With luck we’ll have internet when we get to Sydney.

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Not a lot of time today but below you’ll find pictures from Wednesday (Tuesday in the U.S.A.).  I am also posting on Facebook and trying to post different pics here and there.  I’m a bit limited because I only have my netbook with an 8 inch screen so I can’t edit pictures very well because I simply can’t see them well on this screen.

Common Road Sign

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Sunsetting over the Indian Ocean.

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G’day Mate!

Just a short post from down under…

After over an hour delay out of LAX, we headed into the wild black yonder (12:45 am) and a 15.5 hour flight.  Arrived in Melbourne at 9:15 AM local time.  Airport was a breeze, including Customs.

The tough part was trying to stay awake and active all day so we could manage the time change.  We did it.  Slept well and are now getting ready to head out for our second day down under.

More to come later tonight.  Picture below is St. Paul’s Church in Federation Square which is an awesome array of architecture, people, hustle, and bustle.

St. Paul's Church in Federation Square, Melbourne.

St. Paul's Church in Federation Square, Melbourne.

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