Sydney & Melbourne through 12,000 eyes!

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iflutteredby’s favourite picture from the Australia trip

iflutteredby has been our travel companion for a few times now. Let’s know more on our Australia trip through her (12000!) eyes 😀

Hi iflutteredby,

Today we’ll talk about your maiden trip to Australia, together with Travel Keede!

But first, tell us about yourself. Where do you come from? How did you come to enjoy travelling?

Well, I’m a 20-something-year-old from this dusty little town called Agra in the most populous state in India. To be honest, I never thought about becoming a ‘traveller’ or a ‘nomad’ when I was growing up. I never made a bucket list or had a long list of places I wanted to visit. In college, I started exploring places around Pune, and I realized ‘Hey! This is fun. I want to do more of this.’ And that’s how it all began. Since then, I’ve been utilizing all the rare long weekends I get to pack in as much travelling as I possibly can.

Tell us about your trip. The events that led to it?

Well, like it always does, my sister had a random idea, and after discussing it with her husband, decided to make me a partner in crime as well. Of course, I was totally up for it.

Where in Australia did you visit? What were some of your best experiences?

Our two major base camps were Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne we visited the State Library, Degraves Street, DFO, and other prominent spots around the commercial areas. The Hozier street art, the free walking tours and the tram rides were some of the highlights.

Oh, and how could I ever forget the Great Ocean road trip? Picture this. You’re driving down a smooth, open road that stretches for miles and miles ahead of you. There are ever-changing oceanic vistas on your left, and beautiful, lush rainforests on your right. The music is on, the breeze blows your hair back, and just for a teeny second, you wonder if it is all a dream. We went all the way to the 12 Apostles – basically huge, natural structures made of limestone — and back.

The view from there was, by far, one of the best I’ve seen.

Sydney welcomed us like a bright ray of sunshine after the rainy weather in Melbourme played spoilsport. We visited Circular Quay and witnessed the Opera House in all its glory. Bondi beach was heartbreakingly beautiful, and we fell in love with the coastal walk and the deep blue ocean. We took a ferry ride to Manly beach, ate at the darling restaurants at Darling Harbour, and even went for a hot air balloon ride at Hawkesbury.

I’m sorry there’s just too much to talk about and this space seems too limited! 😀

How did you manage accommodation and food? Being a vegetarian, was it tough for you to manage the food situation? Any places you’d recommend?

Travel Keede managed accommodation, like always. Airbnbs always work the best in places like this. It’s a shared space, so it’s easier on the pocket, gives you more room and is a little more intimate than hotel rooms. Plus, you have the whole apartment to yourself, you can cook your own meals if you feel like, and the overall experience is a little more homely. After a day or two, you don’t feel like you’re just a visitor. I remember thinking to myself, “Hmm, I could get used to this!”

The food was brilliant wherever we went. Surprisingly, a lot of people in Australia are vegetarians. It makes sense, as a lot of them are into fitness and healthy lifestyles. No matter what time of the day it was, we always saw a bunch of people jogging, running, surfing. And goddamn, they have good bodies.

So anyway, food is not an issue for vegetarians at all. You get superb coffee, bakery items, Italian food, the works! We went to this upscale restaurant called Veggie Bar in Melbourne, and everything we ate there was perfection. Coffee and croissants at Portobello at Circular Quay are pretty awesome. We also visited the Rocks weekend market, and the food there was to die for. (This isn’t a hyperbole. It was that good!) Do try the Japanese pancakes and corn with chilli and butter on it! Mmmmm.

It would have been a crime if I hadn’t mentioned having breakfast at Bill’s in Sydney. We waited in line for half an hour to get a table, but trust me, we wept with tears of joy once our food came. Soft, fluffy pancakes, all sorts of salads, omelettes, fruit bowls, shakes, smoothies. It was like attaining salvation for a while. Food nirvana, is what I’d like to call it. The quality of ingredients used to make everything was unbelievable. To this day, my taste buds thank me for it. You cannot miss this. Cannot.

What was your impression of the local life in the cities you visited? What will be your one big takeaway or takeaways from it?

The local life seemed pretty chill. People mostly seemed happy and relaxed. They’re thrill-seekers, what with their surfing and hiking, and road trips and adventure sports. They’re peaceful, and huge fans of art and culture, and man, do they love their food!

My biggest takeaway would be this: When in doubt, have a beer. Also, have the Yellow Tail wine.

How did you feel on your way home after the trip ended? Did the trip add value to you as a person?

Of course, you feel heavy and a tad glum after a trip ends. But you feel more enriched as a person. There’s so much more you witness about humanity in general. You see a whole bunch of people living on a completely different part of the planet. You get to peek into their lives, their beliefs, their culture. It makes you question everything you have grown up thinking. There’s so much to see out there. The more I travel, the more I want to travel, because come on. We only have one planet. Gotta explore it while we can!

Where are you off to next? Any plans brewing?

Yes, I’m off to Bhutan in a few days, and I’m so excited! We’re planning to visit Thimphu and Paro. Looking forward to the three ‘Ms’: mountains, monasteries and momos! Also, the treks and fresh air.

Where can we see more from you? Blog, social media?

The link to my blog is: https://iflutteredby.wordpress.com/ and my Instagram handle is @asthaprakash

Follow me. I’m a cool person. (No, I’m not).

Check out the Sydney vlog put together by iflutteredby!

 

 

Melbourne Was Alright

Melbourne Skyline from South Yarra bridge

Melbourne Skyline from South Yarra bridge

Finally I’m looking at my computer screen logged into the wordpress admin page. I just didn’t feel like sitting in front of a computer after work or on weekends as all I do 80% of my workday is look at computer screens and data.

Anyway, I’m now ready to share some notes from my travels to the land down under this September 😀

Our first stop – Melbourne! I should point out, entry into Oz was not great. We couldn’t get out of the airport for nearly two hours owing to the queues at immigration and subsequently at baggage check as they are finicky about what people carry into the country.

The first thing we did in Melbourne was take a ride in the free city tram, city circle route 35. It’s a great way to take in the city if its your first time there.

City Tram, Melbourne

A second great way to explore the place that I would recommend is to do a walking tour. While there are several available we took a free one called ‘I am free’ walking tours. The tour is informative with helpful guides. The best part is you pay whatever you think the tour was worth. You just need to show up a few mins before the tour start time as per their website at the starting point – it’s the state library generally. This tour was the best part in Melbourne imo with interesting anecdotes and thought provoking history.

Walking Tour, Melbourne

Walking Tour, Melbourne

Also worth mentioning two incredible meals we enjoyed so much in the city (for vegetarian folk) – a lunch at this restaurant called CharlieLovett by the river and dinner at Vegie Bar in Fitzroy. Just plain brilliant!

Vegie Bar, Melbourne

Vegie Bar, Melbourne

Melbourne sure has the old world charm but nothing beats Europe when it comes to that. Well sure, the Degraves Street was nice and cozy with its alleyways, Hosier Lane hosted its share of Street Art, the South Bank was lovely with rows of cafes and restaurants and the State Library was beautiful but it didn’t move me the way cities in Europe did. I’m perhaps biased towards Europe.

Degraves Street, Melbourne

Degraves Street, Melbourne


South Bank, Melbourne

South Bank, Melbourne


Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Hosier Lane, Melbourne

The weather though when we visited was cool and crisp, a great respite from Singapore weather which is mostly hot and humid. But when it rained in Melbourne, it transformed into wet and cold and that’s the part I didn’t really enjoy. It also messed-up with our views on the Great Ocean Road, our Hot Air Balloon ride was cancelled and we didn’t see the point of visiting Yarra Valley in weather like that – which was a big downer! As people say – you can experience all four seasons in Melbourne in a single day.

The Great Ocean Road trip was okay overall, I guess it would have been stunning if the sun was out. The Twelve Apostles were breathtaking nevertheless. The first sight when I saw the rocks jutting out from the water and the endless expanse of the ocean was spectacular. I can only imagine how incredible a sunset there would have been.

Twelve Apostles site

Twelve Apostles site

Our Airbnb stay was superb and we spent some great times enjoying drinks in the cold on the large spacious balcony. The stay was in this area called Preston away from the city center. We rented a car to make it easier to travel back and forth which made even better sense as we had planned to drive up to The Apostles and the Valley. I would suggest though to stay closer to the city and take public transport as much as possible as parking is a nightmare sometimes and needless to say, quite pricey.

As Melbourne wakes up, view from our airbnb balcony

As Melbourne wakes up, view from our airbnb balcony

Melbourne was alright, next up Sydney!

I hope some of you managed to pick-up a tip or two for your own visit to Melbourne. #HappyTravels peeps! 🙂

Here is the map covering our itinerary. Also includes vegetarian friendly options we liked.