Tag Archive for explore

It’s Wine Time

I truly believe that wine is an essential part of life. And that is why as soon as I heard about the magical Yarra Valley and its wine tours, I decided a trip out of the city was definitely in order.

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Me and my fellow travel buddy had booked a wine tour which promised spectacular views, free chocolate and of course, the most important part of it all, wine. Cafe Bus Winery Tours picked us up early from central Melbourne. This early start was true commitment from someone who cherishes their weekend lie-ins after spending the week waking up at 5.30am for work. The things you do for wine, honestly.

We were at our first stop by 9AM – Gateway Estate Farm House – a family run shop and cafe full of freshly made produce. After a brief tour of the strawberry picking and giant pepper trees, we traipsed back to the cafe where a spread had been put on for us. Boy, was I excited. Even at 9.30AM, I was able to fill up on meats and cheeses and crackers and grapes and chutneys and delicate servings of different alcoholic beverages. This was shaping up to be a grand day.

Next stop at 10AM was Napoleone. I loved it here – a peaceful building surrounded by acres of vines and greenery. It encompassed everything I never knew I wanted in life – a quiet and laid back family run estate full of charm, vine yards, cider and beer. What a life. Our little tour group were treated to a range of different beverages including apple cider, pear and apple cider, lager and pale ale. Then, we had time to wander around the estate taking in the acres of beautiful landscape and wondering how we could become creators of alcohol and live a life as peaceful as this.

Yarra valley

Yarra valley

By 11AM, we were at our third stop – the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie (and ice creamery). Like a bloodhound, I was magnetically pulled into the building by the delicious smells of melted chocolate oozing out into the countryside. Like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, this shop was filled to the brim with everything you could possibly want in a chocolate shop. After ambling around, my mouth watering, I decided the prices were slightly too high so stocked up on the freebies at the front of the store. A girl’s gotta eat.

This Chocolaterie was again in such a beautiful location, I didn’t have time to question my decision not to buy any chocolate. Surrounded by fields, rolling hills, we had a pleasant time enjoying the view and blue skies in the little bit of sunshine which was starting to make an appearance. The ice-cream was also extremely tempting with lots of interesting flavours – pancake and maple syrup, rocky road…however after a rather boozy breakfast and one too many scoops of the free chocolate samples, I simply had to say “no” (I just don’t know who I am anymore).

Yarra valley

Next on our adventure was a stop at Dominique Portent winery. This winery again is a family run establishment in the heart of the Valley with a father-son duo keeping everything, especially the wine, running smoothly. With the day still clear, we partook in a game of Petanque (a game a bit like Boules) which offered the chance to win a free bottle of wine. This was my time to shine. I mean, the only time to be competitive is when free wine is at stakes right? However, I failed in an abysmal fashion. 

Then, it was time for the wine tasting. We were introduced to some exquisite wines which we enjoying swirling around and taking delicate sips before knocking the whole thing back (old habits die hard). After a spot of lunch, it was time to leave to go back to the cafe bus and head to our next port of call.

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We arrived at Rochford Winery and were instantly shown to our wine tasting session. Sat at tables, we listened to the holder of the wine as he told us of the history of the establishment and what kinds of wine we were going to be sampling. We enjoyed a Chardonnay, a Cerberus, a Pinot Noir and even a dessert wine, the Rochford Rutherglen Muscat. They were all beautiful and nearly almost tempted me to stop buying the $5 stuff I got from Aldi and instead try and be a bit more sophisticated. That was until I saw the prices of course. Aldi, you’ve always got my back.

Rochford Winery was also a restaurant and store with lots of lovely knick knacks and books. There was also a balcony which you go up too to catch some incredible views of the Yarra Valley.

Our last and final stop was possibly my favourite of them all. However, I am looking back at my notes whilst writing this and I seem to have not written down the name of this particular establishment which is annoying but just means that you will have to go and find out for yourselves..
This wine tasting was hosted by a super friendly and informative guy who chatted easily to us whilst his enthusiasm for his wine shone through. We tried four different types of wine, each as tasty as the last, whilst overlooking the endless vines and catching glimpse of the kangaroos which were bounding between them. We stayed at this spot for a while, enjoying some snacks and watching as a herd of kangaroos jumped through the vines as they escaped a dog walker and his dog. Oh Australia.

The day was beautiful. Filled with chocolate, wine, stunning views and enthusiastic and friendly wine connoisseurs, I would whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who is after a day of exploring. If you are a lover of wine and of chocolate, you can’t really go wrong with heading out of the city, delving deep into the countryside and experiencing the true authentic tastes of Melbourne.

In fact, I am more than tempted to never leave Melbourne, and stay in the Yarra Valley drinking wine and eating cheese and watching Kangaroos. Now, that’s the dream.

Yarra valley

The Great Ocean Road Trip

So I just got back from a little place called The Great Ocean Road. And it was pretty darn Great.

A windy day on the Great Ocean Road

Me and my fellow road trip buddies set off in our rented car late Friday afternoon all bushy-tailed and bright eyed, equipped with camping gear – albeit limited camping gear – snacks and more importantly, a cheeky bottle(s) of wine.

With darkness approaching, we found a campsite in Anglesea and set up for the night. We all piled into one tent and sat around our piles of snacks and wine munching away and gradually getting sleepier by the minute. We retreated to our respective tents and squeezed inside and fell asleep listening to the sound of the wind and the sea and in my case, the sounds of some pretty hefty snores coming from my tent buddy. Just adding to the camping experience…..Beaches on the Great Ocean Road

We awoke the next morning ready and excited for the day.

But then we looked at the sky.

The grey grey sky stretching for miles which threatened rain and oozed general misery. Fab. What a good start.

We set off and alas, the rain came. Our first few stops comprised of soggy views and soggy feet but to be fair, if in the rain the views looked like they did, can you imagine what it would look like with blue skies and dazzling sunshine? We decided to see the silver lining of the rainy situation – I mean we are road tripping down the Great Ocean Road. We shouldn’t really complain. There are worse things we could be doing.

12 apostles We gradually made our way up to the 12 Apostles and by that time, the rain had stopped and the skies had cleared up oh so slightly. The 12 Apostles are a defining feature of the Great Ocean Road’s landscape so of course some obligatory tourist photos were in order. Because if you don’t take photos and put it on social media, did you even go there?

Rather than setting up camp there, we decided to start driving back down to Apollo Bay so that we would have more time in the morning to check out the things we missed at the start of the Road because of the rain. Upon arriving at Apollo Bay, we took our tired and freezing limbs to a local pub where we enjoyed a well deserved beer and some pizza. That went down very well, I’ll tell you that for nothing.

beach at sunsetWe found a cheap campsite and quickly set up our tents like the camping pros we are before retreating to the car to drink wine and eat crisps and talk about life. And of course scare ourselves silly by looking into the darkened trees and convincing ourselves there were people standing in them. Thanks for that Beth. We eventually admitted defeat and took ourselves to our tents and settled down listening to the fierce sounds of the waves which honestly felt like they were about to rip through the tent walls. Rather cosy sounds though, the sounds of waves is one of my favourite sounds. See? Silver lining.

 

We left bright and early the next morning eager to check out the areas we missed out on before we had to return the car. stones on the beachWe were happy to see that the sun had decided to make an appearance and there was even a sprinkling of blue skies peeking out between the clouds. We set off happy and excited and marvelled at the beautiful beautiful beaches which looked like they had come straight from a holiday catalogue. After a brief stop for breakfast in a cute little cafe by the Wye River to fuel up and prepare for more Ocean Road antics, we continued on our journey.

We caught up on the Erskine waterfall, more amazing beaches, the Great Ocean Road sign and a trip to the golf course in Anglesea to see the kangaroos. The kangaroos which were oh so laid back but also rather menacing at the same time.

kangaroos at AngleseaThe Great Ocean Road is definitely worth a trip. With great company, amazing views, good music and sufficient wine and food, there’s not a lot that can go wrong. Even if it does rain and the skies are grey, there’s still some stunning views which are pretty hard to forget.

Can we go again please???

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Making Memories in Melbourne

So things are finally looking up here in Melbourne. My fellow travel buddy and I have both found jobs and a place to rest our heads on a more permenant basis. Albeit a slightly expensive place to live but still, a place to live. And it’s in Australia. Right by the sea. So, whatever. In other good news, I haven’t got horrifically scarred by the rays of the sun in, I don’t know, at least a week. And I’ve even taken up jogging and reduced my Tim Tam intake. I don’t know who I’ve become.

It’s been a few weeks since we arrived in Melbourne and we have decided to settle in St Kilda – a sea side city just out of Melbourne CBD. It’s a place that is literally a 10 minute walk from the ocean where we can go in the evenings to watch beautifully magical sunsets and then promptly spam everyone’s Instagram with pictures. But pictures don’t really do the milky skies and purple velvet sea justice. Not at all. I mean, come on…. image image

Home in St Kilda

St Kilda is a truly lovely place to live. There is always something going on – from festivals to Sunday markets to strolls along the beach, it’s hard to be stuck for something to do. And as mentioned above, living by the sea is pretty damn awesome.  There’s a huge amount of cafes and bars overlooking the sea and one of my favourites is The Boardwalk – a place we found on one of our first days here and which we’ve frequented for breakfast on many occasion.

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St Kilda pier offers some incredible views of the city and is also home to some dapper little penguins. We headed there after the sunset one day and managed to catch a glimpse of the little guys waddling around and making some pretty terrifying noises. Other than that, they were adorable.

 

imageAnd then of course, there’s Acland Street. Or Cakeland street as I like to call it. It’s lined with deliciously tempting bakeries and cake shops all with colourful displays which call you in and practically force you to buy a slice of something sweet.

So apart from sunset gazing and penguin watching, we have been exploring as much as we can of Melbourne and its surroundings. Here’s a few of my highlights so far…

Queen Victoria Night Market

Being a huge foodie, the Queen Victoria Night Market was first on the agenda. Having heard rave reviews about this place, we thought it was definitely worth a visit. And my God, was it worth a visit. With live music, a lively atmosphere and endless amounts of food, this place is literally my idea of Heaven. All food is made fresh meaning the air is filled with different exotic aromas, making the decision of what to eat all the more difficult. From Thai to Indian, burgers to calamari, Spanish to Greek, the market basically has it all. And having gone three weeks in a row, I am well on my way to tasting it all..

Beachin’ it at Brighton

Brighton Beach – a short ten minute train journey from St Kilda and the perfect way to spend a sunny weekend afternoon. Golden sands and sparkling seas, this is another of Australia’s gorgeous coast lines that just had to be checked out. With rainbow coloured beach houses each with their own unique design lining the beach, this place is the stuff of dreams. Who doesn’t want their own beach house overlooking an endless ocean? Although I bet the beach house painted with the Australian flag is regretting their decision due to the array of tourists who come to take their photo with it….(yes of course I was one of them…)

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Melbourne CBD 

Melbourne is a vibrant city filled with character and liveliness. There’s not a street you can go down which doesn’t have some sort of street artist on performing music or doing tricks. The city is covered in incredible street art making for colourful alleyways telling vibrant stories.

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There’s a huge supply of great rooftop bars and eateries meaning that this is a great city to have on your doorstep. Not if you’re trying to be good and healthy though because there seems to be Nutella donuts and giant slices of cake around every corner as well. I really need to stop following Melbourne food accounts on Instagram – it’s making my life a misery.

There always seems to be something going on in Melbourne – from Australian Open, to the White Night to exciting festivals, Melbourne is a city which is rarely still. And come on, look at it..

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I don’t know how I could possibly live here for another 6 months…