I'm in sunny Sydney! I'll breifly finish off my Thailand story before moving onto my week in Melbourne and my first couple of days here. I spent my last week in Thailand in Railay, Krabi province and had a great time on pristine beaches, cool laid back rasta bars and some of the best climbing runs in the world. Check out my Railay photo albums because words cannot do justice to the scenery. It was also nice to hang out with an interesting bunch of friends for more than one day and save repeating my life story every time! All the best to Zoe, Sam, Anish and Hannah from Surrey, plus all the guys from Bamboo bar who were such great hosts and never got tired of marrying all the girls behind each others backs!
Before I knew it my time in Thailand was up, and after a few nights in Bangkok I found myself on a long haul flight to Melbourne. And what a busy week my friend Anita had planned for me! Melbourne is a great city with just the right balance of busy city centre CBD, great restaurants and cool bars. I also hugely enjoyed the array of museums and galleries, all easily accessable around a managible sized central area, with a nice mix of international exhibits and more local museums charting Melbourne city's history.
We started the week with some sight seeing in the city, with a visit to the Melbourne Museum and the Eureka tower on the south bank, the highest viewing platform in the southern hemisphere. Needless to say the views were breathtaking as I hope my photos show. I was also treated to a great cup of tea in the sunshine on the St Kilda pier overlooking Phillip Bay.
As for eating I was impressed, and a little relieved to have a break form Thai food. I was spoilt with a great home cooked Italian meal and warm hospitality at the Vecchies household in Heidelberg, including a little didgeridoo playing! Other great eats were found at Blue Train on the south bank (try the duck and mushroom risotto) and at Hungry Jacks in the City!
Given that I had a host with a car, a few day trips out of the city seemed sensible, so we took a drive down the Great Ocean Road to the west of Melbourne to check out the breathtaking costal scenery. I wasn't expecting to see anything like this in Victoria, again please check out the photos to get a proper impression! We stopped off for lunch in Lorne and I had a paddle in the southern Ocean, and tried to act tough as if it wasn't freezing in the middle of winter. Onto Apollo Bay then, and a cut inland down radiculously windy upland roads led us to the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk which is a series of steel walkways high up in the forest canopy, but also with loads of random plastic dinosaurs for some reason.
The other day trip was a tour of the Yarra Valley wineries, this time to the northeast of Melbourne. Luckily I wasn't driving so got to taste a plethora of really tasty white wines at seven or eight friendly stops, and then had a tasty lunch at one of them as well. There was just time to race a round the Heaseville Sanctuary to see my first lot of Aussie wildlife. The duck billed platypus was by far the highlight.
As well as all this cultural stuff I had a couple of great pub nights in busy city spots and even managed to meet up with my friends Cathryn and Glen (who I'd met in Koh Samui) for a fair few drinks at Tranport in Federation Square. It was a hilarious night and in the taxi home Anita was in histerics after too many beers!
Sadly my time in Melbourne came to an end and I knew that due to my time constraints I'd have to get a move on heading up the east coast. I'm eternally grateful to my hosts Laura and Anita for taking such good care of me.
In my next blog it's all about Sydney.......
Till then, all the best to everyone!