Aussie Rules and Seeing Stars

After a lazy Saturday and then going out for one of Matt’s friend’s birthdays Saturday night, Sunday morning was a little bit of a slow start. I had to pack up my bag again (nightmare) because we were spending the night in Melbourne and then Monday morning was my flight to Bali. I finally got everything back in my bag, which was basically bursting at the seams, and we headed out of town. We stopped quickly for a coffee and to say bye to some friends since I don’t think I’ll be going back there! 🙁

I booked a hotel on the way into the city, it actually ended up being a building of managed apartments that are rented out, called The Docklands Private Collection. Our little apartment was super cute and in such a great spot. We were in the docklands area right across from a promenade with lots of restaurants and shops. Once we checked in we walked over to the restaurants and grabbed some lunch then went back to the apartment where I took a nap and lazed around until it was time to head to my first AFL (Australian Football League) game.

I’d been looking forward to this for a while after watching a few of Matt’s games on the weekends. It was the Essendon Bombers vs the St. Kilda Saints. Our hotel/apartment was in such a great location, just a 5 minute walk to the Etihad Stadium where the game was held. We sat beside the goals on the Essendon side, as that’s the team that Matt supports. It was a lot of fun and very high energy. The guys in front of us were hilarious with their commentary, which may have improved with the number of beers they drank, but oh my God, the hair on one of them. He basically had a mullet made out of waist length dreadlocks in a pony tail, with non dreadlocked hair in the front being pushed back with a headband. Almost made it hard to focus on the game his hair was so bad…the downside of being a hairstylist, noticing and wanting to change people’s terrible hair choices. I really enjoyed the game, maybe more than Matt did, his team lost sadly.

DSC00299

Essendon Fans

Essendon Fans

DSC00302

After the game we headed to do another thing I was really looking forward to, the Melbourne Star! It is also in the Docklands area so after we just walked down there. The Melbourne Star is basically a huge observation wheel, one of only 4 in the world. It rotates super slowly, one ride around takes about half an hour. We lucked out when we went around 8pm and got an entire pod thing to ourselves. It was a gorgeous view and I’m really glad we went at night while the city was little up, but to be honest it was a little bit boring…I would recommend people to do it while in the city, it’s a fun way to see everything. Just don’t expect the most exciting half hour of your life while up there. It is beautifully lit up and being able to see all the lights was pretty much worth it.

 

View from the top!

DSC00320

Really cool Lego version in the gift shop

DSC00322

We walked back to the promenade to get a late dinner and enjoy the view of the water. It had been a crazy windy day but the evening turned out to be quite nice, warm and the wind died down. We sat on the patio and shared some appies for dinner with a glass of wine. Then it was time to head back to the hotel and turn in for night. Monday would be an early morning to get my flight to Denpasar, Bali. The last night in the city was a great end to my 2 and a half weeks in Melbourne. It was a little bittersweet leaving and saying goodbye to everyone not knowing when or if I’ll be back there to see everyone again!

8 Ways to Save $$$ While Traveling

Let me start this out by saying I am not overly a budget traveller. I’m not sure what the numbers are that you have to spend to be considered that, but I definitely wouldn’t call myself one. Of course I like to save money, and on this trip especially I’d like my money to last because thats basically how long I’ll be able to travel for, but I also like staying nice places, taking advantage of all the things that are available in a place to do, eating good food and just enjoying myself without worrying about exactly how much I’ve spent per day.

With that all being said I do think that there are some easy ways to save some money or make the dollars go a little bit farther.

  1. Make friends while you’re traveling!

I think that this might be one of my biggest tips. Not only does it make your travelling so much more enjoyable, it also saves money. If you end up traveling with the people that you meet you can save by being able to split accommodation or transport. Another way this is great is that you end up meeting people all over the world and can then meet up again if you travel to where they’re from. I love having people I meet come to visit and then play tour guide for them. This gives them a local perspective on the places that they’re going and can maybe help them see things they might not have otherwise. And usually people are willing to return the favour, or let you crash at their place if you go to see them.

IMG_7574

New Years with new friends in Bali!

       2. Eat where the locals are eating.

Everyone knows that the places that are filled with tourists or near big tourist areas are going to be more expensive. It’s easy to go there, the employees will usually speak good english, they might have more dishes that you’re used to eating, but if you see a place that’s full of local people I will bet you it’ll be not only cheaper, but more authentic food. Think about it this way, you know the places in town that specialize in the kinds of things you like and usually have a pretty good deal on them right? It’s the same when you’re traveling. Plus who knows, you might end up making some new friends!

      3. Book tickets and attractions online

This is a fairly new suggestion for me. I’ve just started noticing that while looking up things to do in cities a lot of times if you pre-buy your entrance ticket while online you’ll get a discount. Or they’ll offer passes of maybe 3 attractions that if you buy all of the tickets together you’ll get a reduced rate. Obviously this is helpful in more ways than one, you get to skip the line when you get there and bypass all the silly people who didn’t think to check online and you get a cheaper rate. Winning.

     4. Make sure you’re using a no fee credit card

This is another one that I just started following. Before my trip to Australia I was reading a lot about overseas credit cards and had noticed that mine, on top of the exchange rate, charged a small fee for every transaction. Unless you’ve actually selected one that doesn’t yours probably does too, their aren’t a ton out there that don’t. Once I started doing some research I decided on the Capital One Aspire Card, this not only has no foreign transaction fees but also offers points on everything you purchase that can be redeem for any travel purchases charged to the card. I know that some people are against credit cards, but I personally think that if I’m going to be spending the money anyways I might as well get some small reward from it, plus I generally feel safer having my credit card rather than a huge heap of cash with me.

     5. Walk places (or use local transportation)

Obviously it’s not feasible to walk everywhere you want to go in a place your visiting, but if you plan your accommodation well you should at least be able to hit up some of the things you want to see and find places to eat around you. Walking also has the added benefit of being able to get to know the area around you, as opposed to seeing it whiz by from a car window. Plus you’ll totally burn off a few of those extra drink and food calories, if that matters to you. Another easy one is to take local transportation, buses or trains, if the place your in offers anything like that. Cabs are of course the most expensive but luckily in places like South East Asia or Indonesia (where I am right now) they are quite cheap. One thing I will add to this is to make sure before you go wandering around, especially solo, is that you are staying in a safe area and not to put yourself in any danger. 

     6. Spend longer in one area

A lot of people refer to this as slow travelling, I guess it depends how long you’re actually staying in that place, but this is an awesome way to save some money. Let alone the obvious travel costs you’ll be saving a lot of accommodation offers discounts for weekly or longer stays. If you are doing something like this websites like airbnb.com are great too, as you can actually get an apartment or house. Which brings me to another money saving idea, get an apartment or a hotel with a kitchenette and you’ll be able to save some money on food. Personally I don’t feel the need to go out for every meal and sometimes I do get sick of going out to eat. Being able to buy groceries and make breakfast or a quick snack can you save you both money and time during the day. Of course by staying longer in one area you’ll also be able to scope out places to buy groceries or cheaper restaurants.

    7. Book hotels with breakfast included

Similarly if you make sure that each hotel you book has a continental breakfast or some sort of breakfast included you’ll be saving money on one meal a day! I’ve found that most hotels do this, just make sure when you’re booking if there is the option of breakfast included or not, that the one with breakfast included isn’t a ridiculously more expensive options. When I booked my last hotel for five nights I found that some hotels were adding almost $200 to the price of the stay for breakfast included…that would’ve had to have been a damn good breakfast to make that worth it.

    8. Think about where you’re deciding to go traveling

This one is huge. There are tons of lists out there about the cheapest and most expensive places to go traveling. Where you go will pretty much set the bar for how much money you’re going to spend. Obviously some places the exchange rate is worse, there are higher costs of living and transportation, and you’ll end up spending way more money. Basically going somewhere like the UK vs. Thailand is going to make a huge difference in the amount you’re going to spend on comparable things. I’ve stayed at a 5 star resort in Thailand for $45 a night, try finding something similar to that in Australia…it won’t happen. Of course one place isn’t better than the other, but if you consider you’re budget before you pick where you’re going you can stretch your money a lot further than doing it the other way around.

IMG_5032

Enjoying a mojito in gorgeous (and cheap) Krabi, Thailand

Again, like I said at the beginning this isn’t a spend nothing a day type of post, and I’m not going suggest for you to book a bed in a 24 person hostel, just because that’s really not my travelling style. If it’s yours more power to ya, you’ll probably be able to travel a lot longer on a smaller amount of money than I will be, but I’m still happy in my air conditioned room with a nice pool to lounge around in the afternoon.

What are some of your money saving travel tips? Got any secret gems for me, comment below and Happy Traveling!

Where do Penguins go to Dance? – The Snow Ball!

Friday morning it was time for another road trip, this one a lot shorter than the drive to the Great Ocean Road, only about an hour. Luckily when I woke up Friday it was sunny and warm again.

We headed out in the morning down to Phillip Island. Matt has spent a lot of time there as his family has a house there, so he knew all the fun things to do. On the way we stopped for brunch in a tiny little town called Tooradin at a restaurant called Sawtellis. It was such a small town that while I was looking up somewhere to get breakfast on Tripadvisor we actually missed the whole town and had to turn around. Breakfast was delicious, I’m a sucker for eggs Benedict and a good chai latte, so we left full and happy and ready for some sight-seeing.

It was only about another 45 minutes down to the island, which was a good length for the non-roadtrip lover in me. On the way into town we went to the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. There had tours you could do but neither of us were really interested in that, so we just bought a bit (a lot) of chocolate and headed out. We stopped off quickly at Matt’s family’s house to drop off our bags and then headed out for some activities!

IMG_9276

First we went to a place Matt really likes called A Maze’n Things. It was basically like a little fun centre, with mini golf, a mirror maze, and then a big room full of puzzles and games. We wandered through there for about an hour, trying out all the different stuff. I hated the mirror maze…was way too creepy for me!!

Once we made it out of there we headed to the Koala Conservation Centre, which was definitely one of the best parts of my day. You walk through an information centre and then out to basically a 2km walk around a forested area. They had some lifted boardwalks that bring you up higher to the trees. I didn’t think I’d be able to get so close to the animals and it was amazing to be able to see them in their own habitat. We spent quite a bit of time walking around there, seeing both koalas and wallabies. Again I think that this was a really good place to see the animals and they had so much freedom, I didn’t feel at all like they were being taken advantage of or treated poorly.

DSC00237DSC00247DSC00251DSC00255DSC00265

After seeing the koalas, we got hungry again so we made our way into Cowes to grab an early dinner. We each just got a quick burger and then it was time for the big draw of the day…The Penguin Parade!

Each night these little penguins come in from the ocean and climb up the hills back into their little homes in the hills. I wasn’t too sure what to expect when we went there but knew it was a pretty big tourist draw, of course when we got there there were quite a few tour buses already parked. Considering it’s low season for them right now I’m not sure I’d like to see it in the summer, it was busy enough for me! We got our tickets and a hot chocolate to keep us warm and headed down to the stands that they’ve built on the beach to wait for the penguins to make their appearance. Finally after the sun was fully down we started seeing groups of them come up. They were so much smaller than I even expected, they’re the smallest penguins in the world! They were super timid and so adorable. I’m not sure how I feel about turning this nightly thing into a tourist event but they did seem pretty proactive about caring for the penguins and their safety. They have everything roped off and no photos, even flash off, are allowed. Sadly for that reason I don’t have any pictures of them, but it was super cute. After they came in, you could walk up the boardwalk and watch them actually go into their houses. We stayed until we were both too cold to hang out anymore. Then it was time to head back to Frankston for the night. It was such a great day and I was so glad that the weather held out for us! It was an awesome beginning to the weekend.

DSC00279

DSC00287

Beautiful view and full moon waiting for the penguins appearance.


DSC00288

Someone was a little tired of taking pictures by this point in the day.

DSC00292