Cosmopolitan Melbourne

On a recent trip back home to Sydney, Australia in January, I wanted to visit my good friend Brooke, who lives in Melbourne. Months ago we had bought our tickets to the Australian Open Round 3 and were now super psyched to be finally going! We also were hoping that we’d get to see one of the top seeds ie Rafa or Roger!! But that wasn’t till later in the evening. So I had some exploring to do around Melbourne.

Upon Brooke’s recommendation, I made my way to Centre Place, which is just between Flinders Lane and Collins Street. Oh my word, was I lost for words – this lane way was AMAZING! You could really get high from the amazing coffee fumes coming out from each of the hipster cafes! I walked the length of the lane way, just to absorb the atmosphere – it really did remind me of Europe. I saw the big orange sign with “Lorca” written on it and made my way over to kick start my morning with a latte. The barista was so friendly and über hipster, he handed over my latte with a smile and I was on my way. With an awesome coffee in one hand, I was ready to start aimlessly wandering around Melbourne on a gorgeous sunny day.

I found myself in front of the State Library and given that I’m a lover of architecture I decided to go in (plus it’s free!). The inside was simply spectacular – it had a neo-classical feel to it. I came across Ned Kelly’s infamous steel helmet and attire – which had been polished so much that it was giving off a shine. We actually learnt so much about Ned Kelly and other bushrangers in primary school – something that I find odd now that I look back (I mean he was a thief!). I made my way to the “dome room” and I actually spent a lot of time in here – I was in awe of the beauty of the architecture: a dome white roof with windows, with white balcony’s along the walls coming down and the ground had parquetry floors with desks that had green lamps, ahhh so nice!

Next up was the Melbourne Botanic Gardens – and I had a lot of fun photographing the bees amongst the flowers (thankfully none of them stung me!). There was also a war memorial in the gardens – it was a mammoth of a building!

I had to meet Brooke in St Kilda, so I caught a tram from the city. I actually ran into an old friend on the tram that I went to uni with and I hadn’t seen him in 10 years – just goes to show what a small world it truly is! I didn’t like St Kilda too much – it had a Miami-esque vibe, which I’m not too fond of (exaggerated tanned people with a weird sense of what constitutes swimwear…).

The Australian Open was AMAZING!!! It turned out that we were seeing Rafa play against some guy who wasn’t even seeded, plus Maria Sharapova playing against a non-seeded girl. We got to the arena a bit early (NOTE: definitely use public transport – works so well!) to explore, there were loads of activities to do. We heard a bunch of kids asking the security guard where the players were warming up, we thought it was a grand idea, so we followed the kids. We actually got to see Fernando Verdasco warming up – which was super cool! The matches we were watching were in Rod Laver Arena. The women played first – it was a great match, despite Sharapova grunting and of course defeating the non-seeded girl. Then the men came out and boy did the crowd cheer for Rafa! He wasn’t feeling too well but he gave it his all and won in 3 sets. The final set was the most entertaining one as his opponent actually made him fight for it. After the match when Jim Courier was interviewing him, Rafa even made a few jokes and thanked the crowd for the support…

Overall, Melbourne was great, as usual. The public transport system is really good, they have something similar to an Oyster Card (London) which works on all forms of transport. If you do get a chance to go to Melbourne, make sure you indulge in the great coffee!! If you do want to go to the Australian open – the tickets went on sale in September 2014, so make sure you purchase your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, as they definitely sell out!


Lima: First Impressions of Peru

Flight dramas:

I arrived in Lima – the capital, very early in the morning, after a very long and dramatic journey, no thanks to American Airlines! I cannot continue without having a little vent, so here it goes: DO NOT under any circumstances fly AA – most staff were incompetent and rude. Flights get delayed due to bad weather, which is out of human control – I get that. However, the fact that delay upon delay upon delay occurred due to the incompetencies of AA employees – is simply unacceptable!! Ok now moving along with my adventure….

First impressions:

After I went picked my backpack up from the carousel and cleared immigration, I managed to make my way over to the “Green Taxis” stand and order a cab to Miraflores – the “posh, affluent” area of the capital. As my cabbie drove on, Lima was slowly starting to wake up. But then I freaked out! All of a sudden the cabbie turned off the main road and began to navigate through the back streets of the capital. My mind began to race, as he had insisted that I place all my bags in the boot – luckily I had my passport, wallet and iPhone on me. We then ended up on a road that ran parallel to the Pacific Ocean (days later as I shared this story with the other people on the tour, the exact thing happened to them…). In his broken English, he then started to explain the redevelopments that were happening along the shoreline. I began to relax as he simply tried to explain our surroundings and be a “tour guide”. Looking at all the houses and apartments as we drove past, I noticed that they ALL had wire on top of the fences with security cameras and guards. My first impression of Lima definitely was not great… after driving for about 35 minutes; I paid the cabbie 50 soles as we had arrived at the Ibis Miraflores. For any of you who are thinking of going to Lima, I can definitely recommend the Ibis – it’s in prime location (only a 5 min walk down to the Larcomar and the coast) plus its clean with good service AND doesn’t cost a fortune…

Main Square:

The changing of the Palace guard was taking place as we approached the Plaza de Armas, which was the main square. A lot of well-groomed horses with uniformed men parading around with a marching band… The catacombs of the monastery of San Francisco were both ghastly and cool. There were bones EVERYWHERE! I actually had a nerdy moment (its natural, I’m a scientist), I began to examine the femoral neck lengths and the shape of the bones… it was weird that the skulls were all perfectly arranged in circles in pits – a little creepy if you ask me… our guide was really nice, so when we asked him for a good place for lunch he said that he’ll walk us seeing as though he also was hungry.

AWESOME coffee:

Lima has definitely got some awesome coffee! My friends tell me I’m a bit of a coffee snob, so I know what I’m talking about 😉 Make sure you check out Bisetti in the Barranco neighbourhood (the Bohemian quarter) of Lima – I went there on multiple occasions, its even got a separate room called “The Lab”, so they really know what they are doing. There is also another amazing café in Larcomar, called Arabica Espresso Bar which I think is owned by the same people as Bisetti – serious coffee here… they do cold drip coffee with funnels and instruments – looks almost scientific! I also tried a Lucuma smoothie – its some sort of Peruvian fruit and it was oh so delish!

GREAT seafood:

Ceviche is a must – it’s basically very similar to sashimi but its cooked with the acidity of key limes. They also make different sauces, so the ceviche you eat is flavoured, whether it be chilly, minty or citricy…

Overall, the capital isn’t very exciting and you can easily see most things in about 2 days…

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this was in a stuffed toy bazar – freaky….

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old school coffee grinders in Bisetti

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the first cactus I saw in South America!!!

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