Melbourne, Australia

Rac’s sister Karen was kind enough to write about our amazing stay in Australia. Enjoy!

I was especially excited for this trip because it’ll be the first out-of-country experience with my sisters.  The last one—in Venice, when Jade had an overnight stay for her work as a flight attendant in Qatar— was simply too short and too rushed.  It was fun, but an extended stay is more preferable, as it would mean I would have banter, teasing, a bit of wrestling here and there and maybe some insidious tongue-pokes (my sisters are awfully afraid of other people’s saliva and my Rolling-Stones-Logo-Tongue and are more than happy to play up this fear).

Right, so off I go, the only ‘lone-traveler-in-transit’ of the group. I’ve done it since 2014, I think, when I took advantage of Rambi’s deployment (what is the proper term), and packed a very large and very pink suitcase and hiked off to Aviano.  Lucky for me, I was still regularly training back then and a large 30 kg bag didn’t seem to be as heavy versus a 15 luggage I brought with me to Melbourne.  But, I was out of shape.  So the light Longchamp bag I was lugging around with me while waiting for my flight proved to be heavier than expected .

I meet Jadey as per her instructions (“Turn right from the exit at the Optus store, the one with the big yellow sign”) and she looks for me in the crowd.  Looking for the blue tourist hat that I was wearing in the picture sent by our parents to our groups chat, her eyes passed through me as I leaned onto one of the store’s pillars.  In a matter of minutes, we meet, jump and shriek (“We’re together in Oz!!!”) and we hauled off my stuff zigzaggingly to meet Pedro at one of the waiting sheds outside the airport.

Since the airport is roughly about fifteen minutes away from Jadey and Pedro’s cozy apartment, they decided to take me to breakfast first.  We ate at The Espresso Room and almost all of the things on the menu included avocado – avocado spread, avocado on the side, avocado in your omelet.  I tell them about this meme about how hard it is to time the ripeness of an avocado.  Avocado seemed to be ripe in Melbourne all year.

We order Bruschetta Eggs, Espresso’s Benedict and I think Veggie Delight for Peter (can’t remember, they all looked the same to me) and big cups of coffee.  My cappuccino comes in a large cup and it’s wonderful that almost all of the cafés offer a soy alternative.  I am indeed in Oz.

After finishing breakfast, we go home to Jadey and Pedro’s cozy apartment (yes, I am calling it that because it really is cozy) so I could unpack.  Most of the stuff I brought in my check-in luggage belongs to Jade and Isabela so unloading Jadey’s stuff makes room for my carry-on luggage inside.  We go straight to our Airbnb house after in South Yarra and we’re bringing a six-seater for a party of five plus luggage, baby seat and baby.

I make a disclaimer before opening my luggage and tells Jadey, “You better tell Pedro you had me bring your tabo.”  She collapses in giggles and tells Pedro, “Peter!!!! Country Mouse brought the dipper!”

Peter makes me what is according to him the BEST MILO DINOSAUR in all of the world because it’s made of Australian Milo (I have never figured out the difference between Australian ­­­­Milo and Philippines Milo, maybe the first one is sweeter?).

And then it was time to pick up the rest of the family.

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Au Naturel Morning Faces & Unkept Hair

We are supposed to meet the rest of the family (Rambi, Rac & Baby Isa) at the same spot where I met Jadey.  Peter dropped us off at the curb of the airport entrance and we ran like banshees towards the Yellow Optus Light screaming and waiving and yelling excitedly.  It took a moment for us to find them as they arrived early and they were sitting at the waiting area beside the mobile store.

So we meet excitedly, jump up and down and the fight with Jadey on who gets to carry Baby (who reluctantly agrees to be carried) begins.

Our place in South Yarra

We drove off to South Yarra and waited at the curb where the building condominium was situated.

It took a while before the owner was able to meet us as she was assisting several other clients on settling in their Airbnb’s.

The place was worth the wait.

Our flat was on the fifth floor and it comes with parking.  South Yarra is a pretty cool area.  There’s a whole line of boutique stores, cafés and food shops, so we’re assured variety and options in dining and shopping.  But the flat was so cozy that we asked the boys if we could lounge for a little bit, freshen up and just follow them to dinner.  Lucky for us, Rac has a ready excuse to pump, so for her convenience, the boys hiked off to find a place to have a few drinks.

Meanwhile, back in the flat, we were getting acquainted with the amenities of the place and for a group with a baby, we greatly appreciated having a washroom, a place to hang our clothes, two bathrooms, a roomy living room cum dining room, a complete kitchen, and two full-size beds.  The two got ready to freshen up baby, Kakak got ready to prepare the milk for the baby and I took a shower right after (which was delightful after a 17-hour plane ride) and the boys started texting us to follow.

When we were ready to discover the place, we were excited to try dimsims (dim sums in Melb). First stop before a quick chow was Kiky K’s— a kitschy paper store selling a lot of stuff you don’t really need but really want in your life, like transparent staplers, punchers, star-shaped paper clips, you get the idea.  Kakak buys stickers for her planner and I soak in with my eyes all the pretty things and reminded myself that I did not have the space in my luggage, my work desk nor my house to bring all those things home.

So I proudly left the store with no purchase.  Jadey brought me next door where they sell tea sets and I would have gone all wild with excitement save for the fact that transporting such delicate pieces would prove to be difficult and eventually heartbreaking, if any of those precious things crack.

Next, hunger set in so we looked for a place where they sold food Baby likes.  We found this cute diner place, Soda Rock Diner, which sells thick sticks of French fries and baby is always in the mood for fried crunchies.

We got some burgers and fries and Baby got to run around a bit and then decided to head back home to enjoy more of the flat.

On the way back, we saw people carrying groceries so I thought we could save up on food if we did some bit of groceries and had breakfast and snacks at home.  Also, it would be a good idea to maximize the kitchen amenities.

We found a grocery store and shopped for the basics: Orange juice with no pulp for Kakak, Eggs for me, Fresh strawberries for Baby, Whole Cream Milk for baby too and Eggs for me.

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Bring and sunny Diner place with Auntie Jadey

We walked up and down South Yarra after dropping the groceries at the apartment.  For dinner, we met up with the boys and had dimsums (they call it dim sims here) at Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House.  For some reason, our orders were doubled but we weren’t complaining.  Rambi ordered rice for him and the baby, the rest of us feasted on two orders of the fried and steamed dumplings.  They pretty much eat dumplings with beer here, but I kind of get it.  They were pretty good dumplings.

After the dumpling fest, we had a long walk home and prepared to get to bed.  Pedro was picking us up at 7 am in the morning.  It was already 11 pm and I optimistically prepared my running clothes thinking I could wake up early and squeeze in a run.  Of course, I didn’t.  I woke up at 6:30 am with everyone else ready for our road trip.

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Isabela enjoying our South Yarra view

ROAD TRIP

The best thing about road trips is you get to sleep in the car.  Back at home, you start every road trip at McDonald’s: You either meet up with your friends there or you buy breakfast-on-the-go to save time.  Pedro was taking us to see The Twelve Apostles by the Great Ocean Road, using the scenic route, which took around four to five hours more than the faster route, which if memory serves, takes three hours or so.  We planned to see some of Jadey’s favorite furry creatures on the way, so scenic route it is.  Which also meant, McDonald’s for breakfast.  Pedro indulged us even if he was trying to eat healthy, so we drove through the nearest McDonald’s and ordered our usual (Sausage McMuffin with Egg for me and Orange Juice).

Baby was asleep the whole time.  I took the back seat so I can stretch my legs while taking a nap.

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My Road Trip Buddy

The ride was bumpy and Jadey would wake me up with either an “Ate!  Look at the sheep!” or an “Ate!  Look at the trees!!!”. I think I would pop my head up to see from outside my window but then sleep would take hold and it wasn’t until we reached the lighthouse when I actually felt fully awake.

We had a quick pit stop at the Split Point Lighthouse.  It was colder than we imagined.

According to the information panel, “The lighthouse Discovery Trail was a construction of the Split Point Lighthouse in 1891 was one of the last major investments by the colony Victoria to safeguard navigation through the treacherous waters of Bass Strait.  Having this lighthouse between Cape Otway and Point Lonsdale improved the safety of shipping which supported the development of colonial Australia.”

Well, it certainly served us well – we needed to stretch our legs, have a cup of coffee at the nearby café, and availed of their very nice and quaint restrooms (not in picture).

After the quick break, we were ready to make one last stretch to drive to The Twelve Apostles.

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