So, our first flight on this trip and I was as nervous as usual.
One last meal in a cheap Indian restaurant, MA restaurant, it is soooo good. We haven’t been lucky with restaurants here so are going back to the one we enjoyed!!!
We get to the airport with plenty of time to spare, about 5 hours, mainly due to getting a bus and everyone staying it would take hours in the traffic. It took us 30 mins. Still, we had sweated litres and litres so the cool airport air-con was welcome relief.
Our last Asian meal was cheese nan and curry for me, cold noodles for Guy. I will miss the food loads.
We decide to try and check in early to get to a bar on the other side mainly!!! We queue for check in baggage and are quite excited to see that my luggage is 14kg and Guy is a manly 18kg. Good thing we had sent 9kg home from KL!!!
We are less excited when the Air Asia check in assistant asks us if we have a visa for Australia. Visa? What? For Australia? Why? We own that country (…. insert other colonial clichés you can think of) but she insisted we need one. Stunned, dry mouthed and feeling slightly sick, we go to the service counter to see what our next move is.
Visions of the last of our savings being frittered away on unused accommodation, wasted car hire, expensive visa applications, unrefundable flights, new flights, more accommodation was making us quite stressed.
15 very long minutes later and $140 USD lighter we are the proud owners of a fast track E visa from those lovely Aussies. This service is offered free and takes 3-4 days if you check current visa advice and don’t assume that nothing has changed in the 18 years since you last travelled to Oz.
As we haven’t spent enough of our hard earned cash needlessly we celebrate this experience with a £30 bottle of average argentinian malbec.
We land on time, albeit a bit wonky as it was windy. Going through immigration I forfeited organic oats due to quarantine laws and we are back in the western world on a bus into sunny Melbourne.
We find lockers at southern cross station ($7 for 3 hours, fits 2 backpacks easily) and wander the streets to find coffee and fine food at Hardware Societe. Unbelievably there is a queue and loads of Chinese there…… somethings, it seems, are the same in Asia and Australia.
The wait is short, 15 mins, and well worth it. Our coffee, espresso, macchiato, are so good that we have an iced mocha (with ice cream) as well.
The food is chorizo (how I have missed paprika) eggs, potato and sourdough toast, and Guy has slow cooked ham hock, perfectly poached eggs, kale in a bun. Wow.
Off to the supermarket for supplies as we know we have cooking facilities at our Air BnB, although not much cooking required as we mainly got cheese, ham, salad and bread. The prices are a shock after Asia, we knew that would be the case, but we’re still reeling at the till.
A 50 minute tram ride out of town through suburbia and we get to stop 51, Balwyn, our home for a couple of days before we pick up our hire car and embark on a vineyard tour of Coonawara, Yarra valley and Mornington Peninsula.
It is kind of weird being in the ‘burbs when travelling as you get used to being city based, the walk to our Air BnB was lovely, seeing all the different designs of houses and all the well irrigated gardens filled with standard roses, agapanthus, grasses, Cyprus trees and huge geraniums.
The room and house are fab, our hosts are Taiwanese, unfortunately we didn’t really get to see them, but the other guests are Chinese and really friendly.
We walk back into Balwyn and explore the food shops and liquor stores. The range of wines leaves Guy open mouthed.
We manage to choose a couple of bottles of red from the Barossa valley. We have decided Barossa is too far to drive in our limited time and at our age (driving 600km a day in our Toyota Hiace, called Norm, was a breeze 18 years ago – can’t imagine it will be now), so this is the closest we will get to these wines. A salad is thrown together and we savour the fresh flavours on our palettes. Oooooohhhhhh.
Shiraz Barossa Valley Mojo 2016
Barossa Shiraz Cat Amongst Pigeons 2015