Tag Archives: restaurants

Osaka, 2016

My husband, daughter and I caught the Shinkasen very fast train from Kyoto to our next destination- Osaka. We spent a little time hanging around the train station in Osaka before we could check in.

There were many artful manga posters, a lot of samurai, art deco lights and some great earing shops. My daughter also got her fast food fix at Lotteria.

Upon arrival, we found our modern apartment and then headed out to the Minami area in the late afternoon. The atmosphere was electric and caused me to think that Osaka was the most liveable city in Japan that we had been to yet.

We strolled the Dotombori river walk, over bridges and beside the river. A tall duty free Ferris wheel rose above a lantern-lined promenade. I spotted a fancy establishment that just had a giraffe on it, framed by projected lines of light that changed colour periodically.

A stage was set up on the water where Japanese pop stars were singing, which my daughter loved; and there were stalls selling beer in plastic cups that you could drink on the river bank, which my husband loved; so everyone was happy.

As the light began to fade, the high-rise buildings lit up with neon and boats passed along the river hosting tourists and locals partying. The famous running man at the mouth of the Shinbashi-suji shopping district was flashing and crowded with people.

On Dotombori Street, the crowds grew thicker, jostling for a place in one of the many restaurants with various gimmicky signs. There were plastic puffer fish, crab, octopus and gyoza next to a market of local food stalls.

We ended up heading to a quieter back street for dinner on the way back to our apartment. Amongst cool funky bars and skewer stalls, we found an oyster bar that served wasabi oysters. It had been nice to head out at night and mix with the locals.

Related posts: Onsen in Nantan, 2016Markets and Manga in Kyoto, 2016Gion, Kyoto, 2016Food and Fervour in Kyoto, 2016Kyoto, 2016Takeyama, 2016Samurai and Shidax in Kanazawa, 2016Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

10 things to do in Melbourne

As a Sydneysider, I am conditioned to think that Sydney is better than Melbourne. As much as I love Sydney, I still enjoy visiting Melbourne and can appreciate the city for its differences. Be it for a girls weekend, a wedding, a couples retreat, or to visit cousins- I’ve always had a good time in Melbourne-town.

First of all, the shopping in Melbourne is better than Sydney. It has the flagship H & M store, which is bigger than any that I have seen anywhere else and they have the few remaining Mango shops in Australia. Chapel St also has few more different fashion options.

I love shopping in the little laneways like the Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade with Suga- a shop where you can see them roll out and make yummy lollies. My favourite jewellery shop, The Rose Garden on the Walk Arcade, is where I bought all my wedding jewellery and accessories.

The next best thing about Melbourne is the shows. The theatre district near Chinatown always has a great blockbuster like Chicago or Avenue Q, sometimes before they make it to Sydney.

The beautiful National Gallery of Victoria is my top sight seeing pick. I was lucky enough to catch the Degas exhibit last time I was there- one of my favourite artists. The water-featured entry way always gets me straight away and the modern layout is spacious and light.

The Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is also fantastic. The wonderful Emperor Penguins make it better than Sydney Aquarium, especially as they still have a shark tunnel.

Another good spot is the huge Fitzroy Gardens complete with Captain Cook’s Cottage. Melbourne loves its English style parks, and this one is my top pick.

Melbourne is known for its great restaurants from world class fine dining, to the Italian precinct on Lygon Street and casual laneway dining experiences like the Meatball and Wine Bar and Touche Hombre. All delicious!

It is also renowned for its serious café culture. And I must admit that these Melbourne-ites know how to elevate a café to the next level. My recent top pick is #hash with its signature hot chocolate science experiment served with fairy floss.

My favourite suburb in Melboure is St Kilda. It has the original Luna Park, the famous Esplande Hotel where they filmed The Secret Life of Us, the Beachcomber Café at St Kilda Baths and the weekend markets. I was lucky enough to live and work here for a couple of months and play the local, catching a tram into the office everyday.

With the newly renovated Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and me working on the conference circuit, there was another year that I went to Melbourne a lot. It was good as to discover the adjoining Southbank area with the Crown Casino and Rockpool Bar and Grill, both of which I rate better than their Sydney counterparts.

And of course the DFO is right near the convention centre for any last minute shopping emergencies, like suddenly finding out that you need to attend networking drinks at the Old Melbourne Goal.

And then there’s the tennis. Even this non-sports-lover has to admit that watching the tennis in Melbourne for the weekend was atmospheric; and I didn’t even get bored.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, 10 things to do in Sydney, Small town vs Big city

It’s a winery thing

This month I am super excited to be going on a winery weekend away to the Barossa with a couple of my besties. This will be my third visit to the well-established wine region and it is my favourite in Australia so far due to its historical charm (i.e. old buildings).

I am an avid weekend wine tripper from way back and my husband and I have systematically worked our way around most of the states in Australia by wine region.

We have been to the Hunter Valley 6 times which is known for its Shiraz and Semillon and will be returning in June to prune my husband’s adopted vine at Drayton’s Family Wines. We also travelled to Tasmania in January to check out the Sauvignon Blanc down there.

I’ve sipped Pinot Noir at the Mornington Peninsula (Victoria) Winter Wine festival and had a personalised bottle of champagne made for me the French way. I’ve shared a Chardy with a famous wine dog at Voyager Estate in the Margaret River, WA, learned what a GSM is in McClaren Vale (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre) and how to appreciate a good Riesling in the Clare Valley, SA. Next on the list is the Yarra Valley in VIC.

We usually drag a group of friends along with us and I’ve converted a red drinker to a white drinker and myself from a white drinker to a multi drinker in the process.

So what keeps me coming back for more winery trips?

Wine regions are typically set in scenically beautiful areas and are a great way to see the landscape away from the major cities. I always enjoy discovering a new part of the country this way.

It can be a lovely romantic trip for two and is also a great relaxing weekend away with friends. Even if we have been to a wine region before, going with different people usually means finding new hidden gems along the way.

Most wine regions also have good food to go with their great wine. Some of Australia’s best restaurants seem to be popping up in wine regions.

It’s also not a bad option with the kids. They don’t get bored, you can get tipsy during the day with free tastings (with one designated driver of course) and return to your self-catered apartment at night to polish off some new wine and cheese purchases from the day.

And of course it is the opportunity to try some different wines that peaks our interest. Each winery is a new cellar door to explore and new varieties I’ve never heard of to taste. Discovering a new favourite wine to enjoy when you get back home is one of the best ways to keep the memory of a good trip lasting.

Beautiful surroundings, great friends, good food and tasty wine- what’s not to love?

I can almost taste that Barossa Shiraz now…

Related posts: It’s a French thing, Degustation Delights