Tag Archives: writing

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

10 things to do in Sydney

Here are my favourite places to go in Sydney- a top ten list, if you will. Some of them may seem cliché, but there is a reason that certain places are deemed tourism worthy.

My number one place in Sydney is Taronga Zoo. I love animals and will go to any zoo at any given opportunity. Taronga Zoo is special because you can take a ferry to get there and it has the best views of the city from its grounds. You can even take a gondola from the ferry terminal to the zoo entrance and back again. I also like Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour for an animal fix. It has great shark tank viewing tunnels and they have beluga whales too!

The Botanic Gardens is the place to go for its iconic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I am lucky because I used to work close enough to the gardens to go for lunch time walks there. I always enjoyed seeing the tourists stopping to take pictures along the way as it reminds me what a lovely city I live in. In summer they have open air theatre shows for kids and they always seem to be setting up for a festival or opera on the harbour side.

The Opera House is the best place to catch a show- pretty much just because you are in the Opera House. My favourite bar, Opera Bar, is also here. It’s often crowded and hard to get a drink, but you can’t beat being under the Opera House looking at the Harbour Bridge while you sip your pre- show cocktail. For a more old skool pub, I also like The London in Balmain. Rustic and sturdy, they have a large selection of beer on tap and decent food. Plus, how can you not love a pub that welcomes dogs?!

One of my favourite restaurants is at The Deck at Luna Park. It has great Spanish style seafood share platters and is not too expensive. It’s also located in my favourite suburb- Kirribilli. I was fortunate enough to live here for a while and there is no place quite like it in Sydney. Lavender Bay is beautiful, the Harbour Bridge is above you and the city is just across the water. You also can’t beat walking to work over the Harbour Bridge.

The European clothing brands have finally landed in Australia! So my new favourite place to shop is the brand new H & M‘s that keep popping up all over Sydney. I must admit that I am a little addicted.

But the best way to see Sydney is to be on the harbour in a boat– preferable at the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race. The harbour is what makes Sydney special, and it is beautiful, so if you ever come here make sure you get out on the water.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, Cocktail Hour is Sydneytown, Kid at Heart, Degustation Delights

Sigiriya and Dambulla, 2015

Sigiriya Rock was the next item on the agenda for our trip. My husband, daughter and I decided to give climbing the actual rock a miss in the midday heat and took a walk around the gardens instead.

The grounds were surrounded by a moat and contained many ramparts and water gardens with lily pads and lotus flowers. The view of Sigiriya Rock from the gardens was great and we bumped into the friendly Singaporean couple from Kandy again.

Dambulla Rock Temple turned out to be one of my favourite sites of the trip. The golden temple and golden Buddha at the foot of the mountain were large and shiny and there were lots of monkey families to keep us company on the walk up to the rock temple.

Dambulla is actually 5 caves built into the rock of a mountain with over 150 statues of Buddha. Overwhelming to say the least. The temple was whitewashed and quite striking on the outside. There was also a large sacred fig tree on the grounds with coloured flags twined in the branches.

The first cave was completely filled with a reclining Buddha and there was barely room to get in and see the statue. The second cave housed the great king and many sitting Buddha’s. There were even paintings of Buddha on the roof.

The third and fourth caves had stupas and Buddha’s in various poses. The last cave was one of the smallest and most dilapidated, but also the one I like the most- there was just something about the atmosphere in there.

After the walk back down, we stopped for lunch at the luxurious Thilanka, Dambulla on the recommendation of an uncle. The resort was isolated with a beautiful long pool and tennis courts. The food was tasty and it would have been nice to stay a few days in this little oasis, but alas, it was back on the road for us.

Related posts: Kandy, 2015Upcountry, 2015Ebony Springs, 2015Ella, 2015Mirissa, 2016Galle, 2015Cooler Colombo, 2015Old Colombo, 2015It’s a Sri Lankan Thing

What came in best- the book or the movie?

After seeing Gone Girl on the long weekend, I got to thinking about movies based on books.

The general rule is that the book is always better than the movie. I think this is because your own imagination is better than anything they can produce in Hollywood. It is also a testament to the quality of writing that provides the back story and inner thoughts of the characters as the action unfolds.

In the case of Gone Girl, I think the movie was better in some ways. By not providing her back story, the lead character Amy seems even more terrifying. However, the media beat up about the ending being different was wrong – the last line was different, but the result was the same.

Also, as much as I love him, I don’t think Ben Affleck being cast as Nick was the right choice. He was just not slick enough and not how I imagined the character to be at all. Perhaps Matt Damon would have been a better choice? (ha ha!).

I had a similar problem with Twilight. In the book, the character was a strong female, but in the first movie Kristen Stewart was just whiny! The trilogy did improve as the confidence of the actors and special effects did, but the inner dialogue between the wolves was not the best- although it is a hard concept to communicate through film.

One Day stayed true to the book, but somehow still missed the mark in making the transition from good film to great film. Perhaps due to the casting?

He’s just not that into you was very well done- I liked the intersecting stories and the casting was brilliant. I think the movie was actually far better than the book as it fictionalised the non-fiction which made it more personal.

Both the Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic were excellent as books and as movies. The light hearted content make them very adaptable. Kudos to fellow Aussie chick Isla Fisher for playing the kooky character Becky in the latter perfectly- one might say even better than in the book.

Bridget Jones’s Diary was a great movie which earned a bit of a cult following. The sequel, not so much. Both movies stayed true to the book, so I’m not really sure what happened there?!

The same thing happened with the Sex and the City movie. First film good, second one a flop. Perhaps sequels are never as good as the originals. I’m pretty sure that was a lesson we already learnt in the 80’s right?!

The first Lord of the Rings movie was nowhere near as good as the books and I stopped watching after the first one. As previously mentioned, my dad used to read the books to me as a child, so perhaps my memory will always be greater than the movies.

I thought Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet was a very clever adaption to bring Shakespeare’s play into the 20th Century. The racy music and well-timed action would have been easy to understand even for those without the knowledge of the playwright and ye olde English.

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire didn’t have enough of Louis’s back story at the beginning, but made up for it in the greatly gothic rest of the film. The sequel, The Queen of the Damned, was a terrible adaptation of the book. Anne Rice was not involved in the screenplay (as she was in Interview with the Vampire), which is an essential ingredient in a successful book to movie shift.

So here you have it- my golden rules for a successful adaptation from book to movie:

  1. Stay true to the book content
  2. Appropriate character casting
  3. Get the author of the book involved in the movie screenplay
  4. Don’t bother with the sequel

Cut!

Related posts: Random Public Holiday RamblingsTV Replays and Movie Marathons, Books, books and more books