Wednesday, September 24, 2014

10 days of OZ in September

We finally set foot on  Land Down Under in Sept 2014 for 10 days excursion which going to include multiple cities of Oz. Australia is always being associated with the Sydney Opera House, and the opportunity to be there, right next to the icon itself, for someone who used to be architecture student, is so thrilling that you can't shut your lid without imagining it through your sleep.

Our Itineraries herewith , which seems very compressed, but we planned it on our own without any direct-physical help of a travel agent but through our own online-research and tips that we gathered from friends that have been to some of the places.

Melbourne – Sydney Itinerary
Day 1
Arrival in Melbourne. Immediate fly-off to Sydney to catch Firework by Harbourside. Check in at Pensione Hotel by George Street. Grab quick bites at Paddy’s Market and shop for basic groceries for breakfast  (bread, lettuce, eggs, butter and fruits).
A quick souvenir shopping at Hard Rock Café Sydney by Harborside while waiting for the Fireworks Show.
Day 2
Breakfast of our own egg sandwich. Head for a tour around Paddy’s Market and followed by a walk along George Street towards North direction (The Rocks) , passing by Sydney Town Hall with stop over at Queen Victoria Building (800meter of walk). Grab a quick lunch. We grab Opal tickets at one of the 7-11 that we found along the route, it’s a combo tickets for various transportation in Sydney.
Head for Darling Harbour for Madame Tussaud. Bought combo ticket for 5 attractions. Catch a ferry at Kings Street Wharf to Circular Quay. Head for The Rocks Sunday Market and back to Circular Quay for an evening at Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Grab our dinner at Circular Quay and take the train back to George Street via Wynyard Station.

Day 3
Breakfast of our own Nuttela  sandwich. Take the the Light Rail Train at Market City Station to Pyrmount Station. A short walk from the station to Australia Maritime Museum with lots of attraction within its compound, navy ship, submarine, lighthouse, tail ship and the museum itself which currently showcasing the whale exhibit. Grab our late lunch at café by the museum.
Walk across Cockle Bay via Pyrmont Bridge to Sydney Aquarium. Walk back across Pyrmont Bridge to Harbourside to grab our dinner-it has bigger selections of eateries.

Day 4
Breakfast of our own egg sandwich and apples. Stroll along Sydney’s Chinatown, passing through Harbour Street and Pier’s Street flyover towards Sydney’s Chinese Friendship Garden direction with a stop-over at Tumbalong Park (750meter walk).
Walk along Cockle Bay Wharf Waterfront to Wildlife Zoo (800 meter away).
Walk along Darling Harbour Water front to catch ferry (500meter). Initial itinerary to Luna Park was cancel as the park is close on Tuesday. Head to Circular Quay. Take a bus to Hyde Park and walk to Sydney Tower (200meter walk).
Walk through Hyde Park to Pullman’s Hotel to collect our rental car (Eurocar at Pullman’s) 800 meter.  Drive to our Hotel.
Walk to grab dinner at Harbourside.

Day 5
Breakfast with cheese sandwich and hardboiled egg. Souvenir’s shopping at Paddy’s Market (250meter walk).
Check out. Drive to Circular Quay to grab Royal Copenhagen followed by a drive through Sydney’s Harbour bridge before exiting Sydney to Wolongong.
Drive along Princess Highway, passing through Kogarah and chosing the steep Exit B65 at Bulli Pass after Southern Gateway Center. Passing through Bulli town, then the beautiful Wolongong. Further drive towards Port Kembla then along Grand Pacific Drive with Lake Illawara on the right, towards Warilla and then into Illawarra Highway (A48). Passing through Albion Park, Tongarra and deep into Macquarie Pass National Park. Further drive along Illawarra Highway, passing through Robertson, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest before tapping to Hume Hiway M31. Exiting Hume Highway into Federal Highway (M23) lead us straight to Canberra. A total of 5 hours drive of 350km.
Check-in at Manuka Circle.
Day 6
Breakfast of Nutella sandwich. Check out. A quick drive around quiet Canberra. Stroll along Queen Elizabeth Terrace. Missing Floriade from the itinerary.
Drive towards Melbourne. Drive out from Canberra via Barton Highway (A25) before tapping into Hume Highway (M31). Bookham, Jugiong, Gundagai, Holbrook before reaching Albury some 4hrs later of 350km away. A quicker drive, due to less stopover.
Check-in at Albury Manor Motel.  Dinner at Albury North and quick shopping at ALDI.

Day 7
Breakfast of cheese sandwich. Check out and straight into Hume Highway. 5 hrs drive of 450 meter straight to the beginning of Great Ocean Road, Angelsea. Weather is not good, Great Ocean Road were aborted. Drive into Melbourne. Drop-off luggage at rented apartment. Drive to return car.
Grab lunch. Take a horse-carriage ride along Swanston-St Kilda Street.
Walk back to apartment in Flinders Street

Day 8
Catch train to Queen Victoria Market and have our breakfast there. Shopping. Grab lunch and catch train to Dockside. More walk.
Melbourne Star ride. Grab dinner.
Day 9
Breakfast. Walk to Flinder’s street Station. Take train to St.Kilda.
Luna Park Melbourne in St Klida and then strolling along St Kilda’s Esplanade Market. Return to FSS to catch intercity train towards Cragieburn with a stop at Assendon.
Lunch and dinner at Assendon
Day 10
Breakfast from left over dinner from Assendon. A quick shopping at Swanston Street. Check out.
Check-in at Melbourne International Airport.

Summary to the excursion, here would be our tips for your travel:
1. Booking a combo tickets via Madame Tussaud Sydney is relatively much cheaper than any other vendor(s). We booked the maximum 5 combo as it cost the same even you chose only the 2 combos (of course we didn't have much time to go to all of it, though, but still we feel it worth it).
2. We chose to make full use of our Opal Tickets and ride the ferries instead the cruise at a fraction of cost. It still get you to places you wanna go, at your own time (following the ferry's schedule, of course) and you got to choose the open-deck seat if it's not many people around. Plus, it's 50% off on Sunday.
3. We believe, our timing of arrival is just right, as the weather is at its best, just around 13 to 17 degrees, of course it gotten cooler at night and early morning.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aura on Flinders

We book Aura ( through that is) because we were tempted with its Flinders Street address, but it is a bit let down that we have to walk 3 to 4 blocks away to at least reach Elizabeth Street and walk further couple of blocks to reach Federation Square. If you have ample time to explore Melbourne , perhaps it would a good choice but if you have young children with you, it would a task trying to convince them, 'owh, it's just a block more to go!' Plus, there's not much of choice for places to eat nearby which means you have to AGAIN walk a few blocks to find more choices. City Circle is not much of help here in the sense that it'll only start at 10am and mostly it is pack with people. The best thing to do in Melbourne is always by foot, therefore THAT would be the main reason am not recommending Aura to others especially family with young children, but it sure works if you don't mind so much all the walking eventhough I would rather do my walk more into Melbourne CBD.

Also, we were not 'impressed AT ALL' with the fact that the cleaners messed-up with our stuff (the apartment were not ready when we arrived, so instead of keeping it at another place, we thought that it'll be good to have all of our bags and stuff kept at one corner of the apartment). Our groceries bag went missing along with a carton of eggs,lettuce, a bottle of pepper and a water tumbler!! It bewildered us more that the fact that a loaf of bread and cheese pack from same bag were taken out and placed on the counter, which means 'somebody has rummaged our stuff''. The management did compensate us a little amount to the value of those missing items but the 'hurt' is there and the thing is WHY the cleaner need to 'clear JUST SELECTIVE some of it away'?

Don't expect any reception/registration counter, because there ain't any to begin with, so you have to get connected with the numbers that were link to your booking. Finding the place would be a tricky one for somebody who aren't familiar with Melbourne as it is located at the tip-end of Melbourne CBD and it's entrance is not directly fronting Flinders Street.

Aura the Apartment
We made the bookings 3 months ahead and we got ourselves a 2 room apartment at AUD950 for the whole 3 nights stay. The apartment is just a good size and the layout is very comfortably spacious for a family of 5, with view overlooking the Federation Square direction. Kitchenette facilities are great, complete with all the basic utensils, stove, microwave, washing machine etc all as advertise. The bathroom however is way too small, clean but really small, with no space to place your toiletries, and very tight space for the shower. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


During our recent Oz-Excursion, we decided to drive from Sydney to Melbourne. Allowing several pit-stop at various interesting places along the journey, we also decided to call it a night in Canberra on the first day and has chosen Albury  as the second 'sleep-over'.

Albury is about 350km away from Canberra and a mere 120km away from Melbourne. It's a twin city with Wodonga, which being separated by Murray River, but unfortunately we don't have that much time to venture to Wodonga, therefore it was only Albury. We spotted a really beautiful motel along the main road Young Street known as Albury Manor. It has beautiful architecture with gorgeous, classic interiors.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Awesome mammatus spotted

It was a lovely day, with cool breeze spurring towards your face, that kind of day. I was on my second ferry ride, therefore I was 'recording' all the scene that I missed out during my first ride. Sydney Harbour Bridge is no longer the one and only attraction that I need to capture. However it was such amazing vista when I looked-up just after coming through underside of the bridge towards Circular Quay. There was, this glorious mammatus clouds at its best formation sagging from the sky!! AWESOME! Being such cloud-lover-nerd, this is simply the best of my life!! And it got me rewarded with a new Cloudspotter badge! LOVE

Monday, September 15, 2014

Staircase series #1

Staircase has always been one part among completed architecture or structure that has my immediate attention to it. I adore this particular staircase simply being I think they are properly designed and constructed with such passion that it is ergonomically and practical to use😍

Mazlina (via iPhone)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pensione Sydney

We love Pensione-Sydney ! We love the fact that it is just 5 minutes away from Paddy's Market and a few minutes away as well from Darling Harbour or the Harbourside or Cockle Bay Wharf.

We love the intricate architecture that it has and the fact that it is well maintain. Maintaining an old building and furthermore to have it as a hotel is not an easy task but Pensione did it well. Of course nothing fancy about this building or this hotel, but since we are touring around Sydney during the day, just having a good decent place to unwind after a long day out is definitely to die-for. But hey, their lift car comes in odd-trapezoid shape, which we believe as an attempt to suit the existing spaces of an old building, but it works well and children loves the shape of it.

Our family room is decent in size and comfortably fit all 5 of us. And even though our room is facing George Street, we hardly heard any traffic noise nor that any noise from the club downstairs. The hotel is basically so comfortably quite. The bathroom is comfortably good in size with a modern twist to it. 

Pensione also has the basic facilities like Guest Lounge where you could sit and relax while having your meal. It also has a centralised kitchenette facilities where you can cook or heat up your meal. There'is also the coin-operated washing machine and dryer. But mind you, it is not anywhere near their reception and you got to be able to read the signages to be able to reach this particular nooks, which actually gives such excitement for us 'track-it down'. Of course you can always, get attentive direction from their front office.

Our initial booking was for 4 nights before we head of to Canberra-Melbourne, but we decided to add-on for another day to enable us to explore Sydney more. Great family vacation. Great place to hang-out. Would love to come back to Pensione Sydney.

Owh, on top of that, our compliment for a smooth online booking via  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Trailing 'belt of orion'

It's the gorgeous hints of light of 13th September's dawn, creeping through, leaving behind the ever gorgeous 'belt of orion'. The only spectacular phenomenon that I anticipated for this journey was to be 'at the same level of the full moon' but that was not the case, but I got this instead. LOVE it!
(see full image)


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Life of an architect, really?!

Been having series of outrageously hectic schedule..meetings almost everyday for the past 3 weeks..outstation here and there, u name it!! In fact tonite is one of those hatric of getting home way pass 12