Canadian Adventures 3: Eastward Bound

The first place that Eva and I visited with the car was Capilano Suspension Bridge. We had heard about the bridge from our lovely Grandma, who had visited quite a few years previously.

Capilano is a very cool site in the North of Vancouver, with the massive suspension bridge, a cliff walk, a treetop walk and various informative exhibits, all inside a beautiful area of Canadian rainforest.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge

We spent quite a long time there, we walked over the laden, swaying bridge, had lunch and wandered around between the beautiful trees. There were lovely signs with quotes on about trees and forests. There were tiny red squirrels running around, trying to steal food.

We climbed the treetop walkway and collected a booklet that went through some of the features of the forest. We ran around, enjoying finding things and completing the activities. Once we had completed it, we got a badge for our trouble – we are now official rain forest explorers!

Eventually, we crossed the bridge again and walked round the cliff walk, which has a large curved section that hangs over a sheer drop – pretty scary stuff! We also braved the glass platform.

We loved our day at Capilano, despite the quite high entrance fee. It was a great introduction to the natural areas of Canada, which we would see many more of along our journey east, to the national parks and beyond.

After Capilano, we drove up to Whistler. This was my first long drive, along a wonderful road called the sea to sky highway. This road has absolutely stunning views, both by the sea and further inland, where mountains suddenly loom in front of you, dressed in snow. It was a hard road to drive quickly on, partially due to its twists and turns, but also due to my amazement at my surroundings.

We arrived quite late into Whistler and found some wifi at a closing Starbucks. We opted to drive to a nearby Regional Park campground, instead of staying illegally in one of the large carparks. The road back to the campsite was mainly dual carriageway, so we had to find a suitable place to turn round to find the campsite.

It was very dark when we got to the campsite. We found a pitch and nervously set up for the night, keeping an eye out for sudden murderous bears. We even peed at the edge of the campsite, rather than risk attempting to find the toilets.

We woke in the morning, unharmed by bears discovered that there was a toilet less than 100m from our pitch. We made lukewarm coffee using our tiny stove, packed up and drove back into Whistler. It was raining, so after a quick play on the very cool playground, we retreated into Starbucks for a drink, a snack and some more free wifi to research where to stay that night.

We headed out towards Kamloops, the approximate halfway point between Vancouver and Jasper National Park. The drive was better that day, with my confidence building and less twisty roads, our average speed increased. The scenery became barer and dryer. There were fewer trees and more railway lines. Massive long trains trundled by slowly.

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View from our pitch at Juniper Beach

We stopped for a break at a place called Lilooet and had a quick walk around the tiny mineral museum and shop there, before continuing on to our campground. It was called Juniper Beach and it sat off the main road, with a railway and a river on one side and another railway on the other side. We saw and heard a lot of trains go by that evening. We also saw an absolutely stunning sunset!

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The sky looked like it was on fire!

We drove on into Kamloops the next day, just in time for lunch in a sunny park. The weather was getting warmer at this point, enough to put the air con on.

We had decided to do a wine tasting while in the Kamloops area, so headed to a vegan approved vineyard called Privato. We were welcomed by a lovely lady who gave us many wines to taste, which were all very nice. We decided to buy the surprisingly dry and very excellent rosé and the most expensive and also most delicious pinot noir. We saved the latter for when we were reunited with Mum and Dad.

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Grapes at Privato

After the wine tasting, and a suitably long sit down, we drove on to a place called Enderby. On the way we stopped to get dinner from an asian restaurant and coffee from Tim Hortons in rainy Salmon Arm, whose name always made my giggle. Enderby is home to the Starlight Drive In Movie Theatre, which was showing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!

We arrived and queued up to pay for our tickets. Apparently, my card was being a problem again, because it was ‘foreign’, and we didn’t have enough cash to pay. We didn’t know what we should do, but the friendly man on the box office let us in for free!

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Parked up!

We settled our car in to a spot near the front, then ran to the concession stand to spend all the cash we had on some popcorn. We then nested for a while, pulling out the sleeping bags and softies ready to watch.

The film was fantastic! I can thoroughly recommend it. It is badass, heartbreaking and hilarious, with an incredible soundtrack to take you through it. The experience of seeing it in such a cool cinema was so much fun! I wish we had drive-in movies in the UK, but I guess that the weather can be fickle.

After the film, we also could have waited and seen Beauty and the Beast too. But it was late and we had both already seen it, so we quickly rejigged the car into driving mode and left Starlight behind us.

Sadly, we did not have a plan for where to sleep. After a brief stop in Enderby itself, where we were accosted by a homeless man asking for money, we drove around sleepily, for about an hour on the dark Canadian roads. We found a very full and slightly creepy caravan park that wasn’t going to work and eventually ended up at a rather nice, but completely full campsite called Swan Lake.

It was very late at this point, and I really didn’t want to drive anymore, so we parked on the edge of someone’s pitch and set up to sleep. As it was such a nice campsite, and looked expensive, we decided to set an alarm for 6am and be out by 6:30 to avoid paying. Rude, I know, but we had been stung by our $500 young persons’ fee on the car.

The next morning, we got up and left as quickly as we possibly could. We were out by 6:15 and we’d gotten away with it!

We drove to a nearby village to try to get breakfast, but nowhere was open/ vegan. We carried on along the quiet road until we got back to the main highway, where we found a Denny’s diner to have breakfast – a much more worthy recipient of our money!

The rest of the journey that day seemed to go quickly. We stopped once for a break in a layby near a river as I was quite tired from my lack of sleep, but arrived in a place called Valemount nice and early. We got some coffee at a cool cafe/ giftshop, then found a campsite called Canoe Creek. It was sunny and we were both feeling slightly under the weather, so we decided to pitch our tent and lie flat for a night!

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In the campsite in Valemount

We made food, while fighting off what seemed like thousands of massive mosquitoes! They were approximately the size of my face. I killed quite a few, maybe forty or fifty over the course of us cooking. Mmmm, mosquito corpses everywhere!

We had a little walk around with our cameras – it was a big campsite with lots of odd things to see like old machinery, wooden carved animals by the reception building, an old car and, especially strangely, a tree with a face.

We also got some washing done and hung it out all inside the car to dry. We slept pretty well in the little tent and packed up easily in the morning as the good weather continued.

Eva wanted to go back to the little gift shop to buy some minerals, but it was a Sunday, so it was closed. We managed to get some food before heading out excitedly towards Jasper National Park.

 

Canadian Adventures 2: Carlife Begins

The time had come for us to pick up our car from Vancouver airport. We had a lot of luggage (two big suitcases, one big rucksack, three small rucksacks and myriad camping equipment), so we left it at our accommodation and took public transport out to the airport. At this point, I was excited. I had no idea what was to come.

We had booked the car online ages ago via Expedia. It was booked for three weeks, giving us enough time to drive over to Alberta and visit Jasper and Banff National Parks before heading back to Vancouver in time to meet Mum and Dad at the airport.

We arrived at the Avis check-in desk and queued to get the car. When we were called up to the desk, we hit our first problem. For some reason, the deposit for the car could only be taken on a credit card. I don’t own a credit card.

Now, annoyingly, the debit card that I was using for our travels often counted as a credit card as it was a ‘foreign’ card, which wasn’t always useful – like I literally couldn’t use it in some places. But for the purposes of Avis car rental, it was a debit.

Obviously they can’t rent the car out without the deposit, so I began to feel a bit worried, all our plans revolved around us having a car. I hurriedly handed over all three of my cards for the man to check with his manager: my UK debit card, my New Zealand debit card and my Travelex currency card.

The man went away for a while, I began to get a little paranoid that he was stealing all my card details, but no strange transactions as of yet. He came back and explained that he couldn’t use the currency card, he couldn’t use the New Zealand card as it doesn’t have my name on it (I got it at the bank, so it just says ‘cardholder’), but he could try my UK card. Not ideal, but that’s okay.

He put the card through. Then our second problem occurred. An automatic charge of $500 went through. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

From this experience, I have learned two very crucial things about hiring cars:

  1. If you are under 25, don’t even think about it.
  2. Always read the small print.

I am 23. This means that that $500 was a $25 a day surcharge for being a young person. Obviously, if you are under 25, you aren’t allowed cars. Probably because you are a reckless mess who will deliberately crash and try to sue everybody. Young people don’t even need cars, they have everything anyway: mobile phones, the internet, crippling mental heath issues. The one thing we don’t have is money. So they make nice things, like houses, cars, university degrees, too expensive for us. Then we’re told it’s our fault that we don’t save our imaginary pounds.

I’m not bitter about this at all.

This brings me to my second point. The online car hire gave me a price along with a lovely sentence: “The total price includes all mandatory taxes and fees”. I thought that meant I’d paid for everything. But no.

Expedia has a very tiny little clause in its small print that says “Additional charges or restrictions may apply for drivers under 25 or over 70”. Sneaky sneaky. Read it, if you ever hire from Expedia. And then expect the worst.

Thankfully our car hire experience did end in us getting a car to drive around Canada. We also got upgraded from our pre-ordered “Chevrolet Spark or similar” to a beautiful VW Golf TSi with more power and most importantly, more space! We were able to fit all our bags in and rearrange our stuff to fully recline the seats to sleep at night.

We, rather organically, named the car “the expensive bitch” and set off to explore this beautiful bit of Canada.

Canadian Adventures 1: Vancouver and Victoria

I arrived in Vancouver on the afternoon of the 7th June, after the night flight from Auckland – it had been a long day, I had left my hostel in Australia at 8am over 23hrs previously and it was still the 7th June! I waited for Eva to arrive and made her a sign – it was weird but good to see her after five months.

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My sign for Eva

We lugged all of our bags to our accommodation, a place called Churchill House, where we spent forever chatting and getting ready to go to dinner.

When we finally made it out, we were talking so much on the skytrain that we forgot to get off at our stop!

We eventually got to MeeT, a lovely vegan restaurant in Gastown, which serves comfort food like burgers, as well as tasty cocktails. We splashed out as it was our first night reunited!

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In MeeT with our cocktails

We had portobello mushroom burgers and two cocktails each (a pineapple basil one and a tequila mojito)! Despite our extravagance, the meal was still very cheap.

We got up quite late the next day (I had only got to sleep at 3am, because of the time difference). We decided to visit the Bloedel Conservatory – a big dome built in the 1960s, which houses plants and over 150 free flying birds.

It was such a cool place to be, with the birds swooping overhead, the cockatoos and parrots preening and occasionally talking. There was a big feeding area where most of the bird congregated. We spent over three hours in there, watching them and taking hundred of photos!

 

 

We especially loved the cockatoos – like Blanca, who hung from her branch by her beak and Kramer, who was a salmon pink colour and knew lots of phrases.

 

 

After our long afternoon in the conservatory, we wanted some ice cream, so went back to our accommodation via safeway to get some. Our evening was relaxed, we ate food and watched TV – but still didn’t get to bed early!

The second full day in Vancouver was bright, but not particularly warm. We took the chance to explore more fully. We found a cool art deco building called the Marine Building, which was decorated with sea creatures.

We had a wander round the waterfront and a bit called Canada Place, which has a walkway with names of different Canadian towns by Provence. After this we had a proper wander around the hipster streets of Gastown and saw the steam clock do it’s thing.

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By Canada Place

We had lunch in a lovely vegan pizzeria, called Virtuous Pie. The pizza was very tasty, as was the vegan ice cream! They had water on tap that you could take for free throughout your meal.

After faffing around and running into various shops to get change, we took a bus up to Stanley Park, the massive park north of downtown. This park is so beautiful. It runs along by the coast and has both cultivated and non cultivated areas. At the end of the park is a bridge that leads to North Vancouver, which we traveled along later in our journey.

 

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The waterfront by Stanley Park

One of our favourite things in Stanley park was the goth squirrels. This is not their real name, sadly, but you have to admit they have that stylishly gloomy look.

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Goth Squirrel

We really enjoyed walking around in the sun. it was very warm, but it was nice and the park was very beautiful. We sat around for a while by the Lion Bridge and watched the world go by.

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Cruise with Lion Bridge

We also found a cool and very sittable-on tree!

 

 

We took the bus back to our accommodation and spent a while getting dressed up to go out. We had found a gay club we wanted to check out. Before we headed to the club, we stopped at the Vancouver lookout tower, which wasn’t very expensive to go up. We timed it to coincide with the sunset! We spent a while there, enjoying the view, then headed up one more floor to the revolving restaurant, where we ordered cocktails and admired the view. The moon was massive and bright and kept being partially covered by clouds, making it look like an odd-shaped UFO.

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View from the Vancouver Lookout Tower

We headed down and caught the bus to the club. We had to change buses as our one broke, which was especially annoying because it was cold. When we arrived we were sad to learn that entry to the club was $40 as it was a special night. We had a strange cocktail each in the bar opposite, then headed home to have our own drinks and watch Hannibal!

The next day was a day of traveling: we had to take a train and a bus to Tsawwassen ferry terminal, where we caught the ferry to Vancouver Island, then another bus from Schwarz Bay into Victoria. The journey was 5hrs door to door, so we were understandably tired when we arrived. We repacked our stuff to fit it nicely into our assigned lockers, bought food and ate before the day was over.

The next morning we had a leisurely one: we ate breakfast and watched TV, then ventured out to go and watch whales! We had booked the tour a few months previously and we were very excited to see orcas, dolphins, seals and possibly humpback whales!

The company was called Spring Tide Whale Watching. We arrived and joined the group, paying our small conservation fee. We walked to our boat and boarded, enthusiastically taking seats on the bench right at the front of the front deck. We were given a safety briefing, which was momentarily interrupted by a sea plane taking off noisily.

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Sea Planes

As we set off into the bay, our chosen seats began to take a beating from the wind. I asked for an extra jacket (these were given out to people as part of the tour) and Eva shared a pair of her gloves with me. After a while I couldn’t take the cold any longer, so I retreated inside and grabbed a hot chocolate.

 

We went on for a long time without seeing anything, except for one or two fins that belonged to porpoise or dolphins. We were beginning to worry that we wouldn’t see any whales at all, when the boat turned and headed in a new direction. All the boats in the area radio each other when looking for whales, to tell each other where they are. We were heading towards a whale sighting.

As we approached we were joined by at least nine other boats. We stopped for a while and waited to see the whales, but then we moved on again. Eventually we caught up with them: a group of four orcas, a family of a mum and three babies of varying ages.

They were so beautiful.

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ORCA!

I wanted to watch the orcas for hours. They came up out of the water very often, moving as a close knit group, popping up in different combinations. The boats following them maintained a suitable distance and the cameras snapped. Eva and I became enthralled in watching and photographing them, so much so that Eva almost stepped off the edge of the boat with her one foot (there were railings, so she would have stayed on board)!

Eventually it was time to leave the beautiful whales, We were in a state of bliss after what we had seen and we were very sad to be torn away. We both want to see orcas again.

On the way back to the harbour, we stopped to look at some bald eagles chilling out on a rock, as well as a group of loudly honking sea lions and an elephant seal flobbling its way up a shallow slope.

 

As we pulled back into the harbour, we were told about one or two things, including one building, which is technically classed as a boat and used for navy training. We were also told about the sea plane runway, which is the only runway in the world that occasionally has to close because of whales!

We headed for dinner at a lovely Buddhist restaurant called Lotus Pond where the food was cheap and tasty and lots!

We then went for a walk around to Fisherman’s Wharf, which has lots of floating shops. As we walked, we watched the sun set and chatted. We saw a harbour seal chilling out, but it dived away as we got close.

 

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Sunset in Victoria

When we got to Fisherman’s Wharf, everything was shut, but we met a lovely, but pretty fat cat called Humphrey, who just sat there as we said hello. He resembled a furry puddle.

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Humphrey

On the way back to our hostel, we walked past the beautifully lit British Columbia Parliament Building and the pretty harbour. Victoria is an unexpectedly stunning city – both Eva and I were surprised at how nice it was there, mainly because we didn’t know much about it before we went. It is well worth a visit!

 

On our second (and last) full day in Victoria, we decided to visit the bug zoo. The bug zoo is a small place, only two rooms and a shop, that houses a collection of insects, arachnids and a few other creatures of a many-legged nature.

The zoo’s aim is to educate people, especially children, on the importance and beauty of these creatures, to help conserve them out in the world. There is a tour guide that moves around the rooms, explaining a little about each bug and giving you a chance to hold the more harmless ones.

Eva and I held practically everything! We held a beetle, a leaf bug, a praying mantis, a thorny devil, some millipedes (including one as long as my forearm) and a hissing cockroach. They don’t let you hold the centipedes because they are wildly aggressive.

 

Our favourite part of the experience was getting to hold the beautiful Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula, who gently strolled along our palms in a friendly manner. We also held a beautiful scorpion called Max!

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Eva and Max

Again, we were sad when we had to leave the bug zoo – it was such a cool idea and so much fun to visit! Our evening went by gently: we watched a film and ate dinner.

The next day we travelled back the way we came to Vancouver and checked into a different accommodation. This was much nicer than our first Vancouver accommodation which was in a very smelly, damp basement. This was an attic-type room in a bright, airy house and had two cupboards built under the eaves, which were fun to play in!

This time in Vancouver, so we didn’t do any more sight seeing – we had a job to do. We headed out to a massive shop called Canadian Tyre, where we bought around $200 worth of camping equipment, including bear spray. We returned on the bus clumsily, made a late dinner and skyped Mum and Dad before bed.

More on our Canadian adventures soon – in which we pick up a car and drive several thousand kilometers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvellous Melbourne

I arrived in Melbourne quite late, after a very nice flight with food and inflight entertainment despite only being four hours long. I was very tired, because I had flown from Samoa to Auckland, then spent the night at Auckland airport before catching my flight to Wellington to connect with my flight to Melbourne. It was a horrible night, despite having Chris’ company, as I didn’t sleep at all.

When I arrived in Melbourne, I got the bus to my hostel – they have a service that takes you from the main city bus terminal to your hostel for free. I checked in and slept!

The next day, I woke up and could properly get to know my surroundings. The room was lovely and clean – only two sets of bunk beds, with only three occupied, including mine. I went out to buy food for the week – it was pretty damn cold after being in hot hot Samoa for two weeks!

Food is cheaper in Australia than in New Zealand, so I could easily stay in budget. Back at the hostel, I had breakfast and sorted my things out, before heading into town just after lunch.

I decided to do a free walking tour – these are a great way to orientate yourself to a new place and they cost as much as you want them too (they are free, but usually you tip). The first one I did was in Rome three years ago, and now they’re a go to when exploring somewhere new.

This tour was really good, especially as our guide, Laura, was so enthusiastic. We saw the State Library, the Old Gaol, the Exhibition Building, two pretty parks, parliament and China Town, as well as some of the cool laneways that they have here.

 

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State Library Melbourne

The State Library is pretty cool, inside is the armour worn by the infamous gang leader, Ned Kelly. The Old Gaol (pictured below) was his last residence before he was hanged on 11th November 1880.

 

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Melbourne Old Gaol

The Royal Exhibition Building is the first world heritage site-listed building in Australia. It was built for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880 and is still used as an exhibition venue as well as an exam hall.

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Royal Exhibition Building

The parliament gardens is one of the parks we saw – some of the trees have special bands to stop possums climbing them. These don’t work – we even saw a possum in one of the banded trees.

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Parliament Gardens

Melbourne’s laneways are very famous. They are basically alleyways, that have been transformed either by street art, or tiny cafes and shops, or both. The street art scene is phenomenal with some laneways being completely repainted every week.

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Beautiful Street Art

There are also some cool arcades – fancier, covered alleyways. The block arcade, whose floor is shown below, houses an incredibly popular tea room called Hopetoun Tea Rooms – right now their next available reservation for high tea is in ten weeks!

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Mosaic Floor in Block Arcade

After the tour, it was getting dark, so I headed back to the hostel. I had been invited out to meet James and Gary, my Mum’s cousin and his partner at their flat. The original plan for my time in Melbourne was to stay with them, but they had just moved all their stuff in a few days before I arrived and their flat was literally STUFFED with boxes! No room for me this time.

We went out for a lovely dinner at a Greek restaurant called Hellenic Republic, where the food was very tasty. After a few hours of enjoying the food and catching up, they put me back on the tram to my hostel, where I headed to bed.

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Lobby of the National Gallery of Victoria

The next day, my first stop was the NGV (the National Gallery of Victoria), which has a gorgeous water window in its entrance. There was a lovely photography exhibition on, as well as one about chairs.

Being a designer is 99% about chairs, so I went.

These chairs were particularly arty explorations of the concept, but some of them were pretty cool – like the one in the shape of a fierce orca. For some reason, chairs are something that people love to design, maybe because we spend some much of our time in them? I suppose someone has written and article about this phenomenon somewhere.

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“Fiona Blackfish” chair concept in contemporary chair design exhibition

After the gallery, I headed over to the State Library, mainly to see Ned Kelly’s armour. I have always been fascinated with crime stories, as my TV history would tell you, so gang leader armour is the kind of  thing I like to see.

The library itself is very grand, and was full of revising students.

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Inside the state library

Ned Kelly, for those who don’t know, was an Australian bushranger in the late 1800s. Bushrangers were the Australian equivalent of highwaymen, but Kelly also committed other thefts as well as assaults and murders. His life of crime came to a head when he and his gang took over a town called Glenrowan, keeping 62 hostages in a hotel there. There was a shootout with the police, during which Kelly wore some armour that he made to prevent him from being shot. However, the armour didn’t cover his legs, which allowed the police to shoot him and capture him.

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Ned Kelly’s armour

That evening, I headed out to the Eureka Tower – it was just down the road from my hostel. I timed it so I could see the sunset. The tower has the tallest observation deck in the southern hemisphere. That last bit is important, because there isn’t so much in the way of tall buildings in the southern hemisphere.

The views were great though, so I stayed for a long time, just enjoying the view. I watched the sun go down and the lights come on.

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Sunset from Skydeck of the Eureka Tower

All I managed to do on day three was see the Shrine of Remembrance. The shrine was originally built to commemorate those who served in WW1, but is now a shrine for all Australians who served in war.

I arrived in time for the flags to be taken down for the day, to a bugle call.

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The Shrine of Remembrance

I sat there for a while as it got dark and watched the flame they have there.

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Flame at the Shrine

The next day, I went to see St Kilda. This is an area of Melbourne by the seaside. Even though it was pretty cold, I always enjoy walking by the sea. St Kilda was easy to get to by a tram.

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St Kidla Tram Stop

I walked along the high street and had a peak in all the cute little shops, before heading towards the sea. On the way I passed Luna Park, an old theme park with a very brightly coloured and mildly terrifying aesthetic.

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Luna Park Entrance

The beach was beautiful and the weather was good, so I could explore without getting wet and (too) cold! By the beach is a long pier, with a cute little pavilion building on it, which doubles as a cafe – I got coffee there. Apparently it burned down in 2003, but was rebuilt using the original 1903 plans.

 

I love the seaside – especially the dogs running along excitedly. There was one dog that wouldn’t stop barking at the birds as he tried to catch them – so cute!

The other side of the high street from the seaside is the St Kilda botanical gardens, which I decided to go and see. On my way there, I enjoyed the crunchy leaves that lined the pavement (crunchy leaves are the best – I even have an instagram video from last year when I went to Kew Gardens of me jumping in the leaves)! They have more autumn leaves in Melbourne than they did in Levin – I suppose that they have different kinds of trees in New Zealand, maybe more native ones than ‘English’ imports.

The gardens were nice, but not at their best as it was autumn. They had a beautiful gate though, decorated with stunning details in the ironwork.

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The botanical garden’s gate

After a brief time in the gardens, I headed back to the pier to look for penguins!

Behind the pier is an area of rocks that houses a penguin colony. They are called Little Penguins, sometimes called Fairy Penguins, due to their small size – they are only 33cms high!

They come out more often at dusk, so I headed down for sunset. There were lots of other people there too and we were lucky to see one standing between the rocks, looking out at us and being thoroughly photographed.

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Fairy Penguin!

After my penguin encounter, I went to get fish and chips, before returning to my hostel.

The next day I met James and Gary again and they took me to the Heide Museum of Modern Art. We had brunch, then a look around. The Heide site is made up of several buildings. The first is an old farm house, Heide I, which John and Sunday Reed moved into in 1934. The couple opened their home to like-minded artists. In 1964, they commissioned a new home to be built on the site in the modernist style. This is Heide II.

The site also includes Heide III and the Sidney Myer Education Centre. The spaces are all art galleries. There were some very interesting paintings, but my favourite part of the site was certainly Heide II. The design of the space was beautiful as both a living space and a place to display art – truly stunning.

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Inside Heide II – I love the big windows!

After our visit to Heide, James and Gary dropped me on Brunswick Street and also recommended I see Smith Street. I wandered up and down the two, going into the most interesting looking shops. They had some really cool places: arty cafes, second hand furniture shops and a very pretty tea shop.

 

I had a snack on a bench outside the Catholic cathedral. I wanted to go in, but even though it said there wasn’t a mass on, there was. It was still lovely from the outside.

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The Catholic Cathedral

On the Monday morning, I met Gary to talk about design (I want to be an interior designer, and he is one). He showed me some fabric houses and we discussed his work and costings and other aspects of the job. It was so helpful to have that meeting and great to have a conversation about design with someone who really knows their stuff!

After our meeting, I headed back to the hostel, then briefly out to the botanical gardens before the sun went down. It was gloomy and drizzly, but I could still appreciate the beauty of the place – I especially liked ‘Guilfoyle’s Volcano’, a water storage solution installed in the gardens in 1876, which has gorgeous plants coating the sides.

 

On my final day in Melbourne, I mainly packed and did some more planning for my trip to Canada. In the evening, I met up with James one last time for dinner.

We went to a very cool, speak-easy type of bar in an odd backstreet, called Bar Americano. It certainly had the prohibition vibe and you weren’t allowed to take photos. We had some very tasty cocktails, made from things I hadn’t heard of.

We then headed to Chin Chin, a highly recommended Asian fusion place for dinner. We had a very tasty goat curry and a fiery papaya salad – the food was excellent. Afterwards we had some Vietnamese iced tea, which was red tea and ice and condensed coconut milk – this was amazing.

Melbourne was a marvelous place to visit, with its arty, hipster vibes and I’m sure I will return one day – I am intrigued to see some more of Australia after listening to people on the farm rave about it!