A Travellerspoint blog

Visit Me

Currently Playing: "Talk Like That" -- The Presets

sunny 23 °C

Just call me Tour Guide Noreen.

The last few weeks have been filled with visitors from home, yippie! Having all these friends visit makes Melbourne seem closer to home than it really is. And after all the friend visits, my family will be here, YAY!!!

My first visitors were Nicole and her Kiwi bf Ansen. They’re semi-visitors because after they do some traveling they’ll be permanently re-locating to Melbourne. I’m so excited to have them as neighbors in Melbourne. Nicole is a drunk betch like me and likes food just as much. That being said, their week with me consisted of an extremely thorough restaurant and pub tour. We ate and drank our faces off each day. Melbourne’s cuisine is so diverse and DELICIOUS. The food here is worthy.
Wining & dining at Movida
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At Tiamo
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Riverland
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Next visitors: Kathleen and Elizabeth! The girls are on an around the world tour and stopping in Australia for nearly 2 months. We’re also planning on traveling to the Whitsunday islands together as well.
Kathleen, me , Elizabeth
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Last but certainly not least: Deanna! Deanna is my old roommate Raymond’s little sister. She is also like a little sister to me. Together we saw all the Melbourne must-see attractions and dined like queens. She also broke my shopping boycott. Melbourne is an extremely fashion forward and conscious city, and normally I would consistently indulge, but since I am on a strict budget I have restrained myself. However, Deanna’s visit included heaps of shopping and I came away with some unique purchases.

Yarra River
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Goo
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Deanna, Me, Shayna at Fog
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Bourke St.
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Queen Victoria Market
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Luckily I had one night all together with Deanna, Kathleen, Elizabeth, Nicole and Ansen, so I cooked a shrimp taco feast for all of my visitors and the girls—‘twas a hit!

Come visit if you can, friends. Qantas has some incredible deals right now (800 roundtrip)! And I have a huge bed ☺

Posted by NoreenA 05:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Happy Holidays from Melbourne

Currently Playing: "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"-- Brenda Lee

sunny 22 °C

Wherever you are in the world I wish you the happiest of holidays! In a world filled with so much despair and turmoil, we are called to action. Please remember the millions suffering across the globe during this holiday season.

Ready yourself for the best new year yet!

Love,
Noreen

Downtown Melbourne
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Posted by NoreenA 18:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Tasmania, not Tanzania

Currently Playing: "Walking on a Dream" -- Empire of the Sun

semi-overcast 15 °C

hiking along The Bay of Fires
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A Thanksgiving unlike any other: Tasmanian Devils, endless coastline, Kangaroos, Wallabies, wine-tasting, hiking, rainforests, f-r-e-s-h seafood, white sand beaches, rock climbing, Wombats, chocolate factory, brewery tours, dairy farms, prison, and a turkey and panini sandwich.

My roommates and I headed down south to Tasmania for a joyous Thanksgiving week. We started south in Hobart and worked our way up the eastern coast to Launceston. Before we even arrived in Tazzie, many of the Australian mainlanders warned us to beware of people with 2 heads or 11 fingers, as Tasmania is consistently knocked as a land notorious for incest. No two-headed sightings, but I couldn't help wondering whether everyone I came across were brother and sister, or uncle and cousin.

Incest aside, Tasmania blew my mind! The entire state is sparsely populated and the way of life is slow paced and natural. The food was incredibly fresh and just delicious. Pinot Noir is a Tasmania specialty, and I certainly tasted some of the best red wine of my life. Tasmania can best be described as pristine, remote and natural. In fact, their license plates state that Tasmania is the "Natural State," a declaration quite true indeed. The weather was quite chilly and we encountered a bit of rain, but what can one expect when Antarctica is only 5,000 kilometers away? We were also very lucky because our backpackers group was fantastic! Our tour guide Ian was a character indeed. He looked like your stereotypical Aussie bloke and we got on great, by the end of the trip I had Ian, along with the rest of the group saying "Shweeeeetie" (insert Indian accent). The eclectic group was made up of an Irishman, a Canadian, a P.O.M.E. (Prisoner of Mother England), and two Dutch women. I so enjoyed getting to know each of these people and have kept in contact with them, another wonderful perk of traveling and the World Wide Web.

One of my favourite parts of the trip was our visit to Port Arthur Penitentiary. Port Arthur is where England sent their convicts to carry out their punishments in the 1800s. HOW STUPID! England sent convicts to one of the most beautiful places on earth! They should have done it the other way around! Anyways, the grounds are huge and it was so neat exploring all the cells and museums. Another favourite spot was the most beautiful beach I have ever been to, The Bay of Fires. Lonely Planet named The Bay of Fires the "#1 Beach in the World" (Lonely Planet 2009). I kept taking really deep breaths because the air was so refreshing and delicious. Tasmania cemented once again that one of my m-a-j-o-r goals in life is to end up on a remote beach far away from the hustle and nonsense of ordinary life. How many more years till this happens??

A taste of Tasmania:

Atop Hobart
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Next land mass: Antarctica
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Dream Surf
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First few hours in Hobart: me, Shayna, and April
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Cascade Brewery tour
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Pirates Bay
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Port Arthur Penitentiary
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Ross Bridge-- oldest bridge in Australia
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Lunch time: my view from the rock I sat on while I ate a killer sandwich
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April and me
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ferocious Tasmania Devil
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Kangaroos
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Wallabie in the parking lot-- notice the little joey
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Wineglass Bay
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I take a lot of pictures while I am eating. Here I'm drinking coffee on a bench. Nice scenery, 'eh?
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2009 Lonely Planet #1 Beach in the World: The Bay of Fires
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Climbing the rocks
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Hanging out
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The international group
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I wish you could really see how high I had to climb to get on that rock
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Tasman Arch
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Hiking a rainforrest
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Upskirt/tree
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Posted by NoreenA 05:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Arora's Down Under

Currently Playing: "Holiday" -- Weezer

sunny 23 °C

They're making the trek! My family is a-coming!!! :)
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The Arora's will spend Christmas, New Years, and my 23rd birthday in Australia for the second time in 2 years! Only this time they will be exploring Melbourne for the first time, along with Tasmania, the Great Ocean Road, and the Yarra Wine Valley. Poor Christopher flies home from his semester in Italy and has to leave for Australia a mere two days later, rough life. And luckily Megan was able to get the time off to come down under as well. Megan and I will have lots of fun showing the fam around Melbourne. I'm SO excited to see my family, yippieeee!!!!

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Posted by NoreenA 22:16 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Yorba Linda on Fire

Currently Playing: "Don't Drag Me Down" -- Social Distortion

sunny 20 °C

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Woke up today to my little sister frantically asking me what I wanted from my room, as they were being forced to evacuate from the fire that spread throughout Yorba Linda, which burned over 100 structures and caused over $125 million in damage. It was quite scary and upsetting to be so far away and helpless, with hardly any way to keep in touch with the fire's movement. Thankfully a few good friends were my eyes and ears and kept me posted on the damage. But my family and I were very lucky and our house survived. Thank God.

The next day, Yorba Linda was on the front page of the Australian national newspaper. The picture was of a man riding away from the Honda dealership on Weir Canyon, palm trees on fire, riding his Segway while simultaneously texting on his Blackberry. What a great picture to show the international community how Orange County looks whilst on fire, geeeeeeeeeeeeez...

Posted by NoreenA 22:34 Comments (0)

Yarra Wine Valley

Currently Playing: "Use Somebody" -- Kings of Leon

overcast 20 °C

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Today we went on a wine tour of the infamous Yarra Wine Valley, Australia’s most celebrated wine region. The day was filled with the most delicious of wines, namely Australian Shiraz and Pinot Noir, and a scrumptious lunch feast, and heaps of f-u-d-g-e. I didn’t purchase any wine, but I did purchase 2lbs. of fudge. We visited Yerring Station, Yerring Farms, Domaian Chandon, and Rochford wineries. All the wineries we frequented were very different, but so lovely in their own rite. I’m a genuine wino.

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Posted by NoreenA 22:03 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

VICTORY!

Currently Playing: "Love's in Need of Love Today" -- Stevie Wonder

sunny 22 °C

You bet I voted! Albeit absentee, I still voted. Along with the importance of the presidential election, there were several propositions I felt very strongly about, namely Prop’s 4 & 8. While the whole country took one giant step forward with the landslide decision to elect Obama, California took an unfortunate, and misinformed step backwards by allowing Proposition 8 to pass. I feel confident that we will one day look back and feel ashamed by our actions. Who are we to judge anyone on who they love or how they love?

Nonetheless, the people of America have spoken loud and clear: a time for change, a new era in Washington. Barack Hussein Obama. Who would have thought? Perhaps anyone with a brain. I’m SO thankful that Americans made the right decision. The reaction from an international standpoint has been so unique and neat to experience. On the day of the election I had several tables, completely unprompted congratulate me on my new President. And the other night I was at a bar and some guy came in with a Barack Obama “The change, the promise” t-shirt and his buddies kept commenting on how rad his shirt was. When was the last time the international community has viewed our President as cool? Not only is he considered a widespread badass but he’s also viewed as a beacon of light and hope for the globe. Thank you America!

Posted by NoreenA 21:23 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Melbourne Cup

Currently Playing: "All Along the Watchtower" -- Jimi Hendrix

sunny 23 °C

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Melbourne Cup is finally hee’ya! Different race, different dress… and a real hat! I gave in. I wore a bright pink fascinator (that’s what they call the unruly hats) and participated in full effect.
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Luckily, we were able to buy tickets in the nursery section of the Flemington race track. We were out of the slums aka general admission, and in the more ‘prissy’ section. Basically, the nursery is the same exact thing as the tailgate field at the Rosebowl, only everyone is dressed up as though they're going to a British Royal Wedding. Our tailgate was rather nice and we were with the friends who took us to the races the first time. I was able to sneak in and see the final race! It was SO cool.

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Those jockey’s are so small, I kid you not, I was taller and weighed more than all of them in 7th grade. The jockey who won the race I watched was 5’1 and weighed 91 pounds. Imagine dating him. Who would be the man in the relationship??

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Posted by NoreenA 06:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Spring Carnival: Derby Day

Currently Playing: "Boyz" -- M.I.A.

sunny 21 °C

The most famous week in Melbourne has arrived! Spring Carnival. Hundreds of thousands flood the city of Melbourne to experience the wonder of the Flemington horse races. The entire week is without a doubt a full on fashion show. Men are wearing the most dapper of suits while the women are dripping with hundreds of dollars worth of spring dresses and ridiculous hats. We were lucky enough to be able to round up tickets for the most famous day of the week, Derby Day, along with the ‘Stanley Cup’ race day of the week, Melbourne Cup.

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Derby Day found myself, Shayna, Lauren and Kelly frantically organizing our outfits and the day’s events. The day itself is like a marathon, one must pace thyself. Lauren excelled at such (not—see attached photo. she fell onto someone's cooler)PA310176.jpg. Our day started off with the dilemma of what the hell to attach to my head. Choices: bare, a borrowed neon headpiece, or nothing. I wasn’t feeling any of my choices, so in the last few moments before our departure, I ran across the street from our house to the little flower cart, and asked the man for some white peonies and fastened them into my curls. Mission accomplished! Then onto the pre-party. We went over to a friend’s apartment for some morning treats and heaps of mimosas and vodka concoctions. Somehow we made it to Flemington racetrack, along with the other 117,000 people (literally)…. It was overwhelmingly crowded!PA310162.jpg The people watching was incredible and highly engaging. Majority of the women looked as though they stepped freshly off a Parisian couture catwalk, and the rest of the lot looked as though they drank a handle of vodka, splashed the vodka into their eyes and chose blindly from their closets (see attached photo) PA310159.jpg

Derby Day found us in the common folk section known as “general admission.” Hahahaha… what a S-H-I-T show! The area is a mess of people, hordes of blankets spread on the grass, and heaps of snack food and bottles of alcohol everywhere. Above General Admission is the grandstand, the upper crust sneering down at the boisterous bourgeoisie. When we arrived it was 11am and people looked and acted as though they had been drinking for days. The funniest thing is that these women put SO much effort AND money into their outfits and then they’re shitfaced, sitting on the grass, shoes off, acting like gremlins. It’s terrific! It felt like I was at Oktoberfest again, but instead of huge, white tents and long wooden tables, there were beautiful horses racing past, hordes of formally dressed Australians and hideous hats everywhere. We were able to sneak up to the front of general admission and watch the races; the only good thing about General admission is that you are front and center amongst the racetrack. And afterward, the best part of the day, we finally went to the Mexican restaurant near our house! Nothing will ever compare to the Mexican food I ate whilst living in San Diego, but the Mexican we ate after Derby Day definitely sufficed. All in all the day was brilliant, and I’m really glad I was able to experience Derby Day. Now onto Melbourne Cup Day….

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Posted by NoreenA 05:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bright Eyes

Currently Playing: "Dancing Queen" -- ABBA

rain 14 °C

Remember when I said in my first b-l-o-g post that I was going to celebrate my face off??

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Also, I do not know that man.

Posted by NoreenA 06:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

I Am Halloween.

Currently Playing: "Thriller" -- Michael Jackson

storm 14 °C

BOO! Happy Halloween!!!!!!!!!!!

Work Friends
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Australia does not glorify Halloween as Americans do. HOWEVER, young Australians are well aware of the enormity of Halloween, and choose to partake in celebration (phew!). As Halloween is my favourite holiday, (largely because the candy is delicious and endless, sloppy Joe's are acceptable, I can wear a mustache, I get to carve a face, and dressing as a blashpemous relgious figure is neither accepted at your all girls Catholic high school or conservative Catholic University) I was pleased to use this adoration as leverage to make new friends. Australians love Americans who celebrate Halloween! Everyone, we were invited to 4+ parties--- which means, we have friends!!! YES.

April & I
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Arora tradition mandates sloppy Joe's every Halloween, decorations, candy and costumes. Everything that I love and excel at: eating, celebrating, decorating and costuming. Luckily, sloppy Joe's is a tradition in April's family as well, so we set upon a quest to make sloppy Joe's, even though NOBODY eats it here in Australia. Several cans of tomato sauce, garlic, sugar, onions, peppers, ground meat and hamburger buns later.... we had our traditional Halloween feast. We then met up with some co-workers who are now friends (WOOT) for drinks at an Irish pub on Chapel Street, and then, we went to Shayna's friends from work Halloween party. It was like a bad frat party, gone wrong, but I was so elated and filled with 'magic pumpkin juice' that I had a hell of a time. And the best part, my costume allowed me to wake up in my PAJAMAS!!


I dressed as a myriad of things: A Uni-corn, Rainbow Bright, a big bull dyke, and an Us in The Son counselor on acid.

My costume:
homemade uni-corn
My head-to-toe flannel neon RAINBOW pajama suit
purple, sparkly fairy wings
a recorder (the instrument)
a rainbow fairy wand
April's neon pink flats
a thicke, black mustache

Posted by NoreenA 07:00 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne

Currently Playing: "Baby, I Love You" -- Aretha Franklin

sunny 25 °C

“And the weather’s so breezy
Man, why can’t life always be this easy?”

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Wake up, first thought: “What shall I do today?” F-R-E-E-D-O-M unbeknownst to me. How many people can wake up, secure and safe, and do whatever they’d like? Not a many. And I realize that life will not always be this breezy, and that is why everyday I actively choose what I want to do, when I want. In my short 22 years, I have always had to go to school, or go to practice, or write a paper, or report to some job or internship. Sure, I am “working” here, but I am free as free can be. Free to go to the park on a Thursday!

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The Royal Botanical Gardens is where I found myself on such a free day, surrounded by trees for miles and plenty of lush green grass. The sky was glimmering, the air fresh, and the warm sky beaming upon my face.
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The park is enormous and the most famous botanical garden in all of Australia. The garden itself is comprised of many non-garden-like areas as well as breathtaking natural gems: several areas are dedicated to native and non-native vegetation, Australian World Wars Memorial, live music venues, places to eat, shop, an outdoor movie theatre, the Governor's mansion, and heaps of places to escape-- all of which are truly stunning. And there’s a brilliant lake in the middle of the gardens. We stayed in the park for several hours relaxing, exploring, and indulging (thank you ice cream truck man watching Rocky).

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We could not have drawn a more beautiful day. What a beautiful, beautiful life.

Check out the R.B.G. website after the jump
http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/home

Posted by NoreenA 06:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Word.

Currently Playing: "The Corner" -- Common & The Last Poets

sunny 42 °C

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Posted by NoreenA 01:39 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Tasmania

Currently Playing: "Miles Away" -- Madonna

sunny 23 °C

I'm going to Tasmania for American Thanksgiving!

April, Shayna, and I will depart for Tasmania on November 25 and return on the 29th. We have signed up for a tour, which will take us all over the Island. Tasmania is renowned for its unspoiled, natural environment. This summer, while vacationing in the Galapagos Islands, several comparisons were made to Tasmania, and I cannot wait to actually experience the unique beauty of T-town. I am really, really looking forward to this trip! Who ever thought I would go to Tasmania—and for American Thanksgiving?? Real neat.

Posted by NoreenA 16:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

See You, Thank You, Bye (You Know Which Accent)

Currently Playing: "Black & Gold" -- Sam Sparro

semi-overcast 20 °C

See you, Little India.

After 3 weeks of waitressing at Little India, I decided to move on. Overall, Little India did not have what I was looking for whilst earning and learning in Australia. I have never quit a job before, it was neat. Originally, I had hoped to work in a fun, lively environment with young people in the same boat as myself, and lucky for me— I have found that at my new job, at Café Sienna. The restaurant is open all day, and late into the night and serves a mix of rustic Mediterranean food, quite delicious! And the people I work with are closer to me in age and mentality. I have already made heaps of new friends, woohoo! April and Lauren are also working with me at Café Sienna, which it makes it more fun. We work long hours, but I am enjoying myself.

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Here is a description of Café Sienna:
This very popular open-air café is a Chapel Street Icon located in the heart of Melbourne's fashion capital. Boasting an extensive menu, with a Mediterranean heritage.
Open early for breakfast, lunch and dinner till late.
Whether it be a glass of wine or a cup of Dimattina's blended specialty coffees, Sienna's sharp and friendly team will be there to make your experience a memorable and enjoyable one.

Ch-check it out:
http://www.flyingvisit.net/mel/food/sienna/index.shtml

Posted by NoreenA 16:14 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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