Archive | April, 2012

Australian Open 2012

28 Apr

A late post, but just want to share with you our experience and photos from this event.

When we went to Melbourne, the air fares going here were sky high because it was Australian Open season. So during Australia Day, we decided to use up the free time to watch some of the games. The tickets were surely a bit hard on the pockets ($179 a piece for semi final sessions) but considering how many people would flock here just to watch the games and we don’t know if we’re still going to be here in Melbourne next year, we figured it was well worth the opportunity.

We had third row seats so we had a nice view of the court but like the folks in the lower half of this photo, we had to endure the heat of the sun

I must say it was a great experience. We were at the semis after all, so the matches were really thrilling as all the players we watched have proven themselves worthy to have reached so far in the competition. Also, it was fun witnessing how people would loudly cheer for their favorites (Kim was really a crowd favorite) to the point that the chair umpire paused the match for a while to remind the crowd to keep their voices down.

Kim Clijsters, 2011 Australian Open Women’s Champion

Victoria Azarenka, 2012 Women’s Champion, playing in the semis

My favorite moment was when Sharapova was asked by courtside reporter as to what makes her a tough competitor, a male fan shouted “She’s HOT!”. Maria then gushed – “I’m blushing”. LOL.

Grim, determined look. Maria Sharapova thinking of her next move against Petra Kvitova.

Maria signing on the videocam as fans lower down tennis balls for her to sign also

Petra Kvitova

Something to get used to though while watching the matches under the sweltering heat of the sun were the grunting sounds made by both winners of the two matches (Azarenka and Sharapova) while playing. Personally, it was a bit annoying for me. But hey, if that’s their secret for winning (is it suppose to give more strength in their moves? or maybe a ploy to distract the opponent? :p), I’m not one to complain. We went home agreeing with tennis fans that it will be a ‘grunting match’ for the women’s finals πŸ™‚

My husband and I posing for a souvenir photo after the women’s semis

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Up in Mount Dandenong.. In Search of Autumn Colours

24 Apr

My husband loves the colors of spring and autumn. But we don’t have these seasons in Manila or Singapore. That’s why he has dreamt of going back to Japan to see the cherry blossoms with me. We have actually planned a trip around this time last year (all air tickets, train tickets, accommodations were booked) but then we had to tearfully cancel it because the trip was scheduled right after the Sendai tsunami happened.

Thankfully, we are now living in a country where there are four seasons. Melbourne weather is quite unique though from other parts of Australia, coz there are days when we actually experience all four seasons on the same day πŸ™‚

So it’s Autumn time now- that time of the year when the leaves are turning and will soon fall off, but only for certain kinds of trees. Our couple friends decided to show us around before the beautiful colours fall off or get blown away by the winds..

First stop – Kalorama Lookout :

Then had a late morning tea first –

Next stop, Sky High, which is the highest peak in the Dandenong Ranges. Since it was foggy that day, we didn’t get a chance to look down the mountains but were treated to a nice ‘high above the clouds in the sky’ experience :

Then finally, we got to see nice colours in the National Rhododendron Gardens :

Thanks Connie and Jurie for a lovely day of appreciating God’s colorful creation πŸ™‚

Mornington Peninsula

19 Apr

My husband Lawrence and I went driving around Mornington Peninsula for a day out with nature.

Our first stop was Frankston Waterfront.

The view was nice and tranquil, but there’s not much to see here. There are not so many people though so if you would like to spend a quiet afternoon to yourself, going here would serve the purpose.

There was a group with kids that had a gathering when we went there. The cool, windy weather suits outdoor activities.

We were suppose to check out the Sandstone Events’ Toytopia sand sculptures because it was just beside the waterfront but we were surprised to find that the place was small and given the time constraint, we decided to skip this attraction. I reckon it would be nice for small kids, though πŸ™‚

Since it had been a long drive from home, it was already almost noon at this point of our trip. We were hungry and decided to drive to central Mornington for lunch. We had a delightful Italian lunch at D.O.C Mornington (side note: The D.O.C. outlet here is more spacious and has greater ambiance than in the CBD). We decided to try out the antipasto platter recommended in Urban Spoon and I must say, it was well worth the price πŸ™‚ [$25]

Antipasto Platter at D.O.C.

We also had Pizza Soppressa but I guess in our haste to eat we forgot to take a picture of this. The pizza was good, too. Although I must really say that the antipasto platter is my two thumbs up dish for this occasion.

We went on to visit Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm for a strawberry picking experience. The wind was cool but the sun was up so it was a bit hot, and the smell of natural fertilizer (yes, manure ^_^) was kind of bothering me, but I enjoyed all the same since it was something different for a city person like me πŸ™‚ It took us some time to fill our punnets up with strawberries. By the time we finished, it was almost 3 o’clock. A bit disappointing for me because the ice cream/chocolate lover in me wanted to try out a strawberry parfait or their fondue. But to make the most of this trip, this would have to be reserved for a next trip, hopefully.

Strawberry PickingΒ 

I have mixed reviews on the Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens. Again, the tall hedge mazes were something new for us (we actually chickened out less than five minutes into the maze LOL) so it was quite interesting, and I was able to see lavender gardens for the first time. But aside from that, given the large walking area, there’s not much to see. And if I were to suggest something to spruce this place up, I’d suggest for them to build a tower or high area where you can have an aerial/bird’s eye view of the maze. Biggest disappointment for me is the Rose Maze, because there weren’t any nice rose bushes to look at in the first place (is it because it wasn’t rose season when we visited?).

Entering the hedge maze in Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens

But then we were able to have an opportunity to get up-close with the lavender and the bee and take photos such as the one above, so I went away happy anyway.

Last stop is Cape Schanck Lookout. The museum and the lighthouse in Cape Schanck was closed by the time we went there, so we just decided to take a walk around Cape Schanck. The walk gave us nice, relaxing views to end the day.

Melbourne Docklands

19 Apr

I have always loved walking around Singapore’s Marina Bay area.

So when we went to the Docklands area here, I was absolutely awed by the place. We went during the day. For going around in daytime, I would rate Docklands to be a couple of notches above Marina Bay. Mainly because of the pier with the yachts.

I’m wondering though how the place looks like at night. How will it compare to having Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade, Singapore Flyer and the Singapore skyline as part of the view in Singapore?

Above photo shows a bike stand for Bike Share Melbourne. Law and I think that this bike rental system is a real genius. You can rent a bike for as low as $2.60 for 30 minutes (more for longer duration, weekly/annual/corporate passes are also available) from any rental stand scattered around the CBD and drop it off in another stand. The stands are automated. Helmets are required though. You can buy one for $5 in retail stores such as 7-Eleven.

Old Melbourne Charm

16 Apr

One particularly charming thing about this city is that traces of Melbourne’s past are still scattered around the city.

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne’s iconic railway station/interchange, maintains its early 1900 look, which includes the clocks under the main dome that date back to the 1860s.

Flinders Street Station by night

Flinders Street Station clocks

My husband Lawrence and I like to walk around the CBD almost every Sunday after church, and we are enthralled as we walk by and into different alleys and arcades around the city, which house quaint little shops, hole-in-the-wall cafes and a variety of restaurants.
Above photo features a shop which sells many babushka dolls in all shapes and sizes. This piqued my interest as I remember one funny episode in the Amazing Race series featuring Kev Jumba and his dad in Russia, where there were babushkas (Russian grandmothers) guarding Kev when he was plowing dung while clad in babushka clothes =D
But for someone like me who loves sweet treats and pastries, this is my absolute favorite find :
Too bad there was a really long queue when we went here. But this one’s definitely in my must-try list πŸ™‚