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Trip Report Two weeks in Australia: 2015 Trip Report

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I have posted many Trip Reports on this forum, but almost always I would start writing them the moment we returned from a trip, when memories were still fresh in the mind. This time, work pressures have necessitated a 45 day break from our return ; have started penning the report down from today, while I can still recall most of our journey (aided of course by a small notepad of travel jottings).

We are a couple from India in their late 50’s, avid travellers of the independent variety, who have already been to more parts of the planet than most. Australia has been high on our agenda for long, but has been getting short-changed for other destinations repeatedly, despite a Lonely Planet guide for Australia being on my bookshelf for over two years. This time the planning witnessed no change, and we made it through to the land down under.

Our rough itinerary was :
Melbourne : 2 nights
Great Ocean Road : 2 nights
Port Douglas : 4 nights
Ayers Rock : 2 nights
Sydney : 4 nights

Here goes the Trip Report in many instalments.

Day 1 : Saturday/Sunday, May 9th/10th : For once, our flight out of India was in the afternoon, and not in the middle of the night ! Left our hometown Pune at 7 am in the morning, reaching Mumbai airport by 10 am. We were flying business class in Malaysian Airlines all the way to Australia. The check-in was smooth and efficient, and their Lounge at Mumbai was excellent. Our outward flight was marginally late, but we had an uneventful journey to Kuala Lumpur, reaching at 9 pm local time.

The Malaysian Airlines Lounge at KL was nice, but the food there was not to the liking of us vegetarians. We snacked a bit, then had a brief stroll through the airport shops, and then boarded our 11:30 pm flight for Melbourne. This sector had wonderful seats, fully reclining beds adjustable to multiple positions. Food and service quality were top-notch, and we had a very comfortable sleep through the night.

We landed on schedule at Melbourne at 9:30 am local time on Sunday. Realized that my international SIM card on the cellphone was not working. With some difficulty we located a friend who had come to the airport to receive us, and loaded our baggage in his car. We were booked at the Sofitel Hotel on Collins Street in CBD area, where we headed immediately. On reaching there we were told that there may be a long wait till our room got ready. We had a light breakfast at the Atrium Bar of the hotel, and managed to get our room just before noon. A welcome shower, and we were ready to go by 2 pm.

One of the nice things about Melbourne is the free tram service all through the CBD area. There was a tram stop just outside our hotel, where we boarded a tram to Queen Victoria Market. Roamed around this very interesting market, and then hopped on to another tram to Flinders Street. We crosses the bridge on foot, past Federation Square, to the Arts Centre Makers market, which operates on Sundays, and had an interesting walk through the pavement stalls.

From here we took a taxi to St Kilda area, where we had heard a very nice Sunday market springs up. Alas, it was a cold and windy day, and the market had folded up early. The waterfront looked nice, and the pier looked inviting, but it was too cold and windy to venture anywhere. Having had a late breakfast, we had skipped lunch, and we ducked indoors into an Italian restaurant for some pizza. We called up some old friends from India, now settled in Melbourne, and set up a meeting with them at our hotel for 6:30 pm. We took another taxi back, and were overjoyed to meet our friends whom we had not seen for 16 years. We all caught up with old times and current affairs of our lives, and went to some nearby restaurant for Mexican food. The food was average, but the evening was great, and we all had a lovely reunion. Finally, returned to our hotel and crashed into bed at 10 pm.

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