Since our last blog, we've met up with a few familiar faces and had some good days and nights out in Melbourne.
We went to Melbourne Zoo a few weeks ago...we thought maybe we had overdone the zoo and wildlife park thing, but it was actually a decent zoo where a lot of the animals weren't surrounded by cages or glass - just hedges and riverbanks, so you could get a good look and some good pics. Think we've bored everyone with enough animal pics by now, but Ben got a brilliant picture of a Gorilla striking a pose, so we had to include that one!
One night, just before christmas, we went to a themed restaurant called Dracula's where your ticket price includes a 3 course meal and then a cabaret show described as 'A retro Goth comedy show, featuring Vampire themed variety acts that spring straight out of South London's popular electro rock era of the 1980's'. We thought it sounded a bit different, and we managed to blag half price tickets so we gave it a go.
When we got there, it was all a bit weird...all the staff where in full costume, vampire and
gothic outfits and loads of face paint and they were all acting in character. We got into the bar, got ourselves a drink and then had to get on the ghost train to get to the restaurant.
We sat down at our table and ordered our food and drink. Absolutely everything was themed....there were plastic glow-in-the-dark spiders decorating the cocktails and the dessert was a chocolate mousse served in a dark chocolate coffin! The cabaret show was good. It was part comedy, part magic, part music and very entertaining. Unfortunately you weren't allowed to take any pictures in there, so we can't share any with you.
We got together with the two English girls we met on the pirate ship in the Whitsundays, Keri and Lauren. We went to their hostel as it has a bar with ridiculously cheap drinks and drank too much wine! The guy who worked behind the hostel bar, called Larry, was a really nice guy and Keri and Lauren had got to know him quite well from staying in the hostel. By the end of the night, we had been invited to Larry's for a BBQ on Christmas Day (along with Keri and
Lauren). He told us he lived really close to a stretch of beach, so that was it. A done deal!
On the actual day, we headed over to Larry's place and there were about 10-12 other people - all waif and stray backpackers that Larry had taken in on Christmas Day! They were a mixture of English, Scottish, Irish and Canadian. Everyone was really nice. Larry and the girls had been to this huge market the day before and bought an insane amount of food - mostly seafood - for us all to eat and we just split the cost between us. We had prawns, scallops, octopus, squid, snapper....the works! All cooked on the BBQ. A very exotic Christmas Dinner for us Brits.
After we'd finished eating, we took some drinks down to the beach, and chilled out there for a couple of hours. It was about 26c, so it was a nice day for it. It was a good day, and a nice change compared to what we're used to on Christmas Day, but I have to say, it really doesn't feel like Christmas when it's warm.
Another trip we've done recently, is the Penguin Parade,
which is something I've been wanting to do since we left the UK! I love penguins and I've never seen them in the wild. There is a small island south of Melbourne called Philip Island, and every night at dusk, the Little Penguins (they are native to Australia and NZ and they're only about 30cm tall) waddle out of the ocean in groups and walk up the beach to their sand dune burrows.
They are really cute and they tend to walk out of the water, take a few steps, but then they get a bit scared and run back in. They can do this over and over again! Obviously a big tourist attraction has been made out of this, as it's just nature at it's best and it is a bit of a novelty.
You can watch them coming out of the ocean for about half an hour or so, then walk over to the burrows and see them feeding their chicks and just generally waddling around. It was good to see, but unfortuntately the crowds did ruin it a bit. It's the summer holidays here at the moment, so everywhere is really busy. On top of
that, the people that run the penguin parade sell double the amount of tickets they should do really, as it's just too cramped and people who get there last are fighting for a seat. Still, I'm glad we saw it, it was an experience.
Finally...New Year's and Ben's 30th birthday! We decided to have a quiet one on New Year's Eve as it's the same drama here that it is at home...you pay double the amount to be squashed into an overfilled room and have to wait half an hour to get a drink!
So we just went to this small, intimate restaurant, not far from where we're staying and had a yummy meal and a few drinks (they weren't charging any extra because it was new year's eve which was good). Then after, that we went back to our studio, and as there is a rooftop area on the 7th floor, we went up there for midnight and watched the big city fireworks display. Ben didn't want to do much for his birthday (in denial I think?!), so we just called that his birthday celebrations too. You can see his reaction to turning 30 in the last
We have just a week left in Australia now and then we go to New Zealand! We're going to do the Neighbours tour tomorrow (Ben's pretending he doesn't want to do it, but I'm not too sure) and then we are hitting the Great Ocean Road in a camper for a few days!
We'll blog on that soon hopefully.
Lots of love
Maria and Ben
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