Travel Guide- Mornington Peninsula

Mornington PeninsulaI work in a hotel. I used to work at the local Visitor Info Centre. These are the answers to most of the questions I have been asked on a near daily basis for years…

The Mornington Peninsula is a very popular holiday destination just outside of Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne (about an hours drive if the traffic isn’t too terrible). There is something for everyone- beaches, wineries, mazes, old forts, amazing cafés, and so much more. I thought I’d put together a simple guide for everyone planning to come visit or perhaps inspire some to come!

Let’s start with the food & drinks. The Mornington Peninsula is not short on eateries or places to drink (these two often go hand in hand). You can probably find somewhere new to eat everyday of the year and not get bored!

Eat & Drink

Cafés

  • Merchant & Maker, McCrae. I had the pancakes with Apple Mousse and it was devine. I was pretty impressed with the coffee too!
  • Cakes & Ale, Sorrento.
  • Picknics, Rye
  • Dee’s Kitchen, Dromana.
  • Blue Mini Café, Rosebud. This place is a quirky one! It’s out in the industrial estate in Rosebud in a former bowling alley. Sells gifts and homewares as well.
  • Peninsula Pantry, Rye
  • A Mini Kitchen, Rye
  • Winey Cow, Morington
  • The Counting House, Mornington
  • Merricks General Wine Store, Merricks
  • Flinder’s Bakehouse Café
  • Laneway Espresso, Dromana
  • Via Boffe, Mornington

Restaurants

  • Eighteen78, Mornington. This is a different kind of restaurant. It’s all about the Chef’s tasting menus so you choose the number of courses (3, 5, or 7) and if you want the wine pairing menu to go with!
  • Marco Polo, Mornington – Afghan
  • Milbri, Rosebud
  • MAX’S at Red Hill Estate
  • D.O.C, Mornington
  • Ten Minutes by Tractor, Red Hill
  • Soy, Mornington – Chinese
  • Linden Tree at Lindenderry, Red Hill – fine dining at it’s best
  • The Rocks, Mornington
  • Foxey’s Hangout, Red Hill- unpretentious winery setting with great food!
  • Loquat, Sorrento
  • Red Hill Brewery, Red Hill South. This brewery has beer plus a proper restaurant.

Bars & Wine

  • Mornington Brewery, Morington. There’s pizza and beer brewed on site. What could be better?!
  • Sound Bar, Rosebud West
  • Claret & Co, Sorrento
  • Independent Wine Store, Rye- also do cheese boards and the like
  • Two Buoys, Dromana- Tapas and popular for drinks

Pamper & Relax

  • Peninsula Hot Springs, Fingal. On site café, private pools, massage, and plenty of outdoor heated pools. Book ahead and try to go during off peak times as it gets stupidly busy.
  • Red Hill Spa, Red Hill. Facials, Massage, Spa soaks, everything you expect from a Day Spa.
  • Endota Day Spa, Mornington & Moorooduc.

Fun & Games

Sightseeing

  • Cape Schanck Lighthouse
  • Point Nepean Quarantine Station and Army forts
  • Charlie’s Auto Museum, Arthurs Seat
  • Sorrento Rock Pools, Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento Back Beach
  • McCrae Homestead, McCrae

 

Something I’ve missed? Any questions? Email me!!

Gift Ideas for the Avid Traveller…

I’ve been asked this question over and over, not yet what to get me but also friends and family who are heading off. So, I thought I’d answer in the form of this post.

travel gift idea 2

  1. Eagle Creek packing cubes. I love these! They keep everything organised in my backpack and suitcase!
  2. Microfibre Towel. I have two of these from Kathmandu and they have come in handy time and time again in hostels and whilst camping!
  3. Bobino Cord Wrap. Stops cords getting tangled in bags! I have these in a couple of sizes for headphones and charger cables.
  4. Eagle Creek Pac-it Sacs. I have 3 of these in different sizes for keeping odds & ends together. The largest one usually holds shoes.
  5. Kobo Glo e-readerThis thing is great for anyone who loves to read whilst travelling anywhere! It’s light, holds thousands of books and has wifi so you can download more books on the road!

travel gift idea 4

  1. Scarf with secret pocket. On the road, keep your passport close, hidden, and away from thieves.
  2. Compass necklaceMakes a great keepsake or momento.
  3. Compass Earrings. You can also find rings and a variety of metals.
  4. Map face Watch. Everytime they look at the time they can be reminded of the world.
  5. Map Skirt. I was a little excited when I spotted this on Modcloth! 

travel gift idea 3

  1. Scratch Map. Great for keeping track of where you’ve been and where you’re yet to go.
  2. Lonely Planet’s The Travel BookMy sister bought me this and I love it!
  3. Map Cushions. Decorator’s delight
  4. World Map Mug in a Tin. Remind them of the world every morning!

travel gift idea 1

  1. Kikki.k Travel document walletAny organised traveller will love this leather wallet for holding tickets and passports
  2. Tieks folding ballet flatsAny stylish traveller will appreciate these leather flats that fold to save space.
  3. Longchamp Le Pliage totePerfect for carry-on and folds for easy storage.
  4. Kikki.k Passport coverKeep your passport safe and stylish.
  5. Kikki.k Travel JournalTake on every journal to document everything you see & do.
  6. Hedgren shoulder bagWith it’s reinforced shoulder strap it’s perfect for wanderings around any foreign city.

Need more ideas? Keep an eye on my Pinterest boards!

Carry on Ready…

There are some things that I like to have close by when I’m travelling, be that by plane, train, car, boat or bus. They keep me amused, happy, comfortable, and organised. Carry on ready

  1. Kobo Glo e-reader. The first e-reader I bought, I accidentally left on a Qatar Airways flight from Copenhagen to Doha (I was most upset that I couldn’t finish my book on the Doha-Melbourne leg). My sister gave me a voucher to get a new one and I gotta say, I love the Glo. It has a back light that’s easy on the eyes and allows you to read in the dark (plus the battery life is excellent).
  2. Urbanears ‘Platten’ Headphones. I love these, they’re comfortable, colourful, fold up and the sound is great. I also have an airline headphone adaptor (eBay, under $3) so don’t need to use the crappy airline headphones.
  3. Travel Pillow. This was a great purchase! It converts from a U-shape to a rectangle and has a clip to hook on to bags.
  4. Hand Cream. I know I’m not the only person whose skin dries out on planes. This stuff lives next to me at home and it’s no different when I’m travelling. This Sukin one is my favourite- I have it in my bag, car, at work, and on my bedside table! (I use several other products of their’s too.)
  5. Kikki.k travel document wallet. I hate not knowing where my tickets are and this keeps everything together in one stylish leather wallet.
  6. Snacks. Buying snacks on budget airlines can be expensive and there’s no guarantee that they’ll have something you’ll like. Stock up at the supermarket before you head to the airport!

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  1. Change of clothes. If it’s a long haul flight, I like to have a change of clothes in my carry-on. Flying between Europe and Australia, there’s always at least one stop en-route and it feels much better to board that second (or third) flight in fresh clothes (or fresh undies at least!).
  2. Wet Wipes. Great for a refresh or cleaning sticky fingers.
  3. Hand Sanitiser. This is always in my handbag and my carry-on. Nothing worse than picking up a bug on the road.

Anything I’ve missed? Email me or comment and let me know!

Always packed…

There are certain things that I always pack when I travel to foreign places. They help to keep me organised, comfortable, and ready for anything.

Always Packed

  1. Eagle Creek Packing Cubes. I have had these since my first trip over ten years ago and they are still going strong! I have a couple, including a double-sided one, to keep tops and undies organised and separated from the dirty things.
  2. Bobino Cord wrap. My godmother bought me one of these a few years ago and I loved it! I now have them in a couple of sizes to keep cords neat and tangle free.
  3. Notebook. I don’t take a travel journal with me these days but I always have a notebook handy. I write places to visit, things to see, recipes, and anything else that comes to mind when on the road. Don’t forget to bring pens too!
  4. Travel Towel. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says “you’ve got to know where your towel is” and I think it’s spot on advice! It’s great to take swimming, use in hostels, and wiping of the sweat after a long day!
  5. Eagle Creek Wallaby Toiletries kit. This one is great. The hook is perfect for hanging on rails and out of the wet and there is plenty of space inside for everything a girl could need whilst on the move.
  6. Fleece jumper. I never leave home without a comfy fleece. It doesn’t matter where you’re going, you always need to keep warm at some point!
  7. Rain Jacket. I was caught out in the rain without a jacket once (thanks Scottish weather) and will never let that happen again.
  8. Dry Sac. I bought a dry sac from Kathmandu after I spent 2 hours walking in the sleet in Switzerland and destroyed my passport with water (never easy to get a new passport when abroad!).

Recipe: Muesli

When I woke up this morning, the worst thing had happened: I’ve lost my voice! With nothing else wrong with me, I thought I’d stay at home and make a couple of things I’ve been meaning to do for a little while.

First up, Muesli. I love muesli for breakfast- toasted fruit and nut with yoghurt usually. What I don’t like is what I was reading on the back of the muesli packaging of the varieties in my local supermarket. Sugar? Salt? Are these two things really needed in muesli? I thought not and set about making my own and haven’t looked back. There are two big pluses to making your own muesli. Firstly, you can put in just about anything that takes your fancy and minus all the things you don’t like. Secondly, It’s so much cheaper! You spend a little more initially getting all the ingredients together but you get so much more! It’s also fairly straightforward to make albeit a little time consuming but stores really well in an airtight containers in the pantry.

In my muesli:

  • Rolled oats
  • Slivered almonds
  • Pepetas
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Honey roasted macadamias
  • Natural bran
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries, blueberries and goji berries

I toast the oats and nuts in a moderately low oven until lightly toasted, drizzle honey over the macadamias and toast them separately to the rest. Then mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and when cool, place into airtight containers. Voila! I do the oats and nuts/seeds on separate trays as I find the oats take longer to toast. Sometimes I like to drizzle a bit of honey on the oats or sprinkle cinnamon into the mix.

Muesli

I’ve made this for gifts for friends and family, just put it in a nice jar with a ribbon!

Peru! Lake Titicaca and Lima

I couldn’t go to Peru without seeing Lake Titicaca and the famous floating reed islands. This is the highest navigable lake in the world and I spent way too long on boats on it. I get seasick so this expedition took a lot anti-nausea tablets!

Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca

When I booked the tour of the Lake, I was under the impression that we’d be on a new, comfortable, fast boat. That was far from being the case. The boat we were on was old, smelled of diesel, only 5 people were allowed on the roof deck at a time in case it collapsed. Definitely not up to code!

The floating reed islands
The floating reed islands

It’s amazing that these reed islands don’t float all over the lake! The locals have mastered not only layering up the reeds to hold large amounts of weight but also the art of anchoring them to the lakebed.

After exploring the islands and enjoying a ride on a reed boat, it was time to head to Isla Amataní for lunch and to meet up with our hosts for our Island home stay. Myself and my friend paired up with an English couple and were hosted in a quaint blue house by __ and her gorgeous 8 year old daughter.

 

Amantini Island
Isla Amantaní- views from our home stay.

When we arrived, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. After lunch, we started to walk to the top of the Island and a storm started rolling in. We got to the top, took some pictures, and made it back to the house just as the heavy hail began.

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Top of Isla Amantaní

The next day, there was still hail on the ground but the sun was up and it was another beautiful day. We got back on the rickety boat and headed for Isla Taquile.

We had lunch on Isla Taquile at an outdoor restaurant with gorgeous views before heading back to Puno and the end of the tour.

Isla Taquile
Isla Taquile

After Lake Titicaca, it was time to head back to Cusco before flying to Lima and from there, home.

Lima
Lima- found Paddington Bear!

We had a full day in Lima and spent most of it walking along the cliff top paths and laying in the parks of Miraflores. We spent the better part of the afternoon watching the paragliders taking off and land, drinking fresh squeezed pineapple juice, and relaxing.

Lima
Lima- the Christmas decorations at the shopping centre were amazing.

Although this was a whirlwind tour, I loved every moment. There is so much still that I haven’t seen but that just means I get to plan a trip back!

 

Peru! The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The trek is four days (well really 3, the last day is hardly anything). Beginning at KM82 and ending at Machu Picchu, it’s challenging but well worth the blisters and painful knees. Even in the rain. Along the way, you hike over Dead Woman’s Pass (4200 metres above sea level), see inca ruins and walk on some original Inca paths. Day one is easy, it’s a leisurely stroll compared to what’s to come.

Inca Trail day one
Inca Trail day one

Day two is the hardest, the hike ascends nearly 500 metres up to Dead Woman’s pass and is tough. It left me gasping and with low blood oxygen levels (yep, altitude sickness is a bitch). The walk down to campsite is tough on the knees- I was grateful for my walking poles then.

creek crossing on the Inca trail
creek crossing on the Inca trail
Dead Woman's Pass. The highest point on the Inca Trail
Dead Woman’s Pass. The highest point on the Inca Trail

Day three was flat compared to Day two. It’s the day you walk through the cloud forest and 90% of the path is original Incan paths. It’s beautiful. The narrow stone paths, tunnels and Incan ruins along the way all tease at how close you are to the end.

Intipata on the Inca Trail
Runkurakay on the Inca Trail
Incan tunnels and paths
Incan tunnels and paths
Intipata
Intipata

Day four. You’re up at 330am so the porters can pack up the campsite and run down the mountain to catch the only morning train they’re allowed on home. It’s a short walk to gates of the National Park (which doesn’t open until 5am) and from there it’s not long until you reach the  Sun Gate where (weather permitting) you get your first look at Machu Picchu.

Machu PIcchu
Machu Picchu

The day I arrived it was rainy and foggy. We didn’t see anything until we walked into the ruins proper. I didn’t care. It was my birthday, I had hiked for days with a seriously painful hip, ruined my knees on the descents and made it to the top of the mountain. I set the challenge months ago and succeeded. It was worth the pain, the cold, the wet. I won’t be doing it again though.

Peru! Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Wow! My trip to Peru has come and gone and now I’m left with a living room full of dirty clothes and souvenirs!

My first challenge was getting to Cusco: from Melbourne that involves four flights. In Lima we had to clear customs, drop our bags and board the final flight to Cusco. The airline lost my bag. The result was that I missed the connecting flight and LAN put me up in a 5 star hotel in Lima until I could get another flight!

Having made it to Cusco, I had no idea how the altitude would effect me. Not well evidently. I live at sea level, Cusco is more than 1000 metres higher than the highest point in Australia. No amount of preparation at home could have prepared me of that. I felt dizzy and slightly sick but pushed through it. It’s all part of travelling to new places. Stairs, however, were not my friend.

La Catedral on Plaza de Armas, View down Choquechaka, Cristo Blanco overlooking Cusco

My first visit to an Incan site was at Sacsaywamán. It’s an Inca ruin of both religious and military significance. Although it seems huge, only about 20% of what once was stands today. The Spanish conquistadors tore down many walls to build their own buildings. (You can read more about the site here.)

Sacsaywamán

After a few days acclimatising in Cusco, It was time to join up with the tour to hike the Inca trail. I couldn’t do that without being my usual clumsy self and slipping in street (after having some Pisco Sours) and pinching a nerve in my hip. Ouch. Being stubborn, I refused to let that hold me back. I was going to be at Machu Picchu for my birthday and I was not getting there the easy way!

Before beginning the trek, we got to visit a small village where the local ladies were making yarns from Alpaca fleece in the traditional way and weaving. It was a lovely insight into the work of making many of the souvenirs I’ve bought for friends and family (gloves, jumpers, scarves and a blanket)

Weaver, alpaca, and hand dyed wool
Weaver, alpaca, and hand dyed wool

We also visited two Incan sites at Pisac and Ollantaytambo- a teaser of what was still to come.

 

Pisac
Pisac
Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo

Reupholstering Chairs

I’ve reupholsted a few chairs, the first ones being very simple- stapling fabric to the bases and gluing them back down.

The first chair I reupholstered- my mother's old bentwood chairs that now live in my kitchen/ dining room
The first chair I reupholstered- my mother’s old bentwood chairs that now live in my kitchen/ dining room

The hardest part about this chair was cutting the foam for the cushion.

The next chair I did was a little trickier- still not too difficult though. All I had to do with this one was remove the old fabric (it was a blue rose pattern), use that as a template for the new fabric, and then staple the new fabric to the chair.

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I was really proud of how this chair turned out- it now lives in the corner of my room in front of the window

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The next two chairs were the hardest. I bought them for $15 for the pair and it was a mission just getting them into the car!

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One of them was more damaged than the other so I decided to fix it up and paint over the damage. I choose to paint it in the British Paints “grand turquoise” colour that I had leftover from the bedside table.

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The other one was in near perfect condition so I chose to sand it back and re-vanish it.

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The wood under the stain was a gorgeous colour! Next up was fabric choices! I went with a grey hexagon pattern for the turquoise chair and couldn’t decide on the wood one so I left it for several weeks before finding the yellow spot fabric on a clearance table!

The hardest part was making new slipcovers for the cushions. I unstitched the old ones and used the pieces as a template- allowing extra fabric around the edges and then took my time stitching it together. image

I was much faster on the second chair covers!

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I couldn’t be happier with the end results!

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The turquoise chair lives in my living room and is my favourite spot to read in and probably the most fought over spot when I have friends/family around.
The yellow spot chair was sold to a lady at work for $50 and looks perfect in her living room- like it was always meant to be there!