May 26th – Paris

Back in Paris, our fav city in EU, Paris has such a different vibe to all other cities…. we could keep coming here over and over.

First stop was the Louvre, not going inside but taking in the atmosphere on the top courtyard and of-course more pics

Roaming around the Louvre Courtyard done , next we headed to Cafe Le Nemours – just around the corner from where we were – it was brunch time. The place was full, but finding a table for 2 was achievable, only had to wait around 5 mins and we were soon seated.

Good Brunch and recharging done. Time for some exploring and burning off the calories, walking through the arch-way next to it, we were surprised with what we saw. We were at Jardin du Plalais Royal – Nita had wanted to visit these gardens in this trip , we had loved this place in 2018 but had no idea this was right next to Louvre – last time we Uber’d to it and here it was – well one more tick done 😉

Lots of walking around, we made our way on foot from here to Champs Élysées.
Took a pit stop for a coffee refresher at Four Seasons – we remember the Hot Chocolate we had got for Neha during our last visit there, it was soo good, had to try it again.
Four Seasons is just wow!! Enter into a world of fresh flowers – they did not skimp on flowers, they are everywhere.
The bar we sat in in 2018 was closed today, however we did get a seat at the La Galleria – this is the place we wanted in 2018 but due to no space we sat in the Bar !

Had a nice table overlooking the courtyard, ordered our coffees and the Napolean cake recommended by our wait staff.
It was good to be seated after all that walking, time to relax. Our coffees and cake arrived soon after.
The cake was to die for, not too sweet, the flaky layers were perfect – and the sauce all made it sooo yumm!!

Next to our table were as an American couple on holidays, we began chatting with them and found out how they had to get COVID tests done before flying out – it made it hard for them to be holidaying and making sure to keep themselves super safe for the test results. On that side of things, we were super lucky that Australia did not have that requirement. Was good chatting with them and their holiday so far.

After about 1 hour plus at the coffee pit stop, we were back on the streets , time to explore Champs-Élysées – or more for Nita to explore her stores ;).

Nita made the key stops at her fav beauty stores, then it was time to make our way back to the hotel to relax a bit. In the evening we had an 8pm reservation at KONG – Nita had booked that place a month back from AU. Pictures did look good, fingers crossed the food lived up to the pics. This restaurant was also used in a scene from Sex in the City.

Our UBER got us there just after 7:45pm, a shot walk around and then it was up the lift to this interesting place.
It was dimly lit with nice relaxing vibe to it.
The front door person checked our reservations and guided us to our table.
It was weird, it was all dimly lit with not many windows, but the pics were showing of a DOME style environment with lots of windows looking outside.
Well that view was next, the entry is on the lower flower and then they guides us up an internal round stair case, revealing the DOME upper level – WOW!! This was very cool, a top level floor with an almost 360 degree view … almost as the end of the hallway was not fully glass covered.
But this place was so so cool, amazing views from here, we got seated next to a window 🙂 – YAY!! The place was packed and tables were close to each other, however being next to the window, it did not give that feeling of being to close to all – hint, get a window table booking, definitely worth it.

Food was a surprise, we were expecting lack lustre food, as the star dish was the view, however were pleasantly surprised to have got amazing flavours – hands down very good Asian fusion + they had great cocktails. A very good fun first dinner in Paris for this trip :).
Headed out to the Pont Neuf bridge – a stones throw away.
This bridge is where we took a ton of pics when we were here with the family n friends group in 2018. What a place and great memories.

It was a good finish to the night, time for the Uber back to the hotel and a pic with the Domino’s just around the corner from our Hotel.

The Domino’s next to our hotel
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May 25th – Utrecht to Paris

Last day of working from Utrecht completed and we were on a 8pm flight to Paris.
Arrived around 4pm to the Hotel, Nita was almost all packed, couple of checks and we were headed to the Utrecht central station to take our train to Schiphol Airport – due to the afternoon and long wekeend traffic Kaos, was recommended to the take the train to the Airport rather the risk being stuck on the highway in Taxi. The train to the airport was super quick, and super easy.
We were soon checked-in and avoided the massive checkin queues all thanks to being Business Class.
Got lucky with that, apparently buying economy internal flights with baggage was equal to a business class ticket!! So they flew us Business for the internal flights 🙂 – not complaining.
Made our way to the lounges to now chill and replay our amazing experiences so for. Next stop was Nita’s fav and you could not keep the smile off her face – we was so looking forward to Paris.

Flight was smooth and we arrived in Paris on time, just past 9:30pm.
Grabbed a Taxi and were on our way to our Hotel in the Opera area. Unfortunately with the EUFA finals on the same weekend, accommodation was scarce and prices were super high, IBIS it was in Paris, but the location was bang on, it was as I had asked to be placed in the Opera area.

Hotel check in all done, now it was time to relax and look forward to the long weekend!
Tomorrow was a public holiday and I took Friday off as Annual leave, allowing us to get a long 4 days of free time to roam about.

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May 16th – 24th Utrecht

Summarising these into one post. During this period, I was at work daily so it was not really holidays and there were only a few pics of us dining out etc.
Covering these days with pics

Dominos EU HeadOffice
This was my office for the next 8 days, located in an industrial area a good 25 mins uber ride from central – no easy way to get there and not much around the office, but the office itself was so much more nicer than the AU office.

Typical night time working from the Hotel – COGNAC goes very well

So many good breakfast spots in Utrecht, Anna Pancakes is one we found from online reviews, highly recommend this place. I small nook that serves the most amazing variety of pancakes + they have good coffees!

Utrecht has many many canals all lined with great food / coffee nooks – we were making the most of the sites and trying different places. As with all places, there were one or two places that were not so great, but overall we were happy with the variety of monrning and afternon tea/coffee experiences we had

Outing with my EU Team
Took out my EU team on a drinks and dinner. Nita got to meet, Priya, Akshay and Gopi. Amazing bunch. Priya helped Nita by locating and getting for her a special Tandoori Marsala that we last picked up in London in 2018.

Best food at De Goedheyd

Best and the most amazing surprise menu food we have had to date @ “De Goedheyd“, my colleague Jeffrey Berend took Nita and I to this special place.
The Surprise menu indeed a surprise, such an amazing experience, no menus – just chatting with the Chef’s on what we dont like and then let it all start :). All meals paired with perfect matching wines.
Big advantage I had was going with a local , else I may never had tried this place!!
Highly recommended

Amsterdam day visit – Work meeting with Snowflake @ Amsterdam, planned afternoon catchup with Nita, experienced the best Indian in NL – Anjappar – recommended by my work colleagues. Wow this place is amazing , nice spicy varieties from the south – I just wish we had more people so we could try other dishes, well something for next times.

Lots of Dinners and Dessert options – it was a hit n miss but then that is the fun with exploring

Another Surprise menu dinner
After the De Goedheyd experience, we wanted more of that, and ended up at “El Qatarijne”. Whilst not to the level of De Goedheyd, this was very good. It puts itself as taking the flavours from the Easts and modernising it – I think they did it well. I also met a look-a-like of Bachan from Cheeni Kum, just wish I also met Tabu!!

Sights across Utrecht, so many canal walks, above and near the water, and then there were hidden gems – this place has so grown on us both, prefer this over Amsterdam so much – it is compact and has it all

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May 15th – Rotterdam

It was Windmill viewing today, at Kinderdijk in Rotterdam, we had booked that back in Australia – try and book this in advance, once a month on a Sunday they have an open day where a lot more windmills are open for viewing.

Another early start – taking a 7:15am train to Rotterdam. Train ride was not too long with great views of a different side of NL.

At Rotterdam central, we took an Uber to the Waterbus statation- it is a great means to get to the Windmills, a nice water ride across Rotterdam.

Finally made it to Kinderdijk, a short walk from the water taxi stop and we were soon looking at an amazing sight – farmland with Windmills !!

Windmill touring done, made our way back via the Waterbus to Rotterdam , now for some local sight seeing, including the Market Hall and Cube houses. We took the scenic walk from the waterbus station to the Markethall passing the maritime area. Being a warm day, that walk was getting a bit uncomfortable – we both hate touring in warm weather, it just gets so uncomfortable and tiring :(.

By the time we reached Market hall, we were tired, the heat was draining. First stop a long lunch break, found a nice place in the Market Hall.

Got a much needed break, had enough energy to walk around Market Hall to see some of the vast array of food stalls – picked up some nut varieties to munch along for the next few days.

Directly outside were the cube houses, great no need to walk much.

Post that we decided to head back to Utrecht, avoiding stretching ourselves too much, I needed to be in a good state for my first day at the NL Head Office.

That evening we went to Namaskar Indian restaurant in Utrecht, wanted something spicy – unfortunately the Google reviews did not live up to it, I would rate this place very very bad, please avoid.

We were done early, decided to walk around the place and see the evening buzz on a Sunday. Lots of people eating out. Stopped by for some Gelato and made our way back to the hotel.

Gelato @ Utecht

Called it an early night , tomorrow was back to work.

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May 14th – Amsterdam

Finally putting my lazy self aside and getting to writing the blog for our NL work/personal trip. Better late then never, this late also means I may have forgotten a few things….will try my best.

We headed out to Amsterdam for a day trip. Were last here with our friends in 2018 during our Cruise and had some amazing memories then.
Took the train from Utrecht to Amsterdam, did not realise how easy train travel was here – highly recommend this mode of transport in NL, super efficient and so cost effective. Got an early start to make the most of the day.

Arrived in Amsterdam in just under 40 mins, it was a glorious day – clear skys and not too warm, allowing lots of walking without getting tired. Time to start walk-abouts.

We were getting peckish, had skipped breakfast, time for some brunch. Walking around the amazing canals and narrow laneways, found a hotel with a nice outside seating overlooking a canal. Had a nice recharge there.

Recharge done, now for some more roaming around…. found an amazing cookie shop, they baked the freshest bestest cookies!!! Must try for anyone coming here. it is called “HET KOEKEMANNETJE”.

We clocked a fair bit of steps today, it was getting close to 2pm, time for a late lunch – did not want anything heavy and opted for Sushi at Shiso – a great place – the Google reviews were right. Sushi here was perfect and just what we needed.

It was then walking about a bit more before heading back to Utrecht. Made it back for a coffe and then to the hotel to rest a bit.

Nita had booked dinner at at Cantina De David – an Italian restaurant that was very highly rated and required bookings to be made weeks ahead. Food was great but the most amazing part was the location and where we were seated, it was like an underground shelter.

Great finish to the night, it had been a long day for us but what made it interesting was the daylight that stayed till around 10pm!

Tomorrow we were off to see the Windmills at Rotterdam.

View from our hotel room – around 9:30pm.
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May 13th – Fly into Amsterdam

This is not entirely a holiday, am Business travelling to EU for 3 weeks and Nita is tagging along – the girls are older and want to do things by themselves, which gave Nita a chance to get some “me” time.

It was still a hard slog for both me and Nita to get out, I have been massively swamped at work in the last few weeks and could not help Nita much with planning her side, whilst she was super scared / nervous on leaving Neha & Pooja behind. For the last 2 weeks Nita had been planning what to cook for the girls and freeze it, what to prepare for them and more importantly getting both the girls more hands on with cooking. After a crazy 2 weeks, the girls seemed ready, they both were now more excited to be cooking entirely themselves, plus we had so much family and friends support (we are truly blessed), it was really not that stressful towards the end.
In between this craziness, Nita was sorting out our weekend bookings in EU, lots of great places and restaurants to visit and book.

12th May 9pm was our Emirates flight from Brisbane to Dubai. We got to the airport just after 6:15pm. This was my first visit to the international terminal since the COVID lockdowns begun in 2020. Place was so empty with all shops closed on level 4!
Emirates had the only counters opened with long queues.
After a 30 min queue time, we were finally checked-in and through immigration quickly – one thing with COVID travel, the immigration queues were non-existent!!

Editing Pooja’s essay before boarding our flight

Our flight departed about 15 mins late (apparently the catering truck was stuck behind the aircraft!!).
It was going to be a long 14 hours of sitting in a tin can before it lands in Dubai.
The aircraft was great, we were in an A380 and I was very impressed with the Economy seats, leg room and comfort level was up there – obviously business class would be amazing but this was good. Food was not the best, or maybe Malaysian airlines had us spoiled – during our last EU vacation , all their meals to and from EU were super duper – 5 stars to Malaysian airlines for food, with Emirates I would rate it at 4.
Although the seats were comfortable, there is something about being able to sleep in a seat and not lying down…this I cannot get used to. The most I could get was around an 30-45 mins of sleep at a time. My downloads of the Netflix show – F1 Drive to Survive, kept me going in between. Nita did manage to get a bit more sleep than me but again that was not much in the scheme of things.

We landed in Dubai 30 mins ahead of schedule, it was 4:45 am local time with a 3 hour layover. First some real food, we opted for the Lebanese Breakfast – the place looked great. Food was much better than what we was provided on Emirates flight – good to eat some real food. What did surprise me was how expensive Dubai food was. A single croissant cost me $9 AUD – and I thought Darvella was expensive in Bulimba ;( !!

Nice Lebanese eatery @ Dubai airport
Breakfast time

Breakky revive done, time to look around a bit but the airport, unfortunately this airport is just not that interesting. Singapore airport is much better for a layover with more to do. It was getting time to checkin again for the next 7 hour leg to Amsterdam.

We got lucky with seating this time, had a vacant seat in our 3 row seats, much more room to relax. Flight departed on time and soon I was nodding off. This time around Nita was not able to get much sleep and since I was very already sleep deprived, it was hard for me to stay awake, and soon nodded off.

great when you have a spare seat – more stretching room!!

Flight was un-eventfull and soon we were landed in Amsterdam – local time was 1:30pm. The next step – immigration was hell!! The queues were so long, the entire immigration hall was filled. It took about an hour for us to get through it and then finally collected our luggage and out into a Taxi headed for Utrecht.

Arrived in Utrecht at our hotel in just over 30 mins, it was time to freshen up with a hot shower and then we hit the Utrecht streets. Nita wanted to get a feel of the place and get a bearing of where things were. I feel Utrecht is a smaller version of Amsterdam, much more relaxed without the tourists flocking.

Stopped for a coffee and cake, needed a coffee fix – something that was interesting, no one knew what lactose free milk was or did not stock it??? Nita was not impressed and she was then opting for English breakfast tea.

Back in the room for a bit more rest before heading out to the Miyagi & Jones Asian fusion place that Nita had booked from Brisbane.
Stepping outside, it was nice crisp fresh cold air. Well not COLD as per EU standards but cold for us. It was good walking around in freshness.

Quick 10 min walk and we were at Miyagi & Jones, the place was tucked in a alleyway with a few restaurants. Got seated in a nice area and soon were being explained the ordering process – via a TABLET!
Food was super duper, Asian fusion it was. We ordered a few small dishes to try em all – unfortunately I did not take pics of all of these. Great nite and finished off with a very nice oreo cheesecake … yumm!

It was then back to the hotel to hit the bed and get some much needed rest from the long flight.

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April 6th – Hobart last morning – fly back to Brisbane

Early start for me and Nita, we were moslty packed by 6am, and 6:30 we were out for the morning photo session. We have been doing this at multiple holidays destinations – where we get up super early and get to top vantage points for pics when there are limited to no crowds. Had done this already in London & Paris (twice), and with weather in our favour was not going to miss Hobart – had to drag Nita out of bed but it was all worth it.

Out on the streets at 6:30, the weather was clear and cold. Nice crisp morning breeze – air in Hobart is so fresh!
Headed to the water front area and setup my tripod. My sony a6000 is such a great workhorse – this has been my camera for the last 8 years and it works just as well today as when new. The best feature for me is the wifi operation, so love that, allows me to take so many great self shots. Most of these shots are via this mode.

Now to capture some pics…..

Hobart waterfront with Mt Wellington in the background

While setting up my tripod and camera, met Doc he was out for his regular jog! He is one committed man on staying healthy…. I need to do that! but for now for some self portraits

Photos done and we were back at the hotel room by 7:15am, to finish off packing.

We met Vik and Meeta at the lobby at 7:40am and loaded all our luggage in the car.
Next stop, walk to Daci Daci bakery for an early morning breakkie. Doc and Tina were not too keen on breakkie.
Final day walking in Hobart, just taking it all in.
Arrived at Daci Daci, this time we were seated inside.

Ordered our standard latte’s, Chicken Mushroom pastry, Croque Monsier & Almond crossiant to share.
Good relaxing time to replay our last few days of fun here.

Breakfast @ Daci Daci

Around 8:40, we left Daci Daci, a leisurely stroll back to the hotel. Took the waterfront route – last time to enjoy this scenery (for this trip).
Doc and Tina were already in the lobby, time to move their luggage into the car, quick re-checks and then we were off the to Airport.
Morning traffic was heavy, we had not experienced this in the last few days but it was still moving.

Got to the airport with loads of time, so had to be our flight got delayed by a further 20 mins.
Car dropped off, check in done now it was waiting in the lobby. Time for more coffees and washroom breaks.

On the plane, and home bound…good bye Hobart……till next time

We arrived in Brisbane just after 2, farewelled the gang and then taxi home.
Pooja was so excited to see us when we arrived!! Neha was at university so not meeting her till later in the evening.
For our welcome back the girls had gone early morning to Darvella to pick up some pastries for afternoon tea 🥰. So much love.

This had been a short burst of a great time with friends. Last 5 nights at Hobart had been amazing, with the best food, best drinks and the best company. Am so in love with Hobart, will need to come back here and bring Neha & Pooja with us.

Till the next post ….. ardios 🙂

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April 5th – Hobart – Bruny Island

Last full day. touring Bruny Island. First stop, coffee shop at Battery Point to pick up some Pastries, coffee’s to go. Not eating in, as that would take away more time from Bruny Island itself. Pit stop done, now back on the road.

Morning Pastry to go

Weather was not looking the best, a bit of rain coming through, fingers crossed it would clear by the time we reached the island.
Arrived at the ferry terminal – for those that do not know, Bruny Island access is via a ferry service that operates every 20 mins. No need to book, just rock up and queue for the next ferry. Cost is $46 / return per vehicle. This service is operated by Sealink.
Real easy, you just drive direct onto ferry and drive off once you reach. No getting out of the car!
Ferry time was just around 10 mins, it was docked and then one after another each car drove off the ferry – very neat!

Bruny map – Doc was navigating with key focus areas marked

We were on Bruny Island, first stop was the House of Whiskey. Lucky the rain had stopped or what appeared as not to have hit Bruny Island ;).

The Whiskey House

Great place to try some Tasmanian Whiskey and take in the nice surroundings. We ordered one round of tasting. Ladies were not too keen on the Whiskey’s.

Whiskey tasting @ House of Whiskey

Whiskey tasting @ 10:30 in the morning is so good when the weather is cold – does provide some natural heat!
Next stop was the Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Co.

This place was busy, we had to park on the road – the car park was full. The place had nice on-site fresh sourdough baked bread, plus good beer & gin range. Settled for a Cheese platter, Coffee and ofcourse some Gin tasting

A good break – energy refueling done, now to make our way down to The Neck! This is the thinnest part of the island, connecting both the north and south Islands.
It has a nice board walk with a brilliant 360 degree viewing platform at the highest point of the neck – be warned , it is more the 250+ steps to get up, but it is worth it.

Reaching the top was no easy feat, well not for me! But the view from the top is amazing – also make sure you bring your jacket – it sure is windy up here!
Whilst at the top, I approached a guy who was there with professional looking photography gear, whether he could take our group pic. He was really friendly and was more than happy to do it. He jumped on to a rock formation to get the height and helped us with some great shots.
Chatting with him further, realised he was a pro-photographer and was on the island for a 2 day shoot for an Air BnB property. He shared his instagram name – he has some very amazing pics of nature.

What goes up needs to come down, time to climb down all those stairs and head to our next stop that was lunch at Bruny Island Premium Wines. This was on the way to the light house.

Bruny Island Premium wine store front did not look much more than a big shed, but they did have a decent covered lunch area with heaters.
We ordered 3 lunch dishes to share – food was good but it did take a long time to come. Not ideal when we were on the clock to cover a few things.

Lunch break done, it was then time to head to the Light House – the lowest part of the island. This was around 30 mins away, not too far, but atleast 20 mins is driving through unsealed road. Lucky we had a rental, I would not want to take my car through this part of the road.

After a long stretch of noisy driving on the unsealed road, and the sound of pebbles hitting the bottom of the car – we finally arrived at the lighthouse. This drive was so worth it! Big cliffs on all sides with the light house proudly on the mountain top. Did not realise how windy it was until we got out of the car. Then it was a short trek to the lighthouse.

Whilst it was very cold this high up, the views were amazing! I took my time but the others were already making their way down.

Lighthouse was great, highly recommend you visit this place.
Now it was making our way to the Bruny Island Chocolate place – hoping to get some nice coffee there…. but that was not to be :(.
Reaching the Chocolate place, it was essentially a small store selling just chocolates but no hot drinks or sit down service. Ahh well, no luck there. We all bought some small pieces and then it was in the car again for the final stop – landing place of Captain Cook.
Expecting this to be something special – it was nothing but a single sign!!

Captain Cooks landing here,. not much else to see here other than this sign!!

ok now what, there was a nearby Jetty, Cheeky made the most of more pics opportunities

Bruny island was all done, it was a very nice quick tour of the island and we had covered some good spots. Unfortunately the Oyster shack was missed but you cannot cover everything. It had been a good day.
Now to head back to Hobart, as the time was still not late, we decided to go direct to Honey Badger Dessert cafe at Salamanca – this place shuts at 9 and we did not want to miss it. So why not have dessert first and then have dinner later!! Moved our booking for Monsoon Thai to just after 8 pm, and we were at Honey Badger around 5:15pm.

Ordered the much needed coffees plus three desserts. Whilst waiting for our order, I roamed around to the tassal Salmon shop – I see this brand of Salmon in Woolies all the time, good to see the actual store in Hobart.

Back at Honey Badger, coffees were arriving and then the big one – desserts – YUMM!

Desserts were devine!! This is a must visit. The best was the chocolate brownie in my opinion. Stickey Date and Cheesecake were not bad at all but the Choc Brownie was super.

We were back at the hotel by 6:15 pm and had a good hour n half to rest up. Then it was ubers to take us to the Thai Monsoon restaurant. The Thai Monsoon was recommended by PM, it was at Battery Point, a cute little restaurant. Restaurant’s here are so deceiving. From the outside they do not look like much but once inside this place was packed!

For the final night, we did not go for cocktails and opted for wines. Tina and Meeta had the sweet variety and the rest had reds.
Food was good and on par with the quality of Brisbane.
It was a good last night and great wine.

Back at the hotel, we all decided to leave for the airport at 9am tomorrow – it was time to say good bye :(.
That night I suggested to Nita that we go for an early morning waterfront photo shoot as the weather was looking better, Nita was not too keen but had convinced her otherwise. Lets see if we get up then we do photoshoot else it is simply packup.

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April 4th – Hobart – Mt Wellington, Port Arthor

The plan today was to head out to Mt Wellington, followed by lunch and Port Arthur visit.
Morning was free and as our planned departure to Mt Wellington was after 10am, we had time to squeeze in breaky and also a Hair appointment for Nita and Meeta. Ladies needed a hair recharge/refresh …not sure what the right term is, apparently the rain was making their hair hard to manage , I do not have a hair maintenance issue 😜 so hard for me to understand.
Doc & Tina wanted to take it easy this morning, so me, Nita, Cheeky and Meeta headed out early to to the Coffee/Breaky place near Salamance that we had seen busy on all days. Weather outside was great, we had sunshine and temparature was the standard 13-14 degrees , getting used to it now ;).

Instead of taking of water front route, this time I decided to take the city route and pass through some other areas – lucky we did that. After a good 10-15 walk, whilst we were making our way to Salamanca, we came across a very nice patisserie place – Daci Daci Bakers. It had the most amazing pastries and desserts! Had to stop there.

We chose to seat outside on the interesting seating area built onto the road itself – nothing like that could be allowed in Brisbane – QLD just seems so backwards with a lot of things, we are just a big nanny state :(.
Back to Daci Daci, we all ordered an Almond Crossiant, a Croque Monsier (fancy version of ham & cheese toastie), Mushroom & Chicken Pastry and coffees.
It was good to share it and not have a heavy breakfast. All the food was good and coffees were not too bad, not the best though – interestingly they did not have lactose free milk and only options were Soy or Almond :(.
Whilst enjoying the morning cool weather with this breakky, Doc jogged passed us – he is soo committed to running, a few mins chat and then he was off.

Finished here just before 9am – timing it to when hair saloons open, a quick walk to the mall area and we soon had Meeta & Nita in a saloon.
Not much else for me and Cheeky to do, already had a coffee, so just wondered about. Around 40 mins and the ladies were done. Made our way back to the hotel, Doc and Tina were already in the lobby ready – we all quickly got our stuff sorted and then it was time to head out.

Next stop – Mt Wellington – a 30 mins drive.

Was not long before we were driving up the steep incline of Mt Wellington. The weather was overcast which meant we did not have a clear sight of the top and had a lot of cloud cover higher up. It was only a few minutes of incline driving when we found ourselves driving through thick clouds or was it fog ?? Cloud or fog – it was getting thicker. Headlights were on and alertness level of Cheeky who was driving was on very high. On one side was the mountain rising and on the other was a massive drop… just have to stay in the middle. Slowlly we edged our way up and at times the clouds cleared entirely with clear visibility and sometimes it was so thick that visibility was only 5 meters or less.
At one point we pulled over as it seemed to dangerous to go up in these conditions, the place we pulled over deserved to have some pics taken…. time to get out my tripod for group pics.

Seeing more cars go up, and the clouds thinning, we decided to keep going up …. and it was definitely a good decision!
Reached the top, and wow, it was the most amazing rugged landscape with shear of clouds. Between the waves of clouds that blanketted this amazing landscape, we could make out these great mountain lines and falls.
The cloud sheers gave it a different feel – so glad we could experience that.

Light rain started , time to make our way back to the car and head down. Going below the cloud cover, weather was clear again – we found a great vantage point just below the cloud cover with views over Hobart. Weird, now the skys were clear blue on this side !!

Mt Wellington

Mt Wellington done ✅, now to make our way to lunch booked by Doc at Seagrass Long Point. Drive time was just under 20 mins.

View of Hobart from base of Mt Wellington

Seagrass Long Point, was directly next to the water, in a quiet beautiful surrounding.

Very nice lookout from here, the place was empty for lunch – maybe it is more a dinner place ??. Ordered a chowder to share and then some burgers. Not in the mood for any alcohol for lunch, most of the gang ordered a coffee. Nita opted for the Tumeric latte, I settled for my sparkling water. The Tumeric latte did look good but unfortunately the taste was a let down.
The burgers arrived but we were surprised to see the buns in charcoal colour !!! Hmmm interesting.
The flavour itself was not too bad, but it just was not that appetising 😦

Burgers at Seagrass – Black Buns!!

Not the best lunch but we did get great views. Lunch done, it was almost 2 pm, now to make the long drive to Port Arthur. (Port Arthur was not on our plans, however as we had this free afternoon, we decided to complete that).
Back in the car, time for another long car ride with music and laughs.

Around 3:15pm we reached Port Arthur, the site cloes at 5pm, and the carpark had a big sign that boom gates would close at 5, not sure which part would close but not wanting to be stuck here overnight, we quickly moved through the gates and into the Port Arthur site.

The place beyond the gates was very nice, so picturesque! Could not believe this place was once a jail for convicts, where the worst criminals were brought over.
We wondered around the place, a few interesting places and some great locations of pics.

Entering Port Arthur
Kudos to Meeta for framing this shot!

So much history at this place and it does make you wonder how people lived in those days. Cells were so small, less than a meter wide – unimaginable conditions!!

Port Arthur done, it was time to head back to Hobart, our Dinner was booked for 7pm – we still had enough time to pay the Bellerive Oval a visit along the way.

Saw the famouse Bellerive Oval and got a glimpse of the Ricky Ponting stand. We had not been inside the stadium but this was not bad.
That done, and it was only 6pm, headed out to a nearby waterfront marina we had seen earlier along they way to Bellerive – maybe we could do drinks there.
Getting there, it was not that great for drinks but there is always chance for more pics!!

Time for dinner, next stop was Pancho Villa, mexican!
Drive time was only about 10 mins – this place was just on the outskirts of the City area – so definitely no walking from our hotel.
It was in a street that closely resembled what we have in Paddington back in Brisbane – line of shops / restaurants on both sides in a suburban place. Nice area, and definitely more restaurants / bars to try here – if only we had more time.

Mexican restaurant

Place inside was very different, not the expected Mexican theme, infact this place was more like a mix between Middle East & Europe theme – but very nice.

The cocktail menu looked great, no more G&T, it was going to be aonly Cocktails tonight. Nita volunteered to be the designated driver – needed someone to drive us back!
Few cocktail varieties were ordered, these came in interesting glasses or containers … the drinks were super!! Food followed and it was all goobled up quickly – everyone was soo hungry. Taste wise it was very good!! As for what we ordered, I am not sure – but it was all very nice!!

A great evening it was, Nita drove us back to the hotel. Called it an early night, tomorrow the plan was to cover Brunny island – our final list item.

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April 3rd – Hobart – Freycinet, Lobster Shack, Lark Distillery

Early morning start – Doc had convinced us to go for a run – he was doing it everymorning.
Met him at the lobby at 5:50am, Vikash had already left as he thought me and Doc slept in – due to no response to his msg’s.
Started our jog towards the waterfront side and made our way towards Salamanca area. This was my first time jogging after a long long time, so a couple of walking breaks were needed. Towards Salamanca we met Vik who was returning back. He joined us and went for another round.
At this hour, the place is so quiet, peacful and calm. Headed to the Elizabeth Mall area and then tried a couple of coffee shops for a morning coffee, unfortunately all of them were still not open asking us to come back at 6:30 or 7am. We headed back to the hotel where the hotel cafe was able to get us our morning Picolo’s. The 3 of us sat in the lobby coffee area and chatted for a while, then it was back in to the rooms to be down again for 8:15 departure.

Morning Jog

All met at the alleyway coffee shop for a quick bite and coffee, then it was to the carpark at around 8:15am. Doc was driving today.
First stop was the Freycinet mountains, weather unfortunately was not looking too good but hoping that it cleared by the time we reached there , which was still a good 2.5 – 3 hours away.

The seating was Doc and Vik in front, me and Nita in middle and Tina and Meeta at the back. I was navigating plus being the spotify DJ taking in requests from everyone.
It was entertainment plus, with numerous stories to talk about ;), the minutes cut away and we made some quick photo stops.

@ Orford
(in the car I realised my lense was dirty, gave it a good clean, in time for the next stop)

Along the way, we passed through some dense trees on either side that made the passage of road very scenic and ideal for a photo opportunity – Vik was the first to call this out and we stopped to take pics on the road – obviously trying to do so when no cars where coming. That in itself was interesting and fun, whilst someone was posing the others had to keep an eye on the road and yell run away if cars were approaching. More often than not, there were a lot of too early warnings and we were running when we had more time. Setting up the tripod, we managed to get some good group shots

Next we stopped at the Devils Corner Vineyard – this was a highly recommended spot by Prakash Morris. It did look so good and had it not been for our lunch booked at Lobster Shack @ 1pm this would have been the ideal stop for lunch and wine.
Quick visit of the place and pics then it was on the road again.

Weather was still on/off grizzling when we arrived at Freycinet, but what we had not anticipated was that this place was a hike – all along we thought it was a viewing area where we would get a great lookout of the wine glass bay area and the freycinet mountains. Hmmmm, none of us where actually prepared for hiking , but what the hell, lets do the walk – we did come so far.

It was a nice walk, however the overcast weather did not help with the views. Still it was a good visit, now back in the car, next stop was Lobster Shack. Enroute to that, I was using the cars vents to dry up my now wet shirt :(. Lucky I had a Jacket in the car, which was my temp top whilst my shirt was being dried.

Drying my shirt after Freycinet walk

We arrived at Lobster Shack not knowing what to expect. This place is located in the most amazing location!! Wow!

Ordered a couple of lobster varities, the mixed platter and Salmon. Wow the food here was amazing. Good feed and break, Lobster Shack is a must visit place if you love your seafood.
Back in the car, now to make our way back to Hobart via the Lark Distillery which had recently opened the Lark Whiskey Village (thanks to Nilan Gandhi for sharing that article with us)
Another 2.5 hours in the car.

The Lark Whiskey village closes at 5pm, it was just past 4 when we arrived. The place has been setup really nicely, love the colonial, vintage setting. It was good being this late, no one else was there and we could talk more about the Whiskeys and Gin they had. Time to try some of their varieties.

Some interesting Whiskey flavours but nothing outstanding, it did not get any of our votes.
Next up we tried their Gins, which was better, the best one was with Grapefruit – did not realise that went with Gins. Another tip, the amount of tonic should be very low and only enough to release the flavours.

Gin tasting – Classic with Grapefruit went well together

And to finish it off, we had to try the $2500 Whiskey.
It was $100 a tasting nib, the three of us agreed to share that rather than one each. As part of getting that, they also offered a complimentary taste of their $400 bottle of Boiler edition.

Tasting done, thanked them and time to pay for this expensive tasting experience !!

Now to take some pics around the beautiful place!!

Pics done, we headed back to our Hotel, time for a quick freshesn up and then it was off to The Den Bar @ Salamanca for drinks followed by dinner at Franks.

The Den has one of the best setups/ambience – a big fireplace in the middle and dimely lit interior. We got a nice table at the back. Ordered 3 chicken Bao & 3 Spiced fried Cauliflower Bao + a round of gyoza. For drinks, ladies ordered coktails and Nita settled for a Shiraz. The guys ordered Gin – Cheeky mentioned to the bar men how we liked three cuts, he suggested we should try Spring Bay Gin, went with that.

The Gin was really good, Tasmanian Gin just seems to be better than the rest! Ladies cocktails were just as good and Shiraz hit the spot – no complains on drinks at all. Food arrived, whilst the Gyoza was good but nothing fantastic, the Bao’s were mind blowing, this would be the best Bao’s we have had for a long time. Had we not already had a dinner booking, I would have settled for another couple of rounds of Bao’s – these things were amazing!!! 5 star rating to this place. I would highly recommend coming here for drinks and food.

Next stop for Dinner was at Frank’s at the Waterfront. Our table was ready. The place had a very modern ambience with dark lighting – looked very nice. Ordered three mains and a couple of sides – we were not super hungry due to the Bao’s. For drinks, the guys opted for 3 margaritas whilst ladies already had enough but opted for a Rose mary burnt cocktail – delicious it was. Food was to Tasmanian standard, very good, and the sweet potatoe side was mind blowing. Great food. For dessert we were not too sold on the menu here and started thinking about the Drunken Admiral Belgium Chocolate….. hmmm it was not too far, so we decided to head there for dessert. It was so funny, leaving Franks, the guy finalising our bill said he had never seen a table of 6 eat and clear away in under an hour – we did not want to tell him it was cause we were rushing to get to Drunken Admiral for desserts

Quick 5-10 min walk across the waterways to Drunken Admiral.
Along the way, I was able to get a great pic of the Hobart harbourside, with both the Drunken Admiral and Grand Chancellor Hotel in view. Not a bad iphone photo!

Got to Drunken Admiral and the wait staff was the same from the prior day and was surprised to see us close to 9pm there. We got the same table and 2 Belgium Chocolate brownies arrived soon after.
My god, this chocolate dessert is the best in the world!!! So yumm!!!

Called it a night, it had been a long fun day.

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