Melbourne: Ramen Ya

Good Ramen Ahead, Ya?

Good Ramen Ahead, Ya?

It’s not often you’re enticed by a saying, but Japanese restaurant Ramen Ya managed to not only pique my curiosity but also managed to relieve me of my hard earned money.

Ramen is a staple diet of the Japanese people and when done well (I’m looking at you 2 minute noodlers) can be one that is an experience to be written home about.
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Upcoming Events: Christmas in Melbourne 2014

Yarra River

The iconic Yarra River that runs through Melbourne

Things have been rather hectic for me but only because, as you’d know, I wrote about ‘what’s next’ and thanks to Stephen Covey, I’ve rewritten my eulogy. Scary, yes. But mortality is both a gift and a curse. We are all going to die. That’s inevitable but once you realise this, you suddenly start focusing on all the things you want to do with people or things you want to experience.

Every year, I’ve made a promise to myself that I will not allow myself to go without experiencing some of the bigger things in life. Or the things we all share. So when a city lays out all the things you can do for Christmas, then you can expect that I’ll be there, enjoying it and sharing the best of what this world (and city) has to offer. And here are the preliminary things that they have set out. Yes, I wrote preliminary because as always, there are more things that they will be releasing closer to the date.

Without further ado, here are the things to do in Melbourne over Christmas.

Christmas Decorations
No city would be complete without a Christmas decorations and here is the listing of all the sights you won’t want to miss!

Official Launch
Yes, I will be there. It’s on the 28/11 and the tree and Federation Square will be lit up. I cannot wait! Will you be there too?

Christmas Square
New York may have Times Square, China – the Tienneman Square and Russia – the Red Centre….but we have the Christmas Square!

Melbourne Town Hall Projections
After seeing them last year, I have to go again. New stories, different lights… all just simply amazing!

Here’s what you can expect with a sneek peek from 2013 Christmas!

Port Douglas: Old Train Tracks

Sunset Tours at Port Douglas

Fine Dining into the sunset

In bygone days, Port Douglas was also a port and had to have many things be transported up and down from the water’s edge. As far as I was concerned, I had no idea what they could possibly used for when I first entered the place and saw those disused tracks along the main roads. But if you remember that “Journey of Discovery” aka my walk along the 4 mile beach that turned out to be an amazing half day adventure.

However, after you’ve been walking for a little while, you really don’t want to be walking anymore. Yes, I could have caught the irregular and only bus scheduled on the island or I could keep my mouth shut and open my eyes to some of the more amazing things that this place had to offer.

The tracks were put into place by the tired locals who had to complete the same journey (if you can imagine walking from the marina to any location on Port Douglas or come to the main highway so others could pick up its produce, you too would understand why this was needed. Whilst I was only walking the entire path without anything, I was completely tired and exhausted from doing this walk, but there is something in getting back to nature that cannot be dismissed that easily.)

And you know what, to be honest with you, I’m changing my mind halfway through this post. I was originally planning on entitling it to be “Port Douglas: Old Train Tracks” and then break up my adventures into many multiple little posts – but some times quality is called for over quantity. And hence I’m entitling this post to my “Journey of Discovery”.

My idea started of with getting up early to see the sunrise over the Island Point Lookout (insert post link here) and then making my way down the 4 mile beach and coming up the major highway and seeing all the sights along the way. One of the things I had not factored – when you’re in a vehicle, things always seem to go past a lot faster than you expect. Plus in keeping with the spirit of the Domestic Traveller, I chose to walk or be as conservative as possible in modes of transport. Besides, if you’re on the wrong side of 30 (basically under 30) then the cost of hiring a vehicle goes up ridiculously. Think 2 to 2.5 times the amount of a normal hire. Err, yeah. No thanks. I have two awesome feet and have been working out my calves and legs….so might as well see what all the training can do. Besides working in an office means you can get severely vitamin D deficient and my legs were no different. They looked quite pasty. Even for me. Long live the board shorts! With all that in mind, I thought why not? I’ll get to appreciate the scenery and in case I do miss my bus in the morning to go see the Wildlife sanctuary (post coming soon) – funny story… I did end up missing it, but that’s a completely different post.

Once I finished up with the 4 mile beach, I came out to the edge of the Barrier Reef Tavern. I didn’t have the guts to go in and have a brew at 1 in the afternoon, although it would have helped my parched mouth, it would not have made the rest of my travel any more worthy. With the warm weather that was happening around there, I know a few good brews with some of the locals would have landed me staying put for the rest of the day.

The Barrier Reef Tavern looked awesome and quite rustic. I didn’t have the chance to go inside, but one of the locals driving out of the place waved to me, which made me think, “you know what, this seems like a good joint!”. I didn’t go in – so I can’t and won’t rate it. Maybe if I do go back (after I’m on the right side of 30, I’ll hire a car and drive down there for lunch or something).

I then walked down the lenght of Barrier Street and turned right onto Port Douglas road. I had been walking for 2 hours and I needed to keep going or I know that once you stop, you just don’t want to keep going. Besides, for the first time, I took off my shoes and walked along the grass which is quite novel for my feet as they’re usually bundled away into some sort of footwear.

And that’s when I saw the train tracks in person. Plus it looked like it was being used too. The tracks whilst old were still clean and not many weeds were growing from it. As I walked along, I then noticed that there were actual train platforms too! It came as a surprise (and as of writing this, I only just found out that they use this as a tourist attraction and bookings can be made here: http://www.ballyhooley.com.au). They were well kept and even been restored as some of the trees were growing into the platforms itself. It all added to the charm of this place.

A little further up the road, you come across the old cemetry and I always find it interesting to see the oldest and youngest members in the yard. The main reason is so that you get an appreciation of what happened to these people. What I found really interesting was why some streets were named (after people that either lost their life saving others or for their country or who have helped make Port Douglas the town that it is now). And after the video game Assassin’s Creed, I’m forever looking out for the symbols of the Freemasons – only because in the game they are somewhat linked to the Knight’s Templar and all that. You’d have to play the game to understand the connotation.

Taking the next left turn, I checked out the local fire service. What makes this a little more interesting is that this place uses a different set of fire vehicles. Not something you see everyday but definitely an interesting sight.

Walking along the water’s edge you then came across a small port out there as well. I thought I had hit the marina, but that clearly wasn’t the case. And the best was yet to come.

I checked out the sports complex. I was expecting more, given that living in Melbourne, which is literally the sports mecca of Australia. But you know what, given everything else that’s going for Port Douglas, who cares if they don’t have the sports complex like those in Melbourne. It is a nice complex and it does the trick.

The Yacht Club and the Marina were fantastic and definitely something I was putting on my list to come back and visit later on during the holiday.

Melbourne: BrimCC

In a world where productivity is the bastion upon which all things are placed, it would only be a matter of time, before this would be applied to the food production line. And here’s why BrimCCs does not disappoint.

Location:

If Henry Ford could watch how the team at BrimCCs operate, his heart would swell with pride. Just as you’d expect from any Japanese takeaway, they have all the usual fare on sale – sushi handrolls and hot food to boot. And this is where they excel.

I went for the beef and rice udon dish. Now, what surprised me was how quickly they produce the food and the fact that it stayed warm whilst I took my time devouring it. Any place that can somehow make the food retain its heat wins in my book hands down!

Miso Soup and Beef Katsu Don on a bed of rice

Miso Soup and Beef Katsu Don on a bed of rice

TDT: 3.5/5

BrimCC Organic Soup and Japanese cafe on Urbanspoon

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t end this post with the actual anecdote that happened to me at this restaurant. I had to redo this entry because alas, my recent quietness on the blogging front has made me want to do a host of posts to make up for my slackness. In my rush to get things out, I actually did forget the place that I had this amazing lunch.

Then given my recent change in responsibilities, I convinced my existing team of this amazing lunch spot. And indeed, I confused myself with the place that I really wanted to go to – Purple Peanuts. So we went to Purple Peanuts, which was no where near the actual location.

Props to Purple Peanuts (and a post in itself), they delivered and one day I will eventually be able to take my team to BRIMCC, but until then, Purple Peanuts, you have my heart and my wallet.

Melbourne: Food Republik

On nights when you just want steak and after a hard gym session, letting someone else make food decision on your behalf is definitely not a good idea. If, however, you want an option that hits the protein and carb spots, then Food Republik is the place to be!

Location:

Located in the leafy suburbs of Box Hill (and right across from a place that had steak night specials) I was definitely intrigued by the way their menu was designed. Of course, given that it was a catch up with PB, I was swayed (/worn down..I’m not sure which as yet) by the fact that they have different cuisines being offered from the one kitchen. You choose an Asian Cuisine – Korean, Thai, Chinese and/or Japanese, and they would bring it out for you. One would almost be forgiven for believing that they have travelled to these Asian places given all the delectable aromas wafting through the air.

Whilst I did have a say in some of my menu options, I left most of the decisions to PB, something he loves doing (just kidding champ).

Lamb Dumplings

We started off on lamb dumplings that were quite delicious. According to PB’s research, this was a must have item on the menu and it did not disappoint.

White Chocolate Goodness

He ordered a white chocolate drink (ladies, take note, instant brownie points in my books). Yes, it was delicious but at the same time, every sip I took was utter diabetic coma inducing happiness. I could feel the efforts of my gym session being negated as this sweet nectar from Food Republik slowly and deliberately made it’s way to my stomach.

Pork Burger (Bao)

This was followed by a Pork burger or a Bao. I’m not too sure on the name. This fluffy and filling morsel definitely hit my carb targets. For the week…

Spicy Beef and Lamb stir fry

And then my option, the one dish I chose, the mains, arrived. I really really wished I had worn more comfortable pants because I was at risk of killing or at the very least seriously injuring someone with the pant button about to pop. My mains consisted of beef and pork, garnished with some spring onions and corriander. One word. Amazing.

Chinese Doughnuts

And to finish it off… there were the chinese doughnuts. Yes. At this point, PB could see the rage in my eyes as I had to consume this one more dish. Of course, he didn’t know that 2 came per serving. I think perhaps, he was hungry and I wasn’t as much. I really should have ordered instead. If anything, I would say, give this item a miss on the menu. It didn’t have any sweetness. It felt like you were eating plain batter.

Yet, the night was filled with funky Asian tones, good laughs and delicious meals that I wasn’t about to forget any time soon.

TDT: 4.0/5 – Definitely a place to be!

Food Republik on Urbanspoon

Melbourne: Heart of St Kilda Concert

Every year, there is one concert that’s really worth it. One that I’m willing to break my self imposed rules to attend. Never has a festival had such an amazing line up of comedians, local favourites and the true heart of the suburb of st kilda.

The St Kilda festival is a celebrated and well loved event that never fails to impress. You see, I’ve always wanted to go to the Palais Theater. It’s a true icon of Melbourne and one that shouldn’t be missed. Now admittedly, if you’re in a rush, then by all chances, give this place a miss as you need a day in this beautiful place to get the most of the experience. The palais has seen many iterations and is currently undergoing some much deserved structural updates to ensure that it’s preserved for future generations. So if you’re a tourist with time on your hands or a local looking for something to do then ensure you make the palais a must see stop on your travels.

The festival itself was splendid. There were so many home grown talents that I hadn’t heard of and am ashamed to admit never even heard of. The delights of Vika and Linda Bull, Greg Champion, Uncle Jack Charles made my heart swell with pride at our talent. Never have I been so moved at a concert before. I guess, I wasn’t expecting it and it came as quite a surprise. One of my favourite bands also came on – the Melbourne Ska Orchestra. Their rendition of ‘Best things in life are free‘ has been used as the theme song for freeview (the digital channels in Australia that promise to be free). After that, I’ve been hooked. It was all thanks to Lewy, a good friend of mine from Scotland that got me into Ska but I never really kept up with the genre, falling back into the categories I know and love

In finding this local group, my love for ska was rekindled. And when I found out that they’d be performing at the festival, my mind was blown! The line up was well worth the entry fee. However, I can’t say that I paid for the tickets. I won them through work thanks to my volunteering efforts. So thanks work! However, I loved the festival so much that I decided to attend the festival next year by paying for the tickets. It was really that amazing.

Definitely a 4/5 in my books. And as I mentioned, if you want to experience the magic of the Palais, then ensure you make the time to do it. Don’t rush. It’s worth the slowed pace.

Palais Theatre

Palais Theatre

Melbourne: Pok Pok Junior

As a big fan of Thai food, I will search high and low to find a great treat no matter where it might be located. When Pok Pok opened in Docklands, it was, in my opinion the first bastion of possibility to the area. Their coffee was amazing and the food delicious. If anything, my first ever Urbanspoon post was on them!
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