Merimbula, NSW

Before November this year, if you ask me if I’ve been to Merimbula, I’d look at you with a blank face. I have never been to the place, nor do I even know where it is! Shame on me for bragging that I’m a bit of a traveller around Australia, I don’t even know my own backyard!

But in November, I was given the perfect opportunity to visit this small coastal town in the Far South Coast of NSW for a work conference. I was given a choice: to drive or take a small plane. I’m not scared of flying, but I am scared of small planes. All the “what if?” questions will play in my mind until I land, and I can’t be stressing over anything if I was to give 3 presentations during the conference.Yep – 3 presentations in front of 5000 strong crowd. My nerves!!!

So Mr J and I drove. Mr J was kind enough to accompany me to the trip, but I think he just wanted a mini holiday of his own and escape the city for some quiet time out in the coast. And who could blame him? How can you not love this blue sapphire backdrop?

Merimbula is just a gem beyond the concrete of Canberra, the cold, misty tundra of Cooma and the sleepy towns of Bredbo, Nimmitabel and Candelo. But don’t expect high rise hotels, shopping centres or huge theme parks – what you find are establishments, local icons and enough fishing holes for the fishing enthusiasts. These are what makes a coastal town what it’s ought to be! Whale watching (perfect at this time of the year), fishing, eating local oysters, and yes long walks in the beach – who needs the hustle and bustle of tourist beaches when you can enjoy these in peace?

Gone fishin'

Welcome to my beautiful country, everyone.

Monaro Highway, just after Cooma
The Promenade

In one of the mornings that we were there, we decided to skip the conference breakfast and instead visit one of the cafes for a hearty brunch. We chose Waterfront Cafe in the Promenade because it was the closest to the conference venue and well, I saw two of the cutest Labradors outside with their owners and I just have to have a good look at them!!!! I’m a sucker for Labs, I know. Heehee!

Latte

Upon entering the cafe we were immediately greeted by a very friendly Italian waitstaff who I anticipated was too friendly he would come and give us all a hug. He didn’t, but he came close – all he wanted was to take our umbrella and put it away for safekeeping so we don’t have to worry about it. Ahhhhh Trish, the city life has corrupted you once again! He was just the warmest, friendliest waitstaff around, and after more observing, it seems as though he knew most of the patrons that come in and out of the cafe. We were immediately drawn to the kitchen and bar dynamics as all waitstaff seem to coordinate their movements with each other in one harmonious waltz – such a nice, pleasant thing to watch!

Mr J always, with no fail, have to have the big breakfast meal when we’re out brunching. Some big breakfasts that we’ve had were pretty mediocre, some utterly disappointing, and some just pure light-up-my-world wonder. This big breakfast at the Waterfront was just pure bliss!!! My most favourite? The hash brown!

Big breakfast
Spinach & feta omelette

The omelette was humungous! I started wondering how many eggs were in that omelette, and trust me, I could’ve easily guessed 4 eggs. The feta, sundried tomatoes and spinach added so much taste and colour that it was enough as breakfast AND lunch!

After the hearty breakfast we needed to have a good walk around, so we went to the boardwalk which is only a few minutes drive down the main road.

The boardwalk in high tide

Jellyfish! So many jellyfish in the waters!

While I was working in the conference, Mr J played tourist and what else can you do there as a tourist but whale watching? And whale watching he did!

WHALE!
And another...
And a few friendly dolphins too!

After his life out in the sea, Mr J informed me later on that he was famished (after that huge breakfast!!!) so he tried some local products in the form of one of his most favourite Aussie food – meatpies! Oh, boys will be boys.

Being the good boy that he is, he knew I wanted food shots but he didn’t note down what he ate so he couldn’t even remember the name of the meatpies. All he could remember was that they were delicious and gone in 60 seconds. Bless!

Our accommodation was close to Short Point Beach too so every morning and evening we would take leisurely walks to enjoy the fresh air, the peace and tranquility of the beach and to strain our eyes to see if we can spot some whales out in the blue yonder.

Oh, and take silly shots too!

Merimbula was just a great trip away – away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into a place full of friendly people, wonderful food, peaceful and quiet surrounds, and great memories. Merimbula is approximately 6 hours drive away from Sydney, or a 1 hour plane ride. There are plenty of accommodation available – from apartments to motor inns to caravan resorts.

The Waterfront Cafe Merimbula

The Promenade, Market Street, Merimbula 2548

Ph (02) 6495 2211

Merimbula Marina Whale Watching

http://www.merimbulamarina.com/

Merimbula Tourism

http://www.merimbulatourism.com.au/

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San Francisco including Hillstone Restaurant & Ghirardelli Square

There are some things you should indulge yourself while on holidays. One, shopping. Two, sightseeing.

And three? Eating.

This is the first of what I believe would be countless posts about our recent trip to the US – highlighting the beautiful, colourful and exciting world in that North American country where food and multiple cultures intertwine to form what is the USA.

First stop: San Francisco.

If there was ever a place more recommendable because of good cuisine and great hospitality, it would be San Francisco. The place is not only synonymous of foggy days and that island prison, but also of fabulous food. Upon touching down from our long flight from Sydney, I couldn’t contain my excitement.

I was promised steaks, chocolate and lots of fabulous fresh produce, and I am glad to say… San Francisco did not disappoint! To give you a better idea, why don’t I take you to a virtual tour of what San Francisco was during our visit:

0900: The infamous Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island
Inside one of the cell blocks

1200: Pier 39 – where tourists congregate!

1230: San Francisco seafood and THAT chowder in a bread bowl


1300: Legion of Honour


1400: Palace of Fine Arts


1500: Golden Gate Bridge (quick, before the fog hides it again!)


1600: The crazy ziggy-zaggedy of Lombard Street

Lombard Street
And the crazy, hilly streets of San Francisco (they weren't kidding!)

And then, we have dinner. This particular dinner in its entirety was truly memorable – the food, the customer service, and the dessert.

Shall we?

Hillstone Restaurant was a highly recommended place by some local friends who took us out for dinner that evening.With its close location to Pier 39 being handy and the convenience being so near to our after-dinner stop (Ghirardelli, of course), it was the perfect way to end our San Francisco trip!

Aged prime rib roasted on the bone & fries
Hawaiian rib eye, marinated then grilled on hardwood & herbed mash

The prime rib was perfectly cooked on the bone, but the Hawaiian rib eye with hints of pineapple and smokey flavours was the clear winner. Did I mention the rib eye was my order? I can still remember the chorus of flavours in my mouth, 4 weeks after I had this wonderful dish!


After this incredible dinner, the four of us decided it was probably best to walk off the newly consumed calories before devouring on more food. The next agenda of the night? Why, Ghirardelli of course!

Chocolate & vanilla ice cream sundae
Brownie sundae
Ghirardelli chocolate
Ghirardelli chocolate shop

Alcatraz Island Cruises

http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/

Pier 39

The Embarcadero San Francisco, CA

Palace of the Legion of Honour

100 34th Ave San Francisco, CA

Palace of Fine Arts Theatre

3301 Lyon Street San Francisco, CA

Hillstone Restaurant San Francisco

1800 Montgomery street San Francisco, CA

Ph (415) 392-9280

Ghirardelli Square
900 North Point Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

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Ben & Jerry’s, Manly Beach

Indulge me, for a second.

Two weeks ago, a friend from Melbourne graced our shores to see how Sydney life is. We toured him around the city, to the Blue Mountains, around Circular Quay, before finally watching the sunset in the beautiful Harbour while tucking into some fish and chips and…

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey & Chocolate Fudge Brownie with walnuts

It has been years since I last stepped foot in Manly Beach. It just felt like the 30 minute one way, $14 ferry ride to and from the city is such a ginormous trek only fit for tourists and Manly fans. But, the smell of seawater, the promise of a good feast and the awesomeness that is the company I was with was enough to justify the trip to Manly Beach (it’s not really as far as I’m describing it…).

First you look for the shop...
Then you spot the magical sign...
Then you join the queue
You might entertain yourself by thinking of buying a pint and taking it home with you...
And then you choose your flavour
And maybe some toppings?
And Bon Apettit!
Chunky Monkey & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Walk around a bit, take photos, watch the day go idly by, catch up on some childhood stories, and then…

You sail off into the sunset in the beautiful Sydney Harbour…

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