November 29, 2014

The Moonlight Kayak Tour and Melbourne Foxtel Festival

It's been years since I last kayaked.

But what better time than now to give it another go? Especially when Kayak Melbourne provided such a unique tour of the city on Melbourne's waterways! R and I chose the Moonlight Kayak Tour that would start at dusk in the Docklands and take us through Victoria Harbour, then up the Yarra River and ending near Federation Square.

R and I were pretty excited about this kayak tour. After spending some time at the Bathing Boxes in Brighton, we stopped by our Airbnb so I could change clothes because my delayed luggage was finally delivered. Then we hightailed it to the Docklands...and I mean we literally ran from the station because we were almost late.

One thing I always have a problem when I'm travelling is the time difference. I'm not talking about the jet lag. I'm talking about punctuality and how it varies depending on where or who you're dealing with. In my tiny corner of the world, when you have a commitment, "on time" usually means 5 minutes before to exactly on the dot. Maybe it would even be okay to be within 5 minutes late. But any time after that, you either need to lie and say that you're not feeling well or pray that your train will be delayed...because just being sorry will not make it right.

So when I go out into the world, be it somewhere else in Japan or overseas...I always expect everyone to be in the same "time zone" as me. Which is a mistake, really. Because people can be much more flexible with time, especially when associating with travelers, and some cultures are naturally a lot more laid back. I always wish I were one of those more laid back people.

Well, all this to say...we were running our butts off from the station because I was super worried if we were late at all, the tour would start without us. R was pretty sure we were fine but I wasn't so sure, which is why I made us run. I mean, even the confirmation email asked us not to be late. Why would they write that if they didn't expect us to be on time? But when we finally made it to our starting point (almost 10 minutes late!)...we were only the second group there out of the five groups that were taking the tour that day.


This happens to me ALL the time. I probably need to learn that sometimes time is not of the essence. Or maybe just learn to go with the flow and not be so uptight about punctuality when I'm travelling? It's something I should probably work on, to be more flexible with the concept of time.

Anyways, once I knew we weren't "late" and got my breath back, I was once again excited about going out on the kayak! And I am so glad we did! Kayaking is so much fun! To my surprise, I really sucked at it...but that did nothing to diminish my excitement. Ha! 

We had a fantastic 2.5 hour tour with a grand view of the sunset. I loved seeing the city from our kayak. We even got something warm to eat, which was great since it did start raining a bit at one point. But the sky held out on further down pour and we got to enjoy the night scene of the waterfront area as we made our way up Yarra River!

I really need to kayak more often! (Still not deterred by my lack of rowing skills...) 

But our night was still not over. Right after we said good bye to our kayak buddies, we turned the corner and stumbled upon Foxtel Festival Hub. Apparently it's an annual festival with both free and ticketed events. R recognized one of the bands performing so we ended up getting to see both Kormac's Big Band and Snarky Puppy perform live! Yay!

I'd never heard either of them before but instantly fell in love with their groove. Plus, they both had trumpet players, which is one of my favorite instruments. So so good! Needless to say our night ended on a high note!

Here are some photos:

Our meeting spot for our Kayak Melbourne tour down by the wharf.
Aren't the kayaks so pretty?
This was our amazing guide Kent...and me putting on my life jacket. (Photos by R)
The colorful National Australia Bank headquarter building.
Making our way around the harbor...I may have sucked at rowing because I kept taking pictures!
The impressive Etihad Stadium is also the headquarters of the Australian Football League.
The sun was setting just as we made our way around Victoria Harbour. (Photo by R)
The sunset reflecting on the various buildings around the Docklands.
A view of the Bolte Bridge and its random decorative towers at sunset.
Yummy fish n chips were just what we needed to power our way upstream.
R holding down the fort, or kayak? We only got stuck once! :D
We rowed past ANZ Centre, headquarters to Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
ANZ Centre is the largest single-tenanted commercial office building in Australia!
Passing under the unique Webb Bridge.
Seafarers Bridge was another interesting footbridge we passt under.
Row row row your boat...there was something exciting about kayaking at night!
Our tour ended with a bang...or shall we say a ball of fire? It was a great way to warm up! :D
Still excited from our kayak tour, we stumbled upon this!
Kormac's Big Band is apparently an orchestra playing DJ Kormac's tracks. I liked it! (Photo by R)
Australians are really tall...I was on tip toes the whole time! :D
I loved Snarky Puppy! It was definitely "music to move the brain and booty!"
Had the best time! (So of course we had to take a selfie...) (Photo by R)

Shed 2, North Wharf Rd, Docklands VIC 3008
TEL: 0418 106 427 (or book online)
Moonlight Kayak Tour: 99.00 AUD

November 27, 2014

The Bathing Boxes by the Beach at Brighton

Our second day in Melbourne started out at the beach!

Due to my flight connection, my luggage didn't make it to Melbourne when I I had to spend a second day in the same clothes. Eek! (Note to self: always pack an extra set of clothes in the carry-on.) But I almost didn't care because we were going to see the colorful bathing boxes!

The Brighton beaches are actually not in Melbourne but a beach-side suburb that is part of the City of Bayside. The bathing boxes, originally used by Victorian sun bathers to preserve their modesty, are located on Dendy Street Beach in a neat row along the shore. I loved seeing the different designs and colors, which apparently are strictly regulated by the Bright Bathing Box Association.

These bathing boxes aren't just eye-candy for the beach-goers. They are currently an expensive commodity. My eyeballs nearly fell out when I saw how much these bathing boxes were being sold for. I thought, all this for a 2.4m x 2.0m x 2.0m box by the beach that has no electricity or plumbing?

But it's a great way to raise funds, which the association is doing by building a few more bathing boxes to put on the market. And I can't really complain because although I'm pretty sure I will never personally own a bathing box (you have to be a resident of the City of Bayside to own one anyway), I wouldn't mind seeing a few more colorful designs at the beach! And we can always dream, right?

What would you do if you owned a bathing box? (I'd fill mine with large brimmed hats and books!) x

Here are some photos:

Brighton Beach Station is on the train line headed towards Sandringham Station.
Their train cars were huge (compared to Tokyo)!
I saw creative graffiti all over the place and Brighton was no different.
The beach was calling me to come swim...I so wanted to!
Pretty wild flowers were blooming all over the place...I love the start of spring!
Taking a photo of R taking a photo of the bay. 
It really was a beautiful beach made even better by the great weather!
Exploring the rocky area! (photo by R)
These rocks were a great place to sit and eat lunch!
I love how you can see the downtown area of Melbourne in the mist!
Turning the corner to see...
...rows and rows of bathing boxes along the shore! (There are over 80 of them!)
I could look out to sea all day long.
And there is no way you can keep your shoes on at the beach! (photo by R)
It was a really hot day so what better way to cool down than to step right into the water?
Look at the colors! So pop, so bright!
I loved the gradation of color on this bathing box.
Of course R is wearing an American flag in we found a red, white and blue bathing box!
Beautiful combination of pastels and bold colors!
This is the view from between the bathing boxes.
Next time I come here, I will be in those deep blue waters!
Look! I even found a slightly Japanese-y bathing box!
I'd never seen bathing boxes before so it was really a treat see them for myself!
Learning to take selfies with R :D