Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Mia's Weekend Getaway: Australia - Queen Victoria Market & Immigration Museum

 And so it was decided that today (my last full day in Melbourne) shall be Museum day! If you don't know me, I actually love 'spamming' museums while on oversea trips. Don't ask me why, I just do. And it has been decided since the day I touched down that we shall kick-start the day with some Spanish cuisine. Paella and Churros. :)

And so we popped by L'Olivo, the restaurant near YS's apt for brunch.

 Pretty obvious that we were their first customer of the day. 

 And there, our paella (which obviously serves 2 even though it wasn't specifically stated on the menu) - roughly about $26 AUD. 
I was pretty disappointed the moment it was served. You probably can't see the reason from the picture, though. It looks more like a risotto, being very moist, creamy and cheesy. The rice was also overcooked for a paella, missing the good bite of a medium cooked rice (though will be fine for a risotto), and the traditional layer of 'burnt rice' (MY FAVOURITE PART OF A PAELLA!) was also missing. 
If I'm not wrong, saffron should also be used in paella, which gives it the distinctive taste and yellow colour. (Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken.) But with all the overdose of creamy cheese, I can't tell whether saffron was used at all. 
It was tasty though, extremely tasty. The seafood were all well done. Nothing was overcooked, not even the squid! The rice was (as I've said) thick and creamy, flavourful and savoury. However, the distinctive saffron & spice taste of a paella was missing, probably due to all the creamy cheese. And so were my favourite rice crust supposedly to be found in abundance at the bottom of the plate. 
All in all, I felt I was eating risotto when I ordered a paella.
Tasty, yes. But I was hardly satisfied. 

And then, our Churros - roughly $9 AUD. And if you haven't read my review on Kaixo, I've spend $14 SGD on an amount equivalent to just 1 stick of this churros I had at L'Olivo.
Once again, the Churros were disappointing. I would have preferred the ones I had at Southern Cross Station, which I shall touch on in my sweet treats entry. They're really just huge sticks of doughnuts drenched in icing sugar and served with some chocolate sauce. 
Where is the cinnamon?
Where is the distinctive 'star shaped' sticks?
 Once again, I ordered Churros and was served normal doughnut sticks with chocolate dip. 
They were good, but.... bleah, I wanted Churros. Not the doughnuts I can find in my local bakeries. 

After brunch, we travelled to Queen Victoria Market for a quick look. And guess what I saw upon stepping into the market (apart from the store at the corner selling all sorts of tea)? Some huge ass macarons!

 And they sell unpretty, distressed macarons at $9 AUD for a box of 5 or 6, can't remember the exact number of macarons in that box. Else, it's $2.80 AUD per piece.

Basically I got pretty bored at the market because it's all food, food, and more food products. The Paella and Churros were still fighting for space in my stomach. So nothing caught my attention, even though I did buy a piece of the oversized salted caramel macaron. I can never walk by a store selling macarons and buy nothing. heehee....

So after introducing the paella and churros to their new friend, salted caramel macaron, we hopped onto the tram again and got off at Flinder's Station.

Reminds me of Harry Potter, somehow. Don't ask me why.

And our 2nd destination for the day is just right down the street. Immigration Museum :)

Adult admission will be $10 AUD but with a student pass, you can get a concession entry, which is FOC.

Other than the permanent exhibitions, which educate us on the history of Australia relating to the migrants' diversified cultural background (hence the name, Immigration Museum, duh!), we were also lucky to see two temporary exhibitions, 'Seeking Refuge in Nhill', which is a photographic exhibition exploring the struggles and achievement of the Karen community in Nhill, and 'Faith Fashion Fusion', an exhibition exploring the fashion, faith and identity of the Muslim community.

My favourite exhibition of the permanent exhibitions has to be 'Journeys of a Lifetime'. 
No matter when they arrived, all immigrants are linked by the common experience of a journey.
Over the past two centuries the immigration journey to Australia has changed from a perilous sea voyage of up to 3 months to a routine flight lasting up to 24 hours. Changing transport has not only shortened the journey, but made it more comfortable and affordable.
The journey remains one of the most memorable aspects of any immigration experience.
The Journeys Gallery, also known as the Long Room of Old Customs House, features a 17-metre replica ship where visitors can experience the changes in sea travel first hand from the 1840s to 1950s.
-Credits to Immigration Museum-

 As you walked through the 'ship' from one end to the other, you can really see the difference on board the ship from the older days of 1840s to the later days of 1950s.

Other than the 'boathouse', I also quite enjoyed the exhibition of 'Getting In'.
Getting In was developed in response to market research conducted at the Immigration Museum that found visitors wanted to know more about the process of getting in to Australia, what people went through, who was accepted and who wasn't, and the effect this had on society.
The exhibition does this by exploring the history of immigration policy and how it has changed dramatically over the past two hundred years. Four timeframes outline the main threads in immigration policy: the gold rush days of the 1840s to 1900, Federation to the end of the Second World War (1901 to 1945), then post-war to the early seventies (1946 to 1972) and finally 1973 to the present day.
-Credits to Immigration Museum-

I enjoyed the interview room the most, as you really get to 'interview' applicants who are applying to get in to Australia, and vet through their applications. It also kind of serves as a rough gauge to how much you of their immigration policies you have understood from the exhibition.

As for the temporary exhibitions, I enjoyed 'Faith Fashion Fusion' more than the other. Even though the Nhill exhibition showcased some really brilliant photographs, the interviews of the ladies of the Australian Muslim community, which touched on their experiences and achievements, exhibited at FFF was really enjoyable and worth watching.

And now some random snippets at the museum. There was this corner whereby the walls were stuck with passports from all over the world. 

But we couldn't find Singapore! :(

And guess what's on the menu for dinner?
KOREAN FOOD! :) We came to this korean restaurant in the vicinity of Flinder's Station. (Sorry, can't remember the name of the restaurant) 
And as usual, I always order my favourite Yuzu tea.....
Some pajeon (seafood korean pancakes)....  

 My favourite korean food ever, jjigae! This time I got some soft beancurd seafood stew. 

And YS's chicken bulgogi.

Not going to do much review on this. It's just pretty standard korean food, just with a bigger quantity at (of course) a slightly higher price as compared to Korean food in Singapore. The ingredients (seafood for my stew) were also much fresher in comparison. But taste wise, I can safely say it's the same standards. However, I'll much prefer the pancakes I can find in Singapore. The pajeon we had there was much thicker than I would like them to be, and very "floury".

Next up will be my final post on my Aussie getaway, a combined entry on all sweet treats I've eaten! It'll be like a macaron galore. So do stick around!

Till then,

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Mia's Weekend Getaway: Australia - St. Kilda Beach

Upon reaching Melbourne, we noticed that the weather was pretty warm and the sun sorching bright. I almost thought that I was back in Singapore. So YS decided to head down to the beach while the weather is warm. So we quickly dropped our overnight bags back at her apartment and rushes off to catch the tram to St. Kilda. 

A few random shots of the neighbourhood. YS is really lucky to be staying extremely near her college and there's countless eateries within walking distance from her block. 

Took a shot at the oncoming tram. :)

My memories were vague, but it didn't take us very long to get to Acland street (two main streets of restaurants, cafes and shops) of St. Kilda's. To be honest, I didn't quite like it here. I'm a quiet and peaceful place lover when I travel, and this place was just way too crowded and noisy, so much so that I couldn't even be bothered to snap photos. 
We were there at about 5 plus and most of the shops were closed, leaving only the bakeries and restaurants opened. 

Why aren't our bakeries in Singapore like this? Why, oh why? Look at the crazy amount of pretty cakes and biscuits in the display window! I bought 3 macarons here (Earl Grey, Chocolate and Coffee), which I shall do a review on with other sweet treats in a separate post. 

Finally, with YS getting hungrier and me getting increasing frustrated from the crowd, we randomly picked a restaurant and popped in for dinner. 

I got a tomato based bacon spaghetti for the night. Couldn't quite remember the name of the dish nor the price, but it was about $25 AUD. Pretty pricey for a 'standard' pasta, even though the servings might be 1.5x of what we can get at PastaMania. Plus, I remember this was one of the cheaper pasta in the menu. I'll prefer a Zuppa Pasta back at PastaMania anytime! 

After dinner, we decided to take a leisure stroll down the beach to 'burn off the calories' and enjoy the nice weather and awesome view. 
And somehow we got obsessed with our own shadows. ROFL. 

Following the footpath along the beach and trail of some expensive looking restaurants, and down the bridge that cut across the waters, we got to the breakwater that is home to many penguins!

 Not sure if you can see them, but I definitely can. They're a tiny breed of penguin, crazily adorable as they waddled around, hopping from rock to rock to locate their nests. This little guy up there probably got confused by the bright lights (one of the staff's cellophane paper on the torch wasn't good enough and she directed this really bright lights at it) and couldn't locate its nest. At one point it came so close to me, right at my feet.
So there, Phillip Island is not the only place you can see penguins! But of course if you want to watch a colony of penguins marching in, Phillip Island is still the solution for you. :)

Another place you can drop by at St Kilda will be the small amusement park, Luna Park. We didn't even enter for a look because I'm so not a rides person. I took a snap of the entrance because YS asked, "Don't you feel this place look like Da Shi Jie?" Rofl. Yeah, that amusement theme park (or whatsoever fun place) we had in the 60s?

 Lastly, I just had to show off my bed in Melbourne for 2 nights. See the Minnie Mouse inspired pillow case I've got! :)

Till then,

Friday, 25 October 2013

Mia's Weekend Getaway: Australia - Sovereign Hill (Part 2)

After a good night's sleep in my cozy bunkroom, we woke up at 830 in the morning to pack up and get ready to check out.

The air smelled fresh and crisp from the slightly chilly weather....

And the sky was so blue it made my photo looks like a postcard now! 

 Even their crow (on 2nd thought I think it's a raven?) looked prettier and friendlier. :)

We got to the reception at 930, checked out, and was told Sovereign Hill opens at 10. However, the friendly receptionist informed us that some attractions are already opened and we could get an access card to enter via Comfort Inn. However, as Comfort Inn is located right at the top of Sovereign Hill and quite a far walk from the bus stop, we decided to give that temporary convenience a miss and took a slow stroll down the quiet neighbourhood to enter via the main entrance. 
And of course, enjoying the view of a nearly empty road, lined with greenery and topped with a clear blue sky. 

 And guess where we headed upon entering the premise?
Typical Singaporean - Look for food! 
Even though the signage said, 'opens at 930am daily', we were rather disappointed that they actually weren't quite ready for the day at 10am. And so, we decided to go a little bit up the trail and right, to get to Sovereign Cafe for my morning coffee. 

It's actually a pretty big, canteen-styled cafe hidden at a rather secluded corner of the premise, behind the eye-catching carriage and white tent. 
And I have to say, my first coffee in Australia was extremely disappointing. I felt like I've paid almost $5 AUD for a downsized McDonald breakfast coffee. What's worse? McDonald gives it to us free flow. 

 After the disappointing coffee, we headed back to Hope Bakery and noticed they still weren't quite ready (many biscuits weren't baked and some pies were missing) but the entire bakery was already filled with the mouth-watering fragrance of freshly baked pies! As their lamb stew pies weren't ready yet, I was left without any other choice than to get a chicken pie for about $4.50 AUD. They had beef pies as well, but I don't take beef.
As you can see, the pie was thick and big, about the size of my hand. The extremely thin crust was baked till flaky and crispy and the filling of flavourful, moist and gooey chicken stew was piping hot. Just 1 of this pie was more than enough to fill up my empty tummy and make me happy and satisfied. A must try for pie-lovers!

After we're done with breakfast, we headed out of the bakery and came to a blacksmith shop situated opposite the bakery.

 And within, there were a couple of blacksmiths working! This blacksmith in green was showing us how to make a horseshoe.

 After which, we went by New York Bakery that was still yet to open for business. Unlike Hope Bakery, NY Bakery is more of an eatery that provides luncheons.

 We then got attracted to this Charlie Napier Hotel when we saw a group of tourists taking photos outside the building and decided to head inside for a look. Be glad we did, for the interior was so pretty!

 I absolutely adore these old looking chests. Always gave me the feeling that a pile of treasure is lying within. :)
After coming out from the hotel, we walked into Clarke Brothers Grocers, selling all sorts of food products (sweet treats)! I was really tempted to buy a huge bag of their chocolate nuggets at 60 cents AUD per piece but was worried they might melt on my way back to Singapore. As YS and I were discussing, the staff overheard our conversation and was really nice to suggest that we head next door for sweet treats that wouldn't melt.
 Hand made boiled lollies by Brown's Confectionery!

My purchase from the store that amounted to about $19 AUD. Google up Sovereign Hill and you'll probably read countless reviews about 'stocking up their raspberry drops'. I did too, which was why I grabbed a bottle immediately upon seeing it. I wasn't disappointed. It was really good.

And there! Souvenirs for my colleague - checked! And then I started fretting about getting gifts for the girlies. And after walking further up the trail, I saw my life saviour.
 Handmade soaps and candles!
 If you're interested, you may get yourself a colourless (smooth or lumpy) candle and try to dip dye them to the colours you fancy.
My purchase from the store that amounted to about $20+ AUD. 3 scented candles in Musk, Green Apple, and Rose. Along with 4 soaps in Lychee (smelled really yummy!), Rose, Lavender, and Hibiscus.

Souvenirs for the girlies - checked! :)

 After which, we decided to go on the mine tour. Since YS holds a student pass, we can get the tickets cheaper at $6 AUD per person. The disappointing part was, there's no choice of which tour we get to go for. I was really hoping I can get the Trapped tour, but in the end we got The Secret Chamber, telling the tale of two Chinese miner brothers.

This picture was taken mere seconds before our train started its descend into the mine grounds. And during the 90 seconds ride, we were enveloped in total darkness. I shan't divulge much about this tour, but my favourite part of it has got to be this ride in the dark. But hey, if you hold a student pass, why not give it a try?

After coming out from the mine tour, we were just strolling along where the trail leads us and came to this place whereby a gold-making showcase was being held. We were pretty lucky to be in time for the last 5 minutes (and most important part) of the showcase.

Making a GOLD BAR! Just look at that awesome glow of orange when it just came out of the furnace in molten stage!

And just to share a few more random snippets at Sovereign Hill...

And before we left the place to return to Melbourne, we popped by Hope Bakery again and got ourselves some biscuits!

I got myself a melting moments because it looked so cute, very similar to a whoopie pie/macaron. Yes, I'm very superficial when it comes to sweet treats. I shall not elaborate on the taste for now, as I shall do a separate post on the sweet treats I've tried in Australia.

And so, this concludes my experience at Sovereign Hill and also accounted for 1 and 1/2 day of my trip. Stay tune for more!

Till then,

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