Melbourne, Australia – Auckland, New Zealand 2010 – Day 12


Since we did 2 full day tours in Melbourne, we weren’t able to really get a chance to see the town. I for one wanted to see Flinders Station and Federation Square and Chinatown area. We decided to get a late flight to Auckland so that we could explore. We took the tram – it runs on a honour system. You purchase your tickets on the back of the bus from a coin machine as the driver is sitting in a box and doesn’t interact with you. The trams run quite frequently. We made our way to Queen Victoria Market which is very similar to Toronto’s St Lawrence Market including a similar looking building albeit white instead of our burgundy one outside. We had a quick bite before we scurried past Chinatown and took to the main touristy streets I suppose. Did you know Federation Square is Australia’s largest free wifi hotspot or that Flinders Station is their Union Station as the central hub for transport. As I was taking a panoramic, a group of school kids with bright orange hats were crossing by and this little boy made my day. He basically saw me and had walked along with his class but then he turned back and walked back towards me and said hello! than ran back to his classmates. We didn’t have enough time to go shopping nor go through the National Gallery of Victoria (180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006) (mind you the gift shop was lovely) but we we’re able to stop by San Churro Chocolateria (Shop LTL 255, QV Centre/Swanston Street) – basically gourmet chocolate churros and other chocolate products. I got a raspberry rumba which is a white chocolate shake with raspberry topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

We noticed the time and were running a tad late in returning to our hostel to catch the shuttle. We hopped on a tram but apparently the wrong one, hopped off and got back to the hostel right on time. We got to the airport about 4-430PM and our flight was at 605PM. We got to the Qantas check-in counter for our flight from Melbourne to Auckland and the lady asked to see our boarding pass out of New Zealand; having only booked a one way to New Zealand, we had to go purchase another ticket before we could even check in. Our minds weren’t clicking before that we were flying internationally meaning to another country so we didn’t think we needed to book a flight out. Anyways, we wanted to fly from Rotorua back to Sydney and stay a day with uncle Ronald and auntie Maisie but apparently the visa we had trouble getting before departing toronto (the ETA) is only valid for a single entry only so once you leave the country, you cannot come back in unless you reapply off of Australian soil overseas.

So this put us in a predicament as our international flight home was in Sydney. There were 2 plans that we looked into with the helpful people at Flight Centre, the first being – fly home from Auckland (cost double the price of our existing flight home = no good), 2- book a ticket to Fiji and show that to get us approved for our Auckland flight (which was almost ready to depart) and once we get through, cancel the ticket and reapply for Australian visa once we landed and book a ticket back to Sydney. So for a split second we purchased a ticket to Fiji. As we purchased that ticket, we went back to the check-in desk and the manager of the check-in  desk with the Qantas team had told us since we have proof of our returning home flight that all we need to do is purchase a ticket back to Sydney but we would not be able to leave the international terminal as we would be “transiting” to our home of origin flight thus, no need for a new visa. Andrew ran back to change the ticket while I waited at the gate. We were indeed the last ones checked in but luckly not the last ones to board as we cleared security quickly. Apparently, Qantas and Air Canada have some sort of agreement where you can connect with one another allowing our checked baggage to transit through to our next flight although they are not connecting flights in one ticket purchase. We hopped on and flew roughly 3 and 1/2 hours and because of the time change (2+) we arrived at 11PM-12AM-ish.

We are staying Freemans Lodge which apparently is New Zealand’s #1 hostel and last year NZ’s cleaniest hostel. Once you enter, your shoes must be taken off. Did I mention free wifi the whole length of the stay. This hostel is apparently known as a B&B but there is only free tea and coffee and our twin private shared bathroom is actually a double bed in a smallish private room with a shared bathroom.

Sydney, Australia 2010 – Day 1


I knew long in advance that I wanted to travel to Australia and timing wise, I was in limbo just awaiting my final grades for my final year in university and actual graduation ceremony. My brother, Andrew had accumulated about 3 weeks of paid vacation so it was settled – 03/25/10-04/13/10 – a 3 week trip to Australia & New Zealand (2 weeks Australia – Sydney, Cairns & Melbourne & 1 week New Zealand – Auckland & Rotorua),

First off, when planning a trip to Australia make sure you figure out if you plan on travelling outside of Australia (for eg – roundtrip ticket flying in and out of AUS but wanting to travel to New Zealand and return for a day in AUS) and if you plan on coming back as you need to purchase either a single or multi-entry visa. You can also purchase your visa at the airport.

If I knew this ahead of time, my trip would have gone so smoothly. What makes matters worse for myself in particular is the fact my last name is just a single letter – U and your passport and visas need to have the same exact spelling. But at least I was travelling with my brother Andrew so I wasn’t holding anyone else back. Let’s just say we dealt with 3 Air Canada employees that were our saviours and it was a good thing we got to the airport a few hours ahead and were quick to run to our gate where you could see them manually changing us from red listed to allowing us aboard to our first stopover to Vancouver.

Flight from Toronto with a stopover in Vancouver and landing in Sydney, Australia = 4 + 16 = 20 hours of flying. This was my first ever international flight and I can tell you I barely slept and watched practically every single movie on the way over. Keep in mind that when you land in Australia, they are very particular about sterilizing the plane so you will be sitting in the plane after landing for a bit.

We departed Toronto on April 23rd, 2010 and arrived in Sydney, AUS on Sunday April 25th at 830AM.

Our Uncle Ronald (my father’s best friend who resides and retired in Sydney) picked us up from the airport. We haven’t seen him in over a decade and the first thing he says to us “I was looking for these 2” *takes out a photo of Andrew and myself circa 1992*.

Uncle Ronald drove us around to see icons of Sydney especially Kings Cross (not much action during the day) but apparently we came on the weekend of Anzac Parade which is the Australian & New Zealand memorial / remembrance day. We continued onward to the fish market, Lady Macquarie’s Chair, Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge. We then headed over to Chinatown for yum cha with our uncle and his friends Elena, Eric and Philip.  That night, uncle Ronald and his lovely wife Maisie took us to their friends home for a big dinner. There was a big Winnie, small Winnie, Ricky, Tommy, Eric and Elena as well as uncle Ronald and auntie Maisie. Dinner was good and well a mixture of food coma and jet lag started to set in as Andrew and myself started to doze off on the couch. We left their place around 10-1030pm and got back around 11pm; we went right to bed. I think we did pretty well our first day in Australia considering we spent 20+ hours on a plane and time difference.