Before visiting Zurich we knew it had a reputation of being expensive - however we had no idea just how much so this was going to be. Dropping AUD$1,000 in less than 24 hours was done without even trying!
You know you are in trouble when a cup of water in a restaurant cost you AUD$7 - why can’t kids just drink beer - it was cheaper!
The city is beautiful - with the river Limmat running out of Lake Zurich through the middle separating the old and new town - and snow capped mountains in sight - it really is stunning. The architecture is ornate and conjures up memories of story books, it is one of those picture postcard cities.
But is it worth the cost for the Australian traveller? This is how, without even trying, less than 24 hours in this city cost us AUD$1,000.
Accommodation - $500
We didn’t even stay in the city centre - room only at the Renaissance hotel on the outskirts of town.
Lunch - $140
Four burgers, one serve of fries, two beers, glass of water and a lemonade. Yep, that was it!
All Day Transport - $40
We used the tram and train network to get around all day. The network was extensive and we had a stop right next to the hotel. It took 15 minutes from our hotel to Old Town. We purchased all day travel cards for the family.
FIFA Museum - $85
This was actually quite good value - we spent a good three hours in this interactive museum. And the kids (and parents) loved it.
Afternoon Beers - $50
After the museum we visited a Beer Garden on the river - nothing fancy, self service and find a seat in the garden. Two beers, two slushes and a serve of fries.
Dinner - $170
We stumbled across a Food Truck Festival that we opted for dinner. Two serves of Pad Thai, a Mango Salad and a Wrap washed down with two beers and two waters and topped off with four gelato. All self service sitting on plastic chairs in the sun.
As you can see - without even trying - this city really adds up! We did not eat at fancy restaurants, take taxis or buy any souvenirs. We simply kept fed and watered and explored the city by foot and public transport.
The beer is good, the city is gorgeous and was fun to explore, but I don’t think I will be back in a hurry.
We did stumble across a supermarket and purchased bottled water for AUD$3, so I am sure you could do the city on the cheap if you really tried. However it would be hard work!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Travelling through the Norweigian Fjords is an amazing experience. On a seven night P&O UK Cruise out of Southampton our passage took us through scenery like no other I have ever seen.
On port stops we were able to get up close and personal to the waterways, in the city of Olden Itchy Feet Family took to kayaks to explore the Nord Fjord.
When looking at shore tours offered on the cruise, this was the only one that resembled any level of physical activity. The cruise line clearly catering for the more senior cruiser who enjoys a bus journey or walking tour. We jumped at the opportunity to do something active for the day.
Olden, with a population of just 2,500, more than doubles in size when a large passenger ship such as the 3,500 passenger Britannia comes in for the day. Our guide, Richard, loved the opportunity to meet new people and showcase his beautiful part of the world.
Although we were travelling in summer (July), the weather was still very cold. At a cool 13 degrees, we were just thankful it was not raining.
The boat house was located a short walk from where the ship docked so there was no need for a bus journey to our tour, we were off the ship and in kayaks within an hour.
After boarding the kayaks in a small inlet, we travelled under a bridge before heading out into the large open Fjord. The water was calm for the most part, however the wind did pick up whilst we were out which restricted how far out the Fjord we travelled.
The operator provided lifejackets and waterproof skirts and with the ice cold glacial waters we were encouraged to try stay dry in the boats! For the most part we did, except when the kids decided to test how cold the water was by putting their arms in the Fjord - without rolling up their sleeves!
The water was fresh on top - although the Fjord ran into the ocean, the salt water sits at the bottom of the Fjord whilst the top is crystal clear drinkable water from the mountains.
The tandem kayaks allowed us to pair up one adult with one child and although the kids were also given paddles, it was really the work of the adults that got us through the journey. With the kids at the front, their paddles mostly served as large splashing devices with the aim of seeing who could get which parent wetter!
It was quite an impressive view in the middle of the fjord with the majestic Britannia one side of us and waterfalls and snow capped mountains the other.
We kayaked for two hours on the Fjord, stopping every 15-20 minutes or so for narration from our guides. We learnt the main industries in the area were tourism, farming and petroleum and were encouraged to try the Norweigian strawberries, they came highly recommended.
Although the tour did not travel too far from where we started, we could always see the ship from any point of the tour, it was a fun couple of hours and provided some activity in between narration. Much more fun than sitting on a bus.
By the end of the two hours we were quite cold, especially given the children were wet up to their shoulders! If I was to do it again I would make sure we wore wet weather jackets and that the kids rolled their sleeves up before testing the water!
The short tour also gave us time to head back to the ship to refresh and refuel before taking a stroll around the picturesque town.
Have you taken your kids kayaking on holiday? Where have been some of the memorable locations?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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In July the Itchy Feet Family took a seven night cruise departing Southampton, UK, through the Fjords of Norway. As an Australian family - there were a few noticeable differences to travelling on a British based ship as opposed to an Australian.
Here were our top eight stand out observations: - good, bad and indifferent.
1. No Lanyards
On Australian ships we love wearing our room keys on lanyards in a kaleidoscope of colours proudly around our neck. On the Britannia there was barely a lanyard to be seen. No fire sale on day 1 to get your blinged out lanyard - the Brits just put them in their pocket!
2. Women Love a Lager
I have never in my life seen so many women drinking pints. It is the beverage of choice for men and women alike. I will never lose the picture of a 70 year old lady necking a lager like I drink a bottle of water after a work out! And with so many options of craft beers and beers on tap - why not enjoy a lager! The bars offer sampler paddles of beer so you can try a range of craft brews from varying regions across the UK. And if you simply can’t find a waiter - there is a self-serve beer tap in the buffet just swipe and pour!
3. Long Life Milk
Brits don’t mind a bit of long life milk - Aussies prefer it fresh. The advantage is that there was a kettle in the room with mountainous supplies of tea/coffee and long life milk. At any time - day or night - a cup of tea was available in your cabin. In the buffet restaurant long life milk in sachets is kept on the tables so tea could be poured at the table and you did not have to get up for milk. For me, I prefer milk from a jug rather than a sachet.
4. No Baristas
Australians are coffee snobs and we love a good coffee made by a Barista. Although there was Costa coffee on board - the machines were automated. The coffee waiter simply pressed a button and the machine did the work.
5. Kids Can Not Roam
When the kids are put into kids club, they are secured. In Australia generally children can sign themselves in and out of kids club from age 10. On the Britannia, kids have to be 13 years old to gain that privilege.
The kids club was also open quite late - until 11pm at night. The Brits like to party so the kids are well looked after so the parents can enjoy the onboard evening activities.
6. No Leaving Kids On The Ship
If parents go ashore - the kids go with them. In Australia and the US kids clubs operate on port days and parents are able to leave the ship without the kids. This is not allowed on the Britannia.
Not that we have regularly done this - however there have been a few occasions when we have taken the kids off the ship in the morning and then enjoyed an afternoon exploring further without them when they were too tired to continue.
On this particular cruise our first port day was met with cold, wind and rain. Whilst we put ponchos on the kids and headed out into the awful weather, they were not impressed. We did not get to explore much - there was only so far we could force them to walk in the rain. The adults however would have soldiered through - but back to the ship it was. The kids enjoyed their afternoon in kids club whilst the adults had to sit on deck and wonder what could have been explored at a port stop they would probably never return to.
7. Best of British
Best of British sail away party, Best of British quiz, Best of British party night, Best of British stage show - I did not realise the British were so patriotic. It was actually great to see - even if it meant at Trivia time we got the so called “easy questions” wrong. We simply had no chance when the theme of the quiz was British TV show songs.
8. Formal is Formal
Wow can the British bring out a frock! Where did all these women get such formal gowns from. I have never seen so many long flowing ball gowns and men in tuxedos. Even on smart casual evenings the British glam it up! Maybe they don’t get out much - maybe they are just more proper than us Aussies. Even on the last night of the cruise passengers were suited and booted with high heels, frocks and ties on display.
Cruising is a great family travel option, if you are considering a cruise outside of Australian waters you may want to consider a few of the cultural differences you will encounter. Have you cruised abroad? What differences did you notice?
Itchy Feet Family
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Cycling tours have become a bit of a staple activity for us on our travels. So when in London we decided to join Fat Tire Tours London on a four hour Royal London Bike Tour.
Advertised as a tour to show us the main sites with a traditional pub lunch in between, we were in. And, given the awesome tour we had done just the week before in Berlin, we did not hesitate to book with Fat Tire.
However cycling in London is quite a different beast to cycling in the rice fields of Vietnam, the temples of Bali or the bike friendly city of Berlin. I think we failed to factor in just how BUSY London is!
London Not Exactly A cycling Town
London is not exactly what I would describe as a cycle-friendly town. Well, lets be honest it is hard enough as a pedestrian to get around the major attractions - try and do it on two wheels and the challenge increases - even more when you are only seven years old.
And with tourists in all the major hot spots coming from every corner of the globe, the acceptance of cyclists and the patience and courtesy offered varied depending on who you ran into!
We did get to see all the major royal sites Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Marble Arch and the commentary offered by our guide Paul was informative.
Cycling through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens offered relief from the major tourist hubs. In fact, even though we lived in England before the kids, there were corners of the parks explored on this tour that we had not discovered before. The gentle ride through the parks was some of the most enjoyable moments of the tour.
English Pub Lunch
Our anticipation of a traditional English Pub lunch was squashed when our guide took us into the centre of Trafalgar Square and gave us 25 minutes to find lunch, go to the bathroom and return to our bikes to continue.
“Don’t order food at the pub” we were informed “We have English people serving and you will never get your food in time.”
A sandwich from Boots, a queue to use the bathroom at the pub and we stood shovelling food in our mouths before jumping back on our bikes to continue - not exactly a relaxing quaint English pub meal.
Fat Tire offer a variety of kids bikes, as well as child seats - so they are a great option for families. On a stop in the park, passers by were asking which tour company we were with as they were pleasantly surprised to see so many children on the tour.
Would I recommend a London Cycling Tour? Well as long as you know what you are in for. Our seven year old was probably a bit young to be cycling on her own, our ten year old however handled it pretty well.
It was a pretty stressful experience constantly watching the children weave in between the hoards of pedestrian tourists - but as long as you are prepared for that I say go for it.
You can find more details of Fat Tire London Tours at their website.
Itchy Feet Family
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- Christmas Cruising: Pros and Cons
- Getting Dirty in Vietnam
- 24 hours in Sydney with Kids
- Cruise Ship Lingo - Understanding the Cruiselings
By Guest Blogger Monisha Iswaran
There’s really only so much you can learn in a classroom setting - life experience is the true teacher that we should all make the most of. The more different experiences and types of exposure you involve your kids to the more likely they are to turn out to be well-rounded, mature individuals. Not to mention, travelling as a family is known to be great for bonding and you will likely feel closer to each other by the end of the trip. So bear in mind that vacations are well worth the expense, and are more than just a good time. Here are 5 things your little ones will learn from travelling at a young age:
Want your children to broaden their skillsets and learn to do simple things for themselves quicker? Travel is one surefire way to do so. When you are busy moving in and out of hotels/accommodation, kids often have to occupy themselves or help with the transition process. This results in kids who are more attentive, helpful and involved, rather than sitting back and hoping that adults do all the work. Encourage your kids to help out as much as you can rather than telling them to get out of the way - this way they will learn heaps of skills.
The more different places your child gets to visit, and has to learn to exist in (albeit for short periods of time), the more adaptable they learn to be. This can be in terms of adapting to different living conditions, weather, culture of people, language etcetera. One of the most important skills of any professional or personal setting is being able to respond well and get along with a variety of people, no matter the circumstances. However, especially when your little ones are young, try and make their travel experience as comfortable as possible. Cots are portable and convenient, and having a familiar sleeping spot can be soothing to infants and toddlers, especially if you are travelling for long periods of time.
3. Going Technology-Free
Travelling is the perfect time to go technology free, and teach your kids the joy of tuning out from such devices. The sad thing is in this day and age most kids are overly attached to screens - ipad, televisions, iphones etcetera. Often times when travelling, good wifi spots are few and far between. Therefore, take a technology cleanse as a family - no emails from work, no sending selfies to friends…. And you might just find you teach your kids the art of work-life balance in the process. Dolls are a great way to entertain kids without having to tune into the internet. It’s how kids stayed amused before video games and Netflix so why not go old school?
Who can honestly say that they’ve been on a trip where every single event has gone as planned. Plans get messed up and that is simply life! Going on a trip as a family definitely teaches children the art of patience, particularly when things aren’t going your way. From missing a plane to getting stuck in a particularly bad traffic jam to losing luggage - dealing with disappointments and difficulties is a good skill to have!
Is there really anything more fun than heading out on a great open road, to explore and discover more than you ever knew was possible? Not for those of us bitten by the wanderlust travel bug. For most it is something they want to pass on to their children, as some of the best memories you’ll ever make will be on your first solo trip around Europe, or backpacking with friends, or with a group of strangers you meet in a foreign country and become mates with!
Travelling from a young age as a family treats children to the joys of exploring new countries and unfamiliar territories. Chances are they won’t want to give that up and will be doing exactly the same things with their young ones in a few decades.
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When travelling with kids you have to add a few things to the itinerary that keep them entertained. In Europe, whilst the culture and architecture are fascinating for the adults, the kids are not so readily impressed. It is important to pepper the trip with a few fun activities.
Tropical Islands is a bizarre concept that we gravitated to. About 60kms south of Berlin lies a large dome like structure that houses a year-round beach and waterpark. For a country that spends so much of the year in cold and darkness, you can imagine the appeal a location like this would hold for locals.
For Australians, slightly a strange thing to do given we have amazing beaches and weather - but we always like to do something a little bit quirky on our trips.
Tropical Islands is a complete one stop resort in the middle of the German forrest. Once you are in, they have you - there is not really anything close by.
More than just a day trip
Visitors come not for the day - but the whole night, or longer. Accommodation options range from pool side chalets, to fancy tents in the sand, to a block of hotel rooms - which we opted for. (AKA the cheapest option with it’s own bathroom).
Our family room was quite spacious, there was a seperate room with twin beds for the kids, a mini fridge with complimentary water and apple juice and the room included wifi. Rooms were made available at 4pm and checkout the next day was 11am, with access to the resort facilities until 10pm after check out.
Upon arrival guests are issued a wrist band that doubles as a room key, payment card and locker key. Everything in the resort is swipe to pay and whilst we had breakfast included, all other meals had to be purchased. The breakfast buffet however was amazing and we certainly maximised this offer after a full day in the pool the day before.
Mega Water Play ground
The actual water park offered a number of options. Waterslides, outdoor pools and jacuzzi, lagoon pool, beach pool and an adult spa and sauna.
When you got all wrinkly and needed a break from the water, there was a rainforest area walk through with a variety of animals and plants to explore - including some flamingos! Or for around AUD$100 a family you could take to the air for a balloon basket ride that gave an inside aerial view of the resort.
The sheer size and magnitude of this place blew me away. Taking a nap near the beach pool I estimated at least 2000 deck pool chairs in that area alone. It was mind blowing.
not a cheap adventure
This was however by no means a cheap quirk to our itinerary, but we decided to add it in regardless. At just short of AUD$500 for a family of four - including park entry, overnight accommodation and buffet breakfast - plus the meals and drinks purchased during the day, it was an AUD$600 overnight excursion. Actually - add in the apple watch that came off during a waterslide ride - and it brings it to over AUD$1,000!
So as long as you are not on a tight budget - or if you are happy like us to splurge on a couple of activities in your itinerary, we recommend you give it a go. It is definitely something different that will be a forever memory. Take a look at their website for more details.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Travelling Europe with kids has it’s challenges. Whilst the adults marvel in the history and architecture - it does not quite hold the appeal a Disneyland holiday has for a 7 and 10 year old. Keeping the kids entertained whilst also giving them a historical and cultural lesson can be tricky.
Our kids hate doing bus tours, they simply don’t enjoy any part of them. Before children we would always do a hop-on-hop-off tour to orientate ourselves in a new city. However our kids simply whinge the whole time - trust me we tried it!
It is for this reason we have started to opt for city cycling tours. We have done a few in places like Bali, Vietnam, New York and now have added to the list with the Fat Tire Berlin Day City Tour.
Range of Kids Bikes
Depending on the tour company, kids are catered for in a range of ways. Child bikes, child seats for the adult’s bike - or as we just tried in Berlin, tag-along bikes. Essentially a tandem bike, the child has their own seat and pedals but the adult bike brakes and steers from the front whilst the child tags along.
We started with a child’s bike for our seven year old however as we were cycling on roads through some traffic we opted for the tag-along for safety. Whilst she can ride confidently on the open parks and walkways at home, we decided she probably was not really confident enough to ride through Berlin traffic. For the most part the tour was in parks and on cycling pathways, however there were occasional stretches of city traffic to manoeuvre.
Our 10 year old on the other hand relished the freedom and cycled up the front of the group right alongside the tour guide.
Berlin City Highlights
The beauty of a cycling tour is that you get to see all the main attractions - we visited Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island, The Berlin Wall, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and more, all the sights you would see on a bus tour - however the kids (and adults) were being active and having fun.
Our tour guide, Alex, was fantastic and kept both the kids and adults fascinated at each location. Although it was quite a heavy history lesson to digest, the kids took in bits and pieces and we were able to discuss further after the tour where they had questions.
Great Tour Guide
There is definitely something to be said for an enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide - Alex was a great story teller and was animated in his delivery. A Canadian, he had a clear passion and enthusiasm for the city and it’s history which he shared with us all.
As well as the major sights the tour also took us through a large stretch of Tiergarten, Berlin’s premier city park. We covered ground that we never would have seen by foot and visited a Beer Garden tucked away in a corner of the gardens that only a local would find.
The tour took a total of 4.5 hours and included a one hour stop for lunch. The kids loved every minute of it and not once whinged are we there yet!
If you are travelling with kids and see a city cycling tour - give it a go! For details or to book this tour, visit Fat Tire Berlin City Tour.
Itchy Feet Family
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A flight to Europe from Australia is no mean feat for a traveller - let alone a family. So when we booked flights with Qatar Airways, recently voted World’s Best Airline, I had high expectations.
Here were the highlights and the lowlights of flying on the World’s Best Airline - Qatar Airways, as we experienced on a flight from Adelaide to Doha on June 27, 2017 - unfortunately the highlights are slim.
2. Kids Packs
The kids packs are pretty impressive - as voted by our 7 and 10 year olds. There were activity packs and a mini ‘Game of Life’ board game - that although they did not play - they were impressed with! And the bag they come in can double as a soft iPad pouch - so that was impressive. The kids definitely rated the kids packs.
3. Direct out of Adelaide
Qatar Airways now fly directly out of Adelaide to Doha, Qatar, and then on to a myriad of destinations around Europe.
The Adelaide to Doha leg takes 14 hours, the beauty of this is the elimination of a domestic flight out of Adelaide.
We continued on to Berlin - a further six hour flight. Twenty hours of flying time - add to that the transit times, pre-flight check in etc, and our trip still ended up being nearly 30 hours from the time we left home until checking into our Berlin hotel.
In comparison to Qantas international where you receive a menu, including beverage list, have access to a pantry for fruit and snacks throughout the flight, receive hot chocolate and ice cream during the flight, as well as a personal snack pack and bottles of water to keep you going. Qatar really did not hold a candle to other international carriers when it comes to onboard food, snacks and beverages.
The kids received their “kids meals” first before the main service, which is always helpful - however their meals were exactly the same as the adults.
2. Seating configuration
The seats are configured in rows of 3 - 3 - 3 seat configuration. For a family of four this configuration always causes a dilemma. Do you split up? Travel in pairs and have a stranger in the third seat. And if you do that - do you take the aisle or the window? The alternative - which we opted for - was to take a row of three, 1 Adult and 2 children, with the second adult essentially flying solo on an isle seat in the middle row.
The adult on their own sits next to two strangers for a 14 hour flight - the other adult has 14 hours to deal with two tired children frustrated by not being able to lay out and sleep - on their own.
3. Doha City Tour
One of the draws to flying Qatar Airways was the opportunity to explore a Middle Eastern City. Qatar Airways offer a free city tour to passengers in transit. Knowing this, we booked a flight with a seven hour transit time so that we could take advantage of this opportunity. However, in reality, by the time we made it to the City Tour desk the 8am tour had already booked out! So, despite booking a seven hour transit and applying for Transit Visas, we ended up spending the seven hours inside the airport. It would be great if these tours could actually be pre-booked so that you knew if you were going to fill your transit time and see the sights of Doha.
If you are wanting to get on one of the city tours, also try not to make the mistake we did by exiting the airport (as opposed to going through to transfers). We passed through immigration and exited the airport only to find that the tour needed to be booked from inside the airport in the transit area. It took us over an hour to exit the airport and then re-enter through immigration and security. On the plus side, we got our passport stamped!
So for what reason Qatar Airways was voted World’s Best Airline I am unsure. If the price was right I would fly them again, however I would prefer Qantas International or Singapore over Qatar.
What are your thoughts, have you flown Qatar?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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24 hours in Sydney with Kids
Christmas Cruising - Pros and Cons
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They call it “Taking on the Icon” and that is a pretty fair summary of the experience that is the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb.
Every city has an iconic building or feature, in Adelaide, South Australia, the Adelaide Oval has to be it. Many sporting greats have created memories on the hallowed ground, the iconic turn of the century score board still stands proud amongst the now high tech stadium with a capacity to house 53,500.
Some 18 months ago, the opportunity to “Take on the Icon” was born - since then thousands of people have scaled the roofs and experienced angles of the stadium otherwise unseen.
The experience takes roughly two hours, the preparation itself taking some 30 minutes. Climbers are taken into a dressing room where a custom jump suit is provided to go over clothing and harnesses strapped on and secured. All loose items - watches, rings etc, are placed into lockers, including cameras and phones.
Climbers are taken in groups of 10-16 with a lead guide who communicates with the group via a headset microphone - all climbers wear a receiver and ear piece.
We took a twilight tour - departing at 5pm (5:30pm by the time we were ready to go) and took in views of the sparkling city lights. As it was during winter, we just caught the tail end of the sunset so we did not see the sun disappear, but the sky was a gorgeous orange glow until it went dark.
A purpose built climbing track takes climbers on a journey starting at the Western stand before weaving through the front of the Southern stand to the ultimate lean out point 50 metres above the southern goal posts. A height incidentally equivalent to the spires of St Peters Cathedral which are a great spectacle to see at night from this vantage point.
Winding around the back of the Southern stand to take in the picturesque Adelaide riverbank views before descending again on the Western side, the track is some 1.5kms in distance.
When crossing from one stand to another, a connector bridge is ascended which may give those scared of heights a bit of a challenge, however the climb is not a major physical feat at any point - so can be enjoyed by most fitness levels.
The tour guide provides a great commentary which includes the history of Adelaide, the oval and the scenery. They also carry a camera during the tour and capture photos of climbers that can be purchased at the end of the tour. There are a couple of points where climbers are encouraged to ‘do the lean’ making for some fun photos and moments along the way.
One of the more interesting angles is given when winding under the canopy of the Western Stand. An engineering feat, it is fascinating to hear the science behind the physicality of the stand. Albeit a little scary when you discover that essentially only two major poles are holding the structure in place!
The Adelaide Oval Roof Climb operates all year round with a variety of climb options including the Twilight tour we took as well as day climbs and Game Day climbs that operate whilst sporting events are in full action and stands packed with spectators. Climbs are priced from AUD$99 which includes a climb certificate and group photograph. Additional photos can be purchased from AUD$16.
If you are visiting Adelaide, even for a weekend, this is a great tour to add to your itinerary. The oval is within walking distance of the CBD and accessible from city hotels. For details and tickets visit www.roofclimb.com.au
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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When the boys booked a footy weekend in Melbourne, Miss 7 and I decided this year we would make it a family trip. The boys could indulge in as much football as they liked and the girls would take in the sights.
Although we have travelled to Melbourne many times before, it surprises me that there is always a few hidden gems to be found on each return visit.
Here are some of our highlights and tips from a quick weekend away.
1. Melbourne Star
The Melbourne Star is a giant observation wheel located at the Docklands in Melbourne. One of only four observations wheels in the world, it is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.
To get to the location, utilise the free city circle tram that takes you to the doorstep of the harbourside shopping village. The Star is located in the same precinct and a short walk from the tram stop.
We were so surprised at how quiet this attraction was. Lunch time on a Saturday and we walked straight to the ticket booth, purchased tickets and walked straight on. There was not a line to join at all! And, best of all, it meant we got a whole pod to ourselves. Unheard of on any of the other observation wheels around the world in London, Singapore or Las Vegas.
The “flight” takes 30 minutes to complete a full rotation and the views are pretty spectacular.
Savings tip: I googled discount Melbourne Star tickets before paying at the gate. I managed to purchase a Scoopon deal that allowed instant purchase and use. Gate price was $48 for 1 x Adult and 1 x Child - Scoopon price was $35.
2. City Circle Tram
The city circle brown tram does a great loop of Melbourne and is an excellent way to orient yourself if you have never been before. The trams run every 12 minutes, travels in a circle in both directions and is absolutely free.
Onboard you will also receive a pre-recorded commentary, occasionally you will board a tram with a live commentary which can be entertaining.
There is not really any major attraction within Melbourne CBD that can not be reached via the free city circle tram.
Savings Tip: ALL trams in the Melbourne CBD tram zone are free! I have been travelling to Melbourne for years and only just realised this. So if you need to get from one side of town to the other, you don’t have to wait for the circle tram and do a big loop, you can catch a tram going straight across the city - for free. Or if you are going 4-5 blocks down Spencer or Flinders street and have tired children with you - don’t make them walk when there is a tram free to take you.
3. Queen Victoria Markets
A trip to Melbourne is not complete without a visit to the markets. The sights and sounds of the fresh produce, butchers, fish mongers and providores is an experience not to be missed. We headed there first thing in the morning and started our day with breakfast at one of the many cafe’s and stalls serving freshly ground barista coffee and organic barn laid eggs!
Once breakfast was complete the kids entered what they described as “fidget spinner heaven!” after purchasing the craze items on e-bay and having to wait weeks for their arrival from China, they were overwhelmed by the plentitude of options available for instant purchase. Every colour, every style imaginable. Thank goodness we gave them a spending budget for the weekend - it was then up to them to seek out the best bargains to maximise their allowance which now became fidget spinner spending money.
And a visit to the markets is also not complete without indulging in hot jam donuts. We opted for the ever popular American Doughnut Kitchen located in a converted old bus that parks at the market. For $5.50 you get five hot jam donuts.
The quote of the trip went to the gentleman in the line in front of us arguing with the staff demanding donuts with “not too much jam, not too much sugar!” Both the staff and everyone in the line were perplexed by the customer’s request. Pretty sure we were all in line wanting sugary, jammy donuts!
4. Australian Rules Football
Melbourne is the home of Australian Rules Football - commonly known as AFL, if you are visiting during the months of play it is almost a sin to not take in a game. Both the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Etihad Stadium host games and both are easily accessible from the CBD.
We were fortunate enough to time our visit during the AFLs annual Indigenous round and were treated to an Essendon Vs Richmond Dreamtime game at the MCG on the Saturday night.
Nearly 87,000 people packed the stadium which celebrated and honoured the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players of the game. A traditional welcoming ceremony provided pre-game entertainment that sparked the enthusiasm of the lively crowd.
Savings Tip: A family pass in general admission cost just over $50 pre-purchased online. Pack drinks, snacks and dinner purchased from outside the ground and get there early to secure a seat and enjoy your picnic dinner. Concession prices are over-inflated as with any stadium around the world. There are plenty of Coles Express and Woolworths Metro stores that you can pick up some snacks from in the city before you take the free tram out to the MCG.
5. Dumplings in China Town
On previous trips to Melbourne we have enjoyed amazing Yum Cha in China Town, this trip we did not manage a lunch time visit so instead thought we would try one of the many dumpling houses that receive rave Trip Advisor Reviews.
People queue for dumplings in Melbourne - we got there early so did not have to wait, but was it worth it……. they were just dumplings……
Sure they were tasty, the service was quick and the meal relatively cheap. But the dumpling house was pretty run down and unless you are a uni student wanting somewhere to hit a record for most dumplings consumed in a sitting - I probably would not line up for the experience.
But we can say we have done it, we did consume a large amount of dumplings for a relatively small amount of cash and were given the privilege of drinking our soft drinks and beers straight from the can - classy!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.