/**/ March 2016 - Travel + Decor + DIY

Australia Travel Blog: The Great Ocean Road Adventure with AAT Kings

While it is currently raining and cold here in Wiesbaden Germany, I can't help to think about the last summer trip I had in Australia. I truly had a great time (and tan) exploring the 'Land Down Under'.

During my trip, I went around the East Coast and one of my stops is Melbourne. Melbourne is a beautiful city. I can actually say that this is one of my favorite cities to date (I can live there). If you are on a holiday though, you don't want to explore just the city, specially if you have enough time to go on an adventure around the state. Victoria is such a huge state and you can actually do a day trip to one of its famous tourist attractions.  Driving around The Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road is considered as one of Australia's famous scenic route (if not the most). Aside from its beautiful sceneries (coastlines, villages and rainforests), the Great Ocean Road is also known for its history and cultural significance.

Know more about The Great Ocean Road history by clicking this link

Before flying to Melbourne from the Gold Coast, a lot of the people I met (even my Aunt, whom I stayed with) told me the I should do the Great Ocean Road and visit The Twelve Apostles in particular. ---- and I took their notes with me.

I got so excited that for this trip, I was in touched with AAT Kings and partnered with them to experience this amazing day tour. With my lack of research (hahaha), I thought that the Great Ocean Road is just a road that will head down to the famous Twelve Apostles. Only when I was browsing the brochure from AAT Kings did I know that, the Twelve Apostles is just one stop in this whole adventure day. Knowing this, I got really excited and can't hardly wait till we hit the road.

Because I was not staying in hotel/hostel, I was scheduled to be picked up at Federation Square (Corner of Flinders & Russell Streets) around 7:45 in the morning. But if you are staying in a hotel, the bus can pick you up so you don't need to travel to Fed Square.

My train arrived a little bit early at the Flinder Station (Melbourne CBD) so I decided to do a little walk and get a coffee and something to eat while I waited for my pick-up. During my first day in Melbourne, I stayed at the United Backpackers Hostel, so I kinda know the area. There is a cute little street where you can find specialty cafes (yheap Melbourne is famous for that---if you still don't have any idea). So I thought of trying one of its cafes.

[caption id="attachment_4119" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Issus at Degraves St. Trying out their local brew[/caption]

I headed on to Degraves St and went to  this cafe called Issus and tried breakfast takeaway offer. I had their egg and bacon muffin + coffee for only 5 aud. It is not actually the best looking muffin, but it did fill my belly before we start the tour. The coffee was amazing though (as expected).

When I arrived at Fed Square, our bus was already waiting for people to board. I was the first one to hop in and I was able to get a seat near the driver. Although, you really don't need to be near him to hear what he will say (mics and speaker--duh). The only thing that I haven't really thought about was which side to seat on. I learned my mistake when we started moving. You see, I sat down at the right side of the bus (if you are facing the driver). The ideal side should be at the left side. If you are seating on this side, you'll get a good view of the Great Ocean Road's coastlines, and it isn't called the 'Ocean Road' for nothing. Oh well, I just settled on always turning my neck whenever a beautiful coastline pops in.

[caption id="attachment_4096" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog The AAT Kings Bus!!! Once you see it, you know![/caption]

The first part of the tour is actually a quick tour around Melbourne's CBD. For someone who haven't really toured around the city, the view from the bus (including some commentary from the driver guide) can be very interesting. I have been in Melbourne for a few days already before I took this tour and amazingly, there are still a lot of places that I haven't been to.

Once we left Melbourne's CBD and the cityscape slowly transformed into beautiful landscapes, you can feel that the excitement started to build up.

We had our first stop at Airey's Pub to do an early stretch and also try some of their pastries (also a good time to talk with other people who are part of the group). I already had food but I thought of getting a donut and a coffee just to get the whole day trip experience (for this review). It cost me a total of 7.50 aud for the whole snack. After 15min. break we headed on the road and traverse the zigzaggy coastline.

[caption id="attachment_4097" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Airey's Pub. Coffee + Donut and my Surat Journal[/caption]

Our driver guide's name is Steve and he is AMAZING! He knows everything about this road and gave us useful (and fun) information which made the long journey entertaining.

We had a quick stop and a  photo op at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch which is a tribute to the World War 1 servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road. It also served as a sign that you are now driving on the Great Ocean Road.

[caption id="attachment_4108" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4098" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Steve our Driver Tour Guide telling us some juicy information[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4110" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Cape Patton loo[/caption]

We did another stop at Cape Patton, which serves as a lookout point. The view is spectacular. Thinking that we are at the edge of Australia is surreal.

We drove pass a little seaside town called Lorne which according to Steve, a popular holiday spot to a lot of people in Victoria. I cant really imagine why not. You got an awesome beach and that is quite enough.

[caption id="attachment_4099" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Apollo Bay[/caption]

Alas, after hours of driving, we arrived at the Apollo Bay where we can grab our lunch. Lunch was not included in the tour but we are provided an ample time to get some proper lunch. Also, Apollo Bay is surrounded with different restaurants that offers several kinds of fish and chips (haha). Well, I have been craving some good fish and chips even before I left for Dubai, something that will remind me of my visit in Northern Ireland, so the idea of having one for lunch isn't bad at all. My only concern was how much will it be. Looking at the place, it surely caters mainly to tourist so I was expecting it to be very pricey. Surprisingly a plate of fish and chips only cost 10 aud at George's Foodcourt. It was not the best fish and chips though, but it did satisfy a craving.

[caption id="attachment_4100" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Fish and Chips at George's Foodcourt[/caption]

After lunch we went straight to what is considered as the main event, THE TWELVE APOSTLES. Before reaching the lookout points, we did a little bit of walking so be sure to have your sunblock lotion ready if you are visiting during summer time (I did). The whole walk to the lookout made the view more dramatic. The Twelve Apostles (limestone stacks) is so beautiful. Just the site alone is worth the long drive.

[caption id="attachment_4102" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog One of the several look out points ----- those tiny tiny dots there are people![/caption]

To simply put it, The Twelve Apostles are eight stacks of limestone (initially 9 stacks before 1 collapsed last 2005) formed through erosion.  Although they are not really 12, it was named as such for tourism purposes

Here's how they got formed: 

  • Limestone got eroded and formed caves in the cliff

  • Caves formed arches

  • Arches collapsed and left rock stacks

  • TADA....you have your Twelve Apostles!

[caption id="attachment_4101" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Majestic View[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4103" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog ooh here's 2 more![/caption]

The only thing that I didn't enjoy at the Twelve Apostles lookout are the amount of tourists who were there. It was so hard to move and to really get a good solo shot. But like most famous tourist destinations, this has been an on going struggle (and I am also a tourist, so who am I to complain?) Also, because we were on a bus tour, we have to abide with the time. We were given 45 minutes and somehow I felt as if it was not enough ----- yeah, I was left by the bus hahaha!  But, Steve came back  after dropping other people from the group to the next stop (which is not too far from where I was). Note: After this, I was never late in any tour groups that I was in.

Our next stop was the Loch Ard Gorge. During our stop we have an option to walk down the beach or go to the lookout on the eastern side of the gorge. I opted to go down and experience the beach. I love that I chose this, the view is impeccable. Crystal blue water and limestone cliffs. PERFECT. Aside from its amazing views, the Loch Ard Gorge is the location of Victorias most famous shipwreck. (know the Loch Ard Gorge history here)

[caption id="attachment_4104" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Just taking it all in[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4095" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog SELFIE!!!![/caption]

After several site stops, our next destination was Port Campbell. A colorful lively village where we had an option to grab a snack (ICECREAM!!), toilet breaks or just enjoy the coastal view. I sat under the shade and as cliche as it may sound, I took my time to appreciate the surroundings. The day was full packed and this stop for me felt necessary just to take everything in and relax.

[caption id="attachment_4106" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog My Traveling Journal. #TheTravelingJournalProject[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4105" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog Port Campbell[/caption]

Now time for our last stop. We had a short stop at the London Bridge. Just like the Twelve Apostles, this is a land formed by limestone erosion. I think it is on its way to become part of the Twelve Apostles. It had actually a bridge that was connected to the main land but last 1990 the bridge collapsed.

[caption id="attachment_4107" align="alignnone" width="800"]Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia AAT Kings Travel Blog London Arch[/caption]

We arrived back in Melbourne's CBD around 8:30 pm and I got out of the bus at 9pm as we have to drop off everyone else and the Federation Square was the last stop. I must admit I felt tired after a full day of touring around. I can say that I think the trip is too much to be compacted in a day but I can't think of any parts that should also be removed (maybe just old age talking). So I guess one tip I can give you is to have a good rest first if you have this trip booked for the next day.

To those of you who are visiting the state of Victoria I would highly suggest doing this trip. AAT Kings also have several trips that cover the Great Ocean Road with other tourist sites (normally 2 -3 days trip). They were so helpful and accommodating when I was booking for this trip. AAT Kings know their Australia and will surely help you find the best trip based on what you are looking for.

I also partnered with AAT Kings during my stay in Sydney. Will keep you posted once I have this on the blog.

If you don't fancy going on a tour, you can also drive around the coast to visit the Great Ocean Road. Being prepared when doing a big road trip is very important so If you’re looking for some quality 4x4 accessories for your four-wheel drive,  why not check out Lifestyle 4x4.
To book this trip check out these information 







w/in Australia: 1300 228 546

Outside: +61 2 9028 5182


Superhero Brunch at Mazina (The Address Dubai Marina)

Most of you who are following my blog, already know that I have been traveling since the beginning of the year, but don't fret, I still got Dubai (and events around the city) covered. My friend Kay (who is a legit writer) is making the rounds for me and will share with us her experiences on some of the latest food offerings in Dubai. Her first review is the new Superhero Brunch at Mazina in The Address Dubai Marina. She told me that they had fun (I am so jealous --- I miss having super brunches back home. All I am eating now are my supermarket loot in the hostel's kitchen).

Check out Kay's first food review below:

In the hallway leading up to the restaurant, we had our first glimpse of a superhero - Spider-Man - and you gotta admit, it’s hard not to get caught up in his web. Then we entered and it was Iron Man greeting us. My seven-year-old niece was so stoked that she ran ahead of us, excited to see who else might be there.

First impressions make all the difference, particularly with themed brunches like this. After all, you have to, well… establish the theme. On that front, I must say Mazina did not disappoint.

Before being seated, we were kindly given a quick tour and briefing of the stations. I’ve been to a few other brunches so I was delightedly surprised to see that the Superhero brunch had an extensive spread. And I don’t mean that they offered a lot of different cuisines, although they did – Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, Indonesian and Continental – but that they had something for every taste and palate, with different types of meat and a variety of salads available. I mean, they had a pork corner and a healthy corner. Just from that, you can pretty much tell they’ve got everything covered.

[caption id="attachment_4079" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog Healthy Station![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4078" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog This looks like part of the healthy section but do't be deceived, that's the chocolate fondue right behind it[/caption]

 And talk about seafood madness! The steamed version looked fresh and mouthwatering presented in a giant wok. If I had no self-control, they would have been gone in a Poof! Then I need only to point at Batman as the culprit. Who’s to say that he’s not hiding them all under his cape?

Speaking of whom, kudos to this band of caped crusaders, err, staff, for the incredible service. They were friendly and attentive but not in the in-your-face bordering on stalker kind – checking in on us, clearing our tables promptly and asking about or refilling our drinks every now and then.

[caption id="attachment_4067" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog Got a plate full of these![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4072" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog Guilty as charged[/caption]

The food in general was superb although there were a few misses for me. I enjoyed the salmon and tuna sashimi so much I went for seconds, I mean thirds. The miso soup, on the other hand, was bland. It was a sad moment, I’ve been craving for it for days. Maybe I should have had it before any raw fish. My bad. The flavors of the roast beef and grilled pork leg were right on point that just thinking about them has me salivating and believe me, I will be salivating for days. I’ve got to admit I was slightly disappointed with the seafood paella. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it because the flavor was there but it just didn’t come together as a whole. I think this is what generally happens when the rice and seafood aren’t cooked together, which I can only assume is the case here. To be fair, I just had paella at a Spanish restaurant a couple of days ago so you have to understand that I’m coming from a different standard. The cheese and pork ham were so, sooo, sooooo good together. They need to replace the nuts though, stat.

[caption id="attachment_4071" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog Roast Beef - I saw it and fell in love[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4070" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog I love how wide the food selections are ---- of course I am enjoying this station![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4076" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog Dumpling for breakfast! Yes please![/caption]

They had a massive dessert station. It was easy to get lost in that wonderland which was complete with white and milk chocolate fondue. I zeroed in on the apple crumble, which I loved and, if I could, I would’ve not stopped eating.

My sister and I loved the Peking duck, which was cooked perfectly and served in generous portions. She said the Indonesian grilled skewers were really good, too. And she’s not useless in the kitchen so you can count on her words. My niece loved the winter garden salad and ate every morsel of her roast turkey.

[caption id="attachment_4077" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog A sneak peek of sugar land, where we all secretly wish we could live and never get fat[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4068" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mazina, Superhero Brunch, The Address Dubai Marina, Food blog Peking duck wrapped in pancakes made just for me. Something I don't my sister and niece understood[/caption]

Of course, these are all a matter of preference. We ate the ones we liked most and can only give feedback based on these. I couldn’t try everything if I wanted to. I did want to, just to be clear. But between the stuff I generally do not eat (I’m a picky eater but slowly trying to be more adventurous) and the need to limit my calorie consumption (I try although I tend to abuse the hashtag #dietstartstomorrowagain), my hands were tied. And, alas, none of the superheroes could help me with this dilemma.

I think the concept is perfect for families. I can see the pull, particularly for parents. The kids have a play area where they can bounce in an inflated castle until they’re tired enough to fall sleep, or so the adults can hope. Spouses can catch up with each other and their friends while the children have their face painted and devote their full attention to the most captivating superhero of them all – the magician.

Altogether, it was a truly enjoyable experience. You can expect great food in a relaxing ambience where everybody. young and not-so-young, wins. I would Zap! my way back there in a minute. But I’ll have to wait until next Saturday.

The Superhero brunch happens every Saturday from 12h30-15h30 and starts at AED315 per person including soft beverages.
Know more about The Address Dubai Marina:


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Food blogger, travel blogger, Dubai

Things That Will Make You Feel Small In Iceland

Iceland has been a dream destination of mine ever since I watched the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and the internet did its job in pushing me to take a leap and hop on a plane to this island nation.

I was discussing this dream to a friend who went to Iceland last summer of 2014 and until now she can’t help herself from talking about Iceland whenever the topic of EPIC TRAVEL comes. (she lives and breathe Iceland since then)

Check out my previous blog post: Walk The Earth Iceland

Dreams do come true! I am seating here in the lounge of my hostel (Bus Hostel) remembering our recently concluded road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road which consistently put a big smile (sometimes with a little boastful smirk) on my face. I am definitely going to do a detailed blog about our big road trip but right now I just feel overwhelmed and scared that I will forget this feeling so I thought of immediately writing and sharing this special moment with you guys. Basically I am writing based on emotions right now. hahaha

I arrived in Iceland with the hopes of seeing all those epic photos that I’ve been seeing in the net (Matador Network, Buzzfeed) but unfortunately I was restricted by my ability or inability to drive. You see, you’ll get the best of Iceland when you rent a car and drive around the ‘Ring Road’ (which is literally circling around the whole island. I do have some tailored trip planned for me in partnership with Guide To Iceland via www.NiceTravels.is and booked a tour with www.sternatravel.com, but nothing really compares to driving at your own pace and go wherever you want to go.

I was a bit on a verge of frustration when a sudden turn of events happened. I was forced to move to a hostel and it opened doors of opportunities for me to finally see the best of ICELAND. The slogan of Bus Hostel in Reykjavik is true indeed: "Might be the beginning of a beautiful journey"

On a gloomy evening, while I was eating my supermarket loot for the night, I met this guy (and now my good friend), Maks, who was planning to do a road trip by himself. We were discussing this trip and realized that our schedules fit perfectly and he was happy to tag me along (yes, no one wants to do a road trip of a lifetime alone right?). From that moment on, we became road trip buddies. Again, I will tell the whole story in another blog, for the mean time I will share some snippets/ snapshots of our epic road trip.

Iceland is truly breathtaking. All you can hear inside (and outside) our car was WOW, WOW, WOW and WOW!!! Compared to other countries, Iceland is relatively a small country yet its landscape will make you feel just a little spec in this world (a tiny tiny little creature). The land is so vast and almost remote that you feel transported to a place out of this world. Often times you will find yourself driving alone in the middle of the main road heading towards a massive glacier mountain (such an overwhelming feeling).

Check out these shots I took that will validate what I am blabbing about here.



[caption id="attachment_4034" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken jokulsarlon Road trip at the South of Iceland (N1)[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_4031" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken glacier Myrdalsjokull[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4032" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken glacier Myrdalsjokull[/caption]

...even with melted and floating Ice at Jokulsarson

[caption id="attachment_4035" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken jokulsarlon Jokulsarlon[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4028" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken Dettifoss path trail[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4053" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken Snæfellsnes Peninsula[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4033" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken black sandy beach Dyrhólaey[/caption]

....or hanging?

[caption id="attachment_4038" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken Snæfellsnes Peninsula[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_4037" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken Icelandic Landscape[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_4030" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken skogafoss Skogafoss[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4036" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken godafoss Godafoss[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_4039" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken Harpa - Iceland's Opera House[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_4054" align="alignnone" width="800"]Iceland Travel Journey Blog Iken Iceland view from the Plane[/caption]

I can't stress how beautiful this place is. Truly even photographs cannot do justice to it. So I challenge you to start planning your trip up north and experience these moments by yourself.

Watch out for more Iceland blogs coming very very soon!


Journal Entry: Du-Bye for Now

As I looked outside the plane window, seeing the tiny pixie city lights I can’t help but reflect how 9 and a half years just flew so fast ( it made a month of farewells and preparations looked like just a blink of an eye).

[caption id="attachment_4015" align="alignnone" width="800"]Dubai mydubai iken journal travel freedom Farewell gifts received from friends[/caption]

Dubai is HOME, I have no doubt about it. A third of my existence in this world, circled around this magnificent city. It gave me an opportunity to grow career wise, growth in my spiritual relationship and even as a human being (yheap I am talking about maturity here).

Leaving the city was a hard decision, one of the hardest I must say, but I know that eventually it will come, and now I think is the right time for me to bid farewell to my city, #MyDubai (at least for now).

[caption id="attachment_4023" align="alignnone" width="800"]Dubai mydubai iken journal travel freedom Dubai Marina[/caption]

I am thankful for everything this city has done for who am I now (see my blog about the opportunities in Dubai). Being my 2nd home, I will surely miss a lot of things now that I am miles away from this beautiful city.

My last few weeks became so emotional as I was torn between leaving my friends and the life I have known, for a dream that I have been praying for. Weighing life options, opportunities and passion were juggling in my head (almost 24/7).

[caption id="attachment_4020" align="alignnone" width="800"]Dubai mydubai iken journal travel freedom Dubai Fountain[/caption]

I remember the first time I left the Philippines to work as a young architect in Dubai, I had only 5 USD in my wallet. Amazed on how I survived back then and seeing how God’s grace and favor worked, one can only be grateful of all the opportunities that has come my way. It was not easy but everything that happened carried me to where I am now.

As time passed, I can say that it is also the right time to move on (I still have some doubts though-- but sometimes you need to take some risks).

[caption id="attachment_4017" align="alignnone" width="800"]Dubai mydubai iken journal sydney travel freedom Sydney Opera House. My 4th city stop.[/caption]

As I am finishing this post which I started typing this last 17th of January on my flight to Brisbane and now finishing this draft here in Reykjavik (yes Iceland), I have made tons of drafts all with a different focus on what I want to share but eventually decided to just make it short (and sweet), a journal entry of what I am feeling right now. It was a very busy past months and I am loving it. So far I’ve been to 10 cities and 8 flights for the past 3 months.
Where I am heading? To be honest I don’t know yet. I am just taking life as it is now ---- LIFE!

Before ending this post, I would love to share a quote from the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which I just read in Facebook that I thought fitting (and sort of an encouragement) to those dreamers out there.

[caption id="attachment_4016" align="alignnone" width="800"]Dubai mydubai iken journal travel freedom Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia[/caption]
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


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