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Part 1- Planning, Melbourne and the GOR (Great Ocean Road)
Part 2- Sydney
Part 3- The Gold Coast
Part 4- Bangkok, flights home

Author Topic: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR  (Read 12730 times)

Offline Yehoshua

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Shortly after getting engaged in August 2011 I started planning our honeymoon to Australia and Thailand. The trip would be three weeks long and cover many cities in Australia and Bangkok in Thailand. A few weeks after getting married we were off.

Disclaimer: Since this was my first major trip, some of my decisions in using miles/points might not have been the best. Please forgive me.

Getting to Australia- Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I booked this trip all in X on the Star Alliance. I used CO miles to book the following routing

LAX(-SYD)-MEL on UA
BNE-BKK on TG
BKK-NRT on TG
HND-LAX on NH

costing me a total of 80k per person.



The flights within Australia I paid cash on VA. Our domestic routing was pretty simple, just MEL-SYD-OOL.



Looking back I might have done it a bit differently, but seeing as I wasnít as into the game as I am today I was a lot more limited in my miles supply.

Our flight left LAX at 10:15 pm. Lucky for us the flight was pretty empty and we had 4 seats between the two of us. This ended up working out nicely, as we took turns sleeping on three of the seats for a good 6 hours each.  We arrived in SYD for our short stop over well rested and not jetlagged at all.

We got slightly lost on our way from one gate to the other and ended up taking some back corridor for crew members.  This ended up being a huge time saver, as security was much shorter and I had plenty of time to daven before our flight to MEL.

Arriving in MEL- Thursday, December 1, 2011
We arrived in MEL and immediately had to go through the infamous Australian customs. The only food we had with us were some Cliff bars and a few tea bags, but I didnít take any chances and declared everything. Nothing ended up being a problem and we were on our way in no time.

We decided to take the Skybus to the city instead of a taxi. I had pre-booked the bus (round trip) which runs between MEL and CBD 24/7 so I didnít have to worry about taxis and paying cash. The Skybus was really efficient and got us to the city in no time. Once at the bus station, Skybus provides free hotel transfers to CBD hotels. A short ride later, and we were pulling in to the Westin Melbourne.


After taking the bus to the Melbourne CBD, you take this smaller transfer shuttle to your hotel

We decided to use 12k SPG for 4 nights and got the 5th free. Even though we didnít plan on staying for shabbos it was nice to have the room late Friday afternoon to get ready for shabbos.

I know, I should have stayed at the PH Melbourne, but at the time I didnít have any UR left, no Hyatt nights, and lots of SPG. The Westin suited us just fine.

The hotel itself was modern, clean, and our room had a great view of Flinders St train station.


Westin Melbourne hotel room


View of Flinders St station from our room

After settling into our room, we headed out via light rail to St. Kilda to do some shopping and get some lunch.

However, we first made a stop at a 7-Eleven to pick up a local SIM card. Before we arrived I got an unlocked AT&T phone and had decided to get a HelloMobile SIM once we arrived. This was the cheapest prepaid card I could find and it worked beautifully.

The train was easy, cheap and quick. We decided to go to Coles to go food shopping. I was hoping to find some frum people there to ask about kosher products (I didnít want to buy the kosher book). Since Google street view had picture of frum people going into the store I figured it wouldnít be too hard to find someone especially on a Thursday afternoon.

Sure enough we ran into a really nice woman who took us all around the store showing us what we could buy. We ended up sticking to the things she showed us for the remainder of our trip for the most part. It was just easier.

We also stopped by the kosher store to buy cheese and yogurt and the bakery to buy some bread.  Before heading back to the city we stopped in a sushi restaurant for a late lunch.

That evening we decided to walk around the Southgate. It was just our luck that Australia was experiencing the coldest start to summer in a century, so it was quite chilly walking around. After a few hours we got tired and went back to hotel for the night.

Melbourne- Friday, December 2, 2011
Friday we spend the day exploring the city. We started by checking out Federation Square. There was a public exercise class going on as well as a basketball game for midgets. It was neat to watch both and participate in neither.


X-mas trees in Federation Square


Tram warning sign

Next we walked over to the Eureka Sky deck. With so few countries actually in the southern hemisphere, it wasnít a big shock to find out that this was the highest observation deck in the whole hemisphere! What was surprising was that at 88th floor observation deck is higher than the 86th floor observation deck at the Empire State Building. We ascended quickly and spent time enjoying the panoramic views of the city. It was really amazing.


View from Eureka Skydeck


View of the Westin and Flinders St Station from the Eureka Skydeck; the Westin in the one behind the church


After the midget basketball game, the paraplegics had a game; as seen from the Eureka Skydeck

One thing that makes Melbourne unique is its trams. Lucky for tourists thereís an old fashioned tram (the City Circle line) you can take for free that runs in a loop around the CBD. We took this tram getting off at different points along the way.


City Circle line tram

As first time visitors to the southern hemisphere, it was really weird for us to see all the Xmas decorations going on in summer. They still had people dressed as Santa, snow and wintry design hanging up, and even an exhibit of a town built all out of gingerbread. The one thing they had which was new to us was Xmas themed bathing suits and pool/beach paraphernalia. Odd!

We spent a good few hours walking around many of Melbourneís arcades, looking at shops and going souvenir shopping (we were unsuccessful at the later).


Capitol Arcade, Melourne

We made it back to the hotel to get ready for shabbos before heading back to St. Kilda for shabbos.

Melbourne- Shabbos, December 3, 2011
We spent shabbos with a friendís in-laws. It was really nice to spend shabbos in the Jewish community, especially one so densely populated as Melbourne. It was the longest shabbos of the year, so we passed the day visiting a family we knew. We had such a good time that they even invited us back on Sunday evening for a traditional Aussie barbeque!  They drove us back to our hotel motzei shabbos which ended quite late, so we didnít really have much time to do anything then.

Melbourne- Sunday, December 4, 2011
Sunday morning we were almost going to go to see Blood on the Southern Cross. I say almost because between getting back after midnight and needing to be up by 6:30am to catch the train there we decided to skip it. Instead we spent the morning at the Queen Victoria Market.


Queen Victoria Market

This is one large and interesting market. Yes, they do have food, but the main part is not food at all. Itís a great place for souvenir shopping and just looking around.

From there we took the free tourist bus (shuttle) to Australiaís WWII memorial for the (no joke) 6 soldiers that died during the war. Itís a very nice memorial, and they even have an eternal flame for those six brave soldiers!


Free tourist shuttle


At the WWII Memorial

That evening we went back to St. Kilda for our Aussie Barbeque. It was really nice to spend time with people and get to see how the Aussies grill.

We got back to the hotel early that night to be well rested for the Great Ocean Road the next day.

Great Ocean Road- Monday, December 5, 2011
We decided to rent a car through the Westin. If weíd rented it ourselves we would have needed to pay for parking which would have increased the cost substantially.  Also, we wanted to leave early and didnít want to have to first go and rent the car.

A word about driving on the left. Sit on your left hand. If you donít, you will end up wiping your front window and not signaling, as the wipers and turn signals are switched. Besides for that, driving was super easy and not confusing at all with the exception of Melbourneís other famous uniqueness: the hook turn.


In case you were wondering how it works

Letís just say that turning right from the far left lane is crazy, but it does make sense given all the trams in the middle of the road. In any event, once youíre out of the city itís smooth sailing.


While not at the beginning of the road, it was close enough

The drive along the GOR was just amazing. We stopped at different overlooks and towns along the way, including Lorne, our favorite.


View from along the GOR

After quite a few hours of driving we made it to the 12 Apostles. We walked out to look at them from the path, and then decided to take a helicopter ride to get a better view. It was worth every penny.


The Twelve Apostles from the air; and no, there are not 12 anymore


The Twelve Apostles from the ground

Since we were only going the GOR in one day, we decided to head back to Melbourne but not along the coast. Even though the way we went was not as pretty, it was nice driving through the countryside and the small towns along the way.

The last stop we made was in Geelong.  We saw this Ferris wheel from a distance and ended up driving to it. It was right along the beach near an area many people seemed to come after work to work out called the Eastern Beach Reserve. There were many group fitness classes going on, and even an area to go swimming in an enclosed area in the bay.


Eastern Beach Reserve enclosed swimming area; people exercising

We spent some time strolling around there before heading back to the hotel to pack up and get ready for our early flight to SYD the next morning.

More coming soon...

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2014, 01:46:01 AM »
Wow, for your TR and for your inspiration to write a TR even a long time after your trip was done. Eagerly waiting for the next installment :)

Offline Yaalili

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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2014, 01:50:57 AM »
Wow, for your TR and for your inspiration to write a TR even a long time after your trip was done. Eagerly waiting for the next installment :)
Thanks! More is written I'm just waiting for time to choose and insert pictures.

I really have been wanting to do this for the better part of two years, and with two trips being planned now I figured now would be a good time to do it before I get further backed up.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2014, 01:52:47 AM »
Think that you missed bumping up these two threads too http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=8880.0 and http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=305. :)
I added my TR to the Thailand thread. I want to hold off on adding it to the actual thread until I write the Thailand part at the end. Also, as you'll see, we weren't in Tokyo for too long. I do plan on including the TR in the Japan thread, but mainly for how we transferred between NRT and HND than anything else.

Offline smart brit

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2014, 01:55:41 AM »
Wow! Absolutely stunning!
Just curious why you choose Australia?
Is it because you live in LA?

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2014, 01:58:14 AM »
Wow! Absolutely stunning!
Just curious why you choose Australia?
Is it because you live in LA?
No, it's because I've always wanted to go. I really want to go back, as 2 weeks there is no where near enough time to see a fraction of the beauty of the country. I also hope to visit NZ the next time I'm in the area, especially if it's after 2017 and there's an PH in Auckland.

Offline Mech

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2014, 01:59:07 AM »
Wow! Amazing TR! can't wait to hear more!!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2014, 02:00:17 AM »
Wow! Amazing TR! can't wait to hear more!!
Thanks. Hopefully more over the long weekend, barring any crazy deals.

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2014, 02:07:37 AM »
and with two trips being planned now I figured now would be a good time to do it before I get further backed up.

Spain and?

Offline MC

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2014, 02:07:38 AM »
Wow, great stuff so far. Australia looks beautiful! Can't wait to read the rest

Offline LifesGood

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2014, 02:09:25 AM »
I added my TR to the Thailand thread. I want to hold off on adding it to the actual thread until I write the Thailand part at the end. Also, as you'll see, we weren't in Tokyo for too long. I do plan on including the TR in the Japan thread, but mainly for how we transferred between NRT and HND than anything else.
Great thread. cant wait to hear the rest.

Offline smart brit

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2014, 02:09:30 AM »
No, it's because I've always wanted to go. I really want to go back, as 2 weeks there is no where near enough time to see a fraction of the beauty of the country. I also hope to visit NZ the next time I'm in the area, especially if it's after 2017 and there's an PH in Auckland.
I'm literally begging my better half for years to come with me, but she doesn't want as it's to many hours of travel.

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2014, 02:12:09 AM »
I'm literally begging my better half for years to come with me, but she doesn't want as it's to many hours of travel.

Fly there on Qantas a380 F suite, won't be too long :)

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Cost Australia, Bangkok & Tokyo TR
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2014, 02:19:02 AM »
Spain and?
Maui then Spain.
Wow, great stuff so far. Australia looks beautiful! Can't wait to read the rest
All in due time. 😊
Great thread. cant wait to hear the rest.
Thanks!
I'm literally begging my better half for years to come with me, but she doesn't want as it's to many hours of travel.
Well the fact that it's only 14 hours away is very helpful. Good luck with your wife. Maybe reading the TR will help convince her?