New Year, New Starts, Plan for New Destinations
As Christmas fades into the distance and we all have pangs of guilt over our overindulgence, many of us have the urge to either jet off somewhere or plan some travels for later in the year.
A challenge I constantly face as a Personal Travel Designer are requests for holidays at completely the wrong time of year. Majorca in November is unlikely to produce a tan. Dubai in August is far too hot. And you’ll never see the Northern Lights in Iceland in June. In this series of articles I aim to provide some ideas of where and when to go and to include some great inside tips.
Melbourne is a cosmopolitan and dynamic blend of sophisticated restaurants, interesting architecture, culture, sports, entertainment and personality. No trip to Australia would be complete without visiting its cultural capital. January is a fantastic month. It is the height of summer with warm and sunny days tempered by a freshening breeze from the south in the afternoons.
I found Melbourne’s food scene to be uniquely diverse. Finding restaurants on rooftops and in basements, in iconic settings and historic buildings, and in countless funky spaces in between. Cafés and coffee shops are popping up throughout the city, ensuring nowhere is far from a caffeine fix. One of my favourites is ‘Hell of the North’ in Fitzroy, an informal bistro using local produce and fresh ingredients to produce tantalising French inspired fare. I recommend the ‘Let Us Feed You’ option.
In Australia’s home of sport you have so much choice, January you’ll catch the Australian Open, in March the Formula 1 Grand Prix and in November the Melbourne Cup. If you are a cricket fan, then why not take a tour of the MCG. Australians love their beaches, and why wouldn’t they? St Kilda is popular and close to the city where you can kick off your shoes on safe sandy beaches, enjoy the café culture, or head to Luna Park to whizz around on rides which have been running there for ever. Bells Beach, which hosts the annual Rip Curl Pro competition at Easter, is a must for those into surfing.
Queen Victoria Market has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for over a century, it’s a great place to shop, eat and explore, or just simply people-watch and soak up the atmosphere.
By escaping the busy city life and heading out of town for a few days you get to experience the natural beauty and wonder of the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. You’ll pass through quaint towns, gorgeous beaches, iconic surf breaks and waterfalls. Apollo Bay is gorgeous and charming, known by the locals as ‘Paradise-on-Sea’ and, if you are lucky enough to be there in April, be sure to time your visit with the Apollo Bay Music Festival. Easily accessible from central Melbourne are the diverse wine regions of Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsular, two of my favourites. Combining a trip to the Mornington Peninsula with a visit to Cape Schank allows you to marvel at the stunning landscapes, wild beaches and scenic walking tracks.
Melbourne has everything. After only a few days you’ll soon see, as I did, why it has been named the world’s best city to live in.
Sarah Laverty, owner of Compass Connections has travelled the world all in the name of passion for what she loves and being able to pass on her knowledge to others. www.compass-connections.co.uk