Travel VUDA is back from a very successful Melbourne Cup & Wineries Women Only Escorted Tour. A fabulous group of ladies, an amazing city, outstanding food & wine, and a grand sporting event - what more could you ask for.
We rode the iconic trams down to St Kilda, a seaside suburb oozing chic art deco character, offering an array of arty eateries and, what we were there for, great shopping. Due to a massive amount of rainfall the days before The Esplanade Market was delayed in opening, but disappointment was soon transformed into pure shopping hysteria when the first shop we stumbled upon had an overflowing specials rack, we practically ran the poor shop assistant over as she opened shop. Arms full of potentials we all headed to the changing rooms and an hour or so later emerged with happy smiles and shopping bags in hand. In and out of the shops we weaved, oo'ing & aar'ing over this garment and that handbag, thinking oh yes we've hit the shopping jackpot here. After much jumping into too smaller jeans it was time to replenish the energy levels. Having found the coolest cafe in the world, we parked ourselves al fresco, shopping bags piled high, and ordered a very yummy lunch, washed down with a very yummy rose wine. And all I have to say is - I Love St Kilda.
That afternoon we were treated to Hairspray The Musical at the gorgeous Princess Theatre. Very entertaining, excellent staging and high energy. Some very important underlying messages, but mostly lots of laughs. We compared thoughts and theories about the show over a Chinese/Asian styled shared dinner at the beautiful Longrain Restaurant in China Town.
Monday is a free day to explore Melbourne. With so many distinct areas the choices are many. A few of the ladies have been to Melbourne before and head off to revisit favourites and to discover new highlights. Some of the ladies head off to explore Melbourne with Hidden Secrets Laneways & Arcades Tour, a walking tour uncovering the hidden gems in the beautiful and unique laneways. This area of the CBD is truly fascinating and special. Us brave ones head off on our bikes with Real Melbourne Bike Tours, experiencing Melbourne at ground level. We learn about the cities rich gold mining history, view a mix of old and modern architecture, cruise though sleepy side streets checking out real estate, pass locals going about their lives and sample amazing food (mmmm). Thank you Murray - an absolutely fantastic day. I can highly recommend this tour to all.
We all regroup at the end of the day to enjoy a Cup Eve Dinner. More outstanding food complimented by local wines (except those who couldn't go past the Central Otago Pinot Noir), and of course lovely company.
The day we've been waiting for arrives - the 150th running of the Emirates Melbourne Cup. Alarms blare early this morning, allowing time to pretty ourselves up for this special event. It's like a mini fashion parade down in the hotel lobby on Cup Day, each making a grand entrance and individual statement. Sipping on bubbles this early in the morning is a bit of a treat (oh go on, twist my arm) and there's a real sense of excitement as different groups head off making their way to Flemington, race book in hand. Everyone sharing betting tips, with names like So You Think, Shocking, Maluckyday and Americain much talked about. Prepared for a typical 'four seasons' Melbourne day, we make our way to Flemington, via the Docklands, by scenic boat cruise. After setting up camp in The Banks @ Ascot enclosure, the day is spent systematically (or not so for some) betting on favioutes, lucky numbers or on the horse with the best sounding name. We all come out with a few wins, and a few losses. The Banks @ Ascot offers a really good location with table and umbrellas (for protection from sun and rain), different food stalls, betting booths, bars, big screen TV and live music. This is complimented by our seats in The Lawn Stand which overlook the finishing line. In the distance Melbourne's CBD silhouettes the skyline. In no time at all the final race is run and we're dancing our way back to the city. Great day.
Next day we depart Melbourne for the Yarra Valley, famous for vineyards and gourmet delights. Visiting a mixture of small boutique and larger scale operations, sampling the fine flavours of the region's vineyards and wineries. Only an hour or so from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is a very picturesque region, where you get a sense of small town community pride. We eat and drink our way around the valley, all the time been entertained by our witty driver.
Arriving at our beautiful resort for the night, with spring flowers in full bloom. This is a nice opportunity for the ladies to relax and enjoy the resort facilities. Swimming and spa treatments seem to be the general agenda for the afternoon. Later that evening we're again treated to more delicious cuisine. As this is our last dinner together, we share many toasts, and reminisce of the fabulous time had by all.
Finally it's time to head to the airport for our journey home, however not before stopping of for more wine tasting and another scrumptious lunch. Outs comes the food and we all look at each other wondering where we might fit it - but somehow we find the room. Finger licking good.
Back in Auckland it big hugs goodbye as we go off on our separate ways. Thank you ladies - you really made the tour wonderful. As we say 'on tour' - Love, Love, Love.
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