Five Faves in South Melbourne Market

Padre Coffee

When I was in Melbourne, Saturday mornings are usually spent on grocery shopping at the South Melbourne Market. This place is quite accessible both by car and by tram. I like the market’s vibe, and there are many shops to choose from. On my last visit, I was quite pleased to find that most of us shoppers have our own eco-bags in tow.

Here are my top five favorite shops at the South Melbourne Market:

Padre Coffee

I mentioned in a previous blog that Melbourne is famous for its fantastic coffee. If you ask me what the best cafe is, I’d probably have to think twice – there are too many good ones! Padre Coffee is one of the most popular ones. For the longest time, my brother-in-law likes Padre Coffee and he was the one that introduced this to me. The place is usually very busy on weekend mornings and getting seats can be quite a challenge. Their latte is quite good.

One thing I like about most Melbourne cafes is that they support and encourage people bringing in their own cups. I used a KeepCup on my last visit to Padre Coffee.

 

Agathe Patisserie

Now what’s a good coffee without a matching yummy pastry? I was told the bread here was really good so I lined up one weekend morning to get a croissant and a chocolate muffin. Boy, was it so good I lined up yet again to buy more croissants to go. I didn’t mind the long (but fast moving) queue because I was distracted by the sight of the tempting pastries and the smell of freshly-baked bread.

1531009596926969-e1540739539587.jpg
Pastries heaven at Agathe Patisserie

 

Koenji Vintage

Koenji Vintage is a thrift shop that sells cool, quirky contemporary Japanese apparel and accessories. My sister is a regular here, and she bought several dresses at affordable prices. Koenji Vintage’s friendly owners, Wil and Jane, opened their shop mid 2016. To date, this continues to be a go-to by sustainable shoppers and fashionistas alike.

For more details about Koenji Vintage, check out their website here.

5ed5fe55-5365-4fc5-a593-9f4099cac756-1
Koenji Vintage thrift shop

Happy Place By Lola Berry

This is my sister’s personal favorite. If they feel like getting a healthy breakfast, Happy Place by Lola Berry is the place to go. They have a wide array of options to choose from. My sister likes trying out the different slushies with her usual smashed avocado.

Azalea

A Saturday trip to the market won’t be complete without getting a bunch of fresh flowers for the house. Azalea provides beautiful local blooms that we just couldn’t get enough of. A visit to this shop always brightens the day and lifts up the mood.

img_0867
Local fresh blooms from Azalea

So there you have it, my five favorite shops in South Melbourne Market. There are other shops for me to discover and explore, but I’d definitely go back all the time to these favorite shops whenever I visit the market.

For more information, check out South Melbourne Market’s website here.

 

Five Faves in Baguio

Camp John Hay

Back in the day, Baguio was considered a summer destination. Because it is located at a higher elevation, it is cooler there than in Metro Manila. But then, a trip to Baguio took a longer time of planning and preparation – because the drive was about 8 hours. Now, thanks to the new highways connecting Manila to the northern part of Luzon, driving to Baguio takes normally just about a little over 4 hours.

D was always hesitant to go because he had been hearing horror stories about the bad traffic and the pollution. After months of convincing he finally agreed to drive with me to Baguio provided we go on a Sunday (with the hopes that tourists coming up for a weekend getaway would be going home to Manila by then) and I have to book a hotel away from the city center. I reserved our rooms right away before he could even change his mind.

So very early Sunday morning we drove northbound, enjoyed the views of rice paddies, took a couple of stops for breakfast and took photos of Mt. Arayat and some bridges.

We checked in at Forest House Bed and Breakfast, which was a close drive to Camp John Hay. Our room was cozy with an overlooking view of their backyard garden.

Bencab Museum

This was our first stop, because I cannot get enough of museums. And pretty much because it was also the farthest from the city so we drove there first. Bencab Musuem exhibits the works and collections of Ben Cabrera, a National Artist, renowned for his Philippine contemporary art. If not for D, I would have spent a whole day admiring the different paintings and artwork. We also spent time appreciating the view of their garden and koi, and the adjacent hills.

The Bell House

Walking inside Camp John Hay was reminiscent of what I saw Baguio as when I was a child. Though there are new establishments, it was not crowded and I am glad the place is still filled with hundreds of pine trees.

Inside Camp John Hay is The Bell House. My understanding is that it used to be a residence when the Philippines was still a colony of the USA. Nowadays it stands as a museum. It has an amphitheater next to it, which was beautifully lined with flowering plants. I had fun taking photos of the amphitheater.

The Bell House is big and the atmosphere inside was light and airy. D and I began exploring the house going separate ways. I was amazed at how the furniture was maintained and preserved. As I walked out the patio I pretended I was living in the 50s and wondered how I could have made each day productive without my gadgets back then.

There was also a secret garden next to The Bell House. I can’t recall if it was called ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’. We were just told by the museum staff to check it out so we did. It felt almost magical as I walked through the garden, with trees and mist enveloping us.

Baguio Market

A visit to Baguio will not be complete without going to the market at the city center. Sure, it was crowded, but it wasn’t as crowded as, say, Mall of Asia or Megamall on a payday weekend sale. We could still walk comfortably around, though we had to be careful of our belongings because we had to, as signs around the market would say, Beware of Pickpockets.

We bought vegetables and fruit, which sell much cheaper in Baguio compared to Manila. I was able to get all my salad ingredients here. For fruit we got strawberries and native berries. We also bought jam and ube (purple yam). We took a Grabcar on our way from and back to the b&b because this is one part of the trip that D would not have the patience driving to. Traffic wasn’t bad but parking would have been.

Diplomat Hotel

Now going here entailed use of our car. Atop Dominican Hill is the old and abandoned Diplomat Hotel. The spooky facade and the mist surrounding the place makes it a popular go to by tourists seeking some ‘scary’ thrills. Its history is narrated next to the entrance. It was built by the Dominicans as a vacation house on 1913. It was then converted to a school and named Colegio Del Santissimo Rosario from 1915-1918. During WWII it served as a refuge for families and Dominican priests from 1942-1945. In 1945, the Japanese used it as their last stand until it was bombed by the Americans. After reconstruction, it became the Diplomat Hotel which operated from 1973-1987.

Laperal White House

Since we were in the mood for scares we also went to the Laperal Guest House. We passed this anyway as we headed to the Pink Sisters’ Convent and Chapel. One wouldn’t miss this mysterious-looking old white house. I heard ghost stories about this place, even saw some documentaries about it many Halloweens ago. Unfortunately they were closed at that time so we weren’t able to get in. Pink Sisters’ Convent

So those are my five favorite spots in Baguio. I’d say it was worth driving to, and though it wasn’t as secluded and pristine it was decades ago, I was still able to enjoy the sights, the food and the cool temperature with my D.

Five Faves from My Weekend in Adelaide

museum

I quite enjoyed my recent vacation in Australia. All my prior trips were business-related, and with this one I got to spend more quality time with my sister. Also, for the first time, I got to go to South Australia to visit my brother-in-law’s family.

We drove Friday night all the way from Melbourne and arrived on the wee hours of Saturday morning.  The drive was comfortable as we had several stops along the way. Because we were only staying for two days, we rested for just a couple of hours before heading out to explore the beautiful city of Adelaide.

First Stop: Glenelg Beach

Glenelg has a nice beach. It is only a few minutes’ drive from the city centre and is accessible via tram. My brother-in-law said that when he was a teenager, he and his friends would always hang out at the Glenelg Beach.

Glenelg Beach
Glenelg Beach

There are several cafes and restaurants, and we had brunch at the PURE Boutique Coffee Bar which was near the Glenelg Town Hall.

Overall I liked the chill, relaxed vibe of this place, and I liked watching people run with their dogs on the beach.

Shopping at Adelaide Central Market

With our eco-bags in tow, we headed off to do a bit of grocery shopping at the Adelaide Central Market. Though it was quite busy on that Saturday morning, I enjoyed exploring the place.

We first went to one of my sister’s go-to shops: Little Tokyo, which sells Japanese groceries and homeware. This is where she regularly gets her Japanese spices, snacks, hibachi and nattou from.  She was so pleased when she found the rice crackers she loved in Tokyo here.

Next, she brought me to a popup bookshop which sells vintage books. It was a delight browsing through their shelves – lots of interesting books of different genres. I could spend hours there.

Lastly we went to the Goodies and Grains shop. I liked how they stacked their different products in jars and bottles and customers could refill their own-brought containers (lesser plastic use, yay!). They have a wide variety of items from honey, oil, coffee, nuts and so much more. This is where I found my new favorite flavored kombucha drink.

Free Exhibits at The Art Gallery of South Australia

After lunch we had time to check out the free exhibitions at The Art Gallery of South Australia. The museum has a beautiful building, and I was amazed by The Life of Stars – a stainless steel sculpture which is a permanent display at the main entrance. I like how it reflected the city.

At the time the Diane Arbus – American Portraits, and Tracey Moffatt: Body Remembers, were both on exhibit (from 14 July – 1 October 2018).Museum

The museum’s facade

Photography

My favorite display

A Relaxing Stroll at Himeji Gardens

My sister has researched about the Himeji Gardens and insisted from the start that it should be included in our weekend agenda. We had to use Google Maps to locate the place. It turned out to be worth looking for because it was a picturesque garden – felt like being in a Zen oasis in the middle of the city. The Himeji Gardens celebrates the Sister City relationship between the Japanese ancient city of Himeji and Adelaide.

As per the sign at the entrance of the garden, two classic Japanese styles are combined here – the ‘senzui ‘ (a lake and mountain garden), and the ‘kare senzui’ (a dry garden).

Entrance was free, and we spent about thirty minutes walking through the garden, listening to the sound of the birds and the water.  I imagine if could spend a longer time there, it would be a good place to meditate, or sit and read a book.

Skyline View at Mt Lofty Summit

On Sunday, before heading out to Hahndorf, we stopped by the Mt Lofty Summit. Initially we planned on doing the trail, but it was closed at the time due to restoration work.

At the summit, we were able to see the panoramic view of the Adelaide skyline. There was a Visitor Information Centre and a gift shop, and I was able to purchase some souvenirs there.  There was also a restaurant with a view at the summit.

Mt Adelaide
Mt Lofty Summit panoramic skyline view

So that was the highlight of my short visit to Adelaide. I’m so happy my sister and brother-in-law brought me there. I would like to get to know the city more, and perhaps spend a longer time there when I go back to Australia. Overall, I think the city was very charming, and I liked being able to go to different places like the beach, museum, market, parks which are all just within a few kilometers’ driving distance from each other.