23 July 2011

Melbourne Central YHA Hostel Review and Recommendation

Related posts:
8 Reasons Why I Fell in Love with Melbourne
My Favorite Moments in Sydney
Sydney Central YHA Hostel Review and Recommendation

Accommodations in Australia are relatively expensive compared to other countries. Since I was alone when I went to Melbourne, I decided to try sleeping in a hostel for the first time... I didn't regret it. Melbourne Central YHA (Youth Hostel Association) was a great choice. It was relatively new, the bathrooms were clean, and the facilities were great. Since then, I realized that staying in a hostel isn't a bad idea at all... I even miss the experience once in awhile. Here are what you can expect:

Reception - Get greeted at their cozy reception area by people who are young and energetic. The area has comfortable sofas, travel brochures, and an in-house travel agent. You can go to Australia without any ideas of where to go but still end up with a good itinerary with the help of their in-house travel agent.

Rooftop - This was a sweet surprise as it had cozy seats and convenient toilets (no need to go down should the need arise). Perfect place to lounge around. If I'm not mistaken, there are rooftop rooms which you can book. Suggestion: Buy food and drinks from the supermarket/grocery and enjoy the rooftop experience.

Internet Terminals and TV Area - Watching movies or tv is free. While the internet/computer terminals have a fee (relatively expensive), at least you won't get "disconnected" if you don't have a laptop or mobile internet gadget with you.

Barbeque / Smoking / Lounge Around Area - If you don't want to lounge around at the rooftop, this one which is located at the same level as the reception is a good alternative. The "receptionists"/hotel attendants usually hang out here so this a great place to get to know them as well as mingle with other guests. 

Hallways - Modern feel and will make you feel like you're staying in a hotel instead of a hostel.

Toilet - One of the cleanest, if not the cleanest, among all the hostels I've been to. I can guarantee that they are regularly maintained. 

Private shower room with personal changing area

Relatively clean toilet bowls and lavatories

Rooms - You have the option of choosing among: 6 share male, 4 share female, 3 share male, Twin, or Double Private Bathroom (as of Jul2011). During my time, I stayed in a 4 share male which seems to have been removed from the choices already. Expect personal power outlet, personal bed light, and personal lockers. Try to know your roommates, they're usually friendly. 


Location - Location has got to be one of the best selling points of the hostel. There's a tram stop in front of the hostel (also a stop of the City Circle Tram - a service that allows you to visit Melbourne's major tourist spots for FREE). It is also walking distance from the Southern Cross Station which is both a drop off (you can also have yourself dropped near Melbourne Central YHA itself) and pickup point for Melbourne's Skybus - an affordable bus service to and from the Melbourne airport. 

A hotel across the block where Melbourne Central YHA is (serves as a good landmark)

Facade of the entrance along Flinders St. - look for this spot across the tram stop

Location Map courtesy of Google Maps

Recommendation - Because of a good first hostel experience here (at a very good price of AUD35/night), I ended up booking hostels for some of my succeeding trips. If you want to save when travelling to Melbourne, I highly suggest you consider staying here. NOT ALL HOSTELS ARE CREATED EQUAL... Melbourne Central YHA is one of the best!

If you're keen on staying here, below are important information which you may want to take note of:

Address: 562 Flinders St. Melbourne 3000

Reception Hours: 24 Hours

Arrival Time: Check in from midday, check out at 10am.

How to go:

Bus - The hostel is located 1 kilometre to Southern Cross Station and Skybus Terminal.

Train - The backpackers hostel is located 1 kilometre to Southern Cross Station.

Nearest Airport - The backpackers hostel is located 28 kilometres to Melbourne Airport. Skybus operates 24 hours from Southern Cross Station and picks up at the hostel.

The entrance to Melbourne Central YHA Backpackers hostel is to the right hand side of Bertha Brown's bar. Take the lift or stairs up to reception on level one.

09 July 2011

Verona, Verona! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow (What to See in Verona)

Related posts:

Who doesn't know William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? I wanted to take advantage of the chance to see the supposed location of this famous play (and more recently the movie "Letters to Juliet") without much hassle that's why it was one of the reasons why I decided to join Contiki's European Whirl. Though it was a very quick stop, it was pretty cool as not everyone gets to see Juliet's balcony and a few other sights that Verona has to offer (I'm sure there's more than what I saw):

Casa di Giulietta (Juliet's House)

Supposedly the location of Romeo and Juliet's famous balcony scene

Letters to Juliet 

Made more famous by the movie "Letters to Juliet", this dark tunnel through which you enter to see Juliet's house is covered with love letter on its walls, left for the secretaries of Juliet to answer

Juliet's Bronze Statue

They say having a photograph taken of oneself holding the breast of the bronze Giulietta in one's hand meant good luck in love

Streets Leading to Juliet's House

On your way to Juliet's house, stroll along the shops and gaze upon arches that connect houses

Arena di Verona

World's third-largest amphitheatre to survive from antiquity (found in Main Piazza)

Main Piazza

Entrance to Verona's main piazza (plaza)

Restaurants lined up in the main piazza (facing Arena di Verona)

Verona's Walls

Verona's historical center is guarded by these walls

Not bad for a quick stop right? Whether Juliet really lived in that house doesn't really matter. Verona is still worth a visit!

04 July 2011

What to Expect in NAIA's MIASCOR Lounge

If it's your first time to fly Business Class and you're wondering what awaits you in its accompanying airport lounge access, here's a glimpse. This is the MIASCOR Lounge of NAIA Terminal 1 in Manila, Philippines. While it may not be at par with the best airport lounges in the world, it's still better than not being in a lounge at all. 

Here are the privileges that await you once you enter this area:

Comfortable chairs (or least better than your airport seats)

Free Food (at least you won't have to spend for expensive airport meals and drinks)

Unlimited freebies include: alcohol, softdrinks, juices, bread, mini pizza, sandwiches, cereals, fruits, etc. 

Chicken Teriyaki, Chap Chae Noodles and Saffron Rice (buffet selection served during my experience)

TV, Newspaper and Magazines

Cleaner toilets (or at least better than those outside the lounge)

Free WiFi, Plugging Outlets, and Computer Terminals - Didn't get to take a shot of the computer terminal area but there were at least two (not really that many). The WiFi access was relatively fast and electric outlets to charge your laptop or mobile phone are  available.

Did MIASCOR meet your expectations? It met mine at least for the comfort that you get compared to not being inside a lounge before an airplane ride.

02 July 2011

What to Eat in Paris

Related posts:
Top 12 Paris (minus my food adventure)
Paris Hotel Recommendation - Campanile Paris XV

I won't claim to be a Paris food expert. I just decided to come up with this entry to document and share some of my Parisian food discoveries and adventures. Here they are in particular order:

1. Laduree Macaroons: 

Please don't leave Paris without trying Laduree. Its Soft Salted Caramel Macaroons is the best macaroons you could ever taste... others just fail in comparison! After all, Laduree won't be the favorite of Barbra Streisand and the daughters of President Obama for nothing.

If you buy "To Go", the line is worth the wait. If you opt to dine inside, you get to experience its poshness. 

This is their store in Champs Elysees:

EUR1.50 (Php95) per piece of a SMALL macaroon... still worth it!

The line inside... don't get too intimated. They're very efficient and its worth the effort!

The entrance along Champs Elysees

Opulent interior

Would you believe this is a toilet hallway?

The full list of stores can be found in: http://www.laduree.fr/en/maisons/adresses

2. Berthillon Ice Cream: 

Berthillon is a French manufacturer and retailer of luxury ice cream and sorbet. This is their primary store in Île Saint-Louis. It is famous for using of natural ingredients, with no chemical preservatives, artificial sweeteners or stabilizers. 

The line moves fast so don't be afraid

You may have a hard time choosing which flavor to order

Location Map

3. Confit de canard, pommes persillees (Confit of duck, potatoes with chopped parsley and garlic) at Bistro Dupleix:

This is what I ate after spending quite some time lining up to go to the top of the Eiffel and watching the Eiffel Nightly Illumination (where the Eiffel literally sparkles) for several times. I don't know if I was just hungry but it tasted so good for me. 

To go there, just alight at the Dupleix train station and I'm sure you would see Hotel de Petit Louvre which houses Bistro Dupleix. If you still have a problem finding it, its exact address is 62 boulevard de Grenelle 75015 Paris and its Tel. no. is 01 45 77 24 96. 

Costs EUR13.50 (Php850).. remember it's a duck (not a chicken) so even a drumstick is big enough

Look for this after alighting at the Dupleix Station

4. Steak Tartare (meat dish made from finely chopped or minced raw beef) at Ma Bourgogne:

This is my first and only Steak Tartare experience so I can't say how it fares with other restaurants that serve Steak Tartare. Nonetheless, I did like how it tasted. Unfortunately, I have to warn you because THE WAITERS ARE RUDE AND SNOOTY.

If you're up for the challenge, it's not very hard to find as it is just around the Place des Vosges area. You may contact them at 01 42 78 44 64.

This meal costs EUR24+/- (Php1,500) if I remember correctly

5. Escargots

Escargot is a popular local food in Paris. Had my first experience in George V Cafe along Champs Elysees. Sit outside, like what I did, if you want to observe and feel the Champs Elysees vibe/spirit... this will mean that your food will cost more compared to eating inside. 

Costs EUR11 (Php693) for 6 snails 
(what can you expect... its not an outdoor cafe along the famous Champs Elysees for nothing)

6. French Onion Soup:

Of course, you'd want to say you had French Onion Soup in France... and I did! This was my first taste (literally) of Paris. Had mine in Creperie Cluny Cafe which I will describe in more detail below. 

Cost: EUR8 (Php504)

7. Creperie Cluny Cafe: 

This is a cafe that's relatively near famous spots such as Sainte-Chapelle and Conciergerie. Aside from the cafe's good food and cramped yet nice ambiance, walking around its environs is already a treat.

Galette California for EUR8.50 (Php536)

Galette Basquaise EUR8.30 (Php523) - Chicken, ratatouille, gratinated cheese ,egg

Location Map

8. Cheese aka Fromage: 

I didn't really get to have a cheese adventure in Paris but I suggest you do. This is a shot I took somewhere in Ile St. Louis or Ile de la Cite... such variety of cheeses!

Yes, there's lots of food to try in Paris. Don't control yourself, you'll burn the calories with all the walking you'll do anyway.