Child friendly restaurant: The Austrian Australian Club

The Austrian Australian Club
Ph: 02 6286 5793
Heard St
Mawson ACT

I first went to the restaurant with my Mothers’ Group mums for our first dinner get-together sans kids. It was such an awesome night and I thoroughly enjoyed the occasion. I wasn’t sure whether the food was good because I had loads of fun or because the food really was good. I did remember that the chips were amazing though.

Anyway, hearty German/Austrian food is definitely up to Mr E’s alley so I had to take him there and reconfirmed its awesomeness And I did, a fortnight after 😉 with Little E in tow, hungry and ready at the door at 6pm (their opening time).

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The decor is a little tired and could do with a bit of refreshment, but it did bring us back to the lovely restaurant we went to in Austria

I had the chicken schnitzel with chips, bread dumpling and pepper sauce on the first visit. On my second one, I ordered the pork schnitzel, again with the amazing chips and mixed vegies (had to order this because Little E was there and I wanted him to have vegies). Oh, and a side of gravy.

A little side note, am I the only mum who ordered healthier food when the little one is around, just so that he eats better too? That just by having him around is actually good for me? Heh.

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Yummy golden freshly deep fried chips...

I digress. Mr E ordered the lamb schnitzel with red cabbage, sauerkraut and an extra side of spetzels (which is noodley pasta thingies). The serving size is very generous, with us three sharing the two orders and we had more than enough. Little E would have eaten almost the entire serve of red cabbage, preferring it on top of everything else, so weird!

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Digging for red cabbage

Just as I remembered from the first visit, the chips were amazing. I would just go back again and again for it. I didn’t like the pepper sauce nor the gravy, but I thought the schnitzels were really yummy. As per the order of prices, the lamb was the best, with the pork coming last.

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The cake was moist and rich and was just delicious!

Though we were really full already, I couldn’t resist not getting dessert as I didn’t get any the first time I was there. We shared a black forrest cake with ice cream, Little E eating and scooping faster than I’ve seen him done before. We think he liked it lol

It took a little longer for our meals to arrive the first time I went, but I would imagine it was because there were 7 orders on our table. The second time around, our meals didn’t take long at all to arrive. I had the same waitress on both occasions and she was really friendly. She was patient with Little E, waiting for his response when she asked him if she could take his plate away. Which he didn’t give for almost a whole minute, out of shyness. When he finally did, she just laughed and didn’t seem to be rushed at all.

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Austrian and German beers are available

We were the first people there, but the place did fill up as the night progressed, mostly with families. The mum friend who suggested the place did tell us that we should book as they get pretty busy. I would recommend the same, most especially if you need a highchair as I could only see one available. Mr E said to me as we left that we’re definitely going back there for their other meals and I have to agree with him 🙂

Japan: Hakodate, Hokkaido

We got in late into Hakodate, the last city of our Hokkaido tour. After dropping off the hire car, we went to Lucky Perriot, apparently “the Number 1 local hamburger place in Japan”. How could you say no to that?

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It had to be the worst food I’ve had in Japan, in equal top position with the onigiri of random unidentifiable filling I bought on my first trip here. Sorry, Lucky Perriot!

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After a restful night, some of us went to the Morning Market for a fresh seafood breakfast. I had fresh crabs and sea urchin on rice, it was delicious. I noticed that the sellers in this market were a lot pushier than those in any other markets I’ve been to. Though being Japanese, they were still not as pushy as ones in SE Asia 🙂

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On the way back, we walked past this place….. I take comfort in the fact that it was the only shop with no one in it.

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The rest of the day was all about sightseeing. Hakodate was apparently the first ever port in Japan open for International trade. The city is heavily influenced by western styles, most noticeably, the star-shaped fort. It was apparently designed by a man who studied Dutch architecture.

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It was in the fort that I finally succumbed and Skype’d my inlaws and Little E. I had been holding off as I didn’t want to upset him (and myself). Little E looked so chubby! And happy. And content. I knew he would, but I am glad regardless to be able to see it. Afterwards, my mum inlaw emailed and said that Little E didn’t get upset at all. He was happilly pointing us out on the photos around the house and took comfort in grandma saying we will be back. I, on the other hand, was not fine. Sigh. Isn’t this so much of a #firstworldproblem? Longing for my son when on an overseas holiday? 😦

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Anyway, dinner was at a food alley, with most of the places only able to fit a maximum of 5 people! I loved the ambience of the place 🙂 This kind of outdoor, basic, fuss-free dining spots is what I love about Asia.

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Squid ink and potato butter corn gyozas! The potato butter gyozas came with salted raw squid. I didn’t like the dip 😉

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To finish off the night, we went on the Hakodate ropeway to see the night view of the city. We were lucky that we got to see it as the cloud went over really quickly and soon we were in it. Funnily enough, there were still people taking photos of the “view” with flash. You wouldn’t be able to see anything! Ha.

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Our night cap for the day. Our hotel provided these shaved ice machines for free. It was such a treat for both the young and old guests! 🙂 Mr E and his brother went nuts on the condensed milk!

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And so, that ended our trip to Hokkaido. I’ve always wanted to go, I’m sorry that it was not winter as the island would be way prettier then. However, I did enjoy the trip. Hokkaido is so much different from Honshu (main island of Japan), offering mostly nature and its picturesque landscapes. It is beautiful!

Japan: Biei and Furano, Hokkaido

After such a lavish buffet breakfast where I almost overdosed on fried salmon and pickled seaweed, we set off for Noboribetsu, making brief stops along the way.

The first stop was Biei, to see this tree. Apparently, the “Ken and Mary” tree is a special tree, making a cameo in a 1970s TV commercial for a Nissan Skyline. Would you believe that there were people lining up to take photos of this tree? Ha.

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The view on the drive, so picturesque! ♡

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Our second stop was Furano, where I had melons and more melons. I had a melon crepe and Mr E had a melon jam bread roll. We also shared the best melon smoothie! It was such a welcomed relief on the hot humid day.

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Then, we came to the lavender farm, where everything was, yep, lavender and more lavender. I’m not a fan of lavenders, the smell nausea-inducing. This place, though, was okay, as long as I don’t spend much time in the many shops scattered around the place. The farm itself was beautifully maintained.

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I sampled some of the lavender cheesecake and it was actually alright. It didn’t have a strong lavender taste at all 🙂

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As our last stop, we went to the Anpanman shop, previously run by the creator! I was hoping to meet him and have him sign a book, but apparently he died last October 😦 I had a great time picking up a few things for my precious, but it made me miss him so much that I had to stop myself bursting into tears a few times.

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I enjoyed the trip, though Japanese speed limits are sooo frustrating! 50km/hr on a highway??? Far out.

Child friendly food joint: Common Grounds Cafe

The Common Ground
4/1 Jeffries St
Gowrie Shops
Common Grounds on Urbanspoon
Another exciting found I did last week. It was so good, I went twice within a week! My friend said that her coffee was the best she has had in Canberra. I have to say that it is one of the best I’ve had 🙂

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The first time I went, they didn’t have what I wanted, so I ordered their beef burger. It was SO GOOD. Juicy patty, caramelised onions and chutney all balanced up with gerkins and beetroot. Add to all that, a strong tasting swiss cheese and a brioche bun. The bun was slightly too sweet for my liking but it was delicious nevertheless. The chips were crunchy and fluffy, but not overly salted. One of the best burger I’ve had yet.

Little E shared a smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese toasted sandwich with his “twin”. Both kids were very well behaved, sitting next to each other in matching high seats. Adorable! They both seemed to like their meal, with Little E polishing his share in no time at all. He is such a boy, at least in comparison to his “twin” who has the most elegant way of eating 🙂 I love watching them together, it really does feel like I have a set of twins, without doubling the work 😉

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Along with my coffee and burger, Little E and I shared the tastiest banana smoothie ever. Spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon, it was creamy and sweet. Little E would have thought that Christmas came early for him, when I kept pouring his share into his own glass. I didn’t get to eat the biscuit that came with the coffee because my son was stealthy and ate it before I knew what was happening.

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French toasts with cinnamon mascarpone, maple syrup and mixed berries

The second time we went (I had to take Mr E there), we were too early for lunch (it doesn’t start until 1pm on weekends, so late!). So we had to order from the breakfast menu – not a difficult thing to do as the menu sounded really nice as well. Mr E ordered the Mediterranean Omelette, while I had the chorizo, basil, chili, and goat cheese on bread (can’t remember the name, sorry). We also ordered the French Toast for us three to share.

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I looooooove the french toasts! The cinnamon mascarpone was really really good, and the flavours of all the condiments combined work really well together. (Un)fortunately, Little E didn’t like it, so Mr E and I were left to finish the dish. We both thought that the omelette and the chorizo dishes were nice, however, they weren’t spectacular. Not for the price that they charge, at least. However, the smoothie was still good and Mr E is still gushing over his (VERY) thick caramel shake.

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I like Common Grounds, I will definitely go back there! The food is good (at least the lunch menu) and the service top notch. None of the waitresses gave any bad vibe over the kids’ mess or noise. The orders didn’t take long to arrive at the table (important when dining with children) and there is something for everyone in the menu. I do recommend that you don’t bring a giant pram in though, as the inside area is rather squishy. I reckon the place would be great in summer, with loads of seating outside. It isn’t the cheapest cafe around, however, you do get good quality meals, drinks and service.

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Like our first visit, we finished off our lunch on the weekend with some play at the playground across the street. Another plus to the place! 🙂

Child friendly food joint: A Taste of Pastry

A Taste of Pastry
Gartside St
Wanniassa (Erindale shops where Pizza Hut and Domino’s are)

I get a little too excited when I discover a new place that has yummy food. A little too much, if anything. I would want to go to the same place repeatedly, ordering basically the same thing, before I move on to the next good place.

My latest obsession is Vietnamese pork roll. All crunchy and tasty, I would eat it every day if I could. I have been getting my fix from one of the place at the nearby food court, though it isn’t as good as the others, it was close and easy. So when we picked up a recent pizza order, I almost jumped out of the car, threw out the pizzas and march straight in to A Taste of Pastry when I saw they serve pork rolls. Luckily, common sense prevailed, and I waited a whole week to go.

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Last Thursday was the day. I packed Little E with me, armed with bibs and wipes, and ordered us lunch. He had a vegetable pasty, which he ate by himself quietly, while I had one of these.

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A freshly made Vietnamese pork roll with hot red chillies. It was crunchy and sour and meaty and hot and was just delicious. It was a good thing too that Little E was able to have his unassisted, because I hardly took a breath between mouthfuls. It was so good.

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Then, I saw the sign.

A coffee and a cronut for $6.50. Cronutssssss!!! I couldn’t say no, even though they only had jam cronuts left. I am not a fan of jams, but I am of cronuts. So I just wiped off the jam and ate my delicious morsel of fattening heaven.

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I was so impressed with the place that I took Mr E for lunch on Friday. Yep. The very next day after I first went 😛 That time, the bakery had the full range of cronuts: chocolate, salted caramel (which wasn’t caramelly nor salty but still delicious), chocolate hazelnut, jam and custard. Again, we had the Vietnamese rolls while Little E had his leftover vegie pasty from the day before lol

The owner (?) is friendly and didn’t bat an eyelid at all to our apologies for making a big mess. She made okay coffee (need to be stronger but still good), the prices of the goods are reasonable and she has cronutsssss! I sure will go back there again (and again and again).

In a typical Asian manner, you could also get some fresh eggs, 1kg packs of salt, sugar and sultanas. Random.

Child friendly restaurant: Lemongrass Thai, Tuggeranong

Lemongrass Thai
Ph: 02 6293 1455
Shop 9c Hyperdome Shopping Centre
Anketell Street
Tuggeranong
Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

My inlaws brought Little E and I out to lunch when they were here a couple weekends ago. We were starving at the time and opted for an easy choice of Thai, so we seated ourselves at Lemongrass Thai. The place was packed with office workers having their Friday lunch sessions so I was a little nervous about the waiting time. Even so, when I asked for a highchair, a clean one was quickly presented to me. We were given our menus, glasses and a bottle of water straight after. Efficient indeed.

We decided to go for the lunch specials as they sounded really good and at $12.50 each, how could we not? We each chose one to share, amazingly we had a chicken, a pork and a fish! Usually we have double up 😉

When they arrive, and they arrived quite quickly, we were surprise at the serving size. In a bad way. They were so tiny! So tiny that Little E ate more than one serving! So tiny that we had to order another to share, and left not hungry. We saw the order of a table next to us, which weren’t from the special menu, and they were substantially larger. Next time, I’m going for their full size!

On a good note, they were rather delicious 🙂 Little E loved the chicken and vegetables with peanut sauce the most! I liked the fish fillets and sweet chilli sauce best. I would not hesitate to go back for it.

They were patient with the mess Little E created, though we were seated outside. Every request we made, extra cutleries, sauce on the side, etc, were not difficult. I definitely recommend the place for families with children 🙂

Holiday: Queenstown in Detail

The drive to Queenstown were relatively easy. Little E slept most of the way and when he was awake, he was happy looking around. The only “exciting” thing that happened was a hawk flew at us, hitting the windscreen then scratched the whole of the roof. We found out later that a group of our friends had similar encounter too. Silly hawks.

We made a lunch stop at Cromwell, as Mr E wanted to check out the motorcar park. Owned by a man from the Gold Coast, QLD, the place reeked of fancy schmancy cars and revheads. Interesting indeed, but Mr E liked it and the food were delicious (though pricey).

Another quick drive through was to Arrowtown. We went just as some sort of cycling event was finishing so the whole place was hectic and crazy. Definitely not something I wanted to deal with after a long drive. Arrowtown was beautiful though, a quaint little town with little shops. It is an option for something to do while in Queenstown 🙂

Queenstown

Now, onto Queenstown. I won’t go into details of each day we were there, just to keep this post unrambly.

Activities we did and liked:

  • A walk through the botanical garden and its playground – Little E absolutely loved the playground, so did we, as it is right by the water with the beautiful Queenstown backdrop. We visited it each day we were in town. The garden makes a nice stroll, one experience we enjoyed was watching a group of children having a race of what looked like boats made of recyclable materials (ie. Old milk bottles etc). You can’t help feel as excited when watching little people being excited 🙂
  • Eat chocolatey dessert at Patagonia – a must do! Their churros were really delicious.
  • A walk around the Queenstown main shops – lots of pretty and fancy shops. There’s a children’s clothes shop that I really had to leave very quickly as I wanted too many things and we really couldn’t spend that much money in one shop. I wish I did purchase something though.
  • Appreciate the beauty of Queenstown by the water. It reminded me of the equally scenic Switzerland but less cold 😛
Milford Sound Flight

A view from up above – Milford Sound Flight

  • Milford Sound – we did the flight/cruise/flight as I couldn’t do 9hrs+ in the bus with Little E. It is so much cheaper doing the bus but I just couldn’t do it. I cannot say that the trip was worth the money though. I enjoyed parts of the flights, when it wasn’t bumpy, and I liked the cruise, but only when I was outside (I get motion sickness). We saw a lonely penguin having a snooze and a few seals, though after our tour in Dunedin, it wasn’t as special 🙂 Both my boys enjoyed their time so I guess it was worth it for me to go.
A view from the gondola ride at Queenstown Skyline

A view from the gondola ride at Queenstown Skyline

  • The reason we were in NZ was for our friends’ wedding as Little E was the ring bearer. I loved the wedding and had heaps of fun at the reception. Held at the Queenstown Skyline, we went on the gondola ride, marvel at the beauty of Queenstown view from up high and had a fab buffet meal. The food was absolutely delicious, so I would assume that the food served at the restaurant would be of the same quality. Yum! The Skyline is definitely a must do while in Queenstown 🙂
  • Cookietime – delicious but expensive warm cookies, so make sure you keep an eye out on their Happy Hour times 🙂
  • Fergburger – a must eat place. Deliciously awesome burger place but not exactly child friendly. Limited seats, definitely no high chairs, long queues but worth it.

Tips:
Make sure you organise the Milford Sound flight on the first day you’re there as it will get cancelled if the weather isn’t right.

Suggested activities that I would have liked to do given the opportunity and/or other activities available:

  • The luge rides at the Skyline
  • Putt Putt golf – a great rainy day activity as it’s indoor
  • Kiwi Encounter for the bigger kids
  • Gold panning in Arrowtown
  • The many variety of water activities, such as jet boating, whitewater rafting, parasailing etc.

Accommodation

The Whistler Apartments
15 -17 Gorge Rd
Queenstown
ph: +64 3 409 0394

Loved this one bedroom apartment that our family friend suggested. It had a full kitchen, which we made use of as Queenstown is expensive! Close to the main part of town but still away from the noise. You can walk to the other supermarketnot in town for cheaper grocery 🙂 The apartment also comes with a washing machine and a dryer. The perfect family accommodation 🙂

Of all the cities/towns we went to in our trip, Queenstown has got to be my favourite! A definite must-go city when you’re in the country 🙂 Though probably the most expensive, everyone we met was happy and friendly, the atmosphere welcoming and fun. We were there for 4 nights, 3 days and I felt like it gave us enough time to explore the place and do the things we want to (and can) do at a leisurely pace 🙂

On a separate note, here’s my photo for day 12 of 100.
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Little E loved the chicken dish I made that he hardly made a mess even though it came with rice and he fed himself! He ate all the chicken pieces I gave him. All.of.them! An absolute success in my books! In this photo, he was being impatient for seconds 🙂

Holiday: Dunedin in Detail

We flew to Dunedin, via Wellington (“Middle of Middle Earth”). We allocated the whole day for travelling, lucky, because both flights were delayed. Fortunately, the Rotorua airport has a pretty good playground so it kept Little E occupied the entire time. As soon as we arrived to Wellington airport, we picked our lunch choice and sat down. I have to say that Wellington airport is officially one of my favourite airports! Not only because of its decoration 😉

Gollum!

Gollum!

Our flight to Dunedin was delayed due to bad weather, so I was a little nervous going on the plane as the rain was still pelting down. Thank God that we made it safely to Dunedin because the turbulence was bad! I had to fight the urge to vomit the entire 1.5 painful hours 😦

Anyway, as soon as we got our hire car, we made our way to the CBD and looked for a place to eat. Mr E had chosen an apparently-popular fish and chips shop. After what seemed like an eternity, we found Fish Hook. Honestly, I don’t know why it’s popular other than because it’s cheap.

We had a little squabble while we were there as I found out Mr E had mistakenly ordered three pieces of fish on top of his order. I hate the thought of wasting food, most especially when the food wasn’t all that special. Luckily for him, Little E must have had one of his hungry days because he polished off two giant brill fish all by himself! It was amazing to watch him eat like that.

After dinner, we drove to our accommodation and settled ourselves in, getting ready for the Cadbury Factory and Dunedin CBD the next day.

Cadbury Factory

He had great fun playing with those chocolate bars – taking them out then putting them back in.

We enjoyed the Factory tour, though it could ended a lot differently. The tour was very strict. You cannot wear any jewellery, including earrings, and you have to leave your valuables in a locker. If you opt to still wear your wedding rings, you have to wear gloves. At all times, you must wear your hair net (including babies and kids). You cannot carry your baby in your arms, instead, you’re given a backpack. Little E has never been in a backpack, so he really chucked a spack-attack being carried like that on Mr E. So much so that we were given a stern-talking to to basically shut him up and “keep his hair net on, or leave”. The tour guide certainly did not have the best interpersonal skill. We were with another group of people and they all gave their apologetic looks to us, most especially the parents of the other toddler there.

The interesting thing is, the whole time we were on the tour, we were always behind a glass window, standing nowhere near any machinery or touch anything. I think the whole no jewellery business is definitely going a little too far. Anyway, we did sample a few things and as the time went on, Little E calmed down and was quite engaged (he was on me by this time).

World's Steepest Road

After the tour, and a quick look-around of Dunedin hills, Mr E and us parted our ways. Mr E went and did the Speight Brewery tour, while Little E and I had lunch and window-shop in Dunedin CBD. In the late afternoon, we made our way to the world’s steepest street, Baldwin Street, and trekked the whole way up. It was definitely a work-out! That night, we had a picnic in the park for dinner and a run-around afterwards 🙂

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He didn’t like his first taste of Mie Goreng

The next day, we drove to the Otago Peninsula to do the Nature’s Wonder tour. We chose that particular tour, instead of the others, as you can see seals and penguins during the day! All other penguin tours leave at dusk, which is ultra unsuitable for parents with young kids. As Little E is a morning person, we left the motel super early and made a pit-stop at a playground on the way to Nature’s Wonder, as it doesn’t open until 10.15am.

A penguin! We could've just reached in and touch him - he was that close!

A penguin! We could’ve just reached in and touch him – he was that close!

thoroughly enjoyed the tour – we saw plenty of seals and penguins. They were a mere step away from us, totally uncaring that we were so close. Perry was an awesome tour-guide and was very informative. Little E loved the fourwheel drive experience through the rough terrain, though he was so tired at the end, that he fell asleep while on the drive! How, I just couldn’t understand lol

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Seals!!! They’re soooo cute and cuddley-looking. I want one 😦

We made our way to the Larnagh Castle, NZ’s only castle, for our stay overnight. This was our night of luxury, and we made the most of it by checking in early. I loved loved loved our room – I requested to stay in the Goldrush room and the bed was fantastic! 😉 I love themed rooms! We did the tour of the castle and its ground, Little E loving the lush thick grass, running around barefoot. Mr E and I had a great time watching him play 🙂 We also opted to do the dinner in the Castle, which worked out perfectly with Little E’s bedtime routine. We gave him his dinner, bathed him, then had a leisurely walk around the grounds before making our way to the Library, where we had pre-dinner drinks. When dinner was served, we left him in his pram in the hallway, which let us enjoy ourselves in the Music room.

Enjoying the thick lush grass on the Castle grounds

Enjoying the thick lush grass on the Castle grounds

Before we left Dunedin in the morning, we made a quick pit-stop to the Farmers Market, held at the Central Train Station. This was where we had the best rasberries we’ve ever had in our entire lives! They were sweet and succulent and were just heaven. Little E loved them so much that we had to buy another punnet for later 🙂 If you’re in the area on a Saturday, make sure you visit the market 🙂

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I loved Dunedin, it was definitely as beautiful and scenic as everyone told me. Reminding me of countryside England, Dunedin is just so green! A change from our scenery in Canberra 🙂

The beautiful Otago Peninsula

The beautiful Otago Peninsula

Activities in summary:

  • Cadbury factory – too strict but good
  • Speight Brewery
  • Dunedin CBD and surrounding hills
  • Otago Peninsula
  • The Larnagh Castle –  an overnight stay and dinner
  • Nature’s Wonder Tour
  • Baldwin Street – the World’s Steepest Street
  • Farmers market on Saturdays: for best raspberries in the world!

If we had free time, I reckon we would have gone to see the Albatross colony, as expensive as it is 🙂

Accommodation:

Cable Court Motel
833 Cumberland St N, North Dunedin
I was pretty happy with our choice! The apartment had a kitchenette, big lounge area (where Little E slept at night) and a bath. The room itself has a TV, so we could lock ourselves in while Little E sleeps 🙂 It also offers free washing machine and washing powder (unlike the last place). On top of all that, they have a coffee machine and they’re free too! wooo! 🙂 They’re not the greatest coffee in the world, but they’re definitely better that the instant press coffee NZ accommodation seem to prefer 🙂 The place is close to a park and is within walking distance from the CBD (and Cadbury Factory)! I definitely recommend this motel 🙂

Larnagh Castle
Otago Peninsula

Our bed lol

Our bed lol

I loved our stay at the Larnagh Castle. Though expensive, it was definitely worth the price! If you don’t want to spend as much on the room, you can stay at the lodge. This would have been our choice if we didn’t have Little E with us, as you do have to share toilets and bathrooms with the other guests there. The Larnagh castle has an exceptionally good customer service, nothing was impossible. We brought Little E’s dinner and needed a microwave to heat it up, which they promptly got us one to use. The castle also offers babysitting, where your child(ren) stay in the room the whole time you’re away, while you have dinner in the castle. Our time at the castle was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me 🙂