Where to see snow near Melbourne!

My snow cat

Last weekend we finally got something I feel like we haven't had since we moved back to Australia: A truly relaxing weekend! Every since we went to the snow in Japan, little G has been talking about seeing snow in Australia, and that together with the fact that I had some time in lieu and H was about to start her new job the following week, we jumped at the chance to have a long weekend in the country and take that kid to the snow!

We found a super cute cottage just outside of Marysville, in a little town called Buxton, which was only a 30 minute drive from Lake Mountain (the snow destination). We didn't really have any huge expectations for the weekend, as I wasn't expecting much in the way of snow, and we really just wanted to relax. Well, our cottage was absolutely perfect and even better than we were expecting. It was super cute, with a great fireplace and a cute yard with a little creek running behind that we could hear whenever we walked outside. It was also pet friendly, so we could take the dog with us!

On our way to the cottage, we drove through the Yarra Valley and made a quick stop at the Chandon Winery to pick up a bottle of bubbles, stretch our legs and take some photos. I love that place. When we got closer to Marysville we drove through the Blackspur forest surrounded by gorgeous, tall gum trees on the winding road. It was just a spectacular drive.

Right before we got to the cottage, we stopped in Marysville to pick up a couple of supplies, and G had a play in the park. Again, so pretty, and such a great park for kids! Marysville is such a cute town!

Chandon winery yarra valley
Domaine Chandon winery

Chandon winery yarra valley
The motherland

Chandon winery yarra valley


Nice spot for a snack and a drink

Black Spur Victoria
Black Spur

Marysville Victoria
Marysville


Our cottage for the weekend
We spent our first night afternoon and night just hanging out in the cottage, getting the fire going, eating cheese and crackers, reading books and just hanging out. Perfect really.

Saturday morning after breakfast, we headed into Marysville to rent some toboggans and get some snow gloves, and off we went to Lake Mountain. It costs $56 to enter Lake Mountain, which is the fee to bring the car in, and there's no avoiding it if you want to get to the snow. Once we we through the entrance point and driving up the mountain towards the carpark, I was pretty surprised by the amount of now around, which only increased as we got closer. 

The snow quality was much better than I was expecting (I had pretty low expectations) and was perfect for tobogganing and building snow men. There were lots of people there, but not too many to make it unpleasant, and there were a couple of different toboggan runs as well as cafes and gear rental. I think there were some pretty tame ski slopes as well but we just went to toboggan.

We didn't try any of the food there, as it seemed like overpriced cafeteria food, but overall it was heaps of fun and I totally recommend it for a fun day out (with or without kids). If you were driving up from Melbourne, it's only a couple of hours, so easy enough to make a day trip. I would also recommend stopping in Marysville on the way to get your rental gear, as it didn't take long at all, and the prices were great. There seemed to be quite a line up at Lake Mountain.

Overall, it was a perfect weekend, and I was so hard to drag ourselves back to Melbourne, and real life. We would definitely go and stay our in the same area again.


The "babbling brook" at the bottom of the cottage yard



Lake Mountain closest snow to Melbourne

Lake Mountain closest snow to Melbourne

Lake Mountain closest snow to Melbourne

Lake Mountain closest snow to Melbourne


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Life lately - Melbourne

I've really struggled with any time to blog since we got back. My work has been insanely busy, and we've been flat out on weekends shopping to organise the unit. Finally we're in a place where we can breathe a little.

We've been home for around 6 weeks now and things are starting to come together. We're finding ourselves with some time to relax on a weekend as well as time to finally catch up with some friends.

Being back in Melbourne in awesome! The food is just so damn good. No wonder I put on 10kgs the last time I lived here. A few weeks ago we got to go to Tipo 00 for a lunch date, which is a fresh pasta restaurant I had been dying to try since before we moved back. We also had a little family lunch at Moroccan Delicacy, the new Deli owned by the Moroccan Soup Bar people. It was also amazingly delicious.

A couple of weekends ago my bestie was here and it was AMAZING! It was just so great to get to hang out with her after so long, and kid-free too. So much to catch up on! Even though we're in the same country, living in different cities still sucks...

We've been to see a couple of bands (one even little G got to come to), and had a few catch ups with friends. All in all life is good.

I think the biggest adjustment to me at the moment is how busy work is and how hectic life is getting back into things! It might just be the cold weather and how dark it is in the mornings, but it is HARD to get out of bed before it's light, which is what I really need to do in order to get everything done and get to work on time. I think this will definitely get easier as it gets warmer.

Am I missing Okinawa? Honestly, not at all so far. I'm sure i'll miss the warm weather and the beaches, and of course I miss a few special friends, but I honestly don't miss the place itself.....yet. Let's see how that changes over time.

Anyway, I actually wrote a whole post before it was somehow deleted, so this is an attempt to recreate it (probably not as interestingly)!

Back working here.

In love with the Tasmanian blackwood shelf we bought!




Met this possum at work!

Pasta from Tipo 00

Lunch plate at Moroccan Delicacy
lunch plate from Moroccan Delicacy

G's first gig!

Melbourne city <3

Churches in the city

Melbourne City laneways

Wattle, my favourite

Cherry blossoms in my street!

Edinburgh Gardens, Fitzroy North
Sunny weekend in Edinburgh Gardens

The Journey back to Melbourne

We're home! It's been an insanely hectic almost 2 weeks since we've been back, and because of that it feels like we've been home for much longer (sometimes, it weirdly feels like we never left Melbourne!).

The last few days in Okinawa after finishing work was pretty crazy, but we actually managed to get out of our house ok, as well as have a farewell party, and then spend the last night with our bestie in Okinawa. It was such a lovely end. After our final house inspection from the housing agency, we drove over to our friend's house, and had a final temaki sushi party. Perfect end to our time in Okinawa.

Our first days back in Melbourne involved a trip to Ikea, many other shopping trips and the boring stuff like setting up ultilities in our new unit so we could move in. 5 days after getting back I also started work! Basically it's been non-stop these past 2 weeks with (unfortunately) no time to actually catch up with all the friends we've missed while we were away. I'm hoping for things to calm down in the next week or 2 so we can start to relax and enjoy catching up with people.

The other awesome thing that happened this past weekend was getting the pets out of quarantine. They both survived the ordeal pretty much perfectly (although a little lighter), which took one layer of the stress away. We're all now comfortably getting used to life in our new (small - compared to our Okinawa house) apartment and enjoying being back in Melbourne. 

If you can think of a new appropriate blog name, please let me know! 

beach house in okinawa
Perfectly empty. Goodbye beach house

Temaki sushi spread

cremia ice cream
Last day in Japan, finally found cremia!

Pho was the first stop in Melbourne

I've missed this coffee

Back working at the University of Melbourne
This kid could not be more happy with his new bed

Our new hood

After 10 days in quarantine - so happy to have these guys back

The park next to our house

1 week to go

Things with this move back to Melbourne are getting REAL, people! We are now less than a week away from flying out of Okinawa, and only 2 days left of work! To top it off, this week at work is one of the busiest of the year and involved a 1am finish on Monday. 

Otherwise, things seem to be progressing as smoothly as can be. The house is slowly emptying, although most of the big stuff isn't going to it's new homes until this weekend, and the last of the pet visits is on Friday before they fly out on Monday. Yikes!

Last week I managed to squeeze in a new haircut and dye, and I spur of the moment made the decision to get a fringe again. I'm still not sure i'm completely happy with the decision, but oh well! Melbourne weather is much more suited to fringes, so only one more week to try and wrangle it in this humidity.

Last saturday night I also managed to get in one last dinner with my favourite Okinawa ladies, Ashley and Katie at Yomitan Monogatari. That place, as always was delicious, and ended with an awamori tasting flight, fitting for Okinawa.

These ladies <3

Sea Grape and perilla somen noodles at Monogatari
Awamori tasting flight at Monogatari
Meanwhile, let me rant for a moment. The process to cancel your phone contract here is so ridiculous. When I first signed up for my phone, I paired it with our internet contract as well for a discount. Twice now I have gone in to the au shop to ask about cancellation. The first time they were too busy and told me to come back later, however for the internet cancellation I could only do it over the phone. However, for the phone contract, you must go to a store to cancel it.... sigh.

So I went back to the au store this past weekend. Someone finally had the time to help me, only for me to find out that if I go in to the store to cancel my contract, it takes effect IMMEDIATELY! There's no way to cancel in advance, and no other way to cancel than in store.... This wouldn't be such a hassle, except for the fact that I need my phone until the very last day in case of any issues with our pets flights etc. My only option is to try and cancel my contract while we are on a stop in Narita. Fingers crossed it's not too busy to get served.

Anyway, this blog has turned into a moving rant. I promise in the next 2 weeks it will be back to more informative posts. On that note, if you have any suggestions for a new blog title, please let me know. It seems weird to have a blog called Sea Change Okinawa when I'm not actually living in Okinawa.


American Village in Chatan
American Village Chatan



The cat is starting to notice all her sleeping spots are slowly dissapearing

Vegan and Vegetarian food in Okinawa

During our time in Okinawa we've had quite a few vegan friends visit, and of course H is a vegetarian, so it has been our mission to search out the tastiest vegan and vegetarian food options in Okinawa!

Before we leave Okinawa for good, I thought I would share with you our favourites.


DECHIBICA

Dechibica is probably my favourite and first place I will usually take any vegans visiting us. Not only is the food delicious, but it's presented so beautifully, it's hard not to be impressed.

They offer a variety of vegan meals (as well as a couple of non-vegan options) and everything we've ever tried there has been great! Another bonus if you're with kids, is the fact that they have a bunch of kids toys there to entertain them if you forgot to bring anything from home.

Dechibica okinawa
Pictured: Tofu set, kids curry and curry udon

Dechibica is located in Furugen, Yomitan and you can follow their Facebook page for directions, opening hours and daily specials


GUBGUB'S VEGAN KITCHEN

GubGub's is the ultimate vegan junk/comfort food experience. We have been here with vegan friends numerous times and they are always blown away by the food! Their Cheeseburger and BBQ burgers are my ultimate favourites. They also offer an option to pay a little more and support animal welfare, and you can bring your dogs and sit outside if the weather is nice.


Gub Gubs is also located in Yomitan and you should follow the Facebook page as the opening hours can sometimes vary or he might sell out. Always good to check before you go.

UKISHIMA GARDEN

Ukishima Garden is a lovely vegan restaurant in Naha, perfect for a fancy date night with organic wines. We have been here every time we have been to Naha and it's always lovely. Their tofu caprese salad tastes just like real mozzarella, and the creamy pasta was also amazing. Their lunch menu is more casual with burgers, soups and curry.

Ukishima Garden Naha

Ukishima Garden is on Ukishima-dori, just off Kokusai Dori, so easily accessible when exploring Naha. They also have another restaurant in Kyoto.


BOLLYWOOD DREAMS

Bollywood Dreams is the most delicious Indian resaturant we have found in Okinawa (and we've tried lots!). They also have a select number of vegan curries, which are amazing! The dinner menu is more extensive and lunch is mostly just set meals. This place gets BUSY, so it's worth coming early for lunch or dinner.
 

Bollywood Dreams is located in American Village in Chatan, and they have also recently opened a second restaurant, Bollywood Jewel a short walk from the original.


ESPARZA'S TACOS AND COFFEE

Esparza's is relatively new offering vegan and non-vegan options, but has an aim to be completely vegan in the next year or 2. They have delicious tacos and even open early for breakfast burritos.


Esparza's Tacos and Coffee is located on Route 58 in Chatan

SAKAE RYORITEN

Ok, so Sakae Ryoriten is the place we keep going back to, and pretty much take all guests to. It's "okinawan style" food, so a great way to get a taste of the local cuisine, but they will also adjust the menu for any allergies or dietary requirements where they can, which means making food vegan and vegetarian friendly. It's also very kid friendly.

The go-to dishes they will adjust for vegetarians is the Umibudo (sea grape) and tomato salad, the jimami dofu (peanut tofu), the seasonal stir fry vegetables and the eggplant and red pepper with miso stir fry. They might likely adjust other dishes, but these are our go to every time we're there.


Sakae is located in Ishikawa and they have ample parking space in a lot across the road. The entrance is quite unassuming (pictured above).


COCO'S CURRY

What would a post about vegan food be without mentioning the vegan menu at Coco Ichibanya? Coco's, over the past year or so have been rolling out a vegetarian menu at select stores. It says vegetarian but is actually vegan. In Okinawa only 2 stores that I know of have the vegetarian menu, Ishikawa and Haebaru. Please feel free to comment if there are any more additions to this. Cocos, although i'm sure is full of MSG, is super delicious!

vegetarian curry menu at coco ichibanya


I'm sure there are many more options in Okinawa, but the above are the ones I regularly eat at and love. If you want to keep up to date with new places and other options, I recommend joining the Okinawa Vegans and Vegetarians Facebook Page, as people are always adding new places, and it's a good place to ask for advice.

Feel free to comment with your favourite Vegan and vegetarian friendly places in Okinawa!

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