We leave Moraira on 3rd Dec 2013. As it is an early Singapore Airlines flight to Barcelona, we stay overnight in a hotel close to Barcelona Airport, Hotel Porta Fira, an oddly roundish shaped building coloured bright red. Even with GPS it was difficult to find, and we ended up trying go get there by eye. It had its moments, as did finding the actual underground parking. We had a really nice modern room on one of the top floors. Around there was little in the way of cafes or restaurants, just a vast Ikea store - which in itself was a revelation, never having been in one before. You are corralled to walk one way through the vast building, so once you enter there is no going back as you relentlessly follow the track laid out for you.

Anyway we "did" Ikea and returned to the hotel for sandwiches and an early night. Next morning I set the GPS to get to the Barcelona Airport Victoria Parking. We got to the right street, but, in the darkness of pre-dawn, could not find the parking. After a couple of attempts, we discovered that it was right in front of us, but could not see the word "Victoria" in the darkness, just "Airport Parking". Chris had to wake up the security man with some difficulty to get us in to the parking.

After that we were off to the airport and the delights of Singapore Airlines to Melbourne, with brief stops in Milan and Singapore. We thought that Singapore Airlines had lost a bit of the magic that it had for us in the past - but that might just have been the crew, or the ennui of too much travel on our part.

Carol and Russell met us at Melbourne Airport, and drove us back to their house, about an hours drive. My, Melbourne was cold! I had thought that we would be flying into a warm spring, but it was more like a winter's day. So it was every sweater out of the case and two pairs of socks to survive! Carol's sister, Yvonne, arrived a few days later with her husband John, plus daughter and son in law and new baby. But we all fitted into the house -well . .Carol & Russell had to sleep in their caravan!.

Carol and Russell had a "full programme" organised for us. Day one was to Greensborough, with the old family pub, the streets named after the Laws and Turners, and the grave. The graveyard was an odd place, more a public park, than a cemetery. The Turner grave had suffered over the years and the inscription set into the headstone had disappeared. Plans are afoot now to put a new headstone there. I suspect that the bureaucracy that needs to be complied with means that, if it is do-able, then it will take at least a year. Functionarios are the same the world over! We walked round Greensborough, and Chris and Carol talked to the staff in the hotel. It seemed to make its money these days from "pokie machines", a version of one armed bandits to which a large part of the Australian nation are addicted. Bottom line was that they could not tell us much about the history of the place.

We had a lovely lunch at the Tokar Estate in the Yarra Valley. We enjoyed their 40 dollar lunch on a sunny Friday in December. The restaurant was elegantly set with white tablecloths, serviettes and good quality glasses. The service efficient and friendly. You get two courses plus a glass of wine. Carol and Russell opted for an entree plus a main course and we for a main plus desert. The restaurant had no problems with that mix. I tried both their Shiraz and their Cabernet Sauvignon, and both were first class, the Cabernet being to my mind the slightly better of the two. My steak and my walnut and fig pudding were enjoyable, but not outstanding. However the overall experience was very good and I would recommend this restaurant to anyone without hesitation.

The next couple of days saw Russell driving us round the large Melbourne bay, up a number of mountains to get the views, and a pub lunch at the Portsea Hotel Bistro. This is the place to be on a sunny lunchtime - well cut lawns, stunning view over the sea, and humming with activity. You need to find a table first, this gives you a table number. Then go to the service centre to order your food - the waiting staff bring it to your table when it's ready. Then you go to the bar to buy your drinks. This is a pub, and they serve pub food, which is fairly expensive in pub food terms. My fish and chips were middle of the road fish and chips. But the big plus is the view over the waters of the bay, and that more than compensated for the lack of quality in the food. We had a walk along the beach afterwards. Then drove round the coast.

So it was time to move on to Tasmania. Russell and Carol dutifully dropped us off at Melbourne Airport, and after surviving the rigours of checking in to Virgin Australia - not a happy experience, I think they do their training with Ryan Air! - we were off to Hobart, Tasmania. Thanks to Carol and Russell for giving up their bedroom and giving us such a great time in Melbourne, especially as they had so many other guests in their house too.

On to Tasmania

Australia 2013/14