oz recap part 6: sydney
well. i’ve put it off for long enough … but it’s time to do the final recap from my trip to australia … and this is one of those cases where i definitely saved the best for last!
sydney was hands down my favorite australian city [broome was a very close second because of how beautiful and secluded it was, but sydney offered a completely different vibe]. i was on my own in sydney, as i was in brisbane, and i rented a cute little studio apartment on airbnb in bondi beach … best decision ever.
this was the final leg of my trip … so by the time i arrived in sydney i had been on many planes, traveled prettttyyyyyy far, and seen and done a lot, so as much as i wanted to explore the city and experience it for everything that it was, i was also in need of some relaxation.
day 1: it was raining and cold when my flight landed at 7am [remember, june is winter in australia] and i was beat. i took advantage of the bad weather and used it as the perfect excuse to go to sleep immediately upon arrival. i hadn’t napped that hard in months and it felt so. freakin. good. that evening, i found a yoga studio down the street from my apartment and it became my sanctuary for the next few days. if you’re ever in sydney, go to yogatime! it was so cute, the prices were reasonable and the instructors were awesome.
day 2: i was so happy to wake up to see that the weather had done a total 180 and it was sunny out. i was about 5 miles from the city center, and because i love exploring on foot so much and was alone [aka: could do whatever the eff i wanted], i decided to walk from bondi beach into sydney proper. it took me about 2 hours, but there were so many shops and cool things to look at along the way that i didn’t mind at all!
when i got to the city center, i stumbled across hyde park where i saw the archibald fountain and st. mary’s cathedral, and also caught a nice view of the sydney tower eye.
[archibald fountain, hyde park]
[st. mary’s cathedral]
[sydney tower eye as seen from hyde park]
next, i walked over to the royal botanic gardens, which run along the sydney harbour. even though it was “winter” the plants, trees and flowers were still so beautiful!
[royal botanic gardens]
from here, the views of the sydney harbour bridge and the opera house were amazing … selfies happened [again, #solotravelproblems].
[sydney harbour selfie!]
from this point, i basically ran over to the opera house because i was so effing excited to be at this iconic landmark … and it’s just as stunning as you would imagine it to be in person. on the opposite side of the harbour in the rocks district, i [naturally] walked right into a foodie market, where i grabbed lunch before stopping for some more photo ops.
finally, i walked across the sydney harbour bridge. and … again, views. for. days.
[sydney harbour … perfection]
after walking around 15 miles total that day, i met up with brian and laura, u.s. expats living and working in sydney who are friends of friends from college for a little night out … and they were the best hosts! we had an amazing italian dinner in surry hills, complete with pizza and wine … and more wine. it was so nice to be welcomed by two total strangers with such open arms [and isn’t it always a good thing to have friends in fun places?]. after finishing off a bottle of wine, i headed back to my cozy bondi beach apartment and crashed.
day 3: i took an early morning yoga class and then a nap [vacation, doe] and then had the best breakfast of the trip at bondi wholefoods. that same morning, i also found the most perfect farmer’s market [i’m starting to think i have a sixth sense for this type of sh*t] where i enjoyed a fresh kombucha on tap and some people watching.
on this day i wrote in my journal:
“bondi beach is literally the venice beach of australia … only cleaner … and better because it’s not in america. it has the coolest vibe … great shops, restaurants, and hot surfers. this is officially the part of australia i could stay in forever.”
i’ll let the pictures do the talking.
[the famous icebergs club]
need i say more? after a bit more wandering, i did the coastal cliff walk from bondi beach to coogee beach, which was about 4 miles, and some of the most scenic coastline i have ever seen. the ocean, the waves, the cliffs, the sky, everything was just un. real. if you do the entire walk, you hit bronte beach, tamarama and gordon’s bay before ending in coogee. this is a MUST DO if you ever visit sydney.
day 4: sigh. my last day in australia slash paradise slash heaven. i made it to one last yoga class, stocked up on tim tam’s and spent the day laying on the beach in bondi, people watching and reading. i really wanted my last day of vacation to be all about rest and rejuvenation and. it. was.
in the evening, i returned to the city center to have farewell drinks with brian and laura at opera bar, which as you might have guessed, sits right next to the opera house. no better way to spend my final hours in australia than looking directly at one of the most famous landmarks in the place, amiright?!
[best send off ever!]
and … that’s all she wrote … looking back, i honestly can’t believe i was so lucky to have been able to spend two weeks in the land down under. it was a whirlwind … as with just about any place you travel to, there is more to see and do in australia than a lifetime will allow … but, i’m pretty confident i’ll make it back one day!
for a full recap on everything i ate [my favorite kind of recap] on this trip [and trust me, it’s worth looking into] check out this post, and the recaps of the other places i visited can be found below!
… so … where to next?!
oz recap part 5: brisbane
we’re nearing the end of my trip to australia [can’t believe it’s been almost four months since i was there] and i’m really excited to share some pictures and a little bit about my experience in brisbane with you guys!
this wasn’t a city that got raving reviews from many people, but ended up on my itinerary anyway [long story], and i have to say, i’m so glad it did … i actually really loved this city. by the time i reached brisbane, i was traveling solo, which i had never done before, so i was really able to just do me.
after plans with a distant relative fell through [see: “long story” above] i ended up reserving an airbnb in the new farm area super last minute. it was truly a “basic” room in a small apartment, but was right by the river and had some cute restaurants and shops nearby, so it was all good.
because i don’t mind walking, i committed to exploring brisbane on foot … i think one day i walked close to 10 miles total, which was awesome. when i’m traveling with other people, they always want to take cabs or public transportation for anything farther than a 10-minute walk away, which bugs the sh*t out of me. the weather was awesome, there was so much to see and i wasn’t on a schedule … so i walked my ass off and love, love, loved every minute of it.
day 1: after dropping my things off at my airbnb, i immediately headed to the west end … on foot, of course. the brisbane river weaves through the city, which requires there to be a lot of bridges, including many that are pedestrian only. the weather was perfect [again, winter temperatures in the 60s and low 70s] and the city was just beautiful … saw lots of amazing architecture along the way.
[st. john’s cathedral … this felt very game of thrones to me!]
[king john’s square]
the main reason i wanted to check out the west end was because i was told it’s essentially the brooklyn of brisbane … and those reports were accurate. i wandered in and out of some awesome, funky shops and through a farmer’s market on boundary st. [one of the main drags in the west end] and had lunch [and a beer] at lock ‘n’ load bistro [all of my culinary adventure in australia can be found here]. there was a lot of cool street art in the west end also, which i think was my favorite thing about this neighborhood.
[grafitti in the west end]
after lunch, i walked over to the south bank along the water and through an amazing park, the rainforest green, before making my way into the queensland gallery of modern art, which was totally free to go into!
[flower arches along the river in the south bank]
i ended my day with a walk through city center and over to chinatown where i had an amazing thai dinner [huge asian influence in australia] before heading in for the night and catching an awesome view of the story bridge all lit up on the way.
[story bridge + brisbane skyline by night]
day 2: i started my second day in brisbane off with a run across the story bridge and along the water [the view was insane], ate lunch at the little larder in new farm, right around the corner from where i was staying and then, once again, started walking.
[morning run along the brisbane river]
i walked all along the river from new farm to the brisbane city botanical gardens, then across the goodwill bridge to kangaroo point, where you get an awesome view of the city and all of the cliffs lining the river, and finally, headed to the south bank again to check out the street beach and eat some ice cream for dinner … #vacation.
[brisbane botanical gardens]
[cliffs along kangaroo point]
[selfies are a necessary part of solo travel … at kangaroo point.]
day 3: my last day in brisbane was definitely legendary. i woke up super early so that i could eat two breakfasts [donut time + cocobliss … again #vacation … and also #balance]. after breakfasts, i boarded the mirimar ii for a river cruise headed to lone pine koala sanctuary, which a friend had recommended to me.
[view of the city from the mirimar ii]
the cruise was about an hour long, and there were some seriously envy worthy homes along the way. when we docked at lone pine, i was so effing excited i could barely control myself … we were given two and a half hours to explore … and i was on a mission. lone pine is one of the world’s most famous “zoos” … but it’s truly more of an animal sanctuary with an amazing history than a zoo.
[docked at lone pine koala sanctuary]
first thing was first: purchase kangaroo snacks and head to the kangaroo enclosure to play with some kangaroos. the kangaroos live in a huge open area [with some other animals, including emus, which kinda freaked me out] that you can just wander into … no cages, nothing! the kangaroos are so friendly, you can walk up to them, hold some food out and they’ll come right up and eat directly from the palm of your hand. i had way too much fun … and obviously had to take a few kangaroo selfies because , you know, when in rome.
[literally, in love with these guys.]
after some serious quality time with the kangaroos, i got in line for the moment i had been waiting for literally my whole life … holding a koala. i think the picture sums it up. his name was arinokoo [ari for short] and he was heavy, but so soft and sweet!
[top 3 moments of life? probably.]
i walked around the sanctuary and saw more koalas [once they get to a certain age they are retired and no longer able to be held by visitors], wombats, tazmanian devils and dingos. it was such a cool experience and for someone who hates zoos, this place was truly magical. you can see the care that goes into the animals and they aren’t cooped up in cages, it’s mostly open air enclosures and large fenced off areas, which was so nice to see. the koalas are also on strict schedules for the photo ops to make sure they never get worn out!
[wombat … how cute?!]
[tasmanian devils, just livin’ the life]
finally, i had a really nice surprise for my last night in brisbane … the bride and groom whose wedding i was in australia for in the first place got stuck in brisbane for a few days en route to their honeymoon … so i was able to grab dinner and a few drinks with them … seriously, best surprise ever, considering i left broome not knowing when i would see my soul sister again. all the feels.
[honeymoon crashing snapchat selfies…SO MUCH LOVE.]
overall, i think brisbane is pretty underrated … so don’t listen to the haters. if you make it down under, add it to your itinerary. even if it’s just for a day trip to lone pine!
oz recap part 4: cairns
wow, it’s hard to believe that almost 3 months later i’m still recapping my trip to australia … guess that means i used my time there well! … right?!
after spending almost a week in beautiful broome, my friend anna and i headed to cairns, in queensland, to snorkel the great barrier reef … making a major dent in the bucket list with this one! there wasn’t a whole lot going on in cairns … it almost reminded me of a jersey shore town, with all of the night clubs, hostels and backpackers … but it was a great launching point for the reef!
i don’t have many good pictures of the airbnb we stayed in, but i just needed to highlight how freakin’ cute this place was … the outdoor patio with the lanterns was magical in the evenings and it was such a nice little retreat.
one highlight of cairns for me was rusty’s market, which was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, natural product vendors and, of course, fresh coconut water!
[coconut stand at rusty’s market][fresh fruit at rusty’s market]
the esplanade, which was down by the water, and the cairns marina offered amazing views. how cool are those fish statues?!
[cairns esplanade][cairns marina]
now, most importantly … let’s talk about our day trip to the great barrier reef! we went out with seastar cruises, and i have to say, they were fantastic! they served us coffee, tea and muffins in the morning when we arrived on the boat, a pretty solid lunch in the afternoon, and cakes on the return trip. the staff was super friendly and knowledgable, and overall the experience was great.
unfortunately, we had pretty choppy water and a lot of wind that day, and after the two hour trip to our first stop, michaelmas cay, i was so ready to get in the water! even though it was winter in australia, the water was like bath water … literally the perfect temperature for swimming, no wetsuit required! we hopped out onto the beach [there is a small section that people are allowed to go on, while the rest of the cay is reserved for wildlife], put our flippers and masks on, and quite literally, dove in!
[ready to go!]
[bluest water ever!]
we spent about an hour at michaelmas cay, got back on the boat and headed another hour out into the ocean, to totally open water, where we snorkeled hastings reef…this was where we were able to see huge coral walls, which were about 30 to 40 feet high. un.real.
besides the amazing reefs, we saw the most colorful fish … literally fish of every size and every color you could imagine … a massive fish [see the picture below], a giant barracuda [so scary!!!!] and my favorite and definitely the highlight of the day … sea turtles!! we also got to do a glass bottom boat tour, which was way cooler than it initially sounded, i promise. all in all, the day was great and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!
the images below are really all that i have [i took some underwater video and snagged these pictures from seastar’s facebook page] … but i think you can get a feel for what it was like!
[smiling faces after an amazing, once in a lifetime experience!]
unfortunately, because of pollution and global warming, the coral is not nearly as vibrant and colorful as it once was and a lot of it is dead. the beauty is still there, but it was pretty depressing to really see what we’re doing to the planet with my own eyes in a way that was super easy to digest.
on that note, there’s one last thing i want to leave you with … not to get all political or anything, but please, if any part of you feels sad or upset about what is happening to the great barrier reef … or even if you’re unclear on exactly what is happening, please check out this link and sign the petition if you feel so inclined. we need to make sure we’re doing something to preserve this natural wonder … before it’s too late!
my next recap will be for brisbane [koalas and kangaroos will be covered] … i really loved this city and can’t wait to tell you all about it!
oz recap part 3: eco beach + the wedding!
finally time to do another australia recap! today, i have a bit of a photo diary for you. i mentioned in my previous australia-related posts [here, here, here and here] that the main reason I was in australia was to attend my friend from college’s wedding. i love weddings to begin with, so imagine my excitement when i found out that this wedding would not only be in australia, but was going to take place at a secluded eco resort on the north western coast of australia.
the resort, eco beach, is located about an hour drive from broome and the place is actually paradise. they run on solar power, have an organic garden, chickens, a restaurant and bar serving amazing, fresh food, lots of activities [including yoga!] and, finally an infinity pool. we stayed in a four person villa, which was massive. it had one bedroom, a big bathroom, an oversized living room with bunk beds and a wrap-around garden view patio. this place was absolute heaven.
[garden view patio…perfect place to sit + drink a cup of coffee in the morning!]
[early morning yoga with a view]
between the beach, the cliffs, the color of the ocean and the infinity pool, the views at eco beach were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. the sunsets and sunrises? FORGET IT. the sky was so clear and there was no light pollution, so at night we could see the milky way. we even got to witness a staircase to the moon [which no photo i could take could do justice]. again … this place was absolute paradise.
[um, talk about the most epic sunset of all time. HASHTAG NO FILTER.]
[woke up early to catch the sunrise on our last morning in paradise. worth it.]
finally, i want to show you a few pictures from the wedding. the wedding took place on the beach, with the ocean and the cliffs as the back drop. the bride and the bridesmaids casually arrived via helicopter. yea, you read that right. the ceremony was beautiful and the party started right away, with the celebrations carrying on way into the early morning hours. shoes were not worn at any point during the evening, as the reception was also on the beach. there were twinkle lights, paper lanterns, a lounge area with a fire pit. everything was absolutely picture perfect. oh, and did i mention that the bride was stunning?!
[goofing around + drinking “champers” after the ceremony!]
[barefoot beach reception]
[drinks, food + dancing!]
[our table’s centerpiece]
[photo booth fun!]
[soul sisters. the end.]
oz recap part 2: broome
time for another australia recap! i love doing these posts and honestly, if i had more time and money and less responsibilities, i would definitely be a travel blogger. so, any chance i have to share some pictures from a trip… whether it’s a big one or just a small weekend getaway, i jump at… hope that’s okay with all of you!
i posted a mini-recap of the 15 hours i spent in perth a few weeks ago, which was my accidental first stop on the trip due to flight delays. today, we’re talking about broome, a small coastal town in western australia where i was headed to see my friend get married!
i arrived at the broome airport [one gate, one baggage carousel, etc.] to find my friend, désirée [and the bride!] waiting for me right inside the gate… such a surprise to see her right there. air travel in australia is so much more relaxed than it is in the u.s. and europe… not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing… but, anyways. it had been seven years since we had last seen each other [seven!]… what a reunion, right?! definitely cried a little. whatever.
we headed straight to the house that a bunch of the girls who were in town for the wedding were renting, which was being referred to as the hen’s mansion and wow, was this place was amazing. not only was it a gorgeous, open space with literally everything we needed, but we also had an amazing pool in the backyard that the sun hit all. day. long. it’s safe to say we spent a large amount of our time lounging poolside, drinking champagne and behaving exactly the way you would expect ten girls on vacation in australia for a friend’s wedding to behave. look at this pool… our own private paradise!
after getting settled in house, we drove to gantheaume point, a coastal area of broome known for its sandstone cliffs and scenic views. guys… this place was just un.real. i have never seen sand this red or water this blue. i’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
[a few of the ladies at gantheaume point]
the other thing that is really noteworthy about broome is the sunsets. my friend’s hen’s night [what they call bachelorette parties in oz] was held at a beach bar, zander’s, where we sat outside and had a perfect view of the beach as the sun went down. and obviously we had the best time ever at the hen’s night. again… is this real life?
[a selfie just for good measure, because DUH]
finally, the day before the wedding, we decided to partake in some tourist sh*t and take a morning camel ride down cable beach. when in rome, right? while this wasn’t the most exciting thing i’ve ever done, it was super relaxing and you can really tell that the company we went through, red sun camels, loves and cares for the animals, which always makes me feel good. our camel, juan, was hilarious and had so much personality… i mean how cute are they?!
[juan the camel… so cute]
[me + anna, enjoying the view!]
[again, when in rome.]
while broome is a place i would say most people haven’t heard of before [i definitely hadn’t!], in my opinion, it’s one of australia’s hidden gems and was certainly the highlight of my trip based on the landscape and scenery alone. also, keep in mind that i was here during australia’s winter and it was still 90-95° every day… so to everyone who questioned why i was going to australia in winter… well, haters gonna hate.
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