Never in a million years did I think I would go to Australia, but sometimes things just work out. This year my mom turned 50 and we had just come back from a vacation in Europe for spring break, but since we had already been there my mom wanted more. So after a week of searching the cheapest flights anywhere in the world and after a heated phone call with a Chinese airline when the flight to China they had advertised did not actually exist, we came upon Australia. Now the flight itself came to about $700 USD per person which is not bad at all, considering these flights are always well over $1,000. We flew with Air New Zealand, the flight was super comfortable, they don’t charge you extra for food on the long haul like Norwegian does. Our flight stopped of in New Zealand and from there we jumped the pond to Sydney.
I didn’t know what to expect when it went to Australia but I was so surprised when I realized that what people usually think about Australia is wrong! The Outback is usually pretty far out from the main cities, which as someone who comes from a city that has rural areas in outlying areas I don’t know why I thought Australia would be any different. We also went in July/August which is their winter so tourist areas weren’t crowded and it was pleasantly cool. If you head out a few hours into the outback you can get to mountain areas to ski though!
To anyone going to Australia in the near future, I suggest you read this because I am going to take a lot of the stress of researching where to go and what to do. Now if youre going to the cities that everyone knows, mainly Sydney and Melbourne, you don’t need much more than maybe 3-4 days in each city to do everything touristy and those less known.
Tuesday: We got to Sydney pretty early so we went straight to the hotel to check in. We stayed at the Sofitel Darling Harbour and it was probably the best decision because it was 1. in a nice area 2. away from the main tourist traps 3. close to transportation. I’ll spare you the details of us going shopping on the first day, but let’s just say it didn’t take us long to break bank. Thankfully the exchange rate was in favor of the USD (1 USD:1.45 AUD)!
Wednesday 10:00 a.m.: We headed out early about 9:00 a.m. we walked to the metro station at Town Hall Station and headed to Sydney Harbor, we spent the morning walking through The Rocks. It was early and businesses aside from coffee shops brunch places were closed but there were still a few tourist shops open (for the crazy tourists like me that buy crocodile hunter style hats). Sue me it was a cute hat. The Rocks is well known for their restaurants and bars and is the happening place to be.
By noon we made it to the park below the Sydney Harbor Bridge. There is this huge picnic table that you can take cool pictures on. For those who like to feel the adrenaline coursing through their veins you can climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. For those who are faint of heart like me seeing its magnitude from the ground is just fine.
2:00 p.m. We walked the harbor until we made our way back to the dock between The Rocks and the Sydney Opera House. The building is even more beautiful in person than it is in photographs. It was still school time and there were tours going on for the school children. Something so weird to see in the middle of “Summer”, but like I mentioned before it was their winter so children were still in school.
3:00 p.m.: Starving after being out since the morning with nothing more than a coffee and a small pastry, we set out to find a Wagamama. If you’ve gone to London you’ll know that this ramen restaurant is ubiquitous. We walked uphill a few blocks from the docks only to realize that Wagamama was permanently closed. Despair not! On our way up to Wagamama in one of the corporate buildings (Gateway One) was a three story food hall. There were so many options it was incredibly difficult to decide! My mom and I ended up eating Indian food and my sister and her boyfriend ate Shnitzel.
Thursday: Our adventure takes us to famous Bondi Beach! Bondi is a suburb about 30 minutes away by car from Sydney proper. We took the metro to get there, walked outside and there was a mall! And of course we walked in to go and check out their Meyer and David Jones. Once we were done exploring the mall we made our way to The Nine. This coffee shop is small and cozy but so bright and airy! They are best known for their Koala cappuccino!
After our coffee break we walked down to the shore. I wanted to go to the Icebergs and take a dip in the pool. But guess what? They close on Thursdays to clean out the pool. Now of course I knew this but did I even remember it was Thursday? Nope. Not at all. After a disappointing walk back from the shore we decide to stop by Milky Lane for lunch. It was pretty good and all of their menu items are named after rappers!
4:00 p.m. We ubered our way back to the city and we decided to explore more of the city. We went in the opposite direction of Sydney Harbor and found The Star, a high end casino just a few blocks away from where we were staying! It was a beautiful building and the inside was luxurious and no gross cigarette smoke smell which is something unheard of. Once we made our way through the casino, we just kept walking. There isn’t much other than homes and local shops & restaurants but it was fun to see the other side of the city. We even stopped by the park to climb some jungle gyms and swing! On the way back to the hotel we realized that we were right next to Google headquarters in Sydney!
Friday: I’ll have to come back and edit this part guys. For some reason I just cannot remember what we did on this day. Although I’m pretty sure we spent most of it at the park next door.
Saturday: Last day in Sydney, and we made the most of the morning by stopping by the Chinese Garden of Friendship. It was like stepping into a different country as soon as you enter. So calm and peaceful a complete juxtaposition to the concrete jungle just outside the garden walls. After we saw a friend of my sisters for breakfast at the cutest Italian restaurant that was set up like a food hall. It even had a campari bar in the back! After breakfast we walked a bit over to Chinatown and stopped by this ice cream pop up. The ice cream was covered and in shapes like sheep!
We arrived in the afternoon and checked in at the Intercontinental Rialto. It is a beautiful building from the 1890’s. One side is modern and the other side is true to its heritage. My sister and her boyfriend got a room on the modern side, my mom and I got a room on the heritage side and it was bigger than our apartment. Not really but you get the picture, it was a huge suite.
Sunday: Also can’t for the life of me remember what we did this day. Stay tuned for the edits.
Monday: We spent most of the morning checking out the mall which was a few blocks down from our hotel in what is downtown. We obviously checked out the Myers and David Jones to see how things stacked up against the shops in Sydney. At about two in the afternoon we split ways, my sister and her boyfriend had lunch and made their way to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. All you Harry Potter fans, my sister says the six hour play is well worth it and just as magical as you’d expect. My mom and I made the 2 hour trek to the Mornington Peninsula. A train and a bus ride away….only to realize that the hot springs we wanted to go to were still farther away. It was already quite late by the time we made it to Mornington so we decided to have a snack of a meat pie at this delicious shop and walk around the small beach town. It was so beautiful and being at the southernmost point of Australia we half wanted to make our way to Tazmania without telling my sister and her boyfriend.
8:00 p.m.: We were starving by the time we made it back to Melbourne proper and I was dying to try Son in Law which has such insta-worthy dishes. We ordered the soda with the cotton candy on top, the black bun chicken sliders, fried veggies and the milk tea cake which came with a chocolate pikachu dome. The Verdict? Definitely recommend this place for lunch or dinner it is delicious and who doesn’t love a good picture for their instagram!
Tuesday 8:00 a.m.: The night before we consulted with the Concierge to see what was the best way to get to Healesville Sanctuary which is out in the Yarra Valley (wine country for all you Wine-o’s) about an hour away from Melbourne proper. We didn’t have too much time and had to get to the airport later that night so we had to make the most of our day. We went with the Zoo bus straight to Healesville (80 AUD per person). The drive through Yarra to Healesville is incredible, its lush countryside and completely idyllic. Once at Healesville, the entrance fee is $38 AUD ($25.88 USD) and the cute and cuddly experience $99 AUD ($67.43 USD). We got super lucky that day there was some sort of sale going on. It was like we were meant to be there on that day because we only spent $250 AUD for the the four of us ($170 USD) instead of $548 AUD ($373.27 USD). The experience is well worth it, we got to feed and pet the sweetest kangaroos and we met some adorable koalas. Now before you ask me why I didn’t get a shot holding the koala, it is illegal to hold koalas in most states. The only place where you can truly hold a koala is in the northern states think Perth but those aren’t the same kind of koala.
That was our whole trip in a nutshell. I wish we would have been able to go to the Blue Mountains while we were in Sydney but I will have to leave that until I can go in the summer. Supposedly the heat creates a blue fog over the mountains because it basically creates steam for the eucalyptus trees. And of course I have to make it back to check out the great Barrier Reef and Uluru! But that is the great thing about travel, you live it you learn from your mistakes, you experience and you have a reason to come back every time or well most every time!