FINAL DAY IN SYDNEY
We had just half a day today to explore Sydney before catching our afternoon flight back to Dubai. We visited two places that we totally missed out.
When Mr. D first told me that he wanted to visit Blue Mountains, I was like " Whaat! ... I ain't wasting my time on a bunch of rocks". As usual, he never listened to me. The train journey to Blue Mountains (Katoomba Station) from Sydney takes about 2 hours. To us, this seemed like the most convenient and pocket-friendly way to reach Australia's natural park. Blue Mountains it just a short trip from Sydney, its a great option for a day trip. There are plenty of things to do around the area.
We just visited Scenic World. It always a good idea to purchase tickets online & in advance. We purchased them for here and it included unlimited rides on the Railway, Skyway, Cableway and Walkway.
We started off with the Scenic Walkway .... a lovely little trail in between the rainforest. We opted for the short trail (10 minutes) so that we wouldn't waste too much time. For the more adventurous, there's a 1 hour trail as well.
After the walk, we caught the Scenic Cableway all the way to the top. Basically everything's interconnected. We caught the cableway at the end of the walkway. Sorry I do not have pictures for this :(
Once we reached the top, we boarded the Skyway and embarked on a 720 metre journey to the other side. We didnt just get to see a panoramic view of the area but even what was below us. The floor was made of glass! We saw Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and Jamison Valley. We spent about 10 minutes here and got back to the starting point.
Finally we took the Scenic Railway. This no ordinary rail by the way, it is the steepest passenger railway in the world. It was inclined at 52 degrees. Once we were in, we could even adjust our seats. It took us down to the rainforest yet again.
We had lunch at one of the restaurants inside Scenic World and then left for the city.
Today, we explored Sydney's Chinatown and a different mall. And like any other Chinatown, there were plenty of food stalls.
Btw, the macarons below are NOT from Chinatown but from one of the Adriano Zumbo stores in a mall that we visited. They were so freakin' good!
FINAL DAY IN SYDNEY
We had just half a day today to explore Sydney before catching our afternoon flight back to Dubai. We visited two places that we totally missed out.
First, we headed to Bondi Beach by train & bus. Its like the train drops you off at some point and then you have to catch a bus. Surprisingly it was quite sunny that day and we did see a couple of people on the beach and in the water. None of us had brekkie yet and were dying of hunger! So we grabbed something from the first restaurant we saw. I loved the rock formations around the beach.
We spent about 2 hours here and then left for attraction number 2 - Paddy's Market. This market has been around in Sydney for over 150 years! It was huge and no way we were gonna complete it. They were clothes, food, shoes, veggies ... every damn thing! Basically, I ran around the place looking for interesting buys. I managed to grab a couple of clothes and an ice cream. We spent a good 1.5 hrs here before catching the tram back to our hotel and heading to the airport. It was time to bid goodbye to Australia! :(
Aaah, the feeling when we landed it Sydney. If you've following me on my Australian journey you'd probably know that we missed our first day here because of Qantas. Now we had to complete 3.5 days of our tour in 2.5 days! Anyway, here's how we managed.
We stayed at Holiday Inn Potts Point in Sydney and had the most magnificent view of Sydney Harbor and the surrounding area. The picture below needs no explanation.
It was cold in Sydney, but not as bad as we expected. As usual, the sun peeked out whenever it felt like.
We headed to Sydney Harbor after checking into our hotel using public transport. We were finally able to see Australia's most popular icon "Sydney Opera House" with our own eyes.
Sydney Harbor Bridge was right beside it. Basically, we just had to get down at Circular Quay and just walk around. We saw people take a cruise and climb the Harbor bridge too, but we didn't do any of those.
Next to both of these, were The Rocks. With its cobblestone lanes, cozy cafes and distinctive buildings, I found this area quite beautiful. It was as though we we stepped into a different era. We had lunch at one the nightclubs here (nightclub turned family restaurant during the day!).
After lunch, we headed back to the same train station where we got off and went on a food adventure. Yup! This woman can eat! Sydney is filled with a number of unique eateries and during our holiday planning, I made a note of a few that I wanted to visit.
Some of the places weren't nearby, but public transportation did make life much easier. The Grumpy Barista was first on the list! A cozy little cafe famous for its injection cronuts. Thank goodness, we were right on time for those last 3 injection cronuts. The guys behind us were forced to buy their regular ones.
Next, we visited The Choc Pot. Little did we know that they had a branch much closer to where we were. This video below needs no explaining! This is a dessert lover's haven.
Later that evening, we headed to one of Sydney's shopping malls (Macquarie Shopping Centre) to try out Aqua S - a very dreamy ice cream and The Missing Piece for funky looking drinks. To our luck, both of them were located in the same mall!
Watch out for the next post for Day 2 in Sydney xx
Whats the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Gold Coast?
Well ... when we visited ... it was nothing like what I've just mentioned. July is winter for Australia, remember? The sun peeked out whenever it felt like, but most of the time it was cold and gray.
Nevertheless, we still enjoyed. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise and our room directly faced the sea. The view was breathing! The front side of the hotel faced the city, so even as we got out of our room, we had a beautiful view. It would have been great to stay in the room all day, but we didn't have time for that!
The day we reached, it was noon already. Basically we went around exploring Surfers Paradise and trying out different restaurants. Lucky for us, the tram stop was right in front of our hotel. With a day pass, we were able to visit most of the paces.
A visit to the beach is a must! Atleast to take a picture. It was gray, but it still looked good. This was the first place we went to after catching the tram.
What followed was an eating spree. We tried out the infamous Max Brenner, Ben & Jerry's and Brooklyn Depot. The sinfully delightful chocolate at Max Brenner and injection burgers at Brooklyn Depot were amazing.
There are a number of parks in Gold Coast such as Wet n WIld, Seaworld, MovieWorld etc.. however, we visited just one. We've been to a lot of parks around the world and we didn't wanna visit one more. Depending on your interest, you can decide how many days you want to stay for in Gold Coast and the parks you wanna visit. We spend half day at DreamWorld.
I, of course went only on the kiddie rides. I preferred to be the family photographer!
Be prepared to get slightly wet though. There are a couple of fun water rides.
Gold Coast was probably the only place where we would get a chance to see an Aboriginal show. We missed it in Cairns and sigh ... we missed it here too. These shows require advance booking which we were unaware of. If you do plan to visit, there are two shows - one at the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre and the other at Curumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
So basically, we had nothing to do on the third day. No theme parks, no Aboriginal show ... just more food. I kinda regretted for spending more the 2 days here.
Our last day in Cairns was exciting, adventurous and tiresome. I was not prepared for what we were going to do today. According to our plan, we were supposed to visit Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef in the morning and horse riding in the evening. So here we were at the port, on an early morning waiting to catch our boat to Green Island. I am not a fan of sea journeys as I suffer from motion sickness, however, this had to be done. I couldn't leave Cairns without exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
We were supposedly going to do some shallow water snorkeling, a submarine ride and explore the island. Half way through, Mr. D approached one of the staff on the boat and asked them whether we could accommodate Seawalking in our agenda. Seawalking, as the name states is basically walking on the sea bed. They told us that if we could drop the other stuff - snorkeling, submarine, etc , we could do it. So thats what we did!
Once we reached Green Island, we were immediately taken to the Seawalkers kiosk. There we had to change into a diver's suit and given a briefing. The briefing scared me more than actually doing it.
Once we were done, we were taken on a boat in the middle of the sea and dropped off onto a barge like thing. A ladder was dropped into the sea from the barge like thing. We took one step at the time on the ladder until we reached the seabed! It was a marvelous experience to get up close with Australia's marine life.
Seawalking took up most of our time. By the time we reached back to the island, we were left with no time to explore the island and had to return back to the port. To do everything at leisure, its a good idea to spend a full day there. We booked our tickets here.
Once we reached mainland, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the hotel. Next up, was horse riding, I simply love horse riding. The last time I rode a horse was in Portugal. I knew that Cairns would be a completely different experience. We booked our horse riding tour from the hotel itself. It was the Mount N Ride Rainforest Horseback Tour which included pick up and drop off to our hotel.
The horse riding location was about 30 minutes away from our hotel. Once we reached there, we were given a short briefing and allotted a horse each. I was already in love with the place. We were surrounded by mountains and plenty of greenery. We would be passing through the river and rainforest.
We took the most scenic trails and the trainers were there with us the whole way. We were able to book a cameraman and videographer there itself. They accompanied us too.
After a 2 hour ride, we were offered tea, cake and fruits. It was such a beautiful experience.
When we decided to include Adelaide in our Australia plan, many people told us that Adelaide would be boring After visiting Adelaide, I have to tell you that Adelaide in anything but boring. Yes, its a bit smaller that other bigger cities like Sydney or Melbourne, but there's still a lot to do.
For starters, we stayed at the amazing Intercontinental Adelaide. The good part about being an IHG Platinum member is the room upgrades. The moment we checked it, we got upgraded to a suite. Besides the room being huge, it faced the Adelaide Oval. We had the most beautiful view ever!
A good thing about Australia is that public transport within the city limits are free. Not in all the cities, but atleast in some. We caught the free tram just in front of our hotel and headed to Adelaide Central Market. Even since we landed in Australia, I've always gone to some or the other market. These markets offer so much more that just fruits, vegetables, fish or meat. This particular market is 140 years old and has shops that sell bread, pickles, cheese, plants and more. You get actually get all your household essentials sorted out here. Plenty of restaurants too.
Next up, was Haigh's Chocolate Factory ... Australia's oldest family owned chocolate maker. Sadly, we could get a tour as they were almost done for the day. But we did manage to get a sneak peek through the glass and see how chocolates were made. A word of advice, when you're buying chocolate go for the discounted ones that are on a separate rack. They're discounted only because they aren't shaped well. They still have the same great taste! Haigh's Chocolate Factory is located between the tram's last free stop and next paid stop. Either you walk or pay!
We stopped by the beautiful St Francis Xavier's Cathedral and stood there admiring the exterior. Too bad we couldn't go inside as they had some construction work going on.
Our last stop was Rundle Mall, Adelaide's shopping area filled with a number of restaurants and boutiques. Food trucks, street performers, we saw them all. One thing that caught my attention was the Adelaide Arcade. A century old shopping arcade with an extremely beautiful interior. Later, I got to know that this arcade is supposedly haunted by ghosts. I don't know how far this is true, had I known this earlier I probably wouldn't have gone!
Dinner that evening was at a restaurant called Café 129 just in front of our hotel. The restaurant uses a unique concept of a hot stone to cook food. And we cook food by ourselves. Here's where we tried crocodile & kangaroo too! Read my review here.
Stay tuned for the next post X
Today, we had plenty of free time on our hands and decided to explore more of Melbourne city. Unlike the other days when we had to wake up really early for the day trips, we were a bit more relaxed today.
A 5 minute walk from our hotel got us to us very first spot - Queen Victoria Market. This century old market sells food, clothing and other stuff all under one roof. There have a dedicated meat and fish area too. On the day we visited, they told us that not every shop would be open. However, we still got to see a lot. I can only imagine how it would have been on a normal day.
We had a lovely breakfast at the food court here. So much more cheaper than having it in at our hotel.
After exploring the market, we headed to the Central Station to catch a train to Brighton Beach. On our way, I saw this fancy staircase and just had to take a picture!
It was a 40 minute journey to Brighton Beach and it involved changing a couple of trains. We purchased a Myki card which could be topped up and used for our train and metro journey. Once we reached Brighton, we walked for about 20 minutes to reach the beach. It was very cold, but thankfully it didn't rain. While walking towards the beach, I couldn't help but notice how peaceful this area was. There were these luxurious villas all facing the sea. Wow, imagine waking up to a view of the sea every single day. There were hardly people walking around.
After a walk that never seemed to end, we finally reached Brighton Beach. Not your typical sunny day kinda beach, with people basking in the sun ...but beautiful nevertheless. And there they were .... those colouful Brighton bathing boxes standing in a row.
We then walked all the way back to the station, hopped on the train and reached Central Station. Our next stop was Flinders Street Station and St Paul's Cathedral. A free tram took us there. We didn't enter Flinders Street Station. It looked amazing from the outside with a dome shaped entrance and a row of clocks hanging from the top. This station is supposedly more than a 100 years old.
St. Paul's Cathedral was just a short walk away. It looked magnificent from the outside (very Gothic) and I had some trouble fitting the entire thing into my camera. The church is free to enter. The interior of the church was simple, nothing very fancy. Very peaceful though!
Now that we were done with all the attractions, there was one last place to visit - Lindt Chocolate Cafe. We took the tram and headed there. If you are a chocolate lover, this is one place you dont wanna miss. We had some of the most amazing desserts here. Click here for my review.
By the time we were done with Lindt, it was already sunset. Next morning was our flight to Adelaide. We strolled around for a bit and headed to the hotel for an early dinner. We didn't intend on having dinner at our hotel but I'm glad we did. HQ's On William (a restaurant in our hotel) is definitely a place worth trying out. I had the biggest steak in my life (900 grams) not to mention an array of delicious cocktails! Read my review about them here.
Then we went off to bed!
Watch out for my next post about the next city we visited.
Today, we were booked in for a day tour which included Puffing Billy and Healesville Sanctuary. We booked this tour in Dhabi itself. A big bus came to pick us up really early in the morning and we were well on our way. Surprisingly, it wasn't raining like the previous day but it sure looked gloomy.
We drove far, far away through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges until we reached our first stop which was a restaurant known as Grants on Sherbrooke. Here, we had an Aussie Billy Tea and some yummy Lamington cake. For those of you who don't know, Lamington is coconut kinda cake that originated in Australia. Do not leave Australia without trying out this cake. This was included in our tour.
However, none of us had breakfast that morning and decided to have it here. I loved this restaurant because it was in the middle of a jungle. Next to it were a lot of birds flying around. Feeding the birds were part of our tour too, that's when it started raining like crazy. So, we sat inside just enjoying the weather and the surroundings. My review of the restaurant can be found here.
After an hour of so, we hopped on the bus again and headed to Belgrave railway station. It was at this station where we caught "Puffing Billy". Puffing Billy is not your modern day luxury train. Its a century old, steam train and puffs with that smoke and all. Hence the name Puffing Billy.
Inside the train, its all woody. The best part about this train ride was that we could keep our legs out of the window the whole while as it passed through the ranges. It was a beautiful ride and thankfully it didn't rain! We reached Menzies Creek in an hour or so where we had to disembark.
Our big bus, which was there waiting for us picked us up here and we were on our way to the next place which was Healesville Sanctuary. Healesville was the first wildlife sanctuary we visited while we were in Australia. The moment we entered inside we headed straight to a restaurant for lunch.
After that we had a choice of a guided tour of the zoo or exploring it ourselves. We chose the guided tour. The last thing we wanted to do was go around in circles. At he zoo, we had an opportunity to interact with native Australian animals such as kangaroos, koalas, emus as well as other animals. We witnessed a beautiful bird show called "Spirits of the Sky". They even have a mini wildlife hospital in there.
By the time we reached the city, it was already 5pm. Instead of heading back to the hotel we asked our driver to drop us somewhere near Chinatown where we saw this funky looking bar called Touche Hombre. Oh boy, the drinks they whipped up for us were amazing. This bar is definitely a must visit when you're in Melbourne. Make sure you have their "chicken jug". For more pictures and my review about them, click here. Dinner that night was at a nearby mall's food court.
Well, it was supposed to be 16 days (the first day being in Sydney) if Qantas hadn't ruined it for us. But that's a totally different story which I don't even wanna remember. Let me give you a hint though ... peak season? overbooking? yeah something like that.
So here we were in Melbourne ... cold cold Melbourne. We visited Australia in July, which is actually winter for them. We chose to stay at Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens as it was closer to the Central Station as well as it had some trams passing nearby. The plan that day was to visit Sovereign Hill ... which was 1.5 hours by train. There are other options too like a bus or car, but they are expensive. You can simply imagine how tired we were. We reached Melbourne after 17 hours (14 hours to Sydney + 1 hour from Sydney to Melbourne + some time at the airport ) and here we were travelling again. Not to mention running behind Qantas in Dubai for a day struggling to get on any flight to Australia! Okay, this was more like 17 + 24 hours! Anyway, when you're on a holiday, every minute is precious. We booked our tickets to Sovereign Hill while we were in Abu Dhabi itself. All we had to do now was just hop on a train!
The reason we chose to visit Sovereign Hill that day and not the next or after was because they had a "Christmas in July" thingy going on which was supposedly gonna end the day we reached. I really wanted to see it. When we reached the city of Ballarat ( the place where Sovereign Hill was located), we took a cab to reach Sovereign Hill. Gosh, it was just so cold, and gloomy that day. It just wouldn't stop raining!
Sovereign Hill is one of Melbourne's popular attractions. Its where Australia's history comes to life. You'll be transported to the 1850s ... an era of horse driven carriages, streets filled with costumed characters, steam driven machines .... an era when gold was discovered. Everything there was built based on that.
We visited a Gold Museum too (this was part of Sovereign Hill ) and saw some gold artifacts, coins ..basically everything associated with the gold rush. And about that "Christmas in July" thing - you always associate Christmas with winter. Since it was winter in Melbourne, they turned Sovereign Hill into a winter wonderful. There was Santa Claus, Christmas tree, mulled wine, snow, etc. Although Sovereign Hill didn't look like anything what we'd seen in the pictures ( because of the rain and all), we still had fun.
I remember having a lovely roast beef sandwich at one of the restaurants and lots of mulled wine.
We left Sovereign Hill around 4pm and reached the city centre at 6pm. All that travelling and walking had made us hungry. After hunting around for a place to eat, we finally found this Malaysian restaurant called Mamak. Oh my, those yummy curries and spicy noodles were just what we needed. Here are some of the things we had. For more pictures & my review, click here.
As if that wasn't enough, we thought we'd hit an ice cream place! Yes ice cream in a 4 degree freezing Melbourne. But N2 extreme was on my "TO-DO" list and we were lucky that it was just near our hotel. These were no ordinary ice creams! And those injections were WOW!! Click here to read my review about them.
Then, we headed back to the hotel and called it a day.
P.S. All my Aussie restaurant reviews can be found on Zomato.
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