Sydney & Melbourne through 12,000 eyes!

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iflutteredby’s favourite picture from the Australia trip

iflutteredby has been our travel companion for a few times now. Let’s know more on our Australia trip through her (12000!) eyes 😀

Hi iflutteredby,

Today we’ll talk about your maiden trip to Australia, together with Travel Keede!

But first, tell us about yourself. Where do you come from? How did you come to enjoy travelling?

Well, I’m a 20-something-year-old from this dusty little town called Agra in the most populous state in India. To be honest, I never thought about becoming a ‘traveller’ or a ‘nomad’ when I was growing up. I never made a bucket list or had a long list of places I wanted to visit. In college, I started exploring places around Pune, and I realized ‘Hey! This is fun. I want to do more of this.’ And that’s how it all began. Since then, I’ve been utilizing all the rare long weekends I get to pack in as much travelling as I possibly can.

Tell us about your trip. The events that led to it?

Well, like it always does, my sister had a random idea, and after discussing it with her husband, decided to make me a partner in crime as well. Of course, I was totally up for it.

Where in Australia did you visit? What were some of your best experiences?

Our two major base camps were Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne we visited the State Library, Degraves Street, DFO, and other prominent spots around the commercial areas. The Hozier street art, the free walking tours and the tram rides were some of the highlights.

Oh, and how could I ever forget the Great Ocean road trip? Picture this. You’re driving down a smooth, open road that stretches for miles and miles ahead of you. There are ever-changing oceanic vistas on your left, and beautiful, lush rainforests on your right. The music is on, the breeze blows your hair back, and just for a teeny second, you wonder if it is all a dream. We went all the way to the 12 Apostles – basically huge, natural structures made of limestone — and back.

The view from there was, by far, one of the best I’ve seen.

Sydney welcomed us like a bright ray of sunshine after the rainy weather in Melbourme played spoilsport. We visited Circular Quay and witnessed the Opera House in all its glory. Bondi beach was heartbreakingly beautiful, and we fell in love with the coastal walk and the deep blue ocean. We took a ferry ride to Manly beach, ate at the darling restaurants at Darling Harbour, and even went for a hot air balloon ride at Hawkesbury.

I’m sorry there’s just too much to talk about and this space seems too limited! 😀

How did you manage accommodation and food? Being a vegetarian, was it tough for you to manage the food situation? Any places you’d recommend?

Travel Keede managed accommodation, like always. Airbnbs always work the best in places like this. It’s a shared space, so it’s easier on the pocket, gives you more room and is a little more intimate than hotel rooms. Plus, you have the whole apartment to yourself, you can cook your own meals if you feel like, and the overall experience is a little more homely. After a day or two, you don’t feel like you’re just a visitor. I remember thinking to myself, “Hmm, I could get used to this!”

The food was brilliant wherever we went. Surprisingly, a lot of people in Australia are vegetarians. It makes sense, as a lot of them are into fitness and healthy lifestyles. No matter what time of the day it was, we always saw a bunch of people jogging, running, surfing. And goddamn, they have good bodies.

So anyway, food is not an issue for vegetarians at all. You get superb coffee, bakery items, Italian food, the works! We went to this upscale restaurant called Veggie Bar in Melbourne, and everything we ate there was perfection. Coffee and croissants at Portobello at Circular Quay are pretty awesome. We also visited the Rocks weekend market, and the food there was to die for. (This isn’t a hyperbole. It was that good!) Do try the Japanese pancakes and corn with chilli and butter on it! Mmmmm.

It would have been a crime if I hadn’t mentioned having breakfast at Bill’s in Sydney. We waited in line for half an hour to get a table, but trust me, we wept with tears of joy once our food came. Soft, fluffy pancakes, all sorts of salads, omelettes, fruit bowls, shakes, smoothies. It was like attaining salvation for a while. Food nirvana, is what I’d like to call it. The quality of ingredients used to make everything was unbelievable. To this day, my taste buds thank me for it. You cannot miss this. Cannot.

What was your impression of the local life in the cities you visited? What will be your one big takeaway or takeaways from it?

The local life seemed pretty chill. People mostly seemed happy and relaxed. They’re thrill-seekers, what with their surfing and hiking, and road trips and adventure sports. They’re peaceful, and huge fans of art and culture, and man, do they love their food!

My biggest takeaway would be this: When in doubt, have a beer. Also, have the Yellow Tail wine.

How did you feel on your way home after the trip ended? Did the trip add value to you as a person?

Of course, you feel heavy and a tad glum after a trip ends. But you feel more enriched as a person. There’s so much more you witness about humanity in general. You see a whole bunch of people living on a completely different part of the planet. You get to peek into their lives, their beliefs, their culture. It makes you question everything you have grown up thinking. There’s so much to see out there. The more I travel, the more I want to travel, because come on. We only have one planet. Gotta explore it while we can!

Where are you off to next? Any plans brewing?

Yes, I’m off to Bhutan in a few days, and I’m so excited! We’re planning to visit Thimphu and Paro. Looking forward to the three ‘Ms’: mountains, monasteries and momos! Also, the treks and fresh air.

Where can we see more from you? Blog, social media?

The link to my blog is: https://iflutteredby.wordpress.com/ and my Instagram handle is @asthaprakash

Follow me. I’m a cool person. (No, I’m not).

Check out the Sydney vlog put together by iflutteredby!

 

 

Fireworks, in the end

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Sydney Skyline

I’m back here to share more Sydney adventures from earlier this September.

On our third day in Sydney, we split into two groups – those who went Skydiving and those who went Hot Air Ballooning. I went with the latter but I should share a couple of things from the skydive group as well. One, the skydive at Wollongong is the best. It’s the only skydive site with beach views around Sydney and my friends were quite thrilled with the whole thing. Second, it was worth taking the photos+videos package. The insurance not so much but go for it if it gives you peace of mind.

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Hot Air Ballooning at Huckesbury

Now let’s talk about Hot Air Ballooning. We had to choose the Huckesbury site due to lack of enough time in Sydney. We still went ahead as we wanted to experience the same this being our first time ever on a balloon. Having done a skydive before I can tell you that ballooning is quite the contrast. It’s relaxed and mellow suitable for the non-adrenaline-junkies who’d still like to enjoy views from up above. We quite enjoyed it, no butterflies in the stomach, calming, peaceful and totally worth it. Of course it would have been better if the views are awesome. At Huckesbury they were pretty decent but not extraordinary.

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Farm view from the balloon, Huckesbury

The next adventure was the Whale Watching tour early the next day. I can tell you that the cruise itself was pretty amazing as the boat takes you awayyyy from the city till you can see no land. The water is deep blue as far as the eyes can see. On the matter of spotting whales, we weren’t so fortunate.Well we did technically but from quite a distance when it blew some water out and splashed its tail on the water surface. The tour operator did offer a free ride on the next cruise as stated in their T&Cs if whales were not spotted on a particular tour.

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As the boat sped away from Sydney city

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Di you spot the whale tail?

Next we headed to the weekend markets at The Rocks. It was pretty great! All kinds of stalls selling handmade unique souvenirs, jams and jellies, chocolates and things like that. Several live food counters were selling amazing grub as well. The most memorable for me were the japanese pancakes and boiled sweet corns seasoned with spices and lime.

The evening was at Darling Harbour. Some drinks and sheesha at a middle eastern restaurant overlooking the harbour followed by fireworks! The most befitting conclusion to a really wonderful trip.

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Fireworks at Darling Harbour

Did I mention the ‘best breakfast in my life’ we had at Bill’s? Well if you do get a chance, do yourself a favour and go eat there. Your taste buds will be so grateful 🙂

PS: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year people ❤

And the map to help you with the planning. Also pinned are some vegetarian friendly eateries we can recommend 🙂

Sydney! FTW \m/

Ugh! Our luck! The day we flew out of Melbourne, it turned out to be bright and sunny. While we were waiting at the airport, we could see the bright blue day outside. That day should have been the day we drove up to the Great Ocean Road or the Yarra Valley.

Sydney

Sydney

Anyhow, Sydney pretty much made up for it! 😀 And it felt great to be back!

The day we landed was bright and warm and we didn’t need any jackets and mufflers. It was so mood uplifting and liberating, really. It was one of the very few times, I’ve experienced how much of an affect weather can have on your mood.

This time we were staying at an Airbnb very close to the city center and that made things easy. The house itself was awesssome :). After an amazing lunch in the neighborhood, we ventured out on foot. We headed to Circular Quay, for the Opera House guided tour we had booked in advance. This was my second time in Sydney – I loved it then and and I loved it now!

Circular Quay was lovely as always, with the hive of activity and the views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. If you cannot catch a show at the opera house, I would really recommend the guided tour. You need to see how grand the main theater is and I can only imagine how spectacular the performances there would be. Goose bump raising kinds!

Once the tour was done, we hung around and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. In that moment I was counting my lucky stars, taking in mental pictures and living my dopamine releasing future memories 😀

Sunset at Circular Quay

Sunset at Circular Quay

Sunset and the Opera House, Sydney

Sunset and the Opera House, Sydney

Harbour Bridge, Sydney

Harbour Bridge, Sydney

On our way back, we stopped for some delicious butter and jam croissants and coffee and this cafe called Portobello which overlooks the harbour. Just what we needed in that weather!

Next day started with a visit to Queen Victoria Mall aka QVB. It’s the prettiest shopping mall I’ve ever been to! You have to go there even if just for a stroll. I can assure you, you will feel like you’re living in the 18th century. Of course no one is stopping you from enjoying a leisurely meal at one of the many casual dining options or picking up some chocolates from Haigh’s.

Inside QVB, Sydney

Inside QVB, Sydney

From there we headed to Bondi by bus. Since, it was still chilly we didn’t plan any beach activities. Instead we enjoyed a really great lunch at one of the alfresco cafes and then headed to burn all that up on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. I had enjoyed it so much before that I wanted my friends to do this. I for one did not mind revisiting for one simple reason – breathtaking views ❤

Bondi to Coogee, Syndey

Bondi to Coogee, Syndey

Bondi to Coogee, Sydney

Bondi to Coogee, Sydney

Sydney had been great so far and we had so much planned for the next couple of days!

Ending this post with the thought below and I’ll be back tomorrow peeps 😉

“Don’t worry about the world ending today,

It’s already tomorrow in Australia” – Charles M. Schulz

Loved Sydney – Circular Quay, Bondi and Darling Harbour

I absolutely loved Sydney ❤ on this first visit! Maybe it was because the weather in Nov was so nice. I stayed in downtown CBD and could easily cover the most talked about places on foot. Here are a few places I enjoyed the most …

A well timed click! Seagulls at Circular Quay, Sydney

A well timed click! Seagulls at Circular Quay, Sydney

I loved hanging around at Circular Quay – having a nice snack and coffee in the backdrop the Harbour Bridge, seagulls gliding around (although they are a nuisance when they go after your food) walking upto Opera House and resting on the steps, taking a ferry from one of the wharfs and enjoying the ride, the sun of your face and wind in your hair (cliched I know but still …), walking around and picking up souvenirs to make the visit memorable … :-). Besides, the color of the sea here is such a nice bright blue … I don’t see that often around Singapore.

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Isn't this is a great place for brunch?

Isn’t this is a great place for brunch?

On the ferry to Manly

On the ferry to Manly

One of the days, I took a bus to Bondi along with a friend and the sights were just beautiful as soon as the beach came into view. We had a nice lunch at Lamrock Cafe and then headed out for Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. It was one the best walks ever! Everything was lovely – open skies, puffy clouds, big blue ocean, gusts of wind, beautiful views and beaches, parks and cafes along the way …

Along the Bondi coastal walk

Along the Bondi coastal walk

Lastly, not all of us are lucky enough to enjoy the NYE fireworks in Sydney. Not to be disheartened! There is a firework display at Darling Harbour every Sat in Nov – Dec each year (see here). Though the show is short, about 10 mins or so, it’s still pretty and a decent crowd gathers at least 30 mins in advance. The harbour itself is a great place to hang out with several restaurants and drinking holes along the waterfront. They are a bit upmarket so be prepared to shell out more for food and drink here.

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Darling Harbour at dusk

I’m already planning a second trip before my visa expires. Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains … hope to see you soon 😀

Celebrating my first Freefall Skydive

Finally! I did it! 😀

This was one of the biggest items on my bucket list and when I recently got the chance to visit Sydney, I “jumped” at the opportunity. I chose to go for a tandem freefall skydive with Sydney Skydivers. AU allows 14,000 ft as the max altitude which allows upto 60 secs of free fall.

Nothing beats the adrenalin rush you get with this extreme adventure sport! Its thrilling, exciting and scary all at the same time! At least for first timers.

Here is a great picture that captures the emotions 🙂

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And guess what? I want to do this again! Can’t wait 😀