Well what a week and a bit it has been, I have just returned from my trip to Sydney, Australia and I had an absolute blast. It was the perfect holiday in so many ways, and it’s time for me to reflect on it all. Stay with me…
So, earlier this year, as I wrote about, I had planned to go to Australia before I turned 30. It was just the ultimate thing that I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30. I had always dreamed of travelling to Australia, there’s just something about the country which really resonates with me, firstly the music is so great from down under, I love the accents, I love that it’s wild down there with all of the scary (but not so scary) creatures, and that it is so far away from here.
I had booked to go to Sydney, by itself, nowhere else in the country. The reason for this was because I wanted to make it affordable for myself to travel to, and because even though it’s not the capital city (Canberra is), it has always been known as the biggest and probably most well known city in all of Oz.
Throughout the year I had planned what I wanted to do with my time out there, booking things in advance has turned out to be such a rewarding feat. It meant that not only did I have to worry about booking things when I was out there, but that it also saved me money as well so I could go out to Sydney with just the money I needed to get by, food and shopping etc.
So on the 11th November I set off from London Heathrow to Sydney, via Singapore. This was going to be the longest and hardest plane flight I would ever go on, clocking up a total of 21 hours altogether. I had prepared my iPhone and iPad with all of the media I was going to need to keep me entertained, and surprisingly neither device ran out of battery either on my way there. The stop off in Singapore really broke up the flight, we had to stop there in order for the plane to be re-fueled, but actually, having that hour break really made the flight so much more bearable. I didn’t feel tired at all and stayed up all of the way, I was just too excited.
I landed in Sydney on a very early morning of the Sunday, I had made it! There was a blip at the airport when the transfer I had booked to take me to my hotel didn’t show up, but and this is to great credit of the Sydney transport, I managed to get on the train which took me into Sydney city centre. I also signed up with one of their Opal cards, which are brilliant! Basically, it’s like the London equivalent of an Oyster card, but this Opal card gets you far and wide (as I will explain later) but you only pay a total of $60 AUD in a 7 day week. You can do as much travelling you like in that time, and each time you travel the fare you go on gets discounted until eventually it’s free to travel everywhere because you hit the $60 AUD mark. I met one local out there who said that their public transport is really bad, I had to say I was so impressed at how fluid it all was, and the fact you could use their ferries too, I gave them the cold truth that London and Britain as a whole has a worse off public transportation system.
So what did I do with my time out there? Apart from catching up with a couple of friends, I went and visited Taronga Zoo where I got up close and personal with a Koala bear, she was so cute. I also saw the big sights of the city, that being mainly the Harbour bridge, Sydney Opera House, St Mary’s Cathedral, the Sydney Tower Eye. I also went to the big tourist haunts in Darling Harbour, such as Madame Tussauds (which I actually thought had the most accurate looking waxworks), the Sealife Centre (which had the cutest penguins ever), the WildLife attraction (which is a total waste of time) and then I stumbled upon possibly the best place to go to in the city, the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Sydney is a bustling metropolis, full of people. When I found out about this garden, which is centred right in the middle of a tourist hotspot, yet when you get inside you feel like you are in a different world, I was delighted. It almsot felt like you were in a calm place, all thoughts you have just taken away from you as you sit among waterfalls, bamboo jungles and chinese temples, it was heavenly. I also made a new friend in the form of a gecko who was casually walking around, and followed me as well. He was cute and posed for a few photos for me.
On the Wednesday, I made good use of the Opal card, which I spoke about earlier, and decided I wanted to travel to a place called Katoomba. Katoomba is a place outside Sydney, up in the Blue Mountains, and is a good two hour train ride away. I was thinking to myself, this is surely going to cost a lot of money when I get off and swipe my card at the station, but to my surprise the cost of the trip was only $3.50AUD, the average of about £2 in the UK. I was tempted to do a Blue Mountains trip, booking it with a third party supplier who was going to charge nearly £100 for the getaway. Umm, no chance. So I went on my own back to Katoomba, a charming little place which you can tell is a “proper” Australian suburb. The Blue Mountains though, was an absolute delight for the eyes and seeing the Three Sisters mountains was awesome. I managed to cram in a few photos as well, of course. If anyone is thinking of going to Sydney, make sure the Blue Mountains is there on your agenda of things to do, but do not, whatever you do, fall into the trap of booking some really expensive excursion to go up there, there is trains to get there and a bus which takes you from the station in Katoomba to the main lookout point, but you could even walk this is you wanted to take in some of the sights.
Wednesday night came along, and this was the night I was seeing the girl group TLC at the Enmore Theatre in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. My Opal card came in really handy once again as there was a lot of changes on the train network to get here, but yet again negotiating this was a doddle. TLC, as you may know, used to be made up of three girls. You had T-Boz, Chilli and Left-Eye who sadly passed away in 2002 in a tragic car accident. They have had a string of hits, mainly in the 1990’s with their R&B tinged material. They had big hits like “Unpretty”, “No Scrubs”, “Waterfalls” and “Creep” which I still love listening to today. When I heard they were performing in town when I was there, I just had to go and I am so glad I did, as they were brilliant. I had only just realised that they have staged a comeback in Australia recently testing out new material from their new upcoming album, and their recent single has done really well in the Australian ARIA charts. I hope it will be big for them elsewhere, here is the new single so you can have a listen yourselves.
The ultimate attraction to also see when you are in Sydney is, of course, Bondi Beach. The beach is well known worldwide for probably being the best beach, guaranteed with sunshine and blue waters. I had a day out to this on the Thursday and I was brave enough to go swimming in the sea too, I had to try out my Apple Watch in the open sea some day. I had way too much fun, capturing all the fun on my GoPro as well, including being thrown around by massive waves. I think, in hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best idea as I woke up the next day with a sore lower back, from where I had been flung around too much. You only live once though, I guess. I also took the coastal walk down to Bronte Beach, which still had gushing blue waters but not nearly half as many tourists, another great visit if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle.
It was also my dream to travel up to Palm beach which is about an hour’s drive north of Sydney, this is the place where Home & Away is set and filmed and so I wanted to take a look fot myself. Luckily, one of my friends offered to drive up there and it was great to have a mini road-trip too, the only downside is that we got there a little bit too late as it was sunset when we got there and so it was at night. Barrenjoey Lighthouse was a great find though and made for some great photo captures so it wasn’t all bad, if you are going to go, make sure you go during daylight hours.
I had a fantastic time out in Sydney and I really didn’t want to go home, I have made it my ambition to one day emigrate over to Oz. It’s not impossible, I took example from my friend who had moved from over here to there and coped with it really well. It’s all about having a long term plan, and where you see yourself in times to come. I would love to think in about 10 years from now I can be in a position to make the big move and start a new life out there, but only time will tell I guess. I loved the vibe out in Australia and the only way I could describe it is European, but laid back, exactly my kinda cup of tea!
I hope to go back again soon, but not too soon. After all, this was meant to be the trip of a lifetime, but I genuinely felt really sad when it was time to go back, the people out there are really nice and I felt right at home. One person told me earlier this year that they wished it was a one way ticket for me to go Australia, and for once, I agree with them!
Before I go, don’t forget to watch my travel vlog on my travels out there. I do warn you, the video exceeds 30 minutes but makes for great viewing.