Tag archive for "sydney"

My journey in the land of Oz

Australia, Destinations

My journey in the land of Oz

No Comments 05 July 2011

This is a guest post written by Ela Krawczykowska for MyDestination.com.

As far as I know, Australia sounds as exotic as Far East countries to Europeans. But don’t worry – you don’t have to plan your journey now. Summer in Australia is from December to February!

I visited Sydney, a harbour city of Australia. For 75% of the population of Europe it’s the capital of Australia… the real one is Canberra! Sydney is very busy – beaches, cafes, bars and the harbour are ALWAYS full. But that’s the charm of the city as well.

If I wanted to tell you now about all the places you should see in Sydney, this will probably end up being a book… So I will try to include the MUST SEE list at least!

First thing is definitely the Sydney Opera House. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973 and became the symbol of Australia. It has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site. I think it is fair to say that it’s one of the most popular performing arts centres in the world. And the most popular building to take a picture with!

Second iconic place in Sydney is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or simply the Bridge. It’s like Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or Eiffel Tower in Paris – a symbol. It is linking the city with North Sydney. There are many different things to do around the bridge. You can cycle across, picnic under, or climb over it!

Photo courtesy of MyDestination.com

Photo courtesy of MyDestination.com

Other interesting spots include the Rocks, Darling Harbour, Sydney Olympic Park, Luna Park and Royal Botanic Gardens. Art lovers should go to the National Maritime Museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Australian Museum, the Museum of Sydney and see the small chic galleries in east Sydney.

Best beach is Whale Beach or Palm Beach. Bondi is very touristic, but to me it’s a bit overrated and always crowded. If you’re looking to spend a day shopping and having a nice lunch, check out Paddington and Surry Hills. The best food is in Zushi restaurant, they serve amazing Japanese dishes. For dessert, go to Bourke Street Bakery and order and lemon tart. Yum yum!

The major party district in Sydney is on Oxford Street. It’s packed with cafes, bars and clubs. Another, quite popular among Ozzies, is King’s Cross. On Oxford Street, I recommend Dr. Pong. It is modelled on a bar in Berlin, all beers are served in red plastic cups and there is a ping-pong table in the centre so people can play beer pong. It has a super-cool vibe, is spacious and the decoration is very trendy and colourful. The food is amazing as well! Warning: don’t play beer pong if you want to avoid a hangover the next day…

Sydney has hundreds of accommodation options. If you’re backpacking, check Bondi Beach or Haymarket. They both have many backpackers in every season of the year. Bondi is a cool area and you can walk to the beach from there. Haymarket is very central, and also good for mid-range accommodation. There are also luxurious hotels all over Sydney. The most expensive hotels are located in the Rocks.

Photo courtesy of MyDestination.com

Photo courtesy of MyDestination.com

Sydney is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. It’s hot, arty, sporty, glamour… Amazing people, food, nightlife, plenty of things to see and do… Do you need anything more?!

Check out http://www.mydestination.com/sydney for more information.

This is a guest post written by Ela Krawczykowska for MyDestination.com.

Worth the work: Pittwater YHA

Australia, Destinations

Worth the work: Pittwater YHA

1 Comment 01 June 2010

People that visit only Sydney, see just that, not Australia. The city is beautiful and full of history, but it doesn’t quite show off Australia’s landscape or wildlife, which is a big part of the country.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have enough vacation time to see as much of the country as they need to really understand it’s lure. They stick to Sydney, because it’s the easiest city to fly into and most well-known.

Luckily, the city’s suburbs are fairly easy to reach and give short tern vacationers a glimpse of the rest of Australia, outside the city. About an hour from Sydney, located in Ku-ring-gai National Park, Pittwater YHA offers affordable accommodation in a slice of untouched Australia.

Location

Directions to the hostel may turn some people off. It starts with a commute on one of three buses from Railway Square in Sydney. All three buses depart rarely throughout the day and one bus requires people transfer at Narrabeen/Mona Vale. Once guests are dropped off at Church Point, they must take an $11 per way or $12.50 return ferry to Halls Wharf. Finally, guests must walk 15 minutes uphill to reach the hostel.

People taking the long trip to reach Pittwater YHA may regret the decision about two minutes into the walk, but that will change once they see this place and its view. With a view of Morning Bay from the front porch and close proximity to several fantastic hiking trails, it’s a dream escape from the city.

A view of Morning Bay from a lookout point in Ku-ring-gai National Park. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A view of Morning Bay from a lookout point in Ku-ring-gai National Park. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Staff

Owners Michael Doherty and Sarah Polomka live next door to the hostel and work at it regularly. The lovely couple maintain a relaxed mood that can only come from years of living in a place like this. They take time to meet their guests and even invite them to go sailing on their boat once a week.

Cleanliness

Guests won’t feel like they’re roughing it in the woods. Hostel rooms and facilities are all well-maintained.

Rooms

Rooms are modest and comfortable. Some offer a perfect view of the hostel’s natural surroundings. The hostel has multi-share female and multi-share male dorms from $A26-$A29 per bed, double rooms from $A64.50-$A72 per night and four share family rooms from $A88-$A98 per night.

The rates are comparable to that of the city, which may concern some people, but this is backpacker accommodation like no other. It’s worth every penny.

Vibe

People in the area are extremely kind and welcoming. It’s a little piece of paradise and the locals recognize that.

Guests staying at Pittwater YHA should probably purchase food prior as the ferry is pricey as is the local grocery market. Most will find plenty to do at the hostel, such as rent kayaks, sail or hike. It has lovely common areas, from its outdoor wrap-around deck with hammocks to its boat house-like living room with comfy couches and a fireplace.

At the end of the day, guests eat dinner together, talk, read, maybe in an acoustic session.

The hostels boathouse-like common area has comfortable couches, a fire place and heaps of books. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The hostel's boathouse-like common area has comfortable couches, a fire place and heaps of books. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Safety

It’s not an issue. Pittwater YHA is one of the few places left in the world where people don’t need to look over their shoulders or worry about their belongings.

Overall

I stayed at Pittwater YHA to give a friend from home that was only visiting Australia for two weeks, a glimpse of the country outside of Sydney. It was not an easy hostel to get to, but the trip was worth it. The hostel is beautiful, staff is friendly and I was relaxed while staying there.

The hostel has a wrap-around porch with a spectacular view. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The hostel has a wrap-around porch with a spectacular view. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Thrills and views at Luna Park, Sydney

Australia, Destinations, Photography

Thrills and views at Luna Park, Sydney

6 Comments 05 April 2010

It’s hard to look through a collection of travel books about Australia without seeing that sinister-smiling sun entrance to Luna Park. With locations in Melbourne and Sydney, this old-fashioned theme park is popular among both tourists and locals.

Opened in 1935 as a gift for the builders of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney location’s neighboring community has a love/hate relationship with the landmark. The park has been shut down and re-opened due to noise complaints in the past.

Open to the public again, the park offers not only thrill rides and cotton candy, but also beautiful views of the city. Those staying in the city center can walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge to get to the park. Make sure to ride the ferris wheel for a great photo-op. Some nights you might even have the chance to watch from Luna’s shores as fireworks burst over the city.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Check times and prices at Luna Park’s website before visiting.

Happy to fly domestic

Australia, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under

Happy to fly domestic

7 Comments 27 March 2010

Julia and I didn’t have much time to say goodbye when we parted ways at Sydney International Airport this morning. A good friend I made in college, Julia is the first person from home to visit me Down Under.

We both departed the city by plane, but since her flight was international and mine domestic, we only had a few seconds for a hug and thank for visiting/having me on the bus to the airport. It’s fine though, because we spent two weeks together doing some pretty amazing things.

Climbing, driving over and walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (now all we need to do is fly over it). Hanging out in Darling Harbour. Peeing up at manatees at Sydney Aquarium. Watching baby orangoutangs play at Taronga Zoo. Crashing an Ad Tech convention. Jumping out of an airplane (for Julia). EATING heaps tuna and PB&J sandwiches, ice cream, gelato, pizza and rice. Walking endlessly on George and Elizabeth Streets. Stuffing ourselves at Pancakes on the Rocks. Lounging at Manly Beach. Trying meat pies and ginger beer. Meeting local artisans at The Rocks Market. Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day at Fortune of War and The Ivy. Meeting random people on the street. Hiking in the Blue Mountains. Trying to figure out how to work the remote at Big Hostel. Sampling wines in Hunter Valley. Reading subtitles at the French Film Festival. Shopping at Paddington Market. Walking through and lounging in Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Walking along the Sydney Harbour. Catching ferries at Circular Quay. Discovering breathtaking views on the North Shore. Trying Indian and Malaysian food. Screaming at Luna Park. Having our minds blown at the biggest iMax screen in the world (Alice in Wonderland at the iMax theater in Darling Harbour). Getting caught up in different cultural celebrations around the city (Irish, Greek and I think Scottish). Figuring out how to get to Pittwater. Being rescued by Bob and Maureen at Sydney Central Station (more on this later). Kayaking amongst massive jellyfish. Hiding out on “Cast Away”-like beaches. Weeding. Talking politics. Slowly getting closer to a wallaby in the wild. Getting lost while hiking. Burning our bodies then cracking our sculls at Bondi Beach. Tasting kangaroo. Munching on nachos. Acting classy at Aria restaurant. Trekking up multiple hills to YHAs (why do all their locations require walking up some sort of incline?). Listening to classical music at the Opera House.

Julia and I sampling wines on the Hunter Valley Boutique Wine tour.

Julia and I sampling wines on the Hunter Valley Boutique Wine tour.

Obviously, we did quite a bit, more than I even planned on the itinerary I sent her weeks before her departure.

I kept asking Julia all week what was her favorite thing we did. It changed a lot, as did mine, but as I sit at the airport at the end of it all I know for sure my favorite thing during her trip was meeting Bob and Maureen.

I had experienced the Bush in Australia during my six weeks prior to Julia visiting and found it to be a much more special Aussie experience than the city can offer. I wanted Julia to see that side of the country, but with only two weeks to travel together, our options were limited. I learned about Pittwater YHA either traveling around or surfing the internet. Located no more than an hour and a half outside Sydney city center and boasting beautiful views, beaches and hiking trails, it seemed like the best option.

All I had to do was figure out how to get there.

First let me say that the directions on the YHA website are in no way clear. The site makes it seem as though backpackers can reach the hostel via bus, ferry or by walking.

Really what they mean is all of the above.

They suggest people take a bus from Central Railway Station, but the bus they suggest only ran hourly after 4 p.m. the day we were traveling. The bus stops near a ferry dock, where ferries only run every so often and cost a ridiculous $11 for a one way ride. Then people must hike 15-minutes up hill to reach the hostel. I never did the hike, but judging by how lost Julia and I were hiking with a map around there, I don’t think it would have been a pleasant experience while carrying three bags each.

Luckily, we didn’t have to do any of that and Julia got to see how friendly and helpful people in this country are. We arrived at our bus stop in Sydney about 30 minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive. There was a long line so I asked a couple in the front what bus they were waiting for.

“Where are you going,” the gentleman asked.

“Pittwater,” I replied.

“Are you going to the YHA,” the lady asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Well they’re our neighbors,” the pair said almost in unison. “Just stick by us and we’ll get you there.”

“Don’t we need to take a ferry also,” I asked.

“No worries, we have a boat,” they said.

May I introduce Bob and Maureen.

A view of Pittwater from the top. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A view of Pittwater from the top. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The pair were visiting the city with friends for the day. However, they don’t come often. Moving to Pittwater in the 60s or 70s (I can’t remember), they prefer the beauty and stillness of this area of waterways and mountains to a busy city. In a book about the community, Bob was quoted saying, “I don’t know about this business of going to heaven. I think I’ll just stay home.”

They looked after us on the bus. Then when we got off. They grabbed some of our bags and Bob said to wait for a second with Maureen while he pulled up the car. He drove us to the dock where all the people in the community keep their boats. On the ride they told us a bit about themselves and asked us about our travels. Then they loaded us in their boat and gave a tiny tour of the waterways en route to our destination.

We got out and they helped us with our bags on the hike up to hostel.

Who does that for complete strangers?

Australians.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced such extreme generosity in this country. I don’t know how people like this still exist in such a hectic and sometimes scary world, but they act like it’s only natural to do this kind of stuff.

I was really happy Julia got to see that side of the country for herself, because sometimes it’s lost in the major cities. I’ve found most of the people in this country to be so genuine and inviting. I know there are probably people like this in every country, but there are heaps of them in this part of the world.

I was also happy to experience such kindness with someone else. In fact, having Julia here made me realize how much I miss traveling with people. Traveling alone is thrilling and freeing, but sharing things with other people, especially good friends, will always be better in my opinion.

So I am sad to see her go, but once again, I won’t be alone for long.

I am joining Bobbi-Joe O’Gilvie for THE WORD Australia’s Best Backpacker Job in Australia.

emailsignature

Some of you may have watched my entry video to the contest on YouTube in late January. Some may even have it memorized by now as I begged everyone on Twitter and Facebook to view it over and over again since he person with the most views would win the competition. Thanks for that by the way.

Well I didn’t win. In fact, I didn’t even come close. The other Bobbi beat me by about 2,000 views/votes. Still I thought it was fun to go semi-viral, racking up around 2,000 of my own views/votes, and I thought it was really odd to find another female named Bobbi in a competition with so few people.

The defeat didn’t burn too bad, since I was leaving for Australia anyway five days after the competition commenced. Still I wanted to see if THE WORD had any other opportunities so I kept in touch. Then a few weeks into my trip, they came to me with the most amazing opportunity. They asked me to join Bobbi-Jo for the last two months of her three-month journey to backpack the east coast of Australia (from Brisbane, Queensland up) on them, while blogging for their website.

Without hesitation I replied, “Yes!” As I wrote this post I was on a Jet Star plane to meet Bobbi-Jo in the Gold Coast. It’s weird, but I kind of feel like a rock star, which brings me to my final bit of praise for Australia today.

Australia embodies the “a place where all your dreams come true” slogan that America in known for. I’m not saying all you’re dreams can’t come true in America (I wouldn’t be here if that was the case), but it seems heightened security in the past ten years makes dreams a lot more difficult to become reality for immigrants to the States, which is who the “dream” was always directed at.

But it’s still very much true and tangible in Australia. For instance, flying from and in America is not fun. I’m not complaining about it. It’s just the way things are and I’d rather be safe than have my bath bag on me in the plane anyway. But let’s just say the days of epic goodbyes at a gate in JFK airport or hip Pan-Am stewardesses are long gone in America. (In fact, now their called flight attendants.)

While airport security in Australia is probably a bit more intense than in the past, it’s still an exciting experience. I arrived at the airport around 11:45 this morning and was at my gate by noon. Not once was I frisked or stared at for wearing a hat. In fact, no one even asked me for identification, ANYWHERE! That boggles my mind.

Loading the plane was actually thrilling as they opened both doors, allowing me to walk around the runway and up stairs to my plane. The wind blew my scarf sideways and I held my fedora down as  I made my way to my plane. This was always my image of flying, which usually played out in reality to me sweating in the hallway for ten minutes then giving people in first class dirty looks for looking windswept.

That’s Australia! A place where all your dreams come true and I’m not the only one. I met up with Lauren, the first friend I made Down Under and a fellow Jersey girl, in Sydney a few days ago for the first time in about a month.

She asked, “What has Australia been like for you?”

“Like anything is possible,” I replied to which to responded, “Me too!”

I don’t know if it’s timing or this is just how things go here but for the first time in my life my expectations were actually dull compared to the reality of my travels.

I’m not sure what to expect in Queensland. I hear it’s pretty wild up hear. Bill Bryson used the quote, “Madder than snakes,” to describe the people in this territory of Australia. I’ll admit I’m a little nervous. Boarding the international flight to Jersey probably would have been much safer, but I’m glad I was the one flying domestic when Julia and I parted ways.

Blinding Sydney Tower

Australia, Destinations, Photography

Blinding Sydney Tower

No Comments 10 February 2010

The Sydney Tower was blocking out sun light as I walked through Hyde Park. While the Tower is interesting from the ground, the best place to see it is from the top. Walking the Tower’s skywalk, 880 feet up in the sky, costs $65 for adults and $45 for children.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The grand finale: Bendy Em

Australia, Destinations, Photography

The grand finale: Bendy Em

2 Comments 07 February 2010

Famed contortionist Bendy Em performed for a crowd of about 80 people near Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia Sunday, January 31, 2010. The flexible Aussie has performed around the world and opts to keep her high level act on the streets. Audience members laughed at her witty jokes and gasp at her limber body.

For the final act of her Sunday show, she fit herself into a 16″ perspex box. With the help of two male audience members and the crowds applaud she folds her back, cocks her arms and shrivels her legs until successfully inside. After the show she said she receives an average of about $10 per person at her street performances.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fireflies and lilly pads

Australia, Destinations, Photography

Fireflies and lilly pads

No Comments 03 February 2010

Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, Australia are home to a variety of plants, animals and insects. It’s easy to get lost in the gardens, which feel miles away from the city. These photos of a lilly pad garden by the Botanic Gardens Cafe were shot on a sunny Friday in January.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Hostel review: Big Hostel Sydney

Australia, Destinations

Hostel review: Big Hostel Sydney

2 Comments 01 February 2010

Big Hostel on Elizabeth Street offers the comforts of home with a perfect location in a faraway city. After being greeted by its friendly staff, guests continue on to its common area, which features six large comfortable couches, a flat screen TV and free wireless internet. The common area gets busy around 5 p.m., but remains relaxed. It’s hard to leave such a cozy place, luckily all the major sites in Sydney are within walking distance from this Surry Hills accommodation.

Staff: Made up of a few Aussies as well as foreign workers, the staff is knowledgeable and dependable. There is always someone at reception and most are in a great mood.

Location: Big is in with a swarm of other hostels in Surry Hiils. You can walk to every major attraction in the city. Darling Harbour and China Town are only a few blocks away. If arriving by train, Central Station is two blocks away.

Cleanliness: Every part of the hostel was very clean. The kitchen smelled normal, showers were always spotless and the common area was completely in order.

Feeling: Not by any means a “party” hostel, it has a really relaxed vibe. It’s easy to make friends in the common area. Most people played cards, sat around on their computers and shared a few beers.

DSC_0096

Rooms: I stayed in a eight-person female dorm. The rooms were temperate, quiet and large. The bunk-bedding was clean and comfortable, just a bit squeaky. The a small locker for each person in it.

Safety: It has lockers (bring your own lock), security cameras and every dorm room door locks every time you leave. I felt comfortable enough just leaving my computer around quite a few times.

Price: $29 per night for an eight-bedroom dorm. Free breakfast, wireless internet and sheets. Laundry and towels not included.

Overall: I liked it a lot, because I am not the type to go out and party every night. I would definitely stay here again. It’s a good option for work-holiday travelers looking for long term accommodation.

Book this hostel through Hostel World.

Check mate

Australia, Destinations, Photography

Check mate

2 Comments 31 January 2010

On a warm January afternoon, two men go head to head in a game of chess in Hyde Park in Sydney, Australia. A crowd in suits surrounds the players. Competitor one is more vocal in challenging the opposition. Competitor two remains silent as he moves across the board. The game is fierce and only one can win.

1/29/10-Two men go head to head in a game of chess in Hyde Park in Sydney Australia.Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Two men go head to head in a game of chess in Hyde Park in Sydney Australia.Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor one. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor one. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor two. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor two. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-The competition gets fierce. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-The competition gets fierce. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-The crowd chimes in. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-The crowd chimes in. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-As the game progressives the moves are quicker. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-As the game progressives the moves are quicker. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-As the game progressives the moves are quicker. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-As the game progressives the moves are quicker. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor one talks a big game. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor one talks a big game. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor two quietly strategizes. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Competitor two quietly strategizes. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Check mate. The silent killer wins the match. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Check mate. The silent killer wins the match. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Good game. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Good game. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/29/10-Maybe next time.

1/29/10-Maybe next time.

I’m here!

Australia, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under

I’m here!

9 Comments 28 January 2010

Hello…how bout that ride in? I guess that’s why they call it down under.

I’m here! I’m here! After months of saving up, planning and saying good bye, I am finally here.

The past few days have been hectic to say the least. I started my departure in Chicago. I spent my last weekend in the states there visiting friends I made while studying abroad in London a few years ago. It was a great weekend and a fantastic send off.

I arrived at Chicago O’Hare around 5 a.m. Monday morning. My flight did not depart until 10 a.m., but I am always paranoid about missing flights so I got there really early. This was the most nervous I have ever been for a flight. Not for fear of danger, but because of all the negative commentary by fellow travel bloggers about TSA since the recent scare in America in December. But I had a great experience. It was quick and everyone seemed on point.

Before

I flew with Japan Airlines (JAL) to Tokyo. The flight was about 13 hours, but felt quick. JAL is a fantastic airline. The staff were friendly. The food was delicious. It provided endless entertainment. I watched “This is it,” “Up,” and more. “Up” is my new favorite movie and perfect for travelers.

I didn’t sleep much on the first flight, but when I arrived in Tokyo I didn’t feel half bad. My main goal at the airport in Tokyo was to eat sushi. I failed! I couldn’t find it anywhere. Maybe I was delirious, but I settled on Pho, which was ok.

My layover was five hours long and I crashed about two hours into it. All that non-sleeping finally caught up with me and it was painful. It took all my energy to just stay awake until boarding the plane. As soon as I hit that seat, I was out. I didn’t even eat one of my meals and I am never one to turn down free food. The second flight, also with JAL, was only nine hours long. I slept through most of it and drank coffee through the rest.

After

Finally, I arrived in Sydney, Australia at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 27. After through customs and security I bought a Vodafone. I just bought the cheapest pre-paid plan and phone. I still don’t know if that’s right for me. If it’s not at least it was an inexpensive risk. A shuttle dropped my off at the Sebel in Surry Hills. I only stayed in a hotel my first night to catch up on sleep.

My goal for day one in Sydney was to stay awake at least until 8 p.m. I made it until 7:30 p.m., which isn’t bad. I didn’t plan to visit any major tourist attractions that day, but I ended up at the Opera House and Darling Harbour.

I’ve only been in Sydney for a day, but here are my thoughts so far. The city’s look is hard to describe, but beautiful. It has a lot of European details in the buildings and decor, but also American influences in the entertainment and size. There are 711s and The Simpsons are on Fox all the time!

The people are calm and in suits-like any other city in the world. One thing I noticed is that the women seem to wear less make-up than in the states. They all carry a sort of rustic beauty.

I started walking around the city at 10 a.m. and there were tons of people out running and exercising. I’m not sure how so many people can be exercising on a work day, but it makes me want to work out more.

There’s a feeling you get when you finally see something in person that you have been looking at on paper, in books or on TV your whole life. You’re taken back by it’s size, because you never imagine it to be so big. I got that feeling twice yesterday with the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. It’s one of the best feelings in the world and makes two days worth of travel totally worth it.

1/28/09-A view of my new city from my 9th floor hotel room at Sebel Surry Hills. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1/28/09-A view of my new city from my 9th floor hotel room at Sebel Surry Hills. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I haven’t felt homesick yet, but I am still too excited to really start thinking about things left behind. I’m sure it will set in eventually. I am staying a Big Hostel for the next few days. My plans for the next week are to find friends, a job and stability.

It’s not going to be an easy adjustment, but doing it in such a thrilling city makes it a lot easier.

Cheers!

Follow on Bloglovin
Powered by Unanchor.com
blogger badge (1)

© 2013 Heels and Wheels. Powered by Wordpress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium Wordpress Themes