Posts Tagged With: Sydney

16 nights in Sydney

16 nights in Sydney

OK, so I know I am a little bit late with this post but I do hang my head in shame and pray you accept my humble apologies. I have been having the most unbelievable problems getting a signal on my phone to post and it takes a long time to type on a Galaxy S3. I know youre all thinking excuses , excuses but I really am struggling to do much better. Anywho! This post is all about the first and only 16 nights (consecutive nights) I have stayed in Sydney in the 5 months I have been in Australia. I have just completed my 3 months agricultural work and will post all about that soon enough. This post is an update for friends, family and readers alike of what I have been up to.

It started on the 1st March, we arrived early and headed to Alfred Park Budget Accommodation (Trip Advisor review here) and placed our things in the basement before we left to explore the area. This was when we found Organic Produce for a great slice of gluten free banana bread. We were waiting for a friend to arrive from Brisbane to join us for the Mardi Gras, due to her delayed flights we missed the Bondi Beach drag races which I had planned to go to. The hostel over booked and we were moved out, due to the move and needing to check back into the hostel I also missed the 9am fun run on the 2nd March.

However, all was not lost! Some pre-afternoon drinking begun and we soon got into the swing of things. We spent a good amount of time and money in the Columbian Hotel on Oxford Street while waiting for the parade to start, our friends were in the Dykes On Bikes section of the parade so naturally we wanted a good spot on the fence and the pub seemed like a great place to wait out of the rain. When we did go to the fence we looked amazingly stylish in our red, yellow and blue ponchos. We were the envy of the crowd Im almost positive.

The parade was AMAZING and it really does give you a sense of pride to be open minded and be around other open minded people without any prejudice of any kind. People who just want to be themselves and support one another. It sounds cliché I know, but it is true. I got goose bumps when the armed forces paraded and when I saw lots of happy parents and children enjoying the celebrations. After a lot of hours standing we got changed and headed to an after party in Newtown at the Imperial Hotel. Some of the Dykes were members of the band that were playing and we paid the $30 entry, it was worth every penny. I didnt catch their name due to high levels of alcohol in my bloodstream but I will try to research and get back to you.

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The following day consisted of getting in at 6am, up at 1pm, bed at 6pm up at 9pm and back out at 11pm until 6am all over again. Wow that was heavy duty drinking. So know we are on the 4th March and spent the day allowing our friend from home gracious time to quickly see Sydney Harbour, the Botanical Gardens and the State Library of New South Wales where there was an odd exhibition showing hundreds of centuries old photos. It was all taken at a quick glance and it was quick!

Seeing as we were hoping to be in Sydney for a while we decided it wise to be looking for work, we tried the usual backpacker places to look yes this includes Gumtree! We quickly got bored of browsing and had an early night to make up for the late ones, I think I really am getting old. The 5th was a good day for us, we hopped a couple of buses and sat our bikini clad butts on BONDI BEACH, yes I am a massive geek who watched Bondi Rescue on Pick TV when I am at home and yes I was so excited to see the guards and even more excited that they yelled at me because I wasnt near enough to the flagged zone! I do not recommend swimming in unsafe areas, I just didnt realise at the time due to excitement still smiling a little inside.

Between the 6th and the 8th we went back to Bondi twice, I got my nose pierced and we really got into the whole looking for work thing (view my post here). We signed up to TAW (travelers at work), which we thought would be more helpful than Gumtree and at least more genuine than some of the weird folks out there. All the way up to the 8th we had been searching for hostels for the weekend coming, there was one problem none were available and hotels were going for $300 per night. Considering it would cost us that for two of us in the hostel for the week we couldnt afford that. So we were stuck with two nights and no where to stay. We had no idea what to do next and almost half expected to join the backpackers under Eddy Street bridge.

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All was not lost, we managed to secure a room at a show house belonging to someone we knew and all we had to do was make sure all our stuff was out of sight and not use the bedding. Phew! So we loaded our lockers and took a weekend bag ready to hit Future Music Festival 2013 my little early Birthday present to myself.

So we get to Saturday 9th March and we head off to Future Music, we set off early ( as always) to make sure we were at the front of the cue to hit the stages, we really neednt have bothered. It was a very hot day, so hot that Neet burnt her eyeballs from looking at the stages all day WEAR EYE PROTECTION! Go faster stripes arent a good look on eyeballs, trust me! During the day we saw a heap of amazing artists including Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, PSY, Nervo, Rudimental, Dizzy Rascal, Madeon, Azealia Banks (we kind of heard her when she eventually arrived on stage), Gypsy and the Cat, The Prodigy (yes I was bouncing like a nutter) and Fun. My highlights were doing Gangnam Style with PSY, singing my heart out to Fun. and jumping around to the harsh sounds of the Prodigy! The worst part of my day was poisoning myself with an energy drink, I was so thirsty at 11am and the bars werent open for alcohol so I thought Id have an energy drink. I would usually check the ingredients of most things I consume but for some bizarre reason I didnt, I could blame the excitement but I was simply too idle to read. BIG MISTAKE! The V energy drink contains WHEAT whyyyyyyy??!!! I just wanted a little pick me up, I had no coffee in the morning and knew it would be a long day.. Drinks are beginning to be my enemy and gluten free nightmare! I had to settle for cans of Strongbow pear but the cans were small and the price was large at $9.

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After a hard days singing and dancing my body had had enough, due to gluten my immune system dropped and allowed in the onset of a cold which came with a heavy chest. I felt like my Converse, rough, dirty and done in! Things looked up though, Anita got a call about an interview for the Wilderness Society on the 11th and we decided (due to speaking to some new friends at the hostel) to actually try to sign up to Medicare (see this post for more details). Anita didnt get the job, but we did get Medicare cover sorted which was a weight off our minds.

After a couple of days wondering around and shopping (I was torn with the decision of sticking with my phone or buying an iPad or small netbook), we made plans to meet our new friends in the morning for the coastal walk between Coogee beach and Bondi beach. Its roughly around 7km and at a snails pace of discovery and picture taking with Amy (a lovely girl taking her last chance saloon shot at backpacking) and Rebecca (the hostel resident who is a bit of a hippy that cant seem to leave Sydney but is such a funny and sweet girl).

On the way we found some interesting places, like the concrete beach at Gordons Bay, the beautiful Bronte Beach and the great cemetery. We stopped at Bondi and indulged in one of my average gluten free lunches of carrot sticks and dip, this time I decided on smoked salmon and dill! Yum! We finished the evening off with a well earned box of goon and some stir fry made with gluten free vermicelli noodles.

Following our exertion and minimum walk of 5km per day we decided to hit the shops again on the 14th, this time we stayed around the CBD. The day held a surprise though, in the form of a phone call from a lady offering us our 3 months agricultural work for our second year visas. The only thing was we were to leave Sydney on the 17th.

Our last full day in Sydney had to be something we hadnt done yet, we decided to hop a ferry over to Manly and see the beach. There was just one problem, the beach was closed!! The surf was hectic and the coast was foggy with mist, thats not to say the place was quite, it wasnt. It was so busy! We caught the little market come car boot sale and then had lunch. We wondered through the high street that also had a market containing organic produce, original arts and beautiful jewellery. I had my first baby Thai coconut and almost died with pleasure while drinking it, I seriously have never consumed anything quite so amazing. I have a prediction of my favourite beverage when I hit the shores of Thailand. The main beach was closed the entire day, however, we did manage a dip next to the ferry port before heading home.

17th March 2013 we caught a train to Tarre and hoped for the best!

During these two weeks in Sydney it felt like we didnt do all that much, or see all that much of the city and the surrounding area and I dont doubt there is a lot more to do. You just need a lot of money and time to do it and the trouble with being a backpacker is money spends all too quickly out here. I do like Sydney and I would like to spend a little more time there but what my friends told me back home was true dont spend too much time in Sydney, its overrated . I would like to experience more culturally and slow down instead of always being in a rush, so far I feel like my time is slipping past me quicker than I can blink and I just want to take it in a little more.

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Nostalgic moments…

There comes a point in every travellers trip that there are certain creature comforts that we crave. Personally mine is a good cup of Tetley or PG tea and a packet of gluten free digestives (Tesco’s free from are my personal favourite). I just haven’t managed to achieve the same level of comfort from Australian products although I have found some good alternatives.

I have also had a massive craving for Bourneville, now I know Cadbury’s chocolate is readily available in Australia it just doesn’t taste the same and I couldn’t find Bourneville anywhere. We were walking along King Street in Sydney trying to find Medicare and when we eventually did I nearly dropped to the floor in shock, opposite is a great little shop that has all sorts of British goodies. From Fig Rolls to Hartley’s Jelly and from Oxo to good old Bovril. They even had Fairy and Lenor to take the scent of home with you. It is run by a very helpfull Newcastle lass and the prices are very reasonable considering the products are imported. But sadly no Bournville, she had sold out … it seems I’m not the only one to have a craving!

Treats From Home can be found at 135 King Street inside the Glass House Arcade. There is also a branch in Melbourne at Collins two3four, 234 Collins Street.

Although I missed out on this opportunity all was not lost. A few days later we entered the Pier Shopping Centre on Darling Harbour (look for the Hard Rock Cafe) and there it was … the vision of my wildest dreams!

The British Lolly Shop had shelf upon shelf of my favourites – UNCLE JOE’S MINT BALLS … WATSITS … NOUGAT … GALAXY … PEANUT BRITTLE … BLACK JACKS …POLOS and BOURNEVILLE!!!

They like to welcome each visitor with a sweet to sample and that sure gets the tastebuds going into overdrive, the shop is set up like a real sweetshop at home with the big plastic jars that they weigh out for you…simply, perfect!

I paid $2.80 for my Bourneville and it was worth every single cent.

So, British backpackers if you are looking for an authentic slice of home to satisfy your nostalgic needs on the road, check out one of these little gems.

Categories: Australia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

City Rail, an experience! Melbourne to Strathfield (Sydney)

I have to appologise for my lack of posting and I realise it’s somewhere near a week between posts, however, in my defense (and I write this as I have a very bad cold) it is proving rather difficult by phone. Also we have been using all of our free time to look for work…and getting a little tipsy, well we did come here to meet more people even if it is over a box of cheap wine!

So, for a quick update to our family/friends and anyone else who is interested, I’ll tell you what we have been up to (starting with our transportation). We had been in Melbourne for a few days and needed to make our way back to NSW, we had plans arranged for the Sydney Mardi Gras so needed a quick and cheap way to get back. We decided to go by night train, it would take 12 hours and save us some money on accomodation. We used our student cards and paid $136.88 and we had 20kg of checked luggage and 7kg of hand luggage. Now you’re probably thinking the same thing as I did, checked luggage? I thought that kinda rubbish was for planes only…well no it’s not.

Trains that go through different states do this. When we arrived at Melbourne Southern Cross station we went worriedly to check in our bags, hoping we weren’t over weight, then we weighed them and used our old suitcase luggage straps to secure them. Our bags weren’t the most expensive and the secure straps aren’t designed to be used for lifting the full weight of the rucksack. So I used my Magic Marker to write on my luggage strap “please lift using this strap”. The man at the desk was a little impatient but he did pass my bag through using the strap…he should have because he watched me faff about with it for long enough. We were worried where our bags were going to end up as we had to leave the train at Strathfield not Sydney, so when the baggage guy was putting luggage on the train (the same guy who checked them in) we watched him load the luggage. He pointed to a bag and mouthed to Anita “your bag” then launched it onto thw train. Anita turned to me worried and claimed “I’m sure he didn’t use your strap!”

We got on the train and the seats had plenty of room and other than inconsiderate passengers and constant air con it wasn’t such a bad journey. The food car operated throughout the night except for one hour at staff changeover, they even had a range of gluten free cookies, muffins and sandwiches. How awesome!

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The problem arose when we had to switch trains at Strathfield, our bags were thrown onto the platform and true to our suspicions one of my clips had been broken on the secure strap to the front of my backpack. I was so annoyed What made it worse was that there are luggage compartments on in the carriages big enough for backpacks and suitcases. In actual fact we didn’t need to book our bags in at all, we found that out later on from staff.

So travellers who use these train services because they are cheap and convenient, I have two tips:

1- take your luggage into the carriage with you and use the rack;

2- if you must check in your luggage, use a rain cover (if your bag has one) and a luggage strap to remove the option for them to lift any other way.

Categories: Australia, Gluten Free, Reviews, Travelling Tales & Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Saratoga to Adelaide

So we landed in Sydney and then spent some amazing time with our friend in Saratoga then caught a flight to Adelaide to see family, so I thought I’d write a post to update those readers who are interested in our actual travels and what we have been up to since our arrival on January 16th.  Posting during this trip so far hasn’t been easy my mobile internet is slow and there are so many “dead zones” in Australia I feel like I’m in the twilight zone, although in truth I don’t mind because technological downtime means I get to take in the things around me without distraction for a while.

Firstly we were picked up from the airport by one of our Aussie gal friend Alana and taken back to the house that her and her partner Mardi are renovating, may I add with as little help as possible. Fair play the girls are doing well. Even with renovations and 2 amazing dogs (Kruse and Calvin) and 6 chickens (except Robin thinks she is a dog and can do what the dogs do) they were still amazingly welcoming and shared their house with us for two weeks and have foolishly said we can return whenever … they may live to regret those words! 😉

While in Saratoga for the first week we pretty much stayed around the house trying to recover from jet lag and sift through all our documentation to sort our bank accounts out, not an easy task in the least I will update my earlier blog posts about things to consider before you travel. We did go in to Sydney a few days but the journey was a bit of a soul destroyer and we will probably spend some time in the city in the coming months, our first day in Sydney we spent most of the day in the banks opening accounts.

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Making friends in Saratoga

The STA opened a Commonwealth bank account for us but we later went to the HSBC bank and opened another joint account (click here to see this post and find out why) but we did see some pretty cool things shortly after and again on our second visit. On the first day we wandered through the Chinese Gardens and after a short trip in the wrong direction we found Darling Harbour, where we met the GIANT rubber duck in celebration of Australia Day … though I’m not quite sure I see the connection. I do keep blaming things on the fact we are upside down, though I’m not sure how long I can keep saying that in some of my dullest moments. The second time we visited Sydney we simply just walked around and took in some of the atmosphere and we actually made it around to the harbour and took the cliché Harbour Bridge and Opera House shots. We saw the busking Aboriginals who looked and sounded amazing with a didgeridoo and some wooden blocks, we saw a street performer who had a striking resemblance for Capt Jack Sparrow squeeze himself through a tennis racquet (not entirely sure why, again) and saw some rather random lunchtime joggers … with no shoes! The inner know it all runner and granny within me was screaming about poor support and joint pain and she was not happy with my decision to shut her up and move on without giving the poor boy a lecture.

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What we saw in Sydney

So that was the short version of Sydney and then it’s back to Saratoga. We have been looking at guided tours, jobs and all other of possibilities of where to go next and the trouble is we are indecisive and still a bit wary of the “just wing it” attitude. I did mention it would be hard in an earlier post (it’s getting easier). We enjoyed Aussie day by the beach with some cider and ginger beer (BOOM – the gluten-free variety is a winner folks) and we frequently competed with the Yahtzee cup and tempers flared. Oh and we got to play and cuddle some absolutely adorable puppy dogs, Anita is now puppy broody!

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Consuming naughties in Saratoga

While staying in Saratoga we took a trips to Newcastle and Cardiff … too confusing for us to have the two so close together in Australia! We also visited Terrigal beach and attempted an 8km walk to Erina only it was really hot and we didn’t really factor in the heat and a really, really, really long empty road! We may think about this when we get silly ideas in the future. Or maybe we wont.

Then the tropical storm hit and completely battered the east coast, it was sad and scary watching the news and hearing how people had died in the storms and we just had no idea what to do next. We had been here in Aus for just short of two weeks and getting itchy about wanting to explore and I realised my Nan was in Adelaide and had a week before she set off back to England, so rather than go east we decided to go south west-ish and catch a flight. The domestic flights are fairly cheap (we paid $139 for flight with checked luggage of 23Kg and 7 hand-held) and I certainly couldn’t complain about the service on the Virgin Australia flight that had free entertainments, headsets and was spot on with take off and landing time … to the minute.

We were met at the airport by my uncle who took us around the vineyard where he lives to spot kangaroos … and we did, it made our day! So we arrived home to see my Nan who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks since just after new year and my Auntie, Uncle and two Cousins who I hadn’t seen for just over 3 years and I cannot believe just how much Australia has changed the kids! They had put up a six berth tent with a queen double air bed and a lush cotton linen set looking out over the vineyard. We had no complaints.

As I write this post we have been in Adelaide 4 days and I have eaten gluten free meals in restaurants (See reviews here), seen Kangaroos, gone fishing, seen a wild seal play with some dolphins, been on a night time penguin watch tour on granite island, been on a dolphin cruise from Port Adelaide and been to the beach … I still have sand on my legs at this moment.

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Sights and goings on in Adelaide

So, what next…

We are going to be spending some time with more family in Adelaide for just over a week and in the meantime we are pricing up tours or campers to get from Adelaide to Sydney in time for the must see Sydney Mardi Gras … it is going to be messy! Now time to actually get off my rear and get that beach body back and I will post as soon as I can with more updates on our travels!

Categories: Australia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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