Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Australia How-To

Illustrations by Che

I am not much of a traveler. Don't get me wrong, I love going to new places, experiencing different culture, eating new food and all that but I am not fond of the hassle of it. Traveling means planning--lots of it. I hate organising itineraries, booking flights and hotels, dealing with foreign exchange, and getting lost in translation.

And I am a Virgo, and having some sort of organisation and order is a must. So when I spontaneously booked a trip to Australia almost a year ago, I had no game plan.

It was strange but liberating, to say the least. I enjoyed the fact that I wasn't tied down to my own rules and expectations. I liked this new me, this spontaneous me. 

I stayed in Sydney for about 13 days over at my best friend's house. On weekdays, I would explore the city on my own while my friends worked. It was strange to be there and I kept wondering what it felt like to live in such a different city. It felt so different from Singapore and Manila. The city was filled with contrasts that complement well. I like it, I liked it a lot.

Sydney Beaches

For someone who isn't the biggest fan of beaches, I did visit quite a few of them in Sydney. I did the infamous Bondi to Coogee walk. Infamous because I talk about it so often. I am not an adventure seeker. I don't do bushwalks and coast walks or basically any kind of walking... except when it's in a shopping centre. The funny thing was, my companions for this trip who seemed to live a much healthier lifestyle than I do was already willing to give up. Believe me, I wanted to give up but then I did not want all my hard work to be nothing and I managed to convince them to finish the trail...

If you want to do it but know you're not in the best physical shape or form, start from Coogee and make your way down to Bondi (that's way more practical).

Walk from Town Hall to Circular Quay

Now this is the kind of walk I don't mind doing. It might sound crazy considering they are 2 stations away from each other but it is actually doable. I did this almost everyday while I was in Sydney. I even managed to do Central to Circular Quay (which is even crazier). Walking on those streets gave me a better view of the city and the people around it and I enjoyed the character it had. Town Hall is shopping heaven with buskers regularly performing shifts. St. Martin's Place is filled with lots of bankers and lawyers. There's coffee stalls, left, right and centre. It's a busy street that reminds me of New York. Then you reach Circular Quay where like reaching the end of the rainbow you see the pot of gold... only here, the gold is the Sydney Opera House.

Enjoy some Hot Nutella

I am not a coffee drinker but I do enjoy a good cup of hot chocolate. One day, I stumbled upon Hot Nutella and my life changed forever.

The Scenic views and Aussie Animals

My first Aussie experience was exploring the Blue Mountains for the scenic experience of New South Wales. It was gorgeous! We then traveled to Featherdale where I got to pet some Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas and most importantly, a Wombat!

Exploring the hip suburbs

My favourite part of Sydney was exploring the nearby suburbs of the Sydney region. I had a friend who drove me to Balmain. I got to explore Newtown and Darlinghurst on my own. I appreciate walking down the streets, looking at the quiet neighbourhood. I imagine my life in those houses and I wonder whether I would ever live in those places.

Whilst planning for my Australia trip, everyone I talked to about it said I should check out Melbourne because they see me fitting in Melbourne perfectly. And guess what, they were right. I spent 2 days in Melbourne and it was enough to make me fall in love with the city. Melbourne is full of art and culture--exactly the kind of city I was looking for.

Exploring the Laneways

Melbourne is known for its colourful Laneways. Have brunch at Degraves then hit up Hosier and the AC/DC lane. As a huge music fan, I had to check out the birth of St. Jerome's Laneway Music Festival...

Chilling at Brighton Beach

Take a photo or fifty along the colourful beach boxes lined up in the shore of Brighton. I couldn't imagine anyone swimming there but it was gorgeous.

Discovering the National Gallery of Victoria

I love museums but the National Gallery of Victoria definitely solidified it. Tricia and I did not plan to visit NGV but happen to stumble upon it after our visit to St. Kilda. The gallery was closing and we only had 15 minutes to check it out. We breezed through it but my breath was taken away by their collection. My favourite was seeing the floor to ceiling gallery wall of paintings.

Breeze at St. Kilda

I am a city girl by heart. I was born and raised in the city and find myself drawn to the architecture, concrete pavement, neon lights and the hustle and bustle. But I love how St. Kilda pier was close enough for that much needed nature escape. If I ever decide to live in Melbourne, I love that I could bask in the fresh air and sunlight as much as I wanted.

Drinks at Naked for Satan

I asked 2 different friends (a colleague who was born and raised there and a friend currently living there) for tips and places to visit in Melbourne and both of them recommended I check out Naked for Satan. Naked for Satan had the view that made me fall in love with Melbourne.