well… I came, I saw and I conquered. for the most part.
I survived my whirlwind trip to the land down under with relatively few mishaps.
well, except the part where my flight home was cancelled and rebooked for the next day… and the flight it was supposed to connect with in LAX was on a separate ticket and so I had to rebook that… and it’s spring break, so flights are pretty full.
let’s just say, I am SO HAPPY that I had travel insurance.
so for those counting, yes, I am 2 for 2 for Fam trips where I miss my flight home. because I’m amazing like that.
anyways, back to the goods. this was by far the most hectic trip I’ve ever done in my life.
up by 7am every day… jam packed days with pretty much no free time and then fitting in some evening drinking. at every turn I was reminded that this was work, not a vacation. it broke my heart to see so many beautiful beaches and not get to swim in any of them. until our cancelled flight, I had only made it into the water once and that was wearing a jellyfish suit at the Great Barrier Reef.
that being said, what made up for the lack of beach, was that I got to do the most amazing activities that absolutely blew my mind.
in cairns we did the skyrail and the gold class train back to the city.
then we went up to port douglas to the great barrier reef where besides the amazing boat ride to and from the reef (with beers – hooray!) I flew in a helicopter (my first time) over the reef and marveled at the beauty…
and then did an hour long guided snorkel of the outer reef with a marine biologist. it was truly one of the greatest days ever. seeing the reef has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. to do it in this way was beyond my wildest dreams.
then we headed off to sydney where we did a city tour and enjoyed a couple beers overlooking bondi beach.
we ended up going out that night and on a recommendation, found the coolest little bar called shady pints that was like, top secret. it involved going down an alley and asking a guy sitting on a milk crate for entrance through an unmarked door. when they closed, the bartender suggested we head to frankie’s and end the night there. it was a fun time.
the next day we started the day with a harbor cruise, followed by the sydney bridge climb and then headed back to a private yacht for a champagne tour.
the bridge climb was surreal. I almost had a freak out and bailed, but my group rallied around me and calmed me down and kept me safe. I’m so glad I did it. at $300 a pop, it’s not something everyone does in sydney, but wow, was it ever an amazing experience and a ridiculously amazing view.
melbourne was the next stop and I loved what I saw of the city. we spent the first day driving up the great ocean road to the twelve apostles and seeing the most incredible coastlines.
that night we checked out a mexican place called mamacita that our flight attendant had suggested and it was killer. the bartender there directed us to a cocktail lounge called lilly black that also involved venturing down an alley and searching for an unmarked door. they had over 200 bitters and made me (2) exceptional old fashioneds. (although at $19 a pop, they’d better be).
the next day we did a hidden secrets walking tour that took us to the funkiest places. the street art and little cafes and shops in melbourne made me was to stay forever and explore.
it’s a very european feeling city with these little alleys chocked full of cool shops. at times it reminded me of weaving through the streets of venice, there’s so much going on there.
our (official) last stop was adelaide and kicked things off in style with a wine tour of the barossa valley. I’ve done a lot of wine tours, but at penfolds we did something very unique that I’d never heard of before. it was “make your own blend” where we got to play taste tester slash mad scientist and put together a bottle to your tastes. it was so neat and so fun. we laughed the whole way through and had an absolute blast. highly recommended.
the we headed to an amazing little vineyard called langmeil that has vines that are as old as 170 years and they really specialized in the art of growing and making wine, it is not at all for mass production and it was incredible. I bought the most expensive bottle I’ve ever purchased at $100 AUD and plan on cellaring it for at least 5 years. it is very small production because its made purely with the 170 year old vine grapes and they don’t yield many grapes. it was honestly one of the best, if not the best wine I’ve ever had.
we made a lunch stop and then headed to jacob’s creek to cap off the day. we had a good laugh using the breathalyzer to check where we were at.
our last (official) day was spent at kangaroo island. again, incredible scenery and coastlines and so many animals! we saw kangaroos, wallabies, koala bears, tons of seals and more!
then we packed up and headed home… sort of. we made it to sydney for our connection and found out there was a mechanical issue with the plane and they had to scrap the flight. and I definitely want to give huge kudos for qantas for handling the situation so well. it was pretty much seamless and entirely professional the whole way through.
so we were shuttled to a hotel and given a bonus day in sydney!
I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had been absolutely dying to get into the ocean and swim. so it was suits on and we taxi’d to bondi beach and finally I got to have my swim. we had some beach beers and then an amazing thai meal and that was it. up early and to the airport and we were on our way to LAX finally.
travel insurance took care of the cost of rebooking my flight from LAX to YVR and I also had some spending money for taxis, beer and food. and thankfully we know travel agents and they took care of all the nitty gritty for us, so we could concentrate on the beach.
and so, after 11 nights out of the country, I’m back.
I was very impressed with australia and to be honest, I didn’t expect to love the cities or to have such a good time, but I was more than happy to prove myself wrong. I’m not sure ill make it back, but I’m sure glad I saw it… and who knows… stranger things have happened…