January 2, 2019

Australia: Christmas in Sydney

Hello red bikini's and beach Santa. We spent four tourist and beach packed days in Sydney over Christmas. Marc and I checked in to the Marriott near Circular Quay which was fantastic. One of the small perks of not backpacking for months and being on vacation... hotels! The luxury. Is it weird that I haven't backpacked in years but I still appreciate a hotel room?





​Beaches

​The other four guys we were traveling with stayed in Bondi so naturally we spent many days there while they attempted to surf and we all got sunburned day-after-day. Although Marc and I seemed to train across town to Bondi daily we did manage to check out a few of the neighborhood beaches, Camp Cove at Wastons Bay and Manly. Wastons Bay was a highlight. I can't believe I didn't go there in 2009. After having ice cream at Camp Cove and going for a swim, we took the ferry back to Circular Quay. The ferry goes right by the Sydney Opera House... what a view!






The Rocks

I was looking forward to revisiting the Ken Done exhibit. It did not disappoint. This time I picked up a poster which I can't wait to have framed. The old neighborhood has so much character with brink lined alleys filled with shops, great restaurants and Sydney's oldest bar. Also, the Kelsey Montague mural is worth stumbling upon.



Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk

What an excellent way to spend Christmas day. We bused to Coogee, got breakfast and walked along the coast to celebrate Christmas in the southern hemisphere. The beaches along the coast were packed with Santa Clause hats and red bikinis.



January 1, 2019

Australia: Cairns "Cans"

We wrapped up 2018 with a 17 day trip to Australia. A friend's wedding brought us half way around the world for a bachelor party, Christmas, and the Greek wedding.  I was excited to back in Sydney but what made it special was to be there with Marc.

We started out strong with the bachelor party. No, that was not a typo, I joined 12 guys for fives days in Cairns. Along with every person ever, the Great Barrier Reef was also on my bucket list. So needless to say I was star-y eyed booking our flights. I also had a mental breakdown because flying to Australia over Christmas is the most expensive ticket I have ever purchased. Ever.

Great Barrier Reef 

Through Visit Cairns we booked a snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef with an intro to scuba diving. The Sunkist held 30+ passengers max which was much smaller then the 80+ passenger catamarans. Since our group was half the passenger count it was like having a private boat trip (if you ignored the other 17 people). The scuba dive was a great perk but it was more for the experience of diving the Great Barrier Reef. I actually saw more fish snorkeling over the reef. The crew on board were amazing, very chill and they let us come and go as we pleased until lunch was ready or it was time to head back to the mainland.

A reason to go back: Fitz Roy Island. The island was beautiful and I want to spend the day floating in the turquoise water and lounging on the white sand beach.

Babinda Boulders

I wouldn't recommend meeting a stranger on the street and getting into his Land Cruiser to drive an hour outside of town at one million miles kilometers per hour, but it did make for one of the best days. The Babinda Boulders was the perfect day adventure, especially since we had a fearless local showing us everything to do that was technically off limits. I know this because we ducked under a handful of "no swimming" / "dangerous" signs.

Gilligan's

Originally Marc and I were going to stay in one of the eight bed dorm rooms with the bachelor party. Best last minute discussion ever. To. Not. Stay. In. The. Dorm. Rooms. Eight guys sharing one bathroom and being dudes, I'll keep that a mystery. Marc and I stayed at the Pacific Hotel two blocks away. Great location, easy to get to Gilligan's for day and night activities, working air conditioning, a view, and it was quite. It was unbelievably hot in Cairns in December so air conditioning was a non-negotiable. However, we quickly became locals at, The Lillipad Cafe, the one restaurant without air conditioning. The portions were huge and we had a lot of mouths to feed.


 






May 16, 2016

Iceland: Reykjavik, See You Later


We wrapped up our inside jokes with dinner and drinks at Snaps and a trip to the Blue Lagoon before we all flew home. See you later Iceland!



May 14, 2016

East Iceland: Sneafellsness Peninsula



Sneafellsness Peninsula was very cold. We tried to go camping but the campgrounds were closed due to the bathroom pipes being frozen. Ya, not tourist season for a reason. We ended up in an Airbnb in Grundarfjörður near Kirkjufell Mountain. 

We spent the next couple of days exploring the peninsula. We found Hotel Budir (black church) and we decided to hike along the coast to Arnarstapi. From the trail sign it didn't sound like that long of a hike - we were hoping to be in Arnarstapi by the afternoon for tea and cake (I mean, I was traveling with the Scottish). Well, we got lost or the trail ended somewhere in the swamp flats. That is up for debate. We were getting desperate to make it to Arnarstapi before the coffee shop closed so we trudge along, in defeat, to the road to hitch hike the rest of the way. Car, after car, after truck, after car drove past us and no one, no one (!!) offered to pick us up, so we became a road block and a very nice couple gave us a lift. I think we overwhelmed them with our thankfulness and relief for finally getting a ride. Sometimes, you just really need cake. 



One of the days, we ate at Sjávarpakkhúsið which was the cutest restaurant, in a cute town with great food. Later we found Grindavík Lighthouse. Wow, that is orange. And we wrapped up our tour of East Iceland at Laugar I Saelingsdal hot spring for a night of camping and cards.







May 12, 2016

Iceland: Dog Sleeding


We spent a night in a Reykjavik Airbnb between a week in South Iceland and the upcoming week in East Iceland. We needed a real bed, hot showers with clean towels, wifi and a place to defrost. And then this life of Airbnb "luxury " led to another night so we took a day trip and went dog sledding. This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity because I have done it once and I don't need to do it again. I feel bad saying this but it is true. It is a very expensive hour of figure-eights in a snowfield while learning Icelandic dog sledding commands and driving over dog poop. Yup, the dogs poop on the go and the sled (with us on the sled) runs right over it. Anyone who has been dog sledding before, can probably relate to our initial shock when we found this out. However, there is nothing like a navy blue one piece snowsuit and learning about each dogs style of poop to make the day memorable! By the end of the ride we knew what dog had pooped by just looking at it. FYI.