Travel

My Journey To The Land Down Under: An Experience I Will Forever Cherish

I’m back! I took the summer off from writing to spend time with family, friends and to travel – and what a great summer it was!

My first trip this summer took me to a bucket-list destination. I’ve dreamed of going to Australia since the first time I saw a photo of the Sydney Opera House as a little girl. Seeing this majestic building with my own eyes alone was worth the 20+ hours of travel.

This trip was unplanned and completely spontaneous. The company I work for recently announced our expansion into Australia, and while I thought it would be nice to go one day, myself and three other colleagues decided – why not now?! So, off we went to travel to the other side of the globe to meet our future teammates and have a little fun along the way!

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My first leg of the flight was easy as it was from ORD to SFO. One movie and a glass of wine and *poof* we were there. The next leg was from SFO to Auckland. We flew air New Zealand as they have the sky couch upgrade, and it’s an upgrade that doesn’t break the bank. The extra room and ability to prop your feet up was completely worth it! The airline was very nice, I highly recommend them.

Halfway into the twelve hour stretch to New Zealand, the turbulence became pretty intense. Being a light sleeper and an anxious flyer, this was by far the worse part of the trip. I ended up taking a “relaxation” pill (we will call it), and finally was able to sleep through the bumps. Once we arrived in NZ, we had a brief layover, and started our last 2 hours of the journey to Sydney.

Sydney is 15 hours ahead of my time zone, CST. I thought sleeping on the plane would help the jet lag, but I have to admit it hit me hard. REAL hard. Once we arrived, I ate then drank several bottles of water to hydrate and passed out for a few hours. We stayed at the Westin Sydney, which is in the CBD (Central Business District), so a few z’s on the heavenly bed was just what I needed. After that, I was ready to go!

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Sydney, just as I imagined it, is absolutely stunning. It reminded me of Europe and San Fransisco combined in one. Architecture, the water fronts, and the combination of new and old made Sydney a fun city to explore. The best part of Sydney, however, was the people! Everyone is very friendly and gracious, even when marching through the busy streets during rush hour. Also, I will add, if you’re a single woman I would recommend moving there immediately. The men were all VERY nice on the eyes. Very nice. Trust me.

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The first night we arrived we attended the yearly festival, Vivid Light Festival. Vivid Light Festival is a major event in winter and is recognized as the largest event of its kind in the world combining light, music and ideas. Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency. A must see for yourself.

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The festival just enhanced the beauty of Sydney and was truly amazing to witness. Once I saw the Sydney Opera House in person, I linked arms with one of my friends and whispered, “Can you believe this? Here we are. And there IT is. We made it!” It was one of those moments where I was completely taken over with emotion and gratitude for the opportunity to be there, one I thought would never be possible. This was my current view.

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Indescribable. Truly, no words.

The next morning we were off to watch the sunset before grabbing breakfast, which is a meal the Aussies take very seriously. Their breakfast is on point. Once we made it to the bay, the views were more than worth the 24 hours of travel the day before. Just see for yourself.

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“We’re the Queens of the World!” Just kidding, we didn’t say that – but it was exactly how we felt when we snapped this photo.

The first stop of our food exploration was a little breakfast spot in a boutique hotel, QT Sydney, called Gowings Bar & Grill. The food did not disappoint and I completed the meal with a traditional Flat White.

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After breakfast, we were off for more exploration. During the week we packed in as much as we could. We explored Darling Harbor, which if you’re there with your kids, is a great place to take them. We did a red bus tour to see the botanical gardens and different neighborhoods in the city. We traveled to Manly Wharf to have lunch, drink some champagne (because why not in the middle of the day?) and explore the beaches.

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Touring around by boat is the why to go in Sydney. How else would you get these beautiful views?

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Or get the chance to take this cool selfie!

 

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Our next beach tour was of Bondi, where you can take a coastal walk along the shore line. Again, pictures cannot do this place justice. Along the beach are cool eateries and shops to pick up some local favorites and souvenirs.

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Back in the city, we walked around The Rocks, which is a historical part of Sydney. The Rocks provide an opportunity to experience an environment where buildings and public places of the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth-century still remain. We ate at Saké, which is a popular sushi place in The Rocks. The food and overall environment was a great experience. Highly recommend.

Another place, I would highly recommend is Mr. Wong. Do yourself a favor and fit this dining experience into your itinerary. Make a reservation because it’s almost impossible to get in without one, and the wait is hours long, even on a Tuesday! The food and service were phenomenal and dining in a timeless colonial atmosphere was an experience in and of itself.

After you finish up your delicious meal at Mr. Wong…. head down to the super secret prohibition setting bar, Palmer and Co, located under the restaurant down the alley. We shared after dinner drinks with some new friends and soon-to-be partners, and it was a perfect setting for intimate conversations and relaxation.

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To top the night off, our new friends took us to see the best views in the city where we shared a toast to our lovely and successful trip to Sydney – at 360 Bar. Talk about having the best seat in the house! Check out these views!

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One of my last restaurant recommendations is Bambini Trust. Again, great food, service, setting and wine. My only complaint of this night was that I dropped my iPhone in the toilet after forgetting it was in my back pocket! Don’t worry, a bag, some rice and 24 hours later – it worked again! Phew. Total buzz kill.

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My only wish of this extraordinary trip was that I could have stayed longer. Or, if I had built up the courage in time, to conquer the bridge climb. One week was just not enough time to take in this remarkable city.

We ate, drank, made new friends with future colleagues, and left a piece of our hearts in Australia. The moral of this story – dreams do come true when you have the courage to chase them.

I encourage you to lace up those running shoes.

Until next time, Sydney – because we WILL be back!

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Holly Rust
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Holly Rust

Holly Rust is a native Texan currently living in the great city of Chicago with her husband and two sons. Aside from chasing around two lunatic toddlers all day, she is a writer and author. Her humor blog, Mother’s Guide To Sanity, was featured on The TODAY Show’s List of Funniest Parents on Facebook. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, Hearst Digital Media, Scary Mommy, GenYize, Dot Complicated, Women's Prospects, The TODAY Parenting Team and many more. You can also find her essays published in several anthologies. Follow her random thoughts on Facebook and Twitter – but no judging.
Holly Rust
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Holly Rust is a native Texan currently living in the great city of Chicago with her husband and two sons. Aside from chasing around two lunatic toddlers all day, she is a writer and author. Her humor blog, Mother’s Guide To Sanity, was featured on The TODAY Show’s List of Funniest Parents on Facebook. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, Hearst Digital Media, Scary Mommy, GenYize, Dot Complicated, Women’s Prospects, The TODAY Parenting Team and many more. You can also find her essays published in several anthologies. Follow her random thoughts on Facebook and Twitter – but no judging.

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