Archive for the 'Australia' Category



Ain’t no bridge high enough

Day: 3

Location: Sydney

Event: Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge (www.bridgeclimb.com)

As written earlier in the overall summary of our Aussie trip post, I wasn’t even sure I was going to make this climb, but I did!  A special thanks to my body for holding out just long enough to make this happen.

Micah and I opted for the “Express Climb” which takes about two hours (which includes filling out forms, taking a breathalyzer, changing into jumpsuits, and the actual climb.  Other climbs are much longer).

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We were with a group of 10 other climbers and our bridge climb leader.  Each of us were outfitted with jumpsuits and headpieces so that we can hear our leader tell us about the bridge and stories while we climb. 

The climb is extremely safe.  You are constantly connected to a cable that runs along the bridge.  There’s no chance you can fall over.  It’s not very difficult either.  A few stairs here and there, but even a fairly out of shape person can handle this. 

The history of the bridge is really interesting, but I won’t go into that.  You can check with wikipedia if you want to read up on it.

The view from the top is awesome.  On a clear day (which we had), you can see for miles and miles in every direction.  And of course, the Sydney Opera House is right under your nose too. 

Due to safety reasons, you are not allowed to bring cell phones, cameras, jewelry (basically anything that could possibly fall over board).  So, the only option of capturing this moment is via a picture that the bridge climb leader takes.  And of course, this picture can be purchased for a ridiculous price when the climb is over.  And of course, we totally bought it.  🙂

Our Australian adventure!

Ok, we are back in action.  The vacation was fun while it lasted, but we are back to work starting Tuesday.  There’s a lot to write about – but for now here are the Cliff’s Notes.  I’ll follow up with separate posts on some of the really fun things we did. 

In sickness and in health:  Our first day in Sydney and Micah is sick.  He started feeling sick on our 10 hour flight.  We took a shuttle to our hostel, but still had about three hours before we could check-in.  Perfect sightseeing time? Well, yes…for me. 

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Micah stayed back and slept in the lobby area.

Micah was in bed all day and night, but fortunately he was feeling better by the next morning.  This is when we did most of our Sydney city sightseeing (Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Botanical Gardens).

That night, we ate some Malaysian food for dinner and settled into our room.  In the early early morning, I started feeling REALLY sick.  Sparing all the horrible details…I was sick the entire night.  I barely slept a wink.  We were going to be climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a couple hours…and I was still chained to the bathroom.  I made Micah promise he would still go…as our tickets were purchased months ago and were non-refundable. 

Miraculously, my body came through (with the helps of some drugs Micah rushed out to get that morning).  We successfully did the Bridge Climb!  And then…pretty much spent the rest of that day back in our room.  My body was only willing to behave for a few short hours. 😦

Somehow managed to make it through the 2.5 hour climb…and with a smile.

Sadly, this was the only day we had time to go to Manly Island and Bondi Beach.  But instead…we stayed in watching many hours of Olympic coverage on TV and forcing myself to drink little sips of Gatorade.

For richer or poorer: We were warned when planning this trip that Australia is expensive, but we didn’t realize how true that was until we got there.  This has to be one of the most expensive countries to live in.  $3.00 for a regular bottle of water.  $2.50 for a candy bar.  $7 for a McDonald’s breakfast meal.  $15 for Covergirl Mascara.  $20 for a 6-pack of beer.  I think you get the point.  There wasn’t a single thing we did that didn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money

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Those two drinks cost $7.40 at the convenience store.

Food and transportation was where we spent the bulk of our money.  Lodging actually was reasonable (but that’s because we stayed in hostels, or budget hotel, and used credit card reward points for some places).  The “good” thing about both of us being so sick was that we didn’t have big appetites and could easily share meals and weren’t forced to eat fast food the whole time.  We managed to stay away from all fast food until the very last day (the exception being McDonald’s soft serve ice cream cones – those were a steal at $.50 each.  I ate one or two many of the days.  Mmmmmm).

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Burger King to us, Hungry Jack’s to Aussie’s. 

Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane all had fairly decent public transportation – but, it isn’t cheap.  To get from the airport into the city was at least $15 to $20 a person – one way.  We walked or took free trams when we could.  One time, we had to take a cab…for a 10 minute drive to the airport it was $30.  The ferry ride to Moreton Island was $70 each…roundtrip at least.

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The free tram in Melbourne.  We took advantage of this many times.

Fortunately, we could use our credit card at many places.  Our Capital One card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, and with the  US/AUS exchange rate, it’s in our favor.  🙂

We also tried to be resourceful when we could.  The tap water is safe to drink, so we continually refilled our water bottles.  We purchased granola bars and fruit, saving our money to buy the pricey dinners. 

For better or worse:  I was REALLY excited to eat all the foods.  But, Australia doesn’t really have it’s own unique cuisine.  Everywhere we went, we had a plethora of Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and bar food.  Nothing really that new to us.  We tried when possible to seek out the unique foods – for example, kangaroo and emu pizza (which was delicious). 

In Melbourne, we went to Chinatown and ate at Dainty Szechuan (a restaurant I’ve read rave reviews about).  We were sorely disappointed.  The two (expensive) dishes we got were way too salty, and we ended up leaving with tons of food left and no desire to take it home with us.  😦

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Looks really good, but tasted so so salty.  😦

When in Sydney, we took two tours…and they were both really great.  We got to see a lot of sights, sample many many wines, and hang out with the koalas and roos.  That was money and time well spent.

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Yes, they really are THAT cute. 

We stayed in Melbourne for 3.5 days and that was probably 2 days longer than we needed.  The central downtown area of the city is quite small and not a lot to see.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a beautiful city with beautiful architecture and friendly people.  The Queen Victoria Market is awesome.  But overall, it doesn’t have the attractions like Sydney does (which I’m sure the Melbournians are proud of). We actually got bored.  We would take our lunches to the park and lounge around (napping even) for a couple hours (which was great).  We were anxious to leave and move on though.  However, we did have fun browsing around Melbourne Costco and Target (two of our favorite stores in the states…and abroad!)

SAM_0912Lounging at many of the nice parks in Melbourne…and snacking too! 

The best part of our adventure was Moreton Island.  It’s off the coast of Brisbane. It’s the third largest island in the world made entirely of sand.  We stayed at the Tangalooma Island Resort – and it was fabulous!  The highlight was being able to feed the wild dolphins that come to visit the island every night.  Working on the video of that…cameras weren’t allowed up close to the dolphins.

moreton island map

A 75 minute ferry ride is all it takes to get to this amazing piece of paradise.

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We basically had our own private beach – as there weren’t a lot of people around.  It was THE best beach we’ve ever been to.

As stated earlier, I’ll write more about some of the experiences we had – but for now, that gives you a good glimpse of our time in the land down under. 

Off to see the wonderful land of ‘Oz’

Today is the day!  At 8pm tonight, we will be on a plane…and 10 hours later, we’ll be landing in Sydney, Australia!  We couldn’t be more excited.  Excluding the days it takes to get to and from Australia, we have 12 full days to explore, experience, and EAT!

Here’s where we’ll be:

  1. Sydney: 5 days and then fly to…
  2. Melbourne: 3.5 days and then fly to…
  3. Brisbane: .5 days and then take a ferry to…
  4. Moreton Island: 2.5 days and then take a ferry back to Brisbane and then fly to…
  5. Sydney: stay overnight and fly to…
  6. Seoul

We plan to see/pet some kangaroos and koalas, take a wine tour, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visit the Blue Mountains, relax on the beaches, do lots of walking tours, and of course…lots of EATING!

We are especially lucky because Chinese New Year falls on Sunday, which is when we arrive…which is also Valentine’s Day.  Sydney’s Chinatown is known to have some pretty amazing festivities and an awesome parade.  We are definitely going to check it out.

A special thanks to our friend Jodie for helping us with our Aussie travel plans!

Summer down under!

We’ve been toying with the idea of going to Australia for our 2 week winter vacation.  But we hadn’t been able to finalize when we could go because of English Camps.  (Basically, the kids come into school and study English during their winter vacation).  We know these “camps” will be in January sometime, but that’s all we know so far.

So instead of taking our vacation during January, we are going in February (during the school’s spring break).

Side note: Yes…the students come off of 5 weeks of winter vacation, come back to school for 1.5 weeks at the beginning of Feb., and then leave for two weeks of spring break.  And when they return, that’s the beginning of the new school year.  English Teachers don’t get all that time off though – only 2 weeks.

We did some research on flights, cities, things to do, etc. And made a rough itinerary.  We ran this by our friend Jodie, who is currently living in Sydney (but only until the end of December).  And that was it – we bought tickets last night!  Two weeks in Aussie!  It’ll be freezing in Daegu, but summer down under. 🙂

We are hitting up Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.  Technically, we fly into Brisbane, but are going to Moreton Island for a couple days.  We have a basic idea of what we want to do in each city: sightseeing, eating, beach, hiking, hold koala bears, etc. but nothing is finalized yet. We do know for sure we’ll be doing this in Sydney: http://www.bridgeclimb.com.au/  (Replace couple in photo with Micah and me :-))

Couple summit

To keep costs down, we are staying in hostels in every city (except Moreton Island). So, I’m currently researching those options.

I’d like to thank my friends Jessie and Allison for their inspiring pictures of their recent trips to Australia. 🙂

Allison meets a koala. by sparklingallison.


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