Exploring Patagonia: Chile and Argentina

13 – 22 January 2017
travellingross rating: 7/10
Wow they speak fast Spanish in Chile! I cannot even pick up the occasional word to follow the sentence.  When I booked a connecting flight to Puerto Montt via my already booked flight to Santiago, I had not realised that because Montt is not an international airport, I would need to clear immigration and customs in Santiago, bag drop, then clear security as a domestic passenger. Which all up takes 2 hours and resulted in missing my connecting flight. So, I got to know the Santiago airport for 6 hours. Arriving in Montt near midnight, sped to the hotel by what I think was an unregistered taxi, then straight to bed. However, I was able to sleep in since check-in for my ferry to Puerto Natales was not until 12:30pm and I could then be free of my bags for 5 hours until we departed on a shuttle bus to the ferry terminal. Very very conveniently, check-in was at the Holiday Inn which is attached to an unexpectedly enormous mall. Walking to the mall, I was struck by how this simple small town is far more scenic than Mendoza. My free time enabled me to buy some hiking boots, weather proof pants, get my Big Mac fix and continue the seemingly endless travel planning.
The cargo ship masquerading as a passenger ferry was everything I expected and served the purpose I was searching for. 3 nights of no internet, no alcohol, no pressure to go tour. Just sleep 12 hours a day, listen to audio books, sort photographs on my laptop and of course look at the fjord scenery that you can only witness on these waters.
Torres del Paine is not that remarkable to me. Sorry, don’t hate me all you Patagonia lovers. I have seen more profound and jaw dropping landscapes. I think instead the attraction is the isolation. But now it’s become such a tourist hot spot that there are people everywhere. The glaciers however are inspirational. Grey glacier in particular is a 3 hour boat trip, which sounds ridiculous, but the scenery and view points are out of this world. The mountains and fjords are otherwise nothing I haven’t seen in other parts of the world and in my opinion not worth the hassle to come all this way unless you are coming to camp and hike the W or O trails. Which 80% of the people no doubt come for that. It’s just the crazy ones like me who come to see the views, tick the Patagonia box and sip a beer while literally looking down on the camp sites from my stupidly expensive with terrible WiFi, but comfortable, hotel.
Departing Torres was a mission made complicated by my plan to cross into Argentina and go straight to my next sight seeing destination. After researching many options (including the very handy website www.bussur.com and my friend Madison), I concluded that taking a risk of getting a shuttle to the national park entrance and attempting to hop on an unbooked bus to El Calafate was worth it. Cause I really didn’t want to spend another night in Natales having already been forced to spend 1 there when the ferry arrived 8 hours late. Through a bit of haggling, begging, and money, the driver let me on the bus! And helped me print my Argentine reciprocal fee receipt at the Chilean border. We swapped buses 3 times, and finally I was dropped off at a hotel that lucky for me had vacancies, an open restaurant at 10pm and a big fat scotch whiskey. Couldn’t wipe the smile from my face – I did it!!
El Calafate is a nice large tourist town. The Argentines do tourism better than the Chileans and the infrastructure is a higher standard. The main reason people, including me, come to this particular town is to see the Perito Moreno glacier. I had a full day trekking tour of this monster booked for 22 January and was the motivation for coming down to this part of the world. Now, this is jaw dropping and well worth the effort. Makes me want to go to Antarctica!
Torres hotel was booked directly at their website http://www.lastorres.com and was $368 USD a night! Getting there was a challenge and I ended up getting a lift with a man I met on the ferry. At the time I thought he was being generous, but when he dropped me at the hotel asked for $60….hmmmm. I guess I failed my first hitch-hiking experience.
Perito Moreno glacier Big Ice trek booked through http://www.hieloyaventura.com for $4000 Argentine Pesos ($260 USD). Take food, good shoes and a back pack to carry your crampons. There are lots of papers to fill and they don’t accept e-signature.

Malbec in Mendoza

7-12 January 2017
travellingross rating = 5/10
Mendoza is hot, rough and loves the fact that they are a developing wine district of the world. I did not realise that their claim to wine fame has only been the last couple of decades or so. But it was famous enough for me to be here. On a whim. One of my randomest yet. Thinking that I would do a January ski trip, following my Perth break, I had to scramble for an alternate plan when that did not come to fruition. It’s the time of year to visit Patagonia, so I thought why not and I’ve wanted to see this epic glacier down there. How hard can it be? But first I need somewhere to chill. Easter Island. But it was impossible to find a flight to the island. Lots coming back but none going in. Ok. Mendoza. Who doesn’t love a wine region?? So after a quiet, productive, ‘New Year, New Me’ work rotation, I left site relaxed and completely unready for what I was about to do.
It took ages to get to Mendoza, via Guyana and Panama and Santiago in Chile. The latter I was shocked that I had to pay a visa fee of $117 USD just to transit through the country. Not a good 1st impression Chile. Especially given that I already had to pay $100 USD for the privilege to enter Argentina thanks to Australia charging these 2 countries a fee for their nationals to enter ours. All leaving a bad taste in my mouth and this was the first moment of many during this trip when I questioned “why I am here?”
I jumped into what I’m sure was an unregistered taxi and we sped across town to my Airbnb apartment that I had booked 2 days ago. We got lost. Yep there are two Lamadrid streets in Mendoza. And Mr Taxi took me to the wrong one (no Uber here yet unfortunately). Once I did get to my apartment I was happy that it was a passcode entry and I did not have to talk to a single human being to check-in. A bottle of wine greeted me on the table and I was impressed with this loft apartment.
Over the next few days, I went on two different style of wine tours. One to Luján de Cuyo where we visited Dominio del Plata, Matervini, Caserena (lunch) and Mendel (for $170 USD through Trout and Wine). And another bicycle tour to the farther out Valle de Uco (for $150 USD through Mendoza Wine Bike Tour). The first could’ve been done by anyone and nothing amazing. The bike tour was memorable and I highly recommend for something different and to immerse yourself in the region. But it is for the fit who don’t mind the sun.
All the wineries give very long tours of their fermentation and process. 45 mins. Before you do the tasting. Boring when the process is all the same and they act like their winery is unique. Or maybe I just found it boring cause it lacked the awesome people who I normally do wine tours with. The lunches though are incredible and they do not hold back on the wine or the food. Pairing the wine with food is what they do best. I also learned something new – rinse the glass between tastings with a cheap table wine, not water.
Overall, Mendoza is not a very attractive city, quite dirty and chaotic. I think when the mountains are visible it might be more scenic. Out at the wineries it can be pretty, but not jaw dropping. And Spanish speaking would change your whole outlook. I tried to call a taxi and they only speak Spanish; that’s when I realised my Spanish is so pathetic I can’t even order a cab. Luckily I was able to message the Airbnb host to ask her to order a taxi to my dinner reservation at 1884 Francis Mallmann, which was rated as one of the best restaurants in Latin America and it was deluxe. So personally, I would not recommend it compared to the great wine regions of the world. And I got a terrible head cold a day after arriving (thanks 24 hour airline travel!), which I could not shake even with copious amounts of wine. I realise this prolonged it. I just like to point out that I am a trooper who does not let a head cold get in the way of a travel experience.
I would not recommend the Airbnb apartment. Lovely place with everything you could need and perfect host all for $77 per night. But the location is a bit boring. Sure… it’s an 8 minute walk to a street full of restaurants, but no shops or hotels to grab a cab. And the loft bedroom was hotttttttttttttttttt. Not in a good way, just sweaty and stifling.

I Go to Rio…de Janeiro

7– 11 September 2016

Travellingross Rating: 8 out of 10

Rio de Janeiro is a mega city of the world that I have wanted to see for a while. Having visited iconic cities across the world I was keen to compare. About an hour from the airport to my small Copacabana Airbnb apartment and it was time for dinner. Having read multiple stories of theft, muggings and violence, I was prepared to get robbed so I had a decoy wallet and minimal belongings on my person. But I found the neighborhood around my place fine although full of graffiti. Well, like any city with a few questionable characters and back lanes you wouldn’t walk down in broad daylight let alone after dark. And it’s dark by 6pm.
The beach is as expected – mammoth, crowded and scenic. The weather for most days was cloudy, and I spent the best part of a day venturing to Barra to collect my Paralympic tickets. I like how there are bars/food places right on the beach edge and they make use of all the sand for beach volleyball and other activities. And the sand is so soft.
The main activity for me in Rio was the Paralympics – I bought tickets to athletics, track cycling and swimming all for $60! Here are some random highlights and observations that I noted at the time:
Athletics was at the Olympic stadium and had events going on everywhere you look and takes a while to work out. Great seats just left of the track finish line. One woman from Mali led all the way in the 1500m but then dropped back in the last lap and almost gave up but the crowd cheered for her and she picked up her head and finished the race. Inspiring.
Track cycling was at the Olympic Park (which seriously lacked shade) and was cool to see but repetitive watching heat after heat of 4000m. I thought there would be a variety of categories competing but I guess from a scheduling perspective it is sensible to not do this. Watching cyclists with 1 leg is incredible and makes me never want to complain about exercise again! Swimming was also at the Olympic Park and I had great seats right above the media where the medalists came by for a photo call.
Random observations: Brazilians say coca, not coke or cola. Lots and lots of people with bracers.
The journey to visit Christ the Redeemer statue took all afternoon and had line after line after line. I’m not sure if this is everyday or because it was a Sunday and the first clear weather in 4 days. As I waited literally hours I kept thinking to myself that this better be worth it. Thankfully it was. Fantastic views, iconic statue, and watching people be fools trying to get the best selfie. It was packed. Having accomplished this, I rewarded myself with a night out in Ipanema before a morning flight to Salvador.

 

 

Iguassu Falls: Indescribably Epic

2– 6 September 2016

Travellingross Rating: 10 out of 10

Brazil has long been on my travel to-do list, but getting a visa has always been a hassle and turned me off trying. So when I heard that this year over the few months of the Olympics, Brazil was waiving visa requirements I was hooked. Usually I don’t plan or think of what to do on a break until say 2 weeks out. But this one I had a fair idea about since the beginning of the year. I am still winging it, but I knew that Iguassu Falls was a must-visit after seeing the photos a friend took during a visit some years ago. I have a thing for waterfalls and the more epic the better – Victoria, Niagara…now Iguassu.

But like anything epic, it starts with a journey. 17.5 hours. Including an 8 hour layover. Following a good work rotation where I was actually able to find time to go for a run after work, I was not my usual wiped out self on day 23. I went out for dinner with a friend in Parbo then got picked up at 10:45 pm for the airport. Odd flight time of 1:45 am meant I didn’t even sleep in the city compared to the last few breaks where I have been staying a night or 2 before flying out.
Belem airport was more advanced than I expected. English seems to not be widely spoken though and I quickly remembered that Portuguese is not that similar to Spanish. I got through immigration without a word spoken, and I didn’t even have to fill a form! I am amazed that my bag and I made all the connections including a twenty-minute connection in Rio. With a driver waiting for me at the Foz do Iguacu airport, I was ready to relax.
Belmond Hotel das Cataratas is flawless. I cannot fault a single thing. From the welcome at reception (and free room upgrade!), to the fireplace filled lounge, to the barman carefully explaining the varied types of Caipirinha, to the breakfast, to the views, to the perfect rooms with the little sticker on the toilet paper….I could go on haha. Great recommendation. Although only 2 nights is required to see the sights, I booked 4 because of timing and because I knew I would enjoy the down-time.
The Falls are incredible. Over 270 individual waterfalls occur across this divide between Argentina and Brazil. The photos hopefully tell the story. They say the Brazil side has the view, the Argentine side has the experience. Basically you get drenched on the other side with an immersive experience across a lot of boardwalks, whereas Brazil has the panoramic views and one boardwalk that looks up the main chasm “the devils throat”.  I thought a lot about crossing the border to also visit the Argentinian side but decided not to.
 
The weather was not the best. 2 days were wet and cold (17C). Nice to relax in the hotel with a hot stone Amazonian massage and drink, while catching up on life. The pool is heated but I didn’t swim. I really wanted to do the helicopter trip over the falls and luckily on my last day the clouds cleared and the choppers were able to fly. Fortunately I did not have a flight to Rio until 4pm so I had time. It was only a 10 minute flight, but so good. I did a similar flight over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe many moons ago and really like the vantage you get from the air and seeing the mist swirl up.
So, I am really happy to be in Brazil. To have seen the Iguassu Falls. And this is just the beginning.

The Amazing Caribbean Race: Windward & Leeward Islands

23 July – 8 August 2016
This break was all about the islands. Cover as many as I could to get a taste and determine which ones to come back to for longer. Due to best flight times, I had to depart a day late and return a day earlier giving me two restful days in Paramaribo but meant one fewer island to tick off. A part of me wants to lay claim to visiting as many islands as I can while I’m working this location – at this point I’ve got a year left. But it’s also very relaxing, enjoyable, knowledge fulfilling and…who wouldn’t want to travel the Caribbean! Especially when you can be in Barbados in 4 hours.

Barbados – 9/10

  1. 5 nights. Turtle Beach Resort. Discounted for low season.
  2. Within a few minutes of checking into my room, I stood on the 4th floor balcony looking at the amazing view and down below in a public laneway access to the beach a tall young local man started talking to me. After a moment to decipher his accent, I realised he was trying to sell me cocaine. Welcome to Barbados. This happened another time on the beach. As someone not at all into drugs, I find it unsavory and disturbing.
  3. Very rough surf on the south coast, when I traveled to the west it was so much calmer. Next time I will stay on the west coast.
  4. Staying at an all-inclusive for the first time was good to not have to worry about food choices or paying for drinks, but I did feel locked up. Like on a cruise ship.
  5. I drank a lot more than normal instinctively trying to get my money’s worth.
  6. Lots of children. Next time I’ll find an adults only all inclusive.
  7. This country is less developed than I expected.
Grenada – 7/10
  1. 2 nights. Allamanda Resort. Good location on the beach and cheap.
  2. Again offered drugs within moments of stepping onto the beach.
  3. The fort overlooking St Johns is totally without maintenance and a public safety risk, but great views of the harbor and port.
  4. I had not realised that this country had a communist coup in the late 70’s, then another coup where the prime minister and cabinet were locked up in the fort and executed. Then the USA invaded and ‘liberated’ the nation because they thought the new military government was building an airstrip to support Soviet and Cuban air craft to refuel in the southern Caribbean.
  5. I walked into a nutmeg store and said hi to the young male attendant as I was the only one in the store.  He immediately replied “you know me”. I stared and wandered. He said “look at me well”. Then it dawned on me that we sat next to each other on the 1 hour flight from Barbados to Grenada. Small part of the world.
  6. Grand Anse is a nice long public beach with clean water and nice sand.
  7. Found a nice marina with a bar, restaurant and pool. A rare place that was new, functional and welcoming.
St Lucia – 6/10
  1. 2 nights. La Haut Resort. Way out of Soufrière town.
  2. Taxi from airport to hotel was an hour and cost 80 usd! A signal that this island is not cheap.
  3. Too mountainous which makes for bad beaches, and long travel times.
  4. Gros Piton hike was the toughest I’ve done. My calf muscles were sore for days.
  5. Incredible views from La Haut plantation resort were amazing but the place closed for good the day I checked out. Up for sale. Spooky quiet at night which had me laying in bed thinking I was in the movie paranormal activity.
Martinique – 9/10
  1. 2 nights. Can’t remember the hotel as I literally walked off the ferry and checked into the first hotel I found. But it was nice. Except the level 3 elevator door didn’t work. And I was on level 3.
  2. Finally a developed island! A carrefour grocery store, paved sidewalks, street lighting and people leave you alone rather than try to sell you cheap bead necklaces.
  3. Only downside is it’s French speaking, but that could be a positive since people leave me alone!
  4. 21st century buses, roads and intersections. Hub of a ferry system.
  5. Bakeries and food that is beyond chicken and Creole
  6. Although I almost got run down crossing a road. I hate crossing roads.
  7. The beaches close to town are not very nice. And full of local children.
  8. Service is snail pace.
  9. I’d definitely come back and couple it with other French islands. I think the French funding and connection to the European Union means they must abide by EU standards which are much higher than the former British colonies that are poor.
Dominica – 3/10
  1. 1 night that turned into 2. Fort Young Hotel. Lovely refurbished hotel and best part of Roseau.
  2. Do not return. Undeveloped, wrecked by a recent storm, mountainous with long travel times on bad roads, dull landmarks. Although, no one bothered me to sell stuff on the streets or offer me tours like I was in Lucia.
  3. Roseau is a simple under developed town with nothing noteworthy. Except for my hotel, which was modern, sprawling and good service.
  4. The activities desk while seemingly professional, postponed my organized tour of the island not once but twice. Fully knowing that I only had 2 days 1 night on the island. And although I’d paid already for something they couldn’t offer anymore, did not provide a partial refund or even a genuine apology. Giving me the sense this happens often.
  5. As if Dominica knew I didn’t like her, she punished me further by hovering a rain storm over the island at the time of my evening flight causing it to be cancelled and being put up by liat airlines in a hotel room with no ac and a ceiling fan moving so slow it may as well have been switched off.
Antigua – 8/10
  1. 3 nights that was supposed to be 4 except for Dominica. Airbnb apartment in English Harbour. Well located with lovely views, but in a loft with no cross breeze so it was stinking bloody hot.
  2. Very modern airport.
  3. Renting a car was simple and easy to cruise around. Although some hairy corners on what should be single lane one way roads.
  4. Again no hassle from the locals and I rode a public ‘bus’ to town with ease for a dollar. The bus is a mini van that loads in the people, most without seatbelts. Similar to what I rode in Grenada.
  5. Beaches are lovely but not as postcard worthy as I believed from Google images. But I do believe the phrase that there are as many beaches as there are days in the year on Antigua.
  6. I’d likely come back and use this as a base to explore Barbuda, St Kitts and St Barts.

 

And that’s it. No hurricane. Although it threatened. Some islands I’d come back to, others are firmly on the DNR list. Definitely prefer ferries over planes where I could. Easier to get around than I thought and lots of research online that you can just google and make it up when you wake up!

Beautiful Waters of Semuc Champey, Guatemala

17 June 2016

Travellingross Rating: 9 out of 10

11 hours. 3 vehicles. 3 bad movies. That’s what it took to get from Antigua City to the middle of flipping Guatemala. Changing vehicles because the roads got rougher and skinnier. I was told it would be eight hours arriving at 4pm for free time before dinner. Oh no. But hey, that’s what to expect in a developing country. The very fact I got here and the hotel had my reservation was a surprise.
Only yesterday, I booked a 4 night tour for the simplicity of not having to think about booking anything for the rest of my Guatemala time. Having not heard/researched about anywhere in this country other than Tikal, I saw a photo of Semuc Champey and thought it looked pretty. Done.

On the final vehicle from Lanquín, I met a great Scottish/Florida couple and we had laughs and fun the next couple days. The hotel was all Guatemalans except for us and I set my alarm to make it for the 8am tour stated on my voucher. Only to find out after toe tapping at 8:20am that I, of course, was on the 10am tour with everyone else!

The tour included an intense hike up to the look out (mirador), then down to the natural pools, a cave tour with just a candle to the light the way, and a leisurely float down the river in a tyre tube. The pools are beyond beautiful and consist of a natural limestone bridge over the Cahabón River. The water is refreshing (read: cold), with fish that nibble your feet, jumps and slides along slippery rocks, and an incredible waterfall that tunnels under the pools. Stunning. Worth the long trip and hassle to get here.

How to Make this Trip

Tour: booked through Aviatur in Antigua city for $450 usd including a single supplement. Great agency that speaks good English right near the arch. Only downside was the tour vouchers are written very generic without hotel names or tour contacts. But in the end (after a couple of phone calls along the way) it all worked out ok. I have become much better at spontaneous travel and ‘just going with it’.

Accommodation: Hostal El Portal. A pain ( literally) to get to. Riding 45 minutes from Lanquín in the tray of a truck holding on to bars while misty rain falls. But perfect location just outside the Semuc gates and overlooking the river. Electricity only 6-11pm and no telecommunications at all (I wasn’t expecting this). Oh and no hot water.

Antigua – the Historic City not the Island

13 – 16 June 2016

Travellingross Rating: 10 out of 10

This city in Guatemala is an infusion of places I have been before. Fortunately the best parts of those places. A bit of Peru, Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico.

But different to those countries (I know I’m broad brushing entire countries and not comparing to all of Guatemala just yet), here in Antigua city, it’s like the tourist doesn’t exist. Sure there are people trying to sell tacky jewellery and cashews. But other than that everyone goes on with life and it’s authentic. Not like Cuba with their vintage taxis and tourist pesos made solely for the foreigners. Or like Costa Rica where everyone seemed to target the assumed wealthy foreigner. Here kids play basketball with archaeological digs and repairs in the background. A volcano erupts smoke in the near distance. And the stalls on the streets are intended for the locals, not the tourist. All in a relaxed, simple atmosphere that is safer than my minimal research lead me to believe.

A world heritage listed city that literally has an historic site or ruin on every corner. I did not see anything outside the core but I felt that, unlike other world heritage listed towns, this one is a working lived in, functioning city. I really enjoyed my time here and it was a great way to kick off my Guatemala and Belize trip.

How to Make this Trip

Flights: Copa Airlines via Panama City. Long layover in Panama so I paid $50 USD to enter the lounge which was a great decision.

Transport: Pre-arranged an airport pick up and transfer to my hotel through Around Antigua for $43 USD. I read that Guatemala City is hazardous for tourists and not much to see, so I was happy to see someone holding my name on a sign and get straight outta there to my hotel in 45 mins.

Accommodation: Hotel Meson de Maria for $56 USD per night via booking.com. Quiet, perfect location and with a delicious included breakfast. Only downside was the weak  Wi-Fi signal.

Turtle Time in Galibi, Suriname

11-12 June 2016

7 out of 10

After my first standard rotation of 23 days for quite some time, I decided to spend the first few days of break in Suriname to explore more of the country and see the turtles that come ashore for a few months a year to lay eggs. I missed it last year, so booked a 2 day tour and set off. After a night out in Parbo first…
The tour set off at 8:30 am in a vehicle that did not have seat belts for the passengers in the back seats. And along the same highway I travel to work, but this time instead of turning at Moengo, we went all the way to Albina. It was interesting to cross the Marowijne River into French Guyana and see prices in Euro and the French flag flying. The canoe trip to Galibi (not accessible by road) was fun and occasionally bumpy rocking against the waves. Accommodation was much better than expected with simple bed in my own room as only six on the tour. The town is dull and unremarkable.
Saw two turtles, one of each type and watched them dig a hole and lay eggs. Was great and fascinating to watch these creatures. But thought we’d see more and wait around to watch the turtles cover their eggs and head back to the ocean. Instead we left soon after the egg laying started. Likely because a bunch of other tourists arrived on the same stretch of beach. Up until then we had been alone which was peaceful. After a rough and horrible canoe trip back to town, we arrived at 11pm for a game of cards. In my mind I thought we would be out til 3am or so.
The guide did not communicate a single word of English, so fortunately a Spanish girl who also is fluent in Dutch translated the key points for me. It was a lot of driving/travelling in 2 days, but overall I enjoyed it. And it was great to see more of the country I’ve been working in for eighteen months. Something I never wanted to do in Ghana.
How to Make this Trip
Tour booked through Jenny Tours

Welcoming 2016 at Sydney Harbour

Thursday 31 December 2015 to Saturday 2 January 2016

It has been a long time since my last entry but with a new laptop, a refreshing break and time to sort my photos, what better way to get back into it than a New Years party. Not just any party, but one that I have wanted to be a part of for years. Sydney is one of the first city’s on the planet to welcome in a new year and unlike the equally big spectacles of Times Square, London or Paris…Australia has great weather this time of year.

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I finished my last work rotation for 2015 and went the long way back to Perth via Los Angeles. After having a couple of bad trips going via Amsterdam I was too damaged to risk flying this way again. Even though it is about the same amount of time and money going via LA, it is 7 flights versus 3 to go via Amsterdam. So yeah, I was pretty damaged to choose LA over Amsterdam. Following a great family Christmas, my friend Melissa and I jetted off to Sydney landing early morning on New Years Eve. I have been to Sydney a few times and love this city. No problems finding a place to hang out in the CBD while we waited for our Airbnb to get ready and super easy to get public transport around. We booked a place in the inner west suburb of Rozelle where my friends were also staying. My cousin was also in town staying at a hotel in the Rocks. So I was set for an epic couple of days.

And it sure was. The photos tell the story and this is just a quick entry to get me back in the game. But in a nutshell we struck it lucky with success on a last minute waiting list for an expensive ($350 pp) beach-style party down by the Opera House looking directly at the bridge. Perfect location to be amongst it. Free canapes, but would’ve liked some free drinks to go with it. Either way the champagne was flowing and the music cranked. All traffic was shut down in the CBD so I think this is the only time I will walk down the main streets of Sydney…on the actual road. The fireworks were spectacular as expected and the atmosphere vibrant. I am so glad to have experienced it and if I ever had the chance again, I want to be on one of those million dollar yachts away from the crowds and in the perfect vantage point to see the opera house and bridge in one view.

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Waking up New Years Day 2016 feeling good was unexpected, but very welcome. Lunch at the Rocks with my cousin and friends, then a big walk across circular quay, through the botanical gardens, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, and then right around the peninsula back towards the CBD. Then a red bull back at the house and out for dinner at Darling Harbour. Definitely the most energetic and full NYD I have had.

On 2 January, I took a ferry to Manly beach. Not the best beach day, and full of tourists, so I didn’t swim. I cannot really understand the attraction here. Bondi has a good vibe and is nicer. But I still rate Perth beaches the best.

Websites and Tips to Make this Trip

  1. The New Years Party was at the Opera Bar. Highly recommend. Books out fast so likely to be on the waiting list and helps to have a sob story about travelling from a little known South American country just for this! http://operabar.com.au/nye
  2. An alternative where my friends watched the fireworks display, is Balmain East at the end of Darling Street. Free. No hassles. Great views of the bridge.