Sunday, 5 January 2014

Bucket List - Interstate Road Trip, Bondi Beach and Gelato Messina

Firstly, Happy New Year! I hope 2014 marks a happy and exciting year for everyone reading. It's certainly going to be a big year for me so I kicked it off with a mini-holiday to Sydney to bring in the New Year and was lucky enough to tick off 3 items from my Bucket List while I was at it..

46. Interstate road trip with a friend
47. Bondi Beach
56. Eat Gelato Messina

About a month prior to the New Year, my housemate Sophie and I discussed the idea of going to Sydney. We had our hearts set on the trip after emails back and forth about all of the exciting things we could do but given we'd made the decision so last minute, flights and accommodation were about 10 times the cost of our budget. Our trip started to look like just an idea rather than a reality. 

Given that one of the items on my bucket list was to do an interstate road trip, I suggested to Sophie that I was happy to drive to Sydney. Our trip started to feel alive again and we were just left with the problem of  finding available and affordable accommodation.  Then an unexpected miracle occurred; I came across a friend of a friend who was happy to let us rent his room out for a few nights at a price we couldn't believe. Someone said to me not so long ago that if you really want something, put it out there and the universe will deliver. The universe well and truly paid up on this account and things just fell into place. 

I've included a day by day summary of our trip below with plenty of photos. Enjoy!

Day 1 - The road to Wagga Wagga

Sophie and I, along with our other housemate Evie, are all from Tasmania and moved to Melbourne in search of bigger and better things. All of our families are still in Tassie so we all flew home for the Christmas break. Given the busy time of year, we tend to book our flights months in advance. Sophie had booked her flights to arrive back in Melbourne in the afternoon of 30th December (only a day prior to New Year's Eve). This left us with a couple of options - stay a night in a small Australian country town or drive to Sydney on New Year's Eve. Small country town it was. Wagga Wagga was the winning town which neither of us had visited previously, so we set out at 4pm on the 5 hour journey to the unknown. 

Our first stop was McDonalds for the 1st of many frozen Cokes (sorry clean eaters.. you may want to stop reading here). Our second stop was the town of Albury for a tasty pub meal before we continued on.

The deadline to check in for our hotel was 10pm and as it got to about 9.30pm with iPhone maps telling us we still had about 40 mins to go, we started to get a little anxious. We called to let the hotel know we might be a few minutes late and ended up arriving just in time. We were expecting an old road side motor inn but the Pavilion Hotel was really nice and modern and took us by surprise. 

We settled in for an early night and set our alarms for 7am the next morning to make our way to Sydney. 

Day 2 - New Year's Eve

The Road to Gundagai
After being breath tested at 8am in Wagga Wagga, we continued our drive to Sydney and couldn't help but stop along the way in a few iconic Australian towns.

The Big Merino in Goulburn
Our journey continued and after some navigation mishaps, caused mostly by my terrible sense of direction, we arrived at the lovely little townhouse in Paddington where we were to stay for the next 3 nights. 

New Year's Eve in Luna Park
After getting settled in, we got ready, had a quick dinner close to "home" and made our way to Luna Park to begin our New Year's Eve celebrations. A New Year's in Sydney was not something that was on my bucket list but it should have been because we had the best night at Luna Park. We even prepared beforehand with matching flower headbands. 

We arrived at Luna Park and had a look around. The child inside of me couldn't have been more excited. We had access to any of the rides all night and there were DJs in each of the inside areas with amazing light shows. 

Our first stop was Coney Island which was basically a room full of fun including giant slide. 

We went on a couple of other rides including the ever popular Ferris wheel. We were on the Ferris wheel when the early fireworks started - couldn't have timed it better if we tried.
Early fireworks from the Ferris wheel
View of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House from the Ferris wheel
The night seemed to go extremely quickly until it was time to watch the fireworks and bring in 2014. The fireworks display was beautiful and they played the perfect uplifting music to go with them. I had the Ferris wheel blocking my view of the bridge fireworks but it still looked amazing and I wouldn't have changed anything. 

After the fireworks display, we watched a little of DJ Havana Brown but after a long day we were exhausted and decided it was time to head home. The only issue was that the train station entrance had been closed and we ended up having to walk for 2 hours to get home. The highlight was that we did get to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Day 3 - Field Day Festival

It seemed like a great idea at the time when we booked to go to a festival on New Year's Day but getting out of bed after our epic walk the night before turned out to be extremely difficult. It ended up being a great day so I was happy we didn't let our tickets go to waste and braved the day.

 We started with a drink at The Clock Hotel in Surrey Hills and played some pool before walking to the train station. We wandered round the city in search of another pub but failed miserably and out of an urgency of me needing to use a bathroom, we headed to the festival a little earlier than we'd planned. Luckily we'd purchased VIP tickets and didn't have to wait to get in, or wait for very long if we wanted a drink throughout the day. We spent most of the day sitting back and relaxing watching the acts but also watching the people at the festival.. there were some interesting outfits getting around to say the least. 

The lineup included the likes of A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa, Flume and The Wombats. The Wombats were a lot of fun and were definitively the highlight for me to end the night. 

A$AP Rocky from a distance
After a fun but tiring day, we set out in search of takeaway food and were once again on an epic walk before finding a pie shop next to a train station. 

Day 4 - Gelato Messina, IMAX & Reunions

After 2 days of non-stop action packed activities, we were fairly exhausted by Day 4. We decided to head down to Darling Harbour for a relaxed lunch and a movie at the IMAX cinema to watch The Hobbit.

Like every other day, it was a hot day in Sydney and on the way to the train station to cool down we ordered some Gelato Messina and it did not disappoint. I had a cup with salty caramel and chocolate peanut butter fudge.. it was just what we needed and allowed me to tick an item off my bucket list!

I've never been much of a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies and hadn't seen the first installment of The Hobbit but I really enjoyed the movie and seeing it in IMAX was a great experience. 

Later that night, we headed back to The Clock Hotel to meet one of my good friends from school, Jess. I felt a little bad for Sophie as Jess and I reminisced about the past but it was great to catch up with her. We also had our second lot of Messina for the day! There was a line this time do to its popularity but it moved quickly and we had our ice cream with only a small wait. 

It's a little dark but this is Jess and I with our Gelato Messina

Day 5 - Bondi Beach

After saying goodbye to our little home away from home for the few days we spent in Paddington, we made our way just up the road to Bondi Junction for our last night in Sydney. We then caught a bus down to Bondi Beach and I ticked another item off my bucket list! Bondi is a really nice place but definitely a popular tourist attraction and not the place to go if you're looking for somewhere quiet.

We had a nice lunch in a restaurant just opposite the beach followed by some Ben & Jerry's ice cream (yes we do love our ice cream!). I then lied on the beach and continued to read 100 Things whilst getting some more ideas for my own bucket list. I attempted to go for a swim but the waves were pretty intense. I discovered that I really need new bather bottoms as I had to hold on to them each time a wave approached to save myself a world of embarrassment.

We finished our day at the beach with some fish and chips and went to the movies to see Anchorman 2 for our final night in Sydney. We discovered that you do need to buy tickets in advance in Sydney or it's likely that you will miss out!

 Day 6 - The Long Road Home

We had another early start to set off for the long drive back to Melbourne. After a healthy but delicious breakfast at Aboutlife cafe in Bondi Junction, we set off for the drive of a lifetime. There were no overnight stops this time so we knew it would be a long drive. It felt like the longest drive EVER!! After a few stops in between for food, drinks and outback toilets, we eventually made it home. 

Sydney Fails

Whilst I had an amazing trip and wouldn't take any of it back, we did encounter a number of problems that we like to refer to as "fails" along the way. Sophie and I often have fails in everyday life so it was no surprise that things didn't always go to plan. I think most of you will get some enjoyment out of our misfortune:

1. My phone battery - died on every occasion that we left the house.. as I've already cracked the screen it's out of warranty and I'll have to pay if I want it fixed
2. Walking for hours on New Year's Eve due to the train station being closed off
3. Failing to find a pub/toilets for an hour prior to Field Day
4. Failing to find takeaway food after Field Day
5. After eventually finding a pie shop, ordering an egg and bacon pie, then after a bite actually discovering it was a steak pie
6. Realizing AFTER arriving back in Melbourne that my Citilink account doesn't cover Sydney toll roads
7. Almost losing my bather bottoms about 10 times in the waves before admitting defeat
8. My iPhone (with a mixture of my own) navigation skills taking us the wrong way.. more than once
9. Feeding the cat at the house we were staying at then realising it was the neighbours cat we'd fed
10. Bruising my leg just simply standing up at a table and hitting the corner of it
11. Lining up for a movie only to realise that it's full and the only spots are in the front row
12. Running empty on petrol and turning off into a tiny town only to find the petrol station was closed
13. Eventually finding a petrol station and having to walk back to the car before I could pay because I hadn't put the fuel nozzle back properly
14. Sophie spilling coffee all over a white t-shirt before we'd even arrived in Sydney

Happy 2014!

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