Sydney in September <3

IMG_3037‘The greatest trips are the unexpected ones’ – Anon

Sydney is the type of destination which makes you think of the Sydney Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, insanely expensive coffee and hipsters by the barrel-full. It also makes me think of insane traffic, way too many people and a city which has a constant buzz of energy and activity!

G is originally from Sydney and he did his apprenticeship all around Sydney (think 17-year-old driving a van with a trailer on the back of it), so his driving and people-handling capabilities are far more advanced than mine!

After I surprised G with the news I had booked us a cruise in September, just a mere two days after sitting him down and going through our budget and determining we needed to cut costs and be responsible 30-somethings…. he leapt on board and confirmed that we would be doing it in style!

We booked our airfares and booked the Shagri-La for our pre-cruise stay. The Shangri-La in Sydney is divine, it has views like no other in Sydney and if you can afford to splurge and stay there, then I highly recommend it! We booked an Executive Grand Harbour View room, which although pushing $500 a night, does have views of the full harbour. The Sydney Opera House, the Rocks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the beautiful harbour in all her glory.

The bathrooms are like no other, think marble bath and shower and plush towels and bathrobes. 50sqm of pure heaven and the views, my goodness the views! The rooms are located on levels 22-29.

DSC06606My favourite thing about the Shangri-La is that if you do arrive before 2pm and your room is ready, you are more than welcome to check-in earlier than expected. There is a gym, all day dining at Café Mix, amazing food at Altitude Restaurant and the Blu Bar on level 36. My tip is to get up to Blu Bar well before sunset, because it does get packed and secure yourself a front-seat view to the orange beauty which is a Sydney harbour sunset!

I have some amazing girlfriends who live in Sydney and we often travel interstate to see each other a few times a year, so we were lucky enough to be able to meet up with a late lunch at Cruise Bar, which is in the bustling Circular Quay. The view is beautiful; it has an amazing selection of wine and cocktails and the house made flatbreads with dip and salt and chilli squid is delicious! After spending a couple of hours here, we made our way up to the Blu Bar (get the Thyming Tokyo or Yamazukara ;)) and enjoyed the sunset.

We then headed out to Harts Pub around the corner and enjoyed some sparkling wine and waffle fries and then it was time for us to say goodbye and head back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

Our dinner reservation was at the amazing Saké Restaurant at the Rocks and we had been looking forward to this dinner for months! It was like watching two kids at a candy bar once our amazing server handed us the menu! So, I won’t bore you with the details but our menu looked something like this: sashimi combo, spicy tuna rolls, Hiromasa kingfish, edamame, popcorn shrimp and the cape grim short rib bo ssam. You can go ahead and unbutton your pants and take a few deep breaths after reading that if you need to, we sure did!

Drinks consisted of the Hatori Hanzo (Bombay Sapphire gin, Yuzu sake, jalapeño pepper, cucumber and elderflower), E-momo-ki (cherry-blossom themed) cocktail, a Master of Malt Japanese whiskey tasting board (Mars Maltage Cosmo, Suntory Kabukin & Hibiki Japanese Harmony) and we finished with the phenomenal Miso Caramel Dragon Egg for dessert. We basically had to roll ourselves back to our hotel afterwards!

We spent an incredibly comfortable night in our amazing king-size bed and kept the curtains opened so we would wake up with the sun rising over Sydney heads. We woke up just before 5am and were lucky enough to watch our home for the next 8 nights make her way through the harbour and dock at Circular Quay. This was amazing to watch, from our bed with our room-service coffee!

The Shangri-La gym was our next stop and then we made our way to the famed breakfast buffet and before you know it, it was time to leave!

Matching flamingo shirts at the ready, we made it to the ship – dropped our bags – celebrated with some Prosecco and it was time to start our New Caledonia adventure!

Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney?

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – redhead_novaturient

x C x

 

 

 

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Boxing Day – Exploring the Eastern Suburbs <3

Boxing Day was one of those days where we could have opted to stay in bed and sleep the day away, or hit the day and hit it hard.

So…we decided to get dressed, hit to road and walk the 8km from Darlinghurst to Nielsen’s Point, to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Sensible heads prevailed though and instead we caught an Uber to Rose Bay and walked the rest of the way to Nielsen’s Park. The walk took an hour or a so, but it was up hill the entire way. So any food and/or drinks from Christmas were quickly sweated out!

Watching the start of the race was so much fun and I was able to test out my new 24mm Canon pancake lens, it is going to take some getting used to but I definitely like it!

The walk was phenomenal but the difference in $$$ in terms of suburbs in Sydney was amazing! The Eastern Suburbs are something else! Have you ever seen a BMW Police Car? I have and I have to tell you it is one of the strangest out-of-this-world things I have ever witnessed!

Boxing Day-4G and I walked all the way along the Hermitage path back to Rose Bay – which was one hell of a walk! A LOT of stairs but so many absolutely beautiful spots to stop and try my new 24mm pancake lens!

After our walk we caught an Uber back to Darlinghurst and G went out to pick the kids up after their day with the other side of the family. I had every intention of doing some blogging but instead I found myself being woken up at 7pm by G and the kids – I had been asleep for nearly four hours!

Boxing Day-7I am not normally a big sleeper but I think when you are on holiday, the year catches up with you and you just need to wind down and rest!

We spent a lovely night together catching up and talking about Christmas and just enjoying each others company. Sydney is so beautiful, there is so much to do!

How did you spend Boxing Day? What is your tradition for the day?

x C x

Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve…and we are off to Sydney!

Good morning! Happy Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve!!! So I woke up and thought I would get a jump on my phone back up/last minute packing/trying not to stress about leaving my house for a week…..annnnd my Husband has just come out and told me that 5:30am is not awake time and I should go back to bed…

IMG_6681Anyways (I won’t be going back to bed) – I am sooo excited because today – we finally leave for our Christmas holiday/vacation! We are going inter-state for my Husband’s side of the families Christmas. My family and G and I live up in Queensland and his family lives in New South Wales…so it means many inter-state trips to Sydney etc., (and who could possibly be made about that?!).

IMG_6714Our trip this time is a little different and much more Christmas-on-steroids, because we will be sharing Christmas day with a very enthusiastic and kind 11 year old and a curious and sweet 9 year old. We have a few different things planned for them for the next week and I thought I would share them!

I had a bit of an incident with ‘Betty’, my beloved Canon 550D – the incident being she just stopped turning on (after I spent $80 on a brand new battery charger – of course). It was going to cost $200-$400 to have someone look at her to see what was wrong, but given she is nearly 8 years old and I could buy the same model for around $400-$500, sadly it just does not seem financially reasonable.

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So…my plans to purchase a new camera ahead of our Scandi-trip next year have been brought forward and I am now the proud owner of Dorothy (‘Dotty) – my new Canon 80D. Look I will be honest, Dotty and I haven’t quite worked each other out yet (in the words of Mariah ‘I don’t know her’), but I plan on becoming her BFFF over this next week (watch this space…).

Packing has been somewhat of a nightmare, honestly my own personal set of luggage scales has been an absolute life-changer!

We have some really cool things planned for Sydney, I cannot wait to share them with you. This trip is going to be really different because we are doing it as a family – so cannot wait to see how that goes in terms of activities and lines etc.,

Our flight leaves in a couple of hours, we will get into Sydney around lunch time and then we can make our way to Darlinghurst to check into our amazing lookingIMG_7816 Air BnB – its then time to Christmas the apartment up, before the little ones arrive tomorrow :).

Wising you all a wonderful December 22 – cannot wait to hear what you are all up to over Christmas!

x C x

 

Coffs Harbour – Our Roadtrip <3

Coffs Harbour, famous for its Big Banana, coastal resorts, mild climate and fishing – is located about five hours from Brisbane and six hours from Sydney. It is the perfect overnight stop on a road-trip journey from capital to capital.

G and I took off from Brisbane mid-morning on our journey down to Sydney for the week. Unfortunately, this was when the M1/Pacific Highway was still being road-worked and so our journey took 7 or so hours. THANKFULLY we are firm believers in multiple car snacks, singing to ridiculous music (okay that one is just me, not G) and enjoying the scenery as you go!

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We stayed at the Breakfree Aanukua Beach Resort on the very beautiful Diggers Beach (not to be confused with Little Diggers beach – the nude beach!). This tropical little resort is located 3km from Coffs’ centre and is a nice little break from the mayhem. We stayed in a garden room to save costs, ate at the resort and enjoyed roaming around the resort.

On our second day at the resort the weather was amazing, we watched a fantastic storm roll in across the ocean – check out these pics!

Coffs Harbour 2IMG_4463We went to the Big Banana the morning we were heading off to finish our journey to Sydney – it is great for families and has a stack of things to do, but we were pretty time-poor and it was school holidays, so it wasn’t a long stop!

We also made our way up to the Sealy Lookout / Forest Sky Pier, which has a phenomenal lookout over the Coffs Coast (it’s 15m high!).

IMG_0493On our way out of Coffs’ we (thankfully) came across The Clog Barn – which is described as ‘a little piece of Holland’ –  hello dutch pancakes and amazing scones! There is also a miniature town out the back and a shop full of delightful knick-knacks!

Coffs Harbour is a nice location on the coast, you have the Dorrigo National Park on your back doorstep, beautiful water activities on the front and banana’s galore! Bushwalks for days, a heap of food choices and a good excuse to take a break in your driving for 1-2 nights :).

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Where is your favourite overnight stop on a road-trip?

x C x

Make it count 🙌🏻

Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful – Hazrat Inayat Khan🎈

Whenever I am in Teneriffe, Brisbane – this gorgeous mural of a girl-blowing-bubbles who I like to think is called Lucy makes me smile. You can never beat a beautiful piece of street art, in the most ordinary of places. We only pass each other before/after work but still, she showers colour and happiness whenever you see her :).

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It just goes to show that even though the repetitiveness is working days and saving for holidays can sometimes get you down, that during your commute to/from work – if you open your eyes – there is sure to be something beautiful just around the corner. 

100’s of people pass this mural daily and don’t look up from their phones.  Whereas she always grabs my attention and makes my heart feel light – despite the kind of day I’ve had at work 🙌🏻

Tell me, what do you notice each day? What do you find beautiful on an otherwise normal commute to work?

Happy Friday!

X C X

Brisbane – 5 of my favourite things to do!

c0adf43f7fe3273b0614d550b00e3af6Queensland is huge – in fact, it is nearly five times the size of Japan, seven times the size of Great Britain and two and a half times the size of Texas! I am a proud South-East Queenslander, which in my humble (completely non-bias opinion), is one of Australia’s finest states!

(Image Credit – The Courier Mail – http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/g20-brisbane-sign-returns-for-good/news-story/3a795b6d1d5cc52534f0628ced436334)

Brisbane as the capital of Queensland, is our beautiful river-based city and has a population of 1.977 million, with me being one of its biggest promoters!

I thought I would take a moment to champion this gorgeous pineapple-on-pizza, thongs in winter, cold water showers at midnight in Summer, magpie-ducking, Yatala-pie eating, Straddie loving, cane-toad hating, Ekka-enthusiastic, air-conditioning flogging state of Queensland! Let’s start with Brisbane first :).

Here are five of my favourite things to do in Brisbane and why!

Kangaroo Point CliffsKangaroo Point Cliffs –  look out, photo opportunity and café. If you want one of the most gorgeous views of Brisbane and ‘the Brown’ (Brisbane river), then Kangaroo Point cliffs are just for you! If you are feeling adventurous – you can always try the “KP Stairs”, with the other fitness fanatics. I fondly refer to them as the stairs from hell, 107 steps located at the eastern end of Kangaroo Point Cliffs (head to The Cliffs Café – 29 River Terrace, Kangaroo Point). If you want a different perspective, then head down to Riverlife – address of Naval Stores, Lower River Terrace, Kangaroo Point. (image credit – Image credit – https://www.weekendnotes.com/great-brisbane-walks/).

Mt Coot-thaMt Coot-tha has a view of Brisbane and its sprawling metropolis, not like any other view in the region. It is only 20 minutes from the city centre, and it is quite peaceful and very pretty. Parking can be a bit of a pain, but if you feel like a challenge – you can always park further down the hill and make the walk up. I recommend having at least a beverage at Summit Restaurant & Bar. Sunset would be my bet, or even mid-morning in the cooler months. Head to 1012 Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, Mount Coot-tha. (Image credit: https://www.brisbanelookout.com/).

story_bridge_and_CBDCity Cats of Brisbane – ‘The Brown’ (my beloved Brisbane River) is one of my true loves. I will champion the murky, brown, bull-shark laden Brisbane River until the end of my days. It’s a contentious issue with my NSW Husband, given his local body of water – Sydney Harbour, which of course is pristine and blue; whereas the Brisbane River is brown, can smell at low-tide and is not at all anything like Sydney harbour. But I LOVE it – I love the river. I love living near the river, and one of my favourite things to do is to catch the City Cat. Anywhere from Southbank down to Brett’s Wharf is lovely. There is even the free city hopper (the red ferry) which you can catch from several different stops (North Quay, South Bank 3, Maritime Museum, Thornton Street, Eagle Street Pier, Holman Street, Dockside and Sydney Street terminals). (Image credit http://www.brisbane.com.au/story_bridge.htm).

untitledNew Farm Park – whether it is a picnic, a visit to the Powerhouse, the Jan Power Farmers Markets or fish and chips down by the river, make New Farm Park one of your visits! I love the park, it has a beautiful view of the city, is not too far away from the CBD – can be accessed by the bus or ferry, or even by walking along the Riverwalk or down Brunswick Street. Best time of year in my opinion? September – November, when the Jacaranda trees come alive and you have a beautiful sea of purple flowers to hang out in. Take a Frisbee, picnic blanket, some cheese and drinks, whatever you like, with no cause for concern – as you are able to drink at New Farm Park (one of the few places in public in Brisbane which you can). (Image credit – https://www.weekendnotes.com/new-farm-park/58125/).

SouthBankAriel_20161025_wideSouthbank – I love Southbank. It is so easily accessible and has over 17 hectares of parklands, eateries, gorgeous views of the river and the city and constantly has something on to be a part of. If you wasn’t to go for a swim, visit the man-made salt water aqua pools – free to use and plenty fo space for everyone. There is the Nepalese Pagoda (which we had at World Expo 88) – see if you can spot the rude carvings! My favourite is to walk through the beautiful Arbour – which is more than a km long and is in bloom with gorgeous magenta bougainvillea flowers – perfect photo location! The Wheel of Brisbane is also here – but to be honest, I don’t think you need to spend the $20- the view from the ground is gorgeous. Summer brings the Ben & Jerry’s outdoor cinema and it is also where we have our annual French Festival, Night Noodle Markets and bands/drinks on the weekends. (Image credit – https://www.weekendnotes.com/new-farm-park/58125/).

I could share multiple things I love about Brisbane, however the top five are some of my favourite things to do – if you are ever looking for something to do or see on the weekend (or even after an early mark during the week), I recommend trying any or all of the above!)

x