G’day! I’m coming right at you from the other side of the planet and about 17 hours ahead of you (assuming you are in America reading this). I’m basically in the future hanging out in Australia with The Mister Project. We have been here for just about two weeks and have another two weeks to go. It is definitely an extended adventure, but we decided that if we were going to come this far to see my best friend who lives in Melbourne, we were going to spend some time here and explore. This is much more than just a vacation, this is literally an Australian adventure. We haven’t had much time to relax except when we sleep. We have been on the go, checking off things on our must do and see list, meeting new friends and exploring this insanely beautiful country. Over the course of fourteen days we have seen and done so much and have learned an incredible amount about the land down under. During this time we have explored Melbourne, Tasmania, and Sydney. Today we take off for Byron Bay, Queensland and then Bali before heading home. Below is a bit of what we have experienced here in Oz and a taste of what an adventure it truly is to travel this far and all over the continent. If you like what you are seeing and want to follow our adventure more, follow me on Instagram @themidsis and The Mister Project @anthciancio. Join us as we adventure our way thru Australia!
Tasmania smells like heaven. Once we got on the road and rolled down the windows while driving thru Tasmania we were blown away at the smell of the island. Holy crap! If I could bottle up the scent or create a candle with the yummy, naturey smells of Tasmania, I would make some bucks because the smell of Tasmania is purchase worthy. Think eucalyptus, a bit of fresh rain, pine, burning wood, a little ocean air and copious amounts of fresh air. I think I need to market this immediately.
Sydney is full of surprises. Oh Sydney, how I love thee. Where do I begin with the surprises? Well, let’s start off with the first one I experienced. Now, admittedly this was our fault, but it was still a surprise and quite hilarious. As we were walking up to our AirBNB just as we were about to open the door Anthony says, “Uh, Lauren, I think we have roommates.” And indeed we did! One furry little fella named Barney, two sweet Taiwanese women and of course the owners of the flat. We literally had no idea anyone else, along with a dog, would be there. Note to travelers, triple check the filters you set while setting up your Airbnb, you may just have a furry guest and friends. Now let’s discuss the other surprise Sydney offered while we were visiting. As we ventured out to the Sydney Harbor, unbeknownst to us it was Chinese New Year…which explains the massive amounts of people in the harbor. Ok, forget the crowd, let’s discuss the flying “animals” as they are called. As we were walking thru a small pathway, what resembled a small bird, took off right before my eyes and basically flew AT me. I decided to ignore it, hoping it was just a fluke. Nope. Nope. Nope. No fluke indeed. What I discovered during my first evening in The Rocks area of Sydney is they indeed have….wait for it…gigantic flying….wait for it….cockroaches. Yup. You read that right. They are humongous. And not only do they fly but they scour the street, it’s horrendous if your phobic like myself. Thankfully, after three nights in the rocks I became somewhat used to them. Keyword, somewhat.Avocado and vegemite toast is delicious. Aussies love to experiment and have Americans try their beloved Vegemite. I swear they want to see us Yankees get all squeamish and tell them how much we hate it. However, The Mister Project and I actually LOVED a bit a vegemite underneath a layer of avo on toast. We have some to bring home and it will be a regular in our home.
Wallabies really do cross the road. However, not all make it all the way across the road. All sads aside, there are wallabies everywhere in Tasmania. They are such cute and timid little fellas and often just stop to check you out as much as you’re checking them out. While out on a hike at Dove Lake, the largest one we saw the entire trip decided to join us. He stayed for a few minutes then hopped away, presumably to go home. Everywhere you look, wallabies are hopping about. The more touristy of a location you are in, the more friendly they are. See…?
The fish isn’t fishy. When Nicole orders sushi or fish at a restaurant, she loves to say, “this tastes fishy.” It’s a constant love hate relationship she apparently has with fish and yet orders it often. Oh how she would love Australia’s fish. There is absolutely nothing fishy about it. As a matter of fact, I could barely tell I was eating fish. Don’t get me wrong, I order fish because I like the taste, but there is something so unbelievably delicious about fish from Oz. It literally melts in your mouth and has a flavor of the ocean that is hard to come by in the states.
Milk shakes aren’t what you think. While on the road to see The Twelve Apostles in Victoria we stopped in Lorne for a burger and a beer. Our friend Ray was hankering for a milk shake so he decided to get one after he ate. What he came out of the restaurant with wasn’t your everyday “milk shake”, but bubbly milk flavored with salty caramel. Not only were we all disappointed for him we were thoroughly confused as well. Did it melt after it hit the summer Aussie air? Once Deanna sorted out what it was we were after she said, “ohhhhh you must have wanted a “thick shake!” Ummmm yes, we wanted a shake that was indeed thick, not flavored milk. Lesson learned: if you want a milk shake, order yourself up a thick shake, not a milk shake.
Shoes are optional. I am not entirely sure what this is all about, but we saw a number of people without shoes on. Literally, people walking through the city looking like they were on a a break from work, no shoes. Along the path to The Twelve Apostles, no shoes. Not sure why this struck me as curious, but even my best friend who is from Melbourne found this to be a bit odd as well. City walking equals shoes to me, no matter where it is you’re walking.
Aussie treats are the best treats! Omg, I am utterly obsessed with lamingtons and passion fruit. Lamimgtons are a deliciously, light sponge cake coated in a very semi sweet chocolate of sort and then topped with flakes of coconut. I can barely deal with how delicious this treat is. Now, throw in a little fresh passion fruit and I am in heaven. Basically, I’m easy to please. Wine and some sweets, done.Aussie language is lazy. My best Aussie mate said it not me! Words or places may be spelled one way, but are often pronounced an entirely different way. For instance, “quay” we found out is pronounced “key”. And the town Lorne sounds more like “Laaaawwwn”. Typically I can understand many Aussies, but I had my fair share of run-ins. A bartender gave me the total to two ciders while at Bondi Beach and even after he repeated $17.60 three times, I still needed help from some dude behind me. Help!
Ordering food at bars doesn’t go about the same way as in the states. This one took some getting used to. Contrary to going to a bar in Chicago or the majority of US cities for that matter, at Melbourne and Sydney bars, you find a table, a server walks around to check up on you, but you don’t actually order anything from them. You get up, go to the bar, order and pay for what you want then go back to your table. It’s not a bad thing, but if you don’t realize it, you may be sitting at the table drink-less for quite sometime before wetting the whistle.
French fries are chippies. And Australians love their chippies! These delicious snacks are for when you are perhaps feeling “peckish” and are thicker than your average American French frie. Dip them in some mayo and ketchup and you will be delighted!
People still hitchhike. I was surprised by this and saw it mainly in Tasmania. Perhaps the whole Ted Bundy picking up hitchhikers left a bad taste in my mouth. Travel safe Tasmanians!
Your best friend’s Italian family is just like yours, especially her dad. There is something so truly magical about having your best friend live on the other side of the planet. Now, throw in the fact that she, too, comes from a big Italian family and everything falls into place so naturally. One of the warmest feelings a traveler can feel is the love from another’s family and they want to see you. The feeling is incredibly mutual. We were so fortunate to share several meals with my best friend’s family. And when I say meals, I mean huge, delicious, beautiful homemade meals accompanied with copious amounts of unforgettable wines and ports. Although a world away, we fit in so naturally and feel the love from her family and it is the exact same way when Deanna comes to visit. Family and friends call and text and truly want to visit and spend time together. I will never forget the evenings and brunch spent with her family. I like to think they are the Aussie family I always wanted. It can’t go without saying that her dad is so similar to my father. Italian, hard-working, protective, kind and funny. It’s no wonder our fathers let us visit each other without ever meeting one another….they don’t know it, but they are basically the exact same person, just on different sides of the planet.
Sushi hand rolls are sold street side and should be done so all over the world. Oh, the sushi rolls! Now I’m not talking your average sushi rolls you get in a restaurant. Think more of a roll before it’s been cut, about five inches long and the width of a regular roll. There are tons of options and they are delicious for an adventurer on the go. This is my type of “fast food”. I would really love for Chicago to engage in this idea.
Koalas, kangaroos, and emus oh my! You really can meet and pet indigenous animals in Australia. Feeding kangaroos at the Bonorong Animal Sanctuary are possibly The Mister Project’s favorite part of the trip thus far. Did you know that koalas literally do nothing all day except eat eucalyptus leaves and have poor health because they literally hang out in trees all day long and eat leaves that have barely any nutrients? Or that a Tasmanian devil will not kill you because they are scavengers but if you are dying on the side of the road, they will eat you? So much to learn and so many animals to see and meet.
Public transportation isn’t as easy as it seems in Sydney. There are several aspects that can be confusing for a newbie in town looking to get around on the city’s wonderful public transportation system. As convenient as Sydney’s systems are, they can be a little tricky to manage at first. For instance, when we asked the teller how often the ferry to Manly Beach leaves the wharf we were told every quarter after and quarter to each hour. Funny because we were at the ferry early one time and the boat left the dock at 8:05pm sharp! When it came to purchasing bus tickets, we had a hard time locating a kiosk which sold them. We were able to find a spot to find ferry and train tickets but not so much bus passes. Somehow we sorted out that if you do not have the city’s Opal card, you can buy them at local convenience stores. Once all of that is sorted out, getting around Sydney on their transportation systems is “magic”…my new Aussie term for anything amazing!
Hiking in Tasmania is perfection. The Mister Project and I hiked around Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain and then to and from Wineglass Bay in Freycinet. These two experiences were nothing short of extraordinary. The smells of nature, the sights, wildlife, endurance…every aspect of both hikes were unforgettable. The hike around Dove Lake was like something out of Fern Gully. The trees were massive and filled with texture and various colors. If you make it to Tasmania, Wineglass Bay is a definite must! The hike in total took about 2.5-3 hours and offered more challenges than Dove Lake, which we both loved. The view of the beach is incredible! It is worth the extra hour to hike to it and hang out on the sand and play in the waves. I would do it again tomorrow.
The coffee culture in Melbourne and Sydney is to die for. While we have been here I have seen two, I repeat two, Starbucks. It is so refreshing to sip on crafty, properly made coffee beverages. From flat whites, Italian style cappuccinos or iced long blacks, Australia’s coffee shops have you covered.Aussies know how to travel. You may or may not already know this, but Aussies take traveling very seriously. So serious in fact that many, if not most, receive one month off of work to travel and see the world. Can anyone tell me why the USA only gives many of us a measly ten days? How will we ever see the world like that? One of the best perks of being a yoga instructor…sub your classes and pack your bags for a month. You may be a little broke in the bank account department upon your return, but certainly not in the seeing the world department. Namaste to that.
There are surprises everywhere you look. The best part of an adventure is seeing things you didn’t expect to see. We were on our way to The Twelve Apostles when we came about this beach of stacked rocks. This may sound like a silly thing to be impressed by, but it was by far one of these coolest things I have ever seen in my life. We all built our own rock stack and since it was so naturally zen, we took a few minutes to meditate and soak up some good vibes.The same goes for Sydney’s Opera House. No words needed.There is a hipster part of Melbourne and it is amazing. If you like the Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Bucktown neighborhoods of Chicago then you will fall in love with the Fitzroy neighborhood in Melbourne. It is filled with excellent shopping, especially thrift stores, super funky bars, coffee shops and amazing little restaurants. The highlights of our days spent there were Grub Van, Naked for Satan, Catfish, and our favorite…George Bar. An entire bar paying homage to George Costanza. Yup, an entire bar.Some Aussies really love American sports. The Mister Project was so excited to watch the Super Bowl on Monday morning in Sydney. We assumed we would meet a ton of Americans who were doing what we were doing. Perhaps there were some there, but what we found were some awesome Aussies who shared their love of American sports (primarily football, of course) and traveling. It was such a pleasure hanging out with some cool ass, funny dudes who gave us some great Sydney tips and a solid heads up to some of the big ass bugs we may meet while in Queensland. One even suggested I shower with a tennis racket just in case I meet any huntsman spiders while cleaning up. See what I mean? Aussies love their sports! PS. Pray for me. We are loving the land from down under! Can’t wait to share the rest of our Aussie adventure with you!
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