A Sparkle City

Friday, March 30, 2012

Yep, you guessed it...SYDNEY is the Sparkle City! At least in my opinion. There are many reasons why I say this...the people, the sun, the pristine beaches and scenery and their amazing fireworks! The 1st day in Sydney, we just walked around to all the sites. The city is breathtaking. Water everywhere, it's so green and the people are incredibly friendly.
A good friend of ours that lived in Australia for a couple years highly recommended a beach walk from Bondi beach to Coogee beach. Wow...AMAZING...thanks for the great recommendation Jen! As you can see from the pictures above...the water was so blue and the flowers were in full bloom. You literally hit one beach after another and each beach had people playing in the water and sunbathing on the sand. One of our favorite things about Sydney was how much people enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of the gorgeous weather. We stopped a few times on the walk to enjoy a beer and the beautiful views. We even saw an outdoor bowling field. How great is this?! Sorry...it's a little blurry...
It was Christmas time and it was nice to see Sydney does some decorating for the holidays. The stores were packed with last minute shoppers and we even heard some Christmas tunes every now and then. It felt a little like home.
The next day we took the ferry to Manly beach. It was a bit cloudy, but still beautiful. Everyone was in bathing suits and sunglasses...ignoring the sprinkles and clouds in the sky. It's a fun, laid-back beach town where surfing is the main sport. B was so excited to surf, but, unfortunately, the weather brought in a large swell...a little too large to surf. The lifeguards weren't even letting people swim. This is one thing we really wanted to do in Australia, but did not have the opportunity this time around. We hope to head to Byron Bay in the future, where B will FINALLY get to surf in Australia! We did get to enjoy some delicious drinks at Hemingway's in Manly.
For all those blogger friends that live in Australia...I don't know how you do it...food is expensive! Literally, meals are twice as much as they are in the states. We waited too long to find out the secret...eat at pubs! The food is delicious and cheap. We ate on the rooftop of the Glenmore Hotel and we had an incredible meal and an incredible view for quite a steal!
On our 3rd day, we took a trip to the Blue Mountains. This trip turned out much better than we could have imagined! We 1st stopped at a wildlife park where we got to see all kinds of animals and feed kangaroos.
On our ride to the Blue Mountains, we enjoyed seeing some of the suburbs of Sydney and listening to all kinds of history and facts about Sydney from our tour guide. Once again, it was a little cloudy, but the views were still beautiful! We took a gondola ride and saw The Three Sisters and many beautiful waterfalls.
The Three Sisters   

Now for the most spectacular part of our time in Sparkle City...NYE 2011! We met back up with our good friends Nick and Hil to celebrate New Years. When we arrived in Sydney on New Years Eve the City was crazy...people everywhere, so excited to celebrate the start of 2012! We had booked a boat on the harbour and this was the best decision ever. We had front row seats...on the water...for the entire evening. We got on the boat and had champagne and appetizers. Then, a buffet dinner and desserts were served. We met fun people from all over the world and to say the firework displays were amazing is an understatement. There were 2 shows and we were right there for both! As soon as I thought the show might be ending...a hundred more fireworks would light up the sky with all colors of the rainbow. It was beautiful and something that B, Nick, Hil and I will never forget. If you want something to add to your bucket list...add this!
Hopefully, this gives you a glimpse of why Sydney is the Sparkle City! For all of you that live in Sydney...I'm jealous! It's incredible and I can't wait to visit again one day!!

This is sadly the end of our Australian/New Zealand adventure, but we will venture to both places again...without a doubt!

Once one adventure ends...another begins. While we were in Australia, we found out I was pregnant with our first baby! Yes...we are going to be parents in early fall. It's hard to believe and we've called it "Joey" ever since we found out....since we found out in Australia. It's time for that name to retire because we are having a baby GIRL! However, I will be thrilled if she comes out with an Australian accent...haha...I kid!

Have a great weekend!!

Australia: Port Douglas

Monday, March 26, 2012

We headed to Sydney after Queenstown, but I'm going to come back to Sydney since we ended there as well. After a few days in Sydney, we went to Port Douglas, Australia which is on the Great Barrier Reef. Wow, what different climate. It was hot & humid! Port Douglas is such a cute little town with great food, coffee shops and boutiques! Here is a picture of the surroundings in Port Douglas...just beautiful!
The first night we arrived we did a sunset sail for B's birthday. Unfortunately, the weather was not great...it rained on us a lot, but we were able to see beautiful parts of the island and being on a sailboat is always fun. We met some great people...even met an American from Florida who came to work in Australia and was doing everything she could to stay and I can see why!
The water was so clear!
The next day we just walked around town and enjoyed ourselves. The locals were so kind! I didn't get any pictures of town...sorry!

Our next adventure was a day trip out to the great barrier reef on Aquarias. It was so much fun and more than we could have ever imagined! The boat trip out there was beautiful, the food was delicious, the people were great, etc, etc. Once we stopped the boat on the reef, we had to suit up. Yes, we had to wear jelly suits. During the summer in Port Douglas, there are tiny jellies that can sting you, so you wear the suit to protect yourself from stings. Can you believe I still got in after hearing this?? There was a gorgeous, small island that we swam to, where we could walk around and layout. We snorkeled and we event fed and swam with sharks! eeeekkkk..I know! They weren't big by any means, but I still pat myself on the back for getting in the water with any type of shark.

It was an amazing experience and one we will never forget! You must visit the Great Barrier Reef if you ever go to Australia...it's pretty incredible!

On to our Sydney adventures next...

Happy Monday!

It's been TOO long!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wow, I have really missed you! I can't believe how long it's been since I've blogged. I've been keeping up with your blogs and it is always a highlight in my day, so THANK YOU for your consistency..

I don't have much of an excuse for not blogging, but I got off track around Christmas. B and I took an amazing trip to New Zealand and Australia. I follow quite of few blogs that are located in these places and, boy, do you all live the good life! Your countries are BEAUTIFUL! My favorite thing about both countries is how kind the people are. I live in the South in the United States and you always hear about southern hospitality...well, you take southern hospitality to a whole new level! Everyone is cheerful, says "hello" on the streets, offers directions and ideas on what to do and see. It was the most warm and welcoming place I have ever visited.

We took A LOT of pictures on our trip, so I'm just going to share some highlights. I'll share New Zealand with you 1st and then Australia another day (I promise it won't be months!). We began our trip in Queenstown, NZ. What a gem of a town! It's a ski town in the winter and a place for all things outdoors in the summer. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery and a beautiful/quaint town that sits on Lake Wakatipu. I must go back one day!

Flying into Queenstown was incredible. You fly right over the Milford Sound and it is an indescribable view. Then, once you get to the main square in Queenstown, you have more amazing views. The water, mountains, trees, many cute restaurants with huge decks...all breath-taking!

B booked a fly fishing trip with Chris Dore while in Queenstown. We drove about an hour out of Queenstown to a small, yet beautiful town called Glenorchy. Chris was incredible and shared so much information about New Zealand and the South Island. We drove past incredible scenery and watched as many people enjoyed the outside by splashing in the water or taking part in one of the many activities the South Island has to offer. Once we arrived at the river the first thing that struck me was the incredibly clear water. You could see all the way to the bottom. New Zealand has done an impeccable job of preserving their land, water, air, etc. Every breath you take you know it's fresh air and the water is 99% pure. The fishing trip was so much fun. It's difficult fishing because it's sight fishing. We would hunt the fish down first and then you have to be very sneaky and quiet and get in a spot where you can cast the fly near the fish without startling it. B got pretty good at this...I, on the other hand, was not so good. It was a fun learning experience and, again, I can't say enough about the beautiful surroundings.

We (When I say "we", I mean B) caught a brown trout! It was a nice size, but not their biggest by far. This fishing excursion was definitely a highlight of our trip!

We also got to enjoy the river on a jet boat! Jet boating is one of Queenstown's many outdoor activities. This part of the river is very shallow, but wide and the boat takes you on a fast, fun ride. It was a great way to see more of the beautiful surroundings and the river. It was overall great time! On this trip, we were in Glenorchy again and we stopped to see areas where many famous movies had been filmed including Lord of the Rings.

On one of our last days in Queenstown, we went on a wine tour. I had no idea how incredible New Zealand wines were...especially their Pinot Noir! They don't ship many bottles to the US, so the only way to get them is to order them directly from the winery. We had a delicious lunch at one of the beautiful vineyards and below was our view while we ate. Not too shabby :)...
We left Queenstown on Christmas Day, but we had a lovely Christmas Eve before we headed out. We ate a delicious dinner at Captain's and then went to a carol Christmas Eve service at the local Anglican church. It was beautiful. People from all over the world joined in to sing carols we all knew. It was a very special Christmas memory. The picture of the Christmas tree below was taken at the Rees Hotel where we stayed. I would highly recommend this hotel. The staff was great and views of Lake Wakatipu are breathtaking.
On Christmas Day, we met up with our good friends Nick and Hilary who just arrived in Queenstown, caught up on our adventures, ate a delicious Christmas pizza and then headed to Sydney, Australia!

It's good to be back in the blog world. I'll carry on with our Australian adventures next week. Have a great weekend!