Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains!

Sunday morning was an early one, that felt especially early after such a crappy sleep the night before in the hostel room from hell. I was meeting up with a tour group, that I had booked through viator.com, at a hotel nearby the hostel at 7:30am. The tour was doing the Blue Mountains and Featherdale Wildlife Park.

After picking everyone up from the various hotels we headed out, it was about a 2 hour drive, which honestly I was pretty thankful for because it gave me a quick chance to nap! Our first chance to view the Blue Mountains and the famous Three Sisters was from the Echo Point viewpoint. It was such a gorgeous day although a little bit chilly up in the mountains. The views were amazing from there but it was so much better once we made it over to Scenic World, just a few minutes up the road.

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Scenic World has a few different rides and a whole bunch of walking trails. To get over to the actual park you take a tram over a super deep valley and then head down the worlds steepest railway to get down to the trails. The railway was at a 52 degree grade, so while you rode down you’re basically laying all the way flat, it was super cool. I spent about an hour walking around and just enjoying the boardwalks that they have set up. It was sort of a rainforest environment, which was a little weird with how cold it was out. It was a great time and I’d recommend it, I loved walking around there.

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Little glimpse of the steepest railway in the world!

After Scenic World we headed to the small town of Leura for a quick lunch and then it was time to head out for another hour bus ride to Featherdale Wildlife Park. I wasn’t even really sure what this was including, just was an add on to the Blue Mountains tour, but it was totally the highlight of my day! It was a fairly small park, but had so many of my new favourite animal…the koala! They even had a little spot set up where you could pet one of them, I thought I was going to cry honestly. Sounds cheesy…but they are so adorable and just look like the cuddliest animals ever. I would tell everyone to try and hit up this place, they focus on Australian animals and I really got the feeling that they focus a lot on rehabilitation and really care for the animals they have.

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Basically the highlight of my trip so far!!

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One more hour and it was back to the hostel. I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to book another tour with AAT Kings, which is what the Viator ended up being. The guide was great and you had a good amount of time at each of the spots, which I know of some tours I’ve felt rushed or ended up bored when you have a ton of time at an attraction that doesn’t need that much time.

What’s the best tour you’ve ever done? Have you been to the Blue Mountains before?

Sydney Solo Selfie

Downsides of Solo Travel

I’ve ended up spending quite a bit of time alone so far on this trip. I think that while travel can seem exciting and fun and it is those things, it can also be boring, nerve-wracking, and sometimes just plain lonely.

I think the upsides of travel go without saying, seeing new places, meeting people, trying new things, everyone knows all about that. The stuff that isn’t so much talked about are the not so fun parts, when you’ve been doing the solo travel thing for what feels like forever, the days that things always seem to go wrong, times when you end up spending way more money than you thought, or just missing the comforts of home.

  1. 99% of your photos end up as selfies, case in point the top photo. You want to get the monument or attraction your seeing but you also want to be in the photo, like “Hello, I paid a million dollars to get to “blank attraction” I’m definitely going to prove I was there”. Of course sometimes there are people around you can ask to take the photo for you, but sometimes that’s awkward or they’re busy taking group photos with the people that they’re traveling with…cos apparently not everyone in the world is a solo loser by themselves. (Not that being by yourself makes you a loser, but sometimes it can certainly feel like it.)
  2. Sometimes it can be a little scary. Being in a taxi by yourself in a foreign country you’ve never been before while crossing your fingers that the driver isn’t a homicidal maniac who is not taking you to your hotel but to some back alley to turn your death into some local news headline, isn’t that fun. At least if you’re with someone else you can preplan your attack on crazy men before you get into the cab, 2 against 1 is way better odds. Even walking places by yourself can be a scary sometimes, especially if you have a slightly overactive imagination like I do. Knowing there’s someone else there, or someone expecting you to arrive at a certain time can really lower the fear factor.
  3. It is way more expensive! When you’re traveling with someone else most of the big costs are cut in half, or more if you’re with a group. When you’re solo that whole hotel bill is yours, even that room service wine you’re totally sure you didn’t drink.
  4. Just being plain lonely. I like meeting new people as much as the next person, maybe even more, but sometimes you just get lonely. Missing people at home that it’s easy to talk to, missing your family and pets. Sometimes I don’t want to have to make small talk for half an hour before having a real conversation, I just want to talk.
    Another lonely moment, going out to eat. Let’s be real, it might be a nice treat every so often at home to go out solo, but eating every meal of the day by yourself and at a restaurant while traveling is super lame. If I never have to say the words “Just for one” to a restaurant hostess again, I’ll be happy. The only redeeming thing is that now with so much technology it is usually fairly easy to catch someone on Facetime or just chat with them if you’re having a down day.
  5. Finally whether you’re having fun or not, it’s all down to you. When you have a travel partner or group there are people to bounce ideas off of or suggest activities for the day. When you’re solo, that’s all on you. All the research and planning and decisions are yours alone. This can be both good and bad, you never have to compromise on what you feel like doing during the day, but as someone who hates making decisions sometimes it can be exhausting.

Regardless of all this, solo travel has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve done my best enjoy everything and do all the things in each place I’ve been, not letting being alone stop me. I’ve met new people who have been so welcoming and friendly it does feel like I have a group of friends on this side of the ocean.

When I’ve had a bit of a down day, which I have at home too obviously, I’ve just made more of a conscious effort to get in touch with people at home, reminding myself that even if I’m lonely at that moment I do actually have lots of friends and family. Plus I have the opportunity right now to do whatever I want to do, go wherever I want to go and just spend the time really figuring out with I want, not a lot of people get that chance.

Sydney Opera House

Welcome to Sydney!

After 3 weeks in Bali I made it back to Australia, this time flying straight to Sydney. The flight from Denpasar, Bali left at 1am and was a super quick 5 hours to Sydney. It was supposed to be 6 hours I think so we must have had a super strong tailwind. When I booked my ticket last time I paid a little bit extra to be able to change it and this also gave me an upgraded seat into the “Quiet Zone” on Air Asia. I’m so glad that I was in that area because I had a row to myself again and the lights were off for the whole flight, whereas the rest of the plane had the lights on, which I didn’t really understand on a red eye flight. I was able to get a couple of hours of rest which I really appreciated.

Since we arrived in Sydney at around 9:30am by the time that we actually go into the city we couldn’t check into the hostel. So Ollie and I decided to push the limits on our energy and head out for a walk. It did help that it was a gorgeous sunny day. Our hostel is super centrally located in Darling Harbour so it was an easy walk down to the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Once we finally got tuckered out we headed back to hostel to just kill sometime before being able to check in, when I promptly headed for a nap. Since it was Friday and there is a bar attached to the hostel it was a busy night and I definitely enjoyed having a couple glasses of wine before finally heading to bed…longest two days ever.

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First glance of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Saturday was a pretty quiet day. I decided after dinner to take a walk down to the Opera House, wanting to see it lit up at night. What I totally forgot about was that the Vivid Sydney festival was happening and it was BUSY down there. They had majority of the roads closed off on the way to vehicles and it was just full of people everywhere. It was worth it though, the Opera House and the bridge and various other buildings were lit up like crazy with all sorts of moving light art. I spent quite a while just walking around enjoying it with my first Starbucks Chai since I’ve left Canada…do you know how hard it is to find a Starbucks in Australia?!

Saturday night I was put into a different room in the hostel and let me tell you, not the best experience I’ve had. Honestly probably one of the worst nights sleep ever, the room was disgusting and the drunk people clearly didn’t have to much respect for the other people in the room trying to SLEEP. Thankfully I’m not in that room anymore…

With a tour booked for Sunday it was overall a fantastic first weekend in Sydney!