My Adventures Around Australia Part 3: Sydney

WARNING: another LONG post ahead.

Save the best for last is what they say.  Well, I finally got around to writing the last post of this series, and let me tell you - these adventures were definitely the best!  (If you missed parts 1 & 2, click here and here.)

Sydney was a BLAST!  I had SO much fun.  It was absolutely spectacular to be in a place you really only see on television and in movies.  It was surreal.  The Opera House was just stunning and the Sydney Harbor Bridge was breathtaking (more on those later). 

I was fortunate enough to stay in a hotel that was RIGHT in the middle of downtown where all the action was.  I arrived on a Saturday morning and immediately started touring the city.  There was some type of art and music festival that was happening on all the side streets, so I walked around and looked at vendors of various crafts, got some good food (real shrimp on the barbie =P) and refrained from buying everything Australian that I laid my eyes on.   I walked down to the harbor and saw the bridge which I was going to climb the next day.  Saw the opera house, crashed a few weddings, and got sunburned because I'm ridiculously pale and forgot to pack my sunscreen for the walk.  Okay, now onto the fun stuff...

The Sydney Harbor Bridgeclimb

This had to have been one of the most spectacular birthdays I've had in a long time.  I got to spend it climbing the Sydney Harbor bridge.  My parents are incredible and got me a ticket for the bridge climb as a birthday present (THANK YOU Mom & Dad - I know you're reading this!). Not only was it a birthday present, but the climb was on my actual birthday!  The climb was at 10:05am and started with a whole host of preparedness lessons and legal documentation.  We then changed into these comfy and oh-so-flattering jumpsuits (you'll see), and went through a ton of set up procedures: putting on the climbing harness, attaching the headphones and radio so we could hear the climb leader, getting caps and towels attached to the jumpsuit, etc.  Once all that was on, we did a practice "climb" to learn how to use the belt attachment that hooks you onto the guide wire that we were attached to during the climb.  And then, we were on our way!  

We started at the base, underneath where the actual roadway was, and got a nice view of downtown Sydney while cars were buzzing above us.  The ladders we had to climb were a little scary, especially because they came up right in the middle of the roadway, so the only barrier between you and a ton of metal on wheels was a small cage-like wall.  Eeek!  Once we got passed all that though, we were on top of the bridge base and ready to make our ascent.  Below is a picture of the route we took, outlined in red. 

The Bridgeclimb route  |  Photo Credit: www.bridgeclimb.com

The day was gorgeous, but also VERY hot since there was hardly any wind (unusual I guess).  So we started walking up the pretty shallow steps which got steeper and steeper (that's a picture of me at the base of the bridge before we started the real climb).  During the walk up, the climb leader was telling us all about the history of the bridge, how it was built, and little fun facts about the climbers.  (Here's a little history of the bridge itself.)

Let me say it was absolutely BREATHTAKING to be on top of one of the world's most iconic bridges, and to be able to look down on yet another iconic sight, the Sydney Opera House, was out of this world.  Those are really only places I saw in movies and TV shows - I never once thought I'd be seeing them in person!  

We continued to climb until we reached the top, and then we just stood, in awe of the city, taking in the scenery.  We got to make a small video to send to friends and family back home (I won't show it here, but it was fun).  Once everyone did that, we climbed down the other side of the bridge.  The descent was just as fun as the climb up, and somewhat more nerve-racking because we were climbing down through the traffic and trains.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you choose to see it), the train passed by after I had already climbed down that particular ladder, so I wasn't able to wave to the passengers =P.  Once we got to the bottom, we took off all our gear, filled out a survey and then got our pictures printed.  It was absolutely the most adventurous thing I've done in a LONG time, and certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will NEVER forget!

The rest of the trip (in pictures):

I'll let the rest of the trip speak for itself in pictures (with captions), 'cause I know that's what you really want to see. :)  (Excuse the blurry-ness of some of these pictures - my phone's camera isn't the best...)

MANLY BEACH & MY BIRTHDAY CONTINUED

THE OPERA HOUSE

This was SUCH a sight to see!  You never really appreciate the scale of things until you're right up close and personal.  Not to mention, I mean, c'mon - the only time I've ever seen the Opera House was in movies or on TV.  It was surreal to be right up next to it IN PERSON.  (The picture on the right in the second row is of me standing on the steps leading up to the main entrance.  That little tiny (and blurry) blob in the center is me... plus some raindrops.)

FOOD!  GLORIOUS, FRESH FOOD!

In Adelaide, there really wasn't much fresh food available besides at the grocery store, so needless to say, I ate a lot of burgers (and fries), tacos, pastries, you name it.  So once we got to Sydney, it was SUCH a welcome change to have fresh, made-to-order salads, cured meats, seafood, veggies, etc.  I don't think I've ever had a dinner that tasted THAT fresh and delicious before!

 

THE END

And that pretty much wraps up my trip to Australia!  It was a whirlwind of a trip filled with SO many new experiences that I will never forget.  I'm thankful I was able to go "down under" and it's something I would absolutely do again in a heartbeat.   I'll leave you with a pretty cool video snippet I took of a didgeridoo performance in Circular Quay that resembled electronica (I LOVE techno, so of course I had to capture it).  Note:  The video isn't great - more for the sound than anything. Enjoy!

A little snippet of a performance right in Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney. I love techno music, so this was amazing!

Have you ever been to Australia??  If so, what part(s)?  If not, is it somewhere you'd like to visit?  Comment below - I'd love to hear your stories!!


My Adventures Around Australia Part 2: Kangaroo Island

Warning: LONG post ahead...

Welcome to part 2 of my Australia Adventure series!  Part 2 is all about Kangaroo Island - an amazing little island off the coast of South Australia that's full of wildlife, nature, and breathtaking views.  To give you an idea of where it is in relation to the rest of Australia...

Okay. So, Kangaroo Island (KI for short) is in South Australia, pretty much off the coast of Adelaide, which is where the main part of my trip took place.  We were very close to it!  The second map shows the general path of the tour bus, outlined in red, that took us from Penneshaw (far right tip of the island) to all the main tourist attractions.

The tour we went on was an all-day event starting at 6:45am and going until about 10:30pm.  So I set my alarm the night before for 5:45, and snoozed until 6am thinking I had another 45 minutes to get ready.  Well, I got a call at 6:15 saying our bus was downstairs and waiting.  Um, what?!  Needless to say I scrambled, didn't have time for anything other than throwing on some clothes and heading out the door.  That was a wonderful start to the day, but despite that I was really looking forward to the trip.  We took a bus from Adelaide down to Cape Jervis where we got on a ferry which took us to the island.  The ferry ride was a little wavy and took some concentrating not to get queasy, but I managed.  Straight off the ferry and onto the tour bus we went!  We had 4 main tourist stops along the way: Seal Bay, the Koala Walk, the Remarkable Rocks, and Admiral's Arch.  Keep reading for details about each! (Pictures are at the very end...)

TOURIST STOP 1 | SEAL BAY

Well it's obvious that we saw seals so I won't bore you with that detail.  I bet you might think seals are lazy creatures just lounging on the beach all day sunning themselves.  Yes?  Well I'll tell you they're not!  In fact, far from it.  According to our tour guide, once the female seal gives birth, she swims out to sea as far as 150km to dive for food.  Not terrible you might say, but get this: she dives for 3 days.  Straight.  That's 72 hours of non-stop diving to collect food, coming back up to the surface, and then diving back down again to collect more food for her pups.  Not to mention the long swim back to shore - I'd be utterly exhausted after that!  No wonder they sleep for so long!

TOURIST STOP 2 | KOALA WALK

This one was fun!  There was a little nature preserve filled with paths of trees where you could walk through like you were in a forest and look for koalas.  They were there, hiding in the nooks of tree branches just chillin', eating their eucalyptus and generally enjoying life.  Though I'm not sure they really enjoyed us pestering them with flashes of cameras, poor little guys.

TOURIST STOP 3 | REMARKABLE ROCKS (my favorite!)

Okay, this had to be THE coolest tourist attraction on KI that we saw.   The rocks, not kidding, looked FAKE right up until you actually touched them.  It was AMAZING.  The funny part was that these rocks were basically a cliff on one side, being on the edge of the ocean, and there wasn't a barrier to protect people from falling.  Our tour guide explicitly told us to be careful and use our own judgement: "Okay people.  There's no barrier between the rocks and the ocean.  People have fallen.  Use your judgement and don't be stupid."  Hah, okay... use common sense.  Got it.  In America, that's a lawsuit waiting to happen!  Anyway, these rocks were just stunning.  See the pictures below in the album.  The views, the scale of the rocks... you don't appreciate any of that until you're right up next to them.  I mean, jeez, some look like CAVES once you see how gargantuan they are with a person next to them!  They're 500 million years old (yes, that's true) and they're all granite boulders that have been cut, chipped, or otherwise carved purely by nature.  Breathtaking and truly remarkable, I'd say.

TOURIST STOP 4 | ADMIRAL'S ARCH (What? There's an "arch" down here?) 

Okay, for some reason this attraction wasn't too impressive to me, but it was still neat to see.  However, I wasn't too sure what we were supposed to be looking for when we were walking down to it.  An arch, you say?  Well, maybe that island over there could be considered an arch, but umm... not really.  We kept walking down these boardwalk paths getting closer and closer to the ocean, seeing sea lions and other animals along the way, and still no arch.  "Where IS this thing?!"  Didn't help that I think I missed the tour guide's explanation of what we were looking for and what the thing was.  Finally we walked down a few flights of stairs and turned a corner and there was the arch.  It's a pretty sight, especially when the sun is shining.  The archway itself was carved out all by the sea and wind - no man-made tourist attractions here!  Though I'm not too sure where the Admiral comes in...

PICTURES!


And that about sums up my trip to Kangaroo Island!  Once done at Admiral's Arch, we made our way back to the ferry, and then to the bus, which took us back to Adelaide.  We didn't get back to the hotel until about 10:30pm, and my god I was tired.  But the trip was worth every minute - a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 (the best part) of this series - my adventures in SYDNEY!!  You'll hear about how I spent my birthday on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, how we went to the "manliest" of beaches, got a sunburn, toured the Opera House in the rain, and much more.  Hope you are enjoying this series!  Until next time, stay happy and healthy!

My Adventures Around Australia - Part 1: Adelaide

As most of you know...

AustraliaHeadingPart1-01.png

... I traveled to Australia a few weeks ago for my full-time job, and boy it was a BLAST!  I have so much to share that I'm breaking this up into 3 different posts.  I'm not too sure where to begin the first one except at the very start, so here it goes.  (Warning: LONG post ahead!)

I traveled to Adelaide, South Australia for some training we were doing at the University of South Australia Centre for Sleep Research.  It was such a privilege to be able to travel halfway across the world for work!  I was nervous to go overseas because I'd never done so before - I wasn't sure how customs/immigration worked, nor did I know what the heck I was getting into with the time difference!  (It all worked out, though.)

1} WHAT TO PACK?

The first thing that crossed my mind was what to pack (of course - what girl doesn't think that??)!  It was challenging since I was going from below freezing temps to the dead of summer and back again.  I was also concerned about getting my workouts in while I was away (more on that later).  So here's what I packed in my carry-on to help:

   DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands listed here.  I am not compensated for this post - This is just a compilation of products that I use on a regular basis purchased by myself.

 

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands listed here.  I am not compensated for this post - This is just a compilation of products that I use on a regular basis purchased by myself.

1 | Lululemon Post-Practice Cardi - one of the best for traveling! A warm, cozy, cotton cardigan that's roomy, has pockets, and covers your butt.  Perfect.

2 | Resistance Band Set - I brought these with every intention of using them (and didn't), but still glad I had them in case a hotel room workout was in the cards (it wasn't).

3 | Nike Flyknit Lunar 2 running sneakers - sneakers are a must-have for walking around the airport.  These ones support my feet nicely and are quite colorful, which I'm all about.

4 | Thermos water bottle - I like to bring a reusable water bottle on my trips so I can stay hydrated and save money.

5 | Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf - this scarf is amazing!  You can wear it SO many ways, and it also serves as a blanket for those chilly airplane flights.

2} GETTING THERE AND EXPLORING:

Okay, now for the good parts.  The flights took FOREVER, but once I made it to Adelaide, it was beautiful.  It's summertime there, and the skies were bright blue with the sun sparkling down on the sidewalks.  I was there for work mostly, so that took up a lot of the weekdays, but on the weekends we went to some beautiful wineries, toured gorgeous gardens, and saw what the city had to offer.  The University campus was absolutely beautiful and the walk to and from was nice.  They had a gym that I fully intended on using often, but only did once at the very end of the trip (oops).  I'm not beating myself up over it though (more details below).  We played pub trivia one night and won second place (and went back the next week only to get fourth -- bummer); we took a stroll through the botanical gardens on our way to the National Wine Center; tasted some Australian spirits (can you sense a theme here?); and just had a great time being in a different country halfway across the world.

3} MY FITNESS UPKEEP (or lack thereof) & MEAL PLANNING:

Alright.  I'll be honest with you.  I didn't really keep up with my workouts as much as I intended to while I was away.  You know those bands that I packed in my suitcase?  Didn't pull them out once.  Thought about it, but thinking about working out doesn't count.  Those sneakers?  Only got worn in the airports and once more when I went to the University gym.  Speaking of that gym, I fully intended on going at least a few times a week, you know, for maintenance workouts.  Well, I went once.  At the end of the trip.  Oops.  It DID feel great, and for that reason I wish I'd gone more, but I'm not beating myself up over it at all.  I can work out at home anytime I want - when am I ever in Australia?!  That's right - never.  

So, what did I do about the fact that I wasn't working out?  I tried to eat as healthy as I could.  Sure, there were the occasional burgers and fries (or as they call them, "chips"), but overall I tried to stick to low-fat foods full of protein.  Salads were a rare sight unless you made your own, so leafy greens weren't exactly eaten as much as they are when I'm home.  What did I have?  I bought bananas, apples, greek yogurts (luckily I had a mini fridge in my hotel room), some bread and peanut butter, eggs to cook in the microwave, and some prepackaged meals with the least amount of sodium possible.  When we went out to eat, I tried to choose dishes with chicken or fish for some protein and got a side salad with almost everything.  It certainly wasn't my ideal diet by any means, but that's okay.

Let this serve as a reminder to you as well - don't beat yourself up over not being perfectly on track.  No one can maintain a perfect diet or workout regimen 100% of the time.  So now that I'm back, I'm eating healthy again, cooking my own meals, and getting back on track with my workouts (and teaching classes!).  I do notice a change in my endurance and strength, but I know I'll get that back eventually.  You will too!

4} PICTURES!

Okay, I'll shut up now and let you look at the pictures!  There will be lots more where these came from in parts 2 & 3 of this series, along with some other awesome adventures that I'm counting toward staying active while on the trip.  Enjoy! 

5} HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELED TO AUSTRALIA OR SOMEWHERE ELSE ABROAD?

Where?  How did you stay healthy while traveling?  I'd love to hear your adventure stories too!  Leave a comment and tell me all about it!  Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this series - my adventures around Kangaroo Island!  Until then, have a happy and healthy week ahead.