After 2 years and a pandemic, I finally found the time to write about my trip to Australia!
I started this blog almost 3 years ago and I’ve barely had time to write, I was busy with school and going through some changes! I live ( temporarily) in the United States now and life has been so different.
For those who don’t know me, 2 years ago I traveled to Australia to visit one of my best friends! I met Lauren while I was road tripping in the United States and we’ve been friends ever since! This is the first time in 3 years we don’t get to see each other!
I was originally supposed to leave in February 2018 but I suffered from kidney stones so I had to postpone until April. I was lucky though because the weather was still super nice! It was not summer but temperatures were still mild.
I left Rome on April 13th and let me tell you, it was a long journey! My first flight was to Singapore and it was 12 hours. I was lucky enough to be upgraded to business class so at least I had a comfy seat to sleep in and awesome food, it made me feel very fancy, they even gave me cool pajamas for the night time and they had the most delicious tray of cheese I’ve ever had. After I landed in Singapore I had a 3-hour layover and boy was I tired! I was so afraid of falling asleep and missing my flight to Sydney, so I took advantage of Changi Airport’s many amenities. First, they have a 24-hour food court since flights leave at every hour of day and night! ( little note my return flight left at 1 AM)
They also have these awesome pods you can rent with a little bed to make your layover more comfortable. But The best thing for me was the massive koi pond and the butterfly conservatory, it is very humid but worth it!
After I bought some unnecessaries gifts from the gift shop it was time to board my next flight! This one was 8 hours and to be honest, I slept almost the whole time. I woke up while we were starting the descent to Sydney. When I landed I was worried about customs because ( i know it sounds silly) I saw this show called airport security and the Australian customs always sound so mean. After customs, I was finally ready to be picked up by Lauren! I stayed with her and her family for 10 days! At the time they lived in Wollongong which is a beautiful coastal town roughly 1 hour from Sydney…
I won’t bore you with the details of the drive because I was honestly half asleep, it was dark and we stopped at the McDonald drive-thru because I was starving.
The next morning the weather wasn’t the best but we managed to do a lot of sightseeing around Wollongong, a lot of driving since I was still a jetlagged zombie, pretty spectacular views! It’s a coastal town with massive cliffs and there is this massive lighthouse that overlooks the ocean. The sunset was mesmerizing!
On the second day, we did one of my most anticipated activities! We went to see the Kangaroos, we were even able to pet them. We drove an hour to go to the Riverside Animal Park, there were all kinds of local animals from goats and koalas to kangaroos! The Kangaroos were in a reserve, the staff ( for a price ) will give you food that is not harmful in case you want to feed them and then you just walk around, they are very friendly so they came up to us and we managed to take a silly selfie with the kangaroos. There were even baby ones, and a very old mean-looking one ( he was harmless) but I don’t think he liked that we were in the way.
On the way back we stopped at the Morton Conservation Reserve and we hiked to the top of the hill to see a waterfall! There is also a way to get to the bottom of it and swim underneath it, but it’s only open in the summer so we couldn’t do it.
We also stopped at Lake Illawarra to watch the sunset, the colors were stunning, it’s funny how such a mundane thing can feel different when you are in another part of the world.
On the third day it was raining and kind of cold so we decided to take the scenic road that goes along the coast, we stopped in Kiama which has even more cliffs and beaches, and then had lunch in a Bistrot that had a patio with a view of the harbor. I can’t remember the name of the place but it had delicious burgers, it’s here that I discovered garlic aioli sauce. Funny considering that the sauce’s origin is Spain and I’m from Europe. In the afternoon I went to see the university campus and the art building where Lauren attended classes ( at the time) and then we stopped at the Wollongong Botanical Garden. There were so many spider guys, I’m traumatized.
Day four was one of my favorites even though my legs might disagree. We hiked the coastal trail in the Royal National Park. It’s a 140 km hike, we just did a small part, we hiked 20ish km total and we never left the Wollongong area. It was hard but pretty spectacular, I never did anything like it before. We hiked up and down to see the ocean pools and the hidden beaches. We brought lunch and tons of water, took a lot of breaks to eat our snacks too. It was the best, even if bathroom breaks were hard, with no bathrooms around.
On day five we were blessed with super hot temperatures so it was a beach day, we went to one of the many beaches of Wollongong and lazily spent the day there doing nothing. At night we went into one of my favorite places called “San Churro” where we had a churro bowl full of ice cream and whipped cream, it tasted like heaven. Years later and I’m still dreaming about it. I couldn’t find a similar place in Italy or even here in the US. So perhaps I should franchise it so I can have as many as I want.
Day six was another of my favorite ones, yes I understand I said that for every single day but we drove to the very bottom of New South Wales and went to the whitest sand beach in the world. Hyams beach! Again we were super lucky the weather was nice and toasty and we hang out there! The colors of the sand and water were unbelievable, like nothing I’ve seen before.
On the way back we stopped to have dinner and watch the sunset at Voyager Memorial Park on the Jervis Bay. I realize that we stopped to watch the sunset in different places every day. It sounds silly but it’s a different experience every day.
Day seven was kind of uneventful, it was raining super hard so we didn’t do anything except going to the grocery store. I decided to make gnocchi ( from scratch) for the whole family since they never had them!
With just two days left we decided to spend the weekend in Sydney so it would be easier for me to get to the airport. We took the train from Wollongong to Sydney and it was an experience! Australia’s landscape tends to be very different from Italy and the US! We were super lucky because the hotel had a room available before check-in so we didn’t even have to wait to put our suitcases away! Before lunch, we took a stroll and visited the Chinese garden, we spent an hour there going into every pavilion and just enjoying the quiet and the koi fishes. Fun fact there is a quote at the entrance that means “look at the mountains because they will give you peace” ( or something similar, my mind is a little bit fuzzy on the exact quote) but there are no mountains in downtown Sydney.
For lunch, we took one of those cruises that go around the Harbour that also serve food! The food wasn’t the best but the views.. wow! Amazing full view on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, also 360 view of the Sydney Luna Park.
For dinner we ate on the patio of this steak restaurant that had live music, the harbor was all lit up, pretty captivating. After we decided to take the ferry to the luna park on the other side and have some fun! The ferry was not super expensive since people use it to commute every day, the views were breathtaking, especially with all the night lights on, and while we were on it the opera house was shooting fireworks in preparation for the big show they were going to have the next day. Luna Park Sydney was fun!!! Some of the rides are the same ones that have been there since the opening in 1937. There is this original wooden coaster that was honestly painful to ride on, with very sharp turns and very uncomfortable carts!
The ferris wheel is a must even for people who are afraid of heights like me, I was terrified when we were at the top but even in my panicky state, I could appreciate the view.
At the end of the night, we got cotton candy that Australians call fairy floss, so I was utterly confused when I saw written down and rode every ride we could before they closed up.
On my last day we still managed to do a lot of sightseeing, we walked to the Sydney Tower ( it was a long trek from our hotel) and we managed to get up to the top in time to see a cruise ship leave the harbor, there is something special about boats leaving their dock, especially when they are mini-hotels and they can accommodate so many people. After that, we walked to the Opera House so I could see it more closely and touch the famous self-cleaning tiles!
After it was time to head to the airport and start the journey home! This time the flights were even longer since I was traveling west instead of east! I was so tired but happy and when I got home the midnight showing of Avengers endgame was waiting for me!
I will try to do another post about the specific thing I did in more detail, thanks for reading!