Archive | October, 2011

The Rest of my Trip!

30 Oct

So, while I intended on posting about every city I visited. That obviously hasn’t happened. I’ve been busy and slacking in this whole blogging thing.

I feel as if my trip is like this amazing secret that I can’t do justice to when I try and explain it to everyone else. People asked, “How was your trip?” and all I can really say is it was amazing. (And yes, I’ve used the word amazing far too many times in this post.)

New Zealand: I did the Geyserland & Lake pass on KIWI Experience. We visited Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, Waitomo, Rotorua, and Taupo. I did the Tongariro Crossing (we got to use ice crampons and ice axes – wicked!), though I probably should have stayed at the hostel and gotten over my cold. That’s one of the bad things about being on a bus – if one person gets sick, everyone is bound to get sick.  I’m still amazed at how scenic NZ is! Can’t wait to go back and visit the South Island.

Australia: I basically travelled the East Coast: Cairns, Townsville, Magnetic Island,  Airlie Beach, the Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Newcastle, Sydney, and Melbourne.

Cairns – Nothing really special about this city, just the things around it. You can visit the Daintree Reserve, visit the Atherton Tablelands, and take a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. This was definitely one of my favourite places in Australia just because of the things I did there. I remember going to bed one night and thinking about how cool it was to be sleeping in the world’s oldest rainforest.  Plus, I went snorkelling, something I (a non-swimmer) thought that I’d go. Visiting the Reef definitely makes me want to learn how to swim though. I mean it’s kinda really important, and you can do so many cool things if you can swim.

Magnetic Island – This place was on a remote island and I loved the vibe at the YHA Bungalow Bay Koala Village. The Forts walk is a must do if you want to spot some koalas in the wild. I only spent 2 nights here, which was just enough for me. If you visit Bungalow Bay around September, it’s probably less busy, but still lots of people. This is actually great because we went on a tour of the animal sanctuary and there were 4 people in our group, so we could take our time and hold all of the animals (skinks, lizards, crocodiles, koalas, pythons, etc.). During peak season, the ranger told us she’ll have around 50-60 people in one group. Plus, there’s a $10 pizza deal at Bungalow Bay and it’s pretty damn good (Meat Lover’s was my favourite!).

Airlie Beach – I stayed at the YHA here which was nice. I booked a Whitsundays day trip on the Camira. Most people do overnight Whitsundays trips though. I picked a day trip because I wasn’t sure if I’d get sea sick. I think one full day was enough. We really just hung out on the boat during the day, people snorkelled, and then we hung out on Whitehaven Beach. This is one of the world’s Top 10 beaches and it was by far my favourite beach in Australia.  Gorgeous white sand, bright blue water, and none of those shops/commercial stuff…just beach!  The food on the Camira was pretty good too (BBQ)!

Hervey Bay – I stayed at the YHA Colonial Village. While I made some good friends here, it was really, really remote and quiet. But, I guess, it was kind of a good thing. I did a Cool Dingo Tour to Fraser Island (3 days, 2 nights). I would definitely recommend this tour. Basically, you see a lot of beaches, lakes, rocks/cliffs, a few dingoes, and plants/fauna. But, the food was really good and it was a lot of fun! I will say that your experience really depends on the people on your bus. I know people who’ve done Cool Dingo Tours only to find their buses were full of students on a gap year looking to get wasted. My bus was good though, people were actually interested in seeing things and not just drinking the entire trip.

Brisbane – I wouldn’t be able to recommend a hostel because I stayed with family. It was nice to have home cooked food and a comfy big bed. And a room to myself! Brisbane was a gorgeous city. My cousin’s favourite place is South Bank and I agree. It’s got this artsy vibe with markets in the evening. And there are lots of great restaurants, cafes, and bars around. Plus, it’s on the harbourfront. My other cousin also took me to this lookout where you can see the whole city – Mt. Cootha. I wish I could have seen it at night too – would have been gorgeous! We also did a stop to the Gold Coast and just chilled on the beach for a bit.

Byron Bay – I really stayed here for 1 night at Nomad’s. The hostel was new, but the bathrooms reeked. For one night though, it was good enough. I didn’t do much in Byron. Just really walked around the town and picked up some souvenirs. But, if you’re into surfing, Byron should be on your list. Apparently, it’s a big hippy, surf town (as described by my uncle. lol).

Newcastle – Again, I just visited some family here. Newcastle’s a coal town. But, other than the boats, you wouldn’t really know. I really liked Newcastle because it has a beautiful coastline (again, lots of surfing). But, there are also lots of parks and boardwalks, so it’s very much a city built around recreation. I checked out “Avenue Q” (a musical) with my cousin – it’s actually hilarious – Avenue Q would basically be the street that’s down the street from Sesame Street where you don’t want your kids to go. We also made meat patties and probably the best Tandoori chicken I’ve had!! Wish I could have stayed longer!

Sydney – Did the typical tourist stuff, like a free I’m Free walking tour. I also hopped on a bus with a friend I met at the Bounce Backpackers  (definitely worth the stay) and we did the Bondi to Coogee walk. Bondi Beach is the place that basically invented lifeguarding. But, it’s overratted and crowded. Coogee’s much better. The walk takes a while, but it’s definitely worth it. I also hung out with one of my cousins and we visited the Sydney Aquarium. Unfortunately, because final games were on for rugby, it was pretty busy and I didn’t manage to book my last night in Sydney at Bounce. I stayed at Tokyo Village (In short, don’t stay here. It was like $23-25/night and not worth it. You had to walk outside to get to the shower. The windows didn’t close properly, so it smelled like cigarette smoke through the night. And the hallways were leaky when it rained. On the plus side, the owner was really nice). On my last day in Sydney, I walked all the way to the Opera House in the rain and did a tour. The Opera House is beautiful and it’s history was pretty intriguing. I wish I was creative enough to come up with something iconic like that.
The Twelve ApostlesMelbourne – I visited family again here. We visited the Werribee Open Range Zoo. It’s huge and some of the animals just roam around. Plus, you can go on an African safari where they take you around on a bus. The next day, we did a trip on Great Ocean Road to visit the 12 Apostles. I don’t usually get car sick – but I did. Luckily, my aunty was prepared with a sick bag!! It was just a beautiful as I imagined my other cousin took me into the city and we visited the Botanical Gardens, Federation Square, and had lunch on their harbourfront.

Then, I headed back to Toronto. All of my flights were late, but I didn’t miss any connecting flights, so it was all good.