Flashback Friday – Fiji Edition

My last international stop back in March was Fiji. I was there for about a month and I truly enjoyed the experience. Fiji is a destination for anyone looking for a tropical getaway.

Fiji is made up for over 300 islands, but only about a third of those islands are inhibited. Pre-COVID, there were daily flights from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Making this somewhat remote destination pretty accessible. Traveling from Australia or New Zealand is a no brainer, typically very affordable, and therefore an ideal holiday stop. It’s further from the States, a direct flight from Los Angeles takes about 10-11 hours, but I still think it’s worth it.

Fiji Time Is Real

This is the ultimate relaxation destination. Everything runs on a no rush/it’s all good mentality. This may be difficult for Type A personalities, but wow it’s an awesome state of mind.

Fijian people are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They are very happy living in their piece of paradise. They are truly happy to help you and will welcome you in with open arms and treat you like family. One of my favorite things they say is, “friends don’t say sorry or thank you.” By this they mean that when you do something for a friend you don’t expect or need to be thanked. Similarly, when something happens between fiends there’s no need to apologize because you’re already forgiven. I thought this was a really beautiful way to approach friendships.

Fijian life is very simple and that’s probably why they are so happy. Less is more and how can you be upset when you’re surrounded by beautiful water, gorgeous sunsets, an abundance of fish, and greenery?

What to Do

Most flights into Fiji will touchdown in Nadi. Nadi is on the mainland, but you should venture out not long after arriving because there’s so much more to see. There are a lot of nice, luxury resorts in Nadi and many people stay at these simply for the comfort. However, by doing so you would be doing yourself a disservice and only seeing a tiny portion of what Fiji has to offer.

One of the most popular ways to spend your Fiji Time is island hoping the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands. I personally think this is a must especially if you are just coming to Fiji for a week. There are daily ferries between the islands and this is the best way to see as much as you can in a relatively laid-back way. I would spend at least two nights (or up to a week on each island) depending on how fast paced you want your vacation to go. Most of these islands include mandatory meal packages with your stay. Some of my favorite islands were Nacula Island, Nanuya Balavu Island, and Wayalailai Island.

View of Maravu Taveuni Lodge’s Pool

Island hoping the Yasawas and Mamanucas is the most popular way of seeing as much as you can in Fiji. Everything is pretty much down to a science and there’s so many package options that take the trip’s planning out of the equation if you want something easy. I personally booked everything directly and I think I got slightly better deals and more flexibility. They accommodate tourists and backpackers very well on these islands as there’s a constant stream of people coming in and out, nether less you’ll be greeted with a big Bula every time you step off the boat. If you are limited to only a week or so and want something more laid back this is the way to go.

If you want go down the road less traveled visiting Taveuni, also known as the Garden Island, is a must! It takes a bit more effort to get here, with your only options being a 16-hour ferry or a domestic flight from Nadi or Suva. Spending your whole vacation in Taveuni still won’t feel like enough time and you’ll want to get back here again. The water is perfect for snorkeling, diving, fishing. There’s lots of day trip options from hiking, waterfalls, or traveling to neighboring islands.

Scuba Diving

If you are interested in diving and the ocean, Fiji is the place for you. I got my scuba PADI certification here and became obsessed. The waters are so warm you can essentially dive all year without a wetsuit. The famous Rainbow Reef is located off of Taveuni and it’s absolutely breathtaking. If you were ever interested in trying scuba diving Fiji is the perfect place. Many resorts/dive shops do introductory dives without needing certification.

Fiji should be on everyone’s Bucket Lists. It’s a gorgeous destination and you’ll feel invigorated after experiencing Fiji Time for yourself.

Book Review 15: Big Little Lies

I know I said I would chill out on reading, but then Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was waiting for me at the Radison’s guest library. The first book I read by Liane Moriarty was What Alice Forgot for a book club a few years ago in NYC. I really loved that book. It was a captivating story and set in Australia so I knew I liked Liane Moriarty’s writing, but I haven’t read any of her other novels. 

When Big Little Lies became a HBO series it was star studded and quite reasonably became a hit. I usually try to read the book version before seeing the screen version of a story, but this was an exception. I had watched the full series (it sadly hasn’t been renewed for another season) before reading. The main difference between the print and screen versions is the location – originally set in Australia, but the series is based in California. The character descriptions also differed a bit and I just couldn’t replace Resse Witherspoon’s portrayal of Madeline out of my head. Besides that the book and series pretty much follow along the same story (of course there’s a point where the series goes off script due to the end of the book as in the last season). 

Even knowing what happens (or maybe it was because I knew) I couldn’t put this book down. Once again Liane Moriarty proved her abilities to write a captivating book. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t watched Big Little Lies I would recommend to read the book ASAP. I full enjoyed reading this one and look forward to reading more of Liane Moriarty’s novels. 

Goodreads’ Synopsis

“A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place. 

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.”

Mommy & Me in Oz – Week 3

I’m a bit behind on writing because I had flown to Fiji the day after my mom left Australia, but it’s fun looking back on our travels. The best way to describe week three is bittersweet. We were looking forward to where we were going, but it was also my mom’s last week traveling with me. As much fun as she was having I also could see she was missing home and having a normal routine. Living out of a suitcase isn’t for everyone and it can get old.

Monday/Day 15 – We woke up early this morning to catch the shuttle out to the ferry to Rottnest Island. The ferry took about 2 hours and upon arriving we have lunch at Dome café. After lunch we walked to Discovery and checked in. We walked around the area to become acquainted with the surroundings and the beaches close by. We had the first spotting of quokkas and then had dinner at Pinky’s Beach Club. 

Day 16 – Today was a full on relaxing beach day. With the exception of needing to get our door fixed. We had breakfast on property, walked to the lighthouse, and then to Geordie Bay. I also snorkeled a bit around the Basin before getting ready and going to dinner at Rottnest Hotel. 

Day 17 – Our last full day in Rotto. We have an easy morning and then do a tour around the island in the afternoon. The tour starts with a train ride to the guns on the island. This was a huge piece of machinery created for WWII to defend Fremantle port. It was never fired, but still impressive. We have lunch on the train ride back and then go on a bus tour around the rest of the island. For dinner we ate at Pinky’s again. 

Day 18 – Today we had to check out, but had until 5ish for the ferry. I rented a bike and rode around the island making pit stops to snorkel. It was a beautiful day and I was sad to leave Rotto when it was time to board the ferry. At the port we grabbed an Uber to take us to our hotel and we decided to stay closer to the airport. 

Day 19 – Flying to Melbourne today for our last stop. We arrived in the evening and checked into our hotel. The room was small, but wow this hotel had everything figured out. For dinner we went to the hotel restaurant, Lord Nelson. The meal was great and my mom really liked the wine she had. After dinner we called it an early night.   

Day 20 – Today we were off to fit in as much of Melbs as possible, but first on the agenda was to buy a new laptop charger. Then we had breakfast and coffee on Degraves Street. We shopped around a bit and checked out the Queen Victoria Market. We had an afternoon pick me up in the form of sticky date pudding. Then we were off to St. Kilda to see the sunset and penguins. It was chilly and we didn’t stay on the pier long and then went on the search for a dinner spot. We landed on St. Moritz and it was great! 

Day 21 – My mom’s last full day in Australia and of course she insisted on doing laundry in between our activities. Today we ate breakfast downstairs at the hotel and then went to the South Street Market. In the afternoon we went to the famous Hopetoun Tea Room for dessert. We walked around Melbourne CBD a little bit and saw the street art on Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane. We munched all day so didn’t need a big dinner. We grabbed some small bites at Lord Nelson. 

Day 22 – Mom’s flight was in the early afternoon so after wake up and goodbyes I ordered her an Uber and she was sadly back off to the airport.

Week 2 Recap and Week 1 Recap.

Rottnest Island Glamping

Most Rottnest Island visitors come for day trips and as a result there aren’t many accommodation options. Hotel Rottnest is currently being redone so we were limited to the only other hotel or a unique option – glamping. When I saw the glamping option whilst researching I was stoked, but I wasn’t sure my mom would go for it. To my surprise she did, so Discovery Rottnest Island here we come. 

Everything about the property online looked awesome and we decided to book three nights. At the time of booking there was only one type of tent option and that was the accessible tent, which can accommodate four people. The set up is one large king bed and a bunk bed. This would be perfect for a family, but a little too much room for my mom and me. There’s an en-suite full bathroom and a kitchenette also within the tent. It is very very nice and not “roughing” whatsoever. The walls besides the bathroom and the front are a thick canvas. You can’t roll them completely up like a normal tent, but there are window areas that you could roll up for extra light. The front wall had a sliding glass door and two full windows. 

We enjoyed our overall stay and I would recommend this property to anyone looking for a unique holiday destination. It’s important to be transparent so I’ll also go over the cons of the experience. The website is a little misleading and not clear. The way specifications were written it seemed like there was also laundry en-suite, in the tent. This is actually not the case at all. You can have the cleaners do your laundry for a fee or walk pretty far on the island if you wanted to do it yourself. Obviously, this wasn’t a deal breaker, but it was more like false advertising.

The second thing was that they should have been clearer at check in about how things run. They didn’t mention that there wasn’t a cleaner daily (only if you stay 5 or more nights) and more importantly they didn’t mention that all the towels that are in your room are meant to last your entire stay, this included beach towels. So regardless if you stay one night or three you’ll have the same towels. Not a huge deal for the bathroom towels, but a bit annoying for the beach/pool towels. Either way it wasn’t mentioned to us at check in, and we only had one type of towel in our room so we didn’t realize we had to ration our towel usage. On the same caliber they also didn’t say that about the toiletries they put in the room. One bar of soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. for your whole stay regardless if it’s one night or longer. We had our own so it wasn’t a huge deal, but still it should have been mentioned in an email beforehand or at check in.

The third “issue,” and this one was actually an issue, – wen realized the first night our door’s lock was broken. When we informed reception they couldn’t do anything about it that night. Not a huge deal and we placed a suitcase in front of the door while we slept. The island feels pretty safe so we didn’t feel an immediate threat. The second day when maintenance came to check it out they didn’t think they could fix it that day due to lack of parts on the island. This would mean another night without a locked door, but more significantly leaving our belongings in a totally open room during the day as they didn’t have any safes in the tents. We weren’t really cool with that. After much deliberation we were offered to change tents, but we really didn’t want to have to pack up and move everything again. They ended up working their magic and fixing the door so all was well.

Now comes the last and final complaint I had about the property. Our second day when we were going through the issues with the door, we had the absolute rudest, disrespectful, and condescending front desk staff member ever. Honestly, I travel a lot and have been in many hotels, hostels, resorts, etc. and I have never encountered such a spiteful worker. She was young, probably around my age, obviously didn’t like her job and thought she was above it. I’m really not sure what her problem was, but she was terrible. And fine hunny if you want to be rude to me I will give it right back to you, but don’t you dare disrespect my mom, which was what she was doing and in front of other guests too. It wasn’t a good look for Discovery. I really don’t want to dwell on it because once we spoke to the Assistant Manager, Maddie, everything was smoothed over, fixed, and compensated over. Maddie was seriously a godsend and great at her job, but it is a shame that she had to get involved in the first place. 

So those were the woes of the property, but everything else was pretty great. They are located right between two beaches so you can take your pick or hop around. Substantial breakfast buffets were included with our stay. The tent itself was really nice, but one night was stifling hot even with the fan on – so maybe earlier in the summer is a better time to visit. I think my mom’s favorite part of the property was the food at the restaurant for dinner. The chef made a fantastic menu with great specials daily. Quokkas were plentiful around the property. You could find them around and under the tents during the day and at night they came out in packs everywhere. I would highly recommend staying here if you come to Rottnest Island. 

Hotel Review – Perth

Our first stop out of the Outback was Fraser Suites in Perth. After the full on desert experience this was a shock. The lobby was huge and modern and our room was on the 16th floor. I don’t think they have buildings that tall in all of the Northern Territory. The room was really nice with lots of light and a very comfortable bed. Sidenote: my mom was very impressed by the crisp sheets everywhere we stayed. The fitness center and pool were also above normal hotel standards. There was also a little kitchette in the the room equipped with a microwave, sink, refrigerator, etc. Our first night in Perth we ate at the bar onsite. The food was good and you can get the full restaurant menu at the bar for a more casual setting. 

Location was very convenient as you could walk easily into the bustling areas or take a bus. We booked our stay via HotelTonight and got a pretty good deal. Our one and only negative was the bed’s positioning to the air conditioning. It was too hot not to have the A/C on, but when it was on it blasted on you directly making it really freezing. 

I would recommend the Fraser Suites for anyone traveling to Perth. 

Sunset Camel Tour

We were in Uluru for 3 nights and did three sunset experiences. Our last and possibly best one was the camel ride experience. I’ve been on plenty of horses, but my experience with camels is pretty much obsolete or nonexistent. I really wanted to do a camel ride while in the outback. It’s just so bizarre to think that in a country with beautiful beaches, bustling cities, excessive amount of avocado toast you can also ride a camel. My mom didn’t have the same draw to ride a camel as I did, but once a helicopter ride was out of the question the camel ride was the compromise. 

The feral camel population in Australia is apparently actually out of hand. It’s estimated that there’s around a million feral camels. Who knew? I sure didn’t and that is really not something I would have even guessed. Camels are not indigenous to Australia, but were introduced to help out and work in the outback as the sun is too brutal for horses. The first camels arrived in Australia around 1840. The camels were used for decades, but with the introduction of cars, trucks, etc. their work lessened and they became feral. According to the people who live here they are now a massive problem in the wild. 

The camel farm at Ayers Rock resort has over 80 camels. They have quite the operation there. If camels come in to the property looking for food or water they will pretty much take them in. The camels we road seemed like very happy, well fed beasts. 

If you’ve never rode a camel I’ll say it’s really not like riding a horse. Similar to a horse however they do have their own personalities and characters. At this farm you’ll probably be riding a male camel and apparently they are sexist as well. If the trainer doesn’t create a dominance they won’t respect her and the ride is likely not to go well. 

Camels are a lot bigger than horses and the way you get on them is a bit scary. Our camels were all on their knees in a rest position when we saddled up. They then get up back legs first and then the front similar to a wave motion. Once you’re up it’s very high up. I think higher than any horse I’ve been on, actually no definitely higher than any horse, but somehow you feel more stable. They aren’t known to kick so you won’t be bucked off (they can and do bite though). 

Camels can run up to 65kmh (about 40mph), but on these bush walks they are just cruising and strolling along. Another fun fact is that they actually have camel races in these parts of Oz that are a huge entertainment factor in the fall. 

Our ride was for an hour and we started before sunset. We made a couple of brief stops along the way. The hour was enough if not a little too long. When we got back to the farm we had some bush snacks and refreshments waiting for us. The experience was totally worth it and let the record show my mom did enjoy it as well. 

The camel farm also has a little “Funny Farm.” It’s just a couple of pens, but it has orphaned/injured animals. They have three younger camels there too. Two of them, Bella and Tuesday, are about 1.5 years old. And then there’s a baby camel that’s only a couple of months old named Moose. She is an absolute darling and will cuddle up to anyone. The owner of the farm saved her after her mom was shot. They’ll keep the young ones for a couple of years and eventually sell them off, but i was glad that they had this little area for the misfit animals. 

Even if riding a camel isn’t your thing going to the farm is free and one of the stops on the resort shuttle so definitely make a stop here if you’re staying on the property.

Mother-Daughter Bonding Down Under – Week 2

I can’t believe the second week with my mom has already drawn to a close. I am so thankful she extended the trip to three weeks because the original plan was just for two. We still had to cut out some major things to fit into a doable itinerary, but we are having a blast.

Our first week, we spent mostly exploring Sydney and the surrounding area. For week 2, we left New South Wales and technically stepped foot in three other states (Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia). I say “technically” because SA was only for a layover and I don’t think that counts, but in the same regard I can now say I’ve “technically” been in all of the Australia’s states. Don’t worry SA/Adelaide, I promise to visit soon. This week was a lot of firsts for both my mom and me and I’m so glad I was able to experience it with her! 

Monday/Day 8 – Early morning flight from Sydney to Ayers Rock airport. We are going to the OUTBACK, BABY!! Major bucket list item for both of us, but for different reasons. Full on blog posts coming soon, but I’ll just highlight for now. We had avocado toast at the airport before taking off. We arrived around noon and were able to check in to the resort straightaway and had a small lunch at the resort. After cool and rainy Sydney, we were shocked by the heat, sun, and flies which met us in the Outback. Our first priority was to buy fly nets and a hat for myself. We have big dinner plans tonight at the Sounds of Silence dinner. We start off the evening with sunset canapés and bubbly with a breathtaking view of Uluru. Then we had a gorgeous dinner and ended the evening with a viewing of the Field of Light exhibit.  

Day 9 – Had a chilled morning and rode around the property, saw an educational talk on aboriginal culture, and had a dip in the pool. Later in the day we actually enter the Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park and do a guided tour. Concluding the night with sunset, small nibbles, and bubbles. 

Day 10 – Our last full day at the resort. I make use of the pool again and we go to a “Bush Talk” at the resort and learn about Australian and local native bush foods with a tasting of seasonal seeds, fruits, and spices. The evening brings what I was most looking forward to in the Outback – the camel ride. We leisurely ride for about an hour and watch the sun set. 

Moose the baby camel

Day 11 – We again have a chilled morning before departing via bus to Alice Springs. My mom acted very motherly here and did some laundry before we left. In the meantime I made a stop to the “Funny Farm” and spent some time with the baby camels and misfit animals. It’s a long scenic ride, but the commentary from the drivers was great. Along the way we saw wild horses, camels, dingos, and others four legged animals. I also may have gotten some shuteye. It’s already getting dark when we pull in so we explore the hotel and have dinner onsite that night. 

Day 12Valentine’s Day – I snuck in a cheeky swim in the AM before heading into the town for brunch. Then this was a full on travel day as we were heading to Perth connecting via Adelaide. We arrived in Perth in the evening and opted for dinner at our hotel. The air is so refreshing here and we take an evening walk. 

Day 13 – Vegan brunch and then my mom’s dreams came true when she held a koala. She can now leave Australia content. Her dream became a reality at a visit to Cohunu Koala Park, which we took Uber to and from. For dinner we went to the hot spot, Petition Kitchen, and had a really great meal. 

Day 14 – Tried to get an early start and headed to Fremantle in the morning. We spent some time exploring the area, had lunch, and walked around the markets. Then we took the train to Cottesloe Beach. We strolled on the beach for a bit before heading into Cottesloe Town for an early dinner. Taking the train back into Perth my mom somehow convinced me to get a pedicure, but with the store’s credit card machine not working I ended up paying for it myself…. treat yo’ self, right? We have an early morning ahead of us with more excitement ahead for my mom’s last week down under. 

Catch up on what we were up to our first week. 

Last week I had my mom rate the restaurants we had eaten at. This week I asked her to rate the accommodation we had stayed at to date. Obviously, all of the properties were very different and across the entire country (you can’t really compare a basic NYC hotel to an Arizona resort to a Chicago high-rise hotel – if you get my drift), each with their quirks, but this is her opinion from best to least favorite of the properties we have stayed at during her two week stay in Australia: 

  1. Hunter Valley Crowne Plaza 
  2. Sails in the Dessert – Uluru 
  3. Doubletree Alice Springs
  4. Fraser Suites Perth 
  5. Sydney Novotel Darling Harbour
  6. Sydney Rydges Sydney Harbour 

Brava I went to an Opera

The Sydney Opera House is iconic. I’ve seen a comedy show and a couple of ballets to date, but I was missing seeing an actual opera at the venue. With my mom coming into town it was the perfect time to finally see an opera. Don Giovanni was on the weekend we were in Sydney. We booked our tickets and were ready for a night out at the Opera House.

First and foremost, everyone on stage was incredible. Their voices were captivating and powerful. I couldn’t believe how they could project throughout the room without the use of microphones. They sang in Italian and there were English subtitles above the stage, however you didn’t need to know exactly what was said to appreciate the performance. Composed by Mozart in 1787 it was really cool seeing how the music and story have held for hundreds of years.

That being said I didn’t care for the storyline at all. I’ve also never been so annoyed with a fictional character as I was with Donna Elvira in the second act. She went from being to a total powerhouse to the exact opposite. Not to be preachy or throwing feminism around, but you could tell that this story was written by a man.

I’m glad I went and now I can say I’ve experienced an opera, however, I won’t be running back to see another one right away. I love live performances – concerts, plays, musicals, ballets, etc.; but I learned that operas aren’t my preferred art form.

My First Visitor in Australia – Week 1

My mom is easily the most important person in my life. I’m an only child and have always been close to my momma. She is my biggest supporter and I’m so grateful for her every day. That being said being so far away from her while in Australia and traveling around has been tough and that’s mostly to do with the time difference. I say mostly because there’s so much I miss about not seeing her, but the time difference makes even the conversations we do have tricky. It made sense that my first visitor to Australia would be my mom. I was so excited for her arrival. I really wanted to show her the country I fell in love with and maybe she would see the reason for my obsession firsthand. That at least would be the best-case scenario at the end of her trip.

Planning for her three-week trip was challenging. I wanted to show her everything and go everywhere whilst not overdoing it and still relaxing. My mom kept saying she would be happy just by the beach, but there’s so much more to see in Australia. It was stressful and took a lot of planning, but we narrowed our itinerary down to get a little bit of everything without running around like crazy. The first week would be focused on Sydney and surrounding areas. 

Day 1 – Mom arrives on the 3rd, but she flew out of the US on the 1st (a long time traveling) so we were having a chill day. We dropped her bags off at the hotel and went to grab some brunch. Avo toast #1 check. We walk around the surrounding area of Darling Harbour not venturing too much, but we do stop for a passionfruit sorbet at Messina. That night we go to the hotel’s happy hour and later order in Thai via DoorDash. 

Day 2 – have a bit of a sleep in thanks to the black out curtains in the room and then have breakfast (avo quinoa bowl) at a restaurant in Darling Harbour. Today we are taking on the Costal Walk from Coogee to Bondi. We take it at a very leisurely pace and really take in everything along the way. When we finally made it to Bondi we treated ourselves to a meal at Bucket List and then shopped around. Mom was a fan of Bondi and the costal walk in general. Win! 

Day 3 – It’s Manly time. I was so excited to get over to Manly because well it’s an amazing, underrated part of Sydney. I think the other beaches overtake Manly in popularity, but that’s okay with me. The ferry ride over had an aweing effect on my mom and it was the first official view of the Sydney Opera House she got. Once in Manly we had brunch at Girdlers and then headed to the beach. A perk of traveling with your mom was being a little fancy and we actually rented beach chairs and umbrella. Something I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own, but now that I know how nice it was I don’t think I could go without. We grabbed Acai bowls to cool down from Acai Bros and then walked over to Shelly Beach. After more browsing in the stores we had dinner at Moo Burgers with a great view and my mom tried a kangaroo burger (she wasn’t a fan). Then we hopped back on the ferry and headed back across the harbour. 

Day 4 – Super early wake up call, but it was worth it because we were going to Hunter Valley

Day 5 – Spent the day/early afternoon in Hunter and got back to Sydney around 7pm. We checked in to our new hotel in a prime area – on the Rocks. We had a late, but delicious dinner at Pony and then walked around the Rocks a bit. 

Day 6 – Scheduled for today was a trip out to Watson’s Bay, but the weather was not having it. The rain was coming down hard all day. We had brunch on the Rocks (mom had another avo toast…I think she might be becoming a millennial). I checked another dining bucket list item off with dinner when we went to Sake. We thought we had allocated enough time starting dinner at 5:15pm to make it to the Opera before 7pm, but we had to dash over there. We were seeing Don Giovani. This was my first opera. The production was very well done and their voices were incredible, but now I can say with certainty that operas aren’t really my thing. It was still really great to experience especially at THE Sydney Opera House.

Day 7 – This day was originally going to be a day trip out to Jervis Bay, but with the forecasted rain we decided to stay in the city and maybe go to some markets and walk the Harbour Bridge. Oh boy were we wrong. The rain was at a constant downpour with heavy winds closing pretty much everything down. We had tea and scones at the Tea Cosy (another foodie bucket list item check), broke my umbrella walking back to the hotel which was one building over. The day was looking like a chill day, but it was also our last day in Sydney so it felt like a bit of a waste. We went to the QVB for a little bit, but weren’t in a mood to shop. For dinner that night we ventured to Newtown to try Golden Lotus, a fully vegan Vietnamese restaurant (another check). Wow the food was yummy and it’s BYO so we enjoyed the bottle of wine we brought back from Hunter over our shared plates. We ended the night with a night cap (can a beer technically be a night cap?) at the Lord Nelson Brewery. 

It was a super fun week and although the schedule didn’t fully go as planned it didn’t matter. Just spending time together was what really matters. Almost exactly a week from my mom’s arrival we were heading to the airport once again to fly to our next destination…

Here are my mom’s officially unofficial rankings of Sydney’s food scene:

Breakfast

  1. Girdlers (Manly)
  2. Dare Cafe (The Rocks)
  3. Two Sis & Co. (Darling Harbour/Pyrmont)
  4. Tea Cosy (The Rocks)
  5. Waterfront Grill (Darling Harbour)

Dinner

  1. Redsalt Restaurant (Hunter Valley)
  2. Sake (The Rocks)
  3. Pony (The Rocks)
  4. At Home Thai Cuisine (Doordash)
  5. Golden Lotus (Newtown)
  6. Bucket List (Bondi)
  7. Moo Burgers (Manly)

Hotel Review – Hunter Valley

In true Sylwia fashion I waited to the last minute to book our Hunter Valley trip. In my defense I was waiting for the weather and thought that since we were going on a weekday there wouldn’t be any issues. I was in contact with one hotel, but never actually made the reservation. When we finally decided to book, our first choice actually ended up being sold out so we had to go for a plan b. That took form as the Crown Plaza Hunter Valley. Not really sure what to expect we were blown away when driving up to the property. It was huge! Even including a golf course, two onsite restaurants, a fitness center, two pools, and more. The property itself was gorgeous. 

We were booked into a standard room, but were upgraded to a villa. However, this was a bit too much space for two people for one night (and it was also away from the main building and its amenities) so we opted for a normal room instead. The room was spacious and clean. The bed was super comfortable and they also provided a deep sleep pillow spray – what a cute little touch! 

Both on-site restaurants were yummy and our dinner at Redsalt was fantastic! Lovedale is a slightly more casual and has a sports bar feel, this is where we had lunch the next day and again it was delicious. They even had the option of making a pizza with vegan cheese and/or a cauliflower base. Two thumbs up for the food. 

I utilized the gym, but with the weather I wasn’t able to make the most of the onsite pools. There was also a spa and on weekends they have a brewery tour. If we stayed longer we would have made use of everything available. 

The amenities were nice, food was great, room was above average – what else could you ask for? Well the staff and all the workers were so professional and we were impressed by how friendly and efficient the reception staff was. They really were the icing on the cake for the entire experience. 

I would highly recommend the Crown Plaza in Hunter Valley if you were to stay in the area overnight.