A 2 hour drive north of Sydney, we spent a weekend at this beautiful wine country-Hunter Valley to draw away the layers of urban life. We were very fortunate to stay at this beautiful farmhouse (thanks to K's boss!), and I literally thought I was in a movie! Hunter Valley 's wine industry is one of the oldest in Australia, and is well known for its Semillon and Shiraz, and more recently Chardonnay And Verdelho. There are over 120 unique wineries to visit-ranging from intimate boutique cellar doors to internationally acclaimed wine brands.
One of the places that everyone told me was a ‘must see’ was the Taronga zoo. At first, I was like why is this? Apparently it has one of the best views of Sydney from their cable cars! I was fortunate to go with Lena and her daughter Zoe, and found out they literally go every 2 weeks! I even got a personal tour from Zoe herself...I’m just glad I had Lena and Zoe to talk to, instead of just conversing with the animals!
I seriously don’t know where to begin. I heard about Melbourne before, but when you think of Australia, most people think of Sydney first. The moment I arrived in Sydney, all Kristi was talking about was ‘Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne.’ So I thought, then why the heck am I in Sydney, and not in Melbourne? Hahahaha. This is actually the exact question the locals in Melbourne asked me! This city is the food and fashion capitol of Oz!
Kristi and Stephan went with me for the first few days, then I was on my own for 3 days. Just an hour flight from Sydney, you can get one way tickets as low as $28! It was nice to getaway from Sydney for a little bit...
I had a chance to visit Strathfield, the largest Korea town in Syndey. It's a 20 minute drive from the city, in a very nice, quiet neighborhood...I didn't know what to expect at first, but to my surprise, it was quite lovely! I had a great time with my cousins, and they made THE 'Aussie-Korean' meal at their place-'Wallamsam' (direct translation=vietnamese spring rolls). Basically, the concept behind this is the vietnamese spring rolls meets Korean banchan, served with homemade chili sauce and crushed peanuts. You dunk the rice paper wrap in hot water, then add veggies of your choice, wrap, dip in sauce, and chow down!
Another Korean-Aussie couple mentioned this wallamsam concept a few weeks back, and explained that since there aren't too many good K restaurants here (totally agreed unfortunately), the Koreans feast on this specialty at home. Great treat for guests (lot of labor preparing for it, even though it's make-your-own), but the Koreans love it, and it's freakin awesome!!! I seriously didn't know when to stop.
What is the gong ride?
The Gong Ride is a one of a kind fundraising event. You can pedal 90km from Sydney to Wollongong on any day of the year but it’s only on the first Sunday of November that you’ll experience the camaraderie, fellowship, unity, safety, scenery and sense of achievement for pedalling in support of people living with MS (taken from their website). 10,000 cyclists participated this year!
Kristi, Stephan, and a few others that I have met, participated in this years gong ride. It's a 90 KM ride that started from St. Peters, and finished in Wollongong-with tea and lunch breaks along the way! I took a 2 hour train ride to meet these guys at the finish line, where we had a sausage sizzle, beers, and other good food! The train ride was a amazing, I cannot imagine how great the view was for the cyclists! I don't really cycle, and I would have died if I did this 90 KM ride. However, after seeing how beautiful it was to cycle along the coast, I would definitely try it if I live here!
Well done K & S!!!
Last weekend, we had a chance to walk along Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach, and see all the beautiful sculptures part of the 'Sculpture By the Sea' exhibit. They only have it for 2 weeks, and I'm glad I was still here to see it! The concept for Sculpture by the Sea is the culmination of many years thinking, where a new step in the thought process came up every year or so. It was absolutely stunning!
Kristi recently explained the term ‘yummy mummy,’ which is a trendy, urban mom who mostly spends time taking care of kids, doing yoga, and having coffee at the parks with their other yummy mummy friends! Not to mention, they have the resources to really take advantage of the ‘yummy’ part. Hrm...this sounds like some of the mom’s I know in Chicago! Last week, we spent an afternoon at Centennial Park with Kristi and some of her friends...enjoyed a picnic lunch on a beautiful day, with 2 adorable kids! I was just amazed at how many mums and their kids were at the park, on a Thursday afternoon...what a life I tell you! It seems like Sydney is a great place to raise a family-so green, the pace of life is great, and people here take their ‘free time’ seriously. I guess when the weather is perfect almost all year round, how can you not be out and about with outdoor activities!
I have been walking around for weeks, checking out shops, taking photos, and at one point, I just had to take a break! Mainly because my nikon is so freakin heavy, and walking around with it drives me crazy...especially when I walk a few hours a day. I was only able to take a handful of photos so far to share...but stay tuned!
Part of the October food fest, 'Single Origins Cafe' was also having a special breaky. First, they made coffee of my choice, with a morning muesli and fresh fruit...followed by a ‘Colombian’ tamale with fresh pico de gallo, matched with a pot of colombian coffee. Food was excellent, and the best part-I met the manager (actually I think he’s the owner) of this cafe, and I received a special goodie bag at the end of my breaky! Gotta say, quite nice when you start chatting with the chefs/owners...they definitely take care of you! This cafe is absolutely the best here...not just by recommendations from friends, but I am already addicted! It’s quite a walk, but I’ll be making my frequent stops there for a ‘flat white!’