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Thursday, 12 July 2018

# Au Blogger # Australia Tourism

Being a tourist in your own city

Hello!

It's pouring cats and dogs here in Sydney and right now I am literally standing at the bus stop with an umbrella waiting to go to Pitt Street for some last minute shopping. Oh well, by the time you read this I'll probably already be in India. Yeah, I am off to my motherland tomorrow morning. Thanks to the massive delay in visa processing, I have had to go back, but I am not complaining. I chose to go home instead of waiting here because 1) HOME FOOD and 2) MORE HOME FOOD!!! Anyway, without further ado let me dive right into today's post.

I have a question for you all. How often do you actually end up visiting museums and parks in your own city? Hardly once or probably never! I know Bangaloreans who have spent their whole lives in the city, but have never been to Lalbagh. My friends in Dubai first visited Burj Khalifa three years after they moved there only because I dragged them there. We usually tend to think that we are living here anyway, so we can visit all the touristy places some day. We also think of it as a waste of time and money. But when family shows up, you have this pressure of making them fall in love with your city and that's when them walking shoes come out and you become a tourist in your own city!

It has been three months down under and I had kept all of the touristy things pending since my brother and sister-in-law were planning a trip to Sydney. Apparently all they had heard about the city from my very own cynical mother is that all there is to see is a mountain and a beach. Had to prove her wrong and send these kids back with some amazing memories, right? So I put together an itinerary for their time here and blog post toh banta hai boss! :D

Opera House during Vivid 2018
Day 1
Walk across Darling Harbour and Circular Quay
They landed at around 8 ish in the evening and we didn't wanna waste any time. We took off to Darling Harbour, a very popular spot where everybody hangs out, to check out the lights at Vivid. Vivid is a light and art festival that takes place in Sydney every year where the whole city is lit up. Unfortunately by the time we got there, the lights were off. We walked around nevertheless, landed at Circular Quay and showed them the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and returned to the same area the following night to enjoy the lights.

Vivid 2018
Royal Botanic Garden during Vivid 2018
Harbour Bridge during Vivid 2018

Day 2
Some family fun around the Olympic Park
Since it was a Sunday, we took these two to meet my cousin and his family. We goofed around at home for a bit and then went to the Olympic Park. The Sydney Olympic Park is basically a stadium where Australia Football League (AFL) has its football matches being played there. We almost made it to an AFL game. We also walked around the Brickpit Ringwalk, a massive walkway that is beautifully constructed and got mesmerized by the view.

My beautiful Sydney fam

A glimpse of the Brickpit Ringwalk

Day 3
The long walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach and sunset at Watson's Bay
The weather was shockingly sunny and I had planned a whole beach day. We went to Coogee Beach and walked all the way to Bondi Beach. The walkway is quite scenic and the walk is one of the must-do things if you're in Sydney. We passed by a bunch of beaches like Bronte Beach and Tamaran Beach as well. It took us around 1.5 hours and we ended up at Icebergs Cafe by the end of it which is located in Bondi Beach. We later went to Watson's Bay and enjoyed the sky changing colors during sunset.

Walk from Coogee to Bondi 
Sunset at Watson's Bay
Dinner at Lal Qila
After walking around the whole day, it was time to treat ourselves. It was my friend's birthday and he bought us dinner at a Pakistani restaurant. I would do anything for some Biryani and Paneer and we got there on time to belt some delicious food.

Day 4
A visit to the Sydney Museum
Museums are a must if you want to know about the history and culture of the city. For about 12 AUD, we got a guided tour at the Sydney Museum and we learnt so much about how Macquarie built the city and why Sydney is what it is today.

Museum of Sydney

Chill scenes at Hyde Park
Hyde Park is a massive park in the middle of the city that one cannot miss. We wandered around Pitt Street and reached Hyde Park to rest for a while after all that walking.

Hyde Park
Shopping at Chatswood
Chatswood is my fave shopping destination. There is a Westfield mall that has outlets like Myer, H&M, Target, Cotton On and much more. There's also a Chatswood Chase Mall that has my all time fave Kmart! You can also find a lot of food joints and souvenir stores near the malls.

Drinks at Oaks
Oaks is a really popular bar and restaurant at Neutral Bay. The ambience is spectacular as the entire area has oak trees decorated with lights and the beer is yummy!

The Oaks at Neutral Bay
Day 5
4 Attractions of Sydney
So we booked a 4 Attractions pass online that was around 70 AUD and they included Sydney Wildlife, Sydney Sealife, Madame Tussauds and Sydney Tower Eye. From adorable koalas and kangaroos to cute lil penguins to chilling with wax statues of Brangelina to taking a peak at the city from the top, we had a fabulous time. It was totally worth our time and money!

L to R - Sydney Wildlife, Sydney Sealife, Madame Tussuads, Sydney Tower Eye
Dinner at Masala Bowl
We wanted to catch some Indian food. Channa Batura was on our minds and this place seemed decent enough, but not a great choice.

Day 6 - 8
A trip to Melbourne
I am sure you don't want a recap of my Melbourne trip, but here's a brief summary of what we did. We went for a walking tour exploring the city, ate at fabulous places and had a great time. On the second day, we did the MCG tour, did a 360 degree view of the city on the Melbourne Star and did some gambling at the Crown Casino. On our last day in Melbourne, we visited the St. Kilda Pier and Beach, had some great vegan food and returned to Sydney. For more, check out my blog post here!

Melbourne Diaries
Day 8
Dinner at Dakshin
My brother and sister-in-law were meant to leave in two days and my cousins hardly got any time with them. So we decided to catch up over dinner. We had a fun dinner sesh with the cousin and his wife at Dakshin. Daskhin, as the name suggests, is a South Indian restaurant and we were surprised to see a dish called 'Udupi Tarakarigalu' on the menu. I was really excited to eat some amazing Masala Dosa too.

Fam jammin' hard at Dakshin
Day 9
Blue Mountains Tour
I had heard so much about Blue Mountains and I couldn't not go there. Blue Mountains is basically like the Nilgiris of Australia where there are gorgeous mountains full of eucalyptus trees. We booked a tour bus called FJ tours who took us all the way for about 105 AUD. Blue Mountains is about 2-3 hours by road from Sydney.

Our first stop was the Featherdale Wildlife Park. You already know that I love animals. It was a great experience to get a picture taken with a koala and feed kangaroos. We spent a good 2 hours there and played with animals like never before.

A picture with a koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park
We then went to Echo Point where we got a clear view of the Three Sisters. When we got a complete 360 degree view of the mountains full of eucalyptus trees and high altitudes, it was absolute bliss.

Pointing at the Three Sisters
Our final stop was the Scenic World where we trekked for about an hour or so, enjoyed some fantastic views and returned home. You can also choose to pay an extra 20 AUD and use their different modes of transport inside the Scenic World. We were keen on walking and hence we decided to climb up and down the stairs.

The glorious Blue Mountains
Dinner with the family
We went back to our cousin's place to say goodbye since my brother and sister-in-law were leaving the following morning. Having family in your home away from home really helps!

Sydney fam be the best
I had an awesome nine days with my lovelies in Sydney. I hope you get inspired and plan a trip too. It's always a great learning experience to travel and you'll see things you've never seen before. It also broadens your mind and gives you a different perspective on things.

And if you want a third person's perspective about Australia, here's what my brother had to say, "We had a great time in Australia. Australia's population is just 28 million but it is  a huge country. I guess Karnataka has a higher population. I liked the attitude of Australians. They follow the 8-8-8 rule: 8 hours of work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours of sleep. The public transport system is fantastic. Roads are pedestrian friendly. Most transactions are cashless and digital. The country has progressed very well. A remarkable achievement considering that things started to happen there only in the mid 18th century. It's hard to believe that a bunch of convicts could build such a good  country."

What are you waiting for?

Love,
Hand On The Hip