Five on Friday: U-S-A Edition

I am so amped for my upcoming trip to the states on Monday! So this Friday is all about five things that I miss (and cant wait to return to!) in the states. Dont get me wrong: I love Australia, but there are little things here and there where I’m like “ahhh I miss ________________”

As a side note: friend, family and a certain little furry puppy top the list any day :)

| ONE | Target, drug stores and reasonably priced toiletries. I’ve ranted about fake Australian “Target“, but y’all, you dont know what you’ve got till it’s gone! A catch all store like Target (or even a Walgreens!) are hard to find in Australia. They have drugstores, but typically, they are full of uber expensive goods (compared to the states). Ill be stocking up next week on our depleted toiletries, for sure! And Target: here I come!!

This is my life

| TWO | Phone plans. I never even thought about my phone or internet usage – obviously when I would pay the monthly bills I knew how much that cost, but I never worried about minutes or how much data I used on my phone/computer/tablet, but here I 100% do. Now I know this is partly my own fault because I couldn’t sign up for a full 12 month plan and our cable isn’t hooked up with the internet, but neither here nor there: I am constantly worrying about minutes and data.

| THREE | I truly miss good ole U-S-A grocery stores. Food stores here are small and lack a lot of the selection I took for granted in America. The selection is better in Sydney than it was in Perth, but it still pales in comparison to the states.

Whole Foods, Southpark: I miss you

| FOUR | Americans must come by their reputations of always being in a rush honestly, because I swear I am the fastest walker in Australia. Or at the very least Sydney. And actually, this one is a catch 22 because I do like the more leisurely way of life that Australia offers, but man! When you’re in a rush or are carrying something heavy, a little pep in your step wouldn’t hurt 😉

| FIVE | Right on red. While I dont drive in Sydney as much as I did in Perth, it still drives me nuts that you can’t take a “right on red” (in quotes because it would be a left on red here, but whatever). Side note: I’m an impatient driver.

So yeah, after writing this one, I am an American through and through: an impatient driver, who constantly feels as if she needs to rush off somewhere, who desperately misses her food. I’m owning it, y’all! And in a few short days, for a whole week, I won’t be the only one.

Have great weekends! Until next time…

Five-on-Friday

 A Liz Adventures | North Carolina Charm | Hello! Happiness | The Good Life

The one with the 100th Anniversary

I wrote (briefly) about our first experience with ANZAC Day last April and then when discussing the Aussie-Kiwi rivalry, but in case you forgot or are new to the blog (welcome!), ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand which commemorates all who served their country. ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps, and the soldiers were known as the Anzacs. The first year of commemoration of ANZAC was 1915, the year where Australia and New Zealand suffered significant casualties in World War I (specifically, Gallipoli), fighting as one of the United Kingdom’s dominions, and therefore, this year marks the centenary of ANZAC Day. April 25, 1915 was the day that the brave ANZACs landed at Gallipoli.

Image via BBC.co.uk

I distinctly remember saying to Barr as we watched last year’s tributes on the news that I was certain that 2015 would be a big year for remembrance given that it would be the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, never dreaming we’d still be in Australia, able to witness it.

ANZAC battalions landing on the coast of Gallipoli in modern day Turkey (image via Wikipedia)

But let me back up and give some background to folks that may not know much about (or anything) about the Battle of Gallipoli – because I was 100% guilty of not knowing about it prior to moving to Australia, but it holds deep significance to Australians (and Kiwis) – and rightfully so. So the Battle of Gallipoli was a battle involving the ANZACs (fighting under Britain and the Allies) during World War I. The ANZACs mission was to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula (part of modern day Turkey) to open the way to the Black Sea, so the Allied navy would have access to ultimate invade and overrun Constantinople (the capital of the Ottoman Empire and ally of Germany during WWI).

Modern day map of Gallipoli (image via NationalArchives.gov.uk)

The Battle of Gallipoli was considered a huge victory for the Ottoman Empire as there was a deadlock that lasted until the ANZACs evacuated in December 1915. Many chalk up the demise of the battle to the ANZAC landing: the beach was at the bottom of a steep slope, meaning that the ANZACs had a challenging and dangerous struggle to climb up the beach, coupled with the fact that the Turkish troops had a perfect spot from above to rain shells an gunfire upon the ANZACs from atop the cliffs.

The ANZACs had spent only eight months in Gallipoli, but in this short time had suffered more than 30,000 casualties, including 10,000 ANZAC deaths. Although wholly devastating for these bourgeoning nations, the bravery and endurance of the ANZAC troops is what turned this devastating battle into legend. Ultimately, the campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand.

ANZAC Day sunrise memorial last April in Perth

ANZAC Day sunrise memorial last April in Perth

To mark the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli, there will be celebrations of remembrance carried out through 2018 for the troops, both current and past; the centenary will be filled with air shows, art awards, marathons, exhibitions and parades throughout Australia and New Zealand.

And actually, the memorials will go beyond Australia and New Zealand; perhaps the most poignant memorial will be held at dawn on the shores of Gallipoli (this is done each year to mark remembrance – due to the vast number of spectators, many camp out for up to two days before the actual April 25 service), but dawn services are held around the world to remember the brave ANZACs and the Battle of Gallipoli.

Soliders at the ANZAC Memorial in Gallipoli (image via Gallipoli-2015.com.au)

If you happen to be in Sydney this weekend, there will of course be plenty of commemorations for ANZAC Day. The Sydney Morning Herald has a great list of services in different areas around the city. I plan to drag Barr out of bed (or maybe it’ll be the other way around..) for the Coogee service, though, sadly, this past week’s storms have created a lot of issues for the services, particularly those on the beaches around Sydney. I saw on my walk this morning plenty of clean up going on to get things sorted before Saturday.

Tweet from the Randwick City Council about the cleanup on Coogee Beach ahead of Saturday's dawn service

Tweet from the Randwick City Council about the cleanup on Coogee Beach ahead of Saturday’s dawn service

Just like Memorial Day, Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day, it’s so important to remember those who serve and have served. Even though we’re not Australians, you cant help but get wrapped up in the national pride they feel for their troops. So here’s to ANZAC Day and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli. Thank you to all our service men and women! Until next time…

Meanwhile, in Sydney…

The winds whipping up surf and sand at Bondi (image via Daily Mail)

Deserted Bondi Promenade, covered in sand (image via Daily Mail)

Sydney CBD downpour (image via Sydney Morning Herald)

Two Blanton umbrellas have bitten the dust. Yikes! April showers bring May…oh wait, that doesn’t work here 😉 Stay warm and dry, fellow Sydney-siders! And enjoy spring, all my northern hemi readers :) Until next time..

The one where you love where you live

Do you always love where you live? I’ll be honest: I dont always, or haven’t always loved where I lived. Some days I have and some days I haven’t – like so much in life, it can ebb and flow and there are pros and cons to any city, country, state or just plain state of mind.

I decided to do this post after looking through my pictures over the past two years, and seeing that a year ago today, Barr and I moved from Dubai to Perth, under the impression we’d return in a few short weeks to the UAE, only to stay in Australia longer than we ever imagined. Dubai, Perth, Sydney…even Charlotte – they’ve all come with their peaks and pits, but after so many moves in as many years, the primary core thing I’ve learned is that I really must strive to love where I live and truly bloom where I’m planted. Hopefully some of the below can be applicable to expats and long time city dwellers alike!

Love Where You Live

1. Attempt to enjoy a small pleasure each day, just like you might if you were on a holiday. Something as simple as a great cup of coffee al fresco with some fresh flowers can help you escape and bring peace to a day.

2. Spend time with friends and try to engage in activities that would be fun for each of you. If someone likes to hike and someone likes spa days, try one activity one weekend and one the next – it brings joy to each party and perhaps allows for you to try your hand at something new.

Exploring Old Dubai

Exploring Old Dubai

3. Be a tourist in your own city. I love this one. Even if you were born and bred in a city, there’s always something new to explore or at the very least, a new lens by which to view your city.

Seeing WA through a different lens

Seeing WA through a different lens

4. You know the old adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”? Live abroad or escape on a trip – I think that each time I’m away from home, it opens my eyes to how lovely home truly is.

North Shore Sydney Hike - 02

5. Practice gratitude. Remind yourself someone out there wishes to live where you do. Explore your city to find out why.

Until next time, chickadees…

Five on Friday

Y’all the weather here took a turn for the worst and it hit me hard! Am I the only one who gets splitting headaches when the weather changes (i.e., quick influx of rain and humidity)? I Googled it and it does look like it’s a real thing. So that coupled with a flu shot (which always leaves me feeling a bit off for a day or so), has made for a lazy Friday. Hopefully the weather perks up here for the weekend!

| ONE | I had planned to visit Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art’s new exhibit, Luminous, but was laid up for most of the afternoon. Fingers crossed I get to check it out next week (or perhaps this weekend? Think I can convince Barr?) Either way, it looks awesome!

A piece from the Luminous exhibit at MCA (image via MCA.com.au)

| TWO | I made this delicious (and super easy) chickpea and cucumber salad this week – I think it’s perfect for spring (or fall, as it were..)

Nom nom nom!

| THREE | Does anyone else feel like April is FLYING by? I’m off to the states a week from Monday to see one of my dearest friends in California and then off to DC for a Duke wedding! I just cant believe it’s almost here.

| FOUR | So this one may be a bit shallow, but I had to share that I was able to get to the hair salon this week! I was in dire need (sadly, y’all, I am not a natural blonde…and they recommend waiting until the 1st trimester is complete before coloring your hair), and Kerrie at Crown Hair in Darlinghurst took amazing care of me. So thrilled with my fresh blonde and this shot the salon snapped :)

My model moment ;)

My model moment ;)

| FIVE | Definitely the highlight of this week was letting the cat out of the bag about baby Blanton!!! Thank y’all so much for your kind comments, emails and calls. Knowing we have a strong community that are praying for and thinking of all three of us, brings me and Barr such joy.

Until next time…

Five-on-Friday

 A Liz Adventures | North Carolina Charm | Hello! Happiness | The Good Life

The one where Karen takes Sydney

I’m finally get back around to filling y’all in on my the rest of my mama’s stay here in Sydney – better late than never! I figured Id narrow her trip down to three mega highlights: our day hiking in the Blue Mountains, the delicious and picturesque dinner we enjoyed at Icebergs and the 24 hour jaunt my mom, Barr and I took to the Hunter Valley.

With the exception of perhaps a meal/drinks at Icebergs, I’d say these are some activities that are best enjoyed by tourists that are staying a bit longer in Sydney and have access to a car, but whether you’re tourist-ing (that’s a verb!) 😉 in Sydney or just reading along on our adventures, enjoy the snaps and reviews.

  • The Blue Mountains
    • I had been wanting to escape for the day to the Blue Mountains since before we moved here – actually, since we visited last June for the first time, particularly the Three Sisters. And even though we didnt get that iconic view the morning we went (of course the mist cleared as we drove away!), we did stumble upon an incredible hike. While a bit longer than we originally planned for, the National Pass was out of this world. And the rain/mist that we experienced earlier that day at the Three Sisters made for incredible waterfalls throughout the hike.
    • Tourist Tip: Try to get a good view of the Three Sisters, but fret not if you don’t, and check out the National Pass (or Wentworth Falls if you want something a little less strenuous) if you’re up for a rigorous hike – the stairs going both down and up the canyon aren’t for the faint of heart, but the views are well worth it.
The misty Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

The misty Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains - another great hike!

Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains – another great hike!

Mom and the glorious Blue Mountains as we hike the National Pass

Mom and the glorious Blue Mountains as we hike the National Pass

National Pass

National Pass

Woof! Those stairs were no joke.

Woof! Those stairs were no joke

  • Icebergs
    • Frankly, I was hesitant at first to book us into Icebergs for dinner because I automatically assumed it would be touristy. Everyone who visits Sydney talks about getting dinner or at least drinks at Icebergs, and I just thought to myself that because it’s soooo widely discussed, it must serve mediocre and overpriced food. How wrong I was…I managed to get us a reservation, unfortunately not by the windows, and we were not disappointed by the food, service or atmosphere. Yes, it’s on the pricier side, but the views and cuisine are completely worth it. We had an excellent time, and Ill definitely be booking us in for dinner when my dad visits next month – that time, with a table right next to the window and full views of Bondi Beach!
    • Tourist Tip: If you’re looking for a special experience (that’s worth every penny), dont miss a meal or even just a cocktail at Icebergs. I promise the hype is well deserved.
The iconic view of Bondi Beach from the Icebergs dining room

The iconic view of Bondi Beach from the Icebergs dining room – a little blurry; sorry!

Such a great meal at Icebergs

Such a great meal at Icebergs

  • The Hunter Valley
    • That brings me to the final big experience of my mom’s trip: the Hunter Valley. This was another bucket list place for me in NSW, so we killed two birds with one stone. And although I couldn’t imbibe on the wine trail in the Hunter, I was a great designated driver 😉 And it’s not all about wine up there, if that’s not your bag! The food is spectacular and the people are just incredibly hospitable and kind.
      • Case in point: our B&B owner. We booked into a bed and breakfast in Newcastle, which is about 30 minutes from the heart of the wine country. It’s a little coastal town, and it’s really quaint. And the Newcastle’s Bed and Breakfast is totally worth the trip! I mean I love a good B&B, but this was above and beyond anything I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing; Sue was such a delight – so helpful and friendly. Not to mention, the BEST cook! She made this gluten free bread, chock full of seeds and deliciousness (Ive got to email her for the recipe!), and we couldn’t have been happier with our stay there. She even drove us around Newcastle, giving us the lay of the land and booking us into a great restaurant for dinner – which was no easy feat as it was a holiday weekend.
      • Tourist Tip: Duh, try to book a room at Newcastle’s Bed and Breakfast. And here’s a rundown of some of the cellar doors we enjoyed in the Hunter Valley: Krinklewood, Brokenwood, Scarborough and Peterson House for your bubbles fix!
Cheers to the Hunter Valley!

Cheers to the Hunter Valley (and Peterson House’s sparkling wine)!

A lovely stay at Newcastle's Bed and Breakfast

A lovely stay at Newcastle’s Bed and Breakfast

The cozy breakfast nook at the B&B

The cozy breakfast nook at the B&B

Myself, Sue and my mom - Sue was such a gracious hostess

Myself, Sue and my mom – Sue was such a gracious hostess

And so brings to a close my posts on my mom’s visit to Sydney; it was so highly anticipated, and we had a great time. Have fab Wednesdays, everyone! Until next time…

Where I came from and why I left

In very un-Abby like fashion, I missed out on last week’s #TravelTuesday prompt of writing about where your came from and why you left. I could have just skipped it altogether and breezed through this Tuesday’s regularly scheduled programming, but I so loved reading the other traveling/expat bloggers’ responses last week that I couldnt help but ponder my own response.

Our own road (hehe pun intended) as travelers and expats has been one that we didnt anticipate at all. (I think that’s what they call “life”, thought, right? Life is what happens when you’re waiting for the next thing to happen.) And that last sentence truly epitomizes and sums up this post. Barr and I often think about “where were we a year ago?”,  and think about the crazy turns on which life has taken us.

Where did I come from? 

This could be its own post! But I won’t bore y’all – reader’s digest version only, I promise. So I was born in exotic Chattanooga, Tennessee, but my father’s job took us to Houston, Texas shortly thereafter. From Houston we moved to Wilmington, Delaware for a year or two (ish?) before we were back to Houston for my elementary and middle school years.

Blast from the Houston past! Photogenic as always

As I entered high school, my dad was transferred once again, this time it was my first expat experience: Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Expat-light, but still: different – and freaking freezing! We lived in Calgary throughout high school and then I was off to college in North Carolina, the place I consider home. (My parents were once again transferred to Singapore during this time, solidifying their expat statuses – I would just visit at school holidays – some of my favorites!)

Christmas 2007 in Thailand – looks like all of the Simpsons neglected to wear much sunscreen. Yikes!

My dad, husband and I all attended Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC

The whole background on my childhood moves, particularly the expat ones, because they were especially formative for me in terms of getting the traveling itch of my own. My sister and I really b*tched and moaned at the time about moving abroad, particularly at tricky times in our school years (especially Anna, who left for Singapore right before she started her senior year of high school), but looking back on it now, we cant imagine our lives without those expat/third culture kid experiences. And clearly those moves had a big impact on our adult lives as we both have lived and worked abroad as adults as well.

Orchard Road in Singapore at Christmastime

My sister and I Thanksgiving 2013 during her visit to Dubai while she was working in Manila

So that brings us more or less to the present. Barr and I met in Winston-Salem, NC, moved on to Durham, NC and then to Charlotte, NC (with a stint in Atlanta, Georgia as well), so to say North Carolina holds a special place in my heart would be an understatement: I got a great education there, met my husband, made some life-long friends, had my first “real” job, lived on my own for the first time, got married (Asheville, NC!) and settled down in the beautiful city of Charlotte.

Our wedding party in Asheville, North Carolina

Gorgeous Queens Road West in Charlotte

Why did I leave?

Before Barr and I got married, we always talked about traveling and living abroad. When he graduated from college, he worked extensively in China and Manila, and would even visit my parents in Singapore – without me! (I was still in school at the time.) I had grown up traveling – that was our family’s “thing”; once we got a bit older, we didnt do a big Christmas with lots of presents under the tree, but rather a big, fun family trip.

Bottom line: Barr and I knew we wanted to live overseas.

An early indicator of our travel bug: New Year’s in Hong Kong

When he started at his current company, and the opportunity presented itself for him to be able to work in Dubai for a year, we jumped on it. The original deal was one year in the UAE and then returning to Charlotte – that was September 2013 (returning September 2014).

Soaking up the sunset in the Dubai deserts

Dubai expats

Well, to go back to the crux of our expat experience, life takes you on journeys you never expected. Clearly it’s April 2015 and we’re not back in Charlotte. We didnt even make it a full calendar year in Dubai. A new opportunity (same company) presented itself in Perth last April for what was originally thought to be a three month stint.

Perth expats

Perth expats

Three months turned into six which turned into nine. And then another extension, but with us switching Aussie coasts to Sydney.

Sydney expats

Sydney expats

Life is what happens when you’re waiting for the next thing to happen. End of story. And you know what? Even though it’s sometimes tough and it’s impossible to make plans (!!!), when you get worked up by unexpected changes, you miss lots of other really awesome stuff going on. I dont say this to be preachy – I say it because I lived this, unfortunately. And hopefully learned something from it.

What’s next?

That’s the point: who knows?? The plan is to move back to North Carolina, and with a little one on the way, I see this as being our true reality and dont foresee it changing. Will we move abroad again one day? Who knows. I cant rule it out – we love to travel and experience new cultures, people, countries, etc, but I dont want to make too many plans too far out because I’d hate to miss what’s happening NOW. :) That being said, North Carolina is truly home in my mind (ahem, to quote James Taylor, I’m going to Carolina in my mind…always! Tearing up just listening to that song.)

Until next time…

Travel Tuesday Abbys Roads

The one with a big announcement

If you missed our exciting news on Instagram this weekend, here’s the down-low!

Baby-Blanton

Barr and I are thrilled to finally announce we are expecting baby Blanton this October! We are happily overwhelmed with the love and support we’ve received over the last few days, and we continue to pray for an uneventful pregnancy and a happy, healthy bambino come October.

Our love and prayers for the baby grow each day

I dont anticipate Abby’s Roads being all baby all the time as, even though I’m pretty open (hello, I have a blog!), this pregnancy is such a special time for us, and I think we want to keep this at least a little more private than other stuff going on in my life.

I’ve received many of the same questions from all sorts of people so I wanted to update you all in one place (if you care!). If you don’t, just check back later this week.

How far along are you? I am just over 13 weeks – I thought when I hit 12 weeks that meant we were done with the first trimester, but apparently it’s 13 (or 14, depending upon the source). I guess it’s the joke on women that it’s not really 9 months of pregnancy, but rather 10 months (or 40 weeks). Oh well! We’re just thrilled baby is swimming along happily in there at 13+ weeks.

When is your due date? October 17, 2015 – a teeny fall baby. With Barr, my mom, my mother-in-law, and my dad’s birthdays all clustered around baby’s due date (not to mention our anniversary), it’ll be a great time of celebrations!

When did you find out? My birthday – February 6. I was literally barely pregnant at that point, but enough to change the line on the test. And enough to (happily) forgo a glass of birthday bubbly!

How have you been feeling? Up until about 3 weeks ago, I was not well. At all. I mean I can be a bit whiny about being sick, but y’all, I was so so sick for about 7 weeks. Nauseous everyday, and true to the term, every morning. And if the nausea wasnt enough, foods that used to sound delish to me, made my stomach turn. For instance, I remember thinking that plain vanilla ice cream sounded like something that I would be able to keep in my belly (because I am the ice cream queen), I purchased at the grocery store, and when I went to have a scoop (or 2), it made me want to heave. Fact: the ice cream is still sitting in our freezer.

Ill be frank though, we’ve wanted and prayed for a child for what seems like forever, that each time I felt sick, I was just thankful – most of the time anyway! I remember that a momma friend of mine told me she felt the same way when we talked about kiddos back in January, and I couldn’t agree more with her.

Will you deliver in Australia? That is not the plan – the plan is to head back to Charlotte in a few months. It’s bittersweet, though, as we love the doctor we have here in Sydney!

Are you going to find out the gender? This is still up in the air. Barr doesn’t want to find out, while I do. We had blood work done a few weeks back, and they can tell us the gender now if we so choose. The anticipation is killing me!!! We have an appointment with our doctor in a few weeks, so hopefully well come to an agreement by then (or one of us will wear the other down…) I am reminded of Ross and Rachel in times like these.

Will you be doing weekly updates on the blog? As I mentioned above, I’m pretty “out there” with most stuff on the blog, but for some reason, I think Ill keep this event a little more private. So no weekly updates from Abby’s Roads, but maybe a monthly check in! :)

Hopefully this covers most of it – the highlights at least! Again, we so appreciate all of yall’s thoughts and prayers for baby Blanton. Already, like any parent, we worry each day, but I’m trying to just enjoy this time and coast through the last two thirds of the pregnancy!

Fall Five on Friday

While spring is…springing (?) in the states – or just the northern hemisphere in general – things are cooling off here in Sydney, because duh, it’s the start of fall! We moved from Dubai to Perth around this time last year (so weird that it’s been a year), and I still cant wrap my head around the season of fall in what I deem the spring months.

So this Five on Friday is dedicated to fall in Australia!

| ONE | While we dont have college football to watch on TV (which is a huge bummer, actually – I love me some college game day), we are embarking on footy and rugby seasons. Go Dockers! And a rugby team…

Cheering on the Freo Docker’s last year – even though we’re east coasters now, Ill still cheer for them!

| TWO | I love, love, love fall because who doesn’t adore breaking out chunky sweaters and cozy boots? It seems like they’re everywhere in shops here all of a sudden.

| THREE | Sydney, while fairly temperate year-round, has definitely cooled down over the last two weeks. I won’t lie, I’m sad to leave behind beach days and warm walks on the coast, but a cooler apartment (no A/C at our flat, remember?) and morning strolls to the bus/work sounds pretty appealing too. (I also take immense comfort in knowing that come June, when we return stateside, it’ll be glorious summertime!)

| FOUR | Apple season! I have been obsessed with apples over the past week or so, and I think that’s primarily due to the fact that they’re in season in Australia right now. I’m especially digging this recipe for apple pie – doesn’t this sound ahhhmazing? Only in fall, y’all! Granted it’s a bit weird not to have apple pie  circa Thanksgiving/Halloween-time 😉

Image via Allergy Free Alaska

| FIVE | Mentally, I think I’ve associated fall 2015 in Sydney with trips and visitors. First, my mom was here – bliss! Up next, a dear friend from college, who is now working with Barr, is coming in a few weekends from Perth. Then off to the states to see some girlfriends and celebrate a wedding in DC. And finally, my dad is hitting SYD in May – I’m so pumped! One great thing to look forward to after another.

Happy fall (or spring), everyone! And happy weekends, of course. Until next time…

Five-on-Friday

 A Liz Adventures | North Carolina Charm | Hello! Happiness | The Good Life

The one with a Sydney tourist list

Did y’all think that I was gone forever? Understandably so. I need to learn to have posts scheduled for times when I have folks in town or I’m out of town! I’m learning via trial and error on this whole blogging thing :) Anywho, I hope I didn’t lose too many of y’all during my hiatus from blogging because I promise that I’m back and have lots of exciting (!!!) posts to come in the weeks ahead.

So without further ado, you may remember that my mom was in town the last ten days or so, hence my little blogging vacation. We just were off and running from the moment she got here – I could barely keep up and I wasn’t the one who flew 8,000 miles and 13 time zones. (If you know my mom at all, this should come as no surprise – she’s all energy all the time) :)

In Dubai, I felt like we had a revolving door of visitors (which I adored – you can check out some of our Dubai top tips for tourists here) so we had the tourist cycle down pat, but with no visitors to Perth and my mom’s visit the first to Sydney, it was trial by fire. So what are the “must do’s” for any tourist visiting Sydney? Well, obviously part of it depends on how much time you have in Sydney, but I’ll break it down to our top 5:

  • Ferry to Manly Beach: Must, must, must do. While we didnt get off the ferry in Manly and explore that area, just taking the Sydney ferry around the harbor on this 30 minute ride, is 100% worth it for any Sydney tourist. Get out there in the fresh air on day 1 (a la Karen Simpson) and see the beautiful Sydney waters. Plus, it’s super easy – and cheap – to grab the ferry from Circular Quay (where many of the hotels are) to Manly.
Docked at Manly. My mom landed 6 hours prior to this - go girl!

Docked at Manly. My mom landed 6 hours prior to this – go girl!

  • Sydney Opera House: I mean, duh, right? Now, I’ve never personally done the behind – the – scenes tour of the Sydney Opera House, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I have, however, seen a handful of lovely performances at the opera house and I can assure any Sydney tourist or visitor that this is definitely worth your time and money. Not into the symphony or ballet? That’s okay! The opera house has comedy shows, operas, concerts… you name it. My mom and I purchased tickets to see Madame Butterfly, and seeing a performance inside the iconic opera house is a once in a lifetime experience.
Obligatory Sydney Opera House shot

Obligatory Sydney Opera House shot

  • Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk: I’ve gone on about this one before, so I won’t belabor it on this list; however, as a Sydney tourist, don’t miss this walk! Again, getting out in that fresh, ocean air is one of the best cures for jet lag and the views just cant be beat. My mom (an avid runner) and I were out there every single morning jogging from Clovelly to Tamarama. One of my favorite ways to see Sydney.
Our daily routine always included this walk

Our daily routine always included this walk

  • Enjoy a delicious Aussie seafood meal: This was one thing my mom was dead-set on doing. Not necessarily going out for a big meal, but rather, enjoying some fresh Australian seafood that perhaps she couldn’t get as easily in the states. Well, she came to the right place. Not only did we have an ahhhh-mazing meal at Icebergs in Bondi (more on that later!), but we also visited the Sydney Fish Market to pick up some local oysters, lobster tails and John Dory fish, all of which we prepared at home – and all of which she couldn’t get as fresh, local or scrumptious in Houston, Texas. (We may or may not have also indulged in oysters at about 3 other restaurants during her time here) :)
The John Dory is a pretty ugly fish - thankfully our friend at the fish market filleted him up for us

The John Dory is a pretty ugly fish – thankfully our friend at the fish market filleted him up for us

Enjoying her Australian oysters!

Enjoying her Australian oysters!

  • A city bike tour and/or Blue Mountains day trip: Lists should always be in odd numbers, so this was a tough toss up! Y’all know I’m a sucker for a bike tour in new cities in which I’m a tourist, and Sydney is no different. We biked around Sydney with Bonza Bike Tours (which Barr and I did last July as well), which I cant say enough good things about; however, if you have the time and a car (though you can also take public transportation as well), Id also recommend a day trip to the Blue Mountains, about an hour and a half northwest of Sydney. Like I said, we had a very active visit. :) Ill divulge more deets on our Blue Mountain hike next time, too.
The end of the bike tour leads tourists to Mrs Macquarie's point, aka "post card point"

The end of the bike tour leads tourists to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, aka “post card point”

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

We fit a lot more than the above into ten days, but this is a good start in my opinion! Stick around for some more Sydney tourist tips that are more off the beaten track as well as some festive pictures from my mom’s visit. So happy to be back in blogging land and hopefully I didnt lose too many of you guys. Until next time…