Down Under Diary 9: From Vivid to the Hills to the Gong

This week Jack and I have been doing what we love most – getting out and about to explore new places!

After attending the dessert market last week, this week we did what true new to Sydney residents are meant to do and we actually walked Vivid. Sure, Jack still stopped off for a dessert before we set off, but we walked Circular Quay and The Botanic Gardens to see the lights. They really didn’t disappoint! Each one was unique and it was a real experience to wander around the botanic gardens at night and see them all lit up and full of weird and wonderful sounds.

My favourite lights without a doubt were the firefly field lights. It looked so magical! I don’t think photos do it justice, but this one is still pretty cute. I even asked Jack if we could plan our wedding around this idea, so whenever we get married expect no chairs, no food but lots of pretty lights!

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I then went to Surry Hills to meet the girls from the travel group. As the weather is getting colder here, I went all out winter styling and wore a red lipstick – something I haven’t worn in ages. Seen as I spend my days at home writing, putting on makeup is a rarity so it felt nice to dress up and ‘go all out’ for once. I took a selfie just to prove to myself that I still know how to apply makeup!

Katie and I met beforehand for a catch up – she had been away for the weekend for Tom’s birthday and it felt like we had a million and one things to talk about! We went to somewhere called The Clock in Surry Hills which had quirky clock related decor (who’d have guessed it) and also did a nice rose wine. I’m 6 months into life here and this is the second glass of rose I have ordered and actually liked – it felt like an achievement that needed to be mentioned!

As always, I had such a good time with the girls! We went to The Dolphin Hotel in Surry Hills for pizza and drinks, a new spot for me and one that I’d go back to. A few different faces came this time and I sat with different people which was great because I got to get to know more new people. One of my favourite things about being part of this group is meeting new people from around the world. I find it so interesting to talk about how we all ended up in Sydney and to hear about people’s lives and backgrounds. I haven’t met a single person that I have found boring or not wanted to be around. When people say travel broadens your horizons, they really are telling the truth. I feel so lucky to have these girls in my life.

This weekend was my first anniversary with Jack. When I say it’s our first anniversary, I partly can’t believe it has only been a year but also can’t believe all we have managed to do in that time. It’s crazy to think that in a year we have travelled to Rome, Majorca and Iceland, got engaged and then moved to Australia together. We had Christmas and New Year apart, survived travelling with just each other for company and the stress of finding an apartment in Sydney in 5 days. We built our home here together from scratch and I couldn’t be more proud of us.

To celebrate our anniversary, we booked a weekend away to Wollongong. Neither of us have been there before but my cousin Tom went there for university and loved it, plus we knew that there was a direct train from Sydney to Wollongong Station. As we are living in Sydney with no car, we thought this would be the perfect spot for a weekend away.

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As perfect as getting away was, I feel it’s important to note what an absolute bargain this trip was for us! From all of the bookings we made on our travels, we had a rewards night from Hotels.com which made going away really cheap. The voucher we had was worth around $125 which meant that we got our hotel for pretty much nothing. Plus the train there and back cost us $9 in total each. It used to cost me more than that to get a one way ticket from a coal train station into the next city in England!

We geeked it up on the train and sat in the quiet carriage reading our books – we know how to live it up!

The hotel we stayed at was the Sage Hotel in Wollongong. It was a lovely, modern hotel with spacious rooms and in a peaceful spot. The hotel had an outdoor pool but it has got a little too chilly for us to be rushing out to an outdoor pool! The view from our room looked onto a golf course which turned out to be pretty picturesque.

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For anyone interested in going to Wollongong, The Sage Hotel is in a great location with the Main Street under a ten minute walk away and the beach about 2 minutes away. With a beach that looks like this, even if you weren’t interested in going to Wollongong before I am sure you are a little more interested in going now!

Jack is usually the planner out of the two of us but I researched and found a restaurant called Kneading Ruby. It did the most amazing cocktails and the best pizza I have ever had! Coming from me, that is serious praise. Plus the waiter was really lovely and made sure we had the most perfect evening. Kneading Ruby is apparently one of Wollongong’s ‘hidden gems’ and it really is hidden away down a side street, so to all Wollongong locals I am sorry for outing your secret place but it is too good for others to miss out on!

Before we left Wollongong, we stopped off for breakfast at The Coffee Club. When Jack and I were travelling, The Coffee Club was one of our go to breakfast places when we wanted to fill up before a big trip. It has a great choice of food and I have never had a bad experience there. When they give you a hot chocoalte that looks that good, how can you not want to go there!?

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We also had to buy a winter coat for me. When I was in America over Christmas, I had 2 really good coats but I had to leave them along the way as there was simply no room in my case and I was going to Australia in the height of summer. I have a few little jumpers here, but none of them are particularly warm and my only coat is a denim jacket. The weather in Sydney has definitely dropped this week so it was time to make the coat investment. Not knowing the shops and brands here is a little tricky, but Sports Girl came to the rescue!

All in all, it’s been another great week in Australia. Going away was wonderful and has us both thinking of where we would like to visit next. It seems our travel bug hasn’t stopped roaming just yet…

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