Saturday, June 2, 2012

there's nothing like Australia

I would love to move to Sydney. It's just gorgeous---filled with parks and surrounded by water. The downtown area is all walkable and the outlying areas are connected by easy-to-navigate public transportation and a nifty ferry system.

The food was outstanding. I ate either seafood or Thai food every night (apparently Thai is the hot thing right now in Sydney) and drank at least two flat whites (microfoam poured over a shot of espresso) every day. My brand of choice was Single Origin Roasters and their coffee was some of the best I've ever had.

I visited two terrific bakeries, Bourke Street Bakery and Becasse Bakery. Bourke Street was in Surry Hills, the Sydney neighborhood where our hotel was located. My favorite was the rhubarb tart with almond, though the passion fruit meringue tart was a close second.

Becasse was located in a kick-ass mall in Sydney CBD.  The mall had a myriad of mouth-watering options in their beautifully designed food court, as well as all the high-end shopping a girl could wish for. The bakery was classic French, and Chris and I made our way there every afternoon for a petit goĆ»ter. I always had the cream puff because I'm such a sucker for them.

I was surprised how expensive restaurant prices were. I talked to one of our waiters about it and he said that it was because the minimum wage is much higher in Australia (just over $15 an hour). Love the idea, but it blew my vacation budget to hell. Apparently Australia in general is riding an economic high due to increased demand for commodities. One tour guide mentioned that Australia is  the third largest provider of coal to China.

Security was quite tight in the airports as well. There was a strictly enforced quarantine for food items. Not even water bottles from the plane were allowed outside the airport. We flew Qantas, and even sitting in economy, it proved to be ten times better than United or American, which we flew from Newark to Los Angeles. Free movies, exremely friendly staff and tolerable food---amazing!

The weather was too cold for me. They had just finished an extremely wet summer and temperatures were already starting to drop into the 60's while we were there (it's fall there right now). It was extremely windy as well. At Cairns, we endured choppy seas which made it difficult to snorkel and made quite a few people sea sick on the boat rides we took out to the Great Barrier Reef. Luckily I have a strong stomach and a good sense of adventure. Everyone I talked to said that the wind (which was at 30 knots every day) was unusual for this time of year. A freakish phenomenon apparently.

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