2019

Happy New Years! To all of you who are reading this as it’s been posted, and to all of you reading in the future – I hope 2020 is treating you well?!

After unintentionally taking a break from the blog for a few months – life has honesty just ran away with me – it feels good to be writing again, and what better to get it all out than looking back on pretty great year!

For the past few years now I’ve written up these round up posts, (like here and here), and even if no-one else is reading them, I love having them to look back on. So without further ado, I’ve a little travel round up of 2019 below:

Australia – February 2019

This was *the* trip I had been planning for pretty much all of 2018 (we actually booked the first part of the trip back in Jan 2018) so it had been a long time coming. We travelled around Australia, visiting as many territories as possible. After starting in Melbourne, we flew to Adelaide to visit my family, before travelling to Sydney – including a stay at Bondi Beach. We then ventured on to Byron Bay and Brisbane before finishing the trip at the Whitsundays.

It truly was a taste of everything in the space of three weeks, we stayed in a lot of different spots, and had such a brilliant time. It’s hard to pick a highlight of the trip, but we did really love our time on Bondi Beach, and if we were ever to return to Australia I think that’s where we’d head first!

Norfolk Broads – March 2019

I couldn’t write about this year without mentioning one of my favourite places, the Norfolk Broads. Booked on a whim as I was searching through Secret Escapes and found a night stay at The Norfolk Mead, with dinner, drinks and breakfast all included.

I would definitely recommend a trip there, as it was so cosy and welcoming. The Broads are such a lovely place to explore, whether you have a boat or not!

Chicago – April 2019

I still can’t believe we went to Chicago this year, as this one was definitely booked last minute for my birthday, as we were both so shocked at how cheap the flights were (£240 return, and then we found a bargain in the Freehand Chicago on Secret Escapes)

I went there with low expectations, not for Chicago, but as I had barely any time to plan or prepare for the trip. Safe to say, we had a great time. We experienced some traditional Chicago deep dish pizza, live Blues music, we cycled down the lakeside to the planetarium steps and of course visited ‘The Bean’ several times. We had the best time trying out the batting cages at Wrigley’s bar, and of course sampled plenty of variations of frozen Margaritas. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had!

New York – May 2019

Two trips to America in two months is certainly indulgent, and I can’t believe I got to visit New York – one of my favourite places – again this year. I took my mum and sister (again on another bargain ride, £260 return with BA) and had an incredible time showing them some of my favourite spots.

I was very lucky they both allowed me to plan the itinerary for our trip, so I had planned out a rough idea for each day and they were happy to go along with the ride and enjoy themselves! We ate a lot, we spent time walking everywhere, from the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn to Central Park on a lazy Sunday with no plans but to walk and enjoy the view.

I of course took them to all my favourite rooftop bars, and tried out more (for the research of course) and whilst we were there we ticked a goal off my mum’s list, by bridal shopping at Kleinfeld’s.

Glastonbury – June 2019

Ah, my sixth Glastonbury! I’m so lucky to say this was my sixth time – and sadly it’ll be my last for a while as I won’t be heading there this year (as I have some exciting plans, more on those later…)

I feel like every year I return to Glastonbury it becomes my favourite year, and this time it was no different. I had such  a wonderful time – even in the heatwave, and I have to return one day!

Secondigny – July 2019

I’ve written about the area of Secondigny a few years ago, as my parents have a house there and we’re lucky enough to visit every now and then. This year we chose to fly out for a long weekend over Bastille Day celebrations, which was so fun and a real treat to experience.

I love a lot of things about France, but the food has to be the top of the list – stick my in a French supermarket and I can stay for days. I ate so much incredible food (and drank a lot of wine..) during our weekend there, and it’s one of the reasons I always want to return!

Cornwall – September 2019

And at last but not least, our final trip of the year and it was on home turf! My fiancé and I had toyed with the idea of going on a camping trip, and decided to finally commit at the end of this Summer.

I’ve always wanted to visit Cornwall, and our camping trip meant we got to experience different parts in one holiday – packing up the tent in the car and driving to the other side! There were so many highlights of the trip, but camping on the hill at Polzeath with the view of the surfers was a brilliant place to stay. I also absolutely loved our day trip to Mousehole, as it was so empty and cute it felt like a little area of Cornwall to ourselves.

Ah, WHAT A YEAR! One of my favourite things about 2019 is how half of the travel listed above wasn’t even in my mind this time last year! So glad I got the chance to travel so much this year, and will definitely be trying more spontaneous travel trips this year!

Next up I have a weekend way in Dublin, before my Italy trip honeymoon later in the year. And who knows what else!

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for reading! xx

Hamilton Island

Just like you might sit back in England and watch swallows fly around in the evening, at Hamilton island you have the cockatoos, and the bats. So many bats!

I can’t believe I’ve come to my last Australia post! No later than 3 months after I visited. In the entirety of our 3 week trip, this was the stop that was the most resort-like, and one it took us a while to engage with, so let me explain…

If, in the UK, you’ve ever been to Center Parcs then that is what I would liken Hamilton Island to, but on a grander scale. It’s a self contained island, with it’s own airports, several hotels across the island and the option to hire golf buggies to whizz around (much like you’d hire a bike for Center Parcs..)

The island even has it’s own app, listing the activities that are available, except you’ll find options to windsurf and scuba dive, rather than pottery. In addition, you can also find the restaurants and bars around the island, which shops you can buy food, drink, coffee and freshly baked bread in addition to how to get there (if you don’t fancy splashing out on a buggy you can catch the free island bus).

We chose to stay at the Whitsunday apartments which was the cheapest accommodation option on the island and not a part of the chain that owns Hamilton Island itself. Even though it was ‘budget’ for the island, it came to £362 for 2 nights, so £90 each per night.

We had a one bed apartment with a balcony overlooking the pool and ocean – even though we’d booked a room with a garden view! I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much but was pleasantly surprised at what we had! If I could’ve stayed for longer – perhaps a week – I would’ve been very happy.

If you’re after a more luxurious stay, there are plenty of options all around the island, from the Reef View Hotel up to private bungalows at Qualia (prices starting at $1300 a night).

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Similar to Palm Bay, you can swim in the ocean surrounding the island, but you would need a stinger suit in ‘stinger season’ which isn’t compulsory but highly recommended (read – it’s pretty much compulsory). Even though we didn’t hire stinger suits here, as we went on a surfing trip the next day – we did make full use of the island’s pools.

There are several dotted around the island – some belonging to private hotels which you can’t access without being a resident – but my personal favourite, The Main Pool, had it’s own swim up bar.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re after an experience of The Whitsundays whilst you’re there then Hamilton Island is the perfect spot to start. There are plenty of excursions on offer from the island, but we chose the half-day Whitehaven Beach which included a visit to the iconic beach in addition to the offer of being able to snorkel Chalkies beach nearby.

I have to say we had a really great time – and the snorkel experience came with Stinger suits included you’ll be happy to know. Whilst in the sea we saw fish, turtles and my partner saw a jellyfish but I’m grateful he didn’t tell me until we were out or I’d have hot-footed it straight out of the ocean there and then.

If you’re after a trip to Hamilton Island without having to spend an obscene amount, there are plenty of options to do for free. There are walking trails around the island, in addition to activities (mainly aimed at children/families I believe) located at Catseye beach. There’s also ‘moonlight movies’ and live music down at the marina area if you want something to enjoy in the evening.

As for food, there are several restaurants around the island, but both evenings we chose to take advantage of the take away options available as the view from our balcony was hard to beat. Opting for the pizzeria and then the fish & chippy the next night, we managed to save money whilst also making the most of our prime location on the balcony.

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If you’re after a little luxury retreat whilst you’re Queensland, I would recommend Hamilton Island if you’re after a large-scale, family-orientated resort style stay. If you want a quieter, more self-catering and remote holiday then I would point you towards my post about Palm Bay Resort on nearby Long Island.

Hamilton Island doesn’t have to be too luxurious if you’re on a budget. We were and we managed to make the most of it with what we could do – on our apartment balcony enjoying our shop-bought wine and takeaway pizza we still managed to soak up our surroundings without blowing our budget.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you’re looking at more luxurious stay in Australia then Hamilton Island would definitely be your best bet. This is my last Australia post, but for the rest you can find them on the Australiasia tab. In the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

Thanks for reading x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brisbane Round Two

What do you do when you’re returning to Brisbane with still not a clue what to do? Well, you do it all again..

I have to admit when I returned to Brisbane this time round I was battling some sort of sleep deprivation/jet lag thing, as I really wasn’t feeling 100% myself. It’s such a shame with hindsight, because with only a day to try and explore the city, we really couldn’t cover much ground.

Regardless, what we did see of Brisbane was brilliant – even if it was an almost identical trip to my last time. There were a few little tweaks this time, which I’ll go on to explain…

Last time I visited Brisbane I was in a similar situation – only a day or so to try and explore the city. And I’m slightly ashamed to admit I only scratched the service.

Although this time I did manage to extend further to North of the River, visiting the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, which are certainly a little oasis in the heart of a big city. If your legs get tired like mine were, there are plenty of Lime scooters throughout the city you can grab to whizz around with instead.

This time around we stayed at the Next Hotel Brisbane, enticed by their rooftop swimming pool and attractive Happy hour deals. Whereas the room was a standard double – and includes 4 free items from the mini bar per stay by the way – the rooftop bar and pool was an added bonus to enjoy above a bustling city below.

My partner and I both took turns to do a few laps across the pool, but it seemed more people were there to drink and enjoy the view than risk getting themselves a bit wet. This was something we certainly joined in with as the happy hour was a great deal, and it wasn’t too busy for a Friday evening, meaning you’re not battling the crowds to get to the bar.

After a dip (and a margarita or two) we stepped out at sunset to walk along the Southbank to look for somewhere to eat. Once again, I went back to exactly the same place as last time – Mucho Mexicano – it was just too good not to go back too! One sharer fajita platter and a jug of sangria made for a perfect evening meal between two of us, and it wasn’t too pricey either.

The area we were in – around the Southbank gardens, meant it was a nice place to walk around to get back to our hotel late at night. Watching the locals sit back in the parks and enjoy birthday celebrations, or just Friday night drinks, was fun to watch and feel a part of, and was the closest feeling of being back in London.

Another aspect of Brisbane we got to explore this time around was further down the Southbank and across to the Botanical Gardens. Love how Botanical gardens seem to pop up everywhere around Australia, but they’re a great way to spend an hour or two exploring, or just sitting in the sun.

If you fancy a swim and you don’t have the luxury of a rooftop pool like we were lucky enough to have then the Southbank has a man-made pool with sandy beaches and sun loungers to sit back and relax. If there’s one thing I’ll say about Brisbane, it’s one of the most cost effective cities to enjoy in Australia, as unlike many cities there are plenty of free options to enjoy yourselves, whether exploring the botanical gardens or relaxing on the Southbank.

I love looking back at our brief time in Brisbane, and even though this tiny post doesn’t do it much justice, I hope it’s been of any help to anyone planning a trip there anytime soon.

I hope you enjoyed this post, more Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

Thanks for reading x

 

 

 

Palm Bay Resort

Just as I sat down to write this post I jumped up for a quick drink – a cup of tea perhaps or maybe a nice cold glass of wine – it’s almost 5pm after all… I stood up, stretched and looked out the front of our little bungalow and there I saw it. Just like in London if you were to peer out your window and see a cat crawling a long, or let’s face it – a fox, there’s a little wallaby standing on my doorstep.

I’m staying for two nights at the Palm Bay resort, settled on Long Island in the Whitsundays, off the East of Australia. In our planning for a three week trip, this last stop before we head to Melbourne was the first accommodation we booked almost over a year ago.

The listing on booking.com seemed too good to be true – Under £200 for two nights in our own bungalow on the beach of a private island… so where’s the catch?

Well, it seemed there weren’t any. I’ll explain further on as to how there were a few things in our trip that could’ve been made smoother with a bit of a heads up from the island. But if you’re after true tranquillity and solitude then Palm Bay island can offer all that. However, if you’re after luxury and opulence then maybe nearby Hamilton Island might be more your bag, but otherwise… read on..

The island is by no means budget, but it is quiet, and if you’re after some time by yourself or with your partner then it certainly delivers. The self-catering island is made up of several beach-front cabins. These range from little one-bed huts with a small terrace and hammock, to large cabins with fuller terraces. The ocean at the front does swell quite a bit in the mornings, so from some cabins it seemed like you could walk out straight into the sea. 

Apart from a small power cut on the second morning – easily rescued by boiling water for cups of tea on a gas hob, and washing ourselves with a quick dip in the swimming pool, it’s been a stay without a hitch.

One thing I’d comment about the resort is the preparation for your stay here is really to your own prerogative. Doing some research in the lead up to our stay – mainly by looking at other reviews on TripAdvisor – I gleaned that it was a self-catering resort with options to eat and drink at the local restaurant, but there were communal kitchens and a very small shop on site where you could buy groceries to cook (albeit it at a marked up price).

The island is a fully-licensed island so you’re technically not allowed to bring your own booze, although this was something we didn’t realise either so we rocked up with bottles of wine with us. They kindly turned a blind eye to this and we were able to still enjoy a glass of wine at the front of the hut in the evening – that was before we discovered that’s when the mosquitoes like to come out….

If you book a stay here and plan to arrive from the (arguably closer) airport on Hamilton Island, it will cost you an extra £30 pp to get onto a boat to jet over to the island. It should really be mentioned prior to booking, but you can’t complain especially when for us it was just us two on a boat for 12 people, with a really friendly captain.

When you book to stay at the island it comes with a range of activities you can enjoy for free, including kayaking, tennis, snorkelling and use of the facilities swimming pool. I had to put free into italics as of course everything that’s ‘free’ comes with added extras. To swim in Queensland in ‘stinger season’ you are highly advised to wear a stinger suit, which is something we decided to go for after googling what critters were out there waiting for us…

There was a hire cost for these suits, in addition to extras such as a glass bottom kayak etc. But it still didn’t push the boat of being too expensive overall.

For food, I mentioned earlier in the post that this is a self-catering island if you want it to be, but there is also a restaurant and bar on the island that we used on our first night. It was a reasonable meal for two, consisting of a starter, a pizza to share and a bottle of wine, but if you’re at the island for a week you might run out of eating options.

We chose to cook for ourselves on the second night using the communal kitchens located next to the pool, and cooked up some local barramundi which was a treat. The shop located on the island certainly isn’t cheap, but between the two of us for a meal of fish and veg it still worked out cheaper than a meal at the restaurant.

We still took advantage of the daily Happy Hour by the pool though, and I can heartily recommend the cocktails. A tequila sunrise has never tasted so good!

Another advantage of the island resort is that everything you purchase is added to your room tab which is settled on departure. That includes everything from your orders at the bars and restaurant, the stinger suit hire and whatever you pick up from the mini mart. It’s all picked up at the end so there’s no need to worry about travelling around the island with cash/cards on you.

If you find yourself in Queensland and looking for an option of places to stay I would definitely recommend Palm Bay resort. It may be on the more basic side, but that doesn’t take away the uniqueness of the experience you have there. There’s nothing nicer than swinging on a hammock, laying back and listening to the wallabies hopping through the bushes nearby…

I hope you enjoyed this post, more Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

Thanks for reading x

 

Byron Bay

What can I tell you about Byron Bay? It’s exactly how it looks since last time I came here two years ago, but I’m lucky that this time we’ve had more time to stay here and explore further.

As I write this – on our sheltered balcony with an Australian coffee next to me – I’m watching the rain absolutely bucket it down outside. Considering we’ve been travelling around Australia for two weeks and this is our first encounter of rain, we’re feeling pretty lucky so far.

I’ve just written out everything I’ve been thinking about our stay, so this is more of a rambly, diary style post. I hope it makes some sense, so let’s get going…

On our first day here we attempted the Byron lighthouse walk – highly recommend from everyone when we told them we were visiting. And it was a really gorgeous walk on the way up – albeit it really hot. Perhaps if you’re here and fancy doing it yourself it would be best to try it at sunrise or sunset!

Whereas the walk up to the lighthouse was along the coast, giving us plenty of stops to take in the view and watch the kite surfers – the walk down was through a woods filled with critters – and possibly the largest spider I’ve ever seen… If you give the walk a go yourself just be wary that half of it is through a woods and some steep steps!

If you do the coastal route alone it’s really scenic and definitely worth it. there’s also plenty of stops along the way for a drink or something to eat if you fancy doing it in the evening.

Our second day in Byron involved a private surfing lesson for us two. I’m so glad we chose for a private lesson as opposed to joining the group option. I know it might seem a bit bouji to do this, but it only cost an extra $15 each and it was definitely worth it to have the extra attention from our surf teacher.

And it was brilliant, but guaranteed I was exhausted! I kept getting caught in the current on the way out as I couldn’t keep up with the boys, but luckily the instructor was very kind and kept helping me to get out there. He would lead me up to the good waves and shout instructions at me – I got up on the board a few times, but my arms were shaky and I couldn’t get there. Regardless, the thrill of gliding along on a wave – even on all fours – was exhilarating. And made me think perhaps body boarding might be more my thing…

After our surf lesson we were both exhausted – it lasted just over two hours but went by in a flash. We headed off to The Treehouse on Belongil further along the beach, which was a great spot for lunch.

We then drove up to Minyon Falls, which considering it had been dry (up until now) meant there was no waterfall to see, but the journey up there and the view from the platform was incredible.

Whilst hit with a spot of rain the next day we paid a visit to the Byron Bay Brewery, which was a great way to spend a few hours hiding away from the rain. My fiance chose a flight of several beers to enjoy whilst I sipped on a glass of prosecco. The brewery is also handily attached to a small cinema showing the latest releases, so if you’re in Byron and the weather is truly awful, there’s always that as an option!

We’ve been spending each evening having BBQs at our accommodation, but when we have eaten out we chose the same place twice…. bear with me here! Byron Fresh Cafe had exactly the same effect on me last time – as I ate here twice back then too.

What can I say, it’s perfect for brunch and dinner, or even just drinks. The location, the interiors, the pricing and the food are just a myriad of reasons why you need to make this place a must if you’re visiting Byron Bay!  It’s so nice in there, from the bakery, the assorted flowers outside or just the fact they had plenty of fans blowing cold water at us.

I think before I finish up this rambly post I need to mention the accommodation we had for our stay as I thought it was a pretty good bargain for Byron. #BargainforByron is a pretty good hashtag if you ask me…

The U8 Apartments were a really good find via Booking.com, in that they had a self contained studio, communal BBQs and a pool that could we used. The room had its own sheltered patio area and wasn’t too far from the centre of the town. It also had free, underground parking which was a huge bonus for an area quite sparse for parking spots!

For the amount we paid – which I listed here in a special Australia accommodation post – we had a really good deal. The other options for Byron Bay we’re either hostels or luxury accommodation, and there didn’t seem to be a lot in between. But with these apartments we found a nice middle point for not too much money, and we both enjoyed our time there!

I love looking back at our time in Byron Bay, I hope this rambly diary-style post makes some sort of sense, and has been of any help to anyone planning a trip there anytime soon.

I hope you enjoyed this post, more Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

Thanks for reading x

 

 

 

The Bondi to Coogee Walk (and back again)

The infamous Bondi to Coogee walk had been recommended to me countless times before I’d even set off on my trip to stay at Bondi beach, so I’m glad to say it’s something I’ve finally ticked off the bucket list.

I can also finally attest for how good it is, and would definitely recommend completing the walk, whether just a part of it or the whole hog. If you find yourself in Bondi with a few days spare (lucky you) then definitely give the walk a go, as the beauty is you can pick and choose however long you spend at each stop along the way!

Below is how we chose to do the walk!

Starting in Bondi we chose to walk over to Coogee beach first thing in the morning, stopping off for brunch first of course – #priorities. Speedos cafe is a particular treat of an eating spot as it’s just up the hill so you get a panning view of the beach from the window.

The menu options are also spectacular – I went there two years ago and it was top of my list to return to. The vibe leans towards the #healthyeating side, but the menu gives plenty of options, healthy or otherwise.

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The first thing to know about the walk is you can choose to do it in a myriad of ways. You can either power through straight on to Coogee, or pick and choose which beaches to stop at on the way – even all of them if you fancy. The main stops according to the walk website, are Bondi – Tamarama – Bronte – Clovelly – Coogee.

We chose to beach hop on our way to Coogee and it was a gorgeous way to spend the day. I’ve written about the Bondi Icebergs before, and so can enthuse even more about the swimming pools dotted along each beach if you fancy a dip!

If you don’t you can just lay back on the sand and watch the surfers trying to catch the waves. There’s roughly around one cafe stop at each beach so if you fancy a coffee, ice cream or an alcoholic bev you can stop and enjoy the sun and the views.

Bronte Beach

The first beach on the walk, Bronte beach is certainly a smaller option than Bondi which means you won’t be battling the big crowds. About 25 minutes into the walk it’s really not too far, and we chose to stop at the beach for a swim. It’s a great spot to also watch the surfers trying to catch the waves, while still providing enough space to enjoy a swim – there’s also a swimming pool by the ocean for us scaredy cats who don’t want to get into the ocean!

Clovelly Beach

Next up on the walk – about 40 minutes later – you find yourself at Clovelly beach, which is a tiny stretch of sand with a swimming pool as well. There’s a lot of concrete here and not as much sand – so  warning if sandy beaches are more your thing!

We stopped for a coffee at Seasalt which was at the side of the bay, to sit in the shade. Whereas we only had a drink we were watching our fellow patrons tucking in to some really good looking food, so if you fancy a spot to eat this could be a good option!

Gordons Bay

Just round the corner from Clovelly is a little bay, which is certainly a quieter stop to sit back and sunbathe. There is a little patch of sand, and lots of boats docked up on the beach, but a lot of sunbathers had  spread themselves out on the nearby rocks around the bay. If we’d have had more time it would’ve been a great spot to sit back and enjoy the view – or if there’s any Airbnbs nearby I would definitely try and snap one up – what a spot!

Coogee Beach

And then onto the finale! Not too much further from Gordons Bay (although it is up a  hill…) you arrive at Coogee – approx 2 hours from the original start point. On our trip we finished off the walk with a sunbathe before sharing a pizza at Coogee Pavilion 

This was another spot I’d recommend along the walk as it seemed to be a great spot for all types of food – and some really good rose. Whatever you’re after – food, ice cream, a sit down meals, they seemed to have it all.

Once you’ve done the walk – and regardless of where you’ve stopped off along the way – you can choose to either grab the bus back, grab a lime bike, or even walk it back! We chose to walk it back as we had plenty of time to do so, and we wanted to have another dip in the sea before the sun set.

I would definitely recommend doing that as watching the sun set over Bondi Beach was a really lovely sight. We finished off all our hard walking with fish and chips by the sea.

I love looking back at the pictures from our walk along the Bondi-Coogee walk, it was a day we both remember so well from our Australia trip. Bondi in general is such a lovely place to be, and if I were back for longer I’d take the time to visit each of these beaches for more time!

I hope you enjoyed this post, more Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

Thanks for reading x

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bondi Icebergs

Confession time: I am a giant scaredy cat. So booking a three week trip to Australia – where most of the animals seem to be out to get you – was a risky holiday for me already. Add to that that I’m not the most confident swimmer, and well, you can start to wonder why I booked to go to AUSTRALIA of all places.

Well, luckily enough it seems the Australians have found a great way to still enjoy the sea when you’re not the most confident swimmer, by building swimming pools right on the sea’s edge.

This is where the Bondi Icebergs come in – for £8 for the both of us we spent the afternoon in Bondi Beach swimming along and then sunbathing on the side. It was great fun and a guaranteed way to get me into the water.

The icebergs are picturesque to say the least – in fact they’ve been my work desktop background since I last visited two years ago. I’m just glad I actually got the chance to visit and swim in them this time.

Complete with a smaller, kid-friendly pool, and a larger swimming pool split into lanes its easy for even the most inexperienced swimmer to give it a go. In addition, whilst there I saw adverts for an amateur swimming club and also yoga classes on offer, so if you’re planning on sticking around Bondi for a while it’s worth taking a look.

If you don’t fancy a swim, or paying for the privilege, you do have the option to eat at the restaurant above. The only caveats being that it does look quite fancy (ready – expensive) and I think there’s a booking premium for sitting on the balcony with the view.

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If you’re not a fan of swimming it’s worth a visit just to watch the waves crash over the side of the pool, but if you’re a thrill seeker you can try and swim along the far left lane and battle against the incoming waves.

If you want a chill swim time just stick with the slow lane like I did and you can still get your laps in without getting pummelled by the waves, or getting in anyone’s way!

I love looking back at the pictures from our afternoon at the Bondi Icebergs. Bondi in general is such a lovely place to be, and being able to swim along at the Icebergs is just an added bonus!

I hope you enjoyed this post, more Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

Thanks for reading x

5 Ways To Make The Most Of Sydney

I have to start off by saying that every time I’ve visited Sydney I’ve really loved it. Guaranteed, I’ve spent most of my time visiting the tourist attractions – the harbour bridge, the harbour itself, and the surrounding beaches  – but even the little time I spent exploring the quieter parts of the city have been brilliant all the same.

This time on my visit I spent a long weekend staying in the most incredible Airbnb with a rooftop pool and BBQ. Seriously, if you’re planning on visiting Sydney anytime soon check this place out, it was incredibly good value for the view from the roof, and the pool and BBQ facilities you can find up there.

If you’re on a similar trip to us and planning on spending a long weekend in the city, I’d definitely recommend the following for your trip!

Walk Along the Harbour Bridge

This is a free and less hair raising alternative than doing the bridge climb (that can set you back almost $200!). Grab the subway/tube to the Milsons Point and climb up the stairs to walk along the walkway across the bridge.

The view you get of the harbour, the opera house and of all the boats passing by is just brilliant. When we walked across – and it only takes around 20 minutes or so – the view was spectacular, and we even got to see a cruise ship pass underneath, with everyone on the top deck waving up to us…

And at the other side, over the bridge you end up in the Rocks, which is a really nice area of Sydney to explore the laid back cafes, restaurants and shops.

Grab a boat to Manly Beach

There are two options for sailing over to Manly beach – grab a F line with your Opal card, or hop on the Super Fast Manly Beach Ferry – which is the same price. I’d say avoid pre-booking this and just see which is the earliest one to you when you arrive to save time.

The journey over to Manly beach lasts just under half an hour but if you spend it on the top deck it’s a lovely journey with great views of the city and the surrounding beaches.

Once you’re at Manly you have plenty of options for beaches, not just the main stretch – and you can either hire sun beds and umbrellas or pick a spot yourself for sunbathing. Around the harbour there is also a lot options to stop and grab something to eat or drink, and watch people diving from the pier, or paddle boarding across.

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

For a small but scenic route from the Sydney Botanical Gardens round to the opera house, stop off at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for a great viewing spot of the Harbour, bridge and opera house and all.

It’s a popular spot but for a reason, as the view you get of the Opera House and the bridge is  just brilliant. It’s also a perfect walk through the park and round to the harbour, and if you want to explore further you can also access The Rocks, to explore further.

The Shangri-La Hotel

If you fancy a posh date night then grab the lift up to the Blue Bar on 36 on the 36th floor (obvs) of the Shangri-La Hotel either in the day or at night time for an extraordinary view of the Opera House and the surrounding area.

I can’t attest for how good the food, drinks or service are as when we visited we just slipped into the viewing lounge for a sneaky peak before heading down the Opera House itself… But if you want to have a special evening and treat yourself it’s worth booking ahead to make sure you get the prime spot to see the harbour!

The Opera House Bar

Guaranteed the prices for drinks are on the pricier side – but where with a view like this wouldn’t be? Also their range of Frosé (Frozen Rosé) is quite impressive, and I’m sure a glorious sunny afternoon could be spent sampling them all…

It’s also a pretty lovely sight at night, with the bridge lit up and the view of Luna Park across the harbour. If you’re in Sydney as a tourist it’s an aboslute must for experiencing the harbour view, with the added bonus of being able to enjoy a drink at the same time!

I hope if you’re visiting Sydney soon that any of the above recommendations come in handy. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything glaringly missing!

More Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

Thanks for reading! x

Wine Tasting in the Barossa Valley

“Do you have Jacob’s Creek in the UK?” asked the very kind lady hosting our wine tasting.

“Ermm yeahhhh?” I mumbled back – of course we do, you can find a bottle of Jacob’s Creek in possibly any corner shop nearby. It was never a bottle of wine I would usually pick up, but I have to say I now see Jacob’s Creek in a completely different light.

For a wine lover I’m certainly no wine connoisseur, and I barely take the time to look at a wine menu and pick which type of wine I’d prefer – French, Italian, even English… Well after a trip to actual Australian vineyard I can confirm I’m a changed woman.

Actually, I’m a changed wine lover. Before I never would have had a glass of red, let alone port or sparkling red. So I’d say if you’re a wine lover, or are partial to a glass, then I can thoroughly recommend wine tasting in the Barossa valley.

Not many places (outside of France) may be so synonymous with vineyards and wine production, but the Barossa Valley boasts several opportunities to taste, explore and even stay at vineyards across the valley with more than 80 cellar doors and 150 wineries,

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When I went to visit the valley we took a visit to the Jacob’s Creek Winery and Vineyard, complete with a restaurant, tennis courts (!) and the option to hire a bike and cycle from stop to stop.

The wine tasting option was fantastic and certainly value for money, at only 5$ each to taste a selection of 9 wines. These ranged from white, red and rose on to interesting variations of prosecco, aperol spritz and port. Safe to say, there was an option for whatever kind of wine you like (and even if you don’t, you could always spit it out after..)

Not only was the tasting good value, but the information given to us by the woman was really informative. It was great to have a taster, learn about the grapes, and then be given some time to taste and enjoy the wine by ourselves and talk about it properly. Safe to say I’ve never had such a fun lesson before…

If you’re interesting in visiting the Barossa valley, I would definitely recommend Jacob’s Creek for a visit, and if I had had longer there the option to stay and hire bikes through the vineyards sounds like an absolute dream.

Using the Barossa Valley website it’s possible to search through all the vineyards available using their winery map, and also search for accommodation – as it’s even possible to stay at some of them. If you’re after a laid back holiday in southern Australia then this looks like the ticket.

I hope if you’re visiting the valley soon that any of the above recommendations come in handy. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything glaringly missing.

More Australia posts will be coming to the blog every week, but in the meantime my holiday snaps can be found on my Instagram @GrundyTravels.

 

Where To Eat in Melbourne

A quick disclaimer before I get into the nitty gritty (and by that I mean, the close up avocado toast pics) but this post should actually be titled “Where to eat in Melbourne and surrounding areas”, as we do deviate from the city slightly.

And even though I have touched on a few of the spots below in my recent post about What To Do In Melbourne, I felt that the food spots we visited needed their own post, as the below all come highly recommended.

From brunch to rooftop bars to fancy establishments and back to brunch again, I have you covered. If you’re heading to Melbourne city – and surrounding areas – anytime soon, definitely give any of the below a go, and you won’t be disappointed.

Captain Baxter

Situated perfectly right on the beach at St Kilda, Captain Baxter ticked all the boxes in that it has a) incredible views, b) a pretty decent Happy Hour and c) a cracking menu with lots of choice.

Guaranteed, the final bill price sat at the pricier end of a usual meal out, but I would say Captain Baxter is completely worth it, and we definitely thought so, as we went back twice.

Whereas the Happy Hour specials deserve a mention ($6 sparkling wine and $3 oysters) the bar area outside is a perfect spot – especially with the glass side acting as a wind break, which is really needed at St Kilda. You don’t need it getting all windy when you’ve got sparkling wine to enjoy.

We ate twice at the main restaurant and both meals were authentically flavoursome, and neither time left us disappointed at all. Their menu offers main options in addition to smaller plates, and you can pick and choose how you want to style it. My first meal (pictured below) was of smoked trout salad – not something I would usually pick, but with a side of hearty baked potatoes, it was a reallly good meal. My second time there deserves a huge shout out, as my favourite meal of moules frites was spiced up – literally – with curry sauce and roti.

Miznon

A perfect spot that is great for a budget and tasty lunch! I found Miznon recommended on Girl Tweets World, and I can definitely attest that it’s a great and cheap option for lunch if you’re not looking for anything too big or expensive!

It’s a Mediterranean Street food spot with Insta-friendly interiors, or great outdoor seating if you’d prefer people watching whilst you feast. The menu is incredibly reasonable and the portions are huge. I picked the Wagyu burger and it was absolutely delicious, and a perfectly sized large lunch for a tiny price.

Farm Cafe

Another spot so good we visited twice.. but I really can’t recommend The Farm Cafe enough. It’s situated a little further outside of the city, but if you fancy hiring a bike and exploring further into the country then The Farm Cafe is a perfect place to cycle to.

Both meals I had there (which were brunch – which they run all day…) were delicious, with perfectly ripe-but-not-too-ripe avocado and rich, hearty bacon rashers. If I could return I’d try dinner out too, but to be honest I don’t know if I could stop myself choosing the breakfast again…

Because of its location slightly out of the city hustle and bustle it’s a bit more chilled and laid back. Sitting next to a working farm (hence the name) you can relax with the sounds of chickens clucking away.

Republica

Also situated on St Kilda beach (and underneath Captain Baxter in fact…) but Republica deserves a shout out for providing a budget option for dinner in an area that doesn’t always seem so budge- friendly.

I think this spot would be a great idea if you want a cheaper meal, as the restaurant and bar do daily specials and set menus. We so happened to be there on the Fish and Chips day, which was fine by me.

If you’re travelling solo and looking to make friends, the bar also host volleyball on the beach from Tuesday-Thursday evenings. And if you don’t fancy getting sandy (and sweaty) and just want to sit back with a drink, the outdoor area has plenty of choice to kick back an enjoy the view of the sunset or of a volleyball match in action.

Naked for Satan

An intriguing name for an incredible setting. This is a rooftop bar in Fitzroy, North of Melbourne, and an area that’s worth visiting just to wonder through and explore the shops and cafes.

Naked for Satan‘s main drawing point is the rooftop bar view of the cityscape, but the interiors were also incredibly jazzy – both on top and in the restaurant on the bottom.

 

Whereas their full menu looked delicious, the also had a great happy hour offer running every afternoon. All their small plates were only 11$ which was perfect for a small meal, or to mix and match to make a Tapas situ.

As below I settled for seared beef and liquor peppers, which certainly hit the spot, and where spicier than any I’d had in England… Also I have to mention the incredible Vino Tinto there. As a long time Sangria fan I enjoyed this alternative, of red wine, Aperol and lemon fizz. Delicious.

Ponyfish Island

A final mention for this post as I have to admit we didn’t eat here – but the views, drinks and food we did see whilst there were enough to add this to the list!

Located in the middle of a bridge across the Melbourne river you really are right in the middle. It has a 360 view all around where you can perch at the edge and enjoy your drinks and watching the rowers go by.

Whereas I can’t attest for how good the food was – although it did smell incredible – they did a very good and large portioned Sangria!

And there we go, my 6 recommendations for eating and drinking in and around Melbourne! I hope you enjoyed this post, I really hope it comes in handy if you’re planning a visit to Melbourne. Regardless of budget or time of day any of the spots above are very good options to visit!

More Australia content is coming to the blog but in the meantime you can find more of my travel snaps on my Instagram @GrundyTravels