Palazzo Versace – a weekend in luxury

Last weekend a long cherished dream became reality, as we were generously invited to spend a weekend away at the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast of Australia. Not only is the hotel an absolute high-end getaway, which is a local icon and internationally renowned for it’s outstanding luxury facilities. It also, as the name reveals is dedicated to and designed in style of my all time favourite fashion brand: Versace!

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With that said, it’s natural that we have arrived there with ultra high expectations and I know well enough that this can sometimes be a bad omen, making a good time feel very disappointing just because it hasn’t managed to be the best time ever. With the Palazzo Versace although, I most definitely have not been disappointed!

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From the moment of arrival, when we walked over the stunning driveway mosaic ( the second largest in the world! ) and through the massive roman columns lining the entrance to enter the luxurious foyer hall, we felt like we had just stepped into an antique Italian royal palace. With magnificent marble floors, big pillars crowned with beautiful, golden capitals, a pianist playing classical melodies on a noble piano, a gigantic 750 kg chandelier hanging from the high ceiling and beautiful round lounges in Versace’s extravagant yet classy signature style all framed by loads of beautiful fresh and fragrant flowers the interior design of the Palazzo is something just so perfect I could rave about it for ever.

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Through the glass front at the back of the foyer we sneaked our first peak at the guests-only pool area, but owed to our late arrival and it already being dark outside we could only guess it’s full extent. We went to have a little snack and a glass of wine while enjoying the marina view at the hotel’s Vie Bar and Restaurant and then crawled into bed, very excited to get up early the next morning to make the best use of our day.

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The following morning could not have been any better! After waking up super relaxed in what must be the most comfortable bed we have ever slept in we quickly got ready for the day and half an hour later we found ourselves all refreshed, sitting on a table overlooking the bright pool area at the Palazzo Versace’s second restaurant, where they serve a phenomenal buffet breakfast. We have absolutely indulged in the broad variety of choices, but especially loved the delicious fresh fruit and spiced yoghurts, juices and what always is a very important breaki component for me: finest bakery and high-quality condiments.

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Now full of new energy we set off to finally explore the full beauty of the pool area in bright daylight. The large space is completely shut of from the outer world, being enclosed by the hotel building on three sides and opening up to the broad water on the fourth. This leads to a very pleasant intimate feel and quite the serenity inside which I absolutely loved.

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The pool itself is very generous with a bright fake sand beach on the front side. You have the choice to relax on one of the Versace beanbags on the sand right next to the water or stretch yourself out on the large shadowed luxury day beds. Just be careful, choosing the day bed might mean that, like in our case, you are stuck there for many hours, not wanting to leave this spot of ultimate relaxation.

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We stayed at the pool for so long that we almost ended up being late for meeting our friends out for dinner that night ( we made it in time! it’s just been a bit hectic haha ). Another benefit of the Palazzo Versace clearly is it’s location. Leave the hotel premises through the northern entrance and it will lead you straight onto a pretty little boardwalk along the hotel-own marina and the broad water canal. It’s a great opportunity to take a walk and appreciate the beautiful scenery, but also does is lead you to numerous high-end restaurants with fabulous cuisine and alfresco dining overlooking the water. We had a great night catching up with some good friends at Omeros Brothers Seafood and ended up having quite a few drinks post-dinner.

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After a big night out the following morning did not feel quite as refreshing as the first one did and so we decided to sleep in for a bit and get our breakfast delivered by the room-service ( best decision ever! ) A hangover certainly never feels great, but I could not think of anywhere more comforting and soothing than the Palazzo. Our room has been very spacious: unlike most other hotels we have been to it had a bedroom as well as a big living room with a dining table, two couches and a TV. The bathroom has been amazing as well, featuring both a big rain shower and a jacuzzi bathtub ( you can call the receptions and they arrange a scented bath with flowers and candles and chocolate fondue! ). And not to forget! Same as the complete rest of the hotel, all rooms are designed in full authentic Versace style. From the floor, over beddings, decoration, pillows, furniture, curtains, taps, window glasses, toiletries to towels and even cutlery and glasses: Everything had a touch of Versace and we loved it! 12752056_1134146459942418_1244838314_o

We finally got out of bed when the room service rang our door bell to bring in our breakfast order. Struggling to make decisions as usual when we are hungover we could’t decide whether we should go sweet or savoury and ended up having both, eggs benedict bagels and pancakes! And a big milkshake of course! It’s been an absolute dream, made better by the fact that we still haven’t had to put proper clothes on. Yes!

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And for whoever might expect this to be the end of our lazy phase and for us to really get our lives together and have a productive day: Sorry to disappoint you, but getting the tanning oil out and spending the day at our own private pool seemed like a much better idea!

At this point, thanks to the Palazzo Versace for an incredible weekend. We have certainly enjoyed every moment of it. 🙂

 

The Top 10 Things You Must Do On Hamilton Island

As a part of the beautiful Whitsundays, and right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, Hamilton Island is a one of a kind holiday destination. The island is a haven of natural beauty, featuring crystal clear waters, pristine white beaches, and a kaleidoscope of coral and marine life. It is one of these places that manage to instantly capture their visitors in a state of ultimate relaxation and contentment, that the time is just flying by. So many people aren’t doing too much exploring and honestly, they’d probably still have a great time just laying at the beach all day long soaking up the sun. But let me tell you that there is so much more to Hamilton Island and it’s surroundings, so many things you definitely should not miss out on!

Here’s a guide to the Top 10 things you must do on Hamilton Island:

1.Visit Whitehaven Beach
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If you have read any of my other entries dealing with Whitehaven Beach you will already know how much I love this place! The crystal clear aqua waters and pleasantly cool pristine silica sand, the sand banks out in the water looking like a swirl of aquamarin and white and the beautiful fish and baby sharks floating through the waters. For me this is the epitome of paradise and it is a definite must-do for everyone lucky enough to visit the Whitsunday Islands!

2. See the sunrise at Passage Peak

Passage Peak Hamilton Island

So after the first must-do, that admittedly is not exactly one of the cheapest activities, let me go on with another absolute must-do, that in contrast won’t cost you anything -but sweat and tears on the way up. Just joking, actually it is a pretty moderate hike, with heaps of pretty views. If you save it up until your day of departure though and then have to get out of bed at 4 am after a huge night out to climb up there in the rain (the only time it rained during our whole stay as well) then we are talking about a whole new level of challenge. I know what I am talking about, cause that it is exactly what we did haha. Absolutely worth it though! The view, especially with the illumination of the sun rising above the ocean was just incredible. Also you get a much better imagination of the whole scheme of the Whitsunday Islands from up there, as you realise how many little islands there are all around.

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3. Spend a day at one of the secluded beaches

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On the way back from Passage Peak, you do pretty much (with a little bit of attention you can spot it though the trees) pass a beautiful secluded beach called Hideaway Bay. It is quite small and you have to make it over a few rocks before you get to the nicer sandy ground in the ocean, but it is very pretty and pristine and with a bit of luck you should be the only people around. Have a look around in the water as well, as usually you can spot little reef sharks in the shallow banks of the ocean. We have spotted some on the right end of the beach near the big rocks.

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4. Go snorkeling with the turtles

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands

The corals and marine life around the Whitsundays are part of the Great Barrier Reef and are simply amazing and the best thing about it is: If you are staying at Hamilton Island you can easily access a beautiful reef from the main beach. Just hire some snorkel gear at the Beach hut and swim out for a few hundred meters and there you are, right in the middle of it. Pretty fish, colourful corals and even turtles! Of course you will need some patience and maybe a little bit of luck to spot them, but the chances are on your side.

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5. Spoil yourself with a nice dinner at the Marina

Restaurant Marinera Hamilton Island Marina

After all the hiking and snorkeling it is time to relax a bit and grand yourself a nice dinner. No better place to go than the Hamilton Island Marina. It’s not only where all the super expensive Yachts are anchored and the shopping  is done, it also is the place where everything is happening at night and when the sun sets it evolves a very elegant and romantic atmosphere, with lots of restaurants and bars and even a nightclub. There definitely are a lot of great spots at the Marina but my absolute favourite was the Mariners Seafood Restaurant. If delicious food, perfect service, a great atmosphere and stunning views at the Marina and the sunset are what you are looking for this should be your choice.

6.Take your buggy on a scenic drive around the island

One Tree Hill Hamilton Island

Another free opportunity that you should not miss is taking your buggy for a drive. All accommodation on Hamilton Island comes with a buggy that you can use as your own means of transport as much as you want. Make the most of it! Take it on a to to explore all the roads of the island – even, or especially the ones you do not know where they are leading to. There is so much to find, like a tiny little island school or a very storybook-like chapel on the top of a hill. And then there is the views, just beautiful, especially from up at One Tree Hill.

7. Enjoy drinks with a view at the One Tree Hill Bar
One Tree Hill Bar Hamilton Island

And now that you have already made it up to this amazing place, make sure that you make the most of it and get yourself a drink at the One Tree Hill Bar. A very special place right on the edge of the hill with breathtaking views over Catseye Beach and the ocean. Drinks are very yummy as well: The Apple Mojito and the Iced Berry Tea Cocktail were so good!

8. Hire some watersport equipment at Catseye Beach

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Enough of the relaxation for now? Then you should definitely go down to the Beach Hut located at the western end of Catseye Beach and rent some of their watersports equipment. This includes catamarans, windsurf boards, stand up paddle boards and snorkeling gear. We have rented both the SPB’s and the catamarans several times and it always was so much fun! The catamarans are quite easy to handle after you have figured out how to navigate around, which makes it very relaxing to just cruise around and enjoy the sunshine and beautiful views from the water. The stand up paddle boards were my favourites though, they are a fair bit more challenging, engaging your whole body when you steer the paddle through the water (especially when speeding up a bit). But it definitely is a very nice way to workout, as the breeze and the splashing cool water makes it perfectly enjoyable. It’s a great way to get a good tan as well!

9. Participate at the activities and win lots of free stuff

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Hamilton Island has a lot of weekly activities going on to keep it’s guests entertained, such as a Bowling and a Pool competition, a Buggy Rally and several Bingo evenings. These events are usually quite fun, but the best part of it is that there is a large chance to win prizes, starting from meal vouchers for the Hamilton Island restaurants up to activities like sunset kayak tours or ATV adventures for 2 people, valued around 150 AU$. Not bad, huh?

10. Visit the pool bar for happy hour

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If you are getting a bit “thirsty” after a day spend at the beach, you should consider making the short way over to the Dolphin Pool (western side of Catseye Beach) and spoil yourself with a delicious cocktail from the pool bar. They are usually pretty expensive so try to get there between 3 and 4 pm for Happy Hour!

What a life: Cruising the Whitsundays on a Yacht

Today we followed the kind invitation of our friends Mark and Sam and spent the day cruising the Whitsunday Islands on their Charter Yacht. And i can tell you, that with certainty this must have been one of the best days i’ve had in a long time. We put out to see at 10 o’clock this morning and popped our first bottle of champagne whilst the captain started to head towards Whitehaven Beach. By the time we anchored at Whitehaven we have all had a few drinks already and were in an awesome spirit, super excited to get off on the beach. Even though I have already been to Whitehaven before, or maybe just because of that, I was so happy that I was given the chance to see this beautiful place again. I have spoken to many people that have loved Whitehaven Beach as much as I do, but lately I had also heard a few people say that they were not as impressed, that they just didn’t see what is so special about it.

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By the time we anchored at Whitehaven we have all had a few drinks already and were in an awesome spirit, super excited to get off on the beach. Even though I have already been to Whitehaven before, or maybe just because of that, I was so happy that I was given the chance to see this beautiful place again. I have spoken to many people that have loved Whitehaven Beach as much as I do, but lately I had also heard a few people say that they were not as impressed, that they just didn’t see what is so special about it. So I almost got a bit nervous about going back and potentially realising I’ve just played it all up a little in my head.

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I was so happy when we arrived and I realised that the place, that I have called my Favourite Place in Australia, is exactly what I have remembered it to be like. The crystal clear aqua waters and pleasantly cool pristine silica sand, the sand banks out in the water looking like a swirl of aquamarin and white and the beautiful fish and baby sharks floating through the waters. For me this is paradise!

The Whitsundays

After plenty of time on Whitehaven we got back on the Yacht and resumed our cruise. There is something unbelievably relaxing and joyful in watching the waves hitting the ship, feeling the airflow passing and the sun shining on your body, while blasting good music and having a drink. It was so good.

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Arrived at our second anchor location we had some yummy lunch -fresh fruit, sandwiches and salads- before jumping back in the water for some snorkeling with turtles! We have seen two, one was pretty huge and the other one was a bit smaller and we managed to get a really good look at both, as they were very close to the water surface and didn’t care about us at all. It was pretty awesome that we have been the only people at this location as well, as too many people can often scare many of the animals away. But with only the four of us there was so much to see and we could swim right through schools of big and colourful fish. So much fun!
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Time passed in a flash and soon it was starting to get dark: time to return to the Hamilton Island Marina. All the way back we celebrated a great day, giving our best to finish off the bottles we had left and by the time we arrived back on the island we were all perfectly tanned, drunk and happy.

Oktoberfest in Australia – Embracing our (inner) German!

Did you know that Brisbane hosts the biggest version of the Oktoberfest in Australia and one of the Top 10 Oktoberfests outside of Germany worldwide?
Thats where we have been yesterday and it has been heaps of fun!
From classic German favourites such as pork knuckle or pretzels, Black Forest cake, Gingerbreadhearts (Jared got me one, yay!) or Bratwurst over German hand-crafted beers, wines and champagne to authentic entertainment like the German Oktoberfest band flown in from Munich playing party hits like the Chicken Dance and “Das Fliegerlied”, it was all there. This event makes the perfect day out with friends and is a great possibility to experience something new and get to know German culture a bit better.
Also if you are keen for a laugh, you should have a look at this failed attempt of Jared and I to Prost with each other on video!

 

The top 10 things you must do on Fraser Island

The worlds biggest sand island, iconic Fraser Island just off the eastern coast of Australia is a place of exceptional beauty. Featuring long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and a multitude of pristine blue fresh water lakes ringed by white sandy beaches and ancient rainforests growing on sand along the banks of fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks. This place certainly is an exceptional haven of nature and hides a massive potential for both the adventurous traveller and the relaxation-seeking vacationer.

Here’s a guide to the top 10 things to do that should be on everyones list:

 

1. Visit Lake McKenzie

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Here’s a fact. If you ask any person that has ever been to Fraser Island before about the best, most beautiful thing on the island they will all give you the same answer: the lakes. Fraser has about a hundred (!) of them. Some of them are small and rather tea-coloured, but many are very big with beautiful crystal-clear waters. The most popular of all of these lakes is Lake McKenzie.

The ‘perched’ lake, contains only rainwater, no groundwater and is not fed by streams, making it as amazingly pristine that you can open your eyes under the surface and still see perfectly clear. The sand surrounding the lake is pure, white silica and is not only beautiful to look at but feels incredibly soft to walk on. All together the lake is a true natural masterpiece featuring endlessly fascinating colours: The water hitting the shore is crystal clear and aquamarine in colour, until it in a perfect straight line it changes to a dark blue. Enclosed by the white sand and the rainforest this creates a extraordinary view and a great location to take some pretty photos at.

 

2. Enjoy the view from the top of Indian Head

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Indian head is Fraser Islands most eastern point. The coastal headland has once been created by volcanic activity and is a great spot to marvel at the 360 degree panoramic views over the island and a true photographers delight. The path up to Indian Head is a rough one, especially when you’re in holiday mode and with the high temperatures, that Fraser Island is usually getting but the reward is certainly awaiting you once you’ve made it to the top. The outlook over 75 mile beach and the steep surrounding cliffs are amazing!

Plus, the great location and the superb clearness of the surrounding waters make it an awesome spot for wildlife spotting. With a bit of luck you can see sharks, rays, turtles dolphins and in the right season even whales!

 

3. Float along Eli Creek

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Need to cool down? Head down the eastern coast of Fraser for a dip in the largest freshwater creek on the island. It is located along Seventy Five Mile Beach and therefore just a short drive away from multiple other attractions such as Indian Head, the Maheno Shipwreck or the Pinnacles, making it the perfect spot to have a little rest and cool down from the hot temperatures. Sounds good? Let’s here more about it!

Eli Creek is  the largest freshwater creek on the island and no doubt an area that showcases the amazing wonders of nature. The stream that is surrounded by rainforest carries pure, crystal clear and stone-cold water from a spring in the water table to the ocean beach. You can walk up a boardwalk that in the end allows you to jump into the water, which then pleasantly floats you all the way back out on the beach. It honestly is so much fun. And, an insiders tip: Take a swimming ring down there and experience the ultimate relaxation!

 

4. Try boogie boarding at Lake Wabby

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A bit further inland you can find Lake Wabby, another beautiful lake on the island and even though, it can not impress with the same water quality as Lake McKenzie, it most definitely is still worth a trip. What Lake Wabby has to offer more than anything is great amusement. With huge sand dunes dropping straight into the lake it is the ideal place to bring a boogie board to. Just walk up to the top of the dune and then slide all the way down into the water. It’s great! Afterwards go sit down in the water and revive yourself while letting your feet be pedicured by little fishies. No joke! Ever heard of the asian fish spas? Hundreds of these fish are populate Lake Wabby and they’ll start surrounding you as soon as you stop moving. But there’s no reason to freak out, they are pretty funny to watch and quite cute, too.

Also, on your way to the lake check out the lookout! You’ll get an awesome view over Lake Wabby, the giant patch of sand dunes stretching out to the side of it and the ocean! Photo-time!

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5. Go for a dip in the Champagne Pools

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Little disappointed you didn’t get to swim in the ocean yet? You can cheer up now! I’ll just say one thing: natural jacuzzi! How does that sound? The Champagne Pools on the northern side of the island are exactly that. The shallow sandy pools, formed by volcanic rocks are located right next to the ocean, making the waves crash into them, with such a power that once the water has settled you are left with a tickling foam of air bubbles ( just like the name reveals ). It’s a great place to be, both exciting and relaxing at the same time. A must-do on your trip!

6. Check out the shipwreck of the old Maheno

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Thinking I am running out of sights to tell you about? Here’s one more. Even though it might be a bit of an unconventional one. The shipwreck of the SS Maheno. Build to be a cruise ship and later being converted to be a hospital ship in World War 1 the Maheno was washed on the Fraser Coast during a cyclone and has after various attempts of refloating it been abandoned. Today it has sunk in the sand to a big part and the saltwater slowly keeps deteriorating what’s left of it. But it still looks very pretty as it is laying there on the beach and it definitely is worth checking it out.

7. Have a try at driving on sand

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Ever driven on sand before? No?! Now is the time to change that! Pretty much all transport on the island is by car. By 4 wheel drive to be exact, as Fraser Island has no bitumen roads. That means that there are two possibilities for getting from one place to the other. First, there are the inland roads: very bumpy and winding, but on the positive side they are super fun to drive on and they lead you straight through the rainforest. And then, you can also drive straight on the beach (my favourite): great feeling with the windows down and some good music playing. If you get the chance, you should definitely give it a try!

8. Go Dingo-spotting

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If you are lucky, you might be able to spot one of these cuties. This pretty dog is a Dingo, one of Australia’s legendary wild-dogs that are freely roaming the island. And with that said, just because they look cute does not mean that it is a good idea to touch them. It definitely isn’t! But as long as you keep your distance and observe them from further away, they won’t mind you.

9. Take a sunset walk along 75 Mile Beach

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75 Mile Beach is truly one of the most incredible beaches i have ever seen. Stretching along the complete eastern coast of Fraser Island it is so enormous in it’s length that you can look both up and down the beach without even being able to make out where the end or the beginning could be. And this amazing view does even get better when the sun starts setting and suddenly the whole sky and sea is painted in bright shades of orange.

As most camping grounds are situated right behind the dunes that go along the beach and most other accomodation is very close as well it is the perfect opportunity to go for a nice afternoon walk, once the heat has calmed down.

10. Admire the natural beauty of the rainforest

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Fraser Islands rainforest is beautiful! The deeper you go into it the wilder and unspoiled it becomes, featuring huge trees with up to three metre girths, towering pines, ancient giant ferns and eucalypt forests. And if that wouldn’t be fascinating enough, think about that all of this is growing on nothing but sand!

 

Wandering through the Glasshouse Mountains

Isn’t this beautiful? What you can see here is called the Glasshouse Mountains and with only an hours drive north from Brisbane, it is my absolute favourite nature spot in the area. Strangely, this incredible wonder of nature often stays beyond the spotlight for many tourists, as the popularity of the mountains is not what they’d deserve. Now, this is not exactly a sad thing, allowing the Glass House Mountain National Park to sustain that typical feeling, that usually comes with “insider tips”. Being out here, right in the centre of the forest or even far up one of these mountains, it feels like time is holding on. The peacefulness of nature and the awe-inspiring views on gigantic mountains towering up in the distance is incomparable.

The most impressive of them is without a doubt Mount Tibrogargan: Steeply sloping to all sides it has one cliff that resembles a face looking towards the ocean. There is a hiking trail that leads up to the it’s summit, from where you get amazing views. Yet, in numerous spots the hike is more of a free climb up vertical rock faces. This is super demanding and can be pretty dangerous as well, so please only take on this trail if you are in great fitness. If you are though, enjoy! This hike often gets mentioned as the Sunshine Coast’s best natural work out!

If you’d rather play it a bit safer, Mt Beerburrum should be your choice! This is a moderate hike up to the mountain top, with a beautiful view over the mountain skyline of the Glasshouse Mountains!

A perfect day at Bondi Beach

Had the best day ever at Bondi Beach today! We started with a sweet breakfast with this awesome view at a lovely little beach front café, before we went down to the beach to spend a few hours soaking in the sun and relaxing in the sand. It quickly got super hot and we were very glad that we had the cool ocean nearby to cool ourselves down.

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Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most famous and most visited beaches. One reason for that definitely is it’s iconic look, nestled in a bay with stretches of land secluding it to both sides. But the area surrounding the beach might just play as big a role for the attraction of those large numbers of tourists. Bondi Beach is a very vivid suburb of Sydney, that is popular for it’s unique lifestyle. Bondi Residents are quite international and usually very active people, with a healthy and modern lifestyle. There are beautiful cafés and restaurants everywhere and the nightlife is booming. All this contributes to make Bondi one of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia and despite the high rents, makes many backpackers temporarily settle down in this area.

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After getting a good tan at the beach we went on the Coastal Walk that is connecting Bondi to Coogee, another beautiful beach suburb. The walk stretches over 6 kilometres along the ocean and features amazing views leading past beaches, parks, cliffs, bays and rock pools. We took a bit longer than 2 hours to complete the walk, but I have to say that this is including many times we stopped for photos, or just sat down to enjoy the view or the beautiful sunset.

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We took a bit longer than 2 hours to complete the walk, but I have to say that this is including many times we stopped for photos, or just sat down to enjoy the beautiful view.


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It was my second time doing the walk and this time I have even enjoyed it more than I remembered it. There is so much to explore and see and every new bay you enter surprises you anew. For me this is just an absolute must-do when in Sydney and it absolutely deserves to be the #2 on Tripadvisor’s list of the best things to do when in Sydney.

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Towards the end of the walk we sat down for a bit to watch the sun go down. An absolutely magic picture, with the bright orange colour at the horizon and light reflecting on the surface of the water.

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And to perfectly end the day we had dinner at the Coogee Pavilion, my favourite restaurant in Sydney. They serve great seafood and fish, like oysters and sashimi, but you should definitely also try one of their fantastic wood-fired pizzas. The downstairs area has a great charm, looking like a old-fashioned market hall, with the chefs making the food fresh and public in different spots spread out over the place and other little shops, like a flower stall and even a barber. And I like the ping pong tables, too. This place really makes you feel comfortable from the moment you come in and you can easily spend many hours there, without even getting close to feeling bored. Another highlight? On weekends they open their adults-only rooftop bar. The ideal place to enjoy a cocktail while looking over the Coogee shoreline.

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The second day of our Sydney trip

After starting the day indulging in pastries and fresh fruit at The Menzies buffet breakfast, we went to explore the inner city of Sydney, heading in direction Hyde Park. I really enjoyed the look of the big avenues, featuring a mix of ancient and modern architecture, artistic elements and a surprisingly generous placements of trees.

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We visited the ANZAC monument, which is situated in the Hyde Park and is quite an impressive site to visit. It’s design is absolutely beautiful and elaborate and the building also hosts a very informative museum about the ANZAC history. During opening hours there even is a free guide that will tell you everything about the memorial and the symbolic in it’s design.

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Next stop was the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where we have seen some of the plenty free exhibitions. We absolutely loved the modern and contemporary exhibitions, especially one named “Colourwheel”, that was dedicated to the modern use of bright colours and playful combinations – but also “Our spirits lie in the water”, which is exposing indigenous art of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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We proceeded to the Botanic Gardens, where we took the eastern river walk up to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, one of Sydneys best viewpoints offering stunning views over the Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline. And again, do yourself a favour and refrain from public transport and tourist buses, if you can. All of this in in walking distance. It might be a longer walk than the one yesterday, but it definitely is manageable and you will be rewarded with a much better impression of the city and a better overall experience of you trip.

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As our time at Sydney city was coming to an end, we ended our stay with some drinks at the Blu Bar on 36 at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney. As the name suggests, the cocktail lounge is located high above the city, on level 36 of the prestigious 5-star-hotel, allowing guests to enjoy breathtaking views of Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Sounds too expensive? Surprisingly it isn’t. The beers are all priced around 10 AU$ and glasses of wine start at 12 AU$. Just make sure you get there straight after they open at 5 pm, in order to get the best seats directly in front of the windows, which usually are taken very quickly. 4

So we stayed in this marvellous place for quite a while, drinking cocktails, soaking in the fantastic views and watching the sun go down over the city. A beautiful spot to relax, after a busy day of sightseeing and definitely one worth visiting when you get the chance!

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Later in the evening, we picked up our baggage at the hotel an travelled to Bondi Beach, to spend the next two days by the ocean. Looking forward to tomorrow!

First day in Sydney

What an awesome day! After a little refresh at the hotel room we were ready to explore the city. And as we hoped the weather was great. Actually it was much more than what we were even hoping for: Extremely warm and sunny, without one cloud in the sky. Perfect conditions to go on a walk! As our hotel The Menzies Sydney was perfectly located, just a moment away from The Rocks, this was our first stop.

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In a city now predominantly the product of late twentieth century urban redevelopment, the historic area of The Rocks provides an opportunity to experience an environment where buildings and public places of the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth-century still remain. It has been established shortly after the first formation of the colony and has back then had a reputation as a slum, often frequented by visiting sailors and prostitutes. This however has changed during the decades and today The Rocks are known for their unique restaurants, bars, art galleries and markets in a setting that reminded me a lot of european historic towns, rather than any place I have seen in Australia. We have been lucky to get there on a market day (every saturday and sunday) and had a little stroll around the pretty little market stands, while enjoying some fresh coconuts.

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We proceeded our walk to the massive Harbour Bridge, along busy Circular Quay to the Opera House, where we had a drink at the Opera Bar: a casual, riverfront bar and certainly a great spot with the scenery of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney River surrounding it.

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If you are a Sydney newbie, I can highly recommend you to start off your stay by doing this walk, as it is the perfect opportunity to combine stunning panoramic views, phenomenal sightseeing, vibrant entertainment areas and some unique spots for having a meal (or just a drink). Also, imperatively do this part of the city on foot, rather than trying to get around with public transport or a tourist bus. All of the spots I have been mentioning are within a short walking distance from each other and you get a much better feeling for the beauty and atmosphere of this gorgeous area.

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After taking some photos at the opera House, we started to slowly make our way back to the hotel, in order to get ready for the Grand Finals later in the day. We stopped over at The Rocks where we had the most delicious seafood platter at a place called The Argyle. This truly special Sydney venue offers great, high- quality cuisine and life music played in the courtyard outside-area during the day and transforms into a bustling nightlife spot as it gets later. We absolutely loved the historic feel of this place and the atmosphere that was created through combining it with a uniquely modern take on the interior design and lighting. Definitely a must-visit when in Sydney!

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Latest news! We are off to Sydney!

We are currently sitting in the arrival hall of the Sydney airport, waiting for our baggage, therefore I’ve got a few minutes for an update. This morning we have had a super early start. Following the invitation of the Royal Exchange Hotel (thank you so much for that, by the way), we made our way to the airport, as it was still dark outside, in order to catch our 6 am flight from Brisbane to Sydney. Not the slightest problem though, as the excitement for this very last-minute trip was absolutely making up for the lack of sleep and I absolutely love those cuddled up plane naps anyway. It was only a couple of days ago, that we were informed about this trip, but since then we were thoroughly looking forward to it.

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The last time we had been to Sydney, the weather was pretty bad and the time was tight, so we left with the feeling, that we haven’t quite seen the full potential of the city. Its perfect that we now get the second chance to explore the city and hopefully the weather will be on our side, too (the forecast looks great!). And then, there is another highlight, that I haven’t even mentioned so far: Tonight we’ll be at the ANZ Stadium to watch the Broncos and the Cowboys compete in the NRL Grand Final. We are excited!!