A Travellerspoint blog


Australia: Sydney: Dina Déjà vu

January 16, 2011

sunny 82 °F

This was our last day in Sydney and we wanted to take full advantage of it! We got up early and headed to Bondi Beach. Unfortunately it was raining and when Ruby tried to do an online check-in for our flight to Singapore there was an error on the website. . . so we rushed back to our hostel just in case there was a last minute change to our flight schedule. Thankfully it wasn’t this flight but one of our Africa flights that changed. Ruby had been talking about the mud crabs, a specialty of Australia and one of the best places to get them was Kingsley’s located at the wharf just around the corner from Harry’s Café de Wheels (Tony had been craving for a traditional meat pie). We decided to cut thought the botanical gardens and see the fruit bats on our way to lunch. Tony was looking up and shooting photos and just about dropped the camera when he heard a loud scream. What he thought was going to be a bat landing on the head of Ruby turned out to be our old roommate Dina from LA who just happened to be walking around the same corner in the park at the same exact time as us! How CRAZY is that? Small World! For those of you reading the blog daily will remember us meeting Dina in South America as well. We are beginning to wonder if maybe she has a GPS tracker device on us! ;-) Dina was in town with her boyfriend James for a wedding and we enjoyed catching up with them over a bottle of wine. Sadly they were out of mud crabs so we’ll have to save that for another trip back! We wished we could have spent more time with them but alas we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport . We got into Singapore close to midnight and were in awe of how clean the subway stations and streets looked. We felt totally safe. . . probably because they have strict penalties for breaking rules including jaywalking and eating on the subway!



Posted by Tony.Ruby 09:03 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Australia, Sydney: Bubble Day -- Soap and Champagne!

January 15, 2011

sunny 80 °F

Tony thinks that he’s taken more drugs in the last two days then he’s taken in the last ten years combined! Ruby must know what she’s doing though because he’s feeling a lot better today. We started out taking the city bus over to Paddington’s Saturday Market. This is a great market with all sorts of handmade clothing, jewelry, and things for the house. We got yelled at for taking photos but have some great ideas for when we get back to the states. One of the items we had to purchase was a bar of Organic Australian Blood Lime and Coconut soap. We can’t wait to take a shower with it and pretend we are at a fancy spa! We were finally able to wrestle the laptop out of the clutches of the cockroaches in our room and with beer and wine in hand we worked on the blog for a bit. We contacted Mic’s friend Cameron here in Sydney and made plans to meet for drinks. On our way back to our hotel Ruby was drawn into an Indian food restaurant like a moth to the light! How predictable is she? Later that night we had a few drinks at Blu bar on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel. With amazing views of Sydney that I wish you could see in photos. A short walk over to meet Cameron led us to the Argyle bar. We didn’t know what Cameron looked like and all the info he had was “Look for an Indian girl and a white boy hanging by the bar”. When we called he told us that he was in a small car accident and would not be coming into the city. :( We did meet some locals and got a great tip on ordering drinks in Sydney; order a bottle of the house champagne ($30 USD/ bottle) INSTEAD of a mixed drink and a beer for about the same price. Unlike the states, there’s no crazy bottle service fee. We broke some champagne glasses, knocked over some drinks, and did a little dancing all before cabbing it home!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 08:57 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Australia: Sydney: A Manly Ferry—FOODIE ALERT

January 14, 2011

sunny 78 °F

Tony was feeling a bit better so we got up early to catch “breakfast” at our hostel---haha baked beans and two pieces of white bread each. GROSS! You may think we’re joking and I wish we were. Tony asked for more bread and the girl said NO (2 slices per guest) but then later offered him the end pieces of the bread—even worse! To recover from our awful breakfast we took the free 555 bus to Circular Quay and caught a ferry to Manly. This is a very scenic way to see the Harbor Bridge and Opera House (also one the cheapest at $13 r/t). It was a beautiful day to be at the beach and we really enjoyed spending the afternoon lying on the grass under the shade of a tree and watching kids learn to surf. After exploring around we noticed lots of Indian people around. . which usually means good Indian food! Of course, the Indian food Ruby wanted was a 20 min ferry, 15 min bus followed by a 10 min hike from Manly. A recommendation from a local led us to Surry Hills and we knew we were in the right place judging by the multi-cultural feel (and smell) of the restaurants and shops. . Lebanese, Indian, South American, etc. We ended up at Maya Vegetarian on Cleveland St. YUM! We each had a super fresh Punjabi thali—which is like a combo plate of Indian curries, raita and dessert with our own BYOB Aussie wine. We ate to our hearts content. . . ah okay maybe til we could barely move! After recovering we decided to walk home to Chinatown and hopefully burn off some of those excess calories! Friday is usually a big night to go out but since Tony still needs to recover, we decided to take it easy.


Posted by Tony.Ruby 09:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia: Sydney: Dinner with a View of the Harbor Bridge

January 13, 2010

semi-overcast 82 °F

We woke up today and Tony was deathly ill (how melodramatic)! He blames it on our crappy hotel but it may just be from all the travel. It was still a little overcast so we decided not to do the beach and just go on a walk. We were thinking about doing a free Peek Walking Tour of the city at 2:30pm but weren’t sure how that would work out with our schedule*. After a few hours of meandering around town, we inadvertently arrived at the Customs House where the tour had already started. We decided to join and are so glad that we did! Our guide was super funny and led us to a lot of the important sites while telling great stories about the city and its history. Tony even rubbed a pig’s penis in the hopes of “getting lucky”. We’ll see how that works out. . . The tour ended at the Sydney Opera House and we went exploring the building. We allotted money in our budget for an opera/show but didn’t end up seeing one because nothing really sparked an interest. Plus, Ruby always falls asleep! We received a dinner recommendation from a local from our earlier meandering at the Opal Museum. He suggested Café Sydney which has a gorgeous view of the Harbor Bridge as well as a terrific gourmet menu. Ruby really enjoyed dinner but Tony could barely taste his because of his cold. After a delicious meal we headed back to the Botanical Gardens at dusk to see the “Gray-Headed Flying Foxes” which are actually large fruit bats native to Australia which wake up and fly around at this time. They fly really fast and we found it difficult to get a good shot of them flying! While walking home we were lured by the sounds of Latin music to a really eclectic place called the ArtHouse Hotel on Pitt and listened to some live Salsa music before heading home for the night.

  • schedule: wake up, eat, look at tourist stuff, eat again, have a drink, go to bed.


Posted by Tony.Ruby 10:12 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Australia: In Deep Water at Maze Correctional Facility

January 12, 2010

sunny 82 °F

This was the first sunny day we'd seen in about a week and Mike woke us up at about 7:30am telling us that his brother’s business was about to go under water. Tony and Mike immediately ran out the door to get sandbags and plastic. It was a family affair, Mic’s dad, brother, and brother in law were all there helping out and getting wet. After waiting in line for over an hour to get sandbags they arrived on the street where the shop was located. The street had already flooded and they had to carry sandbags though the waist deep water to the other side. They did this for several hours until they got stranded because an electric line had fallen in the water and was smoking. They had two options, wait until the power was shut off and a police boat could rescue them or try to go out the back way. They opted for walking back the long way through deeper water because we had to catch a flight in a few hours. Tony felt great about being able to help but he had woken up feeling terrible and after carrying heavy sandbags though cold river water he was now feeling sick as a dog. It was sad to leave our friends and we almost hoped that the airport would be closed so we’d have an excuse to stay. Our flight was delayed so we missed our free transportation from the airport and if you have ever traveled with us then you know we hate paying more then we have to for transportation. Why take the direct train for $15 per person when we could take the city busses for $5? We arrived at our hotel in Chinatown called Maze Backpackers or as Tony liked to call it the Maze Correctional Facility. Our room is dingy, 6’ x 10’, with a bunk bed, bars on the windows, no AC and shared bathrooms. We had already paid for the 4 nights and just like jail there’s no way out but to do the time. The food in Chinatown looked good but unfortunately Ruby’s chicken wings were a bit “hairy”—literally. Let’s just leave it at that. Man do we miss the luxury of Mic and Loz’s house!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:26 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Australia: Brisbane: House Arrest

January 11, 2010


Sadly today the Brisbane River broke its banks and at least 9 people are confirmed dead from the floods and 75 are confirmed missing. We don’t know if there is a ton of coverage of this in the U.S. but it’s Queensland’s version of New Orleans and it is for real. Loz went to the grocery store to stock up on fresh water and canned goods in case the power goes out. She said it was scary to see the racks and aisles so empty of food and supplies. The lines at the gas station were also really long with people preparing for the worst. Mic and Loz live on a hill and it is unlikely that the flooding will affect their house so we felt safe but it is still really sad for everyone being affected. We stayed in all day—on house arrest as Tony calls it. We cooked at home and ate Loz’s delicious spaghetti with Tony’s yummy garlic bread. Ruby actually got their elusive puppy Bobby (he’s a Griffin) in her arms. We played monopoly to take our mind off of things and boy is Mic a sore loser. Loz won the first round and Tony the second. It was fun to mess with Mic and not trade properties with him! We tried to watch Wallstreet: Money Never Sleeps but we think it should be renamed Wallstreet: Everybody Sleeps, because we all slept through most of the movie. Of course we are all feeling under the weather and just had a huge meal too :)


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia: Brisbane: Aussie Aussie Aussie! Rain Rain Rain!

January 10, 2010

storm 78 °F

It was Mic’s first day of work after being on holiday for the last few months. . thank goodness he’s self-employed and can make his own schedule! We were supposed to fly out to Sydney today but we extended our Brisbane stay for 2 more days. We figured that it was raining in Sydney too and we’d have more fun in the rain with Mic and Loz. Mic took Tony to his fancy hair salon and boy did he come back looking good. Nice work Mic! Ruby’s even considering adding Muk (a $50 hair product) into our budget for Tony’s hair. On the drive to “brekkie”, Loz got a call from Ivan (Mic’s dad) and Ruby could hear him say in his heavy Croatian accent “Lauren, are the Americans still here? Have they seen a wallaby?” It was just too funny to describe and very sweet that he was concerned about our wallaby hunting efforts. Tony and Mike got the classic aussie “big breakfast”—take a look at the picture! We relaxed and caught up on the blog until Tony and Mike started getting antsy and decided to go check out the river. Both Loz and Ruby were pretty anxious about this since you’ve all probably heard the news about the severe flooding in Queensland. They did make it back in one piece—luckily.


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia: Brisbane:A Very Aussie Anniversary --FOODIE ALERT

January 9, 2010

rain 75 °F

Today is our 4 year anniversary and we started the day with delicious ‘brekkie” at The Gunshop. Oh my goodness, Tony had the pancakes with carmelized bananas with bacon, YUM! Ruby had some potato cakes with sour cream and chives. . a perfect contrast. Loz’s portabella mushroom and goat cheese dish with scrumptious too. We did a little shopping—Ruby bought a new dress which I’m sure you’ll notice in the pictures soon enough. It was today, that we learned that this is the first time that the Aussie dollar is actually worth more than the USD in our lifetime . . . geez what kind of luck are we having? Hehe that’s okay we decided to drink our worries away and stopped off at the grocery store for some lychees, fresh mint and other choice ingredients. We toured the city with Mic and Loz and checked out some more of Mic’s handiwork around town—so now we know how he gets to go on all these vacations! ;-) After seeing Brisbane we both decided that we could definitely live here, it’s beautiful, close to the beach, has amazing food and really nice people. It was raining really hard and was the perfect night to have Tony’s chicken tortilla soup. We stayed in and experimented making fancy cocktails and introducing Mic and Loz to the wonders of sour cream and brown sugar when combined with strawberries. After a delicious meal and great drinks we settled in to watch some “classics”—North Shore an 80’s surf movie (Tony’s pick) and Get Square (Mic’s pick). Ruby passed out like usual and Loz had to leave the room to keep from falling asleep! Next time (in NYC) the girls will get to pick!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia:Follow the Gold Coast to the Wallaby Winery

January 8, 2010

overcast 78 °F

Tony jumped out of bed first thing in the morning ready to see some kangaroos in the front yard. .. Disappointingly there weren’t any to be found! Everyone kept saying that there are tons of wallabies/ kangaroos all over the place and we hadn’t seen even ONE, not even on our 10 hour drive up. . So we decided to go on a hunt for them today. We started off heading to visit Ivan and Carmen (Mac’s parents) for a delicious breakfast. Mic’s dad is Croatian and loves to tell stories so we were cracking up during all of breakfast. Our favorite comment of the morning was directed at Ruby in a heavy Croatian accent: “You are beautiful but Artika (Loz’s old friend) is beautiful like moviestar”. Haha we are applying that to everything now. Afterwards his dad promised that we would see wallabies (which are closely related to kangaroos) or he would give us his beautiful new house. Alas, we didn’t see any there either . . . so if you’re looking for a place to stay in the Gold Coast, we now have a home on a golf course with beautiful new stonework :) We then drove for a bit to do the tourist route and we checked out Mic’s amazing stonework skills at the houses on the Sovereign Islands (how pretentious of a name huh?). Surfer’s Paradise is not really a surfer’s paradise says Mic the surfer. Mic insisted we stop off to try some delicious fresh caught “bugs and prawns” at the Gold Coast Fisherman’s co-op so that we could see how flavorful seafood is really supposed to be. We were still on the hunt for kangaroos and wallabies and ended up at the Venman Bushland National Park where we only saw 2 wallabies which is really unusual but we found them all drinking wine. . just kidding. . we found them at Sirromet Winery which is nearby hanging out in the vineyards. Since we were really close by to Mic’s sister Tonia’s house we decided to drop by. His brother in law Silvio is Italian and so warm; he totally made us feel right at home with delicious cheeses and Italian wines. We hope to visit Silvio’s cousin’s restaurant in northern Italy on our next trip there! Ruby doing her dermatology thing learned a bit about Arbonne (a natural skin care company) from Tonia and took a bunch of samples to try out at home. The girls were exhausted but the boy still went out to check out an authentic Aussie “Ocker” bar aka Australian rednecks bar.




Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia: Guacamole on the Gold Coast

January 7, 2010

rain 78 °F

Yay! Mic and Loz came back from “Straddie” and we were both feeling a lot better! Those two sweeties came to the house with fruit tarts (Ruby’s favorite) and coffee in hand. We took care of a couple of errands, returning the rental car and buying some groceries for Tony’s famous chicken tortilla soup. Mic and Loz had also been traveling for a couple months and wanted to visit with friends and family and introduce us. With a couple of “roadies” in hand we headed down to the Gold Coast and met Mic’s younger sister Shantelle and her husband Josh. Wow! They also have a gorgeous house and made us some of the best guacamole we’ve had in months. We proceeded to go through a few bottles of great Aussie wine (grenache, shiraz, mourvedre aka GSM). .. and then came the ping pong. Loz kicked all three of the boy’s butts while Shantelle spent much of the evening quizzing Ruby about all things medical. This was great for Ruby since we wouldn’t want her to get rusty! We ended up staying the night at their house and since we hadn’t seen any kangaroos yet Shantelle and Josh promised that we would see kangaroos in their front yard in the morning!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia: Brisbane Rest and Recover

January 6, 2010

rain 78 °F

We realized that we were not going to go to Stradbroke Island to visit Mic and Loz when we woke up with headaches and shaking chills. Even Tony didn’t jump out of bed like he normally does! Instead, we literally did not leave their house all day. We needed to recover and this was perfect—it was just like home. We took medicines, ate soup, drank tea and caught up on some bad television . . . and wondered why all the people on TV were speaking English with funny accents. It was raining really heavy outside and their gorgeous oceanview house was definitely not a bad place to be on house arrest.


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia: Hunter Valley: Sick as Dogs

January 5, 2010

rain 75 °F

After landing in Sydney we rented a car and headed out to Hunter Valley wine country which is about 2 hrs north of the city. We were exhausted and passed out the second we found our hotel. This morning when we woke up Ruby was “running hot” and Tony “running cold” which is exactly the opposite of normal which is why we knew we were really sick. Our first stop in the morning was the pharmacy and grocery store to buy some cough drops, hot tea and fresh fruit. Ruby being as ambitious as ever really wanted to try to go to a winery or two before heading up to Brisbane. We made it to Pepper Tree Winery and did one tasting. It was a beautiful winery with free tastings but it was kind of sad because we could smell the wines but couldn’t really taste them all too much. We ended up starting our 10 hr drive around noon. Tony drove since you all know about Ruby’s borderline narcolepsy—which was worsened by being sick. Tony says that Ruby must have a built in 20 minute timer which she uses to wake up and ask Tony if he’s doing alright before passing out again. It rained most of the 10 hour drive up the New England Highway and we were supposed to see kangaroos and koalas but none were to be seen—the closest we came was a sign showing a kangaroo!? We stopped for some delicious hot Thai soup along the way. The drive looked like something in middle america with ranches, cows, and horses all along the way. We arrived at our friend Mic and Loz’s beautiful house in Brisbane late in the evening and it reminded us of a luxury hotel—especially after all the hostels we had stayed at in South America! We had planned to meet them on beautiful Stradbroke Island where Tony could learn to surf (they had a house rented for the next few days) but missed the last ferry for the day by that point. Loz’s uncle Rod came over by to let us in and we promptly passed out.


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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