Adelaide – a place that holds so many pleasant surprises

The sad recent events that marked many people’s lives and brought devastating consequences on the wildlife in many parts of Australia have been difficult to witness while feeling and being so close. However, I still had hopes that Kangaroo Island would stay untouched of the fires and it’s natural beauty and uniqueness would remain. Sadly, I received the call while waiting to board my plane in Sydney that the tour I had booked will not take place because the fires are taking over literally the whole island. The next days I followed the news in disbelief and completely helpless, seeing how day by day this beautiful place was being transformed into ashes. 
As Kangaroo Island became a no option, my stay in Adelaide got an extra two days to explore, enjoy and discover. 
A rather underrated city, that some locals refer to as big village, started to unfold day by day and by the end of my stay I became quite fascinated by how diverse it is and how many things you can get out of it.

Food to feed your body

My centrally located accomodation made it very convenient to just walk my way around the city and within a couple of hours have a proper feel about where everything is.
I’ve chosen to start the day with a visit to Central Market and I instantly knew that the following days will start also there. Why is that? Because it’s the best place to pick up fresh fruits and veggies, provided by local farmers and sold in a friendly environment, which by the way reminded me of St Lawrence market in Toronto, Canada.
While at Central Market, one can pick from many different cuisines , I’ve spotted South American street food stand and Hungarian bakery, just to name some.
A few steps from the market is Chinatown, it’s small but compact, bringing together all sorts of Asian restaurants and stores.
Edo Sushi is a remarkable Korean – Japanese restaurant that I liked and the kimchi I ate there, although burned my tongue, will stay in my memories for its delicious taste.
No doubts that Adelaide is perfect for food lovers or curious people that are interested to check out different varieties.
The iconic Adelaide favourite, The Original Pancake Kitchen didn’t disappoint, although unfortunately I couldn’t even try their signature pancakes cause the gigantic burger they served me with, that came together with a massive portion of chips left no space in my stomach even for a tempting pancake. 
One of the days when I may have been a little too caught up with doing things and skipped a lunch, by dinner time I was really famished and also interested to check out the O’Connell street dining scene, that I heard it’s a bit more high class than the rest of the city. Not in the search of too posh or so, but for a real different vibe, Giulia, the friendly Italian traveller that I met and myself, we headed directly to Marrakech not Africa, only O’Connell street. The design and the whole decoration of the restaurant takes you though to Morocco with authentic lamps, cushions and art pieces, accompanied by Arabic music , all this providing a special vibe. The head waiter that looked after us in a typical Bangladeshi ( his origin country ) friendly manner, pointed out that all the decoration objects has been bought from Morocco and the chef is a well respected, award winning personality in the industry. Also, although I’ve noticed that in many countries if there’s a Moroccan restaurant is likely to be called Marrakech – how inspiring – the Adelaide Marrakech is not part of a chain.
Needless to say, the food has been delicious and a looot, our waiter even spoiled us with a dessert, saying: “ because you’re visiting and to have a nice Adelaide memory”. Well, that has been a fun, stomach filling Moroccan trip – with a touch of Bangladeshi generosity, Italian gesticulating and hmm maybe Hungarian hunger?! – right in Adelaide.
Culture to feed your brain
Often times museums and art galleries take the backseat while I travel because the outdoors is more appealing, but I’m glad that sometimes the culture fix gets squeezed in. I mean one day was 40 degrees, the next dropped to 16 and with just a jumper and some leggings that could count as warm clothing?! – the setting was perfect to take it easy indoors. 
That being said, off we went to check out the State Library of South Australia, where between all those ancient books I  found also a map of the world, that was more figureoutable than many of the words from the 3 kilos book. Not to forget, window shopping for fashionable young lady outfit has been more than inspiring and that’s an understatement. All jokes aside though, I liked the Harry Potter style environment and the collection of the books on various topics in really impressive. 
Right next door is the Museum of South Australia, that holds holds collections of national and international significance.
Our last stop was at the Art Gallery of South Australia, a truly impressive place filled with stunning art collections presented in an interactive manner.
Animals and oh, the amazing outdoors to feed your soul
What I loved most about Adelaide is that it has so much green space. Lots of parks and the river Torrens, all easy to acces. I spent without realising   a few hours just chilling under a tree by the river with a book in hand and some quaking ducks around me. The scenery is beautiful, peaceful and simply just fills you up with energy. Great for a morning jog, afternoon biking and evening yoga, not all in one day I guess… However, it’s a city where it’s for sure pleasant to live for a while to properly experience all the perks. 
 Botanic Garden
A nature oasis in the heart of the city, the botanic garden is Adelaide’s show off big park that hosts a significant diversity of flora and apparently fauna as well, having met several duck families leisurely roaming around.
Himeji Garden

To my surprise no tourist that I met in Adelaide heard about Himeji Garden. It’s true that’s it’s tiny and maybe not necessarily a must visit, but it’s pretty and peaceful and it’s a loss not checking it out. 

Morialta Conservation Reserve
Just a short drive north-east Adelaide, also accessible by public transport, is located this gem that I wish I had more time to explore. Greeted by a sleeping koala, the bushwalk started in a great spirit. The scenes are spectacular and after a couple days of rain some waterfalls will be spotted too, that wasn’t the case during my visit due to the drought. 
Cleland Conservation Park and Mount Lofty summit
Within the national park is located also the wildlife park, where in a safe environment the animals are being taken care of and look happy. Attention: this is not a zoo! Yes, you can say they are in capture because there’s needed to have some boundaries in order to keep a control, but the animals are in their natural habitat which is the wild, they do have plenty of space and they do get the care and attention they need to be kept healthy. From dingo to echidna, Tasmanian devil and the iconic kangaroo, you come up close with the fascinating Australian wildlife and no matter how many times you meet these special creatures it’s always an epic experience. 
From the wildlife entrance there are several trails that lead to Mount Lofty summit, I doubt that any of them would be difficult, although according to Aussie standards the one I’ve taken has been steep – hahaha , the whole hike I was searching for the steep part, reached the summit without finding it – . 
In any case the view from the summit is spectacular and the local cider tastes just a wee bit better from the top. 
 Adelaide sunsets
What I know about Australia  for sure is that sunsets will take your breath away, sometimes when you expect the least. The palette of colours that appear on the sky range from dramatic colours to soft, cotton candy style and and all in between, never knowing which one will show up. Adelaide’s beaches are very nice places to watch the sun going down, but occasionally the city center can be just as good. 
Whether sunset or no sunset, taking a dip and chilling on Glenelg, Adelaide’s most popular beach is not a bad idea. 
On the other hand, Henley beach, the less populated version of Glenelg might be a more suitable option if crowds are not your cup of tea.

It feels like I’ve discovered just a small piece of what Adelaide really is and still don’t understand why many Aussies that I met beforehand gave me a description of Adelaide, which sounded somewhere between the lines “ it’s boring” and “there’s nothing to do there, except wineries”.  Wineries, on a next occasion…

Discover Margaret River region – Western Australia

My recent Western Australia trip wouldn’t have been complete without visiting the famous Margaret River region. 
The small town of Margaret River is aprox 3 hours south from Perth and although I expected a proper river, Margaret is just a regular creek. However, there was no place for disappointment because the town has so much to offer and it’s very welcoming. Cute boutiques, restaurants with personality and great live music all around, Margaret River has been my  temporary home for two days and I loved it. 
Of course, there’s no person who’d go there and not visit the wineries.

The region is one of Australia’s best wine producer with plenty of small, family owned but also world famous wineries.

I’m not a wine expert whatsoever, but as a regular consumer and on behalf of fellow travelers that joined the same wine tasting tour, I say that the regions best product is certainly the Chardonnay. Delicious taste of wine, but also the food has been remarkable, making the day a succes and the tour full of joy and laughter. 


It’s certainly wine lovers paradise here, but if you’ve got sweet tooth you’ll be happy too. The chocolate factory welcomes you with several different types of chocolate and you can taste as many as you like and you are in the right location also for the best nougat I’ve ever eaten. 


After so much and wine and sweets, if there’s still space in the stomach, you shouldn’t miss out on the cheese tasting either, you’ll be amazed by the selection on offer.
Our tour ended at the distillery, where  we’ve been spoiled with a signature liquor offered by the sarcastic, yet friendly bartender.


Amazing atmosphere at all wineries, very friendly and generous wine makers with interesting stories to share, a wine tasting tour is the ultimate must do.
Although the Margaret River wineries may be the most popular in the area, it does worth checking out more.

Dunsborough

Greeted by the colorful double rainbow, I liked this cute town as soon as I got there. The rain stopped soon and I was excited to go on a discovery walk and try to stay away from wine at least for a day. The latter didn’t quite work out because they serve everywhere the tasty Chardonnays that I couldn’t say no to. On the other hand, I was more than pleased with the walk. Discovered a long stretch of walking path right next to the sea and on my way I met a few rabbits hopping around and some smiley locals that walked their dogs. It looked like everybody had a dog there, very dog friendly place. 


I didn’t expect to end up staying a few days in Dunsborough, considering it’s small size, but then it felt so good being there that I didn’t bother hitting the road, just until the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.

From the lighthouse the view is amazing, but I recommend doing a bit of bushwalk to properly explore the Leeuwin – Naturaliste National Park. 
The main attractions around are Sugarloaf Rock and Canal Rocks, both impressive and interesting. 

Busselton

A few minutes drive from Dunsborough is another small, but fascinating town, Busselton, home of the famous Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the world. 


At the end of the nearly 2 km long jetty is one of only 6 in the world underwater observatories. The $34 entry fee that includes the optional train ride to and from the observatory, aprox 30 min tour and another 30 min free time in the observatory, is money well spent. You’ll experience looking at the marine life in their natural habitat without even getting wet. 

Before this trip when I heard Margaret River I just thought about wine and that’s it. Little did I know about the natural richness of the area, but now that I’ve got a glimpse of it, I feel that I must return and dig for more.

Western Australia’s best spots to visit

From white sand beaches and turquoise water to pink lakes and diverse flora and fauna, Western Australia has it all and in a two weeks roadtrip from Perth to Exmouth it’s very likely to experience a bit of everything. The bonus to all this is that it’s way less touristy than the east coast of the continent, although it’s just as interesting and stunning, perphaps even a bit more outstanding. 
Considering that my roadtrip started in Perth towards the end of October, the weather has been still a bit unpredictable, windy and a bit chilly but as you make your way more and more north the temperatures rise and in Exmouth you’re happily swimming in warm water by the very end of the month.
In a laidback and rather relaxed travel rhytm, choosing the overnight locations happened always spontaneously, this way spent some time in little towns and also at popular attractions. 
A few of the places I enjoyed and would visit again would be :

Lancelin

The small fishing and tourist town located 127 km north of Perth has got a nice beach, a good bakery, a pretty lookout spot and a well positioned tavern, where you can sip on a wine while watching the sun going down. They serve amazing food as well, the prawns are delicious and the staff very friendly.

Lake Thetis

Heading more north, near the town of Cervantes, lake Thetis is a saline coastal lake, one of a few places in the world with living marine stromatolites. 

Hamelin Pool

Speaking of stromatolites, Hamelin Pool is a must visit, it’s  further up north, in Shark Bay, and it’s more impressive than Lake Thetis, also more touristy. It’s a World Heritage area and these stromatolites are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth. 

Jurien Bay

A popular coastal town, where lots of locals from Perth go just for the weekend, it’s attractive because of the beautiful beach and the great snorkeling opportunities. I’ve spotted also a dolphin in the far distance. The sunset has been magnificent and the caravan park just 2 min walk from the beach.

Geraldton

A coastal city with a quite nice downtown, lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. Great for a bit of a bigger city atmosphere or overnight.

Pink Lake at Port Gregory

The Pink Lake or Hutt Lagoon is a huge lake with entirely pink water, picturesque and unusual, the color of the lake being caused by the presence of the carotenoid producing algae called Dunaliella salina. 

Kalbarri

Probably my favorite WA town, Kalbarri is charming and offers plenty of activities both on water and land. Being situated at the mouth of Murchison River it’s home for pelicans, every morning there’s a pelican feeding opportunity as well. The Kalbarri National Park is nature lovers happy place, plenty of trails and amazing views.

Carnarvon

Not really a town that would impress, but it can be ok to make a stop, take a walk and possibly check out some of the few restaurants and the slice of nature at Chinaman Pool.

Monkey Mia

The world famous dolphin reserve is absolutely amazing, the main attraction being of course the daily feeding of the bottlenose dolphins that have been coming close to the shore for more than fifty years. It’s a wonderful experience to be so close to them and learn about this friendly creatures from the people that dedicate their lives to protect and keep the dolphins happy and healthy.
But that’s not all, Monkey Mia has also a very nice beach, a modern resort with plenty of entertainment options and nice and helpful staff. 

Shell Beach

Still in the Shark Bay region, this beach is covered completely in shells and it’s one of the only two such beaches in the world. 

Coral Bay

Another of my favorite WA spots, Coral Bay is small, relaxed and simply beautiful. The water is crystal clear, warm and nice blue, the beach is covered in soft sand and the whole surroundings are very friendly and inviting. The perfect setting for sunbathing, swimming and just enjoying the beauty of the place. It’s considered one of the best places for snorkeling, the Ningaloo reef being home for a large number of fishes, whale sharks and mantarays. As so many other places in WA, Coral Bay is also a perfect location to watch beautiful sunsets. 

Exmouth and around

The far north west town is known for its amazing Ningaloo reef and the closeby Cape Range National Park.
The town itself is relaxed and welcoming, but the real beauty lies outside the town. 
Just in Cape Range National Park I could have spent probably at least a week, it has so much to offer. Highly recommended to do the Yardie Creek walk, you’ll be rewarded with great views over the gorge, which has deep blue water, red limestone cliff faces and a wide range of wildlife, such as this cute wallaby that decided to hop out of the bush at the right time for a photo with a great background.


Osprey Bay has been amazing for snorkeling, the highlight was swimming with turtles. Also plenty of fishes of all sizes and colors to be seen.


Turquoise Bay is absolutely spectacular, definitely visit it once you’re in the National Park. As the name suggests, the color of the water is perfect turquoise blue, you feel like in paradise there. It’s known as western Australia’s best beach and one of the top best beaches of the whole continent – I can understand why.

It feels like there’s so much more to discover around here, but these highlights are probably the most spectacular ones and can easily be explored in aprox 2 weeks. The beautiful beaches are certainly attractive and the journey towards them is pleasant, occasionally some local animals may great you as well.

City2Surf Sydney – the world’s largest fun run

Runners might have it on the bucket list, Sydney siders love it and all participants are aware that City 2 surf is the world’s largest fun run and Sydney’s favorite sporting event. My long distance running experience started not too long ago with 4 k, at the second event I did a 5 k and this time I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of being part of what’s considered a blast and a challenge that everybody around me talks about. Therefore with all possible excitement I registered a week ago and with again a very minimal training but a much bigger determination I put my runners on and lined up at St Mary’s in the CBD to start the hardcore challenge.

The atmosphere from the very beginning has been very welcoming and entertaining, just as I expected it to be. Music, good vibe and many many keen runners of all ages started the countdown on this sunny Sunday morning.

City 2 surf attracts annually thousands of participants, last year reaching a fabulous number of 80,700 registrations. It’s impressive taking into consideration that it’s been only the 48th edition back then and the very first one in 1971 started off with only around 2000 runners.

This year didn’t disappoint either, the massive crowd giving the extra push and motivation along the way.

The race started on College Street in the CBD and following the route along the eastern suburbs, with beautiful Rose Bay and Vaucluse views, where many participants stopped for a quick foto shoot. So did I because I actually had no photo of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from that angle. Yeah, a side of me is still a tourist here and yes, I do love those two gorgeous icons. So there you go, I skipped one water stop and replaced it with a few seconds break of posing with the beautiful background.

Making our way towards the world famous and spectacular Bondi Beach, where the finish line is set, meant another few km-ers to go, but mainly downhill from this point on, which made things slightly easier.

Over all, as any similar event, it’s been challenging and at times really hard to push through, but also a very rewarding experience that I’m so glad that I signed up for. No wonder that in the runners world it’s often a bucket list race to do, also named by notorious publications as one of the world’s most scenic runs. I reckon most of those runners will stop for a selfie on the top of the hill to catch the great background.

I couldn’t disagree and actually if my runner version had a must do list, City 2 Surf would certainly be on it, now ticked off with a result of 1h 45 min result. Must admit I surprised myself with this. More runs to come!

Iconic Bondi – Sydney

Sydney’s most famous and certainly the busiest as well beach, Bondi for sure rings a bell even for those that didn’t get the chance yet to visit it. The iconic beach attracts many people surprisingly even in winter. Winter at this part of the world is mild though, today in a pleasant 18 degrees sunny day I was lying on the beach, reading a book, while a few brave ones were taking a dip in the ocean.

Just recently Bondi hosted a typical winter activity location, an ice rink, where both young and older could enjoy some fun on the ice with ocean views. That’s probably the closest you can get to winter here.

Nothing to complain about, especially when you’ve got the amazing coast line to explore.

On a day like today, when it’s warm and sunny, but not too hot, coastal walks are the ideal weekend activities that keep you in shape.

The stretch from Bondi to Coogee is easy and starts right from the beach, passing Bondi Icebergs and going all the way along the coast.

Very relaxing, on one side with the waves hitting the rocks and above us the beautiful blue sky, amazing combination of what in my terms means perfection.

Along the way you’ll see plenty of interesting and picturesque stone formations that look great in photos.

Also, a few small beaches, such as Tamarama or Bronte, where there are barbecue opportunities and always good vibe.

Lots of people take their dogs on this walk as it’s a very pet friendly environment and I’m sure the dogs enjoy the walk as much as their owners.

As Australia seems to be encouraging a lot sport and fitness in general, this part of the city is in particular a great example of that. Everywhere around Bondi and the sea in general, there are always many super fit people doing their work out, run, stretch or yoga. While on our coastal walk we’ve been taken over so many times by runners that just casually jog from one beach to the other on a regular Sunday afternoon.

The walk goes through a cemetery as well and between the graves you still have the magnificent view of the ocean. One way takes usually just over an hour in a normal rhytm with occasional stops for drinking water or taking pictures. Whether you opt for one way or return, in either cases there’s public transport available.

It does worth it sticking to the area until sunset for having the chance of looking at the ocean on a different light, that is quite pretty and relaxing.

The atmosphere becomes quiet and romantic as the night falls and the waves sound much louder but in the same time more calming. In the distance the city’s light start turning on and the darkness begins to take over slowly. It’s handy to have a light jacket because it gets windy and chilly very quickly, as soon as the sun sets.

The return walk took almost 3 hours and at return  the night lights welcomed us back to reality: busy, noisy and always fun Bondi.

Where to go on a daytrip from Sydney?

A perfect daytrip option from Sydney is the beautiful Royal National Park, well known for its outstanding Figure 8 pools.

How to get there?

Take the car. Although public transport can be an alternative, it’s rather complicated and time consuming. By car it’s just over an hour drive until you reach the National Park and you start the bush walk.

Explore

A pleasant aprox 15 min bush walk, most of the path is very easy, proper hiking shoes still convenient to wear.

The views are beautiful as you get a glimpse of the ocean.

It’s a bit of a challenge to reach the pool itself, as you must climb over some massive rocks for maybe around another 15 min. The proper hiking shoes come very handy at this stage.

When to go?

Definitely make sure you go when it’s low tide if you actually want to approach the pools.

As they are located at the age of the rocks, even if it’s low tide it can be a bit tricky to be around there.

The wind and waves can become your worst enemies and sadly I learnt that on the spot. Weather conditions and nature in Australia can be tough and unexpectedly dangerous.

Walking to the pools is already a slippery path, however the mood of the ocean must be your number one reason to be cautious.

As we were standing next to the Figure 8 pool a sudden wave that came out of nowhere and in a second washed us all off the rocks, smashing us to the ground and water splashing above my head. My water slide like experience lasted a few seconds, carried me aprox 4 meters and left me with a bleeding left foot, lost sunglassies and a damaged camera. Others ended up having way worse injuries but we all agreed that despite the event, Figure 8 pools is a cool place.

Just over an hour drive from Sydney, it’s a great place to escape the city and connect with the nature. Hiking, bush walks and several other outdoors activities are all available in the Royal National Park and Figure 8 pools is just a part of the beauty of this place.

New Years Eve in Sydney

The beauty of Sydney Harbour is on any given day mind blowing, but on New Year’s Eve it’s in particular stunning.

No wonder that people travel from overseas just to watch the famous fireworks when the clock hits midnight. It’s very common to see people struggling to find a good place already in the morning of December 31, taking their meals for the day and literally spending the whole day out, sometimes in terrible heat, just to experience a once in a lifetime event.

I was still little kid when I watched in the tv for the first time and I remember staring with my mouth open because it was absolutely beautiful. Back home, in Romania was still just after midday and those people on the other side of the world were yelling Happy New Year. I thought that’s amazing! And they did that wearing shorts and summer dresses, while I had warm pullovers on even inside the house. It was fascinating to think that it’s summer somewhere while at my place is winter and that it’s night when at me is day still. I started to develop a passion for Australia and especially for Sydney every year after. I am grateful for the tv channels that transmitted a short part of the New Years fireworks from the major cities around the world in the order of the time zones. Sydney was always the first, the most beautiful and my favorite every single time. Long story short: I made my bucket list item to be part of it not just spectator from my couch at home.

First time I spent New Years in Sydney was two years ago, loved it, but haven’t been so lucky to have the best viewing spot. This time, things happened differently .

I happened to be invited last minute to probably the most wanted places to be on this special evening.

At 11 pm, when we got to the Opera Kitchen, the atmosphere was great, the views amazing and the people more than excited. For starters some snack and a glass of wine, but at midnight the champagne didn’t miss either.

When the countdown started everybody turned towards the Harbour Bridge shouting out loud the numbers 3,2,1.

The spectacular fireworks lit up the sky of Sydney and colored it for a few seconds with bright blue, red and golden colors, offering us a memorable 20 minutes of show and excitement.

To my right was the Opera House, to my left the Harbour Bridge and both looked wonderful as the fireworks kept on going.

Any better view for New Years Eve in Sydney I don’t think I could have wished for.

The venue was full but not overcrowded, our table being located probably in the best spot, easily could see everything that did matter.

Another new year, quite a special one, has started in an unexpectedly interesting way in my favorite city.Happy 2018!