Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the category “Australia”

Australian Love: The Sydney Edition

I had a dream. I dreamed of a great beach, the waves crashing against the rocks, surfers showing off their new stunts while I jogged along a six kilometer trail as the seagulls called out my name. The jogging bit never actually happened, but going to Bondi beach sure did!

A childhood friend lives in Bondi. We’ve literally grown up together. From school to boys, make up to careers, we’ve discussed everything over the last 24 years. It was only after her constant messages to join WhatsApp did I actually take the plunge! I probably had a jogging dream because she has become such a workout-a-holic!

At Bondi with Minnie!

At Bondi with Minnie!

Having visited Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast this summer on work, I took some days off to jet set to Sydney. And it just so happens that a favourite cousin lives there with his lovely wife. So pretty much my trip was all set really!

With Abhik dada and Atreyi. (Try the gelato in Brava Trattoria, really good)

With Abhik dada and Atreyi. (Try the gelato in Brava Trattoria, really good)

I landed in Sydney early morning and took the subway into the main city. Now, with all its wonderful qualities, I fail to understand why authorities would go out of their way to make it tourist unfriendly. There’s nothing called a daily or weekly pass with which you can travel the city. If you buy one of those passes, you would have to specify the distance and so, your ticket would not be valid if you decide to get down at the next stop. Nevertheless, it didn’t deter me. I was in Sydney for god’s sake!

This time I transformed into a complete tourist. Atreyi (my cousin’s wife) and I went for long walks on the Harbour Bridge but not before trying to walk on the cyclists’ path first! The Opera House is so much bigger than you imagine really. And the seagulls, they somehow don’t like us much. They attacked us as we were digging into our fish and chips! Get this, just us, not anyone else eating with gusto the same fish and chips!

The Harbour bridge

The Harbour bridge

The gorgeous Opera House

The gorgeous Opera House

Then, I visited Minnie at Bondi. Oh my god, I fell in love with the beach! Well, the eye candy isn’t so bad either, just saying! The beach is gorgeous. It was still cold when I visited so a swim was out of the question. But just walking along the sand, the jogging trail, sipping coffee looking over the beach… it’s a different experience altogether. You must visit Bondi if you ever find yourself in Sydney.

The famed fish and chips at Bondi

The famed fish and chips at Bondi

Oh Bondi!

Oh Bondi!

Now, I visited on the weekdays. We crib in Delhi how everything shuts by 11-12 and there’s no place you can go for a late night drink, but guess what. People are asleep by 10 there so shops shut at 6! The only place which caters to ‘late eater’ would be Darling Harbour which my friend Daniel took me to. Funny story how we met – on the train to Padua from Milan. He offered to help us with the backpacks and then, we spent the day together in Venice. He’s wonderful really.

Daniel is too tall!

Daniel is too tall!

Sexy salmon and prawns at Darling Harbour!

Sexy salmon and prawns at Darling Harbour!

Now let me warn you dieters, Australia is not a place to be in if losing weight is your goal. I love my meat but even for vegetarians, the food is so delicious that you end up eating more than your tummy can hold! The health conscious Aussies are really big on fresh produce and quality meat. If you like cooking, you won’t leave a grocers shop while your eyes light up looking at the fresh food for sale. No wonder television producers back home have suddenly gone big on Australian cooking shows. Matt, Gary and George have become household names while Boys’ Weekend, Masterchef Australia and My Kitchen Rules have thousands of Indian viewers. (No worries, I got to cook salmon, prawns in chilli-butter and a plum tomato salad for my cousins one evening)

Breakfast! I wish this was an everyday affair!

Breakfast! I wish this was an everyday affair!

It’ been a few months and I still haven’t managed to lose the extra pounds I packed on there, but I can’t wait to go back. Especially since Minnie and Atreyi have bonded and keeps sending me pictures on WhatsApp to make me jealous! Don’t worry Australia, I’ll be back soon, and that’s a promise.

Sydney, all lit up

Sydney, all lit up

PS: Don’t be under the impression that Australia is cheap. It’s not. It’s one of the most expensive continents I’ve been to. To give you an average idea, a fish and chips meal would be nothing short of A$12 while a Darling Harbour dinner would come to A$50 ahead. While transport in Sydney via subs is not very expensive, commuting to the airports will pinch your pockets by an extra A$10-12 dollars over the regular fare.

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Australian love: The first edition

It’s been a while I know. But when your heart is set upon new adventures, you have to wait for the perfect moment, when you’re ready to put into words the new experiences.

Why do people travel? To eat? To explore? Seek a new romance? To understand a culture or just to put a check off a country from the bucket list. (Visited Vietnam. Check). Well, it’s difficult to put into words why I travel or love the prospect of visiting a new town, city, country or continent. Maybe it’s the sense of adventure which I look forward to or the fact I will get to meet so many different people. Some will stay friends while others I probably will never get to meet again. Old photographs, maybe a restaurant receipt or just a little bric-a-brac will take me back to those days. A little nostalgia, maybe a summer love? Who knows.

Food becomes a very important aspect in my travels. I crave to experience every sensation my tastebuds can take. That often leads to people around me go ‘yuck.’ And I respond, ‘Why are you travelling if you want to stay within your comfort zone?’

My first tryst with Sydney came last summer. I had a two-hour layover before I flew out to Noumea. As my flight from Singapore flew near the Opera House before heading to the airport, I fell in love. The view, the structure seemed spectacular in the morning sun and I vowed to be back. Luckily, this summer I had the chance to visit Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Without a second thought I made a quick detour!

Not all fun, work too

It may have been a working holiday but six days in Australia didn’t prove enough. From Brisbane to reach the Sunshine Coast takes little more than an hour by road. (It’s easier and cheaper to drive down rather than fly domestic). David and Pammy were the best hosts one could possibly wish for. If you ever get the chance, go Down Under. The roads are spectacular and the people couldn’t be more lovelier. Eager to know about Indian culture and food, I even came across this young woman who has trekked to Ladakh. “I can’t wait to go back,” she said. That made me plan my next vacation!

The long stretches of white sand, the clear blue waves and the food. Oh how I miss the days. Work took me to the forests of Imbil and quaint little towns I never would have seen otherwise. David and Pammy were eager to share their adventures and soon discovered they loved Indian food! And once we got talking, there was no stopping as empty beer bottles started stacking up!

Staying at Caloundra (once a popular beach town picnic spot), I came cross a gentleman from Chandigarh running an Indian curry place. “They don’t like it hot much,” he rued. But get him started about current affairs back home, and he rambled. I think my beef masala fry got cold before I could leave for my apartment!

My four days in the Sunshine coast had me having my fill of medium rare Eye fillets (Mooo Char and Bar owned by former halfback Allan Langer is a must-visit) , octopus salads with feta, prawns (dipped in a seafood sauce and accompanied by a glass of Merlot) and of course hearty Sunday breakfasts (which will not have you eating another morsel of food for the rest of the day).

As I bid adieu to Queensland before heading to New South Wales, I felt I had made friends whom I want to visit again or host back home. I already miss the adventures on the road and the warmth of friends – I hope to be back soon.

Some sights and tastes of the Sunshine Coast…

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