Adelaide: A small city with a lot to offer

Cutest monkeys ever at the Adelaide Zoo!

The final destination of the Oz Road Trip with Heather & Adam was Adelaide, South Australia, which we reached on April 6th, almost two months after our journey had begun on February 13th! The feeling was bittersweet in many ways: we were all excited to get back to civilization once again after several days spent driving back across the Nullarbor, but we also knew our journey together was drawing to a close. Fortunately for me, Adam & Heather were able to spend a few days with me in Adelaide before heading back to Sydney.

This part of our trip was particularly momentous for me because it was the first time I had stayed in a hostel in almost two months – no more camping for me! . . . weeell, at least not for a week or so anyway – hahaha, but I will write about sleeping in a swag on my tour from Adelaide to Alice Springs in a separate post (coming very soon, I promise!) 😉 Now normally I would not be so excited to be staying in a hostel, but my mom wondered if it would seem like The Ritz in comparison to all the time I had spent sleeping outdoors & she was absolutely right! The Adelaide YHA is the nicest hostel I have ever stayed in & I’m not just saying that because I finally had a roof over my head once again!

Adelaide YHA

During my week & a half stay, the hostel was always clean & relatively quiet & there were often activities to help you meet other guests.

My (6-bed) dorm in the Adelaide YHA . . . OK, admittedly I took this picture during the one day when I was the only one staying in the room so that's why it looks so neat & clean!

I was fortunate to meet several people at the YHA that I ended up hanging out with at one point or another during my stay.  Angie from Scotland & Daisy from Hong Kong were both roommates of mine & one afternoon we decided to stop by the Adelaide Central Market to buy some food for a picnic lunch . . . at least that was our plan before it started to rain. 😦  Well, although we couldn’t enjoy eating in the lovely botanical gardens that day as we had planned, we did still manage to have a nice lunch together, even if we did end up eating it in the hostel kitchen! 😉

Beautiful fruit & veg at the Adelaide Central Market

A scrumptious selection of cheeses

When I look back at my photos & notes from Adelaide, there were so many highlights!  You may hear some Aussies put Adelaide down because it’s a small city & it doesn’t quite have the glamour of Sydney or Melbourne, but I really enjoyed my time there.

Funi, a female panda at the Adelaide Zoo . . . Yes, I know it's weird to have a picture of a panda in my blog about Australia, but Adelaide boasts the only pandas (they have two!) in the southern hemisphere.

Malayan Tapir at the Adelaide Zoo - Strangest animal I have ever seen! But Wombat is still my fav!

Dark chocolate & blueberry muffin from Cocolat - OMG was this thing good!

Piano in Adelaide Central Market - they had these all over the city!

One of the many gorgeous flowers at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens.

So as you can see, this city really does have a lot to offer!  And when you add in a day trip to some of the many wineries in South Australia, Adelaide is the perfect spot for a relaxing holiday.

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Vivid Sydney

The Opera House was my first stop after arriving in Sydney in mid-May

If there was any doubt in my mind (which if you know me at all, you know that of course there was), it vanished the moment I laid eyes once again on the reason I first fell in love with this beautiful city: the Sydney Opera House.  My decision to leave home for a year Down Under was perhaps not as difficult as my decision of where in Australia I should choose to reside.  Before beginning this journey, Sydney was the only city I had ever visited in Oz, so of course that was the obvious choice.  On the other hand, I had been told wonderful things about Melbourne & I couldn’t wait to experience the active arts scene & thriving cafe culture of this vibrant city first-hand.

For this reason, my original plan when I came to Australia was to give living in Melbourne “a go” & see if perhaps it would also be possible to spend a significant amount of time in Sydney (after all, if you can’t eat your cake, then why bother having it, am I right? ;))  Being the worrywart that I am, I was already feeling as if the weeks & months ahead were slipping away before I even left the States!  Australia is such a vast & diverse country: How would I ever find the time (let alone the money!) to do it all?  Or if I couldn’t do it all, how would I know if I was making the right decisions about what to do & what to forego?  How can we ever know for sure?  (Do I sound a bit neurotic here?  Welcome to my world . . . it’s exhausting! ;))

Ultimately I came to understand that there was never really anything to fear – what was the worst that could happen?  I spent a couple of weeks exploring Melbourne (which I had wanted to do anyway) & finally felt I could no longer ignore the fact that as much as I tried, I just wasn’t connecting with the vibe of the city the way that I had with Sydney.

Sounds reasonable enough, but at first I couldn’t help but feel guilty.  Theoretically speaking at least, Melbourne is the ideal city for me.  I enjoy the arts: Melbourne is known for its museums, performing arts & culture.  I love food: Melbourne is the culinary capital of Australia.  It had everything I thought I wanted in a city & I just couldn’t put my finger on why I wasn’t feeling the fit.  Here was my mind battling my heart again & I felt as if I had somehow let down an entire city & all its people.  I wanted to say to them, “it’s not you, Melbourne, it’s me!!”

A cheesy cliche normally reserved for breaking up with one’s significant other, I know, but I honestly felt that way!  Reason told me I should be quite happy in Melbourne, but my heart knew that logic has no real merit in such decision-making.  I felt for Sydney what I can only describe as homesickness: I missed the wild flavors of macarons from Adriano Zumbo, the alluring beaches of Bondi & Manly (I am so, so sorry Melbourne, but St. Kilda & Brighton Beach just don’t do it for me :() & most of all I missed the harbours – Sydney Harbour with its iconic Bridge & Opera House most of all.  I couldn’t stand being so close yet so far from a scene that I will never tire of viewing.

Lighting the Sails of the Sydney Opera House

So here I am.  And if I needed further reassurance that I made the right decision, all I had to do was see “Lighting the Sails” of the Opera House during Vivid Sydney, an annual festival of light, music & ideas held here each winter.  I’m afraid my pictures don’t quite do it justice, so you’ll just have to take my word that this was an incredible light show.  You can also check out the pictures on the Vivid Sydney website to get a better idea of what I was fortunate enough to experience in person.

Heaps of people showed up to see the Opera House in lights

In addition to the Opera House, Customs House also had an amazing light show.  I took a brief video of this as I think it gives a better perspective than the still photos . . . but I can’t seem to figure out how to get said video into my blog post.  It seems I need to save it in another format & those skills are beyond me. 😦

Sydney Customs House all lit up

There were also several other light exhibits around Circular Quay, not to mention the food stalls serving up hot meals (I wish I had realized this before I ate dinner prior to attending the festival! :(), hot mulled wine (this I could not pass up . . . although I am assuming that hot mulled wine is an acquired taste as it was not much to my liking) & cannoli half-filled with the traditional ricotta & half-filled with tiramisu – yum!

Light Sculptures at Circular Quay: Children & adults alike were fascinated by these human-like light forms.

I learned after the festival that this sculpture, entitled "Jellilight," represents giant jellyfish flying away from the earth up into the universe like reverse UFOs, escaping our polluted oceans.

Even this little boat got all dolled up for the occasion!

Now just in case my storyline has left you a bit confused, I should mention that I have skipped over several weeks of my travels because I just couldn’t wait to post about Vivid Sydney!  After Heather, Adam & I finished our roadtrip I spent over a week in Adelaide, another week on a tour from Adelaide up to Alice Springs & then over two weeks in Melbourne before finally settling in Sydney over a month ago!!  I now have an apartment with three flatmates in Leichhardt, Sydney’s “Little Italy,” as well as a job at Ghermez Cupcakes!  Don’t worry, I will be sure to fill you in on the details – all in good time!

Map of Australia

WA = Western Australia; NT = Northern Territory; SA = South Australia; QLD = Queensland; NSW = New South Wales; ACT = Australian Capital Territory; VIC = Victoria; TAS = Tasmania

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