Sydney to Gold Coast

sydqld

Monday 23rd October was another absolutely gorgeous day for travelling.

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Officially on the road just after 8am, we wanted to go via the Sydney Harbour Bridge which none of us had ever driven over. Of course we picked the worst possible time of day to do this, but it did not add too much to the trip time when we checked it vs the other possible route.

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Once we got over the bridge, we set the next waypoint for Heatherbrae Pies near Newcastle, and we were there by 10:30am. All the way to Newcastle, there was this white Hyundai i30 which would slow down so we would overtake it, then they would speed up and overtake us, then they would slow down and we would overtake them again..

It is actually pretty rare for any one vehicle to be near our car for longer than 10-15 minutes. We were sure they would stop at Heatherbrae too, but they did not and drove off never to be seen again by us. Overall the Hyundai i30 was the most overtaken vehicle during our trip. There are a lot of these out on the roads.

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The boys chose the Ned Kelly pie and I had the bacon quiche which was very yummy. There was a slice of tomato hidden in the bottom, FYI those who do not like tomato. The boys had ordered milkshakes which seemed to take forever to arrive and when they did arrive, they were not in takeaway cups, so this extended our stop slightly.

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Back on the road we set the next waypoint of The Big Banana at Coffs Harbour. I wanted me that chocolate covered frozen banana! We did also have to stop for fuel on the way. The banana was everything I hoped it would be. One fellow traveller chose the frozen banana as well, the other chose the banana bread. The kitchen was closed as it was about 3:30pm by the time we arrived.

On the way we saw some of the motorsport trucks heading back down the coast after the Gold Coast 600. Sephyroth always has the camera ready, and he got a shot of the Erebus convoy.

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I had packed plenty of car snacks so we were all set for snacks and the pie/quiche was an early lunch. The boys got hungry again near Grafton and we stopped at the Transit Centre which I am not sure we would return to. I had heard great things but the reality did not live up and at the time we were there the restaurant was not open.

If we were planning this trip a second time, I would plan an overnight stop on this drive. We’ve done it before as a day drive, but it is a long day and my other half loves driving and truly enjoys it, plus we have a Ford Focus X-R5 turbo which makes it awesome. I would not suggest doing this trip in one day to anyone else. Especially not overseas tourists. :)

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As the sun was setting we saw a lot of kangaroos in fields near the roads and I began to worry somewhat about that. Where we live, I know where the roos hang out and where to avoid, I did not know that for where we were at dusk and I think that is somewhat vital info.

Luckily no wildlife jumped in front of us, and we made it safely to the Gold Coast around 8:30pm – having lost an hour at the border. So 9:30pm AEDT. I think our American friend did pretty well this day, he did not fall asleep very much along the way. Around 7pm he took a nap for about an hour.

Next week – I will tell you about our apartment at Peninsula Apartments. The view was pretty awesome. The other stuff, not quite so great.

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(Apologies this is late, I meant to finish this yesterday afternoon but obviously plans did not go as planned)

Gold Coast, Snoskred Travels 2016, Sydney

Our Trip Part 1 – Meriton Mascot

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We drove up to Sydney from the South Coast of NSW on an absolutely gorgeous day. We planned a stop at the new car wash at the airport – just near Krispy Kreme and the Maccas and KFC there, as the car had been camping the weekend before and was covered in possum footprints.

Yes, a member of the camping party who shall remain nameless left hotdog buns in their car with the window down. Consequently the possum decided to try and get into all the cars, in case other goodies lived there. Our car did not have a window down, but apparently the possum was unaware of this and kept trying to get in..

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The car wash was excellent – and lucky I took a photo of the sign because now we know they have eftpos, which is handy as I have made a decision to go cash free. But that is a story for another post. :)

On arrival at the Meriton we drove into the carpark, which has some impressive gates that open automatically. We took a ticket and drove in, trying to work out where we could park. Many of the carparks had “SA” painted on them – it turned out these were the right parks to use, for serviced apartment.

We were staying in order to pick up Sephyroth who was flying in from the USA at the airport the next morning. We arrived around 12:30pm on Sunday and were surprised to be able to check in right away, thanks to the lovely Carmen who took excellent care of us.

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We headed straight up to our room (610) to check it out and drop off some items. The room was excellent – very clean, the bed was comfortable, everything was exactly how it should be. Someone else here said they found the lounge furniture to be hard, we actually found it to be about perfect for us. I especially liked the single stand alone lounge chair.

The day before I had been checking our route on RTA live traffic and I discovered there was a Mascot food festival on the Sunday we arrived. We had been thinking of going to the night noodle markets as the train is so convenient to the Meriton, but we decided to check out the food fair instead. It was very busy and the food was excellent. For lunch we chose chicken teriyaki from Tsuru which was served on a bed of seasoned french fries.

What a fantastic location this Meriton is in. You have everything you could possibly want nearby, a supermarket albeit Woolworths who I broke up with as you may recall, cafes, pizza places, a charcoal chicken place.. There are a lot of eateries some of which do have menus in the hotel book in the room.

The one downside of this location is wind related. Being near the airport sometimes the winds can be quite strong here and the way the buildings have been placed can create a bit of a wind tunnel effect.

You will probably want to bring a jacket for those times you are running out to the local shops etc. I’m not sure how much use the balconies would get on those especially windy days but if it was a calm day we would have sat out there and enjoyed the planes flying by.

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(Photo credit Meriton Mascot)

After the food fair we decided to use the pool and spa. We went by to check it out first and discovered there is also a steam room. The facilities here are great, and there is a gym as well with all the things you could want. The pool was a bit on the cold side, so we sat in the spa for a while and then tried the steam room which was brilliant. Soooo hot in there, we actually got back in the pool afterwards to cool off. There are towels supplied so you don’t have to use the ones in the room to go to the pool.

The one improvement I would suggest to Meriton Mascot is to put at least two hooks on the back of the bathroom doors. There just needs to be slightly more hanging space in the bathroom and two hooks would do the trick. These mirrors you see hide cupboards where you can store items if you like, the hairdryer is in there as well.

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We had afternoon coffee from the in room coffee machine. It is a pod machine which uses pods you can get at Woolworths (Vittorio). We are coffee drinkers who travel with our own Nespresso but we figured it was not worth unpacking it from the car for just one coffee. On tasting the coffee, we changed our minds somewhat but it was too late.

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I had seen pizzas from Tavolino at the food fair and that is what we chose for dinner. It was expensive for what we got, but very nice.

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After an early dinner we headed to bed early because we had to be up at 5:30. We slept very well, the beds were comfortable and the pillows were fairly decent. We did not have enough space in the car to pack our own, which we would usually do. We loved the “bed pod” – the room has sliding doors which seem to add a soundproof element to the room.

At around 4am my other half jumped out of bed to run out of the room and turn off what he thought was my phone alarm. It was actually a toilet flush from upstairs. Luckily he was able to go back to sleep fairly quickly and our actual alarm went off at the correct time, so we showered and got in the car ready for our trip to the airport, as our friend had landed and was on his way through customs.

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The airport pickup went as planned, we returned to the hotel for Sephyroth to have a quick shower before setting off for our drive. While he was showering, I ran down to Oliver Brown which opened at 7am to grab a couple of mochas and a latte to start the morning off right. I chose the Belgium dark mocha and it was amazing. So much flavour in a cup!

We had already packed everything in the car ready to go before our airport trip, so it was just a quick sweep of the room to make sure we did not forget anything, a quick check out – we had already validated the carparking ticket on check in, so we did not have to spend much time there.

Recent just ok experiences at another airport hotel had us looking for a new place to stay near Sydney and we think we have found it here. We liked that the carpark had a lot of single car spaces – not such a fan of the $25 fee but that is actually cheap for Sydney car parking and it allows you to enter and exit as many times as you like for 24 hours.

I imagine though, if we brought our car for another visit, we would likely park it in the carpark and not take it out until it was time to leave, because everything you could want or need is within walking distance and catching the train into Sydney is a much better option than trying to park in Sydney.

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We were only here for one night at the start of our trip so we did not make use of the in room laundry facilities, but it is great to know they are there for future trips.

I suspect this hotel would be an excellent location for Sydney visitors to base themselves for all – or the the latter part if they have an early flight out – of any stay, due to the self catering aspect, the close transport links and the airport shuttle bus.

Overall we loved the Meriton Mascot and would absolutely return for another stay.

Wednesdays will be devoted to travel posts, for a little while. I have many things to share with you! ;)

Next week – our drive from Sydney to the Gold Coast. In one day. Because we are wacky like that. :)

Snoskred Travels 2016, Sydney

Sydney Aquarium

The Sydney Aquarium is one of my favourite places to visit. They have a special deal where if you visit after 6pm, you pay less than usual. We paid $26 each via booking on the website but prices can change from time to time.

We arrived just at 6, and headed in to wander about. They close at 8pm and we were there for most of that time, we were probably the slowest visitors there because we don’t just rush from one thing to the next, looking at things for seconds. We spent at least 20 minutes in the underwater tunnel where the fish swim next to and above you.

Unsurprisingly there are a lot of fish and fishtanks. These are two things that always relax me.

What will surprise any visitor to the Sydney Aquarium is the amazingness of the gift shop. Seriously if there is a zombie apocalypse, this is where you want to camp out and hide from the zombies. They have everything you can think of in there at really reasonable prices. And because I’m me, I took an awful lot of photos of the gift shop to share with you..

So, what can you buy?

Books.

Phone Covers

Hats

Belts, and Drizabone Style Coats.

Ugg boots

Tote bags, Handbags, Baseball Caps

Oven Mitts

Golfing items!

Aussie Souvenirs

Enormous Pens

Regular Size Pens

Paperweights

Create Your Own Pearl Necklace (with oyster to open)

Kids T-shirts

Placemats and Coasters

Not even exactly sure what these are

Can’t remember the word for what these are called. Like a snow globe except not.

Kids rash vests

Towel Outfits

And so much more, but this post has gone on for like ever. :) Trust me, go there, you will love it. :)

Australia, Sydney, travel

Sydney Trip Report

Very interesting outcome of the Sydney Trip.

Darling Harbour right before heading to Sydney Aquarium at 6pm.

I was not as bad as I expected I would be. I had one gelato a day and I gravitated towards the more savory flavours in any case – salted caramel, salted coconut and mango. Even so I consumed more sugar than I had in a while.

It took 2 days before I felt hungry as a surprise. The amount of calories expended in those 2 days I could not even tell you. It was constant walking from the time we arrived in Sydney.

The gorgeous fish scale style ceramic wall at Sydney Aquarium

The first day we visited Chinatown and n2 extreme gelato, Paddys Markets, Sydney Aquarium, Pancakes On The Rocks for dinner, then off to Star City Casino for a look around there.

And what a look it was – they had mirrored crystal seating booths. I can’t even. The beauty of these cannot be shown in a photograph, I am sorry, you will just have to go and see it for yourself. :)

The second day was probably the most draining exercise wise as we prowled the shopping district during the day, walked from Westfield Sydney to Grilld at World Square for lunch (we shared a burger and fries as neither of us felt very hungry, it was such a hot day) then back to Paddys Markets, we walked around Darling Harbour multiple times, we liked Grilld so much for lunch we went to Grilld Harbourside for dinner, then to Star Casino for dessert at Gelato Messina.

Sydney City as seen from Darling Harbour.

The Sydney shopping district makes zero sense to me. I grew up in Adelaide where everything is laid out all neat like. Sydney is a mess of secret malls, overhead walkways that link shopping centres which come to you as a surprise, and underground corridors full of shops. It has a very short mall compared to Rundle Mall in Adelaide and the rest of the main shopping strip cars and pedestrians fight for space especially on a busy day.

Even the newest shopping centre – Westfield Sydney – has a dizzying layout which makes it impossible to see every shop without backtracking and walking in circles..

The third day we chilled out, had a lovely Paleo friendly breakfast at Darling Harbour, then I went wandering on my own via the monorail back to Westfield Sydney and the CBD while The Other Half met his friend for lunch. Then to Costco, then home via a Sushi Train..

I’m going to write up some reviews this week – including the longest photo review known to man thus far – and I also want to do some linking to Sydney food sites I read which inspired me to visit the places we visited.

So what did I learn?

For me, sugar, carbs like potatoes and rice, and grains, make me hungry. They also make me crash big time – on the third day I had a major blood sugar spike when I had a Starbucks coffee in the morning without any sugar added but it was a flavoured one and plenty sweet by itself. I then experienced a crash, a low blood sugar thing.

It was interesting to recognise that for what it was and see the symptoms it caused, and to look back and see where that has happened to me in the past and I have put it down to other things.

food, paleo, Sydney, travel

Sydney Trip

Tomorrow we head up to Sydney for a couple of nights away..

Imma gonna be trying some stuff I have been reading about for.. well.. a long time. Many of these things happen to be Gelato. Also there will be Zumbarons.

So I guess this means I will be consuming some sugar for the first time in a while. It will be interesting to see how this makes my body feel.

I will of course, update you urgently. So be prepared, there may be a few quick photo type posts.

Sydney, travel

Room With A View

I love the Sydney Airport Stamford. Truly, I adore it! I have stayed there many times over the years and it never gets old. They have fantastic bathrooms with Aveda toiletries. They have comfortable beds. The furniture is tasteful and solid. They offer excellent food. The parking is excellent and they have many single parks surrounded by concrete, perfect for those of us who own performance vehicles and might find our sleep interrupted by thoughts of “is someone too close to my car”. But above all else, they have one thing which is rare when it comes to a hotel.

Sydney Airport Stamford

Brilliant views with extremely comfortable chairs to sit and watch the view in.

The Chair

Of course this is not something everyone appreciates but for those of us who are plane enthusiasts (read, plane geeks) a 5 day stay at the Sydney Airport Stamford in which you never leave the room would be the perfect holiday. As long as you have an airport view room. And you need to ask for airport view because sometimes they put you on the other side of the hotel. I’ve never had a problem getting the room with a view yet and we have stayed there *a lot*. Including several long stays where we rarely left the room. ;) Here is a panorama of the view from the room – click for a larger view.

Panorama of the view from the Sydney Airport Stamford

However you will have to do a little moving the chairs around, because for some unknown reason the hotel puts them away from the window. This is fine, it doesn’t take a lot of work and once you’ve done it you can sit down with your scanner flicking through the air control frequencies and enjoy the view. In fact you might not leave the room at all. Why would you go outside to watch planes when you can do it from the hotel? The only possible *better* view would be sitting in the control tower..

There is one small problem. If there are two of you, there is only one chair. However we share nicely and there is the ottoman at the end as well. Planes fly right over the top of the hotel – and you can barely hear them thanks to some amazing double glazing. It is quite the experience.

We stayed there with my parents who had the room next door. It is times like those when you realise how nutty they are. We’d parked in the carpark and The Other Half got a brilliantly fantastic park in between the concrete poles I mentioned. Then we decided we wanted to go out for dinner, but we did not want to lose the park. What to do? My Mum suggested we “borrow” one of the big witch’s hats and put it at the entrance to the park – she meant it as a joke, but Dad and I decided it was a brilliant idea and picked one up. They were incredibly heavy so the two of us had to drag it halfway across the carpark giggling the whole way. It worked too – the fantastic park was empty and waiting for us when we returned. There was heaps of spare parks, no harm done but we were happy. ;)

The next morning we had breakfast in the buffet for the first time. We did not know they had an egg chef. But they do. :) Good to know! I had me a nice omelette. We saw the Singapore A380 for the first time. Amazing.

BYO binoculars, scanner and bottles of water. Remember to put the “do not disturb” sign on the door. We almost had a visit from housekeeping before we got out of bed. Use the door chain as well, just in case. Of course you do that anyway when staying at a hotel, right?

No, the Sydney Airport Stamford did not pay me for this post however if they happen to be reading this I will happily accept a free stay or something. Because I love ya’all. And your hotel ain’t cheap, but it *is* worth it. And I didn’t roll the housekeeping carts and steal a shedload of Aveda toiletries, however sorely I was tempted.

5 star hotels, planes, Sydney

Meeting A Fellow Blogger, Ikea, Cameras, Insurance.

Yesterday we took a little trip to Sydney. Our camera lens was finally ready to pick up. Canon had called us earlier in the week and let us know.

I’ve been on the internet since 1992. Some of the best people I have ever met I originally got to know via the internet. I used to be a part of an IRC chat group in Adelaide and they had meets all the time. I met The Other Half that way. We have ICQ text logs of our early chats that go on for pages and pages.

One of the other people I met, Simon, became our house sitter. He is the most beautiful person, inside and out. He went on to meet himself a girl who is also just as beautiful inside and out. Then they would both house sit for us. When we left Adelaide, we left them a lot of our furniture – and our fish tank!

Internet VS “Real Life” –

Always whenever we moved, our internet friends were the ones who showed up to help while the “real life” friends had excellent excuses. I soon learned I would rather have an internet friend than a “real” one – especially when we went through the difficult times with the other half’s ex wife. My internet friends stuck by me, the real life friends were nowhere to be seen. Not a one of them, and I’m not joking about that.

Plane Crazy –

We also met a lot of plane spotter friends online, some of whom became very dear friends indeed. One of them was a mentor to many of the younger plane spotters and encouraged them to go after their dreams, whether it was being a pilot, whether it was photography, or working as a plane engineer. Many of his mentees now work for Qantas, Virgin Blue and other international airlines. On top of all that, he was just the best bloke, funny and great to be around. People gravitated towards him. He was a magnet.

He also had cancer but he never complained about it, in fact a lot of people had no idea. When he died, we drove all the way from Adelaide to Sydney in order to be at the funeral. We felt like we had to be there and I am so glad we made that effort. I still miss him very much. His absence is noticeable in the community. He kept the egos out of it and since he left us to go to the great airplane spotting mound in the sky complete with beer and comfortable recliners the egos have got a bit out of control, sadly.

Scambaiter = Paranoid –

Then in 2004 I became a scambaiter and I suddenly became a bit.. paranoid. Well not exactly paranoid, more like determined to be anonymous. I was happy to be friends with the internet people we knew but I became a lot less open to meeting new people, especially people who knew about the baiting. I did meet with some scambaiters here in Australia, one of whom I adore (yeah that’s you Dbest03, and when are you coming to visit us on the South Coast?) and have met again since. Since moving to New South Wales we had not met anyone from the internet at all.

But Not Anymore –

All that changed yesterday. Meg from Dipping Into The Blogpond had invited us to drop in when we went to pick up the camera so right after Canon called I sent her an email and arranged to visit on Friday. We had a lovely time and Meg and her Other Half are wonderful people. I am hopeful the visit will be returned soon – and perhaps some of the Canberra bloggers might venture over to join us as well. Facibus, that means you!

Mild Confusion Reigned At Canon –

There was one unhappy moment in the day – when we got to Canon, there was some confusion over who was supposed to pay for the lens repair. Canon had not sent an invoice to the insurance company – which the insurance company had requested in their fax when they approved the repairs to go ahead. I don’t know how they expected to get paid if they didn’t send the invoice! We had to find a couple of grand on the spot in order to take our lens home with us – I’ll take the receipt into the insurance agency on Monday to get reimbursed. Yes, you heard it right – the repair was just under $2,000 – which is why we have specified insurance for that lens, for accidental damage as well as theft. I can tell you an iron grip will be kept on that camera lens from now on. We don’t want to go through that again!

People, insure your stuff –

It’s worth it. Our policy covers us to go anywhere in Australia with that lens and be covered for any event that might happen with it. It costs us the grand total of .60 cents a day to have four items specified – two laptops, the camera and lens. On top of that our policy itself covers us for unspecified personal effects up to $2,000.

A Pit Stop @ Temporal Vortex –

That unhappy moment was soon forgotten when The Other Half announced he was taking me to Ikea. YAY! All I wanted was a timer which would sit on my desk and chime when 55 minutes was up – then I can reset it for my 10 minute break. I almost got sucked into the temporal vortex when a chandelier called my name and told me to buy it. I was drawn to it and found myself standing there, holding the price tag ($29AUD, how reasonable) looking up at its brilliance, going all deer in the headlights. The Other Half did not notice I was missing because he was looking at computer chairs. When he spotted me he knew what was going on and he rescued me quickly, gently leading me away from the brilliance I wanted to buy. Unfortunately they did not have any left to sell. :(

But he did find me a springform cake tin, and a set of in trays which I wanted. It was a cheap Ikea trip at just under $50 and it was superfast, too. We were there for less than an hour.

Music Played –

Before we left we quickly created two cds – one each. It was a lot of music we hadn’t heard in a while and we totally rocked it out in the car, singing along. Neither of us can hear each other singing in the car – now that is a sign of a good car stereo! At least I always thought it was because I used to have a friend who was totally tone deaf who liked to sing.. ;)

Happiness Reigns –

Since moving in here – both the house and the new blog – days have been joyous. I have a lot of organization going on and it feels wonderful. I’ve been cooking some great meals. We had a week of cheesecake last week. I also have some fantastic incense and new oils for my oil burner which are keeping the house smelling amazing. The chores have been cut down because I am keeping on top of them. The kitties are happy, I’m happy, the other half is happy. I know that me merely mentioning this may cause some to dislike me or be mad at me purely based on my being happy, but I figured I should share it. Those who are my real friends will be happy for me. ;)

Blog Friends, IKEA, Sydney

When you move..

What do you pack first? Do you think whatever that item is must be the most precious to you?

As I type this, my office room has a sad echo. There are only two books left on my shelves – Feng Shui which I’ll need for laying out the new house – and one by my bedside. The rest are packed away in 6 boxes. I won’t see them again for a good couple of weeks. Every time I do this, it is like saying goodbye to much loved friends. Even though it is only a short time I will miss them and the freedom to pick any one of them up and return to wherever they take me when I open them.

The book I never pack, the one I always take with me from the house in my hands is the complete works of Jane Austen. That’s mainly because my complete works of Shakespeare is heavier than your average teenager and just as difficult to co-exist with.

Today we had to take a little trip to Sydney. You may recall that I am quite well endowed. For a girl, I have an enormous..

canoncamera

A rather unfortunate event took place when the other half decided to go out and photograph some lightning recently. The lens fell off the tripod. Of course being that it is such a large and expensive ($3,700AUD) lens, we have it insured as a specified item on our insurance policy, so it is covered completely. But being the camera nuts that we are, we (and by we I mean me) did not want anyone but Canon themselves touching it. So we drove to their head office in Sydney.

On the way we had to drive past Lone Star, so we stopped and had lunch YAY! Then we had to drive PAST Ikea, which was possibly the hardest part of the trip. I did not shed tears but it was almost a very sad moment until I remembered that I would not be happy to leave the car in the carpark on its own.

The head office of Canon is no small place. It was at least 5 stories high, and quite posh and impressive. Unfortunately they seem to suffer from a lack of carparking for customers who want to visit but despite my urge to remain with the vehicle and keep it safe from any door flingers who might park near it, I wanted to go inside. So for the very first time since we bought the car, it was parked in a normal carpark without one of us keeping watch over it. Yes, it’s been a while. ;)

The estimate for fixing it is $1,200. It’s worth it but it is difficult to show you why it is worth it without you being here in person looking at printed out versions of the photographs at full resolution.

photography, Sydney