Monday, December 2, 2013

australia travel diary {sydney & bondi beach}

Obligatory Opera House shot -- ain't she a beaut?!

This is quite bittersweet -- the last of my travel diary posts from our adventure down under. As mentioned in my previous recaps for New Zealand (here and here, if you're just joining us now), we headed over to Australia for the last leg of our trip hoping to unwind and decompress a bit after non-stop travel and high-adrenaline adventure. And Sydney did just the trick for us! While our stay was on the short side, we couldn't have asked for a better city to relax, drink, eat and generally enjoy each other in -- and definitely plan on visiting again very, very soon! Sydney, you haven't seen the last of us, yet!

We rushed to the Opera House on our first night in town -- how unreal is the inside architecture?

The Queen Victoria Building -- by far the best looking shopping mall I've ever seen.

A meat sampler for two at Otto in Woolloomooloo // Our cozy living room nook at the Establishment hotel

Soaking in every last bit of Bondi Beach.

Hazelnut gelato from Messina -- seriously craving this right about now! // While bouncing around on this trip, I acquired a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on how you look at it) amount of New Zealand and Aussie glossies. In total, I probably came home with around 15. Sorry, not sorry! :)

Loved the atmosphere and decor at Iceberg's in Bondi. 

Take me back! Take me back!

Enjoyed a little retail therapy during an afternoon rainstorm. I had to pry myself away from the Josh Goot boutique. // Stopped by the Zambesi showroom (more to come on that later this week!).

While staying out at Bondi Beach, we fell in love with all the local coffee shops. There's something to be said about NOT seeing a Starbucks for two weeks. Sensory Lab was one of our favorites and I may have tried to steal these copper chairs of theirs. // A Dion Lee dress that found it's way home with me. 

Just experiencing a #pinchme moment. Don't mind me.

What to do:
Since we only had about four full days in Sydney, we wanted to knock out as many of the must-sees as possible. Right after touching down in town, we headed straight to our hotel to freshen up (and so Dan could iron his suit) and walked over to the Sydney Opera House. We saw the symphony perform and I still can't get over how magical the whole evening felt! From watching the sunset over the water to grabbing drinks later that night at the opera house bar, I have to say it was one of my favorite evenings of the whole trip. Hands down. Of course, I've arguably said that about a lot of our experiences, but I really mean it for this one. :)

For our next full day, and I hesitate before admitting this, we signed up for the "Hop on, hop off" sightseeing bus tours. Now before you judge, I just want to say that I'm actually a big fan of these IF I know I have a very limited amount of time in a city I'm traveling around in. It's convenient, relatively cheap and you can pack a lot of sights in before deciding which one you want to spend more time at. We fit in time at Hyde Park and Centennial Park and even got to duck into a few residential neighborhoods (loved the old Victorians! Reminded me so much of SF!).

At this point of our trip, I was craving some retail therapy and after a little hunting around and great tips from our hotel, we (I mean, I) headed over to Oxford street. Hello Zimmerman, Willow, Josh Goot! I managed to escape before too much damage was done to my wallet.

And for our last days in Oz? We were in desperate need of beaches and Bondi was the perfect spot. Think Santa Barbara meets Santa Cruz meets a little bit of LA. Beautiful beaches (even despite the spurts of rain toward the end) and countless restaurants to keep us content and full.

Where to stay:
In Sydney: We stayed at the Establishment Hotel, located in the Financial district, and at the heart of a string of boutique restaurants and tucked away speakeasy alley bars (popular with the nearby work crowds for happy hour cocktails). Of course, I fell in love with our room decor (cowhide rugs, gold accents and succulents) and was a sucker for the tea and cookies they leave in your room at night.

In Bondi: Originally, we attempted to book a flat through AirBnB -- only to have it fall through at the last minute. Luckily, Bondi has plenty of beach condo/apartment hotels and we eventually went with the Adina. Minutes from the beach, on the main drag next to coffee shops and dangerously close to Messina Gellateria.

Eat + Drink:
Otto: It's rated as Sydney's best Italian food -- and they're definitely not lying about this. It's on the pricier side, but well worth it. Plus, it's set out on a harbor so there isn't a bad seat in the house. 

Iceberg's: If you're out in Bondi, you simply cannot miss Iceberg's! We had meant to try dinner here but didn't make reservations in time so we snuck in for a late lunch after catching some sun earlier that day on the beach. The restaurant itself is nestled on a cliffside toward the end of Bondi Beach, meaning the view is phenomenal. We sipped on summery cocktails (it is summer over there right now after all!) and leisurely ate our way through oysters, burrata and risotto. 

Neighbourhood: Also in Bondi, this came highly recommended via Instagram and we could instantly tell why. Intimate bar setting without feeling too cramped, inventive cocktail assortments and an overall fun weekend scene.  

Messina: We decided to visit Messina on our last full day in town -- which was probably for the best because I could have easily gone there multiple times each day. The lines can get a bit crazy but the wait is worth it (especially if you're getting hazelnut).

Well there you have it! I hope you enjoyed traveling along with me during these trip recaps -- and if you have any questions about where we stayed or what we did, happy to chat! Just leave your questions in the comments below!


  1. Amazing photos. Love the last one so much.

    xx Mira

  2. Thanks for sharing these pictures with us.

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family.

  3. that meat plate makes me drool!!

  4. The copper chairs are Blu Dot and available at the SF store :)

  5. this looks so incredible. your photos are amazing!

    The Casual Classic

  6. I love your green dress in front of the opera house! It sounds like such a great trip and it was fun reading your recaps!

  7. Sounds like you made the most out of your time in Sydney! :) Lovely photos too :)

    Away From The Blue

  8. very impressing, wanna go there, too!

  9. So beautiful pics <3

  10. Haven't been to Australia for about 5 years now and I am itching to go back - it's in my plans for October - I love it there, so glad you had a great time.x


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