Australia, Day Trips, Itinerary, Oceania, Travel

The Lost Weekend | Newtown City Guide

Photo Credit: Josephine Sicad Photography

I’ve been to Newtown once before: drunken and giggly; walking barefoot whilst dangling a pair of high heels in the air.

It was lovely at dawn, when the city was asleep. But what little part of me that was left sober that night, knew too well, Newtown was lovelier once awake.

The boylove and I have raided a couple of weekends since, and we have never fallen for a place as much as we have for this little artsy neighbourhood just on the outskirts of Sydney CBD.

It sure is possible to embark on adventures, even in the confines of our home city; and this, mates, is a cheat sheet.

You are welcome.

Accommodation, Australia, Experience, Oceania, Travel

Hotel Review | The Urban Newtown

Knackered from rush-hour traffic on a Friday night, The Urban Newtown beckoned like a nest to a tired hatchling. Amidst the bustle of busy Newtown, it stood distinctively, sporting an iconic Fintan Magee on its facade.

Winter has just come, and my body was just getting used to the cold. But Newtown begged to be explored. After all, it was Vivid Sydney season. If anything, the city was never more alive.

Australia, Itinerary, Oceania, Travel

Easter Road Trip Travel Guide | Coffs Harbour – Surfers Paradise

It is no secret that the open road is my travel terrain of choice. After all, “the dream” began on countless bus trips from my barrio to the city, in all my years in school.

Easter, as Jonat and I serendipitously came to reckon in 2011, is the perfect time for road trips. Whilst a four-day weekend is too short for an overseas trip, it is long enough to still have a holiday even with all the driving in between.

Last Easter was different: We took friends with us. On a test run on, albeit milder, a life lived out of a backpack.

Australia, Camping, Oceania, Travel

Weekend Camping | Patonga

Spent on working long hours during the week, Friday sundowns are usually a shut-off kind of day for me and the boylove. We pretty much do not move until midday on Saturdays.

But that Friday was different. Our friends were waiting for us at a camping ground, an hour’s drive south, through the winding forest of Brisbane Water National Park. Amidst intermittent mobile phone reception, one of our friends, Cristina, was somehow able to semi-bombard us with a couple of where-are-you messages.

You see, Patonga Foreshore Reserve has been something that was always planned but never realised. Well, until that Friday.

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Being seasoned travelers, our whole house is pre-packed according to the type of travel activity. So even if straight after work, we still needed to load camping stuff onto our Jeep, we have had plenty of time left to sit down for a meal. Kilaban, that’s how my Ilocano husband calls a chow between meals.

We sat down on the dining table devouring a bowl of cold rice topped with leftover Bistek Tagalog (Filipino Beef Steak) while discussing what to bring and who’s gonna pack what.

FRIDAY – Day 1

It was almost sundown when we began the drive down to Patonga via Pacific Motorway, Kariong and Mount Ettalong Road. The map on our GPS showed a shorter route via Gosford, but Siri thought otherwise. As you know, what Siri wants, Siri gets.

It worked out well though, because despite the winding road, the scenic route was well worth it. It was a shame we couldn’t stop-over and enjoy the sights more. We had sunlight to beat.

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When we arrived, the rest had already pitched tents. Lit only with headlamps, we somehow managed to set up a decent dwelling for the weekend.

Dinner was no problem (and so were all meals thereafter). When one is amongst Filipinos, one is guaranteed to always be well-fed.

Booze was not a problem too. As expected, the boys stayed up for beer and poker long after the camp lights were turned off.

SATURDAY – Day 2

Still half-asleep very early on Saturday, on my way back to the tent from the loo, I was greeted by a 4-ft long snake crossing the road. Because Australia.

The camping ground was located at the tip of the sandy spit jutting out from the forests of Brisbane Waters National Park. Think unicorn.  How else would one describe a serene creek on one side of the shore, and a secluded beach on the other?

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In between siestas and meriendas, we fed birds, took a dip in the channel and strolled around the art and craft laden town centre.

Sure, I still stood under random light posts where I get faint 3G reception. But for the most part, I was off-the-grid, and was surprisingly okay with it.

SUNDAY – Day 3

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When the clock struck 12 to mark Sunday, my friends and I were gathered around a bonfire by the beach, under a moonless sky.

We knew that by sunrise, we would be back to the daily grind of the consumer world. But in that moment, we were in the very bosom of mother nature, safe and placid.

After breakfast on Sunday, we dismantled our tents, rejuvenated and fully-charged. Packing our stuff back to our trusty Jeep, Rufus, was a ceremony in itself. Whilst it marked taking on the challenges of Mondays yet again, it was also a reminder that there will forever be weekends after each manic work week.

And that, Patonga was always just a drive away.

Patonga Travel Tips - Words and Wanderlust

Oceania, South Pacific, Travel

The People From The Other Side Of The Horizon

 

Many years ago, I would sit outside my childhood seaside home in the south of the Philippines, and imagine islands beyond the horizon. Often, I’d believe I can see the shores of those islands from afar. Always, I’d wonder if they could see me too.

I arrived in New Caledonia as a tourist from a cruise ship. My body was that of a city folk, herded to a marked tour bus, led by a flag-waving local. But as soon as I caught a whiff of brine in the air, my soul leapt upon the recognition of home.

Australia, Experience, Married Backpackers, Travel

Sydney Cruise : Like a Local

Although my husband and I have explored most of Sydney CBD, we have not seen much of the harbour apart from quick ferry trips between Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. That changed though, when one Sunday in September last year, we were invited by Sea Sydney Cruises to well, cruise like locals.

Our royal escape commenced on Commissioners Steps, on the left side of Circular Quay, adjacent to The Museum of Contemporary Arts. As if on cue, the 52-ft MV Calypso appeared in the docks in perfect timing for the 1230H departure.

We were greeted by Terry, a middle-aged gentleman with the swag of a true Sydneysider. Our skipper, Ben, waved from the captain’s deck. Apart from another couple, honeymooners from London, the boat was all ours.

Australia, Travel

Melbourne Maybe

Tram Melbourne

As soon as the train doors slid open, I rushed through the escalator to the airport, the self check-in kiosks (which was a waste of time by the way) and the body scanners (whose personnel, for the life of me, chose that day to do a random bag check). By the time I sprinted to what seemed like the most distal extremity of the world, the boarding gate, I was ready to pass out.

But Melbourne had to happen. Because I was masochistic and I liked how my chest ached at the thought of the city, of its coldness; of the fact that I rushed to the dusk after a full week of strength-sapping work, fat and ugly.