Whitsundays: Hamilton Island

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After five days in the city, we were ready to fly to beautiful Queensland.  We decided to stay on Hamilton Island, one of the 74  tropical islands at the heart of the Whitsundays.  The island is situated between the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef, making it the perfect base for exploring the surrounding areas. Even though it’s the largest of the inhabited Whitsundsay islands, it’s less than 2 square miles in area.

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11 Things To Do Around Sydney

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Sydney is a vibrant, multicultural city surrounding one of the world’s largest natural harbors. Unlike other metropolises, this easy going city is known for its idyllic beaches and rugged national parks as well as its lively food scene and culture. There are so many things to do and see in Sydney, that we had a very packed schedule during our 5 day stay.  Our goal was to see as many things as possible, from the sandy beaches to the mountains to the city.  Here are the highlights of some of the places we visited in Sydney:

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Sydney: Bondi Beach

Sydney is a seaside city with many world famous beaches located right around the metropolitan area.  Bondi Beach (pronounced: bond-eye) is one of the busiest and most popular beaches in the city, only about 30 minutes from the city center.  It is well known for it’s soft white sand as well as prime surfing location. The beach is only 1 km long and receives hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.

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Sydney: Hiking Blue Mountain

We were excited to explore the rugged Australian wilderness and its spectacular natural beauty. One of those places is the Blue Mountain National Park,  a designated World Heritage site, located about 95 km from Sydney. The mountain got its name from the distinctive blue haze in the surrounding atmosphere as a result of the densely packed forest of eucalyptus trees. Aside from the breathtaking view, the Blue Mountains also have many walking tracks perfect for hiking.

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Sydney: Graffiti

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Sydney, like many other great cities around the world, has some incredible street art.  The difference between Sidney and other cities is that they have a strict policy against graffiti.   For the past decade, the city has continually inspected “hotspots”and removed many great murals as they get made. The government has a zero tolerance for street artists, and it is against to law for anyone to sell spray paint to a minor. It’s also against to the law for a minor to have any graffiti tool in their possession, and violators will be fined heavily. The stakes are high for these artists who wander the Sydney streets at night armed with spray cans, wanting to express themselves.  Continue reading

Eating in Sydney

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I can’t believe it’s been four months since we set foot in Australia.  I am excited to finally be able to share about our trip down under.  A little bit about me before I dive into all the great places to eat in Sydney, I LOVE MasterChef Australia.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  I’ve watched every episode religiously, usually over dinner.  It’s basically the only time I can watch the show without salivating and craving all the food.  We could not wait to go to the restaurants that appeared on MasterChef and taste the wonderful, crazy concoctions ourselves. When we were planning our trip to Australia, we knew that food would be a major component of our overall experience.  I’ve always felt that food is the heart and soul of a city.  When you go to a new city, a great way to immerse yourself in the new environment is to venture out and try the food that locals eat. It’ll give you a great appreciation for the place and people.

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First Class to Australia

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When we were booking our flights to Sydney, we looked at a lot of different options; reserving several different award tickets until we found the ‘right’ one.  We knew the trip to Australia was going to be a long one, and we basically had 2 criteria – 1) that the ticket be as close to free as possible using miles, and 2) that we travel in relative comfort. A trip to Australia, depending on the routing can be at least 21 hours of flying, plus layovers since there are no direct flights to Australia from NYC.

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Year in Review – 2014

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It’s that time of year again. The end of December is when everyone looks back over their year and makes lists. So far be it for us to not follow the trend.

2014 was one hell of a year for us. In addition to starting this blog, we still found some time to travel around the world while working full time. We were on the road almost once a month in 11 separate trips. We finally got to cross off Australia and Peru from our bucket list, which were over 2 years in planning. We’ve even literally flown around the world – flying only eastward to Australia through Abu Dhabi and then eastward home through Los Angeles. We also visited our 6th continent – only one more to go! The more we see on our travels, the more we wanted to see.

Some of the more impressive stats include: over 91,000 miles flown, on 42 individual flight segments. 7 countries, 5 continents. We spent over 26 hours flying in first class, 70 hours in business, and countless hours in coach.  12 of those flights were over 8 hours long, and 5 of those 12 were more than 12 hours – thats a lot of long-haul flying.  Even with all that however, we fell short of of the re-qualification threshold for American Airlines Executive Platinum status – 100k miles. It looks like next year we’ll have to settle for being just Platinum. This means no more unlimited domestic upgrades, and no 8 SWUs for international flights, but we still get lounge access and priority seating/boarding, etc. We also have a stash of points built up this year we’ll work on using up in 2015.

Our trips in 2014 included:

This past year we specifically planned more travel than normal in order to maximize the benefits of our status. This resulted in a lot of busy weekends and running around packing, unpacking, and repacking. In fact, it felt like we spent most of 2014 living out of our suitcase. All this travel definitely took its toll on our bodies.  Between the long-haul flights, meals in airport lounges, time changes, jet lag, busy weekends, and packed schedules to fit as much in as possible on our trips we both feel a bit worn down.  Even though we loved every minute of of our whirlwind year, we’re also looking forward to some R&R time at home this winter. For 2015, we have a lot of ideas of where we want to go, but nothing concrete planned. We are excited to start planning our next adventure around the world (any suggestions?).  It’ll be hard to top 2014, but we can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. We wish everyone a safe and happy new year!

On the Road: Day 14 on the Great Ocean Road

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Three words: epic road trip. This morning we picked up our tiny car and made our way south on the Great Ocean Road.  This scenic route zigzags along the shore providing spectacular views of the coast.  The Australian coast line is full of jagged cliffs towering over the deep blue ocean. After a long drive, we ended our day at Port Campbell just in time to see the sunset over the Twelve Apostles.