Sydney Travel Diary (i)

I'm really enjoying this break I have before University. Almost halfway through the year and I daresay it's been a pretty good year thus far. Trying to learn not to sweat the small stuff and have a good detox before school starts. I'm also very privileged that I get to travel a fair bit during this period as well, breaks from Singapore are doing me good (especially since I will be spending the next five years studying here instead of my original plans to go to the UK)...

So. My first trip out of the country this year was to Sydney, Australia! This was my fourth trip to Sydney, and the last time I was there was in August 2012, over the long weekend from Hari Raya. When I was in Grade 10, we took our Chinese IGCSEs in May, while we took the rest of our exams in November. I had decided to challenge myself (lol) and take First Language Chinese. It was a bit of a risk as no one in the previous year had scored an A or A*. As a result, my mom told me that she would bring me on a trip to Hong Kong if I managed to score an A or A* and miracle of miracles, I did. But I went to Sydney instead of Hong Kong as my dad was going on a business trip there so I could just tag along. :b

On this trip, I travelled with one of my best friends of mg, Stace :-) We were accompanied by Ryan and Leonard (Ryan's friend who stays and studies in Sydney). It was a wonderful break from the heat and humidity of Singapore - the weather in Sydney hovered around 11-19 degrees, save for the first day when we were greeted with "the coldest morning in four years". What a welcome. 

We flew over via British Airways, and we had a very pleasant flight there (at least I did). It was a night flight, so I slept for the bulk of it and watched two and a quarter episodes of the Great British Bake-Off. We were lucky enough to get front row seats, although getting the entertainment screen up was a bit hard as the button was so stiff! Stace and I tried so hard before giving up and asking one of the stewards to help us, upon which he effortlessly pulled the screen up. Magic, he called it.

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We headed to the fish market for breakfast after dropping our bags off at Leonard's. It was a lovely walk from his place (albeit a very cold one). We made a pit stop at a cafe called the Pigeonhole along the way, where Stace and I got coffee and Ryan had tea and an almond croissant which was the best almond croissant that I have ever tasted.

Onward to the fish market! It was just as I remembered it from my last visit. Ryan and Leonard got most of the food. I only had one slice of sashimi (which was fresh and lovely) but I have come to the conclusion that sashimi is best not eaten in the morning... My tummy felt a little funny after. 

After the fish market, we went to the Sea Life Aquarium to see the friends of the fish we just ate. The aquarium was painfully underwhelming... It might have been the effect of the complete lack of sleep (for Stace and Ryan) and an insufficient amount of sleep (for me) as well as the fact that pretty much half of our time spent in the aquarium involved walking up and down numerous ramps to get from one exhibit to another, surrounded by oldish, industrial-looking walls, painted a grisly, dismal blue. 

We walked back to the apartment after, but not before stopping by a playground with a spider structure which we played on, and Woolworths', where the guys bought an ice cream called golden gaytime (for real). After which we slept most of the afternoon away. :b 

Dinner for the day was at Rockpool Bar and Grill, our most expensive meal of the trip. The wagyu bolognese that Stace and I had was pretty good though (and the cheapest thing on the menu) heh. OH, and this was the restaurant at which I got carded. We ordered wine and I was asked to show my ID as I guess I don't look 18... At least it means that I look young? 

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Walked back, and that was the end of our first day! 

The effects of the night flight stayed with us (or me, at least) and resulted in me getting up at a horrifying 10:45am that morning. At 8:45am in Singapore it would have been okay, but as Sydney is two hours ahead of Singapore, 10:45am is horrifying, especially while on holiday. What a waste of the morning! 

The guys got up early to cook breakfast for us, which we ate before renting a car to go to the Adriano Zumbo Patisserie! This was one of the places that ranked pretty highly on our to-go list, as Adriano Zumbo is a famous patisseir from Masterchef Australia. 

We didn't realise that the patisserie had no seats, it was a takeaway concept so we decided to just buy a number of different things back to the apartment to eat. We ordered a lot of things to try, pictured above and arranged by Stace, Leonard and I! 

Of everything we ordered, I liked the cakes the best. We had the V8 passionfruit (the orange-yellow square at the bottom of the picture) and the 'Ed, it's been a long time' cake which was like an opera cake (to the right of the passionfruit cake). I loved them both, they had a lot of different textures going on and tasted fantastic on the whole. You have to eat the different layers at the same time to get the full experience!! 

The zonut and the palmier were from the bread and pastry display. I felt that the zonut had too much sugar on the top, and I felt like I was just eating plain sugar at certain points. The custard inside was good though, creamy and it contrasted with the crisp texture of the zonut beautifully. I liked the palmier; it reminded me of TBB's Kouign Amann. I think some would find it too sweet though. 

The rest of the desserts weren't that amazing (to me, at least) - I didn't eat much of the quiche but the guys seemed to like it a lot, I think I would have enjoyed the one bite I had a lot more if it was hot. The lemon meringue tart was weak, both in terms of the filling (a tarter, more lemon-y one would have been nice) and the pastry - the meringue felt too light; the crust too soft. Stace and I had the zumbarons at night, and they were ok to me - I heard that they were disappointing for some but I guess having little-to-no expectations of something helps. I had the salted-butter-toast one or something like that and I quite liked how it tasted faintly of butter toast. Ryan had the salted caramel popcorn one the next day and he discovered that taking a bite of the macaron/zumbaron along with a sip of champagne is a delightful way of eating it. I can attest to that. 

After our pretty-much-a-pastry-and-dessert-lunch, we took the train down to Circular Quay, with the intention of visiting the Taronga Zoo. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was 2 something and we were told by the ticket man that there wasn't much of a point in going, as the zoo would close at 4:30 that day. 

So we hopped on a bus to Bondi Beach! It was a 45-minute journey (I think, I can't quite remember) from the city, but it was a lovely journey. My favourite part about road trips, bus rides or train rides above ground is looking out of the window, admiring the sights and just letting my mind wander. It's one of life's simple pleasures. 

Bondi beach is beautiful. (Loving the alliteration going on in that sentence). I've come to realise that I do love the beach, and I love the sea - I just don't want to swim in it. I think the idea of swimming in the sea with fishes and all is a lot nicer than the actual act of swimming, maybe until you see these animals up close but I'd rather stay dry. This might change in the future, but right now, this is how I feel about it. 

This is the part where I'm going to spam photos because you can never have enough pretty photos of the sea. 

We decided to stop by at a cafe for some fish and chips while walking along the beach! Bondi has a lot of street art (or beach art?) lining the walls just on the outside of the beach, and some of them really are pretty cool. 

We had initially planned to go on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk which was about 6km long and would have taken us about an hour or so, but by the time we were done with our late lunch/tea we were advised by the kind service staff at the cafe that it would be better to walk another day as the sky would turn dark before we could finish the walk. 

And that's how we ended up on the rocks, watching the sunset. It was quite a lovely sight. 

When the sun set, we made our way back to the city to try Pancakes on the Rocks (for dinner, because breakfast for dinner is the best thing ever), where we were greeted with a line that snaked out of the door. Well, expectations were certainly raised then. Did you know that Pancakes on the Rocks was a 24/7 joint? We only found out when we reached the front of the queue. If only we had known just a bit earlier... To be fair, however, the queue did move rather quickly! 

I had the Pancakes with sausages, grilled tomatoes and scrambled eggs. I really wanted to try the banana pancakes, but I needed something savoury after all those sweet treats in the day. I quite liked what I had, my scrambled eggs were sufficiently runny, and the grilled tomatoes were delicious. I don't think they're very consistent, though - Ryan's side order of scrambled eggs arrived dry and looked overcooked. Also, beware of the bacon - I didn't try any myself, but the others agreed that it was very salty and it was alluded to as the trigger for Stace's cough. The pancake itself was very much like a McDonald's hotcake, but fluffier, larger and with a little more flavour. Good thing I like hotcakes. The serving is huge, by the way - I could only manage one pancake! 

The journey back to the apartment was an incredibly cold one, it was unusually cold that night. Stace even had to stand outside a restaurant's fire display to warm herself up, much to the amusement of the family waiting outside. :') 

I've decided to split the trip up into three parts since it was a six day trip, so I'll cover two days per post! And in other news, after spending the whole morning on Corel Painter, I've finally managed to get my blog header done! Really pooped but feeling fulfilled at the same time. Sad to say, technology is not my best friend. Still trying to touch up various odds and ends and this is still a site-in-progress, but I think it'll be worth the effort when I'm done. :-) 

A week in stuff

In hopes of not losing touch with my life and forgetting what I've done (in pictures), I'm going to try to upload some pictures of stuff that goes on, on a weekly basis.

Also to keep this thing alive. Been trying to get my baking spark back, but time is always a constraint! Funny how I thought I had so much time to do things with this break, but time is actually running out... At a really fast pace...

Lunch at Equinox with Mommy

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Walking around the CQ; Havelock area

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So daddy came back with two blocks of chocolate cream cheese one day as they were on sale and expiring soon... I tried to bake something with them - it was a little hard and I was honestly quite afraid to as I had never even tried chocolate cream cheese for myself before.

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Chocolate cheesecake with salted caramel & bananas on top

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And the next day, I made cinnamon rolls!!

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Initially, I added waaaaaay too little flour to the dough (I misconverted the cups-to-grams thing as I didn't convert it for bread flour), and essentially messed the whole thing up. So, I had to start again from scratch. Going to try baking these (or at least, a variation of it) again, sometime this week! Will share the recipe once I've worked the kinks out. Really happy with how these turned out, though! Especially for a first attempt.

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Cinnamon Rolls

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Solo lunch trip to The Bravery after collecting my passport one morning, makes me wonder why I don't do this more often

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Went for a walk with mommy at Hort Park one morning, walked to Gillman Barracks where we had breakfast at the Red Baron (a new cafe!!) 

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Post-lunch surprises with the best friends at Rise and Grind Co - another new cafe! 

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xx

Photos from the West Coast

I was clearing some photos on my phone today, and found all these photos from my trip to the West Coast of the USA in 2013! For some reason, not all my photos were there but here are some of the nicer ones that I've managed to find and import into my laptop. On this trip, I went to San Francisco, Yosemite National Park and Monterey, California. Unfortunately, however, my Yosemite photos are missing from my phone so I guess this will be a (somewhat awkward) collection of part 1 and 3 of my trip! Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset IMG_0330

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A distinct feature of San Francisco is its hills - there are hills everywhere, or slopes - whatever you'd like to call them. I'm just thankful that my parents decided to rent a car for the trip, although climbing these hills on a daily basis would do wonders for my fitness (albeit temporary).

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Made a trip to Blue Bottle Coffee, but unfortunately this was before I got into coffee...

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City lights bookstore! If I'm not wrong, it has appeared before on a buzzfeed list of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and I'm really glad to have been to at least one of them so far. Hope to go to more in the future!

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Day trip to Stanford University.

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Bits and bobs -

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Monterey Days

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Visited the loveliest crepe shop - if I'm not wrong, the name was crepes of brittany and the crepes were fantastic. One of those things when you just remember how amazing the taste of it was but you've forgotten too much to be able to put it into words.

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 Other things

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 We celebrated my sister's birthday in Monterey, and my mom baked a lovely cake!

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The beautiful house that we stayed in -

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 Oh, how I wish that I could go back there sometime soon. It's such a beautiful place. I've recently been hit with a bout of wanderlust - maybe it's seeing people travelling everywhere and the pictures that make me just want to go somewhere. I just finished a month-long internship at a law firm (which explains the lack of bakes recently), which was a great experience and I met some awesome people. But I kind of want to take some time off and fly somewhere and um, eat. Or explore. Something, anything.

When in Rome {Sights}

A series of photos from my trip to Rome last December! We stayed in a boutique hotel, with tumblr-worthy lights and all that, and amazing service too. It was within walking distance to some of the major tourist destinations such as the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps. Funnily enough, my family and I walked down the Spanish Steps while we were exploring the nearby area on the first day without knowing it! Only when we were walking away we say a signboard detailing the history of the Steps right next to it.

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We made a trip to the Vatican City, the smallest state in the world.

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Taking a walk to the Colosseum - an approximately 2km walk from our hotel.

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The red and blue balloons you see in the picture were part of a protest that we saw on the way there. It was quite something - there were so many people, all holding signs and shouting and there was the occasional news reporter and TV guy.

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The Colosseum

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And other things.

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Observations:

  • Rome is the land of selfie sticks. We encountered people trying to sell selfie sticks to us almost everywhere we went. We declined, of course.
  • Everywhere pretty much looks the same - in a good way, of course. The architecture in Rome is beautiful.
  • There's a church round almost every corner.

Burger & Lobster

Before my London trip, I already had a mental list on the places that I had to, had to, had to try when I was there and Burger & Lobster was one of them. I think my sisters were sick of me going on about it, given how often I talked about it! Honestly, I was never really a lobster person until recently but after seeing all those beautiful pictures of lobster rolls on Instagram (I swear, having an Instagram is bad for your waistline) - I was dying to try it. After a lovely morning walk through Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland one morning, we made our way to the Burger & Lobster at Clarges Street and although we made it there by 11:45 (the restaurant opened at 12), there was already a queue! But I suppose this was to be expected, given the strict no-reservations policy and its popularity.

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My family ordered a total of four lobster rolls and two whole lobsters (although in the end we had a total of five rolls as the waitress accidentally spilled some coke on a half-eaten lobster roll and replaced it with another one).

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So I had the lobster roll which was basically a toasted brioche bun stuffed with lobster meat, served with garlic butter, a side salad and fries. The meat was succulent and the brioche bun was the perfect complement to it, with its crisp exterior yet a soft, buttered interior. I normally skip out on the bread when I'm getting full and focus on the meat, but this bun was just too good to ignore. I could have even eaten it on its own! The garlic butter was an amazing touch, poured over the meat it provided an explosion of flavours in the mouth. The garlic taste wasn't too strong (such that it would give you bad breath when you eat too much), which I also really liked.

the interior of the lobster roll

 

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My parents had a whole lobster each and judging by how they did alone, I would say the lobster must have been pretty good because my mom managed to finish pretty much the whole thing by herself - a feat rarely achieved, so this definitely says something! As did my dad (although him finishing his food is not so rare), who polished off a whole lobster along with a lobster roll and a bit.

Oh, and I must give the fries a special mention! I am a real sucker for fries - especially when you add a bit of truffle oil and/or truffle shavings (hence the name, trufflebeth). But that aside, fries are my best friend. Or one of my best friends. These fries were lovely and crispy, just how I like them. They were also well-salted, another plus point! After I was stuffed to the brim, I continued picking at them.

Although we only ate lobsters despite the restaurant's name being Burger & Lobster, my uncles tried the burger upon their visit to the branch in Soho and they said that it was disappointing, but please do drop a comment if you have personally tried any of their burgers and have feedback on it, for I would be quite interested to hear any!

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They have quite a few branches across London, so you can head to their website here to find the exact addresses and opening hours! Enjoy :)