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After spending Christmas and New Years Eve in Sydney with my family I figured it was time to see some of Sydney that people always bang on about - Bondi
I had high hopes for this place after visiting Coogee the week before, I thought surely it has to be 10x better. My journey started at Lidcombe Train Station where I was dropped off by my step mum. If you’re heading to Sydney jump on the Opal website or download the Opal travel app this gives you a journey planner to work out your journey including the maps for walking to your next train station. To get to Bondi I was going to have to catch 2 trains, 1 bus and a short walk…. Well in the end I caught 3 trains and 3 busses.
One thing I can suggest is don’t think you are smarter than the app. This is how I made the mistakes that I did and ended up putting another hour onto my trip. I came so close to booking an Uber for a measly $9 it really seemed worth it but in the back of my head I had to keep telling myself that if I want to travel the world then I have to work this simple task out. Soon enough I was at my destination and now the fact that my oversized luggage bag had broken the bus door was soon to be out of my mind. I had a short trek down to my hostel.
MY HOSTEL -
Booking made via: www.booking.com
Cost: $94 for 2 nights
It was $94 for 2 nights which I thought was expensive at first and figured it would be due to the fact I was coming in the new year period. Well I went to go and look at the pricing for comparison to give you an accurate reflection and it looks like I bagged a deal! This hostel is normally $104 a night! Thats the most I have ever heard of for a hostel so far.
Keep in mind there is no lift (are there every any lifts in hostels?) so you will be potentially lugging your stuff up three flights of stairs. The rooms are small but clean and relatively modern. The bathroom is something else, as in if you ate too much over Christmas look at making your booking somewhere else. When sitting on the loo I kind of hand to sit to the side your knees are touching the door, one else is in the basin and the other is in the shower. Still it was great to be able to have your own bathroom and shower in the room.
They provide the linen and its already in the room when you arrive. So you aren’t having to lug that from reception with you. When you leave you strip the bed and put all the linen downstairs when checking out. They do offer 500mb of free wifi a day per device.
Lockers! When I first walked in the room I panicked, where the eff were the lockers. The one time I bring my laptop and DSLR and there is no where to store my prized possessions. Well don’t panic like I did, they are under the bed! You will need your own padlocks though (this is normal) I have opted for the Kathmandu locks which have a combination. I highly recommend the combination ones as having to carry a key AND not loose it can be hard at the best of times let alone when you’re travelling.
Location Location Location! This hostel is in a perfect location. Just two minutes from the beach and all the hustle and bustle. The 2 minutes up the road does make the hostel a quiet area.
I've was given a comprehensive list of all the vegan places to check out whilst I’m here however there is only so much I can fit it while I’m here, literally… I only have the one stomach and 2 days!
I started off with Ice-cream from ChaChas. I chose the Miso Caramel and I was so content with my choice. It was $6 for a small tub but for plant based ice-cream served in a prime location I feel like this is quite fair. They have heaps of flavours and the place was packed which makes me happy (SAVE ALL THE ANIMALS!)
Ive recently discovered the amazing world of Dumplings, or as my friends and I refer to them - Dumps! Even though I was really after some awesome hippy vegan food I thought F it treat yourself. They were offering vegan eggplant dumplings. 12 for $13.90 or 6 for $7.90. It did take a little while for them to come out however they are making them from scratch when they are ordered so it means that they are super fresh. They tasted like they were made on the spot, they were fresh, perfectly fried and filled with delicious eggplant.
I saw this place as I was walking past during the day and checked out the menu and they had heaps of vegan options… when I say heaps I mean 4… which is a lot when the place is called Moo. I opted for the Falafel burger, ill admit it looked a little sad when it arrived at the table but the taste did make up for it. The lentil patty was really good. Im generally not a fan of the veggie burgers do when I actually eat one and not try and delicately remove it from the burger without everyone staring at me. I then ordered a milkshake, with soy milk and asked for no ice-cream. The girl was a bit preoccupied by the phone and when the shake came out she say soy strawberry milkshake but when I was drinking it it seemed to be too creamy. This should be an interesting night ahead in the hostel with a shared bathroom if it did have dairy in it… a shitty night ahead for not only my roomies but me too.
RAGU PASTA AND WINE BAR 1/5
Ordered a gnocchi and soy cap. The girl bought out the coffee in record time so I confirmed that it was soy milk, yes yes its soy milk. Drank the coffee, definitely not soy milk. Once you have stopped drinking cows milk for a while you will be able to notice the weird filmy texture it leaves in your mouth. I noticed that everyones pasta was coming out with parmesan cheese on it, even though I stipulated vegan I thought that I better just remind her no cheese on mine. Yes yes of course, 2 minutes later presents my vegan gnocchi to me covered in cheese! I couldn’t let this one slip like the coffee so I asked her to remake it she looked a little confused which now lead me to believe that the gnocchi most likely wasn’t vegan and she did not know what soy milk was.
Finally once the correct dish came out I got whiffs of Heinz spaghetti sauce, you know the pasta you used to eat out of a can when you were a child. The gnocchi was nothing to talk about, it felt like it came out of a packet off the supermarket self. I feel like as a vegan I can’t really rate this place fairly. All I can say is if you’re vegan avoid it… if you’re a meat eater then by all means give it a crack
Milky Lane was on my “must eat” list and my sister was joining me in Bondi to check it out. The place is really funky and has 90’s hip hop playing (this is a big plus for me) and all their burgers are named after big names, like Limp Brisket, Lil Weezy etc. I ordered The Drake burger and asked for the cheese and mayo to be left out. They are also known for their cocktails so I figured I would throw the $18 away and splurge on one, I got the Blueberry Bramble. The burger was ok, this could be because I had taken off some key elements to make it vegan. The only suggestion I would have to Milky Lane is bringing out a vegan burger!
TRADITIONAL FISH AND CHIPS 2/5
A place that caught my eye was Traditional Fish and Chips. All I wanted to do was get a paper wrapped order of chips and sit on Bondi beach and soak it all in, unfortunately for me the only soaking I would be doing was me as Bondi had turned into stormy winter weather
So I restorted to eating in the store instead. The chips came out and they were nothing special…I sat and ate my $7 of deep fried potato in disappointment as this was my last meal before heading to the airport.
HONG HA 4/5
I was on the lookout for a roll to take on the go so I wouldn’t be lumped with having to buy an overpriced item at the airport on the way home. I saw Hong Ha that mainly specialise in Banh Mi (Vietnamese rolls) I paid $7 for a salad roll which was delicious and fresh.Would recommend if youre after a cheap eat along Bondi
BERRI PATCH BONDI 1/5
It was my last morning in Bondi and I was after a real full on hipster meal, you know the ones I’m talking about.. smashed avo on rye for a mortgage repayment. Well I was enroute to Speedo’s which EVERYONE was telling me to go to however it was pissing down with rain so I found Berri Patch which looked pretty hipster. I ordered the smashed avo on toast that came with beetroot hummus. Unfortunately I don't have anything great to say about this meal. It came out and looked like I had ordered from the Ikea specials board.
I completed my 33rd House Sit in Brisbane with the Great Dane Dudley (click here to read) and I had just been dropped off in the main street of Byron Bay. I arrived at the Aquarius Hostel along the main strip in Byron, I was in the middle of it all and I was so excited to take it all in. Falls Festival was still on so it was chaos on the streets with hippies, festival goers and other travellers.
image from Trip Advisor
I checked in and made my way to my dorm, juggling all my belongings and the sheets they had just given to me I got to the top of the stairs and saw a group of people playing music, laughing and generally having an awesome time. I thought to myself gosh I hope I am in their dorm, at that moment I looked up and saw that my dorm was right in front of me – dammit!
I went in, found a bed and sorted out my stuff. I had to go out to get a lock for the locker and some deodorant, as I was leaving the dorm I glanced over at the people I was so eager to meet although they were all having too much fun to notice the new chick awkwardly smiling at them
I came back, went out again, and came back again. By that point I was really giving myself the pep talk “look Elli you want to hang out with those people, they are all here for the same thing and what’s the worse that could happen, they say no you can’t hang out with them? Well then they aren’t the kind of people you want to hang out with” after pep talking myself for 15 minutes I made my way outside walked straight up to the group and introduced myself and asked the big daunting question “can I hang with you guys..."
The next thing… I was welcomed in, given a drink and being given the rundown of the drinking game they were playing. At that moment I didn’t realise I had made lifelong friends, but I felt instantly at ease and happy that they had welcomed me in with open arms. It wasn’t long until I found out that this group of friends had actually met at a hostel in Airlie Beach a year ago and then went on their separate travels and decided to catch up again in Byron, in my eyes I had hit the jackpot.
I had a tour of Byron to Nimbin already booked and paid for in the morning but after a few drinking games I was having too much of a good time to talk any sense into having an early night.
Although Aquarius is a little more expensive than other hostels they do have a pool and provide a free dinner each night. I went downstairs with one of the girls Gabby from Canada and we enjoyed our free pasta dinner, the hostel was packed and buzzing with great vibes. From there we headed out for a night out in Byron and ended up at Cheeky Monkeys, the place to be! The night ended and off to bed I went. I suddenly woke up at 5am remembering that in a few hours big old hippy bus would be out the front waiting for me so I got on my email and cancelled my booking.
The next day I went exploring around the streets of Byron, the fashion available here is incredible. If I had budgeted for it I could have easily spent a lot of money just on amazing clothes. The streets are lined with health cafes and juice bars (my fav!) I went and ate my lunch down on the beach and watched all the surfers.
I headed back to the hostel and there they were, my trusty new friends ready to hang out again. That night the tribe grew even larger with more newbies coming in to join. As we sat around, having a few drinks a guy rocked up with a guitar and beautiful blonde in tow. Said guy pulled out the guitar and boy could this guy entertain. Not only every girl was absolutely mesmerised but every guy was in awe too. I introduced myself to the girl and found out she was the guitarist’s fiancé named Cass.
Cass is one of those people that you find absolutely captivating yet incredibly humble. She told me about how they met and how he proposed and I think my heart was about to explode out of my chest. Cass and finance Michael had been travelling in their van up the East Coast as he had a number of gigs lined up. They also have their own travel page called Catchya so if you’re wanting to follow people living the dream head over to their page!
The next day I went down to the local pub with one of the guys and hung out with Cass watching Michael busk for their wedding, seriously could these guys get any cuter?
I grabbed a quick bite to eat from Chihuahuas which has the BEST tacos ever, if you do end up here the haloumi one is where its at!
Soon enough it was my last night in Byron and admittedly I hadn’t spent too much time exploring, I had however met an awesome group of people and I wouldn’t change a thing. The next day I went and said goodbye to everyone, checked out and made my way to the bus station. I opted to go with Brisbane2Byron shuttle as they are a family owned business (I always try and support local where I can) and they went from Byron to Brisbane City to Airport (international and domestic) for just $54 and in just over 2 hours. The driver was incredibly friendly and let us know that we just had to sing out if we needed a pit stop for the loo.
Although I didn’t get to explore Byron or see Nimbin I do plan on heading back in the next year to really engage Byron for what it is. Until then I’ll remember Byron for the incredible people I met and the memories made … If I can meet that many incredible people in three short days imagine who i'll meet 365 days abroad.