Hi Guys, I’m a guest blogger and I joined the trip on the Bali leg. Hello to you all or should I say G’day mate, as I’m here to tell you all about our time in Australia. This leg of the adventure was interesting indeed!
Bali to Sydney
We set out from our Bali Hotel in a pre-booked transfer and arrived at the airport quite quickly. We went to find our check-in counter and realized that it was not yet showing. What we could see, however, was that there were lots of flights to Sydney due to be leaving and arriving at near enough the same time as our plane. It was confusing as we had to ensure we know our flight number rather than just our destination and time. We weren’t sure of the reasoning for this!
The flight from Bali to Sydney was around 6 hours long and quite unproblematic. We flew with Virgin Australia and even had a complimentary meal! Mine was a chicken curry and was unexpectedly flavoursome… which is more than I can say about the meal my veggie comrades were offered. They were given a pumpkin ravioli which was described as totally inedible; what a shame!
So, when thinking of Australia what usually comes to mind? Kangaroos? The indigenous people? Rather large spiders and snakes? Probably all of the above, but all I could think about was NOTHING TO DECLARE! The well-known TV show that documents the famously strict Australian border force and customs authority was all my mind was fixated on. You would think that I was carrying something prohibited, when all I had in my suitcase was two packets of Balinese coffee and a few Kitkat bars (green tea flavoured). The word ‘stressed’ was an understatement (I’m sure you’re catching on to my naturally panicky disposition). Princess, her mum and I found ourselves rehearsing the name of our hotel and the booked excursions, so we didn’t stutter when being questioned. We went through and my travel buddies were sent to lane 1 and I was sent to lane 2; my heart started beating rapidly as I approached the custom officer. The smiley officer asked me, ‘What are you carrying darlin’?’ I said chocolate and then all of a sudden he says…. ‘Go on through’. I paused. I said, ‘through where?’ He said ‘straight on through… if you stay here things might get dangerous *in a flirtatious tone*’. I was so shocked that the process wasn’t scary at all and very uneventful! I made it through and was now ready to experience Sydney, Australia.
We were picked up in an executive car, an Audi A8 to be specific. It had an electric dashboard and was very fancy. We were pleased and riding in comfort as we peered through the widows taking in the views of Sydney. Our driver explained that the airport only allowed flights to arrive before 11am and after 5 pm, so the amount of flights out of Bali made total sense now. We had booked rooms in an apartment hotel, the photos were impressive, the only issue that we had envisaged facing that was that breakfast was not provided and so we would have to find somewhere to eat/ purchase food.
As we were driving, we noticed that we were pulling into a residential area. The driver seemed to be lost and at one point took a u-turn in the road. He then realized where we were to go and our faces dropped as we looked out of a window and saw a yellow-ish building with the name ‘Adina Apartment Hotel’. So far it wasn’t looking like what the photos had portrayed. Our driver parked up and took our luggage out of car and sheepishly told us to enjoy our stay. We arrived at Adina before it was our time to check in. We went to the reception to inform them that we had arrived, while looking around the lobby that did resemble the photos we had seen, but was nowhere near as nice as it had been portrayed. The man at reception told us that we could not check in until 2pm, (fair enough) but that he could store our luggage in the luggage storage room. We followed him to the store room, 10 seconds from the reception, and was presented with a broom cupboard. Our luggage was placed into a dirty broom cupboard where bulk water and other bits were also being stored. We didn’t need to speak to each other to know that we couldn’t stay here. The place didn’t look anything like what had been pictured on the site. FALSE ADVERTISING. Little did the man know… he was storing our luggage until we could find somewhere else that was suitable.
After some walking, and noticing the area that we were in, we found a nearby shopping centre. We were shocked, hungry, tired and as we couldn’t stay at the Adina, homeless in Sydney!😱 We found a real good pizza place to eat away our stress (bondi pizza) and logged onto the complimentary wifi. We called hotels.com to complain about the false advertising and were gifted with money off our next booking with them. You know the Adina must have been bad if we forfeited our non-refundable booking and were looking for elsewhere. We didn’t check-in at the Adina, but went back to collect our luggage. We had a look in the rooms and everything that we feared was true. It was not what was portrayed in the photos and I don’t even have the words to describe the ‘swimming pool’. We had already booked accommodation elsewhere and informed the man at the reception of this. It wasn’t hard to tell that he wasn’t happy with us. He even refused to give us access to the wifi, so we could call an uber. When he finally called a cab for us, he told us that the cab had been cancelled and offered no solutions. He tried his best to be very unhelpful. After some badgering, a cab appeared to take us to our new accommodation. We ended up finding a bargain price for the Sheraton Hotel, Sydney. When we pulled up, I literally said ‘from rags to riches’, even the cab driver laughed out loud. The breakfast was buffet style and had everything that one could wish for. This Hotel was literally 100 times better in quality and we were very happy with our stay here.
After settling at the Sheraton, Princess and I took a walk around. In Bali, I had been craving ready salted crisps and so we went on a hunt to find those. As we were walking, we saw a shop selling half price uggs (win!) and noticed that we were close to a Westfield shopping centre. Everything was looking pretty close to home, which meant ready salted crisps couldn’t have been far! We found a corner shop and went to town. We found ready salted crisps, noodles, Tim Tams (Australian biscuit) & and other treats – we didn’t really look at the prices. We spent a total of 66 Australian dollars and still this didn’t send the alarm bells ringing… we even wondered why people were buying so few items in the shop.
The excursion on this trip was a two-day combi tour. We had to be ready for 7:15am and so we were quite tired. We were at the meeting point at 7:17am and our bus left us! Because of this we had to get a taxi to meet the bus at the next stop. We got into the taxi for the expected 10-minute drive and the taxi driver kept talking… and talking… and teefing… and talking! He literally went the longest route possible, while talking our ears off to attempt to distract us. When we commented on this, he said he wasn’t like that and he had to go that way. He charged us 20 dollars for a 10-dollar journey and this was later confirmed by the tour company and the locals! Anyway, we then picked up the tour. It began with a whistle stop (the tour was running late) walking tour through ‘The Rocks’, the birthplace of Sydney. This was really interesting and we actually wished we had more time to listen and learn. We went to various points in Sydney including a harbour lunch cruise, which gave us amazing views of the Sydney opera house and the Harbour bridge! The bus didn’t drop us back to the hotel, so we had to make our own way; about a 20-minute walk. We found good souvenirs and went on a hunt for more Tim Tams. In the shops the prices were steadily increasing from 4 dollars to 4.50 dollars. We started to wonder how much we paid for the Tim Tams in the shop we initially visited; as these prices were very expensive for a glorified penguin biscuit, no matter how good they tasted! We went back to the original shop and asked for the price… 5.95 dollars. WE PAID THREE POUNDS AND 12 PENCE FOR 9 BISCUITS. We later found them at Woolworths for 3.65 (2 pounds and 3 pence) You live and you learn right?
The second day of the excursion was a Blue Mountains tour. This was my favourite day! We saw the three sisters rock formation, various other spots and visited scenic world. Scenic world offered incredible views by the skyway, the cable way, the walkway and the railway. The railway was a lot steeper and faster than we expected and only God knows how we ended up going backwards… but it was an experience indeed! We ended the day at the Featherdale wildlife park where we saw koalas, lots of different birds and… WHERE WE FED KANGAROOS! It was an awesome experience and a true highlight of the trip.
This leg had a few shaky bits with a horrendous motel posing as a 4-star hotel, being left by our tour guide and being railroaded financially on various differs occasions. Sydney is extremely expensive, but we had a good time learning more about the rich history and experiencing the various views and wildlife that we do not have in the UK. Sydney was good to us… eventually.
See you in Auckland, NZ…. ✈