Hostel Living

After having such a nice hotel stay I’ve realized more of the differences between the hostel stays. I assume most people reading and following my blog have never really experienced living in a hostel. A hostel is certainly a budget accommodation with a different standard of living.  They have different room options – shared rooms that are single sex or even coeds of 4 person ranging up to 12 people or private rooms.  They each cost around $20 a night.  They have lots of people living in them looking for work or just traveling.   I wouldn’t say that I have completely enjoyed it, but it has been an experience that I would like to share.

From my stays in a few different hostels I’ve learned that they are each different. The hostel in Sydney was probably the hardest for me due to the lack of sleep. Ann and I booked the private double room at Maze Backpackers.  We figured would keep our safe stuff and offer that security. Unfortunately in exchange, the hostel common area was right outside our door which meant people were outside our room drinking, cooking, or socilaizing until late. Then the people on the street were right outside of our window doing the same thing all night. The matresses were the worst part – you could feel the springs poking through! The combination of the noise and the bed made for a really rough’s night sleep.

What's on at Maze? Lots of goon

What’s on at Maze? Lots of goon

Melbourne’s hostel, Elephant Backpackers, had some differences. The kitchen area was downstairs and it was so busy as a gathering spot. People brought drinks and cards and hung out at the tables passing the time. The room didn’t have walls connecting to the ceiling so you could hear the neighboring room. The beds were at least comfortable and I was able to sleep.

Card Games at Elephants

Card Games at Elephants

I only stayed in a hostel in Surfer’s Paradise and Noosa for a night so I wasn’t integrated enought to share details but they were both decent stays.

After my study abroad program in Auckland, I stayed in XBase in the CBD. This was a comfortable hostel but had some weird aspects. I stayed there for 5 nights in a 4 person shared room. Over the days I had people moving in and out everyday. The weirdest part was that the room didn’t have windows so I would wake up at 10 thinking it was the middle of the night.

Entrance to XBase

Entrance to XBase

With our HWSUC group course, we stayed at the YHA in Wellington and YMCA in Auckland.  These were the nicest and cleanest accommodations we stayed at.  We shared rooms with others in our group and had field trips and lectures during the day so we didn’t interact much with the backpackers or hostel.

The structure between all of the hostels is all very similar.  The hostels are usually convieniently located in the CBD near public transportation.  There’s always a group of people outside smoking.

Within the hostel, there is a main check in area and bag storage area.  There are floors with private doubles or shared rooms of different sizes with bunks.  The kitchen areas have communal utensils and cooking supplies but you keep your food labeled in storage bags with your name, room number, and departure date. The staff must routinely go through and clean out old food and you have to trust that no one else will steal your food. Lots of people eat noodles – like cups of noodles or ramen because they are so cheap.  I’ve seen people eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I’m sure they are sick of them but they are for budgets.  The other amenities are also shared.  The bathrooms are usually one or two per floor.  You definitely want shower flip flops to wear otherwise it’s not like you’re even showing.  Within the hostel there is a Wireless network, usually Global Gossip, which is a pay per time or usage system.  The rates vary from place to place but it’s usually worth going to find the free wifi.

What they all have in common is the backpackers lifestyle. This is a really friendly, open personality that they are always looking to talk to and meet new people.  Most of the people staying are on work visas looking to work and travel in a foreign country. Except what I’ve found is that the ones who haven’t found a job are the ones living in the hostel, while the ones who found work have moved into flats – at least, that’s what I’ve found.

It’s been a good experience staying in a hostel in a city. It’s not a lifestyle I would exactly want to continue with but it was an efficient way to travel on a student budget. It will certainly work being in Fiji where I will just be hanging out on the beach for a few days then taking an island tour.  I’ll be staying at Bamboo Backpackers in Fiji which has been the least expensive of all of them ($8 Fijian about $4 American a night!)

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Melbourne Races

Today was a different day down under. It was basically a national holiday dedicated to horse racing, aka the Melbourne cup.

I started the day of the same way we have been here: wake up achy from the hostel, hop in the shower, pull our foods out and have yogurt, fruit, granola for breakfast and then head out. We walked towards Darling Harbor and sat at a coffee shop to have a long black while finding info about the horses. The Sydney Herald published a good listing of the horses with info about their jockeys, weight, and history. Knowing nothing about the race or the horses, this provided just enough info for me to make informal bets. First place, #24, horse Kilinni, just because its my lucky number. Second, number #2 Americain because I like the name, although the jockey was involved in a betting scandal. Third place, #2 with an American jockey.

We head to Kings Wharf in Darling Harbor around noon where there was starting to be quite the scene. People were just getting out of their offices, dressed in suits and heading to the pubs. Women were dressed in sundresses and headbands, bows, or hats. They gathered around pubs or the betting stand. We headed into a bar, Strike, to sit outside with some sparking wine to watch the scene. There, we instantly met someone who we sat with and enjoyed a few schooners, pizza, and chips. We ended up placing bets on horses. Everyone gathered around the tv screens just at 3:00 to watch the race. The race was a quick lap around the track and the leading horses changed – none of my bets placed. People stuck around the harbor and we met some Canadians and other Australians.

Tomorrow I’m actually heading to Melbourne! I expect the city to be quiet after celebrating all day.

Bondi Beach

Had a great time spending my day at Australia’s most popular beach, Bondi beach. I’ve been reading a lot of travel guides and info and wanted to share my day as if it were a recommendation.

Bondi Beach is located only a bus ride away from Sydney. Purchase your round trip ticket from any 7-11 and hop on the 333 bus. It will take you right through Bondi Junction, a shopping plaza, and onwards to the beach. Get off of the bus and you’ll see the water and you should head right towards that sand! Find yourself a nice open spot to lay your towel down, put on your sunnies, and sunscreen and relax while watching surfers in the water. Enjoy this time napping or reading or simply people watching. When you’re ready for lunch, pack up your stuff and head to the streets. On the Main Street Campbells you’ll find a little ally with a place comfortably tucked in. Misschu was a great find! It has a Vietnamese menu influenced with Aussie bush tucker style and by that I mean you self order and serve your own water from billycups. The restaurant reused bowls as light shades and displayed empty beers to give this vibe. The menu had traditional Vietnamese noodles and meats served in rolls, dumplings, or bowls. I recommend the egg rice paper roll or chicken dumplings to share with a friend. After lunch, explore the streets. Hall and Gould Street have a few shops for you to browse or pick up a souvenir, like a Bondi Beach jumper from Between the Flags. If you are into the arts, be sure to check out Aquabumps Gallery. This collections as taken by a photographer who captures the beach at Bondi in the early morning hours. He shot from different views: underwater, through waves, and aerial to produce clear, quality images with astounding colors.

Take a walk around the beach. There is a nice stretch of paths that runs all down the beach. At one end is a busy lap swimming pool with a great lookout back to the beach. The path continues with sculptures along the edge. Use the beautiful scenery to take photos.

Enjoy afternoon tea with an ice cream cone. Chose from many different gelato, frozen yogurts, convenient stores or McDonald’s 30 cent cone. Once feeling sunkissed, catch the same 333 bus back into Sydney. (Then blog about your day)

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Blogging

Another adventurous day. I had to share my adventure. Also, while traveling I’ve had the opportunity to dine out a lot more and I want to take the opportunity to review the places I’ve been.

This morning we met Nate and walked down to The Rocks. They had a market running with booths set up in the street selling clothing, jewelry, and other odd goods. Ann bought the oddest – fake kangaroo balls on a bottle opener. There was a stall with glassblowing, puzzles, banana bread, and chocolate. It was a nice market to browse on a Sunday morning.

Ann and I had lunch at a small cafe in the Rocks area. Not exactly good reviews. I had a spinach lentil soup and it was served cold, taken back and took an extra ten minutes to be overheated. The tables were outside but they were too close together and you couldn’t back your chair up without hitting the one behind you. After lunch, we took a walk over the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It was spectacular with the clear views of the city and the Sydney Opera House. It took about 20 minutes to walk across, taking photos along the way. On the other side, we walked down to the waters edge where there was an amusement park, Luna Park. It honestly seemed creepy with a large clown entrance, small rides, and open area. We retuned back to the city on the ferry.

We then took the free city circle bus uptown to the Paddy Markets. There were cheap good stalls set up in a warehouse selling Australian souvenirs, clothes, jewelry an produce – all at cheap prices. It didn’t take long to understand all that they had to offer and we continued our walk to Darling Harbor.

This evening, Ann and I met Lauren and Matt for their final night in Sydney. We ate at a restaurant called Sushi Rio. We sat on stools infront of a revolving sushi train. We picked from sides, sushi, and nigiri all reasonably priced at $3.  I had agedashi tofu – I wanted to tey something new, it was but turned out to be a fried tofu in a little broth. I also had a grilled salmon nigiri piece and edamame. All very tasty and washed back with a hot green tea. We walked around before splitting our separate directions.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to going a little out of the city to the popular Bondi Beach. I’m currently at the Maccas (McDonald’s) to use their free wifi to get directions. As far as restaurant reviews go – I wouldn’t recommend it here at 10pm on a Sunday….

Checked into Sydney

Wow I wouldn’t have thought there could have been any more run around. Wrong. A change of planes this morning led me into a near crisis. My host family had made it clear last week that I could stay at their house on the 10th when I fly into Brisbane for the group fought to New Zealand. I had been so busy this week that we hadn’t communicated at all and it only came up this morning that they had 2 other students coming and couldn’t accommodate me. Ugh. So that left me frantically packing up everything and getting to the airport in a cab with a friend. Upon arriving to the airport I had no idea what to do with my package and New Zealand luggage. I really struggled before hiring a cab to take me to the international airport, post office, and back to the domestic airport. Thankfully I wasn’t pressed for time and easily met Ann and took the flight.

Virgin was a nice airline. We flew in a smaller plane that boarded from the ground. The flight was only an hour so before I knew it I was in Sydney! We waited at tge aurport for the free shuttle to our hostel. we checked into Maze backpackers and then took a walk. I’ve already noticed a few differences between Sydney and Brisbane. Its definately mire crowded here with a population of 4 million and the people look a little different – more business attire and better looking. This is purely observational but there also seems ti be more homeless people. The bus here runs on a different system, I don’t know if they use go cards. There’s also a very similar feel, it is still Australia after all. There are the same chain stores and main shopping mall.

Tomorrow I’m meeting my Dad’s old work friend for a tour of the city! It’ll be nice to see someone I know (well met when I was 5) and get aquatinted and a sense of direction in this cool city!

Travellers blog 1

I am so experiencing travelling now at it’s fullest. Part of that means being resourceful – such as using the computers at the Apple store.

Had a very nice day in Sydney. We took the ferry from the Central Quay across to Manly Beach where we met my dad’s friend Richard and his wife Paulette. We walked along the beach walkway with nonstop talk. The beach was full of surfers in the water on the little waves. We stopped for a beautiful lunch at The Pantry. So nice to have a little fine dining – I enjoyed a salmon with potatoes and we split a bottle of Chardonnay. We walked around and took a drive up to the North and South Heads that overlooked the harbor. There were tons of boats sailing along some racing and some cruising with beautiful spinnakers and different sails. From the vantage spots you can see the start of the Hobart-Sydney race which is on Boxing Day. We then returned the car back to their house which was in a nice neighbourhood (whoa Aussie spellcheck) with a little view of the water from the master bedroom. We had a coffee – not percolated, a shot of expresso which got my heart beating. We walked down through some bush along the water back to the Manly terminal where we separated. It was really nice to see a person connected with home. I was young when we had last seen eachother so I had a great experience catching up as adults.

Time to go be resourceful and catch the free hostel dinner.