Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sydney Travel Diaries :)

Wonder why I had stopped blogging, used to be great until sometime :)

 This time around its our maiden foreign trip that has brought back the blogger in me. It all started with our son talking about Australia while he was 3yrs old, as if he has some link to that place. We heard him out and then the usual vicious circle of life, never got a chance to travel. Then it was my mother's wish, I knew I had to work this out but it was way beyond what we could comprehend.

The idea went into the burner. 2 years later, we realised, everything happens in due course and we are always running for something, not reaching anywhere :) This time around, we took the plunge! First step, renewed passports, then checking for budgeted tickets for travel. After researching a lot on the prices, we decided it gonna be 'Air Asia', did not realise it was a trap though.

 Lesson learnt that Air Asia charges for every thing, check in luggage, meals, seats!! phew!! Its better to spend more and settle for a carrier that accommodates check in luggage in the flight charges.

Before travelling, we had our concerns on the foreign currency usage while in Australia and which would be the most economical one, we were fortunate to have figured out the 'Forex Card' :) As such HDFC guys said, use the chip based credit card, should be easy, they don't tell you about the markup charges and conversion charges ;)

 Best part about Forex card, we load the currency that we wish and the amount. Now we have a limit and we will definitely work on those lines. whereas credit card, we do not know the exact amount that was used for a transaction and we will have a shock in store once we are back from our trip. This is the best travel tip that I wish everyone travelling abroad is aware of.

 The D-day arrived! At the Immigration counter, we got our passports stamped for the first time :) What a feeling!!! Later we reached KL airport, transit for 3 hrs was well made of. We tried the Soup there from Noodle outlet, served by an Indian :) It tasted yummy. We hopped onto the next flight to Sydney, all excited :) Arrived Sydney Airport and then the Immigration counter, this time around, nervous hubby of mine, since he has heard so many agony stories of how people have been questioned about their luggage and all that trauma. I took control, walked first and the officer in charge was interested to know the address where we will be staying, saw that and we are all good. We step out, find my Uncle waiting!!! :) All of us are relived.

 Oct 11th, 10pm we reach Uncle's home, cousins, aunt are all super happy seeing us. We are too excited to sleep, my uncle says we need rest otherwise it'll spoil the trip :)

 Oct 12th: There's a cold wave there and we are feeling the pinch. Uncle takes us to Cataract Dam ( provides water to the Macarthur and Illawarra regions, the Wollondilly Shire, and metropolitan Sydney) The drive is beautiful and the place is good to start our trip with. Camera rolling, pictures taken, we head towards the sky diving centre, that was in my wishlist. They said climate is not favourable and we need to wait until next week.

 Oct 13th: Uncle's bday, we take a break, prepare Indian food, visit to local store and Siju's craving for the Australian food started :)

 Oct 14th: We head to Feather dale Park, see the Kangaroos, Koalas and we get to touch them, feed them! Ivan is so excited and happy, its great to see him :)

 Oct 15th: Visit to Schogetten chapel and what a serene place :) Its beautiful. Then we head to BLUE MOUNTAINS, its great to see the 3 sisters, this place is named after the Aboriginal tribal women. Next we head to Katoomba Scenic World and finish Skyway, Cableway, Walkway and Railway. These are unlimited rides, we did not know this :D And the best way to try the steepest railway is going down than going up. We get to view the rain forests with all this and the view is breathtaking!!

Oct 16th:
Online offer for 5 places i.e. Sydney Sealife Aquarium, Sydney Tower, Sydney Skywalk, Manly Sea Adventure, Madame Tussauds, Wild Life Zoo for 70$ was a steal :) Best part we get 30 days to finish them, we need not rush. More details 

OPAL cards: Load it, use it across the trains, ferry to travel around Sydney. Tap it and Tap out, simple.

Sydney Trains for the first time  and we head to our first destination, Sea life! The sting rays, jelly fishes, sharks, dugongs, worth every penny :)

We head to the China Town from there, walking along the Darling Harbour and the CBD comes alive! Its a great atmosphere, just walking there.

Next we goto Sydney Tower, 3D movie about Australia then the view from the tower is splendid.
We had to finish the Skywalk too, but we skipped that. Next was Manly beach on our mind.

Took the ferry from Wharf 3 to Manly Beach, the journey to Manly Beach brings us to the Sydney Opera house, harbour bridge and Luna park. Click click....clicking again :)

Crystal clear water, not so crowded beach and lovely weather. Aah! Wish we stayed there for some more time. Exhausted we head back home.


Oct 17th:

Drive to Canberra, on the way we see Kangaroos on the highway. They are like the stray dogs in our country, lying dead. Not a great sight!

2 1/2 hrs and we reach Parliament House, we park the car at the basement of the parliament house!!! Wow, cant imagine something of tht sort. Step into the parliament, history retold in pictures, wall paintings, we are allowed to see the session too but we were hungry, skipped that.

On the way back we goto the Mary's Church 
Kangaroos flocked around, this time hopping along with their joeys. Lovely :)
Thank God for helping us with this travel, spend time at the church and we head home.

Oct 18th:

Shopping at Minto mall for the gifts for the folks back home.

Oct 19th:

We explore Syndey on our own, without Uncle alongwith us. Use Opal app, plan the travel and 3 of us in the Sydney train and at CBD. Voila!! :) We did it. So proud. To figure out route to Sealife, walk through Queen Victoria Building after getting down at Town Hall Station.

Next with a pep talk with a New Zealander, we reach our destination, instead of GPS ;)
I prefer talking to people and it worked.

Have the exclusive Australian food at Cargo Bar, head to Madame Tussauds, it was wonderful. Especially the Master Blaster, Glen McGrath, Shane Warne together :)

Next the Wild life which is adjacent, after visiting Feather dale, this is not so interesting. This did not match our expectations.

We take the ferry, go to Circular Quay. Walk to Sydney Opera House and walk back through Botanical Garden :)

All of them at home were worried about us, new comers in Sydney but guess what, Adventure worked out :)

Oct 20th:

Chit chatting with family, old stories, boot hill visit, elaborate Lunch the Aussie way.

Oct 21st:
Shopping at Mccarthur Square and its tough to find stuff which is not made in China :P
Quality is great but folks back home would grumble. Our search continued.

Oct 22nd:
We end buying Chocolates at Aldi and sure that this will not bring up any complaints. Start packing and then our luggage has increased leaps and bounds :D

We still have plans to buy stuff from duty free!

This was the coldest day, Uncle sets up the fireplace at home, barbeque is on with the coals, its a great feeling! Food, conversation....did not realize the day ended.

Oct 23rd:

Day started with a prayer and blessing of the house. Much required for all the blessings that we had and the travel that we were to start.

Farewell, that's tough. Hugs and tears, we leave home.
We are privileged to see the Sydney Traffic the last day when we are heading to the Airport ;) Bangalore feeling already.

Duty free store in Sydney Airport and we add to our luggage. Ideally we should have bought in KL.
It was cheaper too, realized that after coming there.

That night we reach Bangalore, exhausted but the routine feeling sets in...

Next day, School, Office.......




Monday, October 05, 2009

Nature's fury...Live!!

Extended weekend, the plan to go to karwar was made when everything was "normal"
A friend of mine, had travelled to that place and said the heat was unbearable. We witnessed the rains!! And its affects. What we did not know that we were in for the experience of a lifetime. This was a trip that was extremely different, the travel bug in me is taking a break for sometime.

Day 1, we start our journey from Bangalore to Karwar. The Driver was constantly talking to this passenger who was next to him, and the bus was moving slower than the man walking on the road. Many complained, only to be told that the driver knew what was best. We reached Ankola, and there the Bus broke down. We were moved into a new Bus, then we reached Karwar..almost..few kms away from it when the Bridge was overflowing and the route to Karwar was blocked.

We were stranded in that Bus for quite smtime, spoke to the Driver who by now gave up on taking a reverse and going back to a nearby city. Luckily, we found this Volvo going back, and a good samaritan who let us in. This Volvo had ppl enroute to Goa. All worried faces, starved and very restless. We joined them, got dropped at Kamat.

Kamat Hotel looked like a refugee camp, and there we met this extremely helpful person. By now, our phones were dead, zero network and all the charging points had a queue. He helped us first, by getting food ontime :)
Then, informed us about the places closeby where we could get to and also access to the nearest Bus stop. Also, knew that the trains to Goa also were cancelled because of landslides.

We got onto the main road, and got into a Bus to Hubli, then the good times were back. We reached Hubli, got into a decent lodge. Had food finally, then got back to Bangalore.Trip ended, much earlier and most important we were back home..all safe..almost. Pri has had an injury in the past during a trip, and now again. Hopefully she shud be fine..

So, we all are back to our cosy home and to speak about a bad trip but tell you what? My friend who is a localite of Karwar is still in shock. The houses in Karwar have been washed away, loss of lives. And all this, when these ppl are staying here for so many years. She says, even during rainy season it hasn't been this bad. Its the first time in 100 years!!

On the entire trip, we were really really fortunate and thankful to God.
All that relief efforts that we see on TV is nowhere close to what is required. I pray, that man who gave us water and his thatched house is still there...safe and sound.

hmmmm...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Into the wilderness...

14km of River rafting in Kali River and my swimming practice in a river that was 70feet deep!! What more can be more adventurous I ask for now? There are many yet to be explored I realise, means more trips :)

As per the package and the season, we were told that the river rafting wudnt happen.With the rest of the planned activities, we headed towards Dandeli. This place located 481km from Bangalore and more abt this place at http://www.dandeli.com/

WHole bunch of absolutely fully faltoo jokes and the gr8 company marked the entire trip with an amazing experience for a lifetime.

Day 1:

We finished the Coracle ride with a very humourous guide, who splashed water on the crocs to make sure we dint mistake them for artificial ones. The Jungle Safari with the running commentary from Dileep and our 'bul-bul', turned out to be a laugh riot ;)

Spotted few bisons, lotta peacocks, few jackals, lotta monekys and few deers.The animals were not interested for the human safari then, most of them dint come out to greet us. We tried hard and spotted a few. The journey in the Jeep wuz fabulous, breeze and all that added affect of the jungle.

Campfire by the night and our version of 'truth or dare.' And so many spoilsports, I tell you. Still some of the secrets did cm out..hehe..

Day 2:

River rafting, by the Kali river. We split into two teams and there wuz a competition between the two rafts. We were headed by Mohammed, who provided crystal clear directions for "FORWARD", "BACKWARD", "HOLD ON" and many others. All of us got into the river and we had to be rescued back by the team mate as part of practice. The star of the day was Dileep, who was so relieved to be rescued back and vouched for the fact that he would never want to step into the water without knwin swimming.

I tried my hand at the backstroke, and realised it wuz too great to just float there and just do nuthin..woooow...loved it to the core.

The best part, goin thru those rapids!!! All that rowing, splashin water at our opponents..my..my..absloute fun. 14km wuz too less...

Spoke to Mohammed, he said they have started a 18km river rafting in Goa now. http://goarafting.com/ Other rafting points at Coorg as well.
Ones heading to these places, dont miss out on this...

Journey back and we had a 'LINDA BADMAN' at work. Jayant, and his wild guesses were inspired by too many hackneyed theories that he has. Provided fulltu entertainment though,as we were nearing Blore and there wuz depression written all over. I wished the trip continued for long u knw....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Did I stop blogging??

Bad habits, die hard...just have another blog id,

http://thotsfor2day.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Trivia for the traveller....

Free Diving in Cyrpus promises an adventure. One has no oxygen mask, a dive into the mighty ocean with total breath control..all that it takes for this feat to be done is how much of breath control one can have and retain composure.



Next is Crete, the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.In 1941, this place was targetted by Adolf Hitler but the locals posed stiff resistance to the German attack.Pictures of some of the brave old men who survived through this war:


That's the major in his youth..


And now in his ripe old age, narrating his acts of bravery and how Hitler faced defeat in their hands.



Crete is a beautiful place filled with lot of mountains. This place has very hospitable people and they are very fun loving too. In one of their traditional ways, the men perform a dance together and at the end of which break glass plates continously. This act of breaking plates was done to help them overcome the grief of losing their loved ones during war. It is still followed by them and reminds them of the community that underwent such painful incidents in the past.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Barista, CCD v/s Dosa Camp...

Along the quiet roads of Cambridge Lyt, there is a famous hang out.Dosa Camp, the road side food joint. Ppl frm all across Ulsoor, Indiranagar flock to this place for the garma garam dosas and varieties of it..yummm...

In the recent past, CCD came off. Modernisation happened, too many "Kewl ppl" thot this is gonna turn out to be the next hangout here.And it dint end there, adjacent to the CCD a Barista came! Rivals rite next to each other..

Picture this, even after the two 'paamus' coffee shops...Dosa Camp still gets more customers than them. One can see the waiters at these places staring at Dosa Camp and wondering.."Usme aisa kya hai, ki hum mein nahi hai?" :D

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Its all about PI....

Ever wondered if one could have a secured space on the web for dumping your personal information? For all of us who maintain our mail folders for picz, videos, personal details etc., there's news coming your way. PI Corp is working on handling personal information and making it user friendly too. They are using the concept of Cloud Computing.Also to handle the security of handling the data, their tie up with EMC Corp.

Looking forward to this emerging tech and to see if this could change our approach in managing our personal data.