Continued from last week…

My final stop in Australia was beautiful Sydney and I fell completely in love with this magical city. On my first day I spent the morning on a small-group city sights tour, which took me all around the city, through the eastern suburbs to see all the incredible mansions, and then to famous Bondi beach where I got to see the surfers in action. After city sights, it was time for some adrenaline on my BridgeClimb. Ascending the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the city falls away below you and you enjoy the breathtaking views is truly an exhilarating experience and a must-do for anybody not scared of heights. I finished off the day with a tour of the Opera House followed by a Tasting Plate at Opera Kitchen. Sitting outside by the water with a glass of wine in hand overlooking the Opera House and the bridge I had just climbed, as dusk settled in and the city began lighting up all around me was one of those perfect moments I never wanted to end.

Besides the city itself, there are plenty of areas to explore outside of Sydney. I took a day trip to the Blue Mountains but you can easily spend a couple days exploring this scenic World Heritage Area. The Blue Mountains were given that name due to the blue haze that hovers above the eucalypts, commonly known as gum trees. To break up the drive we stopped at Featherdale Wildlife Park before it opened to the general public and I got to pet a koala and feed kangaroos without a massive crowd around. Before I left on my trip, my kids told me that I’m not allowed to come back home until I have a photo with a koala and a kangaroo – mission accomplished! Our group stopped at many scenic lookouts in the Blue Mountains area and photos just don’t do them any justice. The views really take your breath away!

I took another day trip to the Hunter Valley and tasted my way from one cellar door to the next. The wine here was very different from the wine in Yarra Valley, but there is still something for everyone to enjoy, particularly the 2014 Shiraz. On the way we stopped at Australian Reptile Park, where I got to see more native animals, pet a baby alligator and fed more kangaroos. The kangaroos in this park are bigger, enjoy more space and were much more active than the ones at Featherdale – one even posed for a selfie with me!

On my last day in Sydney, I had one final thing to cross off my list – see the city from the water! While there are a myriad of boats of all different shapes and sizes sailing the harbor, I highly recommend going on a smaller vessel to get the most out of the experience. As soon as I stepped onboard the 52ft motor yacht with only 10 other people, I knew that I was in for a treat. The skipper and host made sure to make everyone feel welcome with local wine/beer flowing and entertaining commentary as we sailed around the various bays and coves of Sydney Harbour. A gourmet 3 course lunch was prepared for us right on the boat and we had an opportunity to go for a swim, kayak or just relax on the sunbed and take in the beautiful sights.

My last night in Sydney was spent at InterContinental hotel’s Club Lounge located on the 31st floor. The outdoor terrace offers spectacular views out onto Sydney’s major icons while the food and drink menu is sophisticated and delicious. It was the perfect place to say goodbye to this incredible city and to Australia and I simply cannot wait to go back!

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Christine at Esplanade Travel planned our recent trip which found us traveling to four very different and fascinating regions in Chile. The trip was absolutely beautiful, memorable and so suited to our specific interests! We have had the pleasure of working multiple times with travel consultants at Esplanade Travel and they continue to amaze us with the itineraries they develop and their close working contacts in other countries that always result in worry-free travel for us. We tend to stay in multiple areas with multiple connections and with the expertise in planning at Esplanade all of our reservations, contacts, pick-ups and drop-offs occur seamlessly. Our travels started in Santiago before heading south to the Lakes District, further south to Torres del Paine in Patagonia, then west to Easter Island. All of the lodges we stayed in were so comfortable with gorgeous views, the guides were super knowledgeable about the cultural and natural history of every location we visited, and the food was fantastic! On Easter Island our native guide, Sabrina, was able to provide us with her intimate knowledge, passed down to her from her ancestors, of the history and culture of the Rapa Nui people. I highly recommend Esplanade Travel to everyone, and I guarantee we will be contacting them to assist us with our next great adventure!

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