Celebrating New Year’s in Sydney – Watching the Fireworks at the Harbour at Campbells Cove

This year was a very special New Year’s Eve because we started the year with fireworks at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Sydney!

You might have seen the famous fireworks on TV several times already because they show them every year. Not just because Sydney is the first big City celebrating into the new year every year, but also because the scenery of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House makes an amazing location.

I was not just lucky enough to have my family over for three weeks in Australia and not having to be without them for Christmas, but we also got to end our road trip from Cairns south to Sydney on New Year’s Eve to see the fireworks at the harbour.

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Our New Year’s Eve Day

We already arrived in Sydney on the 30th and stayed the last night in our camper at Burwood Park where it wasn’t prohibited to stay overnight.

The next morning we checked into our rooms in Burwood at Boronia Lodge, left our camper and went straight into the city centre. Luckily Burwood is only 20 minutes away from the city centre.

We had lunch in the city and walked to The Rocks where we had tickets for a cordoned area with a great view over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera that where FREE! You only need to be quick.

All the areas with the best views are cordoned for New Year’s. For some, you have to pay lot’s of money (the cheapest were around 400$ including food), for the Campbells Cove you just need to be quick to get the tickets (we already got them in September).

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The view from the Botanical Garden over the Harbour is amazing, but the tickets for that venue that includes a dinner where crazy!

After we checked how the land lies because we didn’t know how many people are going to be there / if the view would only be good from specific places that you need to save early etc. we went to get an afternoon snack and some sandwiches for dinner to take away as there weren’t that many food options on the venue area.

From around 4pm we started waiting… because we didn’t have that much information about how the afternoon/evening in Sydney will take place, we had to be there early and wait a lot – but you will be lucky enough to have some more knowledge after reading my blog post and you can improve from our mistakes/experiences!

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Unfortunately, it started raining very hard at around 7pm and we couldn’t stay seated. Luckily there was a bridge on our venue location where everyone looked for shelter from the rain and storm. We also were very lucky that it was still warm because we were not prepared at all and only improvised a rain cape from a garbage bag that kept us dry and warm.

At 9pm there was the first fireworks for the kids which was already amazing and some families also left afterwards.

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We had a few more rain showers and at around 22pm it started to get fuller because they close the gates for the area at 22.30pm. But there was still enough space to sit down and walk around comfortably.

From our place, we could see that that the streets leading to the Harbour through the Rocks where packed. Like really packed. So we were very thankful for our safe space and also the bridge saved us a lot.

All the hours of waiting were very exhausting because there wasn’t a lot of distraction and if we would have known how things work before, we for sure wouldn’t have arrived that early.

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Then it was FINALLY 12pm and the amazing firework started. The firework locations are spread over the whole water area in Sydney and there are no private fireworks allowed (obviously), but the Harbour and Opera view, of course, is the prettiest. It’s just a great show and location!

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After the fireworks, EVERYONE is trying to get to the tram stations as quick as possible and you can’t believe how many people are there. All the streets are packed with people walking in the same direction. It is insane and you can only be thankful that glass bottles and alcohol is prohibited – otherwise, it wouldn’t work out as relaxed!

You can’t really do something to get home quick. It’s just not possible. Everything is crowded and even though there are lots of trams departing they can’t bundle off these millions of humans fast.

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There are lot’s of places you can celebrate the New Year in Sydney with amazing views: rooftop bars, restaurants, at the botanical garden or from a boat – it’s just a matter of how much you want to spend :D

Things you need to know before

  • get lots of information and tickets for the events/locations at sydneynewyearseve
  • in the whole city centre area, glass bottles and alcohol are prohibited and the police (that is very present the whole evening) is allowed to check your bags
  • the streets of the CBD, as well as the Harbour Bridge, are blocked for vehicles from the afternoon on until late at night
  • around 2 million people watch the fireworks at the harbour in Syndey (even more than in New York!) and they all want to leave after the show – don’t even think about getting a taxi/uber or the tram at Circular Quay right away (as long as you don’t stand next to the station while watching the fireworks. When you are close to the Harbour, everyone else behind you will get there before)
  • restaurants and bars might close earlier to prepare for their evening dinners (prebooked way in advance and pretty expensive)

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Celebrating at Campbells Cove

  • more info!
  • they start selling the tickets about in September and you need to be really quick. You can sign up for their e-mail newsletter and be the first to tell when they start selling
  • arrive by tram and walk to the Campbells Cove from Circular Quay – driving by car is just way too stressful when everyone wants to go home and also lots of streets are closed
  • when the weather is supposed to be bad/rainy, lot’s of people that got tickets look for different options or only arrive at around 22pm, but when the weather is good the venue is reaching its capacity at around 5pm, they close the entry at 22.30pm
  • they say they have food and drinks for sale, but there were only 2 stalls and you are allowed to bring your own food and unalcoholic drinks
  • take reusable non-glass bottles to refill so you don’t have to buy their expensive water
  • take blankets, card games, snacks, jackets to survive all the waiting
  • don’t arrive too late (besides that you won’t get a good place) but it also will be hard to get through the crowds to the entry of the venue

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It was an amazing experience and I would never want to miss it, but I have to say that it was also very exhausting and I would not want to do it the same way every year. I am more a person for a chilled dinner with friends and watching the fireworks from distance.

What was your craziest New Year’s experience? How do you like to celebrate the new year? How did you this year? Would you like to see Sydney’s fireworks for New Year’s one day?

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Melbourne Travel Guide – Things to Do, See & Eat

My first destination in Australia now got my new favourite city in the world. Being overwhelmed at first and feeling uncomfortable, I fell in love more and more day by day and now I am already excited to go back.

Besides the wonderful cafés, pubs, shops and sights obviously the people I met there are a huge reason for my Melbourne love as well.

In this travel guide, I tell you all my beloved places to go to, things to see and facts to know that I discovered in 2 ½ weeks in the city and I will hopefully be adding more experiences and favourites when I go back soon.

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Blog posts from Melbourne

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Things to know

When you arrive at the Melbourne Tullamarine airport you can take the Skybus to the city for 19$

Melbourne has a Free Tram Zone in the CBD area which means that you don’t need to pay when travelling in this zone or when you use the Free Tram Route 35 that goes around the CBD. This makes exploring the city 100 times easier, quicker and cheaper and it was so practical to not worry about your ticket.

 

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I only paid for going to St. Kilda and Brighton Beach (both 20-30 minutes away from the centre) and otherwise I used the free tram and walked the rest.

Melbourne has a free Wifi in the whole CBD area which was great to use google maps, check out places and it also worked in my hostel (as most hostel Wifi’s are shit :D )

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I never ever thought that Melbourne is so cold! I’ve been there in the End of September / Beginning of October and even though it was 18-24 degrees at that time, I always wore all my warm clothes because the wind is freezing. When you are in the sun and protected from the wind it is nice but in the shades and windy streets, it feels like winter.

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The vibe of the city reminds me of a mix between London, Seattle and New York (even though I haven’t been to NY). I can’t really describe why, but the people, their style, the shops and restaurants have this urban hipster vibe (in a very good way!) – especially Fitzroy.

There are a lot of awesome Vintage Shops in Melbourne. This is another reason why I really want to go back – so I can shop the perfect Vintage Levi’s Mom Jeans and Shorts as well as Dr. Martens, cool Hoodies, band t-shirts and awesome jackets…

Fitzroy is the coolest, hippest, nicest area in Melbourne and especially the Brunswick street is awesome! Nice shops, cafés, restaurants, pubs and vintage shops.

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Apparently, Melbourne has the best coffee in the world! I don’t know if that is really the case, but at least they have the most coffee shops in the world (per person), but not the big chains – Melbourners love their individual, cute coffee places and you find them at every corner.

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Where to Stay

Of course, I can’t tell you which place is the best to stay in Melbourne as I haven’t tried them all.

In the beginning, I’ve stayed in the CBD area the Nomads All Nations hostel that was cheap, but not very clean and nice. The vibe and the kitchen weren’t that great and considering that it wasn’t even a good price (24$ for a 12-bed-dorm). They offer free pancakes for breakfast as well as tea, coffee, pasta and rice which is great!

Afterwards, I moved into The Nunnery in Fitzroy. I really recommend this area and also this hostel, but it is also pretty expensive (35$ for 12-bed-dorm). The vibe there is super chilled, it isn’t that big and it’s easy to meet people. Everything is clean and they offer free breakfast, tea, coffee and pasta as well as specials like a pub crowl, soup, BBQ or movie night every week.

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What to do

For me, the most important thing when visiting a city, is walking through its streets and soaking up its vibes. Not the sights but the streets, buildings and people give it its charm.

You will see a lot of Asian people, shops, supermarkets and restaurants, many barbers & hairdressers, coffeeshops, chocolateries & bisquiteries.

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Streets I recommend to check out are: Brunswick Street in Fitzroy (vintage shops, cute cafés, restaurants & pubs, many vegan places), Lygon Street in Calton (many European and especially Italian restaurants), Fliders St, Bourke St, Swanson St, Elisabeth St, Collin St (in the CBD) and Little Bourke St (Chinatown).

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At Federation Square a lot of open-air (Veranstaltungen) take place. You also find an aboriginal museum and ACMI Museum (modern, technology) there. The immigration museum is another recommended one on Federation St.

The Eureka Tower is the highest building in Melbourne and you can enjoy an awesome view from above over the city. Sadly I didn’t do it, but it is on the top of my things to do next time for sure!

 

The Queen Victoria Market is one of my favourite places in Melbourne. They don’t just sell fresh fruits & veggies for a great price (and offer so many different options), but also the best hummus I ever had and yummy bread, sweets and take-away dishes. There is also a part that sells shoes, clothes, souvenirs and everything else you could think of.

Another market in Melbourne is the South Melbourne Market that is meant to be great as well.

 

South of the Yarra River, you can find the Royal Botanical Garden (that I only saw a small part of and want to go back to!)…

…as well as the National Art Gallery that had a Moma exhibition from New York at the moment and the Arts Centre Melbourne where I really wanted to see the Australian Ballet dancing Spartacus, but the tickets where too expensive sadly.

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St. Pauls Cathedral, State Library Victoria, City Square and Melbourne Town Hall are worth a look as well.

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Walk101 do a Free Walking Tour in the centre of the city as well as in St. Kilda. Originally I wanted to do both, but I only made it to the centre tour which was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.

You go to the meeting point, join the tour, meet a lot of other travellers, learn a lot about the city and history as well as some insider tips from the tour guide and in the end you pay as much as you can / want to.

The laneways in Melbourne are very famous with their street art. You just need to walk through some smaller streets and you will find amazing artworks. At ACDC lane and Flinders Lane (and the areas around), you will find the most famous pieces and walls. But also the streets of Fitzroy are great to see some pretty street art. The cool thing is, that they change daily/weekly because artists make new sprays all the time.

Furthermore, Arcades are very popular in Melbourne and I recommend to walk through the beautiful Royale Arcade and Block Arcade for it’s amazing architecture and the  Centreway Arcade to find cute book, vintage and soap shops.

To get a little bit outside the big city vibes I highly recommend to go to St. Kilda for one day. Especially when the weather is nice. The pier is only 25 minutes by tram away from the centre and you will find some vacation and beach vibes there. It’s great to stroll through the pedestrian zone and the not so busy streets, enjoy the peace in the Botanical Gardens or sit at the beach.

Behind the famous amusement park, I found a real oasis: VegOut an urban garden community that allows you to walk through the patches and forget that you are in a huge city.

Another great getaway that is even more quiet and peaceful is Brighton. A suburb of Melbourne about 25 minutes by train away from the city centre. The famous Brighton Bath Boxes are located there and you can enjoy some sunny time at the beach.

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Where to eat

Melbourne and especially Fitzroy is full of amazing (vegan) food places. Literally, every pub offers vegetarian and even vegan dishes but you can also find hundreds of beautiful, hipster, chic cafés that all have avocado toast, granola and even acai on their menu. Many coffee shops sell raw slices and vegan cookies as well as delicious looking banana bread or carrot cake.

It would already be worth coming back to Melbourne just to try out more food places, as I obviously couldn’t (or wouldn’t want) to afford eating out every day for every meal – but I really wished to!

 

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Degraves St is a pedestrian street where cafés, coffee shops and bakeries as well as restaurants and bistros are side by side and everyone can for sure find something to satisfy their taste buds.

I’ve been to Mock Turtle on Degraves St and…

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…here I ate the best Avocado Toast of my life. I can not really imagine someone being able to top it. Sadly it wasn’t vegan and I forgot to ask for a vegan option, but it was amazing and so worth it… I mean look at the variety of toppings and the bread was just delicious (which isn’t always the case if you are used to the great German bread :P ) and the Avo smash perfectly ripe and creamy. The price was pretty high but I would still always come back!

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Slow Poke

Another great breakfast place that is located on Brunswick St. A super quiet café that has a small courtyard where you can sit peacefully and enjoy the sunshine. Their orange juice is fresh pressed and they have some amazing looking baked sweets. They also have a yummy lunch menu.

I ate buckwheat chocolate granola with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs, almond milk and canned peas which was amazing. The Avo Toast looked good, but by far not reach the one from Mock Turtle.

Lentils as Anything

I fell in love with the philosophy of this place and I am so lucky that they have one local in Sydney (and about 5 in Melbourne, even in St. Kilda). This place is run by volunteers and they offer a completely vegan buffet for lunch and four dishes to choose from every day for dinner, as well as a dessert. At the end you pay the amount you think the food was worth it – and I tell you, the food is amazing!

We tried all the dishes they had that evening and everything was super delicious and I am really sad that I only went there once in Melbourne. I’ll definitely go there lots in Sydney!

Lord of the Fries

If you crave some unhealthy food, go to Lord of the Fries! A completely vegan fast food burger chain that make amazing burgers and delicious fries. They don’t advertise to be completely vegan, to attract everyone and to amaze them with the vegan deliciousness. And it’s also fairly cheap!

I ate a “Fish-burger” and sweet potato fries with vegan aioli and tried the normal fries and the classic burger from a friend and everything was yummy. But I still wouldn’t want to go there every second day, because you can really taste that it’s not healthy at all :D

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Madam Saigon

… is a better option when you want something healthy and cheap. This bistro makes great Asian dishes and they have vegan options on their menu. I tried the vegan noodle salad bowl with tofu and it was delicious, fresh, healthy and great for lunch while only costing 11$ (7€).

Zero Gradi Gelateria

A friend who has been living in Melbourne for a while crowned this place to the best Gelataria in town and they have vegan flavours too (and not only fruit sorbets). I combined vegan chocolate and coconut and it tasted amazing – creamy, chocolat-y and not too sweet.

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More great (vegan/healthy) places that I sadly could not try this time:

  • Fina’s Vegetarian Café
  • Pina Chocolate Café
  • Veggie time
  • Smith & Daughter
  • Veggie bar
  • Nice Guy
  • Particle
  • Urban Projuice
  • Yong Green Food
  • Vegilicious
  • Radhey Chai Bar
  • Tahina Bar
  • Mantra Lounge
  • Rue de Creperie
  • Loving hut Richmond

And you will find a lot more by just walking through the streets (especially Brunswick St)!

Exploring the Algarve | Portugal (Pt. 1)

As you have probably already seen on Instagram or read in my previous blog posts, I’ve been in Portugal at the beautiful Algarve coast for two weeks with my family and today I want to share the first part of my travel guide including tips, recommendations and our favorite towns and food places with you.

Part two talks about our favorite beaches and some must-sees and pretty photo spots you shouldn’t miss. And there will be a third part about our two-day trip to Lisbon soon!

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General

Before we start with the more interesting part I want to share some general information that you might not know.

Portugals national language is Portuguese, but they all speak very good English. There is a one hour time difference to Berlin and you pay with the Euro.

Even tho it gets really hot in Portugal you always need a light jacket for the mornings and evenings because of the pretty cold ocean wind and sadly there are no warm summer nights like in other European countries. But this also means that it’s not hot at night and you can sleep better.

Portugals Coast is located at the Atlantic Ocean and this means that the water temperature is much lower than in the Meditteranean Sea and it wasn’t possible (for us) to swim for more than 10-15 Minutes.

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Transportation

We flew from Berlin Schönefeld to Faro, one of the bigger cities at the Algarve with an airport. The flight takes around three hours and one hour time difference (so it’s one hour later in Germany).

For our two week stay, we rented a car which I highly recommend because there are so many small beautiful beaches and cute towns and you don’t want to be staying at the same place your whole trip – there is so much to explore!

Only in Lisbon, we used the public transportation because the road system is super confusing and it’s quicker as well.

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Where to stay

I already got some messages on Instagram asking for our lovely home away from home that you saw in my pictures.

We really were so blessed to find such a cute little house with a huge pool and a pretty garden for such a good price. It is located in Espiche, a small town near Lagos (one of the more famous and bigger cities), so it’s super peaceful and lonely there.

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You can rent the bungalow we stayed in or a smaller apartment on the same property here. The two apartments and the bungalow share the same garden and pool, but we were lucky and had it all to ourselves because nobody stayed in the apartments at the time we were there.

Espiche itself hasn’t much to offer, but it’s very close to Luz a super cute town that has two supermarkets and a beach. We also saw many cute apartments and houses to rent there and I would definitely recommend this more than staying in Lagos.

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Cities and Towns at the Algarve

Like I sad Espiche and Luz are very peaceful and lovely to stay at, but not made for an evening stroll through streets and alleys looking for little boutiques or restaurants (even tho they have some that still looked good).

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Lagos

However, Lagos is perfect for that. It has a very cute old town, many alleys with restaurants, bars, cafés and boutiques. We even found places selling vegan food, but typical fish restaurants, as well as Italian restaurants, are more popular obviously.

Lagos has one main beach that it super long and not crowded at all (probably because there is so much space) and is near the well known Ponta de Piedade and some very beautiful beaches with amazing cliffs and rocks (I’ll talk about them later).

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We went to an amazing restaurant called Gorilla that offers many healthy, Asia-styled food like sprouts-salad with tofu (or meat), veggie filled dumplings and weird flatbread filled with jackfruit meat and veggies which was all super delicious!

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Also, this café was my personal dream! They had vegan chocolate, banana cake and vegan carrot, walnut, date cake, amazing looking salads and also homemade vegan ice cream. Sadly I haven’t had the chance to try it all because it wasn’t a place to eat dinner with the family, so I only ate their chocolate ice cream, but I am sure it all tastes delicious cause it looked so so yum!


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Albufeira

On our first day, we went to Albufeira which is another pretty city. We walked a bit through its streets and along the beach and had sunset drinks and dinner at a lovely bar at the ocean. They offered so much good food, including vegan and vegetarian options, sushi, fish, burgers, sandwiches and more. Their smoothies tasted amazing as well and also the location and the atmosphere was very nice because it was outside the city center at the beach and not as crowded as the old town.

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I ate veggie Quesadillas without cheese willed with mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant, served with guacamole (had to eat two portions because it wasn’t very filling but sooo delicious! :D)


Carvoeiro

Another small town surrounded by many popular beaches. We had dinner there after a long beach day and like I always do when there is no good veggie option I ordered pizza with vegetables without cheese :D

More blog posts about Portugal:
- Part two of my travel guide about Breathtaking Beaches & Awesome View Points 
  you should not miss on your trip

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Food in Portugal

I didn’t really eat a lot of typical Portuguesian food because it’s mostly fish-based, but my dad did and he sad that the huge touristic restaurants don’t make a lot of effort and are still expensive, but smaller more local restaurants do and you can easily see and taste the difference.

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A typical pastry that we fell in love with was Pasteis de Nata. Small puff pastry cakes filled with vanilla pudding – very sweet, but so delicious, cheap and can be found nearly everywhere.

I can also highly recommend the supermarket chain Intermarché because it is huge and sells nearly everything you need and their fresh produce had an amazing quality. They even sell red bananas, that I have never ever seen somewhere else before and coconut yogurt for a pretty good price (cheaper than in Germany!).

As I already mentioned for every city: there can be found vegan and vegetarian options and even restaurants or cafés. Especially in the bigger cities like Lisbon and Lagos. Sadly I couldn’t test a lot more, because I traveled with my family and we needed to find places to eat where everybody likes something.

But as well as eating out we also love to shop for fresh food and prepare it ourselves. We had a very big breakfast every morning, some watermelon and bread as a snack on the beach and then cooked something, ate bread or went to a restaurant for dinner.


So that’s it for the first part of my little travel guide for the Algarve. In part two I will tell you more about our two days in Lisbon and all the beaches and some sights I can recommend to you.

Have you been to the Algarve or Portugal in general? Do you want to? What places or cities can you recommend?