Tag Archives: world

A Bit More of Sydney Pt.2

Continued from Part 1

Vivid Sydney

IMG_20170527_202727The Vivid event takes over Sydney for a couple weeks each year, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the area at the time, it’s highly recommended. There’s lots of spots that join in, from huge projections on the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge through to a walk through of artistic visions through the botanic gardens. Some of it is better than others that for sure, the stuff in Circular Quay is very impressive, while some of the smaller exhibits are more suited to kids and families. IMG_20170526_200526Be aware that opening weekend is absolutely packed out and it’s very easy to lose your friends. One highlight is the water and light show in Darling Harbour. They project animations and scenes up on a wall of water sprayed up from the harbour accompanied by orchestral music building to an impressive crescendo.

Blue Mountains, Three Sisters and Wentworth Falls

IMG_20170529_150733While the Blue Mountains are certainly a touristy spot, they’re still worth a mention. Without a car, getting up here is a little limited, with only bus tours or the public train to choose from. The tours are fine, and with good guides most of them allow you to see the highlights including scenic world with it’s funicular railway, while the train will drop you off in Katoomba, close enough to the Three Sisters to walk, but not see much more.

With your own car you can head out and see a little more, and avoid the worst of the tourist crowds. The Three Sisters viewing point is huge, with multiple levels which means there are some quieter spots for those typical photos. It’s a reasonable walk down to cliff edge though, and with viewpoints along the way it’s easy to find a good spot away from the masses. There’s a lot of hikes in this area, and a few days up in the hills would be a good way to see a lot more. You can even walk across the bridgeway to the base of the first sister, although the visuals are somewhat reduced when you get close, as you can’t see the other sisters.

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Wentworth Falls is a short drive back towards Sydney and is well worth the stop. The right amount of infrastructure to point you in the right direction but not so much that it ruins the environment. The view points over-looking the falls are pretty impressive, but as the fall cascades down near the cliff edge theres a good spot to explore and find some interesting vistas. Just be cautious at dusk, again we found ourselves finding our way home in the dark.

Royal National Park, Bundeena, Wedding Cake Rock and Wattamolla Beach

IMG_20170531_122603This was probably my favourite location on the visit. We started our exploration of the RNP near the main road, a little lake spot which also has the info centre and a little cafe. We strolled about the lake and despite the road running through the middle found it charming and quiet, a huge departure from the Sydney traffic we’d come from. It was a good warm up for the rest of the day.

IMG_20170531_145849We stopped in Bundeena for lunch, wonderful fish and chips from a cute cafe in the town, still miles from the tourists and it really felt like the little local place it looked like. Just around the corner is the walk around to the cliffs, and along to Wedding Cake Rock. The walk along is well maintained, and plenty interesting by itself, a few dips down where brooks reached the ocean and plenty of overhanging rocks to get the adrenalin pumping. Wedding Cake rock is now protected by a large fence, enough to put off some, but it seemed as though most tourists were hopping over to get their snaps on the rock itself. We were told that they have plans to make a visitor centre for it, both to prevent accidents, but also to stop it from cracking and a falling into the sea. The rock itself is made of a beautiful white limestone, a relatively weak rock and the fence is there to stop erosion or an accident if the rock does break away. A visitor centre would probably ruin the area somewhat though and potentially reduce the amount of the visitors to the site. Perhaps with more information at the location fewer people would be willing to hop the fence. It’s an impressive rock, and certainly quite unusual but not in need of too much infrastructure.

The last stop of the day, and of the trip was the pinnacle. The simply gorgeous Wattamolla beach and headland. The beach itself is tiny, it’s more like a small cliff right into a meander of the river. About 5 metres high it’s perfect to dive from and catch some sun. While there’s the typical Aussie safety rail around the cliff it’s easy to hop over. There’s a few rocks below and a tiny beach/slipway to climb back up. The spot would be ideal with a group of friends, some food and a summer afternoon. If you follow the path around you’ll find yourself at the end of the headland, a rocky outcrop pointing out into the wild Pacific ocean. amazing views and almost total isolation, it was blissful to clamber around in such a location, and so close to Sydney city as well. If I lived anywhere nearby, I’d certainly make that spot one of my regular haunts.

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So, all the way across the planet to spend not even two weeks, but so much seen in such a short time, and so much more than most ever see in 5 times the time. Comparing to the first trip to Sydney it was a real eye-opener, there’s so much beauty surrounding the city that is missed by 90% of the tourists there. Even some locals don’t know about these spots, so please go explore!

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

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Cambodia Pt4: Sihanoukville Pt2

Continued from here.

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Wanting a little less smoke in the air, I headed back to the mainland again, but this time wanted to stay down with some new friends in Otres beach, a couple of kilometres south of Sihanoukville. At first I was worried there would be little to do, but the community along the beach was incredible with groups clustering at the nicer bars, everyone friendly and welcoming. Most of the day was spent in and out of the water, enjoying food and drinks from the bars. I did get a little sick again, but alas no pumpkin soup to sooth me here. There were some awesome bars just back from the beach that would have live music, and the room I ended up in was above such a bar, a couple of times I spent the evening chilling watching the water listening to some odd music or spoken word.

DCIM100GOPRODuring my stay there one of the Sin-Ville bars put on an indie music festival, and as it was something to do, of course we headed down to check it out. Two stages, one more electronic and one mostly indie-rock, both kicking out plenty of noise meant there was a great vibe. It was mostly tourists out, so I imagine the beach bars were looking pretty quiet that night. Better music than usual and plenty of old favourites reminded me of old uni parties and nights out in the UK, and it certainly seemed to be doing a good job with the crowd, lots of happy people dancing away.
The last night in Otres was spent enjoying the monthly market/festival open evening event. It’s a large hall and courtyard filled with all the various little stalls from town, plus plenty more cool stuff, along with some live music and even some art installations (although quite different from a gallery) it’s partly a community event and partly for the tourists as it brings people together to celebrate the surroundings and indulge a little in the comfort of familiar people. It was very homely, with both locals and fresh ex-pats welcoming you to enjoy the atmosphere and experience what was on offer. Check out this cool article for more on Otres

DCIM100GOPROOverall Sihanoukville doesn’t offer too much as far as culture goes, but it’s got some great beaches and cool nightlife all for a pretty decent price. It’s the backpackers alternative to the overpriced southern Thai resorts. In fact you could compare it with the beach breaks so infamous in Europe, only much cheaper, much nicer, and a lot less kids. You might not get the luxury, but it’s still a damn nice place to spend a week or so. Otres is one of the few places I could imagine heading back to, the general atmosphere there is so much cooler than most, it could be a home, rather than just a place to party for a few nights until you’ve seen the sights and move on.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

The Best Burger in the World

This might be a bit of a stretch, I certainly haven’t eaten everywhere, not even in every country. I’ve not tried the best burger bars in London, but I have had a lot of burgers in my time.

From McDonalds and Burger King, up through the ranks to some of the highest rated burgers in the World, I’ve tried more than my fair share I’m sure. So here we go:

  • Ferg Burger, Queenstown, New Zealand

This is one of the most hyped up burgers places in the world. From Auckland to Christchurch, no matter how you travel through NZ, people will always talk about how good Ferg Burgers are. It’s an amazing store, with a queue up to an hour long at times, stretching out the door and far down the street. In fact, the shop is so small it’s rare that the queue isn’t out the door. The buns are excellent, cooked next door in their bakery, and the burgers are pumped out┬ádamn fast by the slick team of pros behind the counter. A good selection and excellent meat, a little tricky to customise though.

  • Bunsen Burger, Dublin, Ireland

These guys keep it simple, just four options: Burger, cheese burger, double burger or double cheese burger. I think most people chose the last option. It comes with the basic salad inside and it’s a very tasty burger. Simple and well put together, just the right amount of sloppiness while holding together enough to get it into your mouth. It’s juicy and very meaty, riding on the strength of the patty which does it proud.

  • Devil Burger, Queenstown, New Zealand

The second Queenstown entry, and the underdog to the powerhouse that is Ferg Burger, Devil don’t have the same quality of bun and their patties are a little smaller, but what they lack there, they more than make up for in well thought out topping combinations and extras. Burger customisation is much more acceptable here, which means you can have the burger you really want, and not the closest option on the menu. My favourite was the Yankee Devil with extra pineapple and egg. A large patty in a small bun also makes the ratio even better.

  • The Oyster Catcher, Polzeath, UK

Perhaps listing the bar I work in is not the done thing, but the burgers here are really something to make a thing of (I’m trying to get them to pump their reputation) The burgers are handmade on site (sometimes by me) and it’s pure, high quality local beef. The toppings are freshly prepared each day and the buns are… adequate. They’ve got some great menu options, but the fun really comes when you get creative. It’s not cheap to add extras here, but if you’re willing to do so, you can craft some incredible burgers. One bad point – No pineapple.

  • Counter Burger, Dublin, Ireland

By now you’ll have noticed I’m a big fan of customisation, and Counter burger caters for me perfectly. Instead of a list of pre-designed burgers you are given a selection sheet of meats, cheeses, toppings and sauces and a pencil. This is a dream come true for me, as this means I can create those ridiculous and wonderful burgers I’ve dreamt at night. It’s important to think of your theme before you pick any options so each works, otherwise you could end up with mild aioli and jalape├▒os, which just aren’t going to work together. This restaurant changed is the current home of my favourite burger, having swayed me from my American style, beef, mustard/ketchup based burger. It’s now all about grilled chicken with chilli and pineapple.

I think it’s important to let people have their burgers the way they want them. There’s plenty of trendy new places popping up that offer really nice sounding burgers with cool new toppings and fancy ingredients. But when actually put together lead to a rather naff burger. I’m all for hummous and avocado on a bit of crusty bread or in a wrap, but on top of a slab of minced beef and grilled it just seems wasted. Keep it simple, and let the punters have what they want!