NSW Travel Guide
Airline Lounges / Lounges / SYD / Virgin Australia / Australia Travel / Sydney Travel / Business Class Travel / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
After a short hunt like a mouse looking for cheese, we eventually worked out the signage and rode a virtually unmarked elevator to the second floor. A flash of our Business Class boarding pass and we were in. On first impression, the space looked quite tired and nothing like our
Today's travel snapshot comes to you from a land down under, where kangaroos roam and koalas are not exactly bears. The locals call it Oz and if you have ever been lucky enough to land in this "Lucky Country," you could understand why the nickname exists. Australia, the only country-continent on Earth is just about the size of America, so it has about the same amount of things to visit.
More specifically, we come to you from the nation's largest city, Sydney. The city plays host to iconic Aussie symbols such as the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach. Naturally there's much more to this city then just three things, such as fine dining, local designer boutique shopping and museums for all tastes.
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We all remember back in early November of 2010 when Qantas flight 32 was climbing out of Singapore's Changi Airport and, due to an oil leak, blew an A380 engine. The engine explosion pierced fuel tanks, created a hole in the wing and damaged wiring. Parts of the engine even rained down on a small Indonesian island as the pilot called for an emergency landing back in Singapore.
The resulting blame game was intense, between the engine manufacturer, the maintenance crews and the plane design itself.
Fast forward over 1.5 years later and the plane is still stuck in Singapore undergoing much needed repairs and a full investigation. An airplane, especially a massive A380, grounded for that long costs beaucoup bucks no airline wants to fork over, but no airline wants to risk an accident. We get it.
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Last time we were at Sydney Airport, we took you inside the Qantas First Lounge, with its living plant wall, Neil Perry restaurant, and Payot spa. You didn’t think it was the only Qantas lounge at the airport, though, did you? Oh nothe airline seems to love its airport lounges almost as much as we love visiting them. That’s why, when we were passing through recently, we dropped by Qantas’ Business Class Lounge to spend a few hours working, wine-tasting and washing up before our big hop across the Pacific.
Sydney already has plenty of sun and sand, but apparently there’s a need for some fun in the water outside of the area’s famous beaches. As a result, Wet ‘N Wild is spending $80 million to bring slides, tubes, and wave pools to the citizens of New South Wales. This isn’t going to just be some minor attraction either, as they’re promising that this place is going to be one of the top 10 largest water parks in the world.
The park will be located on the western side of the city, and will sit on about 60 acres of land. Builders have signed a 50-year lease for the land, so they’re really committed on this thing being a hit. Let’s just hope that if they build it, they will come.
Unfortunately, things are still a ways off before we’ll be plopping ourselves in the lazy river. The new park probably won’t be ready until the summer of 2013-2014. The place will probably be a hit with the locals, but if we head down under, we’ll probably be skipping the water slides.
[Photo of another down under water park: Jon... In 3D]
[Photo of another down under water park: Jon... In 3D]
One of the most sought-after tourist experiences in Sydney, and one that almost every visitor seems to do while in town, is climbing the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb. But it’s not just international travelers that come to admire the breathtaking views from the top of the “Coat Hanger’s” arch. Thirty-five percent of the over 2.5 million climbers who've scaled the structure since BridgeClimb began in 1998 have been Australians. Yeah, they seem pretty proud of it.
However, during a recent visit to Sydney, we were hesitant about booking a climb ourselves since the two traditional experiences—the classic Bridge Climb and the engineering fantasist’s Exploration Climb—last a whopping 3.5 hours. That’s a pretty daunting prospect for the small of bladder and the short of time. So imagine our excitement when we learned that the newest climbing experience at BridgeClimb, the Express Climb, takes only two hours.
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Not only is the luxury oasis a sprawling complex of comfort with two deluxe snack bars, a restaurant helmed by one of Australia’s most famous chefs, and a spa with complimentary treatments designed to ease the stress of long-haul air travel, but the place is also just plain cool to hang out in thanks to its design by Australia’s golden boy designer, Marc Newson, who’s also responsible for the streamlined look of Qantas’ new A380’s.
On our way back from Sydney to Los Angeles last week, we got the chance to go inside the First Lounge and take a look around. Then we made ourselves comfortable, tried out a spa treatment, ordered practically everything on the restaurant menu, tasted all the Australian wines, and played around on the lounge’s free wifi. Yeah, we were a little early. So what? We did it all for you, and we’ve even got a photo gallery to prove it, as well as a video walk-through.
Much like the rest of the world, Australia is feeling this global recession. Let's face it, most folks see Australia as a far away expensive land, so dream trips to Oz are easily dashed during tough times on the grounds of "it is just too far and too expensive."
However, there is no doubt one of the positive bi-products of this "recession which will lift by the end of the year" is that traveling to Australia has never been more comfortable and less expensive for Americans. Fact: Now that VAustralia is flying from LAX to SYD (and Melbourne later this year), Qantas has found itself in a fare war that have lowered USA - AU flights to an astounding $299 or so each way. These prices may even head lower when Delta starts service on these routes in July, so watch your favorite travel sites.
Still not convinced? The Aussie Dollar is at right around .60 cents to ours, and there are rumors that Aussie officials are kicking around the idea of actually paying for your flight.
Ok, enough with the hard sell, just take a look at what we learned in Sydney Australia 2.0
· Jaunted has Twitter followers in Bondi Junction, follow @carlyeinfeld.
· Our new travel Twitter friend, @lilyroseallen does a bang up job posting "Killer Hotel Views".
· Flip Mino HD will change the way you feel about lugging around a video camera on vacation
After the jump, enjoy the entire video reel from Sydney. No dramas, mate.
We just rode shotgun in a most excellent seaplane tour over Sydney. Before we took off, Pilot Andy let it be known that in his opinion there were few things better than riding in a seaplane, and he was right on. Take off, which you can watch in the above video was smooth and once airborne we put on our headsets and listened to Andy school us on a bit of aviation history as we cruised 1,000 feet above Sydney Harbour.
The quick tour takes you Southeast down the dramatic coastline a bit to Bondi Beach. At Bondi the plane circles back and affords you views of the Northern Beaches and, of course, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. After you pass Circular Quay you begin a quick decent, smoothly splashing down into Rose Bay.
The tour will run you $225 AU and you can get to Rose Bay easily by taking one of the Sydney ferries at Circular Quay (the green & white ones).
If you want to check out the Inner Harbour view video, it is after the jump. If you want to catch up on all our Jaunted in Sydney videos, you can watch them here.
Walking through the Sydney Botanical Gardens after a quick lunch today we heard what sounded like Tucan birds screaming from the trees. With Australia being the land of crazy animals, we figured we weren't hearing your garden variety squawking crow, so we glanced up at the nearest tree and there they were -- tens of giant fox bats, probably over 100 in all.
In perfect Aussie fashion there was a sign under these trees that says:
DO NOT TOUCH THE FLYING FOXES
For many years Grey-headed Flying-foxes have been seasonal visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens. At night these large bats feed on the flowers and fruits of many native plants and they are important in pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds of these species.
However, as you can see by looking around the Palm Grove, the bats that have set up camp in the Gardens are damaging the trees they roost in. For this reason, the Royal Botanical Gardens has been given a license to use non-harmful methods to discourage the bats from roosting here.
As far as the bat-touching goes, duly noted but we aren't keen to touch some bats. We wouldn't touch a normal bat, let alone a dinosaur flying fox bat. Would you?
Since Sydney is the biggest city Down Under, it's no surprise that it's a damn good place to get cultural. Yet after half a dozen visits, our latest trip was the first time we ended up in a couple of museums.
We started out at the Australian Museum up near Hyde Park, which sounded like it should sum up the whole country in one small-ish building. It didn't, as it's instead one of those natural history places full of stuffed animals that we used to love as kids. The exhibits are modern and there are tons of those weird Aussie animals, plus a cute display of typical living room skeletons--including this cat skeleton which impressed us no end.
At the other end of town, in the Rocks area, we checked out the Museum of Contemporary Art in a gorgeous old building recently saved from demolition. There are five floors of galleries including some video installations and a floor of their newest acquisitions. Development plans mean the MCA will get a new wing and huge renos by 2011. Yay for more funky culture, we say.
The Hunter Valley is famous for having more than 100 wineries to visit, but curiously the most successful tourist attraction there isn't a vineyard: It's a grape-free garden.
Aptly named the Hunter Valley Gardens, this place is owned by the same people who once owned the Nutrimetics skin products empire, so you know they've got money to plant. Located in the middle of all the vineyards, HVG markets itself as "the easy escape." (When we got lost trying to find a path back to the entrance, we found that kind of ironic.)
But we only got lost because the place is so huge and so distracting. From the Chinese garden through to the relive-your-childhood storybook garden, and then up the hill to a chapel where weddings are regularly held, even a nature-hater would find something to like here.
HVG runs regular thematic events like Christmas night lights and Easter specials, so time your visit right for a little something extra. Entry is A$20 ($14), and we suggest stopping by before you visit too many wineries--or you might get even more lost than we did.