“The Road goes ever on and on…”

So you know that thing where you are full of good intentions, and determined to be proactive with a travel blog, and then you fail miserably? Yeah, hi! *waves* But, today will bring the thrilling conclusion to our NZ + OZ adventure – promise – although technically I’ve been home for ages (not wandering in the vast spaces of Australia for the last 7 months)…so, let us cast our minds back, to us leaving New Zealand and jet setting off to Australia for more fun and shenanigans…

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That feeling when you want to watch a movie with your friend but the Captain keeps interrupting with his chat…

When we arrive in Sydney this time, we know to look for the Intercontinental sign, and head back to our home away from home…and it’s not a bad one if I do say so myself. We meet up with Greta’s lovely parents, who’re having their own adventure (going off on a train through Australia!) and Sophie comes and joins us for the most wonderful Italian meal (these next two weeks are pretty much about food. Not gonna lie – Greta and I take food VERY seriously); where they – if you happen to need the facilities throughout your dinner – COVER YOUR FOOD WITH ONE OF THOSE SILVER KEEP-WARM THINGIES (yes, that’s the technical term, hush). It’s very cool. And hot, obviously. The next day, we go whale-watching. As in, we go and watch and see if we can see any whales on their migratory journey. They’re the big humpback ones – or at least, we’re told they are, because we don’t actually see any for almost the whole two hours, although I’m giving loads of kudos to the guy on the mic, because he was talking his heart out, and as a tour guide I genuinely sympathise…but, then, at the tail end (no pun intended – well, maybe a little one), we see a casual flip. See if you can spot her:

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I have a wonderful time on the boat, the water looks lovely, the sun is out in full force, and it’s so lovely to be out enjoying what Sydney has to offer.

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Greta smiling like a trooper despite her seasickness

And then, the next day, it’s time for the event that kickstarted all of this – my friend Brent’s wedding to his wonderful fiancé, Amanda.

I love Aussie weddings. I love them (okay I’ve only been to this one but still). They’re chilled out, the weather is nice, the people are relaxed and fun, and we had a wonderful, epic time. We leave Sydney really early, as the trains are a bit funny, but Brent’s mum picks us up from the station (the wedding is at their house, which has a lot of land…and a tractor. You’ll see the tractor. Just wait.) The boys are nowhere near ready, and are playing pool instead, hah, but seeing Brent again after all this time is just so, so, so, lovely, and I feel so wonderfully blessed by the support of my parents and Greta’s parents that I can be there to share this wonderful day with him and Amanda. SOMEHOW, I become the designated sleeve roller-upper (because this is a cool, Aussie wedding, chaps, nothing stiff or formal about it) and then it’s time, and yes, damnit, I shed a few tears because Brent looks super happy, and Amanda looks super happy and just…you guys…

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So while we’re happily celebrating with copious of lovely pink bubbly, Brent’s mum comes over and asks me to do a speech…in Dutch (Brent’s Dutch on his mum’s side, and his lovely Oma is in attendance as well). Oh. Well. Sure. I slowly put down my fourth glass. Greta is in hysterics. Shut up. I’ve got this. There’s a video, but I’ll spare you that, though here’s photographic proof it did happen: ‘Op het Bruidspaar!’

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Charlotte (a fellow London tourguide from NZ), Greta and I feel very accomplished (and look very lovely, if I do say so myself) and later on we have fun throwing a few shapes on the dance floor. The one thing I would say for this wedding, is that we had to hold the dance floor on our own for quite a bit – except until Nutbush City Limits came on – everybody loves a bit of Tina.

A really wonderful day, that I felt really lucky to be part of. And then, the second most important thing that we planned this holiday for – we’re off to spend a week properly hanging out with Sophie and it’s going to be EPIC. MUGGLETOURS TRIO REUNITED!

Sophie and Marcus live in a lovely little flat near a huge park in Sydney, and we go to the park and we see bats and we watch movies and play board games and we go to the beach, and the cinema and we see KANGAROOS and KOALAS and get to FEED THEM and go hiking and just generally have the best time ever. I never want to leave. Ever. The thing we tick off first is going to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is a no-brainer, right? Sophie takes us to this cinema that brings FOOD to your SEAT. Like, for real. Now I definitely don’t want to leave.

We also chill out at Bondi Beach and do a bit of body-surfing (I manage it a grand total of ONCE but oooooh the accomplishment when it happens!) and have Mexican and just…I cannot. There is a half-concocted plan to head to Melbourne (something I desperately want to do because, erm, I kind of want to see where they film the Miss Fisher Mysteries, what – no, you’re the nerd, shut up) – but in the end, there’s just too much to enjoy right here in Sydney. The weather, for one. Getting up and strolling to a café for epic brunch. Avo on toast. Halloumi on the side. Banana milkshakes. Honestly, I’m not kidding when I said I kind of want to stay on this side of the world forever – and for anyone who says, ‘yeah but you’d get bored…’ I’m saying – look at all the people who live in New Zealand and Australia. They don’t get bored, do they? No. Sure, there’s the occasional earthquake and loads of animals that can kill you, but hey, nowhere is perfect. This comes pretty darn close though.

We decide instead to head to the Blue Mountains, a beautiful nature part not too far outside of Sydney. We Airbnb’d this AWESOME place and on the way back, Sophie indulges us and stops at an animal park. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, shall I?

On our way to the park, we get sidetracked by this awesome café which was basically doing pancakes and milkshakes in a bookstore. So that’s another three hours of our life, hah. And then the animals…okay, yeah, I was excited about feeding a kangaroo. Shut up.

Heading back to the Intercontinental, we have a last day of roaming around. I get to meet up with my friend Richard, who’s living in Sydney now, and my friend from highschool, Sam, and we even manage to meet up with Brent and Amanda before they head on their honeymoon cruise. Greta and I walk the now very familiar streets of Sydney a last time before Greta’s wonderful parents take us out for our last Sydney dinner…at the Sydney Opera House. It. Is. Incredible. Such a wonderful last dinner, made all the better by Sophie meeting up with us at the end, and ending up crashing in our very roomy room. The beds move. Did you know they do that? Well, they do. I won’t show you the video, but suffice to say, there was a lot of ‘Arr, me hearties’ and we maybe sent Marcus a video of the *cough* Russian gangsters who kidnapped his girlfriend. I also think there were raptors involved. It all gets a bit fuzzy. Suffice to say, it’s a worthy sendoff for all involved.

The next day, we head, yet again, to the airport. Only this time, our taxi is slightly, erm…pimped up. With a karaoke machine. And a discoball. So yeah, why not. There we are, singing Adele at 10 in the morning, on our way to Singapore. As far as a last morning in Sydney goes, it’s pretty standard (hah). Then, we’re in Singapore, where Greta’s parents and Greta and I stay at the beautiful Raffles hotel. I think we’re pretty confused when we walk in and see this:

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before realising…oh yes. It’s now December!! The Raffles hotel is famously where the Singapore Sling was invented. Ladies were not allowed to drink alcohol in public, and Ngiam Tong Boon, bartender at the Long Bar, thought this was rather unfair (and a niche in the market). So he created a cocktail that looked like fruit juice, added fruit, and the men were none the wiser. Cheers! (Greta and I may have quite a lot of these in the two days we’re here). We ride the Singapore Flyer (the tallest ferris wheel – sorry, ‘observation wheel’) in the world, and go to an amazing underground fort, swim in the swimming pool, use the sauna, eat in the amazing Raffles restaurant, and believe it or not, we manage to find an actual Harry Potter exhibition. I kid you not. That’s just how we roll.

However, this too, comes to an end. It feels surreal to be going home, and it seems like we’ve been on this side of the world much longer than a month. Our days in Thor on the open road, our bungy adventure, the wedding, Sophie, all of this is has left an imprint, and yet, of course, it is nowhere near enough time. We’re always running out of time, it seems. The road goes ever on and on, though, and Greta and I head to the airport one more time.  There’s a last moment where I have to curb Greta’s Hufflepuff nature (they’ve overbooked the flight and want to downgrade us to economy and give us a free flight from Singapore to Dubai in return, which is kind, but not really useful – now if it were back to New Zealand, or Sydney…) but finally we’re on, and then it’s one last picture to show our feelings:

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But. We’ve already decided we will go back. Maybe not immediately. But Thor will ride again! And the memories we have gained over this past month, will tide us over till next time. Until then, while we may miss it for now – we know the feeling is mutual. Till next time.

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