I travel a lot for my job. In fact, in my previous job I flew every single week, I left early Monday morning (ugh), and returned Thursday evening. So it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about flying, and while usually it’s with the same airline over and over and over (I love my miles), flying Qantas was a borderline religious experience.
Flying in the US is dogged by well, the lack of everything. Service, food, snacks, nuts. You get what you pay for you, and even what you pay for you don’t always get. So when my husband and I decided to honeymoon in Australia (many posts on that later), flying Qantas was an actual dream come true.
While some Aussies (well one we encountered) feel that Qantas has gone down hill in the last few years, I dare them to come the US, fly domestically and then tell me Qantas isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread.
So why is Qantas so fabulous? WELL. Let’s talk free food. And not just at meal times. There were copious amounts of food and snacks to be had, everywhere. Pouring out of every orifice in the air you’d find a free snack. On our flight from LA to Sydney, we boarded around 11pm and immediately were met with a free dinner. Granted ,I just wanted to sleep but, in keeping with American air travel, I assumed this would be on par with the Last Supper. WRONG. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. After finishing my meal I immediately crashed. Overcome with exhaustion I fell right to sleep. I was awoken a few minutes later by a lovely flight attendant giving me a backpack full of food, treats, and other goodies. If that wasn’t enough – there were granola bars in baskets at varying points in the plane, and flight attendants in the pitch black walked around with apples, water, and juice.
As we approached Sydney, a full blown breakfast was to be had with more snacks, including, but not limited to Cadbury hot chocolate. I honestly wondered if it was worth deplaning? Why leave when everyone is so nice with wonderful service and treats? It was a legitimate question, but I was thrilled to know that we were flying Qantas within Australia a few more times, but assumed due to the shortened time of the flights (~2-3 hours in length), the service would be different.
WRONG AGAIN! On our 2-3 hour flight from Sydney to Cairns, we got a full blown lunch, a popsicle snack and anything else our little heart desired. I couldn’t believe it. You fly 2-3 hours in the US and you’re lucky to get a smile.
Needless to say, Qantas is the greatest airline I’ve ever flown, despite my small sample size. It made coming back to the US that much harder knowing that my flight a few days later would be devoid of backpacks full of snacks and popsicles.
Our honeymoon was a three week long Australian adventure that I will never, ever forget. My husband and I came to an agreement, I plan and pay for the wedding, he plans and pays for the honeymoon. He definitely got the better end of that deal, but I’d rather have myself in charge of venue decor and planning than him (sorry hun!). So with a lot of planning came a lot of excitement, and stepping onto that Qantas flight (aka the greatest airline of all time) in L.A. started the most incredible adventure.
We touched down in Sydney at around 530am local time after a 15 hour flight. I slept like a baby and was hopped up on adrenaline by the time we landed. After assuring customs we had no animals and flora of any kind (suck it Johnny Depp & Amber Heard), we shoved our bag’s into a taxi and headed for the Sheraton on the Park Hotel (for those that watch Keeping up with Kardashian, Khloe stayed here, and for those that watch Real Housewives of Melbourne, Season 2 Gamble takes the crew here. I watch both, no regrets and no shame). By some miracle, our room was ready for us at the crack of dawn, and we were able to go upstairs, shower and freshen up a bit before our walking tour. We ended up watching the Red Sox Saturday night game in the US on Sunday morning which certainly tickled us. This trip happened in October 2013 so for all you Red Sox fans out there, you know it was a big year. 🙂
Upon freshening up we ventured out to our free walking tour to help acclimate ourselves with the city. Walking tours are the best! I know, I know, you hear that a lot from me. This walking tour was 3-4 hours in length, and gave us a history of the city, took us to an area called The Rocks (where we returned to later), and obviously, the Sydney Harbor Waterfront. Seeing the Sydney Opera House was surreal. Australia was always one of those places that I loved the thought of, but never actually thought I’d see, in person. But there we were, staring at it, and the view never got old. Pinch me!
I can’t remember how we spent the rest of our day, but the next few days were jam picked full of fun little adventures. We took a ferry ride over to Manly and hiked along the waterfront paths to get a gorgeous view of Sydney. We also checked out the beach, enjoyed some of the beach front shops, and headed back to Sydney for a night at the Opera House. I was so excited to get dolled up and head to a show a world away. I should have put that as one of my bucket list items!
One of the great things we both loved about Sydney, is the access to beaches. It’s rare to find a city that also incorporates beach culture, and we loved it! We took public transportation (a bus) over to Bondi Beach the following day to complete the Bondi to Cogee beach walk. And what a breathtaking walk that was! It’s a beautiful hilly hike along beachside cliffs and into small little coves of beaches. My husband stopped to swim while I sunned myself, and literally watched a men’s bathing suit print-ad being shot. I asked the make-up artist what it was for and he was shooting the cover for GQ. Naturally I used our DSLR camera to try and sneak in a few shots of my own. After our Zoolander style interaction, we continued along the walk finally reaching Cogee, eating a delightful little meal at Moo Burger. My husband was thrilled as he’s a barbecue sauce not a ketchup guy, and Moo Burger gave a Costco sized bottle of BBQ for his use and pleasure. So rare!
After heading back to Sydney we truly enjoyed walking around and exploring new neighborhoods. Yelp! really came in handy here to find places to eat. As a result, we wandered into the Surry Hills neighborhood of Sydney and had dinner at Il Baretto and rolled our full and fabulous bellies back to the hotel.
When I go on vacation I like to pick up a Christmas tree ornament from everywhere I go. I call it my travel tree, and I love to unwrap the ornament and ever so briefly be taken back to that spot or that moment where the ornament was bought. My husband on the other hand, likes to visit aquariums. So to the Sydney Aquarium we went! The Sydney Aquarium was fabulous, though my husband would be the better person to provide a review. We had a great time there and that’s all that matters. We even bought a small bottle of vegemite. I was too scared to try it after my husband almost spit it out, but when in Rome. Peanut butter is not for the Europeans and Vegemite is not for us.
Now many people on Trip Advisor mentioned to do the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb. I am very much afraid of heights, and while I probably could have done it, it was very expensive. Many reviewers mentioned that while a wonderful and unique experience, you can see many of the same views by simply walking over the Sydney Harbor bridge. So we saved a pretty penny and spent the rest of our time walking through Sydney’s botanical gardens, taking in the sights, and even going on a whale watch. We did in fact spot a few!
Sydney was such a wonderful and welcoming city that I hope to someday go back. With the first leg of our honeymoon complete, we headed to up to Cairns for a week in Port Douglas. Great Barrier Reef here we come!