August 2016 Recap: Sydney, Australia

This post was last updated on 2017 September 4

Oh my sweet baby Jesus. August in a word? Exhausting.

This month I learned something very important about dogs that I’m sure is obvious to anyone who didn’t spend the first 30 years of their life entirely ignoring them in favor of kitty cats. Dogs have personalities! And more importantly, what works in caring for one dog may not work at all for another.

I’m not sure how I made it this long house sitting without ever having to deal with a high energy dog, but this month I had to care for TWO such pups. Leisurely neighborhood walks are wasted on them – these guys need to run and play fetch as long as your patience will permit, or else they will start tearing sh*t apart at home. I spent such an absurd amount of time chasing these dogs around and giving them enough play time to keep them calm, not to mention cleaning up the constant messes they made. Needless to say, I got a taste of parenting this month and didn’t care very much for it.

The chasing wasn’t limited to pups, though: I also had to repeatedly chase down former employers for job references and tax forms. I know I’ve made great strides in the past year to be a much less judgmental person, but dammit I’m gonna put on my judging cap for a second and say that it is straight up WRONG, rude, and disrespectful to ignore someone’s emails for weeks at a time. If you don’t have an answer or the time to reply, then take two seconds to let them know this. Can I get an amen?

sydney house sitting
Hendrix likes to play fetch indoors, and lay down like a lazy arse outdoors. Oy vey!

August was a very productive month for me. I spent a lot of time planning and researching for my upcoming Philippines trip (more on that in a future post!). I successfully wrangled various visa-related documents together, which I’ll soon have in my possession so that I can apply for my skilled migrant visa. And I kept up my diligent gym routine and feel AMAZING after 2 straight months of full-on strength training. Man, I really missed this! I’ll be so sad to give it up for the next 4 months while I’m back to moving around too frequently to have a gym membership.

It was also quite a month for networking, as I managed to drag my ass to a few meetups with fellow bloggers and travel industry folks. Does anyone else instantly feel like melting into a puddle or beelining for the nearest exit upon entering a room full of socializing people (aka a party)? It’s tough being an extremely introverted freelancer because networking is oh-so-crucial to landing new work opportunities, yet oh-so-terribly-draining. Where my fellow introverts at?

australia travel blog
This is me at virtually any social gathering involving more than a few people.

In lighter news, I swapped Netflix for 3 glorious weeks of Olympic bingeing this month. I gotta say, it was really strange watching it from the Australian perspective. First, because mostly just the Australian athletes would be interviewed for Australian television. Which I suppose makes total sense, but it’s really strange to watch an event your country is competing (and probably dominating) in, and then only hear from an Australian competitor afterwards who didn’t even win a medal.

And second, because most things weren’t shown live due to the horrific time difference, and when they were eventually shown it would be a hodgepodge of highlights and usually without much notice. For example: gymnastics. I LOVE me some Olympic gymnastics, which in the US is a big deal because our women’s gymnastics team is typically favored to win gold. So it’s aired at prime time, live, and in full. It always feels like you’re right there with them, waiting for scores to be posted, watching someone inevitably come from behind and nail a routine at a crucial moment. But in Australia, it’s like the least big deal ever (there was exactly ONE Aussie gymnast, and she came nowhere near close to medaling). I never knew when gymnastics was going to air, and when I did happen to catch it it was only ever a handful of routines, back to back with all the in-between time cut out. It was definitely one of those rare instances where I found myself missing home. Go Team USA!

congwong beach
Pretty Little Congwong Beach in Sydney.

August 2016 Numbers

Well, this month would have been the month with my lowest spend, but I splurged on some apparel-related purchases… mostly to replace grubby items that I’ve worn a LOT in the past 20 months in Australia. Did I NEED to buy two crazy-expensive swimsuits when I could have spent half that to get ones that were comparable in quality to the bikinis I’ve been wearing all along? Maybe not. But oh my heavens, I didn’t know what I was missing! The difference in quality between a designer swimsuit and a Victoria’s Secret swimsuit is more than worth the difference in price. And seeing how often I wear swimsuits in Australia vs. how often I wore them back in NYC, I know they will see a lot of use.

Also, I have no idea how I’ve managed to go without wearing a supportive top until now. The boutiques I shopped at in Bondi and Manly actually carried swimsuits specially designed for D/DD cups, which means no more worrying about wardrobe malfunctions while I’m frolicking in the sea!

Days: 31

  • 31 days in Sydney, Australia

Total Spent: US$879 ($313 on clothing)

    + $740 for student loans
    + $112 for business expenses
    + $20 for tech/camera gear

Average Spent: US$28/day

Total Earned: US$2516

sydney sunset
View from the rooftop at one of my Sydney house sits.

Overall 2016 Numbers

Days: 244

Total Spent: US$10,617

    + $5920 for student loans
    + $641 for business expenses
    + $792 for tech/camera gear
    + $335 for travel insurance

Average Spent: US$43.50/day

Total Earned: US$32,049

August 2016 Highlights

This month, I made a concerted effort to take myself to the beach or harbour more often. I hardly went anywhere at all in July and was stuck in a funk because of it. Lesson learned, and applied!

house sitting australia
Possibly the best view from bed I’ve ever had!

The Glebe House

I got to live in my dream house for a couple weeks this month and it was absolutely glorious (minus the misbehaving dog – see Lowlights below). First off, Glebe is my favorite Sydney neighborhood that’s not on the beach (y’all know I would take any beach suburb over even the best of the Inner West). So I was already pretty stoked to be based in a part of the city that I love. But to be living there in a well-furnished 3-story townhouse with a view of the Sydney skyline – FROM BED? It was pretty damn epic to say the least.

I spent 80% of my time at home sitting out on the back patio, eating all my meals, drinking copious cups of coffee, and working on my laptop – all with a view. And when it got cold, I’d wrap myself in a heavy blanket and continue enjoying the hell out of that patio. Can you blame me?

sydney skyline
Working on the patio at my Sydney house sit!

Balls Head Picnic

I went out with Laser Guy a few times this month (nicknamed not for his love of laser tag, but for laser hair removal – yikes!), and one of our dates was a wine and cheese picnic at a secret spot on the rocks near Balls Head (future dates, take note: this is a most excellent date idea if you wanna hang with me! ;). We had a sensational view of Sydney Harbour from our picnic spot.

sydney harbour
View of inner Sydney Harbour from Balls Head.

The Hills Special

OH YEAH, this totally made the highlight reel. MTV aired a 10-year anniversary special called “That Was Then, This Is Now”, looking back at the wonder that was The Hills (quite possibly my favorite “reality” tv show of all time). Watching it was a bit of a mission without MTV here, but I got to swoon over my ultimate (and only) girl crush, Lauren Conrad, and it was glorious. Who else is a Laguna/Hills fan?

sydney travel blog
<3 The Hills <3

A Day Off at Bondi

I escaped my puppy palace and fled to Bondi Beach one sunny day in desperate need of a break. What unfolded was a delightful afternoon in which I treated myself to a brand new bikini, a giant ricotta hotcake for brunch, and a few hours in the sand. (Cue the music: “these are a few of my fa-vo-rite thiiiiiiings…”)

bondi beach

Photo Shooting at La Perouse

This super random spot had been on my to-do list for ages and I finally got to cross it off the day I said “F it” and hopped on a bus (well, more like 3 buses) to La Perouse. This suburb is 14km southeast of Sydney on the north headland of Botany Bay (note: my hike from Kurnell to Cronulla last month started on the south headland of this bay)… so yeah, it’s not exactly a convenient spot to get to if you’re not driving.

I got lucky with a spot of sunshine to indulge my selfie craving, but the sky had clouded over before I had time to walk to the neighboring Congwong and Little Congwong beaches (which FYI are gorgeous and uncrowded). I definitely need to return to enjoy these two beaches this summer!

la perouse sydney
Awesome views of Botany Bay at La Perouse.

Mr. Barca

Oh my. I highly recommend canoodling with a Spaniard, should you ever have the chance. Mine hailed from Barcelona, had an accent hot enough to melt me to a puddle, and came with an expiration date (he’s moving to Melbourne for a job). But perhaps most impressive of all was his English, which he had only started learning 10 months ago. Multilingual folks always make me feel like a colossal lazy-ass!

coogee beach
See you soon, Coogee!

Securing the Coogee House Sit

After the semi-traumatizing month I’ve had looking after dogs, I wasn’t planning on taking any more house sits before I leave town. But when I found one with dates that aligned *exactly* with my remaining time in Sydney, with one cat to watch, dangerously close to the beach, I figured the house sitting gods were throwing me a very large, delicious bone and went for it. I can’t wait to be stationed on the other side of the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk!

shelly beach
Reading on the rocks by Shelly Beach, at Manly.

An Afternoon At Manly

I haven’t given Manly the attention it deserves because it’s a $15 ferry ride from the city (and it usually ends up being at least an hour trek one-way), but I have to say that it’s a damn delightful place to exist. Manly is like the north shore’s answer to Bondi, but feels a lot more like SoCal to me. I was thrilled to find that a ton of cool coffee shops have popped up there in the past year, but mostly I spent the afternoon reading my Kindle on some rocks by the sea between Manly Beach and Shelly Beach.

August 2016 Lowlights

The Runaway Dog

My biggest house sitting fear was realized this month when I let Yumi off-lead (a lead is a leash, for you fellow Americanos) and she wouldn’t come back. She never ran away, persay, but she refused to come close enough to me so that I could clip her back on. It was like a 2-hour-long game of tag where NOTHING I tried would lure her back. Not snacks, not toys, not me walking away. The more desperation that seeped into my voice as I called out to her, the further away she’d stay. I had to enlist the help of a stranger who ultimately caught her for me – how embarrassing!

sydney house sitting
Yumi is equal parts cute and evil!

Double-Booked For House Sits

I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought it would be ok to take 2 overlapping sits (I had agreed to them before last month’s fiasco), but it was SO not worth the hassle. I originally thought I could bring one dog to the other dog’s house and they could play together, but they proved me very wrong the first night when they wrestled nonstop as I tried to sleep. From that point on, I had to keep these two dogs separate. I based myself at one house and would wake up early each morning to run over to the other house (20 mins away) to feed and play with the dog, then return in the evening for Round 2. I logged about 8 miles on foot each day and got hardly anything done apart from puppy minding.

sydney sunset

What’s Next in September 2016

What’s next? I’ll tell you what’s next: BEACHES. Starting with a 2.5 week house sit in Sydney, where I’ll be watching a cat(!!!!!) and staying just a 10 minute walk from Coogee Beach. I am over-the-moon excited for kitty cuddles and beach photoshoots, especially after being landlocked with a bunch of dogs all winter.

And then on the 18th I’m off to the Philippines! You guys, I haven’t been this excited for a trip in a really long time. I’ve actually done loads of research and planning for this one and can tell you that September will see me getting my advanced diving certification on Malapascua, and doing every water-based activity under the sun on Siargao (including finally learning how to surf!). I’m basically going to be spending 3 straight weeks island hopping in the Philippines before retreating to Manila to get slightly more serious (and clothed) for TBEX in October. It’ll be my first-ever travel blogging conference, eek!