Day 4: Taronga Zoo {Australia 2015}

Note: Most links in the post will direct you to our reviews of the places. Links to all related/previous posts are at the bottom of this post.

We were still a little tired from traveling, but we were ready for a day at the zoo. It was a ferry ride away, so that added to the adventure!

Travel by Ferry
The ferry ride was actually only about 12 minutes long. We got to see the sights that we will be visiting through the week.

Taronga Zoo
After we got off the ferry, we took the Sky Safari into the zoo. The timing was not quite right for us because we were planning on taking the direct path all the way around the zoo, and that would mean missing a lot of the shows and feedings that were taking place. We did get to go to the Reptile Keeper Talk. It was pretty informative. We ended up leaving a little early because it was SO informative. 😝 Beware of fast-moving ants. They were everywhere!! If you are taking a break to drink some water or eat a snack, make sure to look before you sit anywhere!!

The Fish Stop
We decided to get some food at The Fish Stop. I wonder if it is strategically located halfway on the path around the zoo. It was pretty hot out at this time and the exhibits are fairly spread out, so we definitely needed to stop. It was also when everyone else needed to stop too. The Fish Stop was packed. The food was decent, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you brought your own lunch and found a non-crowded area to sit and eat. Also, watch out for the big birds. We saw one take food from a neighboring table.

Return by Ferry
It was nice to finally sit down and enjoy the breeze on the ferry ride back to Circular Quay.

Goshu Ramen Tei
For dinner, we picked up some Japanese food from a nearby restaurant. Check out our review HERE.

The highlight of our day was seeing all the animals that we don’t see at the zoos in the United States. It was interesting to learn new things about the world around us!

Click on the link to view the DAY 4 ALBUM.

Related Posts:
Traveling with Kids | Australia Trip 2015 Recap | Aussie Lingo
Day 1: OAK to HNL | Day 2: HNL to SYD | Day 3: St. Philip’s & MCA Cafe

Day 3: St. Philip’s & MCA Cafe {Australia 2015}

Note: Most links in the post will direct you to our reviews of the places. Links to all related/previous posts are at the bottom of this post.

We were all super excited about our first full day in Sydney that we woke up at 3a.m. Just kidding, it was jet lag. (3a.m. is 8a.m. in California) But excitement wasn’t too far behind. 😜 We found out that we wouldn’t need an alarm while we were here. Little Aiden was pretty good at giving us a wake-up call at 6a.m. that day and most of the days to follow. We didn’t mind because it gave us a chance to get going on our day and explore! Since we flew into the future, we didn’t really get to experience Saturday. It was Sunday and time for church! We found out that sultana bread (aka raisin bread) would be a favorite breakfast item for the girls.

Observatory Hill Park
We had some time before church, so we walked to Observatory Hill Park. It has an amazing view of Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge. Apparently, there is a cycling path, so make sure to watch for cyclists on your way there.

St. Philip’s Church/Church Hill Anglican – 10:15am service
It was nice and sunny on our morning walk, but it started to rain! Luckily, we were right across the street from the church by then. We enjoyed a nice church service while the girls headed off to Kids Church. St Philip’s is the oldest Parish in Australia. Their first service was held in 1788. (And thanks to CC, the girls knew that the following year George Washington became the first president of the United States. It was neat to see them connect what was happening in Australia and America around the same time. We had many learning moments through our trip.) Hillsong also visited this church –> Forever Reign. After service, we went to pick the girls up and Emily didn’t want to leave. They had the same lesson about the lepers at our own church a few weeks ago, and they even played the same game.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cafe
By this time, it had cleared up. We made our way over to the Museum of Contemporary Art Cafe for lunch. Again, super great view of the harbor. We only got to see the bridge from here since there was a huge cruise ship docked in front of the Sydney Opera House. The food tasted very fresh and was yummy! Check out our review HERE.

Circular Quay
Circular Quay (pronounced Key) is the hub of Sydney Harbour. It is located at the foot of the central business district and the older, historic end of the city. The bus station, major railway station, and ferry terminals are here to take you on many adventures! There are plenty of cafes, street performers, and accommodations all in one central spot.

After our adventures, Melody would sit and sketch a picture of something from the day or type in her journal about our experiences. From this balcony, we were able to watch planes coming and going. We could see fireworks going off at Darling Harbour every Saturday night (and Friday nights during Chinese New Year too!). There were ferries and party music and lots of construction (and a Porta Potty being transported by a giant construction crane) of the new buildings (which will eventually block the view from this apartment building…the new buildings, not the Porta Potty). Anyhow, going back to reflections. Melody is still editing the mini-book that she wrote about our time in Australia, but I will share once it is completed.

The highlight of our first full day in Sydney was hanging out with family.

Click on the link to view the DAY 3 ALBUM.

Related Posts:
Traveling with Kids | Australia Trip 2015 Recap | Aussie Lingo
Day 1: OAK to HNL | Day 2: HNL to SYD

Day 2: HNL to SYD {Australia 2015}

Note: Most links in the post will direct you to our reviews of the places. Links to all related/previous posts are at the bottom of this post.

So, there is not much to tell about day 2 since we spend most of it at the airport or on the plane. πŸ™‚

We ended up getting food from McDonald’s for breakfast. They have menu items that are not on the mainland menu. We had taro pie, Royal Kona Blend Coffee, and spam, eggs, Portuguese sausage, and rice. Then, we packed up and headed out. It was raining, so we quickly found a taxi. We got a chatty driver this time. Apparently, he is Don Ho’s cousin! He is a musician so he has traveled everywhere to play, even to Treasure Island in the 70s. I didn’t think it took that long to get to the airport, but we had time to hear lots of name-dropping and about his whole family.

Hawaiian Airlines
We checked in and our flight was at 11:45am. Not much excitement on the plane. We just rotated between eating, sleeping, watching, and talking. It was a super light flight…looked about half full. So apparently, all the couples without kids or singles decided to make themselves comfy by spreading out across the empty rows. :/ Estimated time of arrival was 6:46pm Sydney time.

Here were the two meals we had on our flight to Sydney.

The highlight of our flight was when we crossed the International Date Line. Even before the trip, the girls were super excited to fly into the future. 😜 Sydney is 19 hours ahead of California, which is always interesting when we were trying to figure out what day and time would be a good time to Facetime over there.

And we made it! The flight attendants handed out cards to fill out about what we’re bringing into the country, etc. with you. Little did we know that after we land, there was still a lot we had to do to get out of the airport. We had to remain seated the whole time when they came in to spray the plane. If anyone stood up, they would have to re-start the process. (More info about this whole thing HERE.)

Luckily, we were able to carry on all of our luggage and bags with us, so we didn’t have to go to baggage claim, but we did have to make a stop at the toilets to get cleaned up. The first observations the girls made in there were there were no toilet seat covers and there were two buttons for flushing. After that, we had to go through immigration/customs. (Here’s a HELPFUL LINK if you are a first time traveler.) Not sure if it’s just how it is since I’ve never traveled internationally before, but I would have guessed we looked nothing like our passport photos, because he kept looking back and forth, or we are super duper suspicious looking. Well, we finally made it through. We headed right to the Vodafone counter so we could get a SIM card for my phone. It was very simple and cheaper than adding an international plan on my phone. This would, of course, depend on how long and where you will be traveling.

It was quite warm out but we were still wearing warm clothes from being on the plane and we didn’t want to carry any extra stuff. We only had to wait a little bit for a taxi to arrive. You can ask us more about our first encounters in Sydney. 😐 We arrive in Millers Point, and ready to settle in for the night.

Click on the link to view the DAY 2 ALBUM.

Related Posts:
Traveling with Kids | Australia Trip 2015 Recap | Aussie Lingo
Day 1: OAK to HNL

Day 1: OAK to HNL {Australia 2015}

Note: Most links in the post will direct you to our reviews of the places. Links to all related/previous posts are at the bottom of this post.

Originally, we had planned to go to Hawaii for our family vacation since our 10th wedding anniversary is coming up, and it would have been ten years since we went to Kauai for our honeymoon. But we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit Australia while we have family living there! Fortunately, we got to do both since having an overnight layover in Honolulu was actually cheaper than flying directly to Sydney. And it was also super nice to have a break between flights.

Hawaiian Airlines
Since we were staying in Oahu, we flew Hawaiian Airlines, but word on the street is to take Qantas if you’re not making a stop in Hawaii. Take-off from OAK was at 9:35am, and it took 5 hours and 17 minutes to get there. Thanks to our pilots Lee (didn’t catch his first name) and Frank for getting us to HNL safely. There was turbulence almost the entire flight. Luckily, the girls didn’t even notice.

Very surprisingly, screen time for this first leg of our trip was minimal…about 20 minutes each. (This will change through the course of our trip as you will see…) They brought some books too, and I think they were just excited about their adventures to come!

We landed around 12:47pm Hawaii time. We had planned to bring all our luggage as carry-ons, but the big one was too big (for this flight only out of the six planes we were on), so we had to check that in. We waited quite awhile for a shuttle to arrive to take us to baggage claim. (It would probably have been faster to just walk there, but we didn’t see any signs directing us there.)

Hilton Hawaiian Village
We took Charley’s Taxi to Hilton Hawaiian Village. Our driver was not talkative, but told us a little about the things we can do in the area as he drove by the places. We stayed in the Ali’i Tower, where you can bypass the long lines checking in at the front, and just check into the tower.

Pronto Pickle Grab & Go and Lanikai Juice Hawaii
First order of business was the get some grub. We settled on some pizza, teriyaki yakisoba, coleslaw, and baked ham sandwich from Pronto Pickle Grab & Go and smoothies from Lanikai Juice Hawaii. Both restaurants were at our hotel. Check out our review HERE.

We headed out for some beach time. The girls decided to play at the lagoon since it meant we wouldn’t have to trek as far out to get to the water and no big waves. Surprisingly, for kids who have never taken swim lessons, they have already really enjoyed swimming pools, and the beach even more! I guess it’s time for lessons.

Wailana Coffee House
Since we had a late lunch, we also had a late dinner. It was actually super late since California is two hours ahead of Hawaii. We ate at Wailana Coffee House. So, it was actually breakfast for dinner. There was the usual breakfast foods, but with an island twist. Check out our review HERE.

Click on the link to view the DAY 1 ALBUM.

Related Posts: Traveling with Kids | Australia Trip 2015 Recap | Aussie Lingo

Aussie Lingo {Australia 2015}

DSC_1875We are still sorting through our photos, but we are excited to re-live our two weeks in the land down under through the moments we captured and will share with you. (The above photo was taken in HDR painting mode on the dSLR. It is taken from Observatory Hill Park looking out toward Darling Harbour. Sydney Harbour Bridge (where the first New Years fireworks happen) is on the right-hand side.)

If you are planning a trip to Australia (or anywhere really), I would highly suggest looking up some of their lingo beforehand. There are common words that we use here in the United States that should NOT be used in other places. A simple search for “country-you’re-traveling-to lingo” will help you avoid awkward situations in your time abroad (or in other states)!!

Of course, there are lots of sites that have more terms, but these were the common ones that we kept hearing and using through our time there:

  • elevator = lift
  • string cheese = cheesy peelers
  • ketchup = tomato sauce
  • bathrooms = toilets
  • avocado = avo
  • stroller = pram
  • popsicle = paddle pop
  • breakfast = brekkie
  • drug store = chemist shop
  • apartment = unit
  • garbage/trash can = rubbish bin
  • takeout = takeaway

Other frequently used terms:

  • Cheers
  • Mate
  • No worries
  • G’day
  • How you going?

Brand name

  • Burger King = Hungry Jack’s
  • Rice Krispies = Rice Bubbles


  • Cairns = cans
  • tomato = toe-mah-toe (short a sound)
  • basil = bah-zel
  • Circular Quay (main ferry/bus/train terminal) = circular key

Related Posts: Traveling with Kids | Australia Trip 2015 Recap

Australia Trip 2015 Recap

DSC_2620We had a super duper fun time in Australia, and we have been taking the past week to slowly adjust back to a regular routine. Before we get into sharing about our travels, we want to give a huge shoutout to Stephen, Kristi, and Aiden for being the best hosts ever! They let us invade their space for more than a week while we were in Sydney.

Below is a simple recap of our 16-day trip. Like our other trips, we love to enjoy great meals and try new foods wherever we go, so we have included some places where we ate or had takeaway (aka takeout). If no meal is indicated, we probably had a meal of “regular” food from the grocery store, McDonald’s (although they do have a different menu than the states), airplane/port food, or complimentary breakfast at our hotel. :p

Day 1 – Thursday, February 19, 2015
Hawaiian Airlines – OAK to HLN (Oahu) – 5ish hours
Hilton Hawaiian Village
Late Lunch: Pronto Pickle Grab & Go and Lanikai Juice Hawaii
Dinner: Wailana Coffee House

Day 2 – Friday, February 20, 2015/Saturday, February 21, 2015
(crossed the international date line)
Breakfast: McDonald’s
Hawaiian Airlines – HLN to SYD (Sydney) – 10ish hours

Day 3 – Sunday, February 22, 2015
St. Philip’s Anglican Church
Lunch: Museum of Contemporary Art Cafe

Day 4 – Monday, February 23, 2015
Taranga Zoo (by ferry)
Lunch: The Fish Stop (at zoo)
Dinner: Goshu Ramen Tei

Day 5 – Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Sydney Opera House
Lunch: Opera Kitchen (3-tiered tasting plate)
High Tea: The Tea Salon at Westfield Sydney
Dinner: The Terrace (Beet Burger), Pie Face (Mini Meat Pies)

Day 6 – Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Lunch: 183 Kent Street Cafe (Chicken Laksa, Spicy Fried Rice)
Trinity Avenue Playground
Snack: Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream Stand at Circular Quay
Sydney Library at Customs House

Day 7 – Thursday, February 26, 2015
Manly Beach (by ferry)
Lunch: Fishmongers Manly
Dinner: Crust Pizza

Day 8 – Friday, February 27, 2015
Lunch: Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar at Westfield Sydney
US Consulate
Darling Harbor Park

Day 9 – Saturday, February 28, 2015
Bondi Beach (by train and bus)
Breakfast: Cava
Lunch: Pompei’s Ristorante Pizzeria Gelateria

Day 10 – Sunday, March 1, 2015
Hillsong Church
Dinner: Samosorn Thai at Westfield Sydney

Day 11 – Monday, March 2, 2015
Customs House Library
Lunch: The Australian Hotel
Dinner: Hudson’s Coffee (at airport)
Virgin Australia – SYD to CNS (Cairns) – 3.5ish hours
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels Cairns

Day 12 – Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Great Barrier Reef (by catamaran)
Lunch: Tour-provided buffet
Dinner: La Pizza Trattoria Bar Cafe

Day 13 – Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Kuranda rainforest (by train and gondola lift)
Lunch: Frogs Restaurant
Dinner: Sushi Japanese Stall at Night Market

Day 14 – Thursday, March 5, 2015
Virgin Australia – CNS to SYD – 3.5ish hours

Day 15 – Friday, March 6, 2015
Sydney Harbor Bridge Pylon Lookout
Snack: Cava
Lunch: Splendid Sandwiches
Dinner: Made in Italy Pizza

Day 16 – Saturday, March 7, 2015
Featherdale Wildlife Park
Hawaiian Airlines – SYD to HNL to OAK

Whew! We will definitely never win The Amazing Race Family Edition, but we love visiting new place, trying new foods, and learning about the world. We will add links to this post as we do reviews on the restaurants and daily recaps. Have you traveled lately? Where have you been?


Traveling with Kids

???????????????????????????????Before we tell you some of our recent travel stories with all of you, I wanted to share some tips from our friends. (We’ll share our tips later on.) Norm has traveled internationally with his family, with high school choir, and with the San Francisco Boys Chorus, but this was my first time, as well as the girls’ first time, leaving the country. And we had only ever traveled short distances from home – two-hour plane ride to Seattle and nine-hour road trip to Southern California. Not only were we headed out of the country, but we were headed toward a whole different hemisphere, season, and day! While it is winter for us in California, it is summer in Australia, and they are 19 whole hours ahead of us. Luckily, we were having a layover in Hawaii, which also saved us hundreds of dollars. We only have to deal with a five-hour flight to Honolulu, and then a ten-hour flight to Sydney.

Have you traveled internationally with kids before? What are some of your top tips for traveling with kids? My friend Kat has a great podcast episode about travel.

I will tell you more later, but here’s the tips!

  • I haven’t done international, but lots of cross-country flights: pack an outfit for everyone in your carry-on. I was puked on at the beginning of a long flight and could change the kid, but not me. – AB
  • What airline are you flying? Qantas treats you well and will provide you with food and a little “comfort kit” while flying – an eye mask, a little pouch to put things in, socks I think, plenty of water. Just bring any small lap activity or book that the girls will like. You and they will be bored, but it is worth it! Definitely pack a change of clothes for everyone, and wear layers so you’ll be comfy no matter the temperature on the plane. Australia is very casual – so whatever you wear in the summer here will work. Be sure to bring your togs! Sunscreen can easily be bought there. I have no advice for jetlag except to power through it and don’t plan too much the first few days. – CM
  • I haven’t done international but plenty of cross-country. Send one parent first with as much carry-ons as possible so he/she can everything situated and the other parent can board last with the kids. Get special kid headphones for the kids. They are perfectly sized and have volume control. Pack a special carry-on for each kid with activities, special snacks, books, extra clothes, and any loveys or blankets for sleeping. Load new apps and videos onto your smartphone or tablet. Bring kids pain reliever on the plane just in case. Have fun! Sounds like it will be quite a fun adventure. Not sure if you will need this since your kids are older but I make P wear a Pull-up even though she is potty trained because once we were stuck in turbulence for almost 2 hours and the poor thing couldn’t hold it. – WF
  • If you plan on traveling separately, make sure that you have document stating that your spouse is aware of it and make sure it’s notarized. You also need to have copies of your spouse travel itinerary and hotel information. So when they ask, you will be well prepared and won’t be ask into another room for questioning. – CL
  • We’ve been traveling a lot with Nathan, then later with Kaitlyn. All I can tell you right now is to always bring all kinds of medicine with you (well, we usually traveled in countries like Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and such). It’s important to have it with you in your carry-on. Bring extra presents for your relatives just in case. I don’t think you will have a hard time traveling with your daughters (they are older and wiser). As for jetlag, just try to sleep as much as you can while flying, sleep even if you know it’s daytime where you came from. Open all windows to your hotel room and let the sunshine in. The sun usually forces your body to wake up. But if the kids are too tired, let them get as much rest as they can, just do little at first until they are sort of adjusted to the time difference. Oh, force yourselves to eat according to your destination’s time frame. Say, eat dinner even if it’s breakfast time here in the US.Β  – HJ
  • Get a headphone splitter so everyone can watch the same DVD. You can borrow the one we took to Europe. Big battery gizmo to recharge your iDevices without a plug. Anker is a good brand. – JW
  • Bring snacks that the kids like – nothing fresh that will be confiscated. – BD
  • Pack outfits in Ziploc bags. If you can find 2 gallon size they’re ideal. Pants, shirt, panties, whatever you need. Easy to grab and keep track of. – CK

More to come later!! πŸ™‚

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