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Me, Elijah Wood and a few thousand of our closest friends

February 21, 2010

Sydney, Australia:

Who needs a continental breakfast, television and air conditioning when you’re only paying $20 a night to sleep in the heart of the city? Not I! 😉

On the train from Melbourne to Sydney

Despite having been here before, seeing the Opera House and Harbour Bridge again yesterday took my breath away. Nothing confirms that you’re actually IN Australia like those two sights.

The Botanical Gardens is still my favorite part of the city. A quiet, beautiful park in which to meander for hours, it’s the perfect place to spend a scorching summer afternoon. Tons of flower and trees, shaded benches, ornate fountains and… literally millions of bats living in the trees.

You’d think that bats would be quiet in the middle of the day, peacefully hanging upside-down and bothering no one. You’d be wrong. These flying rats were going crazy flying in circles, swooping low to the ground and then flapping their wings for a higher branch. A few people lay under the bat-infested trees but I stayed far, far away.

How does Elijah Wood figure into all of this? Last night was Sydney’s 18th annual TropFest. What was originally a small film fest held in a Sydney club is now the world’s largest short film festival, held in the Domain. Think Central Park and movies under the stars. Tens of thousands (100,000?) people brought blankets, picnic dinners and lawn chairs to enjoy 16 short films under the stars.

Each year, the festival has several celebrity judges – in the past, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Naomi Watts have been among the judges. This year, there were a few Aussie celebs I didn’t know but also hometown favorite Toni Collette (who got the biggest cheer) and Elijah Wood.

Sandy and Stephanie enjoying TropFest

Okay, so I couldn’t actually see him but thank God for the Jumbotron. 😉

After watching the first half, we split early to see the tail-end of the Chinese New Year parade. It was a huge spectacle with tons of acrobats, dancers and performers. Somehow we missed the fireworks over Darling Harbour, though.

Budget travelers: if you’re staying in the same place for a while, grocery shopping is an easy way to save money. It’s expensive eating out daily but a big bag of groceries including carrots, tomatoes, hummus, beans, a cucumber, pasta and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables ran me under $13 AUD. Sure, restaurants are fun and yummy but if your hostel has a kitchen (or even not), cooking in or packing lunches helps reduce costs.

How do you save money while on vacation?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2010 11:13 pm

    The Botanical gardens sound (and look) mighty pretty. I love finding natural areas on vacations.

    How do I save money on trips? Hmmmm…to be honest, my strategy involves not using my own money and just using my mom’s, but that’s probably not really a legitimate tip…

  2. February 21, 2010 11:48 pm

    GORGEOUS pics! i’m so sad that you haven’t been able to locate awesome fresh summer fruits yet, i hope you find some soon!

  3. February 21, 2010 11:56 pm

    australia is a place i realllly want to go tosome day. so gorgeous.thx for the info

    🙂 also, i have changed my website, i’m now at


  4. February 22, 2010 12:53 am

    Wow you can’t beat $20/night! Did you plan to go when the festival was on or did it just happen that way?

    Seeing as how I’ve only gone to see family I save $ staying with them.

  5. Susan permalink
    February 22, 2010 8:23 am

    TropFest sounds so fun. I’d love to go to Austrailia. And yeah, most of my money-saving tips come to down to pinching pennies on food. I pack snacks where-ever I go. Those bottled waters and little treats add up! I like to save my $$ for a few nice meals.

  6. Emma permalink
    February 22, 2010 8:47 am

    Oh man, the Botanical Gardens were my favorite part of Sydney too. And those bats! I thought they only came out at night! That’s just crazy…

    On saving money, buying groceries and packing snacks is definitely smart. If you have an ISIC card, that will save you money on transportation, hostels, attractions and even some restaurants. And keep looking out for free museums, events and such, those are often the most fun and interesting things to do anyways!

  7. February 22, 2010 8:58 am

    Aww, by the title I thought you actually got to meet him! Too bad 😦

    I love Toni Collette. She’s fantastic!

  8. February 22, 2010 9:26 am

    Wonderful pics! Glad you’re having a great time!
    I try to save money by eating relatively simple breakfasts and lunches (if I can buy cereal or fruit I will). And then I treat myself to exciting and more expensive dinners.
    Take care!

  9. Lauren Effron permalink
    February 22, 2010 1:53 pm

    Tropfest sounds amazing! So glad you’re having a good time. BTW, had dinner at Simone and Allie’s the other night. We all miss you!

  10. February 22, 2010 3:08 pm

    Wow! Sydney looks amazing (how can the sky and water be SO blue?) and I can’t wait to read more….

  11. louisianagrown permalink
    February 22, 2010 8:11 pm

    We never go on vacations where we have to fly, so we always bring lots of groceries from home and cook most of our meals there. It’s so much cheaper, and usually healthier too!

  12. February 22, 2010 9:25 pm

    I always research what there is to do for free! And, I am the biggest fan of eating from the street (like whatever kind of carts I can find) Yum!

  13. February 23, 2010 11:10 am

    In Sydney and just 20$?? Oh yes, i agree with you, for that price Who needs a continental breakfast, television and air conditioning ? Not I!


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