If you never thought one single recipe could take you all over the world, I’m here to tell you otherwise. Last year, I won a trip to Australia after my savory truffle flan won a recipe competition in NY. I was stunned and shocked. Three weeks in the land down under, on the other side of the world? Me? Yes! My flan, one I came up with after attending a three day festival on all things truffles, impressed an Australian celebrity chef enough to garner me a nice vacation. And it was epically awesome, starting in Melbourne. I went at the tail end of summer and they happened to be experiencing a painful heat wave, reaching 103F. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying an amazing time.
If you’re making plans to travel way over there, you’re probably familiar with some of the travel requirements and have basic knowledge of what to expect. That said, here are ten tips from my experience.
1. Stay for at least two weeks. You’re traveling a very long distance (it’s a 21-hour trip, if you’re on the east coast!), probably in economy class, unless you’re able to dish out $8k for a 1st class seat; so you really want to make the best out of your time there. Consider that two days will be taken up just flying to and from.
2. Melbourne and Sydney are must-see cities for way too many reasons to state here. The beaches in Sydney are one good reason.
3. Attend the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in March, entering its 22nd year in 2015, and learn things about tomatoes you never know. If you attend the three-week long festival, make sure to attend their coffee sessions, because…
4. Australians take their coffee very seriously. Their coffee culture is more intense than our obsession with burgers, the Super Bowl, and Facebook, combined. Before ordering anywhere—mostly boutique coffee houses—know the difference between a long black and a flat white. You will get a blank stare if you order a skinny vanilla latte. Trust me.
5. Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, about an hour and half drive from Melbourne.
6. Go koala and kangaroo viewing in the wild with Echidna Walkabout. Their tour guides will make your experience super-memorable. You’ll see koalas hugging the same tree for 12-17 hours until they’re ready to descend and trek to their posts.
7. Visit the Sydney Zoo, one of prettiest zoos I’ve seen, with giraffes towering 50 feet and red kangaroos totally unfazed by your stare. The view of the Harbour Bridge is worth the $40 USD entrance fee.
8. Go cockling in Adelaide, a country town about three hours’ flight from Melbourne. They have amazing beaches where catching the shellfish is an after school play time activity.
9. Take 20 selfies at the Sydney Opera House and FaceTime your family and friends from there. There’s free wi-fi all around the steps of the famed art center.
10. Take a wine country day trip/tour and hop around various vineyards in Yarra Valley. You will be so impressed with the variety in Shirazes. You’ll even taste Pinot grapes directly from the vine, and enjoy nibbling on cheese while tasting the wines. You’ll want an extra suitcase just to bring home some exquisite bottles you probably won’t find in the US.
There are about 100 other things you can do in two weeks in Australia, but if it’s your first time visiting, you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice by not engaging in these 10 activities!
Bren is a Latin-fusion private chef and avid world traveler, always looking for the next best adventure. As a writer, she documents her own food experiences with her camera and notepad and then shares on her blog, Flanboyant Eats. You can also check out her lifestyle and fashion expertise on her blog B So Chic!