Explore Sydney Like a Local

Explore Sydney Like a Local

Explore Sydney Like a Local

This guest post about Sydney, Australia has been written by Shane as a part of “Explore Like a Local” series. Explore Like a Local is an initiative by Drifter Planet to help you get insider tips about destinations all over the world. Want to write about your hometown? Contact me!

Introducing Sydney

Ah, Sydney, Australia. It’s not all quirky accents and deadly animals! Bask in the weather, the beaches, the friendly people, and the laid-back lifestyle. With a unique diversity in people, food, and nature. You find the urban metropolis and the ocean at the same time. From lush, rain-forests to the dry, red outback. A chill cafe scene and a vibrant night life. What’s not to love?

Suggested reading: Explore Sydney in a weekend

Enjoying Sydney's sunny weather at Observatory Hill with a view of the Harbour

Enjoying Sydney’s sunny weather at Observatory Hill with a view of the Harbour

Suggested post: A Hipster’s Guide to Amsterdam-Noord – Amsterdam’s coolest neighborhood  

Where to stay in Sydney 

If you’re a luxury traveler, you should totally check out this post that has a list of the most amazing 5 star hotels in Sydney. For budget travelers, Bondi Beach Eco Garden is a green, earth-friendly option with hip art-deco vibes and just across the street from Bondi Beach!

The hostels here are clean and well kept. I’ve had several friends stay in them with no problem. Stay right in the middle of the city, close to all the action at Sydney Central YHA Hostel for just $36 AUD/night.

Things to do in Sydney

Sydney boast over 200 beaches, each offering their own unique spin. With at least nine warm months out of the year (October to May) and easy accessibility via ferry or bus from the city, you have plenty of time to explore them all and find a favorite of your own. If you’re visiting the city for a short time, check out this post with a list of things to do in Sydney in 2 days.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk– 2.5 hours. This six kilometer walk reveals five Sydney beaches (Coogee, Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama, Bondi) and stunning views of cliffs, waves, bays, rock pools, and even a 19th century cemetery. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and expect to spend 1.5-2.5 hours depending on how many pictures you stop for along the way.

Blue Mountains, Sydney - Explore like a Local

Blue Mountains, Sydney – Explore like a Local

The Blue Mountains are a gorgeous sight which you can reach by train or coach bus. Be sure to leave early and plan for an entire day as it’s 2-2.5 hours out of the city.

If you are a wine-o like myself, you will love the Hunter Valley region. Two hours from the city, it is worth the trip to see the beautiful rolling hills and try the boutique wines you won’t find at a supermarket!

Suggested post: Achill Island, Ireland – Unbelievably Beautiful Island Destination on the Wild Atlantic Way  

One thing I really regret missing is the fireworks over Sydney Harbour for New Years Eve. If you aren’t here during that time, a beautiful firework display is put on every Saturday at 8pm over Darling Harbour.

If you visit at the end of May or beginning of June. you can’t miss Vivid, a unique festival that lights up the entire city in vivid colors for three weeks a mesmerizing free public exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures, a cutting edge contemporary music program and the spectacular illumination of the Sydney Opera House sails.

Street art in Sydney - Explore like a local

Street art in Sydney – Explore like a local

Not a huge fan of museums, but the street art tucked into the suburbs is amazing!  Check out Newtown, Erskinville, and Sydney University Graffiti tunnel.

Apart from the above mentioned things, you can also check out this post about what do do in Sydney when it rains.

What to eat in Sydney and where

Looking for dinner with a view? The Boathouse offers several beach side locations with a bit of everything – fresh market flowers,, deli style food + cheeses, delicious breakfast, good coffee with quirky designs.

O Bar and Quay offer charming views of the harbour but prepare to pull out your wallet.

Looking for a taste of Australia? Visit The Australian Hotel for the Coat of Arms Pizza topped with kangaroo and emu. Australia is the only country which eats their national animals!

Looking for a sweet treat? Cow & Moon Gelato in Newtown You must try this award winning mouth-watering almond affogato gelato! It combines caramelised almonds sourced from Italy with single origin coffee on a Madagascan vanilla base. A salty sweet dream.

King Street in Newtown is filled with ethnic foods galore. Try Thai at Thai Patong, Turkish at Yenikoys, Italian at Pastizza Bar. With over 100 restaurants including Japanese, Vietnamese,  soul food and more, you’re sure to find a favorite!

What to avoid in Sydney

To blend in with the locals, I recommend strolling through the suburbs of Newtown, Surry Hills, and Darlinghurst and steer clear of Kings Cross at night (the red light district)

There are great markets in Bondi, Paddington, Glebe, and the Rocks on a weekend filled with food, clothing, and more!

Harbour Bridge Climb, Sydney - Explore like a a Local

Harbour Bridge Climb, Sydney – Explore like a a Local

The ultimate tourist activity is to Sydney from above with the Harbour Bridge Climb (warning, it runs around $250 but you can do the sample version by climbing the bottom arch to save a buck)

Best way to get around in Sydney

View from Mrs Mcquaries Point of Sydney Harbour

View from Mrs Mcquaries Point of Sydney Harbour

Sydney has an amazing public transport system. Grab an Opal card (for free!) at a local convenient store to get discounts on fares. Expect each trip to be $2-4 AUD.  Ferries are $6 each way. After 8 trips in a week, the rest are free. This can be used on trains, buses, ferries, and light rails!

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Explore Sydney Like a local

Explore Sydney Like a local

Shane is an American expat who got her first full time across the globe in Sydney. Ever since then, the travel bug has hit at full force. Next stop? An 18-country Eurotrip this summer!

Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Shane

Travel Blogger, Sea Salt Secrets

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Explore Almería (Spain) Like a Local

Explore Almería (Spain) Like a Local

Explore Almería (Spain) Like a Local

This guest post about Almería, Spain has been written by Sonja Thomson as a part of “Explore Like a Local” series. It’s where many scenes of Game of Thrones season 6 were shot for Dorne & Dothraki Sea! Explore Like a Local is an initiative by Drifter Planet to help you get insider tips about destinations all over the world. Want to write about your hometown? Contact me!

Introducing Almería, Spain

The statue of San Cristóbal, The Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

The statue of San Cristóbal, The Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

Almería is in the South East corner of Spain, and it’s a city than can be forgotten amongst the abundance of places to see in Andalusia. It has way too much to see to be at the bottom of the list though. The Alcazaba, an ancient fortress, watches over the winding streets of the old town, and there are countless restaurants to enjoy proper tapas in the sun.

 

Playa Zapillo – Beach in Almería, Spain

Playa Zapillo – Beach in Almería, Spain

The city itself has a beach, but if you have the time and means to get out of town, then you can explore the gorgeous bays in Cabo de Gata National Park, or take in the other worldly landscape of the Tabernas Desert, the only one in Europe and the location of countless film sets since the 1960s. A little further away (4-5 hours drive) is Valencia, another famous beach destination in Spain. Check this post for information about what to do in Valencia.

Suggested: Italy Tour Packages

Where to stay in Almería on a budget

View from the Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

View from the Alcazaba, Almería, Spain

There are more private rooms and hotels to be found around the city, rather than dorm room hostels. Living in Almería is fairly cheap, and my friend and I can afford a 3 bedroom house for the two of us so we have friends and family stay with us. It means many people have spare rooms they let out too, so Airbnb is great option, or couchsurfing!

Things to do in Almería

Charming Almería, Spain

Charming Almería, Spain

The obvious things to visit in Almería are the Alcazaba, the Cathedral and the beach. My favorite thing to do is find a great cafe or bar and relax and chat with friends. No one’s in a rush in Spain, and they don’t mind if you send hours sitting there! You can check out my top ten things to do in Almería for more ideas.

Cabo de Gata Beach, Spain

Cabo de Gata Beach, Spain

For something a bit different, under the streets of Almería there are tunnels and rooms that were built to shelter the residents in the Spanish Civil war. In the late 1930s the city of Almería was subject to a number of bombings. Now you can visit part of these tunnels on a small tour. Although the tour is only in Spanish, it’s worth reading up on beforehand and experiencing anyway. Plus it’s only €3! Just be sure to book in advance.

What to eat in Almería (and Where)

In southern Spain you can’t really go past the tapas. I hardly ever eat a full meal out, because the tapas here come free with your drink and you can choose extras for a cheaper price than a full meal! The beauty of tapas in Almería is that you choose from a list, unlike in some other cities where you get what you’re given. Since Almería is near the sea there are a lot of fresh seafood options, and the Jamon Iberico (ham) is really delicious too.

Delicious Tapas at La Consentida, Almería, Spain

Delicious Tapas at La Consentida, Almería, Spain

My favourite places are Cyrano, La Mala, and El Vino en un Barco, which are all located within the central city. They all serve great tapas with great service. Cyrano is more of a European style cafe with meals, some fusion style tapas and delicious cakes. They also have Jazz and movie evenings.

La Mala is a funky small corner bar with some of my favorite tapas in Almería with different flavors and a bit of spice, something hard to find in Spain! Their specialty is all kinds of tortillas and if you order of the menu you can also sit in the upstairs space.

Food market in Almería, Spain

Food market in Almería, Spain

El Vino en un Barco has more traditional meat and cheese tapas with a few other tempting options like an apple empanada, or falafel tapa. They also have amazing carrot cake and an extensive cocktail list. Ask for something not on the list and the staff are happy to make it up for you!

One thing to remember in Spain is that eating times differ from what many of us are used to. Lunch is usually a late affair around 2-4 pm, and then kitchens close before opening again from around 8.30 pm.

What NOT to do in Almería

There’s not really anything to avoid here, it’s all up to personal preference! Some areas of the city are not as nice as others, but it’s a small city and you don’t need to be as hyper aware of your belongings as in Madrid and Barcelona.

The main thing to be aware of is siesta time. Many stores close between 2 and 5 or sometimes even 6 pm. In the summer it’s so hot at this time you’ll probably want to take a siesta too, but if you have plans it’s best to check the opening times of the places you want to go so you’re not disappointed!

Best way to get around in Almería

All of the main sites in Almería city are within walking distance which makes things very easy. I’d recommend staying in the central city for closer dining and shopping options, although the beach isn’t far and has some lovely restaurants along the promenade. If you’re not up to walking, taking a cab between top sites is very cheap, around 5 Euros.

To get out of Almería to the Tabernas or Cabo de Gata it’s best to hire a car from the bus station or airport. It’s not too expensive and usually at least one company will have a deal on. There’s so much to see within a couple of hours of the city that you can go out for a day and return, or spend a few days driving around Almería province.

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Cabo de Gata Beach, Almería, Spain - Explore Like a Local
Explore Almería, Spain Like a Local
Delicious Tapas at La Consentida, Almería, Spain - Explore Like a Local

Sonja is a perpetual expat who has lived in numerous countries including the US, Canada, UK, Australia and has based herself in Spain since January 2016. Originally from New Zealand, but with many “second homes”, she blogs about her adventures, experiences, and misadventures while travelling and living abroad.

Follow her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Sonja

Travel Blogger, Migrating Miss

Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

This guest post about Edinburgh, Scotland has been written by Gemma Armit of Two Scots Abroad as a part of “Explore Like a Local” series. Explore Like a Local is an initiative by Drifter Planet to help you get insider tips about destinations all over the world. Want to write about your hometown? Contact me!

Introducing Edinburgh, Scotland

Cobbled streets, haunted walks, and a three-week long festival of jokes – the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, is more than just a pretty place. Enriched in history, shopping galore, food and drink, and waters on the shore, Edinburgh has something for every type of traveler and it is one of the bucket list worthy places to visit in the UK.

Edinburgh is just one of the many places to visit in Scotland. Ever heard of the spectacular North Coast? Check out this guide to driving the NC500 driving the north coast 500 in a motorhome.

Where to stay in Edinburgh on a budget

Approach Edinburgh hostels with caution! I have stayed in one that resembles and crack den and others that act like a revolving door for backpackers, just a bed in a busy city. Expect to pay around £10, do a bit a research beforehand. Check out these hostels:

  1. Budget Backpackers
  2. Kick Ass Hostels

Things to do in Edinburgh

There are many things to do in Edinburgh and some of them are absolutely free. Traditionally, tourists flock to the top of the Royal Mile in the Old Town to see our historical Edinburgh Castle which sits proudly on top of an extinct volcano. Listen out for the One O’Clock Gun which shoots every day bar Sunday (and Christmas or Good Friday).

Edinburgh Castle Canon - Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Edinburgh Castle Canon – Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

A comfortable walk down the Royal Mile will take to you Holyrood, where the devolved Scottish Parliament lives. A hike up Arthur’s Seat is a great way to blow the cobwebs away and offers the best views of the city.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh Scotland - Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Scotland – Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

The Old Town does not sleep for three weeks in August during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and again on the 31st of December when we celebrate ‘Hogmanay’ aka New Year’s Eve! However, Edinburgh is not just about the Old Town! Leith, in the New Town is home to lots of lovely restaurants, cafes, and bars. Check out this detailed guide about free things to do in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Fringe Scotland - Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Edinburgh Fringe Scotland – Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Where to eat in Edinburgh

My favorite restaurant in Edinburgh isn’t actually Scottish; it’s Thai! You won’t find the national food of Scotland, haggis, at Ting Thai Caravan but you will sample mouth-watering beer battered prawns and tofu options! Personally, I prefer to socialize in Leith as it’s less touristy and more ‘real life’. There is a joke in Edinburgh that you probably won’t meet any Scottish people in the city, as it is saturated with tourists! On a Thursday or Sunday night check out the live band huddled around the fire in the cute, Carriers Quarters or if you are lucky enough to be in Edinburgh on the weekend, hit up the Port ‘o Leith for some dancing on the bar, it’s an Edinburgh institution!

Leith, Edinburgh Scotland - Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Leith, Edinburgh Scotland – Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

What to avoid in Edinburgh

The Grass Market in Edinburgh is a bit of a tourist trap. Lots of backpackers ask me if I’ve been to The Three Sisters, and the answer is yes, unfortunately! If you were looking to hang out with hen and stag (bachelorette and bachelor) parties then this would be your go to, not my style! Pretty much any of the restaurants on the Royal Mile are not going to be the friendliest on a traveler’s budget!

Best way to get around in Edinburgh

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Scotland - Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Scotland – Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Look down! Yes, it’s your feet! We do have a public bus system (no change given), a hop on / off tourist bus, and now a swanky new tram system, which will take you to the city center from the airport. We do have tuk-tuks! Usually found whizzing up and down the mean streets full of drunks on a Friday and Saturday night!

 

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Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

Explore Edinburgh Like a Local

We, Gemma and Craig (Two Scots Abroad) have downed tools as teacher and tradesman in Scotland and are travelling around the Americas and Europe on an 18 month career break. Join us we ski in B.C, hike volcanoes in Nicaragua, and party in Portugal! Our hometown is just ‘over the water’ from Edinburgh (Fife). I was living in Edinburgh when we first started dating; our first date was at an Edinburgh bar chosen specially because it had a jukebox! Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that the bar had shut down so had to move on, thankfully not a reflection on our relationship (or now marriage!). Join us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Gemma and Craig

Two Scots Abroad

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Explore Penang (Malaysia) Like a Local

Explore Penang (Malaysia) Like a Local

Explore Penang (Malaysia) Like a Local

This guest post about Penang, Malaysia has been written by Vivian Lee as a part of “Explore Like a Local” series. Explore Like a Local is an initiative by Drifter Planet to help you get insider tips about destinations all over the world. Want to write about your hometown? Contact me!

Introducing Penang, Malaysia

Penang has long been recognized as a world-class food paradise, the Penang cuisine is heavily influenced by the Peranakan culture (Baba and Nyonya), same goes to another historic port in Malaysia — Malacca. Penang was also featured in various major media, earning the title of “2nd best city in the world to retire in” and “4th best cities to visit by Lonely Planet”. What’s the hype all about you asked? Well, you have to come here to experience it all yourself: food, culture, heritage, history, people and Penang hospitality! Penang surely will not disappoint.

Where to stay in Penang on a budget

There are a lot of budget hostels all over Georgetown, you will never run short of selections. Price ranges from RM20 to RM40 per night. I highly recommend Red Inn right opposite to Guang Yin Ting temple because it is near to major attractions and it is along the route of the free CAT bus. but really, anywhere is fine. Cost of a bed in the dormitory is around USD 5 and a double room costs USD 11. Click here to book Red Inn.
Click here to see hotels in Penang

 

Georgetown Penang, Malaysia

Georgetown Penang, Malaysia

Things to do in Penang, Malaysia

Let’s talk about touristy things to do first: 

01 | Murals and street art in Georgetown: it is touristy but really, a lot of locals do this too. Rent a bike and hunt down all the street arts in Georgetown. You will be given a “Mural Map” when picking up your bike.

02 | Cafes in Georgetown: A lot of cafes with creative themes start budding out around Georgetown since 2014. I’ll tell you some of my favorite: Moon Tree cafe and Mugshot cafe on Jalan Muntri and China House on Lebuh Pantai.

03 | Pagoda Kek Lok Si: One of the most important iconic building of Penang (other than Komtar), this is a Buddhist Temple built on a hill. You’ll have to “hike” a path linedwith souvenir stalls to get to the temple.

 

Kek Lok Si temple, Penang, Malaysia

Kek Lok Si temple, Penang, Malaysia

 

04 | Penang Hill: Come here to take in an unobstructed vista of the city! When you are coming down, try to snag a seat in the first compartment of the cable car and imagine you’re on a rollercoaster.

Others: Snake temple, Botanical Garden, Fort Cornwallis, Gurney Drive and many more.

Off the beaten path: 

01 | Take the historical ferry across the Straits of Malacca and visit Butterworth, where good street food can be found in Raja Uda and the best seafood can be found at Pantai Bersih.

02 | Take a Rapid to the north end of the island, Teluk Bahang where you need to trek for 2 hours to reach Pantai Kerachut and the meromictic lake.

Looking for more information? Check out this list of 25 things to do in Penang.

What to eat in Penang (and where)

Assam laksa (Thick rice noodle bathed in spicy sour fish soup, topped with a generous amount of raw vegetables), best in Air Itam Pasar

Food in Penang, Malaysia

Food in Penang, Malaysia

Hokien Mee (Prawn Mee with spicy red pork broth), best at Chew Jetty Cafe

Cendol (Green worm-like rice flour jelly served with shaved ice together with a delightful coconut milk+ palm sugar mixture.), best at Penang Street.

Delicious Cendol in Penang, Malaysia

Delicious Cendol in Penang, Malaysia

Char Koey Teow (Flat noodles fried on old-school charcoal stove, topped with prawns and bloody cockles), best at Lorong Selamat

Baba Nyonya Kuih (cute colorful Peranakan sweets), you can get it anywhere (all equally good).

Learn more about Penang Street Food on the blog Miss HappyFeet.

What to avoid in Penang

I can’t say that it is a tourist trap but personally, I’d advise my couch surfers to skip the food at Gurney Drive and head to Macalister Road instead. Don’t get me wrong, Gurney Drive is great, it is an amazing place to soak up the vibes in Penang, but I personally think that the Macalister road food court serves better food.

Best way to get around in Penang

The CAT bus is definitely the best way to go around Georgetown, it is convenient and not to mention, free. If you are getting out of Georgetown, take a Rapid bus.

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Explore Penang (Malaysia) Like a Local

Explore Penang (Malaysia) Like a Local

I am an average Malaysian girl born and raised in Penang, battling a chronic disease of itchy feet. The only cure for it is to keep exploring. In 2012, I moved 4500 miles away from Malaysia to Russia for my education but I often think about my hometown, especially when I’m hungry. Currently, I am a full-time student, part-time online magazine contributor, magazine columnist, and freelance writer. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Vivian Lee

Miss HappyFeet

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