When I was planning this trip at the beginning, I was only planning on attending the Great Photo Escape in NZ for 10 days + then heading home right after! But, after chatting with some friends + checking out some flights, we realized it would be crazy for us to NOT spend a little more money to hop over to Australia for a few days!! I mean, we were a 2 hour flight away from Sydney…when was that EVER going to happen again!? We realized the answer was probably never, and decided to extend our trip by 5 days so that we could explore AUS!!! SUCH a good decision on our part!!!
So, on Day 11, when almost everyone else headed home to the US, Kat, Lauren + I hopped a flight to Sydney!! I will admit, at this point in the trip, it had been over 10 days since I saw my family + Drew and I was missing them terribly. Watching all of the other attendees head home to their families knowing that I had to wait a few more days was definitely hard, but once we started going on adventures in Sydney, it made me so glad that we powered through!!! So, we’re going to pick up where we left off again!! 🙂 This post will have LOTS more iPhone photos and LESS professional images…I decided to keep my camera away a little more often on this leg of the journey so that I could really enjoy everything we were doing. BUT, I definitely still captured it all on my iPhone, so no worries!! 😉
Day 11: We had to be out of our Airbnb by 10am, so we spent a full day on airport wifi tackling some work! I caught up on emails (whew!) + did a few client gift orders before hopping our flight over to AUS! (Random tidbit: wifi in New Zealand is virtually impossible to find. And, if you find it, you almost ALWAYS have to pay for it. WEIRD, right!? So airport wifi was a BIG deal after 10 days with very limited access!!) We checked into our Sydney Airbnb right in the heart of Sydney, grabbed some dinner + passed out after another exhausting travel day! I was fully prepared for the flight with a Kit Kat bar 🙂 (BUT, Kit Kat bars are NOT the same in NZ…weird!)
Day 12: This day was SUPPOSED to be an aquarium day…but it very quickly turned into shopping day. And I am SO okay with that!!! We were warned that Sydney had some INCREDIBLE shopping and boy, we were NOT prepared for just how amazing the malls were!! There are HUGE malls around every corner full of adorable shops! And, because the US dollar gets us farther in Australia, we did some serious damage without spending tons of money!!! I got tons of gifts for my family + friends back home and ended the day by having to buy a second full-size suitcase to fit it all…oops!
My new favorite thing ever is a Starbucks Cookies & Cream frap…they ONLY have them on the menu in NZ + AUS!!! I drank way too many on this trip. See first photo below.
Day 13: ZOO DAY!!!! This day was DEFINITELY another highlight of the trip for me, and I had been looking forward to it since before we ever left!!! The thing is, we actually didn’t go to a zoo. We went to a Wildlife Reserve, which means that we could TOUCH + interact with the animals because they roamed freely throughout the park!!! AH!!! I got to play with baby kangaroos, pet wallabies, have my photo taken with a koala + see tons of adorable animals that you can only find in AUS!!! I am a HUGE animal lover, so this was a dream come true for me!!! SOOO many iPhone photos from this day!!! Once we were done at the reserve, we went back to the Airbnb, freshened up and attended the Saturday night service at HILLSONG CHURCH!!! Oh, boy. It was life-changing. The worship at this church is unlike any other + the message was absolutely amazing…I wish I could go back every weekend!! After church, we took a tram to dinner on the harbor + watched pre-Australia Day fireworks out the window while we ate!!!
I almost died of excitement.
Day 14: The LAST day of our journey!! Definitely another bittersweet day! But, we took the ferry over to Manly Beach + spent the day soaking up some sun + shopping on the harbor. This was also the day that we got to see the Sydney Opera House from the ferry-so incredible!! We grabbed some gelato for the ferry ride back, freshened up at the hotel, and I got to play dress up!!! Kat brought along some amazing pieces from Katherine Elizabeth Bridal + we did a mini-styled shoot, except this time I was the BRIDE!!! So much fun!!! More of those photos coming later!!! 🙂
Day 15: I’m comin’ home, I’m comin’ home, tell the world I’m comin’ home!!! This was our final travel day back to the US and it was LONG! We had an 11am flight from NZ to LAX (almost 14 hours in the air!!!) and then a quick 1.5 hour layover (where we sprint through customs and security!) to our 5 hour flight from LAX to DC!! Whew!!! The jet lag was REAL!! But, I arrived at the airport and was greeted by Drew who had a bouquet of roses, my favorite Chickfila meal + my favorite Tropical Smoothie in hand…all of the things I had been craving on my trip. He’s the greatest 🙂
WHEW, ya’ll, that was a crazy last few blog posts!!! If you stayed caught up this long + read all 3, you are the BEST!!! 🙂 This trip was life-changing for me, and I am so thankful for all of the memories that I made during the first month of the new year. Where are your bucket-list destinations!? I would love to hear them in the comments and maybe add a few to my own list 😉
Here are the FINAL professional images from the trip!! Mostly of more adorable animals 😉
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