What is Happiness & Things? It’s relaxing stays in hotels, decadent meals and divine desserts, and travel, travel, travel. The woman behind is all is Silke Elzner, a Sydney local who loves to write about all the things that make living in the city and Australia so fantastic.
Silke works during the week and travels whenever she can during weekends and breaks, so we thought she would be a great person to ask about her experiences in a quick interview.
What’s the number one travel experience on your bucket list?
It might surprise you, but I don’t really have a bucket list! For me it’s not about ticking off a list – instead, I see life as a journey, following a path with lots of twists and turns. How would I know where life will lead me next year? I’m quite relaxed about it and grateful for any experience that I might encounter.
How do you make travel fun for both you and the kids?
Everybody will agree that travelling with kids is totally different from travelling just with your partner or on your own. You have to factor in their needs, and be prepared to make compromises. It requires more planning and more checking out destinations before you go, because this is how my kids work. They are not as spontaneous or as happy to take risks, and they want playgrounds and ice-cream over castles and museums. It’s a different pace, a different set of priorities – but that’s ok. I firmly belief in family travel, and as long as you are aware of this you can plan accordingly and avoid frustration. It is the cornerstone of my childhood memories. And yes, it might be more challenging to travel with kids, but at the end of the day this is when you form strong bonds and create memories that will last a lifetime.
If you only had 24 hours to visit Sydney, what would you do with your time?
I love to experience a city on foot. With just one day to spare I would stick close to the city centre to visit the major sights: The Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Botanic Gardens. I would lose myself in the narrow laneways of The Rocks and check out the small boutiques and restaurants there, explore the exotic flavours of Chinatown, take the kids to see one of the attractions in Darling Harbour such as WildLife World or Madame Tussaud’s. And perhaps take the ferry in the evening for some cocktails in Manly!
What’s your favourite long-weekend road trip you can take from Sydney?
My favourite road trip would take you to the Southern Highlands where you will find a string of historic villages such as Bowral and Mittagong. Many people don’t realise how beautiful the gardens are up there, which is largely thanks to a different climate to Sydney. Many people will open their private gardens for a small fee, and it really is a worthwhile investment.
From there take the route towards the coast through Kangaroo Valley – it’s Australian countryside at its finest. Who knows, you might even see a kangaroo or two? But do make sure you stop at Fitzroy Falls. The township of Berry is perfect for a pitstop, with lots of quaint restaurants and pubs lining the main street. Kiama on the coast is the perfect place to stay for a night or two. Visit the famous blowhole and the lighthouse, check out the pelicans and enjoy a seafood dinner by the sea.
What has been your favourite road trip ever?
Starting from Sydney we drove all the way to the western part of the country to Broken Hills, then returned via a southern route through Mildura. It was a week-long trip – you mustn’t underestimate distances in Australia! I think the reason why it was such a memorable trip was because we were still fairly new to the country, and so the remoteness of the outback, the strangeness of our environment, the special character of the people living in these tiny communities were really special to us.
Driving for hours on end, no mobile reception, with the sky in front of us in all its glory – that was simply priceless. We went underground into an opal mine, visited the ghost town, stopped at tiny rural museums, and looked at the history of sheep shearing. The outback is a wonderful place to experience a very different side of Australia, and I can warmly recommend spending some time in a car outside the cities to experience this special place and its people.