A Look at What Goes into “Natural” Products & Supplements with NOW Foods (+Blogger Event Recap)

fitfluential-nowPicture from the @fitfluential Instagram

First and foremost, don’t you worry—I did not forget about the fourth and final weekly giveaway. I’m going to post it on Friday because I actually have an INCREDIBLE package from NOW Foods to include in the prize, and first wanted to share all about my trip to see the company.

On Thursday, I got the fun opportunity to travel out to the suburbs of Chicago with a group of FitFluential bloggers to attend a two-day immersion event at NOW Foods. Up until then, I associated NOW with their bright orange vitamin and supplement bottles I’d seen at health food stores, but wasn’t too familiar with the company beyond that. And as I learned, NOW doesn’t just produce supplements. They have personal care products (including essential oils—my favorite!), sports nutrition products and a wide array of foods.

hilton-indian-lakesWe stayed at the Hilton Indian Lakes in Bloomingdale and had enough downtime for me to get a little blogging work done…and practice headstands. 🙂

Honestly, my first reaction was skepticism. Would I really want to buy foods from the same company from which I was buying shampoo? But—not to sound like an infomercial—I was beyond impressed by NOW’s transparency throughout the trip and by an obvious commitment to quality they have as the foundation of everything they do. I left feeling genuinely excited to use their products.

I think part of my skepticism going into the trip is something a lot of people can relate to—a sort of subliminal association of supplements with drugs (steroids, diet pills, bad chemicals, etc.), and therefore a hesitation to accept them as “natural.” And what I really appreciated was NOW’s candidness in addressing this. I’m going to focus this post on the “natural” discussion (what does it even mean these days??) because I found it fascinating, but if you’re just interested in hearing about the blogging trip, scroll through and read the captions I’ve included underneath all the pictures. 🙂

fish-dinnerWe had a welcome dinner the first night at Glen Prairie where we got to chat with some of the NOW team. I had a delicious spinach salad and then this phenomenal salmon dish. 

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that “natural” in its perhaps purest definition (for example, an apple grown in organic soil on your family’s farm, plucked straight from the tree and eaten on the spot) isn’t always possible and realistic in today’s world. Supply can be limited, and not everyone lives close to a farm. Developments in science have provided solutions to this. And I’m in no way suggesting you eat an apple made in a laboratory (please don’t)—I am very passionate about eating organic, non-GMO products when possible. I am saying that not all food science is bad. Vitamin supplements can be a great example of this.

workout-post-smoothieFriday morning we got up bright and early for a spin class at Life Time Fitness and a quick yoga session with Amy, their Group Fitness Director. After our workout, we enjoyed some delicious cinnamon chocolate protein shakes.

I got to chat with NOW Foods CEO Jim Emme, and my first question was simply where do pill-form vitamins come from? Are they extracted from foods and plants? Are they made in laboratories? And he explained that it totally depends on the nutrient. Some can be extracted from vegetable oils, soy, fish liver oils and other mineral sources. In other cases, a nature-identical nutrient can be made in the lab. These nature-identical nutrients have the exact molecular structure to the nutrient occurring in nature—your body doesn’t know the difference. When NOW can’t use from-nature “natural” ingredients, they use these nature-identical ones in their products.

The example Jim used was vitamin C. Upwards of 95% (maybe more—I forget the exact number) of vitamin C found in supplements is manufactured in labs in China. It was weird to wrap my brain around the concept. On the one hand, swallowing a pill made in a lab in China doesn’t seem very natural. But think about eating a genetically modified orange to get a dose of vitamin C. That orange’s molecular makeup might be slightly different from an orange grown organically in nature because it’s been genetically modified. The vitamin C pill from a lab, however, is identical to the molecular make up of the vitamin C found in that organic orange. Weird to think about, right? 🙂

touring-NOW-foodsWe got a private tour of the NOW Operations Facility led by Neil E. Levin, CCD, DANLA, Nutrition Education Manager…all while dressed to impress.

Nature-identical ingredients are clearly great from a manufacturer’s standpoint (as well as a consumer’s since they help keep supply on par with our demand), but they come with a whole new set of quality assurance concerns. If I’m buying a banana at the grocery store, I know what I’m getting. Looks like a banana, smells like a banana, tastes like a banana—I’m good. But when I buy supplements, it’s not always as clear. I can’t look at a multivitamin capsule and know what’s inside based on my own personal knowledge—I have to trust that the company I’m buying from has listed exactly what’s in it on the label.

And it’s not necessarily that the company is trying to deceive you—they might have been deceived by their suppliers. Brand X, for example, doesn’t make every single ingredient in their protein powder. They might source one ingredient from a manufacturer in China, another from a supplier in California, etc., etc. Not only does NOW audit their suppliers, but their testing process is rigorous to say the least. And I was shocked to learn that detecting adulterants, synthetic hormones and steroids, and other unnatural ingredients was actually a fairly regular occurrence. It makes you appreciate the effort put into their quality assurance testing!

lunch-dr-wendy After our tour, we heading to NOW Corporate Offices to do a testing of the Ellyndale Foods oils (NOW’s high quality food label). Dr. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD then gave us a great presentation on wellness!

I thought this whole “natural” topic was super relevant given the battle between Food Babe and Science Babe that went viral recently (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you can read more here and the rebuttal here). I’m not siding with either—I think we absolutely do have a right to know what’s in our food and skincare products, but that we also shouldn’t live in fear of every ingredient or process we don’t fully understand (something I’m definitely guilty of at times!).

I saw visiting NOW as a huge opportunity for me to learn about supplements and the manufacturing of “natural” products—two areas I didn’t fully understand, and admittedly was wary of as a result. It was an excellent trip for me. Yes, I now found a brand I feel confident in, but more importantly, I just feel more knowledgeable about the business of “natural” products as a whole and better able to make informed purchasing decisions in the future. You can read more about NOW’s definition of “natural” HERE.

NOW-foods-blogger-event NOW-baking-final We ended the trip with a cooking session with Chef Suzy Singh in NOW’s Culinary Innovation Center. Everything was delicious, but the gluten-free snickerdoodle cookies especially blew my mind (and taste buds).

Since I spent this whole post yapping about “natural,” I’ll wrap up with some important points about NOW Foods. On Friday, I am giving away a MASSIVE package of their products along with some other prizes so get excited!

  • NOW was founded in 1968 by Elwood Richard and is still family-owned today by the Richards. This has been a huge factor in allowing them to stick to their core mission of providing value in products that empower people to lead healthier lives, even as the company continues to grow.
  • As part of their commitment to being “natural,” NOW does not feel GMOs belong in their products. Their foods are 100% non-GMO and so far 75% of their supplements are non-GMO Assured.
  • NOW has four major categories of products: nutritional supplements, sports nutrition, foods and personal care. I know I focused on supplements for most of this post, but guys. Their coconut infusions. So good!
  • You can connect with NOW on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. They’re also hosting a #NOWGetFit Twitter party on Tuesday, May 12 @9PM.

now-foods-swag-bag

Big thanks to FitFluential & NOW Foods–I had a great time!

What are your thoughts on the word “natural”? How would you define it? signature

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.

Traveling to Australia: The Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest & Cairns

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-39Port Douglas

As I mentioned in the first part of this trip recap, my boyfriend and I had no plans or reservations when we arrived in Australia. February is the south of Australia’s summer (perfect weather—warm/hot, not humid), but in the north (think Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands), it’s the rainy season. We felt like we couldn’t leave Australia without doing the GBR, so when I checked the weather forecast Tuesday morning in Sydney and saw that there were a stretch of sunny days coming up around Cairns, we booked a flight up north for that very afternoon. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-21

Travel tip: As recommended by our Aussie friend, we used WebJet to search for flights while there. Typically, either JetStar, Qantas or Virgin Australia would end up offering the cheapest flight options within Australia.

One thing we noticed about flying within Australia was that they board the front the back of the plane at the same time, through two different entrances. WHY DON’T YOU DO THIS, AMERICA?! I know in the US the thought is to board window seats before aisle seats, but it’s always boggled my mind that the back of the plane isn’t boarded first to avoid aisle jams. Am I right or amiright??

Port Douglas

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-37Every person we talked to had the same thoughts on Cairns: mehhh (their words–not mine!). Put off by that, we decided to stay in Port Douglas instead of using Cairns as our home base for the Great Barrier Reef. From the airport, we took a shuttle van (in retrospect, we should have rented a car—would have been cheaper) to Port Douglas, a small vacation town about an hour’s drive north. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-23 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-40

After some quick searching on Trip Advisor for affordable—but quality—hotels, we decided on Martinique on Macrossan, a boutique hotel that we loved! The owners were so sweet and helpful with guiding our plans, and our room had a kitchen, living room and balcony, making for a comfortable two-night stay. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-45

Because it’s the off-season up north, Port Douglas was very quiet, and a lot of the shops and restaurants were closed for the season. There were a few options serving up your basic bar food menu, but my boyfriend and I are both picky about healthy food, so we ended up going grocery shopping and making most of our meals in our hotel room’s kitchen while there. I’d imagine it’s a totally different scene in Port Douglas during tourist season!

The Daintree Rainforest

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-35On our first full day, we rented a car and drove north to check out the Daintree Rainforest. From Port Douglas, you can make a nice little day out of the rainforest, slowly driving your way north along the coast, stopping at beautiful secluded beaches along the way, getting in a little hiking, checking out a crocodile tour and even zip-lining through the rainforest (we didn’t do those last two things, but they came recommended). traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-46

Our first stop was Mossman Gorge. We did about an hour’s worth of hiking (in flip-flops…oops), taking a few stops to jump in the water on our own, and ending at the largest opening for swimming with the rest of the tourists. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-25 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-26 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-27 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-28 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-29

When we made it back to our car, we continued north, and whenever we saw a sign for a beach, would pull off the road to check it out. The beaches were all down little dirt roads and a short walk through the woods. I don’t know if it was because we were there in the rainy season, but they were all completely empty—it was amazing! We’d have an entire jaw-droppingly beautiful beach to ourselves. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-30 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-31 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-32 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-33

We ended up exploring the coast like this until late into the afternoon when we figured we should turn around and start making our way back to Port Douglas. If we hadn’t stopped at so many beaches along the way, we could have gone a little deeper into Daintree and done guided tours of the rainforest, but oh well—we had fun doing our own thing and felt we got enough hiking in around the gorge.

The Great Barrier Reef

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-44Our last day in Port Douglas, we set out for a tour of the Great Barrier Reef—by far the most touristy thing we did while traveling. As recommended by the owners of our hotel, we signed up for an all-day boat cruise with Quicksilver Cruises that would drop us off at three different reef locations for snorkeling and diving.

We were on the fence about paying the extra money to scuba dive, but I’m glad we didn’t. The three locations we stopped at were definitely chosen with snorkelers in mind—shallow with tons of fish towards the top of the reef.

The boat took off around 9AM and took us about an hour out to sea to our first location. There honestly wasn’t much difference between the three spots, but it was nice having the diving broken up into three excursions so that we could have snack breaks and some relaxing sun bathing on the boat. The tour company also served us up a hearty buffet-style lunch. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-41 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-43

The Great Barrier Reef is gorgeous, and I was blown away at just how many fish there were—it’s like the Manhattan of sea life! Now don’t get me wrong, we loved it; but to be honest, I felt a little underwhelmed considering this is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I’ve done some equally beautiful snorkeling right in Mexico! To be fair though, the GBR is massive—I’m sure we didn’t go to the most beautiful part of it. Had we chartered a seaplane to take us out to the most remote reef with trained scuba divers, I’m sure we would have been stunned. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-42

Beautiful nonetheless, and we even saw a couple baby reef sharks!

Cairns … But Really Just Gilligan’s

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-47This part of the trip was hilarious. The night we got back from our GBR boat tour, we decided to take the shuttle van back to Cairns and spend the night so we could catch an early fight back to Sydney the next day. We didn’t know where to stay, but I remembered my friend saying she’d stayed at a hostel called Gilligan’s when she was traveling through Cairns. Now when she was in Australia, she had just graduated college—a very, um, different time in one’s life than where I am now. But that didn’t really cross my mind when I booked us a room…

We roll up to Gilligan’s, and at first I think we’ve just accidently been dropped off at a strip club. The outside is plastered with pictures of half naked girls funneling beers and wrestling in petroleum jelly (I’m not exaggerating even a little bit), and there was the loud thudding sound of bass spilling out into the street at like 7PM. What in the…

Turns out Gilligan’s isn’t just a hostel—it’s one of the biggest nightclubs in Cairns. In fact, it’s really just a nightclub that happens to have communal bedrooms attached to it. LOLLOLLOL

We were definitely two of the oldest people staying there (womp womp), but it didn’t take long for us to embrace it. Up until that point in our trip, we had been so nonstop go-go-go during the day that we went to bed early every night, totally pooped. So when we realized we had accidently booked a room at Australia’s number one party hostel, we just kinda looked at each other and went, “OK, let’s get weird.”

And we definitely did. Surrounded by 18 year olds, I decided to drink like an 18 year old, and heavily paid the price the next day haha. I hate being hungover on vacations because you waste the whole day, but luckily it was down pouring all morning so I didn’t feel too guilty about sleeping in.

We didn’t get to do much exploring of Cairns before heading back to Sydney, but we heard there’s great white water rafting in the area and I wish we’d looked into doing that. Oh well, next time! traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-34Welp, there you have it! It was an amazing two weeks, and so nice to be able to take a break from reality and just enjoy ourselves. I didn’t realize how much I needed a vacation until we went! And the icing on the cake was that the trip was perfectly timed so that we missed all the snow storms Boston got slammed with–well, except for the last one. That one occurred just as we were trying to fly back, which resulted in all our flights getting cancelled and re-routed. We ended up having to fly from Sydney to San Francisco to Detroit (spent the night in Detroit) to Minneapolis to Newark (spent another night in Newark) and FINALLY to Boston. Meanwhile our bags went to Atlanta. It was such a disaster that it was funny. Look at how many boarding passes it took us to get home: traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-59Good. Times. signature

 

Traveling to Australia: What We Did In & Around Sydney

Traveling to Australia: What to do, eat  and see in and around SydneyBondi Icebergs pool

Jeeze took me long enough to finally post about my trip! I’m going to split it up into two posts since we divided our time between two major areas: Sydney and Cairns. They’re long, so if you just want to scroll through the pretty pictures, I don’t blame you. But if you’re interested in traveling to Australia or simply want to hear about my vacation (10 brownie points for humoring me), I’ll go over all our favorite activities, restaurant recommendations, must-see’s, etc. I’ve highlighted tips and major takeaways from the trip for any future travelers reading this.

(Not) Planning the Australia Trip

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-48Sydney skyline at sunset

I’m a planner and my boyfriend is…not…so I knew it was on me to figure out the logistics of the trip. But it quickly started stressing me out. Where should we stay? How do we get around? Should we book tours in advance? How many days should we stay in each destination? What should we budget for each part of the trip? I was falling into psychotically-type-A mode and then just thought: Screw this—let’s just wing it.

Joe had a friend living in Sydney and I had a mental list of some locations that came highly recommended (Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Great Ocean Road), and with that—and only that—we hopped on our plane.

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-19Eating breakfast at a little cafe on the water in Rose Bay

Having a local friend and not having a plan ended up being the two best things for our trip.

Not having an itinerary allowed us to be flexible and follow good weather and suggestions of locals we met along the way. I originally had a vague game plan to fly into Sydney for the wedding, fly up to Cairns to do the Great Barrier Reef, and then travel down the east coast back to Sydney stopping at the Whitsunday Islands, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and a couple other spots along the way. Then, if time, drive the Great Ocean Road on into Melbourne, and back to Sydney to fly out.

It seemed that with limited time there, focusing on Australia’s east coast would give us the best bang for our buck (sorry, Perth and Darwin, you’re just too far!). Still, that is a LOT to do in two weeks—Australia is BIG. You could do the east coast cheaply over a longer period of time by taking buses or renting a car, but with only two weeks, we would have had to fly a bunch, and while flights aren’t too expensive within Australia, the costs would have added up quick.

Flying by the seat of our pants, our trip ended up looking like this: Sydney Area –> Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef, Cairns –> Sydney Area: Newport/Palm Beach (northern suburbs of Sydney), Manly, lots of Bondi. We agreed we’d come back to Australia again to do the rest, and quickly stopped trying to fit a grand tour of the entire country into two weeks. Today, I’ll talk about the bookends of the trip spent in and around Sydney…

Sydney (Downtown/Tourist Attractions/Manly)

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-57While in Sydney, we stayed with Joe’s friend and his fiancé in the Point Piper area. They were a godsend! Not having to pay for a hotel room saved us a ton of money. And their view of Rose Bay wasn’t bad either… traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-1 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-2

Their apartment was a quick walk to the Rose Bay ferry dock (you can get around a lot of Sydney’s surrounding areas via public ferries—so fun!), so we could easily hop on a boat to downtown Sydney or another spot. Most mornings we’d stop at a little café at the Rose Bay marina overlooking the water and grab a coffee and some maple date balls rolled in coconut (I was obsessed with these!) on our way to the ferry. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-18 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-11Speaking of coffee, it’s a whole other language in Australia. On the first day, I tried to order an iced coffee and got a coffee with … ice cream on top of it. Stupid American. Eventually we learned the lingo, and I settled with a “long black” most days. 🙂

We took the ferry into downtown Sydney several times to check the tourist must-do’s off our list. First up, a walk around the Botanical Gardens and checking out the Opera House. Joe liked it so much he even modeled his hair after it… (LOL).

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-17 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-13 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-12 Notice the map shows you where the best “Selfie Spots” are around the Opera House

From downtown, you can then easily hop on a ferry to Taronga Zoo. If you’re only in Sydney on a quick visit, I’d say you could definitely skip this. You’ve seen one sad, caged animal, you’ve seen them all, right? (Zoos make me depressed). I am, however, happy we went because it was the only time I got to see kangaroos and koalas—and c’mon, you have to see them if you’re in Australia! I didn’t take many pictures at the zoo, but below you can see the city skyline in the distance (the location of the zoo is pretty flippin’ beautiful) and then the bowl of deliciousness the zookeepers were feeding the exotic birds. Joe and I were like…so can we, um, eat that? The answer was no, but doesn’t it look good?? traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-16 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-15

Towards the end of our trip, we took the ferry to Manly, which is an awesome little surf town. I easily could have spent a couple days there, but the day trip worked out well. We ate lunch at Mex & Co and got the fish tacos and ceviche. Delish!

My cousin’s wedding was in North Sydney at a theater overlooking the harbor. It was beautiful, and so amazing seeing my family on the other side of the world! It was a 1950’s themed wedding so I…put a weird mesh flower thing in my hair? I don’t know, just go with it.traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-10

A couple things we didn’t get a chance to do that I’d like to do next time (there will be a next time!):

  • The bridge climb
  • Happy hour drinks at The Ivy
  • A night out in King’s Cross (everyone kept talking about how dodgy the area is—I’m intrigued!)
  • See a show at The Opera House

Our friend also mentioned an outdoor movie theater somewhere in Sydney overlooking the water that sounds like an amazing date night. Next trip!

Newport & Palm Beach (Northern Suburbs of Sydney)

After several days up in Queensland doing the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, etc. (I’ll cover that in my second blog post), we were unsure of what to do next. The weather forecast looked permanently rainy in the Whitsundays, Byron Bay and Gold Coast, so we decided to head back down south to Sydney. A friend of Joe’s friend was going to have a huge party at his home in Newport (about an hour’s drive north of Sydney) on Saturday followed by a day out on his boat Sunday so we—obviously!—jumped on board. Guys. The house… traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-50

It was quite possibly the most gorgeous home I’ve ever been to, and we were graciously invited to spend the next three days there. On Sunday we took the boat out all day, eventually docking in Sydney Harbour where we watched the sunset. Life is good. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-49

Earlier that day, after a few (ok, more than a few) drinks, we jumped off the boat and thought it’d be a good idea to swim to The Island, which is essentially a floating bar you get to via water taxi. Yeah, turns out they don’t allow wet, drunk people in bathing suits to climb up the sides of their barge. That’s a #ProTip that I’m sure will come in handy should you ever visit. 😉

During the other couple days spent on the north shore, we hopped around to the different beaches, hung out by the pool, and enjoyed a slower, super relaxed pace of life for a bit. It was wonderful!

Bondi

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-53Bondi gets its own section because we fell in love with it and spent half the trip talking about how we need to own a condo there when we hit the lottery. The great thing about not having an itinerary going into our trip is that we were able to spend the last three days pretending to live there. We had a little Bondi daily routine by the end of it:

Run along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. We walked the walk one of our first days in Australia and were blown away by how pretty the route was. At the end of the trip, we’d run shorter portions of it for a quick morning workout. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-9 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-6 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-20

Go for a dip in the water and catch some rays at Bondi Beach. My only complaint about Bondi Beach is the massive bathing suit envy it ignited in me—I swear everyone was 100x trendier and cooler than me everywhere we went. 🙂 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-55

Head to Bondi Icebergs for a sauna & swim in the saltwater pool. Icebergs is awesome. You pay about $5 to access the pool and sauna, but can also pay more to use their gym or attend their outdoor yoga classes. We loved it! traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-58traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-3

Finish the day with dinner and drinks at Bondi Hardware. It was almost embarrassing how obsessed we were with Hardware. The hostess would be like “Oh…you guys. Again.” But every dish was like the best dish we’d ever had and we couldn’t get enough. On the weekends they have brunch as well (it’s just dinner on week nights). bondi-hardware-salad traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-4

Speaking of food, in Bondi we also loved Trio for breakfast and lunch, Lamrock Cafe for breakfast and lunch, M Deli Cafe for lunch, Mamasan for dinner and Messina for gelato.

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-8Cauliflower spinach salad from M Deli Cafe

traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-51Mango shrimp salad from Trio
traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-56Sippin’ on an acai smoothie from Lamrock Cafe

Final Thoughts on Sydney

What an amazing city! Granted, I haven’t been able to do a ton of traveling abroad in my life, but this was the first time I visited a city in a new country and thought, “I could totally see myself living here.” It’s an English-speaking, first-world country, so certainly lots of cultural similarities to the States, but the pace is just a bit slower, the lifestyle just a bit more laid back, and therefore the quality of life seems to be just that much better. Of course that assessment is coming from someone who spent all of 14 days there, but we met countless expats in Sydney who shared that same opinion. traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-54

I was also struck by how well maintained all the public areas were in and around Sydney, and how many free public amenities there were. No trash on the ground (but also surprisingly fewer trash cans than in the streets of American cities—I don’t get it?), clean public restrooms (and even public showers), and these amazing public pools nestled into the cliffs at several of the beachestraveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-5 traveling-to-australia-sydney-cairns-7

The pools are built so that the waves from the ocean come over the outside edge—they’re awesome. And with the exception of Icebergs in Bondi, all the ones we saw were free to the public. What a great amenity for people living around Sydney—especially with young kids who may not be able to swim in the open ocean with rough waves.

Of course the tradeoff to amazing public services like this is high cost of living and high taxes, so I won’t go too far down my Sydney-is-perfect rabbit hole, but I really did adore it.

If you’ve traveled to Sydney (or live there) what are some of your favorite things to do (and eat)? signature