Getting to Europe

Munich, Germany is 16,318 KM from Sydney, Australia.

We knew it would never be easy getting from A to B and then C, C being our home for the next 3 days.

The Day arrives

We booked a late night light from Sydney to Doha. We worked til 5:30PM before going to the airport. Let’s just say we were knackered. The first leg of the journey flew between sleep, meals and some films. Good thing being the flight was half empty so we go to stretch our legs a bit.

Doha was a nice airport. It wasn’t as crowded as Dubai, though there were a whole bunch of Chinese tours going places like lemmings. The next flight was a little better, we had a lot more energy.

Arriving in Europe

We made it to Europe! 3 years late but hey, we made it!!!! Munich airport appeared tiny(apparently, it’s huge) and I realised my IDP(International Drivers Permit) at home. After a little panic, it appears it’s not a necessity(more to come!)

The airport was crowded with tourists from everywhere and the immigration took an hour. The immigration officers were the young, fit and handsome. A few questions later and we were inside Munich.


We bought a family travel pass on all lines of Munich for 75 Euros for 4  days.

The suburbs of Munich flew past as we went south to Holzkirchen. The signs that it was once a village and not suburbia were obvious as we passed wheat farms along the way. What an interesting train ride. More on this later.

27 hours later, we were in the appartment!

Back with a bang

We’re back!!!!! It’s been a long time. We missed several small camping trips and the entire trip to New Zealand. That was a learning experience as we did too much during the day and the internet wasn’t available in South Island in most places. When we got back to Sydney, Life took over and it never for done.

So what now?

Well, we’re doing another trip this time and decided to blog while we traveled.

The Plan

Shruti and I wanted to travel somewhere with Shruti’s parents in September/October. Several locations were thrown up in the air – Greece, Turkey, South East Asia, Germany and the UK.

We would be unable to travel for longer than 2 weeks due changes in Jobs and our house extensions in general.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out and only Shruti and I could travel.

So we chose Central Europe as our first destination in Europe. It has the Alps, Bier, Castles and some amazing cities in close proximity.


Tickets were first – We got a great deal with Qatar airways

We picked the cities of Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Prague. A little bit of jiggling around meant that we could given them around 3 days each with a day for Vienna thrown into a road trip around the Alps.

Hotels were booked and we applied for Shruti’s Schengen visa. Given our luck with the Schegen Visa, we prayed a little bit. However, the Austrian consulate in Sydney provided the visa before time and without any issues.

Money – We pre-booked our hotels and transport due to the Visa conditions so the only thing left was spending money and we loaded our Qantas Cash card with Euros. Hungary and Czech Republic don’t use Euros but we should still be able to get cash out.

Stay – At Munich, We’ll be staying with a good Friend(thanks Samarth!) in the burbs. The rest cities(Vienna, Budapest and Prague), We’ll be staying in hotels. One of the nights in the Alps, we’ll be staying in the small town of Seefeld, Austria in a typical Alps style hotel. We chose not to go Airbnb this time due to getting bad reviews from friends who used it in Europe.

Let’s do it!

Bents Basin – so close to Sydney

New Years Eve was around the corner and we hadn’t planned anything. As usual, we left it too late. We decided to go camping so the next task was to find a spot. After hours of researching, Shruti found one spot available along a beach. After quickly checking on Google Maps, turns out, it was 7 hours away. Back to square one!

Then we decided, forget the coast, let’s find something inland. And we soon came across Bents Basin Reservoir. Only 1.5 hours from home, it had water and some trails for hike. DONE. We booked the campsite for two nights. We were going camping again! This time we decided to buy a gazebo. Aussie summer is harsh, we sure need some shade as the sun is still going down at 8:30pm.

After telling my mate Bharat about our plan, he decided to come along with Rumina. They quickly booked a site and went for their camping shopping. We were now going camping with others. Oh what fun!

Bents Basin

I had never heard of Bents Basin even though it’s in the Penrith district, where I went to school. This is a conservation area protecting a large part of the Nepean River gorge and popular with families in summer. Therefore, we loaded the supplies and drove down M4 and Mulgoa road to reach a rural part of Sydney. It was unbelievable to know that such parts still exist in Sydney with its house prices and traffic chaos.

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

Bents Basin, NSW, AustraliaAlong the way, we saw beautiful mansions, rusting vehicles and cattle. We arrived at Bents Basin campground which was packed. We still got spots and set about pitching tents. Bharat and Rumina had to be taught since it was their first time and new tent. Soon we had 2 tents, a gazebo, 4 chairs and plenty of beers ready.

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

It was too hot to go out and we chilled, and chilled, and drank, and chilled. It was a new experience to our normal routine where we go about doing one thing after another. However, this was the end of the year, we had company and we needed relax.

At dusk, we went for a walk above the basin. 300 or so steps led us to the top of the water body and we could see all around. It was pretty and peaceful. The gum trees and cockatoos being a clear indication of the tranquility of the Aussie bush.

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

Night 1 – Chillin and Sydney Glow

The girls made the dinner while the boys cleaned up. While eating, we were admiring people’s rigs. Some had huge trailers, others had pop tops while others had 2 people swags. Camping really shows how much people love the outdoors, and what comfort levels they want.

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

After dinner, Shruti tried to photograph the sky but, 1) there were clouds, and 2) the glow of Sydney as a city was too strong. Alas, we got some good shots of the glow itself. Somehow, getting used to the city life means we don’t know what a city looks like from the distance, but rest assured, if you were looking for Sydney from 50 km away, you would find it easy!

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

Day 2 – Laziness and Waterhole

The morning was a lazy episode. We took our time to wake up, get ready and at around 9:30-10 we were preparing brekky. There was also light drizzle through the morning so the gazebo came very handy. We stayed in, played cards and drank some more.

By mid afternoon, the was dry and we decided to pick up our butts and went for a swim. Bents Basin is a scour pool in the Nepean River, the river comes down the rocky areas, enters a deep pool and slowly meanders its way towards Penrith. This made for a great place to swim and kayak in Western Sydney.

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

We enjoyed cooling off in the cool water and were enchanted by the basin itself. The pool had a rocky cliff on one side, a gorge on another and a beach on two other sides while the river made its way out like a slow stream. The scene was no different to Crocodile Dundee, outback waterhole at it’s finest. We were glad this beautiful part of Sydney is protected.

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

Bharat and Rumina left that evening while we stayed another night. The next morning, we stopped by Nepean River lookouts downstream. The lookout was 6 km off road but entirely worth it. We were quite high above the Nepean and from this angle, even this small, slow river looked mighty. A great end a getaway!

Nepean River, NSW, Australia

Final word

Bents Basin conservation is approximately 30 minutes from Penrith. It is a beautiful spot to spend some time, whether you want to camp or not. It is a great day picnic spot. The car day rate is $8 per day while the campsites can be booked at a generous rate.

Bents Basin, NSW, Australia

Warrumbungles National Park

We got back home from our travel in August; I started work right away while Shruti got 2 more weeks off. But, we were itching for fresh air. Labour day long weekend was around but the issue was where do we go? North and South coasts of New South Wales are notoriously bad as people head for the beaches and we didn’t have anything booked.

Just then Shruti thought, wait a second, what is the moon phase that weekend. Turns out, it was new moon. So the next search was – top places to photograph night sky in Australia, and we had our destination!

Warrumbungles National Park, NSW, Australia

Warrumbungles National Park emerged as a winner. It was on the top 5 list and was  about 500 kms from Sydney. We could definitely do it! We bought some new camping gear, tent, warmer sleeping bag for Shruti, chairs and a utility box and we were ready to roll.

First Stop – Lithgow

We drove out of Sydney immediately after work, as we were worried about the holiday traffic. Traffic jams on long weekend could result in being stuck on the road for 3-4 hours. But once we were on the road we realised, hardly anyone was heading in our direction. People in Australia are obsessed with the beaches and we were heading inland, to the west! Despite rain and bad weather, we made it to Lithgow before 8pm. A nice pizza for dinner and some glasses of wine later, we were ready for airbnb.

This was our first time Airbnb in Australia and we were not disappointed. Our host was as warm as her house and she babysat dogs. She offered us breakfast and some freshly cut fruits which we enjoyed while chatting to her about her travel stories. She was a very active woman who loved hiking. As we said our goodbyes, she recommended a couple of scenic spots to stop at before hitting the road. And we did. The view was breath-taking!

Lithgow, NSW, Australia

Getting to Warrumbungles National Park

The morning was cold and windy! Though we would have loved warmer weather, we weren’t complaining. We were finally hitting the road again. We drove from Lithgow towards Mudgee with minimal traffic and stopped along to take photos a few places.

NSW, Australia

We made it to Mudgee by mid-day. The town was small and we picked up a few last minute supplies. We made our own lunch in a beautiful park beside the river and ate as the country traffic rolled past slowly. Just then we realised that we had forgotten our quilt! We were slightly nervous as it was drizzling and cold. But we didn’t let it bring our spirits down. We left Mudgee with our best hopes.

NSW, Australia

The next 250 km drive was through deeper country. The towns were tiny, there were fields of mustard which Yash Chopra would be proud of, and everyone who lived there raced past us. Around 4pm, we made it to Coonabarabran, the nearest town to Warrumbungles National Park.

NSW, Australia

The 30 km drive from Coona to Warrumbungles was a highlight in itself. We saw kangaroos and the old mountains for which the national park is famous as well as the famous observatory on the hill.

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

As we arrived, we realised all the good campsites had been taken up. After driving to another campground, we found a campsite beside a stream and no close neighbors. It was perfect! As we pitched the tent and got cooking, a mum and baby kangaroo skipped right past us. Great start!

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

Starry Sky

We decided on Warrumbungles for one reason, and one reason only – the night sky. It is the star gazing capital of New South Wales as there are no big towns out here and mostly clear weather. As the sun went down, we wrapped up our dinner, got started with drinks and setup the camera. We stayed up till 11pm to catch the stars and there were millions. Shruti couldn’t get enough shots! We then decided to sleep but put an alarm for 2:30am for another photo opp.

Night Photography, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

When we woke up again in the middle of the night, the milky way had drifted away. Bummer! But the sky had no empty spot. There were stars everywhere. And so many shooting stars as well. Just then, Shruti got her favourite shot.

Night Photography, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

We were talking as we drifted back to sleep only to realise that the incredible view tonight was only possible after a 500 kms drive while probably our grand parents enjoyed it every other night.

Night Photography, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

Hiking Warrumbungles Mountains

The Warrumbungles are ancient rocky outcrops which were results of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. After breakfast, we decided to hike the main trekking route. It started out easy but soon we were waffling uphill for a long distance until we were above the tree line. What a view!

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

This only got better as we got closer to the rocks up ahead. The last few metres were a mix of fast winds, beautiful view and dangerous, loose rocky ground. The view though made us forget everything.

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

In total, we hiked about 10 kms with some crazy steep climbs. It was tough but not unbearable. On our way down, we stopped to eat our sandwich and upon returning to the campsite, we celebrated with a couple of beers.

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

Pouring Rain

On our way back from the hike, we stopped by at the ranger’s office. While we were up on the rocky hill, we could see dark clouds in the distance. We of course wanted to photograph the starry night but we knew that was not happening tonight. The weather forecast was – stormy.

We dined early, drank a little to keep ourselves warm and stayed inside the tent. Couple of hours later, we were awoken by the rain. Luckily, the tents these days have enough protection from the rain and in the morning we were dry. But the tasks ahead were going to be tough.

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

Packing Up and Return

Packing up was going to be a pain  but we had done our diligence the night before. All we had to do was empty the tent and then pack it up. As we rushed through the task, we got a little wet. Again, we weren’t complaining. We had an awesome time out in nature and we were in car now with the heater on.

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

Fortunately, the rain was local to the Warrumbungles and we had no issues driving back. At Coona town, we stopped to fill up and change clothes/shoes for the drive ahead. We noticed a significant person here, even in Coonabarabran, 500 km out of Sydney in the interior NSW, there was an Indian guy working at the petrol station. Some stereotypes never die!

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

We stopped at Mudgee for lunch and swap drivers. Shruti drove the quieter route to Mudgee and I drove back home. We had lunch at Mudgee Brewing Company while tasting their variety. It was a great lunch, no doubt. The drive back was fast but mostly no traffic. We made it home by 5pm.

NSW, AustraliaFinal word

Warrumbungles are a beautiful part of NSW and Australia. This was our first time west of the Blue Mountains and it wasn’t disappointing. Whatever your interest, whether it is camping, hiking, or checking the night sky, Warrumbungles is a must-do. It can be quick 3 day trip to and fro Sydney.

Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

The End

Our time in Yellowstone came to an end and that meant our epic trip was coming to an end as well. We had to get back to San Fran, return the camper and then fly home. This was it, one year flew past in no time. Like they say, time flies when you are having fun!

We decided to ease the return trip, stop as much as we could and enjoy the last few days. On the way back we drove through parts of Montana, Idaho, Nevada and California.

The start of the end

Montana was a blur on the road and landscape hardly changed. Idaho, on the other hand, was flat, green and full of water. The places on the west of Yellowstone and Grand Tetons were perfect for fishing.

Montana, USA

We stopped at Twin Falls, Idaho, to indulge in the famous potatoes. Apparently McDonald’s used potatoes from Idaho for it’s french fries. They are grown all over and were really good! We decided to wrap up driving for the day and ended up in a RV park not too far from Twin Falls. We got there around 3pm+, showered, had our chairs out when a neighbour came over for a chat. Turns out he was a US veteran who had been driving from South Carolina to California. A journey of thousands of miles and the guy ended up injuring himself in the process. But we enjoyed the sun go down and chatted away from couple of hours.

Twin Falls, Idaho, USA

Nevada. Again.

The drive from Idaho to California meant crossing Nevada! We were going through the desert, crazy wind and heat all over again. We stayed 2 nights in Elko in a RV Park run by the Hilton group. After freshing up, we were ready for some action but it seemed like there were only casinos around. So we spent the day chilling in the air conditioned visitors centre, playing Scrabble and sipping on ice water. This helped fight the heat as the tempratures were easily in high 30s.

Elko, Nevada, USA

After a rest day, we were fighting the winds again to arrive in the town of Reno. This is in the north end of Nevada state but looked like mini Vegas. We of course parked ourselves in the RV park but enjoyed all the resort facilities. The amazing thing was the “beach” and a pool with an island bar. It appeared to be a popular spot for stopping between Nevada and California. We tried our hand at gambling (again!), watched a movie, hit some golf balls in the driving range, enjoyed the pool in crouching heat and cooked for ourselves.

Reno, Nevada, USA


From Reno, we drove to the west part of Napa Valley as our final destination before San Fransisco. Our campsite was in the bone dry area near Lake Berryessa. The campsite was primitive unlike the previous two location but we had a good time by the lake. As the sun set on Lake Berryessa, we realised our holiday, road trip, crazy and alone romantic times were at an end.

Lake Berryessa, California, USA

Just before we returned the Beast off, we decided to do a laundry stop to pack our bags and chuck unwanted items. Driving through the CBD and Mission District was a painful. Firstly, of course the traffic and secondly, the San Fran marathon was on so roads were closed! Anyway, after going around in circles, we finally said goodbye to our home of 45 days. But first, we had to settle the bill with Escape Campervan. We knew we were way over the mileage limit, but when we mentioned that we experienced the flat tyre, they decided to one third the mileage cost. We were amazed and shocked at the same time. WoW, we get to save some more money. Thanks Escape!

A uber to Oakland later, we were in a Holiday Inn for one night, booked by Suyash. The best thing here was meeting my chidhood friend, Harpreet a.k.a. Winky, whom I had not met in 16 years. It was a great night with him and his wife, talking about our life and times in Faridabad, 16 years ago. Good to see you bro!

Meet up with friend, California, USA

Journey home

We arrived at the airport, way earlier than we needed to. A few hours later, we were ready to leave. The AirNZ flight went through Auckland and was one of the longest flight since Gujarat to New York. We enjoyed it though, as were were going home. We even managed to surprise Mum on a cold Sydney day by arriving a day earlier. She couldn’t believe her eyes for at least an hour or so. Well done to us!