Ten or so years ago I had a dream! I was in love with Australia and anything Australian, and wanted nothing less than to move to a lucky country from pastures of New Zealand. Time went by, some things have changed and I even semi-forgot about my dream. However, I still think that Australia is a beautiful country, and for that reason, I was very excited about my recent visit to Sydney en-route to New Zealand.
I haven’t been to Sydney for five-odd years, so needless to say that I was rather curious to see if much has changed. When I got there, I realised that I can’t remember anything about the city, apart from the Harbour Bridge, the Blue Mountains and majestic Queen Victoria Building (god knows why!), so it was the time to start exploring the city once again.
The first impression was excellent. The sun was shining, everything around me smelled divine and fresh (mind you, I have just arrived from snowy Sapporo and Seoul). Of course people I hang out with made all the difference, and made my stay very beary enjoyable. Although, there is plenty to see and do for single travellers. All in all Sydney is a gorgeous but expensive city, prices for transport and food bite!
Getting into the city from the airport.. train, train, all the way. Not as cheap as in some other cities, it is clean and efficient. One way fare to Central station will set you back 13.40 AUD. A little pricey if you ask me, considering that the airport is only 15 or so mins away from the CBD.
Places to stay..endless options, but again not cheap at all, even compared to Europe or Japan. A room in a 6-bed dorm was over 30 Australian dollars per night. I stayed in a Big Hostel and don’t have anything bad to say about it at all. Of course it all depends on the fellow travellers you are sharing the room with, but the hostel is very big indeed, good facilities and the rate includes an ok breakfast each morning. They also have free hairdryers, irons and lockers (it was important to me :)).
The most known landmark.. Sydney Opera House and of course the Harbour Bridge. You can walk across the bridge, but it is a reasonable hike (around 40 mins one way). Sydney Opera house is visible from many places and really difficult to miss.
Best place for a cup of coffee.. you don’t have to go far to find a reasonable cafe, but my favourite place was a cafe on the 4th floor of the Modern Art Museum in the Rocks. Amazing view, overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, great service and good coffee. There is no charge for the museum and no problem getting a table on the terrace during the day.
Best place to explore during dinner time.. the Rocks. Many restaurants to choose from. I really wanted to try the German eatery, called Lowenbrau, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time. It looked good though, and I’ve only heard good things about the service.
Famous beaches.. Manly and Bondi. Very different vibes and types of people that come to hang out at either place. Bondi is great, closer to the city center, but definitely more touristy and show-offy (I know that it isn’t a word). Manly is more popular among locals. Hop on the ferry from the city center and you are there. There are a couple of great bars right at the waterfront, by the ferry terminal. Excellent place for a drink outside and a pizza.
Local souvenirs.. Lucas pawpaw ointment, vegimite and Tim Tams. Always on my shopping list. Tim Tams didn’t make it on the picture because I ate the whole package already.
My favourite free things to do in the city.. Botanical gardens and Mrs Macquaries Chair are lovely. Lots of greenery and not that many people, although there can be during peak times. Or just get lost in the city and people watch.
Guided walks.. I haven’t tried it personally because, to be honest, I just forgot, but was really interested in guided Architectural walks. Here is the link.
Best bar to show yourself off .. The Ivy and Opera Bar. Again, two places, very different environments. The Ivy is noisy, but has a rooftop bar. The Opera Bar has stunning harbour views, but is outdoors. You might as well go to both!
A bit of old school fun.. can be found at Luna Park. Get a train to Milsons Point across the harbour bridge, and you are there. Fun rides, coffee houses and a lovely walk path with stunning views of the harbour.
Shopping.. prices in the city bite, but everything is so pretty, it is worth just going for a wonder and a bit of window shopping. There are a few big department stores in the CBD, like Myer and David Jones and of course high street stores. Queen Victoria Building is a gorgeous structure, inside and out, filled with high end boutiques and eateries.