Finally – my Australia trip has arrived, and it means the check mark of my 7th continent! I also got another chance this year to travel with my best friend and travel partner in crime – Kylee! We booked the trip earlier this year, and then later in the year my friend Barb (a coworker from Kansas) ended up booking a trip to Sydney around the same time we would be there, so we nicely overlapped for a few days in Sydney.
We stayed in Sydney for 4 nights on the front end of the trip, and then another 2 nights on the back end. While Sydney was fun to explore, it really is a big city - and if you get bored of cities as quickly as we do...I think about 4 days is plenty of time.
A stroll through Hyde Park. It was a nice way to shake off some jet lag on our first day in Sydney after those very long flights from Texas.
St. Mary's Cathedral in Hyde Park
EJ, Kylee and Barb in Circular Quay
Spending a day walking around Circular Quay is a given. We spent time taking pictures of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House and just walking around the wharf and shops casually exploring for a good part of the day.
Taking an Opera House Tour - which I highly recommend. The hour-long tour was really great – getting to view some behind the scene spots plus three of the theaters. Lucky for us we got to peek in on the Australia symphony as well as the ballet company rehearsing - very cool!
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House Detail
EJ on the Bridge Climb - Inner Arch
EJ and Kylee on the Bridge Climb - Top Arch
The Bridge Climb is a must! Kylee was even afraid of heights and she ended up really enjoying it. We chose the express bridge climb, where you walked along the inner arch instead of the upper. Really neat experience getting to see all the architecture of the bridge, and then pop out in the middle to the top of the bridge for photo ops. I have to say I debated over the upper arch or inner arch experience, but am glad I chose the inner arch. Not only because it was an hour shorter (1.5 hours on the bridge seemed like plenty of time to me), but also because being "in" the bridge you really got to experience what it might have been like as a steel worker back in the day installing all the steel and rivets. The climb went at a nice steady pace, and they stopped several times along the way to share some bridge details and history so you could catch your breath. Just over 1,000 steps later we finished our great morning climb with legs officially burning.
Walk along the Harbour Bridge Pedestrian Lane. It was a very nice walk and you can snap some great photos along the way and up at the top in the middle of the bridge. Since you are not allowed to bring a camera on the Bridge Climb, this provided a nice opportunity to take photos of the harbour.
Stroll through the streets in The Rocks. With older historic buildings and winding alleyways it made you feel like you had escaped to another time period.
View of the Opera House from the Bridge
Manly Beach from the path to Shelly Beach
Definitely take a trip out to Manly Beach. You can catch the ferry from Circular Quay and in just 30 minutes arrive in Manly. Getting from the Ferry to the Beach was super easy - you just follow the half mile pedestrian walk through all the shops and pop out right at the beach. I also recommend following the under 1 mile path around the beach (to the south) and head towards Shelly Beach. Not only is it a nice walk, but Shelly Beach is a lot quieter than Manly. I relaxed on the beach while Kylee attempted to snorkel. She said the water was freezing and it was cloudy water, so unfortunately not much luck.
EJ at Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is also a great experience. The bus was easy to figure out and took about 45 minutes from our hotel. We were expecting a nice warm day to sit at the beach, but unfortunately it was very windy and cool for us. We had brought our shorts and tanks with us, but never got out of our jackets. Despite that though, the walking path here is a must! An amazing path to follow all the way from Bondi to Bronte beach. We didn't make it all the way to Bronte (the wind was brutal coming over the cliffs), but the walk, rocks and water views really were a highlight for me in Sydney.
Very windy - look at those waves
Darling Harbour was a nice way to spend an hour or so if you are looking for something else to do. We didn't have much time to spare, but we enjoyed the walk over and a quick stroll around the harbour. To us, it looked like a nice place to go if you have kids - with the aquarium and other kid-friendly activities in the vicinity.
Slideshow of more Sydney photos - use right/left control arrows or scroll and click to view
As I'm loyal to my Starwood Program, I picked the Sheraton on the Park, near Hyde Park, to stay. Rooms were nice but pretty basic. However, the best part (if you have hotel status) is the club lounge. Great breakfast each morning, and in the evening they have hors d'oeuvres and waiters who are very efficient as continually filling up your wine glass! Who needs to go out at night when you can eat and drink for free?
The Opera Kitchen, in Circular Quay, was a great spot to eat a casual lunch. They have a variety of restaurant options and you can sit outside (covered) to enjoy good food and great views of the opera house and bridge.
Munich Brauhaus in The Rocks. Feeling in a German mood while in Australia? We stopped here for lunch after our Bridge Climb - mostly because we were starving and it was the closest thing nearby we could find. The food was ok but the beer was much needed after our climb!
Quay Bar. Just outside the Customs House near Circular Quay. We met a family friend here for happy hour, and it appeared to be a popular spot the locals stop at when work gets out. Big crowds and very lively. A great outdoors spot for a drink before heading out to dinner.
Neptune Palace. We were hungry after Quay Bar and couldn't decide where to go - not necessarily wanting an overpriced tourist restaurant. Neptune Palace ended up being very close to the bar and we went there for Chinese food. Surprisingly very tasty - and with good red wine and a funny waiter, it turned out to be a nice night.
Longrain. So we had heard all the buzz about this restaurant. It was in the guidebook and multiple people mentioned it to us, so figured we had to check it out. Surprisingly for us though, it wasn't our favorite. The food was ok (nothing to write home about) - a little pricey - but mostly the service was just extremely slow. Maybe we were exhausted after a long day, but for us it was a bit too long of a meal.
Red Lantern. Now this was a great place - Vietnamese restaurant. On our last night in Sydney we met my cousin Jenny and her husband Thomas. We all indulged in the 7 course-tasting menu and it was fabulous. I think it could have fed 8 people though, so be prepared for a lot of food. They do have a regular menu, but I highly recommend the tasting menu. We loved everything that came out and definitely had fun experiencing new dishes that we wouldn't have ordered on our own.
Lush on Bondi. If you are craving a nice salad after all the meals of fried fish n chips - this is the place. After exploring the beach, we found this cafe for lunch. They had some amazing salads - huge - that were really great. Fresh avocado and veggies, home made dressing - yum.