While in Sydney, I heard that I would either be a “Melbourne girl” or a “Sydney girl.” Apparently, according to locals of both cities, you can’t love both. At least, you can’t love both equally. But I’m sorry to report to my Aussie readers, I did.
Sydney and Melbourne are in fact very different from one another. Sydney has all the major tourist attractions, beaches, and is admittedly a better option for tourists if you have to choose. However, Melbourne is definitely worth a visit too.
Planning a trip can be extremely overwhelming. You have to decide on which country to visit, which cities, how long to stay in each place, find hotels and airfare within your price range, and have an idea of what you want to do once you actually arrive. Aren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?
If you’re like me, the Internet can be a double-edged sword when making these decisions. It’s easy to log hours on travel sites, reading review after review, until you lose all confidence in your ability to make a decision. So, I’m making it easy for you. I’ve compiled a list of my top three things to do when visiting Sydney. If you’re limited on time, plan your days around each of these events, giving you three very different days of touristic opportunities.
Up until a few years ago, I never cared too much for New Years. To me, it was a hyped-up celebration with false expectations, unrealistic resolutions, and drunk drivers. But then everything changed right around the time I turned 30–when I stopped taking myself so seriously.
Three years ago I was in Buenos Aires, singing karaoke in a large Argentinian family’s living room. The following year I celebrated on Copacabana Beach in Rio, alongside two million people, dancing and jumping waves for good luck. And a couple of weeks ago, I got the opportunity to see the famous Sydney Harbour fireworks from a boat, with a dear friend I made in Korea.
Whenever I head to a new city, I immediately do one of two things: check out the local markets, or look into a free walking tour. Yes, that’s right, I said free. Well, it’s a tour based on tips. Basically, at the end, you give what you think it was worth—or what you can afford, if you’re traveling light.
I first discovered this concept in Valparaiso, Chile. Upon arrival, my hostel provided me with a map of the city and told me I had 30 minutes to find “Waldo” in Plaza Sotomayor. Tired, but intrigued, I waltzed down the steep alleyway into the main square, and saw a small group gathered around a tall man wearing a red and white striped shirt.
I had never heard of Cairns before this trip. I certainly didn’t know how to pronounce it. (For those wondering, it’s pronounced like the French city, “Cannes,” or like “cans” of beans, for you classy folks.)
Cairns is a small town on the east coast of Northern Australia. It has a population of about 140,000, and is a popular jumping off point for reef trips, tours to Fraser Island (World Heritage island renowned for great camping), and sailing expeditions to the Whitsunday Islands. But Cairns shouldn’t be discounted as simply a pit stop to somewhere better. The small coastal town is actually quite charming for a few days.
Since I was little, I was obsessed with the ocean. Picture books of the sea filled my bookshelves, a shell collection decorated my bedroom, and I was dead-set on becoming a marine biologist. That is, of course, until I learned that marine biologists need to know math. And science.
I also wanted my diving license, and asked my parents to buy me the course for my twelfth birthday. But they told me it’d be best if I waited for my younger sister to turn twelve, so that we could take the class together. Reluctantly, I agreed to wait. Then, a few months before my sister’s long-awaited birthday, she announced her complete disinterest in scuba diving. She wanted another Beanie Baby.