Tag Archives: Sydney

3 Must-Have Experiences in Sydney

Planning a trip can be extremely overwhelming. You have to decide on which country to visit, which cities, how long to stay in each city, 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.

1. Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb

1226191032

I’m not going to lie, this is expensive. But then again, Australia is pretty expensive in general. And, in my opinion, it’s worth the money. Basically, BridgeClimb is an adventurous way to see the city’s most iconic sites from a different vantage point. You choose what time you want to go (day, twilight, night or dawn), get strapped into a jumpsuit and harnesses, and hike your way up the bridge, stopping every so often for historical facts and pictures. The climb takes about two hours, and there’s no need to be in shape. Just prepare for some stair climbing (obviously) and slightly high winds coming from the bay. For more information, visit the website: http://www.bridgeclimb.com/.

1226191009

2. Manly Ferry 

IMG_6496

In contrast to the high price of climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the 30-minute ferry ride to Manly Wharf is a beautiful, cheap way to get to know the city better. Ferries leave frequently (every half hour or so), from 5:30am until 11:45pm from Circular Quay. You can purchase roundtrip tickets at the station ($15 AUD) right beforehand.

IMG_6489

Once you arrive to Manly, you can go on a 10 kilometer harbourside walk if you feel so inclined, or you can do what I did and plop down on the beach and relax for a few hours. Either way, make sure to end your day with fish and chips. There are shops all along the beach, and some tucked away on side streets. We chose a fresh fish shop that had a line out the door (always my go-to), and enjoyed it on a park bench while watching the sun set. It was truly a perfect day.

IMG_6490

3. Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

IMG_6369

This six kilometer cliff top coastal walk is the perfect way to take in the city’s famous beaches and eastern suburbs. It takes about two hours; although you could make a day of it by stopping at the parks and restaurants along the way. Public transportation is quick and easy, and bus numbers depend on where in Sydney you’re coming from.

IMG_6365

IMG_6378

 

Been to Sydney and agree with my list? Have other suggestions? Please comment in order to help others make informed travel decisions. :)

New Years in Sydney

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.

Yes, it had a lot to do with the age. After years of hating my body and worrying whether or not people liked me, I was finally confident in who I was. I was content. Happy. And I attribute most of that to living abroad. And I attribute living abroad to loving New Years.

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.

I know what you’re thinking. (Bitch.) But it’s actually quite hard being away during the holidays. Thankfully, I have been blessed with a very understanding family. In fact, when I told them I was torn between visiting Australia and coming home, they said something to the effect of “watch out for the kangaroos.” I love them.

Anyway, the point of this post is to share my Sydney New Year’s Eve experience, and the best way to do this is through pictures. Below you will find the progression of the fireworks, from start to finish.

But first, some advice: If you’re going to visit Sydney for New Years in coming years, secure a boat a few months ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting your way through huge crowds, waiting around on the Harbour for hours in the heat, without a cocktail. Here’s the boat we went on—about half the price of others, as it was BYOB: http://www.sydneyharbourescapes.com.au/boat-fleets/boat-detail/bid/600. Also, mentally prepare for the mass of people once you leave the boat. It took us about two hours to get home. And my friend lived a mere five kilometers away.

IMG_6697

IMG_6706

IMG_6708

IMG_6751

IMG_6783

The First Thing You Should Do When Visiting Sydney

IMG_6318

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.

In Valparaiso as well as cities like La Paz, Paris, Tokyo, and Bangkok, a local (or someone who has lived there a fair bit) takes you around the city center, gives you some history on the place, and usually provides you with a map and recommendations on what to do during your stay.

In Sydney, there seems to be several tour options, but I chose a company called “I’m Free,” based on TripAdvisor reviews. The tour was about three hours, and took us through the CBD (Central Business District), through various neighborhoods like “The Rocks,” and along the Harbour, finishing in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House. The guides were spunky, interesting, and obviously proud of their city.

Here are some highlights from my walk:

IMG_6321St Mary’s Cathedral in Hyde Park

IMG_6322The Hyde Park Barracks

IMG_6325The Sydney Hospital, also know as “The Rum Hospital,” as it was paid for with the promise of rum sale profits.

IMG_6330Next to the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, where the tragic hostage situation took place.

IMG_6337Local art exhibit, complete with the sounds of native birds.

IMG_6343A giant city model under a glass floor in the Customs House.

IMG_6333Martin Place right after Christmas.

IMG_6357Probably my favorite neighborhood, which I later explored on my own: The Rocks.

IMG_6352The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

IMG_6348And last but not least, the grand finale: The Sydney Opera House!

For more information, check out the website: http://www.imfree.com.au/. Tours take place every day at 10:30am, 2:30pm, and 6:00pm, and last between 2.5 and 3 hours. Note that you will do a lot of walking, so wear sneakers and bring sunscreen. Also plan on giving a decent tip. I gave $20, although many gave less, and a few gave more. And remember to Google “Free Walking Tour” the next time you visit a new city.