We got to visit Sydney in February 2018 and had the most amazing time exploring the city. It is small enough to walk most places, and although it can get tiring, walking is a great way to see every aspect of the city. It allows you to take more time and notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. Staying in the center of the city not only made us closer to the sights, but also gave us a glimpse of the different vibes of the city. On Saturday the city was bustling with young shoppers; on Sunday we experienced a more quiet walk to the market; and on Monday it was the lunchtime rush of business people dressed in suits.
Our first day we walked to Chinatown, where we ate at a Malaysian restaurant. Joe’s grandfather is from Malaysia, so we were very interested to check it out. The meal was much different than we expected, but good – especially the roti, an Indian-influenced flatbread. We had roti planta (roti with margarine and sugar) and roti kaya (kaya is a creamy coconut spread). They were both delicious!
Next we went to what we thought was the Chinese Garden of Friendship. We found out afterwards that we apparently misread the map and missed the garden; we were just hanging out in Tumbalong Park. The weather was lovely though so we sat there for a while, entertained by some sassy kids and a very bizarre couple. Sometimes people watching is the best form of entertainment.
That evening we walked on to Darling Harbour, and the timing could not have been better. The sun was setting, giving a gorgeous orange glow to the buildings and the reflection in the water. It was truly stunning and one of the most beautiful things we’ve seen this year. We stopped at a restaurant next to the water for a drink and had a lovely time… until it started pouring down rain. We had to keep ducking for cover as we ran back to our hotel. All in all though it was the best first day!
Sunday morning we headed for The Rocks Market. Truthfully it was a little bit of a disappointment, but it was nice to wander around the stalls and see what everyone had to offer. Later we made the strenuous trek up to Sydney Observatory, which offered a gorgeous view over the city. The observatory itself was amazing as well; it had old telescopes, instruments that demonstrated the orbit of the planets and the moon, and lots of information about astronomy. I’m not the most scientifically-minded person but I’m so fascinated by space and the stars and love learning about them. Sadly we were there during the day so didn’t get a chance to look at the night sky, but hopefully we can check it out if we go back.
From there we went over to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I’m a big lover of art museums, but you can only look at Renaissance paintings so many times before getting bored of it. I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat, but I’ve been to so many museums in the last several years that I just don’t care to see another depiction of a Biblical scene painted in the 1500s. (Weirdly always featuring white people but that’s another story.) Now we usually seek out modern art museums, because they always give you something to talk about – even if it’s just how mad you are that such a terrible piece is hanging in a museum. But I digress.
The piece that stood out the most in Sydney was a video installation about an incident of police brutality that happened against a member of the Aboriginal community. People set the police station on fire in protest, and the video featured striking images of the aftermath. It was a reminder that institutionalized racism is a global problem, not just an American one, and that people all over the world have suffered as a result of colonization.
There’s no great way to transition away from that.
After we’d had our fill of thought-provoking pieces, we went to eat some delicious food at Ribs & Burgers. I wasn’t too keen to go as I’ve been trying to eat less meat (which hasn’t gone so well the last couple weeks) but they had an amazing halloumi burger. Ironically I spent most of the meal complaining about the pigeons around us and saying I wanted to punch them in the face. It seems my concern for the wellbeing of animals only goes so far.
From there we went around Circular Quays (hi am I the only American that would never have guessed this is pronounced as “key” and who has to constantly remind themselves of that fact?) and walked around to the Opera House. I have to be honest – I think it looks prettier in edited pictures than in real life. The architecture is super interesting but the off white color is kind of ugly. Still, the area surrounding it is gorgeous. From the Opera House bar we watched the sunset behind the city, as well as a massive cruise ship leaving port. The bridge looked gorgeous with the sunset colors behind it. It was the perfect way to spend an evening in the city.
The next morning I slept in a bit while Joe did some shopping. There’s only so many times I can walk into a store full of trainers with him. Unless he’s buying some for me. We stopped at the supermarket and got some crackers and cheese and Vanilla Coke (an absolute staple in Australia; it’s just so good) and had a picnic in Hyde Park under the Australian summer sun. It’s much smaller than Hyde Park in London but just as lovely. After that we went into St. Mary’s Cathedral, which was absolutely stunning. We’ve visited a cathedral in every city we’ve been to so far but that was my favorite.
We wandered a bit further south into the city, into the suburbs. I found the bookstore of my dreams with tons of books about art and fashion and wellness and the only reason I managed not to buy anything was because Joe had left with the credit card. For dinner we ate at Fratelli Famous Pizzeria in World Square, which was like subway for pizza, and it did not disappoint. I just got a few different types of cheese but it was sooooo good. Joe got just about every kind of meat and made up for the portion I didn’t eat.
The next day we did a bus tour that took us around the city. Because we’d already been spending time active on the beach and exploring Melbourne the past couple weeks, we were pretty worn out, and a bus ride was just what we needed. We were by far the youngest ones in the group, and there was only one other couple under 50. But we unashamedly set off with all the other old people on the cushy, air conditioned ride. We saw incredible view points around the city as well as some rich neighborhoods. One of the most spectacular views was at The Gap; you could see miles and miles of the most beautiful blue water.
The last stop of the tour was Bondi Beach. We’d originally intended to spend a day there, but truthfully didn’t have the energy to spend the day at the beach. Once we arrived I was a little bummed we weren’t staying because it was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen. The shades of blue were stunning! Of course this meant the beach was packed, but if we make it back to Sydney I would definitely spend more time there. We also heard it’s a great place to spot celebrities – apparently Hugh Jackman is a regular at Bondi. There are also the Iceberg Pools, which look absolutely stunning and every time I see a picture of them I kick myself a little for not going.
After the tour we spent some time in the gorgeous Westfield Shopping Centre. It’s a massive mall with fancy shops like Chanel and Gucci, and floors made of glistening marble tile. We ate in the food court – much nicer than your average food court – and had some delicious Greek food. Halloumi fries are the best. 🙌🏼
We ended up heading to the airport early because we were so tired. We always like to see as much as we can in a new city, but it’s also important to listen to your body and rest when you need it.
Thanks for reading about our Sydney adventures!
If you’ve been to Sydney, what was your favorite part?
If you haven’t, is it on your bucket list??
Take a look at our Sydney Travel Guide to start planning your trip.
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