Getting to Sydney was by far the longest plane ride ever (altogether, with waiting at the airports, it took us 35 hours). It was a good feeling to be standing on a solid ground again (almost felt like kissing the ground, but we would probably get some strange looks).
Since Australia is for us a gigantic country (after all Slovenia obtains 0,26% of Australia) it is hard to get all of it in one month’s time. In this case, you have to rationalize. Our plan provided 3 days in Sydney, which had to be enough (we just couldn’t afford spending more time there, since we planned on driving towards Cairns). It definitely isn’t enough and you will soon see why.
We arrived to Sydney at 6am local time, which meant that we had a whole day ahead of us. First stop our hotel, baggage drop-off, shower and we are back on the move.
One thing that we loved in Australia was that they are real early birds. We like to sleep in and extend our morning up to 11am. One time, we got up at 6am to see a sunrise and people were already jogging in full speed. When we got out at Sydney it was around 7.30am and city was already buzzing. Perfect time to stand in line at coffee shop with Aussies waiting for our morning coffee.
Wherever we have a chance, Starbucks is our choice. We don’t have it in our country and although it’s not so cheap, it usually has the best coffee (correction: there is a good reason why there is no Starbucks in Italy) and muffins. After a morning coffee, our journey through city continued. It was really nice to stretch our legs after such a long flight and we were eager to see everything that were waiting for us.
Sydney opera house
Of course, the number #1 attraction in Sydney. At first it seems like the building is ready to sail away with its majestic sail like roof. Building itself looks impressive. It dominates the whole harbor. I can’t even imagine, how they were able to put more than a million tiles on its roof and how do you really get an idea for such a building. Or that the idea for a roof came from peeling an orange. 🙂
So much has been written about the best known building in the world, we don’t have much to add. But still, for those of you, who’re interested, here’s a quick summary: Sydney Opera house was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. In the middle of construction Utzon found himself in conflict with the Australian government, which began questioning Utzon’s capability and his designs. The costs of the project were escalating drastically. Utzon then resigned from the job and vowed never to return to Australia. The Opera House was finally completed, and opened in 1973. The architect was not invited to the ceremony, nor was his name even mentioned during any of the speeches. He was recognized only later, when he was asked to design updates to the interior of the opera house. Sadly, he never saw his own work of art.
And a recommendation for a good picture: The view from Mrs. Macquarie point at the other end of Royal botanic gardens is breathtaking. Worth a 15 minutes walk.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Another great Sydney attraction. We won’t bore you with numbers about the Bridge, because you can Google them.
You can get a good look at it from Mrs. Macquarie point as well. There you can observe both attractions at once. Opera house with the bridge in the background.
When you are standing beneath the same this side, where the Opera is, it really looks powerful. It creates a shadow on all the surrounding buildings. Of course we went up, but we didn’t cross it. Too much traffic and too much noise make you uncomfortable walking across the bridge and with all the anti-suicidal fences, it’s not that pleasant. The view is great though. The bridge has one specialty: you can climb onto the arch. If you look from the distance, you might see small dots on the arch. Those are people walking on top. We didn’t take this tour, because it was too expensive for our budget and it also looks a bit uncomfortable. But the view must be majestic.
Romantic dinner with a local food and the spectacular view
It probably sounds very fancy, but indeed some might be appalled. The facts about this dinner were: we took fish and chips from a local vendor (since Australia is a part of Commonwealth, this is kind of a local food 🙂 ). At the shore almost under the bridge we found a concrete block with a private street lamp. That place offers a straight view on the Opera with the Bridge behind you. It was one of the best dinners we had.
Royal Botanic gardens
Royal botanic gardens are a huge green park and a true retreat in the heart of the city. It really feels like you are somewhere in the nature, not in the middle of a city, next to its business district. Sydney is not an old city. It’s very green and it’s obvious that it was thoroughly planned, together with the green spaces.
There are lots of different plants and flowers in Royal botanic gardens (from bamboo to different cactuses); some are occupied with big spider nets with huge spiders in the middle. Every minute or so a cockatoo flies above your head and if you look around the small pools, you can see a cormorant drying his wings in the sun. 🙂
Admission: 15 AUD
This natural history museum is a must, if you like to get to know more about animals, especially the ones that call Australia home. There are many amazing exhibitions, showing you from dangerous Australia’s native snakes and spider to small cuddly penguins, which inhabit Sydney’s gulf and are as big as the palm of your hand. You can walk around the dinosaur skeletons, learn more about the sharks that inhabit Australia’s waters and even experience the aboriginal culture.
Australian National Maritime museum
Admission: 7 AUD
This was my first visit to any maritime museum and I really liked it. I went alone; obviously this is more guy-stuff. Since they have a lot of sea and quite rich history, they have a lot to offer. You can see everything, from explorations, military and sports ships, travel experiences…
The thing I liked the most was outside. You have a possibility to climb three different ships: the HM Bark Endeavour replica (commanded by James Cook), the destroyer HMAS Vampire and the submarine HMAS Onslow. It’s really unforgettable experience to be able to walk through these vessels and to see, what these men had to go through. If you decide to visit maritime museum, you should pay attention; it closes quite early.
When you walk through Sydney’s Central business district, you may find yourself in one that has a lot of bird cages hanging in the air. This is a project, called Forgotten songs. It commemorates the fifty different species of birds that once sang in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out of the city by European settlement and deforestation. On recording you can hear songs of those birds. It makes you think, what we are losing with urbanization.
Sea life Sydney aquarium
Admission: 40 AUD
We love visiting aquariums, wherever we are. Maruša was in Australia 10 years ago and she really liked Sydney aquarium. But this time we were a bit disappointed. Tickets are very expensive and we expected to see more. It felt like there’s really not much different than it was 10 years ago. The only thing that did impressed us was a dugong. We’ve never seen one before, not even in aquarium, but we were amazed by this gentle creature. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get a good photo of it.
It’s a place, where you should spend you evenings and nights. There are lots of bars, restaurants and nightclubs and at night place really comes to life. From here, you have a great view of Sydney skyline so it is worth visiting.
Restaurants and yummy food
Lonely planet guide can sometimes miss with a choice of a restaurant, but in Sydney, their selection is quite good. If you like Asian food, you should definitely try Din Tai Fung restaurant. They are best known for their home made dumplings. The food is really good, but you will have to wait for it in line. We were there, waiting for some 15 minutes, before we got a table and even then, we had to share it with someone. But you shouldn’t be worried about that; the food is definitely worth it.
These are just some ofthe things, which are worth visiting in Sydney center. We barely managed to see them in our time in Sydney. There is so much more to see and do, which we had to leave for our next visit (hope someday soon). Besides that you should include also trips to Sydney suburbs, Manly and Bondi beach. But more about that in future posts.