Summertime in Sydney made Australia our top destination
Updated: May 20, 2018
Sydney has many ways to enchant a traveler and we liked it in so many ways so I'm hopeful that I can make it justice on this blog. Thanks to all our friends that made us feel at home while visiting during Gay Mardi Gras.
I had been wanting to go to Australia for many many years and finally 2016 was the year to visit. There is so much to write about Australia, so I’ll do my best to share this magical experience.
This trip to Australia was one of those trips that change you forever. I was touched in so many ways, and all experiences there helped me to grow as a person. I really got inspired by meeting so many great friendly people, in a beautiful city, with exposure to so much urban nature, lifestyles and learning from it. It is exactly because of this kind of trip that I love traveling around the world, it made me learn so much about myself and my future.
Our first destination was Sydney, and after a 13+ non-stop flight from San Francisco, we landed, in beautiful sunny day. There are many ways to get around in Sydney, probably I’ll repeat this more than once on the blog, but for sure it was a great similarity with San Francisco. Their train system is very efficient and covers all key points that you need to see, or you can also ride Uber whenever you feel like splurging a little more money. Upon arrival, I recommend taking Uber from the airport, so then later you can familiarize yourself with the train system. The good news is that if you take the train from the airport it will cost you about $20AUS to get to Circular Quay, the main central station by the water. Make sure you buy your Opal card at any train station or convenience store as you’ll use it on every single train and save you money with special weekly discounts.
Airbnb was our selected option to stay in Sydney and it was just fantastic! We had our dear great hosts, Louise and Matt, who have a beautiful refurbished warehouse in the St. Peters neighborhood, which is only about 15–20mins from Circular Quay. This home allowed us to feel at home away from home with a beautiful one-bedroom space, a patio and all comforts that we have at home. Our hosts were so helpful and guided us through our stay on how to navigate the city of Sydney. So immediately we felt right at home.
Over the next few days, thirteen to be exact, we explored so much of the city. The time of year was late Summer, between February and March, and weather was warm. Apparently we were lucky as they were having a heat wave and no rain, this helped us to venture out every day of our stay with sunny blue skies and no rain.
Circular Quay and the wharf — We have seen pictures of this place in some many blogs, magazines, commercials, etc. The Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the main wharf were just stunning, better than I could have imagined. Taking the train from St. Peters station to Circular Quay is only about 15–20min ride and as soon as you get off at the station, the majestic view includes both the Opera House and the bridge. Walk around, take the obligatory pictures and go crazy with Instagram, there’s no bad spot in Sydney to take the best Instagram picture.
Circular Quay is a little touristy, but don’t be discouraged, it’s not too busy and you can still get a sense of exploring as a local. As I always recommend, walk as much as you can, this is the best way to see a city. The first day we ventured out and walk around the area, including the above and a bit of The Royal Botanic Gardens.
On day two (while recovering from jet lag) we had to come back and see more of the City Business District (CBD). We walked all the way from Circular Quay to the Sydney Bridge and found our way into The Rocks neighborhood which is a hip trendy area with old warehouses and buildings being turned into luxury condos, marina, restaurants and more. In this area is where we found my favorite two restaurants that I recommend the Henry Dean for brunch during the weekend, with amazing news and great atmosphere, I totally felt like a local there; and the Hotel Palisade is one of the oldest hotels in Sydney. The other restaurant to check out is Hicksons’ Food & Wine, where we had dinner on a Friday night. It’s small, by the water, not touristy, it felt like the locals hangout. And the same with most of the restaurants is that you get that indoor-outdoor experience as weather allows it.
From The Rocks we continued walking after a great brunch at Henry Dean, and we made it to the Darlinghurst Harbor. It is a very touristy place (think Pier 39 in SF) and it did have some nice views, many restaurants, many people, so we eventually left as it was really crowded. It was cool seeing one of the main pedestrian bridges lifting to allow boats to pass through.
Keep walking, keep walking, find a pub and have a beer and keep walking. We stumbled upon the Queen Victoria Building and later realized that it was one of the top attractions in the city. Totally worth checking it out, it was built as a monument for Queen Victoria back in 1898, used for many purposes and almost demolished back in the 1980’s until the new project to turn it into a sophisticated mall happened. You’ll find great stores there and admire the intricate tile work, construction and above all the stained glass work. Impressive. Do a little shopping too. Right across the street is the Westfield Mall, which has all the stores that you can think of, so this is a good area to shop.
This blog covered the CBD and surrounding places in the city, by Circular Quay, but there is so much more to see and explore in Sydney. Don’t worry, this is not the end, I’m working on a second part to this blog to complete the entire thirteen days that we spent there. In the mean time, start looking at airfare, it’s not cheap but you can find reasonable prices for non-stop flights from SFO and LAX.