How did we get to live as locals in Sydney during our vacation?
These were two perfect weeks in Australia and got to explore Sydney and Cairns, exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
Sydney has such great weather nine to ten months of the year, that outdoors activities are very popular. I was impressed with how many people jog, swim, bike, windsurf, and more, exercising outdoors all the time. They have great pools and beaches were they practice all these water sports. Soon I’ll release a separate blog dedicated to these spots.
Continuing from my last blog, when you’re walking from The Rocks to Downtown: Right by the Central Business District (CBD) you’ll find Hyde Park, anchored by College and Elizabeth streets, which kind of mimics a mini-central park. Literally, a large rectangle in the middle of the city with green areas, exhibits, an outdoor pub and more. Lucky for us, the first weekend we were there a wine festival was being hosted in the park so got to taste wines from all different regions in Australia and even crush some grapes (thing that I had never experienced in Sonoma or Napa, go figure).
Keep walking alongside Hyde Park, kind of going back to Circular Quay, take Art Gallery Road and you’ll find the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, which these eventually lead back to the Opera House.
Of course once at the Opera House, I felt like I had arrived, this iconic building that I’ve been seeing my entire life and finally I was there in person to witness its magnificence. If you can, try to secure some tickets to see a performance inside the Opera House, it’s as impressive inside as it is from the outside. It was Gay Mardi Gras weekend so the Symphony was hosting different events and we lucked out by seeing Conchita Wurst (winner of Eurovision, from Vienna), amazing performance.
Two of the most iconic constructions in Sydney, the Opera House and the Sydney Bridge can be seen all the way from the Botanic Gardens and Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, in Woolloomoolo Bay. If San Francisco is known for having many views in the city, Sydney is even more impressive, as the harbor wraps around into many different coves and hills and you can have views from many different spots. No matter where you are, you’ll always get that shot that you must take for your Instagram feed.
Paddington — This was an interesting lucky find. Most of the travel blogs and tips include to visit the Paddington Reservoir Gardens on Oxford St. Yes, they are beautiful, originally served to supply water to the city but since shut down (after being converted into a parking garage) eventually converted into a public park, small but really pretty. What I liked about this area is that has much better shopping that must of the other neighborhoods in Sydney. Great local stores, local designers, good prices and just in general a great area to walk around. Even from-or-to Bondi beach is right in the way. This is where you should shop.
St. Peters — Local gem. We always want to find the places where the locals hangout, away from tourist traps. Then stay, or at least visit, St. Peters. We stayed at Louise’s amazing Airbnb listing in the area, this kind of made a huge impact on our visit (loved Louise, her family and her home). The good news is that there’s a Sydney Subway train station right there so it’s easy access to the city. King street was a very authentic street where we walked and walked many times to find local restaurants, antique shops, stores, pubs, just name it and they have it. Very good restaurants with very reasonable prices, really experiencing the diversity and the local vibe was a big difference from the rest of the city.
Watsons Bay — It’s just a ferry away, or drive, but the ferry ride was so easy and convenient leaving from Circular Quay ferry station and just about 45 minutes. It reminded me a little of Sausalito, with homes creeped up on the hills and overlooking the Sydney harbour. It’s a nice visit for the day, nice beach and a sprawling park by the water where you can sunbathe or have a picnic. Stop by Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and have a great lunch with refershing cocktails.
North Sydney — If you have the chance to cross the Sydney Bridge, venture out to North Sydney and explore the area. It’s on the way to Manly Beach and it gives the feeling of a small coastal town with amazing views. Of course you must stop by Luna Park. This theme park is an easy reminder of what parks used to look like many years ago, has that vintage look that makes you want to enter, besides it is a great spot to take pictures of Sydney Harbor (another great view).
I look back and I feel like I lived in Sydney for months, it was only two weeks in total but with some of the tips that I mentioned on this blog and the previous one (Australia, Destination of 2016) hopefully you’ll get to experience Australia the way that I did, like a local. Made some great new friends and I’m really looking forward to going back next year.
Thank you Australia for teaching me so much, let’s put now some plans into motion. Only Australia.