Sydney was heaven for us. As my Aunt lives in Sydney, we were able to skip expensive hostels and stay in her lovely apartment overlooking the harbour. We had home cooked meals, drank wine that cost more than 5 dollars a bottle, and even had our own pool where we could recover from Sydney’s wild nights. I say it was heaven because of our accommodation, but the place itself I was confused by.
In Sydney, people ran early in the morning and worried about their mortgage, they sat on the metro and didn’t speak to one another, and they even rushed past each other avoiding eye contact. This place dare I say it… reminded me of London. It didn’t have that same welcoming feel of Australia, of what we were used to. We were both swept under this huge tidal wave of tourists that stumbled around Sydney and felt spat out. Although my reaction was of disappointment because of the superior attitude Sydney has as a city and on its people, looking around at its stunning coastal views, spectacular architecture and its healthy glowing people, you can see why the city seems brash- its because they have something to shout about.
We spent our first day exploring The Rocks, the Sydney Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, China Town and the Museum of Contemporary Art. I would recommend having a look at these famous sights of Sydney, at the beautiful architecture of each place and the individual style, how expensive restaurants and hip bars line each street, and where business men arrange plans of action whilst pigeons peck at their remains beneath them. To escape the daily grind of work and business, head to the Botanical Gardens, a vast park of manicured gardens with brightly coloured flowers and quirky designs. It acts as a place to escape from the noise and glamour of Sydney.
To get away from the traditional postcard sights of Sydney, and to really explore the inner makings of this world famous city, head to George Street where great vintage stores (If you’re a fan I couldn’t recommend this street more) are in abundance. As well as QVB for its historical value and significance, Paddy’s Market for its range of sales and Hyde Park, where one can rest your tired and shopped out feet. Although I felt privileged to be walking and exploring one of the most well known cities on the planet, I didn’t feel a connection, until we were taken to Newtown. Newtown ignores Sydney’s pristine glamorous facade of opera, ballet and swish bars. Its like the skeleton in Sydney’s closet, where I finally found an essence of quirkiness to this seemingly perfect city. It is like Sydney’s Brick Lane, with that artsy unique feel, with graffiti lining the streets and small kitchens selling cheap and steaming Pad Thai. I fell slightly in love with this place, and it really is the only reason I didn’t run for the hills away from Sydney, so if you prefer a place with character and a little rough around the edges, head here to escape from traditional Sydney.
We spent many days avoiding the cost of the metro and walking across the Sydney bridge to get from A to B. But why would you walk across it when you can walk over it hey? Although astronomical prices for what it really was, my friend and I walked over the Sydney Bridge seeing the whole of the harbour below, a magnificent experience, and surely one to tell the Grankids! I would go if you have the money and are not afraid of heights.
A trip I would recommend to experience the countryside in New South Wales, is one to see the Blue Mountains. Set in the Blue Mountain National Park, it is known for its dramatic set of cliffs, its iconic oddly shaped rock formation of ‘Three Sisters’ and its dense eucalyptus forest. Walks can be arranged through the forest, although should be done well in advance. On a day trip, we took the cable car up to the viewpoint, allowing us to take in the full sight and splendour of the mountains, minus any exercise. A visit to the Jeholan Caves is also a must, with 11 caves and an abundance of underground rivers with cavernous craggy limestone, walk into the underground depths of darkness to this beautiful bewitching world.
I would really also recommend Manly Beach, a short ferry ride from Darling Harbour where life seemed to be more, well, Australian. The beach has more of a laid back relaxed feel then what we found at Bondi. Bondi was a constant fight over a patch of sand, where every bronzed bulky body competed against each other for attention. Manly, felt more authentic, more original and had some rewarding coastal walks along its shore.
Staying in my aunts place meant that we didn’t get a first hand experience of night life, however that did not stop us! We went to a couple of house parties, Side Bar, The Gaff and Scubar, (these places are all backpacker places) as well as World Bar -where they sell their drinks in tea cups- a cute and deadly combination.