I’m ashamed to say that there was no particular reason why I wanted to visit Sydney. It was just one of those places you know you want to visit and when Matt and I first started talking about this big holiday, it made sense that while we over New Zealand way, to make a stop there too. A big factor was of course that we knew we would be away over New Year and where better to spend it than Sydney?
As part of our package with Trailfinders (who we booked our flights with), including at least two hotels (so Sydney and eventually Brisbane) within that package would actually bring down the overall price of our booking and as we’d planned on staying on a hotel while there anyway, it made total sense. Better yet, although they technically picked the hotel, if you didn’t like their suggestion, you could request they change it and they would pick from their huge list of partners. Luckily, we were very happy with our hotel, Rydges Sydney. Based in Surry Hills, which Google told me was known as one of Sydney’s ‘coolest suburbs’, our room was spacious and our king-size bed was the softest, comfiest thing. As much as we loved hopping from one place to the next in New Zealand, it was actually really nice to be able to actually unpack and hang our clothes up! Small things, eh?
There was an abundance of restaurants to choose from each night and we were only a 15/20 minute walk from the majority of places such as Darling Harbour, CBD and of course, the Sydney Opera House. It was a very handy location, especially after New Year’s Eve where the transport would have been a pain.
One particular restaurant I want to mention was Bare Grill who served the most delicious burgers. There is a huge list to choose from with a lot of very ambitious choices including the Randy Santel Challenge which has 10 beef patties, 10 cheese, 10 bacon rashers and you get for free if you manage to eat within 30 minutes. We gave that one a miss! For a little extra, you can add raclette onto any meal. It’s quite something as the waiters bring over the cheese and slice the warm, oozy cheese on top of your meal right in front of your very eyes.
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
When in Sydney, the Opera House is a must and after seeing so many photos, it’s quite surreal to stand in front of such an iconic building. While we didn’t opt to see any shows or go on tour, we spent a lot of time just walking around, trying to take everything in. The Opera House itself is a seriously busy area as it’s obviously a hugely touristy area. It’s also so large that I’d reccomend getting some distance to take in the whole picture. A short walk along the Botanical Gardens leads to some great photo opportunities and much more of a calmer environment to take in the sights.
One of our days in Sydney was spent catching the ferry to Manly Beach, somewhere which had been recommended to me a couple of times. The ferry is so easy to catch, quick plus pretty cheap and frequent too. It’s a lovely little place and it was strange to think as we settled on our deck chairs on the sandy beach for a few hours that we were about half an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of our time there as it didn’t make much sense to lug along my camera when we planned on laying back and baking in the sun.
Other than New Year’s Eve, we didn’t book any activities apart from surfing at Bondi Beach, something I knew would be right up Matt’s street. I had done Boogie Boarding when I was younger and remembered enjoying it so was excited to give surfing ago. We booked with a company called Lets Go Surfing who were brilliant. After wiggling into wetsuits (the worst thing ever), our 2-hour lesson started with an introduction to surfing where in groups of five we learnt the basics of surfing on the beach before making our way into the water.
Our instructor Gus was great but I won’t lie, I was completely rubbish and didn’t even dare stand up on board, instead preferring to lay and lean up on my arms. There’s no doubt that catching waves (standing or otherwise!) is one hell of a feeling but it’s completely exhausting and definitely something you need a lot of stamina for as the waves can be seriously fierce.
NEW YEARS EVE
I did a lot of research on New Year’s Eve in Sydney, as there are just so many options to choose from, the majority of which are pretty damn pricey unless you’re willing to start queuing at 10am for a free spot. Nah thanks. I booked tickets about three months beforehand for an event hosted at the Royal Botanical Gardens called ‘Law with a View.’ Essentially, you pitched up with a picnic blanket, were handed a gourmet food hamper and settled down on the grass for a killer view right in front of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Unluckily for us, on New Year’s Eve it started pouring with rain and I remember eyeing the window wearily as I curled my hair, willing it to stop. But it didn’t and we borrowed an umbrella from the hotel, our feet soaking as we huddled under it and headed to the Royal Botanical Gardens. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty gutted when we got there. I’d imagined sprawling out in the sun, cold drink in hand as we waited for the show to begin but instead, everyone wore rain ponchos and sheltered as best they could at a place that had zero weather protection. That said, the atmosphere was a cheerful one and it was contagious enough that we were soon bopping along to the music in our makeshift umbrella tent. Thankfully, any further rain that did come that night was fairly light and we soon forgot all about it, especially when the fireworks began. It’s safe to say the fireworks were like nothing I’d ever seen. The 9pm family fireworks were incredible so you can imagine how fantastic the midnight show was. We were so transfixed that we almost forgot to kiss until I gave Matt a nudge. It was a brilliant night and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to top that New Years!
I was really happy with how we spent our time in Sydney and feel satisfied we got a real feel for the city. Yes, it’s a busy place but unlike somewhere like London, it possesses a completely different sort of vibe. More chilled, more engaging somehow. There is always something to do, things to see and a wealth of varied restaurants to choose from. Have you been to Sydney? What was your favourite part?