Last week my friend Sam and I, along with our work colleague Kim, decided to take a spontaneous overnight trip to Sydney to surprise our friends Phil and Kayli. As a Melbournian, a part of me has never wanted to explore enemy grounds and I never felt the urge to visit this harbour city, but my lesson has been learnt, I secretly adored Sydney.
I have been to Sydney maybe 3 or 4 times in my life, never seeing anything but the airport and the view from above as I was taking off to America, oh and the one time I cruised around Vanuatu and New Caledonia we had a transfer to the docks to and from the airport, which we didn’t see much as it was early and I had my eyes closed for the bus ride. When I think about Sydney I think about mass crowds at the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but Sydney isn’t just about that. Walking along the harbour from the Botanical Gardens to Darling Harbour is spectacular, with amazing views of other parts of Sydney and along the way the old buildings and hidden wharfs. Being there for only a night we didn’t get to see much, because Sydney is HUGE! But plans to go back for maybe a few more days are swirling around in my head.
We spent the night in a hostel as Sydney hotels are expensive! That’s not to say that they aren’t worth it, but for a night, and to make your trip cheaper, a hostel isn’t that bad of an option. We were situated in Woolloomooloo at a hostel called Elephant Backpacker, which wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, being my first time in a hostel. They offer various rooms for all your needs, expect single rooms of coarse. The place was quite large and like any other backpackers there were a variety of different guests. Elephant Backpackers is also cheap starting from $18 for a 8 person dorm, which I think is quite the bargain. They also have a cafe/bar where food is dirt cheap with specials of the day costing $2. If that doesn’t sell you on the idea of spending the night in a hostel, Elephant Backpackers is situated so close to the city, Darling Harbour, Botanical Gardens and Circular Quay that transport to these places is completely unnecessary. The walk to the CBD is a mere 5-10 minute walk, depending on where you intend on going. If it’s shopping at Westfield then you are looking at 10-15 minutes tops. Walking straight through the city, Darling Harbour is only 20 minutes, the Botanical Gardens is literally across the road and Circular Quay, via the Gardens, takes around 20 minutes. If Kings Cross is more your thing you are looking at a 15-20 minute walk. I’d say choice of accommodation was spot on.
There was three parts of this city that we explored and spent the most time at, which looking back I somewhat regret because we could have seen so much more, but the trip was more about surprising our friends and catching up with them, those three places were Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and the Botanical Gardens.
Circular Quay, a main dock for the ferries that take you to almost any part of Sydney you want, is where most of the crowds are. A few restaurants and cafes reside along the water, some of the cruise ships dock there (at the time a Carnival ship was docked), and thousands of people along a strip trying to get the best photo of the Opera House and/or Harbour Bridge, which I late learnt that the best photo op is actually on the ferries. Needless to say Circular Quay is somewhere you need to at least walk through and quickly experience as the two biggest attractions of Sydney sit there.
AND while you’re waiting for a ferry make sure you treat yourself to a cup, or cone, of gelato from Gelatissimo, even in winter gelato is great! I was impressed the most about this place was the variety of sorbet, as dairy and I aren’t the best of friends. Usually I am stuck with those 3 or 4 flavours that begin to get old. Lemon, Orange and Raspberry, with a lot of places thinking they are getting fancy and throwing in Lychee. I love lychee sorbet but EVERYWHERE has it now. But I was able to choose from about 7 flavours, along with the classics there was Passionfruit, Lime, Mango, Chocolate, Guava, Blood Orange, Forrest Berries, ahg my mouth is watering! I think I might treat myself today by visiting the Southland location.
Both days we ended up in Darling Harbour, a nice spot with plenty of choice of restaurants, kid friendly activities such as a ferries wheel ride, IMAX, exploring the warships, Madam Toussauds, Sydney Zoo and the Aquarium. It is a very family friendly place down in Darling Harbour, but I think our crew was more excited about the taste of home, the British Lolly Shop in the mall. Two visits there and the lads left very happy.
Day 2 I ventured out of the hostel alone and went exploring, only to find myself back in Darling Harbour, a little disappointed because I was already there the day before, but I took advantage of breakfast by the water at an Italian place called Baia. Very beautiful place that really hit the breakfast spot! I ordered Huan Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Goats Cheese on the most beautiful multigrain bread. I fell in love! $23.50 for my breakfast and an apple juice and it all was so worth it!
I think my favourite part of the city, that I explored during my short time there, would have to have been the Botanical Gardens. It is so beautiful and walking through the native plants and windy paths gives you a sense of calm and happiness. It is through the gardens that there are perfect photo ops of capturing the cityscape and nature as one. And along the way we bumped into an actor from Games of Thrones, don’t ask me who because I don’t watch the show and have no clue about names or actors, but it made the boys happy.
Another spot I found very intriguing was St Mary’s Cathedral, situated across the road from Hyde Park. Beautiful architecture and a sudden sensation of peace when entering the amazing place. If I was spending more time in Sydney I would dedicate an afternoon to sitting in this building and listen to the sounds of the organ and take in this beautiful design.
I can’t wait to get back to Sydney for a bit longer than 36 hours and do some proper exploring! Below is information on the accommodation and places to check out.
50 Sir John Young Crescent
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
61 2 9380 2922
Prices vary depending on the type of room, ranging from $18
Baia The Italian
114 Cockle Bay Wharf
Darling Harbour NSW 2000
61 2 9283 3434
Baia is open from 8am until Late everyday.
Breakfast ranges from $8.50-$22
Located in various locations, visit website to find your nearest location
Prices vary from location to location.