Sydney has always been a favorite city of mine since my first visit years ago. The city has only gotten better from then. More high-rises, businesses and people have crowded this city making it a metropolis in Australia.
The population of Asians in Sydney has quadrupled over the years. There were times I looked around and actually thought I was in Asia. In 2006 the census of Asians in Sydney was 33%, today I believe it has grown. With the Asian population comes really authentic great restaurants and we took advantage of that daily.
Circular Quay is filled with beautiful restaurants on the wharf, updated ferry boats and street performers around the quay entertaining for tips. On our way to Manly beach I encountered a couple of native Aboriginal men sitting on a mat with a sign inviting people to take pictures and ask them questions. It’s always nice to see native people who still honor their culture in the changing times. I did a lot of staring and took a couple of photos before tipping them and moving on.
I was here on my birthday and encountered a Native Australian playing his didgeridoo in Circular Quay. After tipping him, he played a song for me. It was pretty cool seeing a native playing a native instrument live.
For my birthday meal I chose a place called Mr. Crackles. They specialize in pork crackling sandwiches. Everything was going great until I cut the roof of my mouth open on crackling and crusty bread.
I ended up spending the rest of the day complaining how painful my mouth was while relaxing at the Royal Botanical Gardens. The gardens are near the Opera House and also home to a colony of flying foxes. Unfortunately the flying foxes were relocated two years ago and were no longer there. Another birthday bust.
Manly Beach is a thirty minute ferry ride from the Circular Quay at Sydney Harbor. This beach is in a neighborhood area with a shopping plaza popular for visitors. All of the internet cafes from my visit years ago have been replaced with trendy restaurants and coffee shops. There are many souvenir shops and name brand beach clothing stores in between. In the middle of the plaza is a playground for kids and stone seating areas for people to rest and take in the scene.
While riding the ferry to Manly we passed by the famous Sydney Opera House and the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’ve never been inside the Opera House but this landmark was simply awesome to see from the outside. The touristy thing to do is to walk across the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The entire climb takes 3 1/2 hours to complete and includes a photo souvenir. We really wanted to try it but the $318.00 price tag kept us back. Just think of all the things we could do for $636.00 during our travels.
Darling Harbor is a huge recreational and walking area across from the city’s business district. A huge pedestrian only bridge connects it from one side of the city to the other over the water. We spent the day here walking around and visiting the Australian National Maritime Museum and Sydney Aquarium. We planned on visiting the Chinese Garden of Friendship until we got there and found out it would they charge admission to get in. After touring Asia we held back on paying to see an Asian garden in Australia.
The Marinetime museum offers complimentary entry to visit the galleries but additional charges are for the large ships and submarines outside and 3D movies. One of the exhibits that stood out was Kay Cottee’s 11.2 meter yacht named Blackmores First Lady. The yacht and some of her belongings is displayed in the museum. She was the first woman to sail around the world alone by way of both hemispheres and the five southernmost capes without stopping or assistance from anyone. This was back in the 80s and she completed her journey in 1988. A lot of things went wrong during that trip so it was a miracle she made it back in one piece. Another favorite part was the dogs and cats section, showing all of the pets living and working on board ships from the early 1900s until now.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is right on the harbor and very touristy. During our last visit to Sydney this was one of sights we didn’t get a chance to visit. This year we made it a priority. Anytime I can see live animals, it’s a good day. Due to an overwhelming request the aquarium added a penguin exhibit. I don’t like to see them trapped inside an aquarium living a life through a window but they are fun to see up close. The exhibit features Gentoo and King penguins in a setting inspired by Macquarie Island. This is an island off the south-west Pacific Ocean in Australia. All of the penguins are named individually. The surprising thing about penguins is they each have their own personalities. My favorite penguin was Steven. He loved interacting with people through the glass and even snapped at people who tapped on the glass.
My other favorite was Nog, he is a king penguin and his large build and thick leather looking feet were amazing to see in person. I couldn’t help but feel bad for them that they would never see real sunlight or feel fresh air on their skin.
The aquarium really cares about animal conservation and the animals are treated as well as they can be in captivity. In one area there are stingrays in shallow water that people can pet and see swim. My favorite area was the huge overhead tanks full of various sharks and large fish. This is the first time I’ve seen a saw shark. I looked above my head and was literally face to face with one. They are very creepy looking and resemble a ghost in a horror movie from underneath. Watching this paired with the classical music being played throughout the building was just plain scary.
No trip to Sydney would be complete without stopping by Bondi Beach. I am a big fan of the show Bondi Vet. It’s about a really good looking veterinarian surfer who lives in Bondi, Australia. He has a heart of gold when it comes to taking care of animals. I started watching the show in Amsterdam and have been a fan ever since. But besides the show, Bondi Beach is one of the most incredible beaches I’ve seen.
It’s always packed with people surfing, swimming, sunbathing and people watching. The shoreline stretches over half a mile. People come from all over the world to see it. There is a huge grassy hill to sit on and overlook the entire beach. Across from the beach is Bondi Road which features shops selling food, souvenirs and clothing. Its like the Los Angeles of Australia but with natural looking people and a cleaner environment. The easiest way to the beach from the city is taking the city bus. Bondi is about four miles from the city and the bus runs all day long to and from the beach area. We tied this in with visiting a weekend market on the way and had lunch and fresh fruit juices there.
The Coastal walk south to Tamarama and Bronte is a pathway along the cliffs from Bondi to Tamarama. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Tamarama. Bondi Icebergs Club is a swimming club that started in the 1900s and is still active today. What makes this club unique is the swimming pool attached to the club that backs up to the ocean. The pool is fifty meters and watched over by life guards, with an added kids pool area. Originally it was built for life guards wishing to train and stay in shape during the winter months. When the tide is high sometimes the ocean waves crash into the pool. The pool is open to the public (additional cost) and open certain hours of the day. This goes down as one of the coolest pools I’ve ever seen.
This isn’t our first time visiting Sydney but a lot has changed since our last visit. This was a nice resting point before battling the heat of Asia again. Next stop is Hong Kong.