We came to Sydney for the New Year holiday, but we also spent 9 other days in this great city, and it never disappointed. Sydney really is an incredibly gorgeous place. With so many amazing landmarks and that stunning Harbour…how can it disappoint?
Let’s start with the Opera House. It really is one of the world’s amazing buildings. As we were walking under the Harbour Bridge one night, with the sky a shade of cobalt and the building glowing yellow, Jeremy looked towards the Opera House and said, “Seriously, what building is more beautiful than that?” And I admit, I had a hard time thinking of one that could compete. Not only is the form aesthetically pleasing, but the way it is constructed is a marvel of modern industrial engineering. The “shells” are created using long concrete arches derived from a single sphere so that they all have the same curvature (i.e., each arch can be constructed using a single mold, rather than several different molds gradually decreasing in size). This modularity is a huge tenet of modern, eco-friendly design, and the Opera House was way ahead of its time in these terms.
The interior is quite impressive too, though it was designed by a completely different set of architects due to some political wrangling, and it is completely separate from the exterior of the building. Thus, the Sydney Opera House is a “building within a building.”
The other big focal point in Sydney is the Harbour Bridge. While not as lyrical as the Opera House, it is an impressive landmark (and it looks great with fireworks shooting off of it on NYE night).
The closest beach to Sydney’s CBD is Bondi Beach, world famous for its sand and scene…and what a scene it was! This beach easily had 50 times more people on it than any other beach we visited in New South Wales. We were very amused by the posing and primping that occurred during the 2-3 hours we were there. It is so crowded that surfboards were bouncing off heads and people were getting knocked into each other every time a wave crashed. It is less a swimming beach and more of a posturing beach. Still, we were very entertained, the sun was shining, and the water was refreshing, so we had a great day. Note: Do NOT walk from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach! Save your energy for the walk from Bondi to Coogee or Bronte. The trip from Bondi Junction is hot, sweaty, and unscenic.
The Commodore also took us out for another day of sailing on his boat, the Sommerbreeze. We had a wonderful time exploring the Sydney Harbour, and we got to meet his lovely daughter Jo, her husband, and their adorable kids.
An extremely worthwhile tourist thing that we did was to get a tour of the Sydney Fish Market…despite the fact that you have to get to the market before 7AM! You get to go down on the trading floor and see the buyers bidding on the fish, and you learn how to check that your fish is fresh (Hint: Check the gills! If you pull up the gills and the hairs underneath are red, your fish is fresh). We also got to see enormous tuna in the sashimi pen that sell for $6000…for a single fish!
Kind of a funny segue, but we went to the Sydney Aquarium right after the fish market tour. It was definitely worthwhile…they have these cool tanks where you can walk inside and see the fish from underneath. We got to see the mighty dugong (the cow of the sea), and many many sharks…they are weird looking from the bottom!
We also wandered through the Botanical Gardens and saw the Sydney bats (actually flying foxes) asleep in the trees, visited with the Writers (Jeremy’s old family friends he hadn’t seen in 27 years!), went to the weekend market at The Rocks (not that great), and window shopped along Oxford Street. But overall, we just enjoyed the great food and sights that this lovely city had to offer.
Next time we go back, we’d love to see Manly Beach, the Paddington Market, and explore some of the outer suburbs. We had a great time in Sydney…there is tons to do and see for visitors, and it’s fun just to hang out in the city too. The food is great and varied, the city is beautiful, and the harbour is huge so many of the apartments and restaurants have water views. The more we see of Australia, the more we have come to believe that Aussies really have it figured out.