Sydney... WOW!

Trip Start Jul 16, 2009
Trip End Oct 08, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Monday, July 27, 2009

Sydney… one word…. WOW! I have to say that of all the places I've seen in my life (although there haven’t been that many!), Sydney was by far the greatest city I’ve ever seen! Ok, so I’ll start from the beginning!

I took the 4am bus on Sat morning from Canberra to head over to Sydney, which meant getting up at 2:30am… ouch! The trip didn’t have the best start… the cab driver showed up 20 minutes early, and the bus showed up 30 minutes late… to top it off, it was about 5 degrees out and very windy, and the Greyhound station had locked the doors which meant I ended up waiting in the cold for over an hour in the middle of the night. Stupid move on my part was that I had decided not to bring my jacket because I didn’t want to have to carry it around all weekend, so that sucked! I got to Sydney around 8am, and it was still freezing cold and the shops weren’t yet opened. At this point I was cold, hungry, tired and very grumpy. In an attempt to get away from the cold, I started walking and finally found a café that was opened and got a nice hot cup of coffee with some raisin toast.. the day was looking up! I then kept on walking to come across Paddy’s Markets. Paddy’s Markets has hundreds of stalls selling everything from cheap clothes, fruits/veggies, corny souvenirs, purses (knockoffs), etc. The market was just getting ready to open so it was still very quiet and many of the stores were closed, but it was quite impressive to see the layout! Considering the weather, I decided to stick around until it opened and then purchased an Australian sweater (nothing screams "tourist" more than a big sweatshirt with “Australia” on it, but given the weather I really didn’t care!!!!). The shops were quite impressive and by the time I got out with my sweater and tons of souvenirs, I was in a great mood!

I kept on walking through China Town which was quite nice and then went to the Chinese Gardens, the largest Chinese garden of its type outside China. The scenery was quite lovely! After that, I kept walking up to Darling Harbour, which was by far my favourite part of town!! Designed as a tourist precinct, Darling Harbour feathers Sydney’s main conventions, exhibitions and entertainment centres; a waterfront promenade; the Sydney Aquarium; the Australian Maritime Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, Star City (Sydney’s Casino) and plenty of shops. Nearby are Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf which are filled with funky restaurants. I was so amazed by this area that I walked around quite a few times before moving on! I had breakfast on a patio in the sun enjoying the weather… I guess I forgot to mention that in the hour after I left Paddy’s Market, the weather dramatically changed! It went up to about 20 degrees with not a cloud in the sky! After breakfast and more walking around, I went to the famous Lindt Chocolate Café… need I say more?! Although it definitely wasn`t cheap (got a caramel torte, a dark hot chocolate and a few chocolates to bring home for $20) it really was worth every calorie and every penny!

After having seen what Darling Harbour had to offer, I decided to take a 90 minute cruise between Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. The cruise offered amazing views of the Sydney Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the city in general and many little islands along the way. I met these 2 really nice girls from Sydney that were going to Shark Island to have a picnic with friends and invited me to go to lunch with them! It was a tempting offer, but I decided to keep moving to see as much as I could! After the cruise, I walked for about 30 minutes up George Street all the way to the Rocks and Circular Quay. On way, I stopped at my hotel to drop off my shopping bags which was great! Chris and Lindy had helped me book the hotel because they were afraid of me staying in a dodgy area, and it turned out to have the perfect location! The Rocks is a small historic area packed with colonial stone buildings, intriguing back streets and alleys, boutiques, pbus, tourist stories and top-notch restaurants. It’s the most exclusive place to stay in the city because of its beauty and its proximity to the Opera House and the harbour. On weekends, a portion of George Street is blocked off for The Rocks Market with stalls selling souvenirs and crafts. I walked around the streets for hours enjoying the views before grabbing some dinner at this really good Italian restaurant.

Given that it was by then Saturday night, I had booked “The Rocks Pub Tour” for the evening thinking I’d have the opportunity to meet more people travelling on their own (as this is the way it’s advertised). I was a bit surprised at what awaited me: the pub tour was actually me, and 8 other people…. 4 couples in their 50’s, all with kids older than me!! I was a bit disappointed at first, but I was really exhausted by this point and just decided to make the best out of it! The group turned out to be really fun! They were 4 couples from Sydney who had decided to have a “Tourist in your own town” kind of weekend. I stayed with them until 10pm and then stayed at an Irish Pub with a great live band for another hour before heading back to the hotel. As soon as I reached the hotel, I brushed my teeth and literally passed out (from the 12hrs of walking, not from drinking!) for about 8 hours until my alarm went off!

I woke up Sunday morning at 8am to go climb the Sydney Bridge!! The Bridge Climb experience lasts about 3.5 hours total and is quite the endeavour! You need to get out of your clothes and put on this grey jumpsuit, followed by track pants, followed by a fleece vest, gloves, a hat and a rain jacket. Once completely dressed, you need to walk through a metal detector and take a breathalizer test (a bit extreme, I know!!). After about an hour, we were ready to begin our journey! You are harnessed to a line on the bridge and, in groups of about 10 participants; you climb your way up to the very top of the Bridge, a total of 1,437 stairs! The view from above was just exhilarating, well worth the steep $215! I met this girl named Julia who was travelling from Germany. She had been working in Perth (Western Australia) for about a year, and was just in Sydney for 4 days before heading back to Germany. The Bridge Climb was done around 12:30pm, at which point the weather was looking pretty gloomy.

I was planning on hitting the beaches all afternoon, but given the weather I decided to have lunch in the Rocks to see if the weather would clear up. I ended up at a Bavarian restaurant called The Lowenbrau Keller where the nice (and HOT) manager helped me pick what to eat and what beer to order. After lunch, it was quite obvious that the rain was going to start at any moment, so I decided to hold off on the beaches. I’ll be going back to Sydney in a few weeks, so I’ll get to see the beaches then. I walked around some more around the city and ended up back in China Town in late afternoon. I hit up Paddy’s Markets again to get some fruits and veggies before heading back to Canberra as to save me a shop to the supermarket. Although I don’t regret the experience, I have to admit that the 10 minutes I spent in the fruit market on a rainy, Sunday afternoon was one of the most stressful things I have ever experienced!! The pictures I have just simply can’t reflect how it was in there! In one word: CHAOS!! Yelling, pushing and shoving, massive crowds of people, ridiculous!!! After trying to get to the mangos for about 5 minutes and being shoved around by little asian people, I decided to abort and head for the door! I met an American couple by the door who were feeling exactly the same way I was, so it was good to see I wasn’t alone! I then walked into a meat shop in China Town to get some chicken and pork for the week… I pointed at what looked like chicken or something I would eat and got about $10 worth… which Is definitely going to be way more than I’ll be able to eat – I hadn’t realized how dirt cheap it was! I was a little afraid of food poisoning, but ate some pork tonight (Mon night) and I feel fine! J

I headed back to the Greyhound station, jumped on my bus around 6pm and got back to Canberra around 9:30-10pm. Overall, it was a very lovely trip in an amazing city! I already can’t wait to go back, even though I have a few other trips that will be amazing coming up before then (Melbourne and Blue Mountains). I will be staying in Canberra this weekend and will be going out with Sonia and some of her girl friends on Friday night. I haven’t seen much of Canberra’s night life yet so that should be fun.

Well that’s it for now, I hope I didn’t bore you to death with this never ending blog! I hope everyone is doing well! Miss you all and wish you were here!

Caro xoxo
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