And Sydney definitely delivered.
With towering skyscrapers everywhere; a constant buzz of movement, the city is an eclectic mix of old and new. Australia is vibrant in its different diversities and I appreciated that the most. With a turbulent past, I had hoped to see more Aboriginal appreciation in the form of art and recognition scattered around Sydney – but there wasn’t much.
The summers are sweltering hot. With temperatures easily hitting 40 degrees Celcius almost every day, even the odd storm brought no relief. I would advise anyone travelling to Australia, to pack for the weather carefully because I was told it gets quite cold in winter too.
Sydney is busy. Always. I wasn’t used to so many people around me all the time so do brace yourself. They have a really efficient public transport system and you should consider it before trying out Uber. It’s always on time, clean and cheap. And though it takes you all over the city, there will be quite a bit walking involved if you’re planning on exploring the city. We clocked an easy 20km’s in one day, walking.
And then the most important part – food. Food is extremely expensive in Sydney and the conversion back to rands is frightening. If you look at the prices, you won’t eat. Budget well, think R200 a meal per person (including a drink).
Take a walk in the Chinese Garden of Friendship
Right in the city centre, an oasis lies, with skyscrapers all around. That, in itself, is a marvel. A serene garden in a city? Extraordinary. Placed in the Darling Harbour precinct, it’s a strange sensation walking in-between waterfalls and ageing willows. Entry fees are relatively cheaper than the rest of Sydney attractions, we paid for the additional tea tasting and enjoyed more dumplings than we should have.
Try not to scream at Scenic World (like me)
Based in the Blue Mountains, Scenic World is for the adventurous. With three modes of transportation (debatable) you can see the mountains from different angles. You can also ditch the skywalk, cable cart or train (The train is really steep!) and walk around the assigned paths. It is a bit of drive out of Sydney, but the views are indeed spectacular.
Eat at Spice Alley
Food is a huge part of travel for me and I had a sensory overload when we walked into Spice Alley near Kensington Street, reminds me so much of Maboneng, Gauteng in a way. It’s a collection of houses that have been gentrified into South East Asian restaurants. The food is reasonably priced compared to most of Sydney and you’re sure to find something delicious.
Make some furry friends at Featherdale Wildlife Park
I was really hesitant about going here because I don’t like seeing animals in captivity. But the entire park has a bush setting to it and you can freely walk around, feeding some of the Wallabies and kangaroos. Admittedly, I learnt that koalas are really aggressive but seeing other native Australian animals was wonderful. It’s a great experience and I would highly recommend visiting. Wear comfy shoes.
Waddle at Manly Beach
We didn’t spend much time here, but it’s amazing. Australia has some the world’s beaches but I much preferred this compared to the busy well-known Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. I’d say spend one day soaking up the sun, floating around in clear waters and enjoy the vibe.
I have been obsessed with Adrian Zumbo ever since I saw him on Masterchef Australia and I knew that there was no way I would be leaving Sydney without tasting a Zumbaron. If you get a chance, pop into one of his stores, all of his desserts look delightful.
Of course, the famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are architectural marvels. Go at night, the lights are magnificent! You have to see it!
We had spent a short two weeks in Sydney and I am more determined to visit again, I would love to see Melbourne and even travel more up North. Sydney is a first-world city, but I found myself gravitating and enjoying less-travelled paths.