Five Days in Sydney

Finally, finally, FINALLY, I made it out to Sydney, Australia – a week before Thanksgiving.  Yes, the 13 hour flight was terrible even though I had an entire row to myself on the first flight (from Chicago to Japan), the movie selection sucked, the food sucked, and every body part I have managed to fall asleep on the flight with the exception of my eyes and brain.  The second flight (from Japan to Australia) was even worse (11 hours) in a cramped, full airplane that seemed as if at any moment it would just be taken by the wind – oh, and this flight was exactly two hours after I landed in Japan, with a total of 24 hours spent on a plane.

BUT – now that I have gotten the rant out of the way of how terrible the flight was I am ready and willing to write about my wonderful trip to the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia.  I left on a Sunday afternoon from Chicago, and landed thirteen hours in Tokyo, Japan, in the airport I was able to enjoy some awesome ramen before boarding my second flight to Sydney, Australia.

Day 1

  • SeaLife Aquarium
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Sydney Bridge

I arrived in Sydney on Tuesday morning, I was extremely jet lagged – something that I have rarely experienced, even when traveling to and from Europe.  I grabbed a coffee in the airport, which seemed to be terribly expensive but really wasn’t when I realized the exchange rate. (1 AUD = .73 USD approximately)  A friend of my mom’s from when she was in Quantico had a friend of his pick me up from the airport and give me a ride to my friend Melissa’s apartment in Belmore, where I would be staying in Australia.  Her apartment in Belmore was only a five minute walk to the train, so I hopped on and took it to the Town Hall stop and walked to Darling Harbor, this is where the Aquarium, Madam tussauds, and the Zoo are all located.  I decided to visit SeaLife Aquarium, I have been to the one in London several times and was interested in comparing the two.  As much as I LOVE the one in London this one definitely tops it: they have a ride where you get close to the penguins, rooms where the sharks swim above you and under you.  In London they only have where you walk above sharks.  Oh, and they have manatees in this aquarium which probably won me over in itself.  Although I would tell you the Aquarium is a must-see it is extremely expensive, which is disappointing… After the aquarium I walked over to the Sydney Opera House and Bridge.  I grabbed another coffee but the jet lag won and I ended up heading back to Melissa’s for a nap.  We grabbed gyros from a nearby place before I passed out.

Day 2

  • Taronga Zoo
  • Contemporary Art Museum
  • The Rocks
  • Hyde Park

Because my biological clock was off I woke up around 6 AM and headed over to a Greek cafe, The Olive Branch, where I had a coffee and a breakfast sandwich which was the size of my head.  I then took the train to circular quay, and hopped on the ferry to Taronga Zoo.  This zoo is huge, and could keep you busy for hours.  You take a bus up to the top of the hill where the zoo begins and walk downhill passed all of the different exhibits.  You also get a really great view!  After the zoo I took the ferry back and visited the Contemporary Art Museum (which was free, yay!) I then walked over to the Rocks and did some shopping and ended up wandering over to Miller’s Point where I got another great view of the city.  The rocks has really interesting little knick-knacks you can buy, and I came across an adorable place for tea and scones called, tea cosy.    I ended up walking through Hyde Park before having dinner at Menya Noodle Bar, which had delicious and inexpensive Ramen.  I did so much walking and exploring that I was exhausted and decided to head back to the apartment to sleep.

Day 3

  • Manly Beach
  • 4Pines Brewery
  • Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Art Gallery of NSW

Australia is home to so many different beaches, so naturally I had to visit at least one (if not two) of their famous beaches.  On my third day I took the ferry to Manly Beach.  I had an amazing breakfast at Ora, I had sai bread with avocado sprouts and a cashew latte.  I then walked along the beach to Shelly Beach.  I did some shopping and lay out in the sand.  The weather was wonderful and although I did get sunburned I felt more relaxed and happy than I can remember feeling in a long time.  I then walked over to 4pines brewery where I sampled a few beers before deciding on their porter.  For lunch I grabbed fish and chips at Manly Wharf Chippy and took the ferry back back to Circular Quay.  I ended up wandering through the Royal Botanic Gardens for a couple of hours and ended up on the other side of them at the Art Gallery of NSW.  I then went back to Melissa’s apartment to meet her for dinner.

Day 4

  • Chinese Friendship Garden
  • Australian Museum
  • China Town

I took the train back to Darling Harbor where I then walked to the Chinese Garden of Friendship – probably the most beautiful place I have visited and for only five Australian Dollars!  I did see a lot of spider webs and spiders here though which terrified me, but the gardens were breath taking, regardless.  I had a coffee and scones before walking over to the Australian Museum which had some really cool exhibits based on dangerous animals found in Australia.  I grabbed a beer at the 3 wise monkeys pub and had lunch in China Town at Menya Mappen, which is very popular but I would argue does not have the best ramen I have had.  I then ended up going on a shopping spree in Chinatown because they have so many adorable shops featuring Japanese beauty products and fashion.  I met Melissa found dinner and drinks at Calveras Mexican Cantina and Tequila Bar in Newtown, we then bar hopped in the area before going to get more drinks at her work-place, P.J. O’Brien’s, a really fun Irish Pub with live music.  We stayed out pretty late but had a really great time.

Day 5

  • Bondi Beach
  • Madam Tussauds

Well – as a result of the previous night we slept in pretty late…. we then took a train and a bus to Bondi Beach.  We had a really, really, great lunch at a place called Brown Sugar in Bondi, I had a chicken sandwich which was great for my hangover.  We then walked along the jellyfish covered beach.  It was pretty cold so we did not go in the water but decided to grab more drinks at Bucket List, a popular place nearby.  I was unimpressed by their drinks, however, which took forever and tasted bleh.  We then took a bus to Madam Tussaud’s, which I cannot believe we actually visited because not only is it terribly overpriced but it the entire museum can be covered within less than thirty minutes!  Sadly, it is a huge rip-off.  We had some beers and great pizza at Frankie’s pizza, which has a really cool atmosphere and (like i mentioned) actually good pizza (and not in chicago! haha)

I left the following afternoon where I had a 12 hour flight to California (which went by surprisingly much faster than my flight to Japan) and from California flew home to Chicago.  Almost everyone I know still says that they cannot believe I went to Australia and saw so much in less than a week but I thought I spent the perfect amount of time there.  Australia is beautiful and perhaps someday in the far-off future I will return for a visit but I have discovered I am more of a Europe-vacationer.  (and I am absolutely NOT the outdoorsy type, so skydiving, scuba diving, bush-wacking or whatever are all out of my comfort zone).  I would, however, love to, and do plan to visit Japan again at some point in the future (hopefully sooner rather than later!)

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