It has been days since I returned from my journey Down Under, and I’m struggling to articulate the emotions I felt while I was away. Awe, amazement, excitement, and exhaustion probably best sum it up, but no amount of words can describe my once in a lifetime trip. I will attempt, however, to narrow down the must-do activities for a week in Sydney.
See the Sights
Whatever your preferred mode of transportation, you are in for a treat. Being that I’m a boater, I enjoyed the views on the ferry rides. The Opera House and Harbor Bridge are best viewed by water, and the ferry to Manly was a great treat.
Not only are the ferries reliable, but I was impressed with the comprehensive buses and trains in Sydney. I caught a bus to Bondi with no hiccups, as well as to Paddington Markets. I loved how the Opal card connected all transportation. Prior to leaving, I expected Uber to be my lifeline, but everything was so easy to navigate that I never used it.
If you like walking, make sure you climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can also climb one of the pylons for a third of the price, or walk across it for free. Also, stroll over to the Opera House and have a drink or see a show. For those who love horticulture, the Royal Botanical Gardens next door is free and a great spot for a picnic. Make your way to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair and take the most photographed photo in Sydney.
I was impressed by the constant movement of the residents of Sydney. I was dodging bikes on my coastal walk at Manly, and I allowed joggers to pass me at the Opera House. With year-round sun, who would really want to slack off? This goes beyond simply looking good, but with the constant endorphin boost, how could you not want to get outdoors? Wherever I went, I saw individuals working out, and group fitness activities.
I took my first outdoor yoga class with Yoga by the Sea, and it was at the famous Bondi Icebergs swim club. It was the best decision of my trip, even though my session was at 6:30 in the morning. Nothing could compare to inhaling peace and exhaling my stress so close to the water. I got to visualize the waves carrying away all of my problems.
The sounds of the ebb and flow took my mind off of my weak triceps in downward dog, and I didn’t mind the jovial aged swimmers in little Speedos just yards away at the pool. I tell ya, those Aussies are dedicated to their fitness. Bonus, I got to watch the sunrise over the Tasman Sea. That’s a view I will never forget.
And please don’t forget sunblock! I forgot to apply my SPF BB cream on my half-asleep bus ride to the Icebergs, and I am now wearing my first sunburn of 2016 (I’ve done so well with the SPF), right on my face. Sydney’s sun really calls for at least an SPF 50, but my Smashbox Camera Ready would’ve probably made my sunburn less severe.
Immediately following yoga, I decided to
At the beach! Sydney’s beaches are world-renowned. Manly (and the surrounding beaches) is great for picturesque views and water activities. Venture to Manly Beach to try diving or snorkeling. Check out EcoTreasures for their awesome water tours on Shelly Beach. Whether you prefer paddle boarding, snorkeling, or kayaking, they aim to please.
I opted to learn to surf on famous Bondi Beach, not only because of its proximity to yoga, but because of the droves of beautiful people I expected to see. And I was not disappointed. Bondi has a Malibu vibe that I adore, quite different than the laid back atmosphere at Manly.
I chose Let’s Go Surfing, and my instructor Conrad really made me feel like a champ. I’m sure that’s a sentiment shared with my fellow students. We all left feeling accomplished, having all caught the waves. I however (the perfectionist in me) had to ride the first wave, on my first try. Impressive, right?
Let’s Go Surfing also provided us with SPF 50 which I believed saved my face from further damage.
If you’re not up for surfing, and just want to relax, take the coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee and bring your camera. You’re in for some serious eyegasms.
Bond with the Wildlife
There are numerous ways to experience the unique animals of Australia. I chose Taronga Zoo because of its proximity Circular Quay. I almost cried as I got to come up close with koalas. I was not able to touch the ones I met, but I was not disappointed, considering that too much touching could be detrimental to their health. Touching raises their cortisol, putting them at risk for cancers like lymphomas. Out of love for my furry friends, I kept my hands to myself.
Try the Local Cuisine
At first, I worried about balancing the yummy local food with my healthy eats, but with all of my activities and tourism, I definitely earned the frequent treats. I made seafood a priority, as well as the sweets.
I’d also recommend you fight the urge to stop at one of the chain coffee shops. I found that the quaint cafes rival ones I’ve tried in Europe. I had some of the best cappuccinos and pastries, and with dairy-free and gluten-free options. I even saw paleo lamington. The cafes in Sydney catered to hipsters, tourists, and those who wanted a simple cup of Joe.
I was tempted to splurge early on in my trip, wanting to save my money for an outdoor market trip and to Wine Country. I couldn’t resist visiting Paddy’s Market for all of my souvenirs, though. I found that the vendors had the same souvenirs that you’d see in Circular Quay and Darling Harbor, but these were a lot cheaper. I bought all of my typical tchotchkes here, from hats to magnets to bags.
For my more meaningful souvenirs? I did some shopping in Paddington. The Paddington Markets have mostly local goods at reasonable prices, which were refreshing compared to the prices of the boutiques on Oxford Street. I bought the most fabulous dress for myself (stay tuned) as well as some jewelry.
For those looking to splurge, Surry Hills has some pretty fabulous boutiques. I stole so many decorating ideas from the home stores in this section.
Venture Outside of Sydney
This could be a trip to the Blue Mountains, with its breath taking views. For me, however, this meant a trip to Wine Country. Hunter Valley was an impressive experience, and despite it being a large group, I was able to connect with about 3 women. I traveled with Amazing Tours, and I visited four wineries, and a host of treat shops.
This is all just a small portion of what can be experienced in Sydney. I did not think I would need to visit again, but there is so much more to see and do. Let’s not forget there is plenty more to see in the rest of Australia. I’ll probably add Melbourne on the trip, and maybe Cairns. All I know for certain is that I am in love, and I shall return.