This weekend was my 23rd birthday and Wes decided to surprise me with a trip to Sydney! We were so fortunate to stay with friends and explored the city for 4 days. Here are my highlights and recommendations:
We started the morning with a train ride to Circular Quay and ended up spending the whole day there, exploring the Sydney Harbour. We went inside the Sydney Opera House and realised they offer “student rush” tickets (offered from 9 am of the day of a showing) and scored $315 opera seats for only $45. With a showing at 7:30 pm, we knew we had to stay close to the harbour all day. We traveled over to the Friday Foodie Markets and bought amazing pizza from Caminetto (seriously, the most authentically delicious pizza I have ever had). We walked the Harbour Bridge and then travelled on over to the Royal Botanical gardens and the New South Wales State Library. Dinner was at Circular Quay, about a 5 minute walk from the Opera house at Buckley’s. We watched Rigoletto, a 3 hour Italian opera full of drama, a mystery murder, and some spectacular notes. I noticed that Australians take their opera very seriously and everybody was extremely respectable and quiet. Not a single person got up during those 3 hours and the doors were always shut. If you were going to leave to go to the bathroom outside of intermission, you were missing the show. And I sort of understand this: the cast must have worked SO hard to make this show what it was. They were acting, dancing, singing (in Italian might I add), and changing scenes, acts, and props for three. full. hours. I was in awe of their talent.
We started off the morning with an alert that all trains had shut down due to an IT issue. Apparently, this was the first time this had ever happened. Great.
We took a 2 hour bus to Bondi Beach and were met with gorgeous views and a surprisingly windy coastline. Extremely windy. Like “this has never happened before” windy, apparently. Great.
We decided to chill out, thaw ourselves, and ate lunch at Icebergs. The views at the place are enough reason to go there: balcony seats with a full view of Bondi. Spectacular.
We started the Bondi to Bronte coastline walk and bailed halfway through because…well….wind. Like rocks flying in your eyes wind. Like “let’s get the hell out of here and go inside” wind.
So that’s what we did. We went over to Gertrude & Alice, a bookstore/cafe whose coffee warmed our souls and our freezing fingers. Then we got all the desserts from Pasticceria Papa and finally had pizza at Tipica. That night, we made our way over to Darling Harbour and played at the adult playground, walked around and saw all of the pretty night lights, felt entirely underdressed (re: down jackets and beanies and gloves) for the nightlife there, and got hot chocolate at Lindt.
Because the trains hadn’t been running all weekend, we decided “hey screw this public transport” and were so excited when our hosts offered to show us Blue Mountains. We drove there and stopped at the Blue Mountains Botanical gardens, had coffee and scones, and then wandered through the gardens for an hour. We then moved onward to the Govetts Leap lookout, then did a quick 30 minute hike because it was freezing and snowing and finally made our way over to Three Sisters. The sunset was unreal. We drove home and it took me 2 hours to thaw my arms and legs.
With only half a day left to explore as we were catching a 6:40 pm flight, we decided to take the ferry over to Watson’s Bay, walk around the coastline all the way to the lighthouse, take lots of pictures, muck around the city, and finally, celebrate my birthday the best way I know how: with FOOD. I googled the must see food spots in the city and we ended up at Mr. Wong, an amazing Cantonese restaurant with almost 5 star reviews and over 1,300 ratings. I was in HEAVEN: the food was amazing, actually reasonably priced, and everything was just perfect. The chef really knew how to pair flavours together, nothing was ever misplaced, and the combinations were unlike anything I had ever tried before. The mango pudding was topped with cilantro and coconut tapioca pearls, the cocktail had a splash of rose water, the dumplings were stuffed with wild mushrooms whose flavour rivaled that of truffles, and the seaweed and cucumber salad was so crisp and incredibly refeshing. I snagged a seat that faced the kitchen and the foodie in me was ecstatic watching the kitchen staff work so seamlessly. They really were all so rpideful in the way they prepared their food. I could tell a lot of thought was put into the menu, ambiance, presentation, and even the simple chilli sauce provided at every table. What a perfect way to end a short, but sweet, trip to Sydney.