Flying High in Sydney
The next leg of my Aussie adventure took me from mellow Melbourne to iconic Sydney.
Here I stayed at one of the best hostels I have ever come across, the YHA hostel based at the trendy Rocks district of Sydney. This modern building is equipped with everything that backpackers need; dorms, private rooms, laundry room, breakfast service, 24 hour reception, communal kitchen, weekly BBQs and a fantastic rooftop terrace that overlooks the Opera House. You get to stay in a premium location for a bargain price. What’s not to love?
I only had a whirlwind 4 days in Sydney, but it was a very special time for me because I spent my 28th birthday there. I was fooled into thinking that my birthday present was to climb the mighty Harbour Bridge, but unbeknownst to me, my loved ones had paid for me to enjoy a surprise helicopter ride over the city!
I was gearing myself up to don a blue boiler suit, harness and helmet to climb the heady heights of the bridge, when I was told that I was in fact heading back to the airport to Blue Sky Helicopters!
I spent an exhilarating hour flying high above this stunning city, seeing the famous sights from a bird’s eye view. The chopper toured the whole beautiful bay that surrounds Sydney.
Sail boats looked tiny in the bright water below, pine trees lined the deserted beaches and I got a glimpse of the glamorous million dollar properties that hug the bay. Ferries glided across, taking Sydneysiders to work in the heart of the city. A colossal cruise ship sojourned in the harbour and temporarily blocked the view of the Opera House.
For regular readers of my blog, I know I always say this.. but the best way to explore is to walk around! I walked the whole city and only took trains when going to and from the airport. Get yourself a map, plot out what you want to see and just wander with abandon!
To further support my walking philosophy, in Sydney, my boyfriend and I had a unfortunate run in with an aggressive taxi driver and two police officers. After our chopper ride, we needed to get back to the main airport to catch the train back into town. A taxi was called for us but we didn’t want to be taken the whole way into the city. The taxi driver properly kicked off, shouting at us for wasting his time. We argued with him, stepped out of his taxi, but accidently left our (only) mobile phone behind. We only realised once we were halfway around the airport perimeter. I was hot and bothered, upset and frustrated so I waited whilst my boyf headed back to try and retrieve it. Cue the police approaching me in a big van, alarmed that I was some crazy girl sat by a barbed wire fence next to the runway! Embarrassingly I had a cry when telling them what had happened. The police were really nice and dropped us off at the airport, no harm done. It wasn’t funny at the time but I can laugh about it now!
Chinese Garden of Friendship, a gloriously magical garden that sits serenely in between skyscrapers. It’s well worth a visit. If you’re lucky you may even see a Komodo dragon!
The Museum of Sydney is worth a visit for some indigenous Australian culture and education about aboriginals. I was greeted by big multi-coloured surf boards lining the walls. Australians take their surfing very seriously and it was interesting to learn about the history of Australian surfing. It was also fun for me to stand on a board and pretend to surf (I have tried surfing for real and on a Flow-rider, but it’s really not my forte!)
Sydney Opera House is world famous and a must see. The architecture is truly unique and still fascinates me to this day. It looks so different up close then it does from afar. I just spent time on the steps and the outside but you can pay to take a tour of the inside if you fancy.
Taronga Zoo was such a cool place to visit via a ferry ride across the bay. Now, I’m an avid animal lover and so I’m easily pleased looking at any kind of animals, in any kind of setting, in any part of the world. Taronga has indigenous koalas, kangaroos and wallabies as well as zebras, giraffes and cute pygmy hippos. It also boasts an incredible view of Sydney city.
Royal Botanical Gardens nestled next to skyscrapers and overlooking the bay, these gardens are a picturesque place to stroll, relax and even see some bats and spiders (if you’re not too scared)
Opera Bar located next to the Opera House and overlooking the Harbour Bridge. It is THE best place in Sydney to sip an ice cold beer and people watch. With a mix of tourists and local cool kids, it’s not cheap to eat there, so my tip is to just order a beer, make it last and soak up the brilliant vibe.
360 Bar and Dining Dine buffet style in a revolving tower that gives you a 360 degree view of Sydney. The food is excellent and you can help yourself to as much as you want.