Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sydney in the rearview mirror

Coming to you from a train headed to Charleville from Brisbane, sipping coffee and watching kangaroos bounce through a paddock.

We had a one night stay in Brisbane, Queensland after hanging out in Sydney for a little more than a week.

Sydney, in all honesty, was a mixed bag for me. We were plagued with jet lag and an extremely loud bar below our hostel. Sydney has a lot to offer but the majority of it doesn't illustrate Aussie culture--it feels like any other city in the world.

But still, it was a good time!

The Harbour area with the Bridge and the Opera House is beautiful. The day we landed in the city, we walked down George Street to the water.

I'll never forget the moment when the distinctively white Opera House roof came into view.

The Opera House's architecture is world-renowned and the building is photographed so much, that to see it in person is truly special.

We saw the Opera House from several angles: on a ferry out to Manly, from the Bridge during the day and night and from a lookout point in the botanical gardens. The view from the Manly ferry was my favorite because we were out on the water, eye level with the Harbour. 

We timed our return trip on the ferry to coincide with Vivid Sydney, a celebration of the city with light displays all around the Harbour.  The light show against the Opera House was really gorgeous!

Another Sydney highlight: The Rocks, the city's historic district.

This little area is tucked away, close by the water and seemingly hidden underneath neighboring skyscrapers. 

Cafes, shops and museums are packed together in The Rocks, making it a great place to stroll.  With stone walkways, random stairs and alleys, this shadowy strip of Sydney has a lot of charm and character.

Inside The Rocks Discovery Museum we learned about the district's original, working-class residents. 

In the 60s and 70s, battles over business district expansion and workers' unions disrupted the solidarity of the neighborhood. For years, The Rocks had a reputation for being rough and dangerous. But now, it's a cultural hub, with popular markets and attractions--very family (and backpacker) friendly.

Sydney was also a great place to get ourselves organized at the start of our trip. We collected our bank cards, completed a Responsible Service of Alcohol course online (permit needed to work as a bartender in AUS) and purchased a pre-paid phone with Telstra.

One of my favorite elements of travel is an abundance of new food options. In Sydney we had lots of memorable meals: gourmet pizza at Young Alfred's inside the Customs House, kangaroo kebab at Oz Turk Pizza and Kebab, beer and fish and chips at Cheers (while watching UFC matches with the locals) and a steak sandwich at a Bondi Beach cafe. We also prepared many meals in the hostel kitchen...memorable as well, just in a slightly different way :)

In list form, here's what else we took in while in Sydney: Darling Harbour and its National Maritime Museum, North Sydney and Luna Park, the state library (free Intetnet), Nando's (Aussie version of a tastier KFC or Popeye's), Paddy McGuire's Reggae night on the Queen's Birthday and a picnic lunch at the Domain.

Stay posted for a short entry about our one night in Brisbane. We are in Charleville now, starting work tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. All that food sounds delicious, dear. I'm envious. The places you describe also sound intriguing and beautiful. Oh well. Not in this lifetime for me...