Sydney, Australia- Our Biggest City Yet!
Our journey took us next to the largest city in Australia, Sydney! After spending some much needed beach time at Byron Bay we were ready to get our tourist on. Jeremy’s favorite part about getting to a new city has become the trip to the information center and getting a city map, so he was delighted that Sydney’s was very comprehensive. We decided to stay in the eastern suburb (in Chicago we’d call it a neighborhood), of Bondi Beach. One of my old college dorm friends Raechel lives in Bondi with her fiancé and suggested it was a great spot to both explore the city from and also be near the beach. We got in around dinner time and our Air BnB host suggested a nearby burger joint for dinner just down the street. The burgers were fantastic and strange enough as we were saucing up our fries we noticed a Lillie Qs label on a squeeze bottle! As we paid Jeremy asked the owner about it and told him we were from Chicago and that Lili Qs was a great neighborhood spot we’d been to many times. The owner proceeded to tell him that their burger place was known for how good the sauce was! He was also thrilled that we thought he made a burger as good as we can get back home.
The next day we prepared to have ourselves an ultra-touristy day exploring the entire downtown area and end the evening with a Nomadic Matt meet-up in Darling Harbor. Nomadic Matt is a travel blogger we’ve been following for quite some time and he even wrote a book about long term travel that was super helpful for us in planning this trip. We started out in Bondi Junction and walked through an awesome open air mall until we got to Centennial Park, one of the biggest outdoor spaces in Sydney. After a stroll through the park we ended up in the suburb (neighborhood) of Paddington filled with lots of cute cafes, restaurants and shops. Jeremy even got the first haircut of the trip here! Next we hopped on a bus headed for downtown, but we happened to miss the last stop in the downtown area taking us across the bridge into North Sydney. After getting off at the first stop we hopped back on another bus that took us through the Crow’s Nest area and then back into the downtown.
We of course had to check out the opera house and harbor bridge. Then we also spent a large chunk of the afternoon wandering around Sydney’s gorgeous botanic gardens. We saw some awesome trees that I absolutely loved! With still a few hours to kill before our backpacker meet up we headed towards Hyde Park to check out St. Mary’s Cathedral as well as the Old Synagogue. Then after wandering through the interesting Paddy’s Market in Chinatown we finally made our way towards Darling Harbor for the event! We decided to get a drink beforehand as to not be the early ones, but by the time we arrived the place was packed, and we were excited to learn, free drinks! It was pretty awesome to meet one of our backpacking and travel blogging idols in real life and was nice to spend an evening amongst other travelers.
The next morning, we wandered around Bondi looking for a good breakfast place before settling on Lox Stock and Barrel for some tasty and familiar deli-style brunch. Little did we know we’d love this place so much, we’d be back for their dinner service another evening! After brunch and the morning rain cleared up, we decided to do the scenic Bondi to Coogee beach walk that hugged the east coast of Australia and stopped at several beaches and parks along the way. It was a great way to spend an outdoorsy afternoon in the city after spending the entire previous day downtown.
That evening we met my friend Raechel, her fiancé Rich and her best friend for dinner at a local Italian place that had amazing pasta. It was so good to spend an evening among friends and the place was even BYO just like Chicago! We ended the evening with our new favorite gelato place, Messina. They had the most creative flavors of gelato I’ve ever encountered and I’m not sure I’ll never be able to eat gelato again without comparing it to this creative ice-creamery.
Friday we made an attempt at catching some March Madness at a 24-hour bar aptly named, Cheers. Unfortunately, the way the tournament was broadcast outside the states meant that we only got a glimpse of the Hoosiers every 15 minutes or so between the other games happening. So with rain again on the horizon, we made our way to the harbor to catch a ferry; our next destination was a seaside suburb of Sydney called Manly Beach, where people insisted we go while in town. Alas we arrived to a downpour of rain without jackets or umbrellas and so didn’t really get to spend any time on the beach. Instead we opted to share a pizza on a little sidewalk café and a mojito while looking at the beach, but not actually sitting on it.
After taking the ferry back we explored the Kings Cross area (a bit shady) as well as Potts Peak where we popped in a delicious tapas place for a drink and an afternoon snack before heading back to Bondi to meet Rae and Rich for a happy hour drink at a great German beer place on the Bondi beach boardwalk.
We decided to spend our last day in Sydney on the beach as it seemed like it was finally going to be a clear day. We started off with exploring the local Bondi farmers market which reminded us a lot of our own Green City Market back in Chicago. Then we grabbed our towels and sunscreen and prepared ourselves for a great beach day! The sun in Sydney was out, it was the perfect weather and I actually managed to not burn for the day and we spent the afternoon simultaneously reading and podcasting. We decided to splurge for our last meal out in Sydney and settled on Lox Stock and Barrel, this time for dinner. For really high quality food, it was pretty reasonably priced and we were lucky that the American dollar helped us out by giving us a little “discount.”
Overall we really loved our time in Sydney. It’s definitely a city I could see myself going back to and spending more time exploring the different suburbs, restaurants, and sights. Plus, there is always more time I could spend on the beach. We found that overall the people in Sydney were very friendly and the city itself can be described as “nice,” it’s clean, easy to manage and get around, and the people aren’t bad looking either. Until next time Sydney, we’re off to Melbourne!