"It’s so much smaller than I expected!" I exclaimed, easily fitting it in the frame of my camera.
Darren raised an eyebrow and replied, "I think it’s a decent size. How big did you expect it to be?"
I don’t know, really...but in photos, the Sydney Opera House always seemed huge to me and while the architecture is certainly unique I realized that once again I’ve been fooled by photography. Sometimes perspective, positioning and careful timing give pictures a look that real life that my fading eyesight can’t live up to. Other times I’m unexpectedly awed by a travel encounter that overwhelms all my senses in a way a photo just can’t do justice to.
Our hop on, hop off harbour ferry moved along past the Opera House and Harbour Bridge toward some sort of large grey military boat that sported a delightful red kangaroo on the side.
Ron, our Australian guide on the ferry, explained that the red kangaroo had been the iconic symbol of the Royal Australian Navy since the 1950s and that naval ships like the destroyer we were staring at were common in the harbour.
Our inexpensive ferry tour / water taxi for two days was a great way to get around the main tourist stops including the zoo, Darling Harbour and the Circular Quay. Although we didn’t use the service as much as I thought we would, I thought it was a good purchase. I liked having the guide on board, but if that isn’t necessary for you then the public ferry service is a less expensive choice than the tourist one.
The weather was great so we walked lots! On foot, we explored the Rocks, the harbour paths, the Royal Botanical Garden and Sydney Opera House. Jet lag actually worked in our favour. Sydney seems to wake up early, go for a jog and grab a coffee. It also seems to go to bed early with bars around the Opera House shutting down at 9 or 10. Our up at dawn, asleep at dark jet lagged state worked perfectly with the vibe of the city.
We opted not to climb the harbour bridge. Ron pointed out that at over $320 per person there were more reasonably priced ways to enjoy Sydney. We took his suggestion to go up the Sydney Eye a tower with great views, an open air observation deck and a restaurant (a tenth of the cost of the bridge). Having said that, we really did enjoy watching people brave enough to tie themselves together and scale the bridge’s arches, so if that’s your idea of a fun way to spend your money, more power to you! You’re fun to take photos of from one of the many cafes along the harbour.
The botanical garden was free and provided some of the best, land based vantage points of the Opera House. We had a blast figuring out what all the birds were (ibis are odd looking and sulphur crested cockatiels are incredibly noisy) and we really enjoyed the carnivorous plant displays. We also saw a lot of spiders — really BIG spiders! We wandered through at our own pace one morning with a cappuccino to go — it’s a nice oasis in the city with lots of shaded spots to escape the sun.
Oh! And the food in Sydney was fabulous. We didn’t check reviews or make reservations… we just stopped when and where it struck our fancy as we roamed about. We had amazing Italian food for a late al fresco lunch in the rocks, delicious oysters beside the harbour after our show at the Opera House and some tasty Mexican food near Circular Quay. The fish tacos were amazing. Once again our jet lag effected our habits — huge evening meals and reservations would have been a bad idea for our slightly confused digestive systems (we were famished by 3pm. Lol). Our breakfast was free at the hotel and we ate our “main” meal at about two in the afternoon. This gave us the chance to explore Sydney dining — keeping happy jet lagged tummies at a reasonable price all while people watching!
Sydney is an incredible city to visit and was a great first stop on our Australia tour! I could spend months here and not run out of things to do.
Where we stayed:
We enjoyed our stay at the Pullman Circular Quay in their most basic room. It was a little run down but had separate living, dining and sleeping areas, in room laundry (yay!!) and (for us) breakfast was included and its location was perfect. Breakfast was delicious and we took advantage of it every morning. We got it free because (through a weird series of events) we’re Accor hotel Platinum members. The Canadian Pacific hotels are our favourite in Canada. We stay at them frequently. They got bought by Fairmont who in turn got bought by Accor who made Fairmont loyalty members into Accor Platinum members. Honestly, I’m not loving the Accor member experience but the breakfast is great!
Top things we did in Sydney:
- Used the ferries
- Walked through the Rocks and along the harbour
- Had coffee outdoors near the Opera House
- Went to a show at the Opera House
Top things we didn’t do but wish we had time for:
- We really didn’t get out of downtown.
- Getting to the beach areas would have been nice.
- We didn’t make it to the zoo or aquarium.
Disclaimer: As always, my opinions are my own. Theatres do not give me free tickets to shows and coffee shops do not provide a flat white on the house. No one involved is ever even aware I’m doing it.
You might also enjoy visiting these sections on DLTK's Sites:
Wife, mom and the woman behind the scenes of the DLTK's Crafts for Kids websites. The websites are a terrific hobby -- run by (me) Leanne, a mom with two girls as my official craft testers and my husband as my technical support. DLTK are the first initials of each of the people in my family (I'm the L!). Whenever we send out little cards or whatnot, we sign 'love DLTK' ... when I started the website I used the initials. Had I known the website would get actual strangers visiting it, I would have picked a less mysterious name but we're all stuck with it now!
You can view my other blog posts here.