Sydney is one of my favourite ‘Day Trip’ cities in Australia, because you can get to all the major things in a day! A few years ago I randomly called a friend and asked her ‘Hey do you want to get coffee?’ and she said ‘Sure where?’ and I said ‘Sydney.’ And so it came to pass a few weeks later we hopped a flight in the early morning to Sydney, didn’t actually have coffee, but had a good wander around, then flew home that night.
With my girlfriend Hollie in the midst of her Gap Year, we decided she couldn’t be in Australia without seeing Sydney, though we probably weren’t going to get a lot of time off work. So we booked in for an evening flight, picked up a very decent hotel room at the Meriton on Kent Street, and gave ourself the whole following day to explore.
Our first stop the next morning (after popping to Darlinghurst to visit a friend) was breakfast, we made our way to the centre of town, beneath the Sydney Tower, where Parisian patisserie ‘Ladurée’ has set up an Australian branch.
We perused the extensive tea menu, finally settling on Thé Eugenié, a delicious blend of black tea, berries and cherries, and six of their famous macarons, including the exquisite blackberry and violet.
I’d first tried this magnificent treat at Ladurée in Paris, when I won a trip to the City of Light, and when we found out there was a branch in Sydney our Parisian travel party reunited for more.
Despite Hollie living in London where there are at least two Ladurée stores, she was yet to try their delicacies, so it was a delightful breakfast for her.
Our next stop was to see Sydney from above, and be real, genuine tourists. Im always dubious of observation decks, and I prefer it when you can find a height for free, but Hollie was acting unusually touristy for once, so why not! We opted not to do the Skywalk, and just explore ‘The Eye’ (It’s not a ferris wheel like in London) we got to watch an amazing *yawn* 4D film before rising up the tower in the lift.
The observation deck was crowded with children on an excursion, which meant it was rather loud, and there were constantly announcements of ‘Stop Running’ however as they began to flitter away off to some other Sydney attraction it got a lot nicer.
We had 360 degree views of the city and beyond, and it was amazing to see how the harbour and various surrounding bays looked from above. I’d never seen Sydney from this angle before. We found our hotel, and where we’d briefly walked the night before, along with our next targets the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Before leaving we sent postcards from the Highest Post Box in the Southern Hemisphere, took a few last snaps of our surrounds and then headed back down the lift into the Westfield Centre below.
From the Sydney Tower we began to wind our way through the (oddly set out) streets of Sydney’s CBD to Sydney Harbour. By this point in the day the sun was definitely shining and we were beginning to regret our warmer attire that we had worn, Sydney was meant to be cooler than Brisbane after all.
The closer we walked to the Opera House the more excited Hollie got. She’d been eagerly awaiting seeing the Opera House, she considered it the number 1 gap year thing to do, and she was about to do it. As we rounded the corner from the ferry terminals there it was, and boy was she excited. Out came the cameras, which is something Hollie rarely does anywhere, and snap snap snap, all the angles began to get covered.
We admired the clever use of tiles that help self clean the structure (and as it was April Fools Day I might have tried to trick Hollie into believing they were solar panels), we sat on the steps, and even headed inside where we briefly considered seeing a children’s show that was on. We didn’t do that, but I did pee in their bathrooms which means I can tick another famous landmark I’ve peed in off the list. (read about my Eiffel Tower whizz here!)
Our next course of action was to head over to The Rocks, the historical heart of Sydney where the first settlement had set themselves up. We were also hungry, and I knew there’d be some good places to eat over that way. I also hoped to explore a wonderful puppet shop I’d been to years earlier…however that appeared to be long gone.
We stopped for burgers at ‘The Burger Joint’ a sort of tucked away fast food annex of a pub. They claimed to have some of Sydney’s consistently highest rated burgers…they were decently priced…they weren’t the best burgers I’ve had but they definitely hit the spot. We sat in an old courtyard, surrounded by old peeling paint, and bricks that were hundreds of years old, and got a chance to appreciate the quiet.
Having both lived in large, busy cities, we both noted how Sydney was the most like one of these out of any Australian city we’d been to. Brisbane is definitely more of a large town, and Melbourne, whilst definitely bigger, just didn’t have that same hectic buzz of a big city.
After our burgers we checked out the free, little, Rocks Discovery Centre museum which tracks the history of the area from pre-convict to current day. There were wonderful little artefacts throughout the old building, and everything was nicely displayed. A perfect way to get a brief overview of Sydney history.
From there we perused more of the local streets, before taking some backroads around the harbour on our quest to return to Darling Harbour and explore more of that area. I really enjoyed taking these suburban alleyways as I got to see all the old housing details. Many of these houses were over a hundred years old and it was interesting seeing workers cottages out the back of the big terrace houses, and the add ons that all the buildings had.
Finally we found ourselves in Darling Harbour and we made our way to the peaceful Chinese Friendship Gardens, one of my favourite things to do in Sydney. In the centre of all the hectic hustle and bustle of Sydney is this tranquil set of gardens, with winding paths and epic rock formations, along with traditional Chinese structures dotted throughout. It’s the perfect place to relax and wind down after a big day on the town.
From there it was time to head back to the airport, and off home to Brisbane. Hollie was feeling like she has officially accomplished her Gap Year status, and I enjoyed a little bit of time away. Perhaps we’ll even go back!