I cannot believe I almost missed going to Sydney while I was in Australia. I want to sincerely thank everyone who told me I needed to go to Sydney while I was here or else I would have probably missed out on one of my favorite cities in the world. I would describe Sydney as having all the parts of your favorite US Cities in one location with gorgeous weather year round. As soon as I hopped onto the Opal (their metro underground system) I knew this city would be easy to navigate. I arrived on Christmas day and had plans with a friend I met in the Daintree Rainforest to head to Coogee Beach for the day.
A couple things to note about Coogee Beach, it is very easy to get to if you are in the city. It took me approximately 30 minutes with 1 subway ride and then hopping on a bus for a short 10-minute ride. Another thing that I was unaware of is that this beach is where all of the backpackers go to because you are allowed to drink on the beach and have open containers. I had no idea what kind of day I was about to have and didn’t know what to expect. All of my expectations were blown away when I arrived at the beach and saw THOUSANDS of people rocking their best Christmas bathing suits with Santa hats. This day was a blast, to say the least! I met a couple of awesome people, lost my sunglasses in the 5-foot waves and somehow found my way back to the hostel in the city before the sun went down. Below are a couple of photos of some of the people I met and to give you a perspective of how many Santa’s were roaming around.
By the next day, I was ready to go out and explore all the Sydney had to offer, not just the crazy impromptu beach parties. Apparently, the day after Christmas is another public holiday called Boxing Day. I am still not sure what the holiday is about but I know it’s similar to our Black Friday after Thanksgiving where shops have a ton of deals. Along with the shopping deals, horse racing has become very popular on this day where thousands flock to see their favorite horse compete. While I was out and about walking around Sydney, the streets were pretty empty except for the outdoor shopping areas next to Hyde Park, they were insanely packed with locals and tourists trying to snag their favorite Hermes bracelet at half the cost. This day I walked over 15 miles around the city and avoided the underground transportation as much as possible so I could view the city as a local and get lost to explore new places. The city is absolutely breathtaking. My favorite spot was around the Sydney Opera House, as soon as I approached this wonderful piece of art I started to get goosebumps.
After walking around the Opera House and admiring the gorgeous views, I headed to the Sydney Harbour Bridge where I walked across to the other side to capture a new perspective of the city. This city is huge but has so much culture to it as well as fantastic cuisine, mostly from Southeast Asia. I tried a couple of Vietnamese dishes. While I was heading back over the bridge, I stopped by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Contemporary art mirrors the 21st century culture and society through a new lens that many people find intriguing, I find it very interesting and outlandish. After an hour of watching several videos that I couldn’t wrap my head around and admiring the artwork, I made my way to St. Mary’s Cathedral and Hyde Park to relax and read a book.
Fun Facts about Hyde Park:
- In 1810, Governor Macquarie named Hyde Park after the iconic park in London. (I spent many days in Hyde Park in London so this may have been me reliving my time there!)
- In 1830, housing developers tried to build new developments and apartments on this land which the Governor quickly shut down.
- The first monument built in the park was The Obelisk, built in 1857.
It was so peaceful around the park and everyone was enjoying their public holiday by gathering with their friends to listen to music, eat and drink. Meanwhile, I sat in the sun and finished my 4th book since I have landed in Australia (p.s. if anyone has any good book recommendations please leave them in the comments section!)
After relaxing in Hyde Park I thought to myself that I wanted to experience a show at the Sydney Opera House so I made my way back to see which shows were available for the next evening. After debating between the Greatest Opera Hits and Club Swizzle, I decided to go with the comical cabaret show that was in a smaller theater of the Opera House. After I had purchased tickets I decided to call it a night and head back to the hostel for some much-needed rest.
I woke up giddy with excitement that I was going to see my first Cabaret show in the Sydney Opera House later that evening – how cool! I decided to take the ferry to Manly Beach for a relaxing day under the sun. Manly Beach is known as a world famous landmark off the north coast of Sydney and fairly easy to get to (30-minute ferry over). When I arrived, I had an image in my mind that it would be a tropical looking beach but it was just like any other beach I had been on off the coast of Sydney and Cairns. Nothing too special about this beach but it was very relaxing with a ton of surfers trying to catch the 4-6 foot waves. After spending a couple of hours here reading a new book on my kindle and watching the waves I noticed that the rip current was INSANE! I watched over 5 people get rescued by the lifeguards and that the red/yellow flags, that you were allowed to swim between, shifted 400 meters since I had arrived at 10am. By the time I left at 4pm the yellow/red flags were on the complete opposite side of the beach. The lifeguards were very vocal that the rip currents were extremely dangerous today and that the average swimmers should not be going into the water. When I was in the water I didn’t notice it but I probably moved 10-15 feet from my original spot within a couple minutes. Although the rip currents were very dangerous I felt safe with the 10-15 lifeguards patrolling the beach with their boats, wave-runners and paddleboards.
I headed back to the hostel to get ready for my night at the Sydney Opera House where I was about to see my first Cabaret performance! I decided to head over to the Opera House early to grab a quick bite to eat and a couple of drinks. I have to say I have never felt lonelier than I did at the bar….before the show. I would say out of the couple thousand people there, I was the ONLY ONE by themselves. Everyone else was either with their significant other, family or friends. I decided I would have to get a couple of Merlot’s to get through this awkward solo date night. A couple Merlot’s later, I was singing and swaying to the outside band that was covering a couple of the Chainsmokers and Maroon 5 songs…still single and alone but at least I wasn’t sitting in a corner by myself. Note to self – next time I go to the Opera House, I will make sure I have a friend or find a date beforehand 🙂 Club Swizzle was an amazing show and kept me laughing all night long with a couple of awestruck moments. The MC and one of the other cast members were from NYC and joked a lot about our recent election which made it entertaining to see how Australian’s reacted to that.
Club Swizzle was an amazing show and kept me laughing all night long with a couple of awestruck moments. The MC and one of the other cast members were from NYC and joked a lot about our recent election which made it entertaining to see how Australian’s reacted to that. There was a ton of gravity-defying acts and dance performances. The small intimate atmosphere reminded me of the speakeasy that I went to in London. There was also a lot of audience interactions (pole dancing competition, adult make outs, etc). The 90 minute show definitely caught my full attention!
I am so grateful that I had friends, family members and colleagues that encouraged me to take a quick trip to Sydney. Sydney is such an incredible city and I could see myself calling this home for a while sometime in the future. I am excited to come back here in the future!
Until then….next stop Gold Coast, Australia to bring in the New Year with my traveling partner, Sarah Pascuzzi!