Three Days in Sydney, Australia
In August of 2014, I joined my husband at the end of his business trip in Sydney, Australia. It was winter "down under", so the weather was cool - a nice break from the heat and humidity in the U.S.
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I took a Thursday evening flight from the east coast to Los Angeles, with a 2 hour layover before the long flight to Sydney. I arrived early Saturday morning (total 20 hours +1 day). We toured Sydney Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and took a ferry to Manly Beach Tuesday morning. Our return flight was 2:00 pm Tuesday afternoon, with a layover in San Francisco. Due to mechanical mishaps in San Fran, we were re-routed to San Diego and did not actually arrive home until 8:00 am Wednesday (30+ hours of traveling). Always good to keep a positive outlook and expect the unexpected! Enjoy!
The Iconic Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is not just an icon - it is THE icon. You cannot be in Sydney without encountering its radiant white presence. Whether you're in the circular quay (pronounced "key", to save you some embarrassment) or at some elevated point in the city, you will see the billowing sails of the Opera House. The Opera House tour was very informative! I had no idea that the committee chose from among the discarded design submissions a conceptual sketch with no architectural engineering details! The winning design was submitted by Danishman Jørn Utzon, who assumed management of the project in 1959 (and subsequently resigned in 1966). The actual engineering took another 10+ years, exceeded its original budget by multi-millions of dollars, and must forever pay homage to the onion skin. But I think it was worth it. It is truly an architectural masterpiece. Queen Elizabeth II opened the Opera House in October, 1973.
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra brought to life the book I was reading at the time, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. The opening scene of the book takes place in a taxi, with Janacek's trumpet ensemble blaring its military tribute. Imagine my surprise when the Sydney Orchestra was playing that very piece! The orchestra opened with Brahms' Symphony No. 3, followed by Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole with Vadim Repin playing violin. The finale was Janacek's Sinfionetta. I would not recommend Brahms while recovering from jet lag, but Janacek commands your attention (like it or not!). The orchestra expanded two-fold for this piece, with extra drums and brass. It was rousing and spectacular! If you are going to spend a night a Sydney, you gotta see a show!
We are runners. As such, our early morning run naturally took us over the Harbor Bridge to Kirribilli Point. While demurring to the glitz of the Opera House, the bridge is another city symbol and functions as a connecting artery for cross-harbor suburbs. It is also a "must see" on your tourist agenda. Nowhere else provides a better view of the city skyline, the Opera House, Luna park, and the hustle-bustle of the ferry ways. While you are there, go ahead and take the bridge tower tour. The early-20th century photos of Sydney before the Opera House and the bridge are worth the $20-ish bucks. And you can scoff at the suckers who paid $200 to climb the bridge scaffolding!
Bronte, Bondi and Manly Beaches
There is no topping Yoga by the Sea in Bronte Beach. Gentle flowing vinyasa to the tempo of crashing white-capped waves and a namaste to the sun beaming high in the deep blue sky. Definitely a cure for jet lag! Feeling zen, we spent the rest of the day awed by the beauty and energy of Sydney's beaches. For an early spring day, the weather was unusually warm (high 70's), beguiling surfers, skaters, boarders, volleyball players, swimmers, guitar-strummers, artists, and picnic goers out of their winter hibernation for a day of fun in the sun.
We ate lunch at the famous Three Blue Ducks restaurant in Bronte Beach. The hour long wait and pricey menu were, without a doubt, worth it! I had an organic, crunchy salad full of unexpected flavors and textures, topped with a perfectly broiled fish. Hubby had a tender steak sandwich on a whole grain roll, with fries (or "chips" in aussie-speak). Trust the reviews (and me) and just go.
We walked for miles along a paved path undulating from sea level to cliffside, stringing together Sydney's fabulous beaches. The colors, people, activity, and energy are boundless! You can walk from Bronte to Bondi, but to get to Manly, you need to take a 30-minute ferry ride.
We stayed at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel, which was extremely well-situated within walking distance of the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, ferry service to Darling Harbor, and more. From our vantage point at the Marriott, we could watch the Opera House transition from day- to evening-wear, observe the ebb and flow of ferry traffic, and cheer on the cruise ships as they made their passage to open waters. It's a busy view! From the Marriott doorstep to the Opera House was 1 kilometer (about 10 minutes walking distance), with a walk- run- bike trail leading past the Royal Botanical Gardens, the navy yard, Hyde Park and St. Mary's Cathedral. Beautiful esplanade, but remember to keep to the left! (Yeah, tripped me up many times! Remember that they drive and walk/bike/run on the opposite side from Americans.) At the wharf, Aboriginal entertainers often perform traditional dances, with the sound of the didgeridoo attracting crowds.
I normally do not write about places I have not visited myself, but Taronga Zoo is too unique not to show a few photos my husband took. This zoo is viewed from a gondola, which glides slowly past the animals, giving you a bird's eye view and then a close-up as you drift past. With the city in the background, very cool!