Thursday, August 9, 2012

I'm in Love with a City

Is there a city you've been to that you fell in love with?  A city that you've pictured yourself living in?  A city that you feel connected to and a tinge of homesickness for even though you haven't actually spent more than a few days or weeks there?  A city that, for some reason, really got to you?  A city you feel in tune with, it's energy in sync with your own personal spirit?

For me, that city would be Sydney, Australia.

I love Australia in general and could talk to anyone for hours about how amazing it is, and all of the places to see, the wonderful, friendly people, and amazing scenery and diversity.  I studied abroad at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia in 2004.  While there, I visited Sydney for about four days.  That's all it took.

I fell in love.  I had a daydream of working in one of the glamorous-looking restaurants after graduating college while I figured out my next step.  I would live in an apartment building close to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and that would be my "neighborhood." 

Well, that didn't happen due to lots of other exciting events that came my way.  However, Sydney got in my blood and I knew I'd be back...sooner than later.  The opportunity presented itself in 2011, when I was invited to be a bridesmaid in my Australian friend's wedding in Brisbane.  The hubby and I made it an extended trip - and we couldn't return to the land down under without a stay in Sydney.

It was on this visit that I got a clearer picture of my infatuation with Sydney, although some of it is still inexplicable...there's just something about it.  But what I was able to identify was that Sydney, despite its size, is an extremely walkable city.  It's super clean.  It's also just gorgeous. It's hugged by water on one end with easy access to several amazing beaches.  The public transportation is fun - there's variety!  Take a cab, a train, a bus or a ferry!  You have many choices depending on where you're going.
As a lover of Sydney, I'd like to share three fun, hopefully unique ideas for what to do when you visit.  (Because, after hearing my enthusiasm, you really want to go there now, right?!) 

1. Sydney Walkabout
When you're in Sydney, there are a lot of sights you are going to want to see because, yes, they are the "touristy" things to do and you can't visit without seeing them.  But instead of going on some guided tour, take the opportunity to let yourself wander.  Get lost.  Ask the locals for directions.  Some of the best memories are created when you lose yourself, so let go, and devote an entire day (about 10 hours should be more than sufficient and include time for a couple refreshment stops) to just going.  Start your morning in Circular Quay (pronounced "key"), with a cup of coffee (real coffee, none of that "percolated" stuff as the Aussies might refer to it).  You can sit or walk, but take the time to absorb what's around you:  the ferries coming and going in the key, hurried professionals on their way to the office, tourists like yourself soaking it all in, the colorful flowers in the grass, oh, and the inspiring architectural landmarks of the Opera House, which stands across the way from the Harbour Bridge.  (Look closely, you might see tiny people climbing the bridge!)  Take your time, take it all in.  When you're ready, head towards Darling Harbour, another area of the city recognized by tourists.  It's the home of many restaurants, shops, bars, museums, theatres, and more.  If you're hungry, stop along the way at a place that catches your attention.  Or ask that guy buying his morning paper what he recommends.  This day is all about the journey.  Yes, the destination is awesome too, but if you're new to this whole wandering thing, enjoy it.  Let go, relax, take your time and simply go.  Soak it all in, you never know what you'll find.  I'm not going to suggest any specific restaurants or stops, because I want you to discover the city for's so easy to do here.

2. Spit Bridge to Manly Walk
An approximately 9km walk, it takes between three and four hours, depending on how many times you stop for pictures and detours!  The path can be a little rocky at times, but it is accessible to most tourists.  At the bus station, tell them you want to get to The Spit, in Seaport. It's about a 20 minute ride from the CBD (Central Business District). When you get off the bus, cross the street and you will find the start of a trail, with a nice sign letting you know you're in the right place.  The trail takes you past jealousy-inducing waterfront homes with breathtaking views, past aboriginal carvings, up to points that give you amazing vantage points of the city, with detours that take you down to small, secret-feeling beaches, and finally deposits you in Manly Beach, one of the more famous beaches, with a bustling Corso that's home to heaps of shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.  Hang out here for the day and grab a bite to eat and a stubby (bottle of beer). Try a Toohey's or XXXX (pronounced "four x"), avoid Foster's, which any Aussie will tell you is NOT Australian for beer, but "Australian for crap." When you're ready, catch one of the frequently running ferries back to Circular Quay.  I don't want to give too much away, but here are a few of my favorite shots from our walk.

3.  Circular Quay at Sunrise
If you've never been to Sydney, you might wonder why you need to go to Circular Quay so much and what's so great about seeing the Opera House at sunrise if you've already seen it during the day.  Well, that's because you haven't been there yet. On your first day (especially if it's your first day in the country after a long flight), you'll probably wake up early anyway due to jet lag so this is the perfect day for this suggestion.  If not, do it your last day, and leave Sydney with a fantastic memory and some stunning photos.  There's something magical about watching the city wake up, even if you're still waking up yourself.

These are just three of the many, many things I would suggest to someone visiting Sydney, but they definitely deserve their spot in my "Top 3."  So, when you start planning your Australian Adventure - let me know! 

This is my submission for the ’3 Things in the City’ I Love contest by Velvet Escape, Traveldudes and


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    1. Wow! Thank you! I truly appreciate your feedback! I hope you continue to read :)