Hello Australia !
After having spent 6 months in Asia, we have arrived in Sydney. We planned to stay in the city to spend New Year’s Eve and some time with Juan’s cousin, Jorge, who lives there. We were happy to be back to “our” world for some time. Asia has been full of discoveries and good time but it has also been about adjusting ourselves to different ways of living; bargaining, food intoxication, etc,etc (see our article and impression on Asia after 6 months) however as soon as we got to Sydney, we felt familiar with the atmosphere of the city which reminded us of home; we found trains and buses that leave on time, no need to ask the time schedule, we could find our favorite coffee place, have croissants au cholocat and talk to people in English without problem. It makes actually a difference. Juan is a travel lover but definitively a real westerner and he specially enjoyed a lot all the comfort that Sydney has to offer.
Some good time with friends and family
On December 29th, we were warmly welcomed at Sydney airport by Jorge, Juan’s cousin from Colombia living now in Australia. He brought us into his house and we met his beautiful family. It was great for Juan to see his cousin as it had been years they didn’t see each other. We felt right away part of the family. Colombian people have this thing to make you welcome and at ease. When we asked him if we could stay in his house, he told us “mi casa es tu casa”.
The 7 days in Sydney have been more a time where we caught up with family and friends than an intense period of visits.Indeed, our dear friend Lyn,whom we met in Koh Samui during the yoga teacher training course, lives in Sydney. We also saw Michael that we knew from Gili T. island. He met with us to spend New Year’s Eve over the Harbour bridge with him and his two friends. It was really great to spend time with all of them.
About Sydney and sightseeing
Sydney has about 5 million inhabitant and is a beautiful cosmopolitan city. It is one of the most impressive cities we have seen in term of beauty and location. The Harbour Bridge and Opera House view from Circular Quay is simply incredible, located right next to the ocean.
The trains and buses facilities allow people to visit easily the city and its different districts. With Jorge or Lyn, we went to different areas that we really liked such as Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and Manly beach.
Around Circular Quay
The first day we went to visit Darling Harbour. It is a great place to go eat and shop in the center of the city. While eating a pizza and drinking a coffee, we can see the boats on the sea, and observe the crowd from terraces right on the Harbour. All over the places we can find Boost juices which we recommend for a boost of vitamins :-).
We then took a ferry ride from Darling Harbour direction Circular Quay to see from the sea the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
This ride by ferry was worth the few dollars we spent. The view from the boat of the Opera House and the famous Harbour Bridge was absolutely incredible. It was impressive to see them so closed having in addition to having beautiful sunny and warm day.
Once in Circular Quay we went to take a walk around the Opera. The festivities were being set up for New Year’s Eve. The area was already packed and we could feel the amount of tourists there to welcome 2015. Bars and restaurants were full and the atmosphere was quite chic and trendy. We had a glass of wine which is rare as in Asia as we could not really find good and cheap wine. Australia is known for his production of wine and we could not resist to taste a glass! 🙂
I think the beauty of a trip is also about people. I mean beautiful sceneries and sightseeing make undoubtedly the trip beautiful but to meet people you connect with and feel like you always knew them make the trip unforgettable. We met Lyn during the yoga retreat in Koh Samui. We had a really good time together there and shared a lot of things during our 3 intense weeks of yoga. So to see her again in Sydney and be part of a little bit of her life, made me really happy. I got to see special places she liked and I also met her family. Several people made our journey fantastic and Lyn is part of them. This trip not only brings us souvenirs but create long time friendships!
Manly is a beautiful town and beach not to far from Sydney, only 20 mns by ferry. Juan’s cousin took us there last Sunday. We took 3 boats on that day as Sunday is Family day in Sydney and all transportation costs only 2.50$ for the whole day. We had to go thought Circular Quay to get to Manly beach. It was quite of an expedition and took us almost 3 hours to get there door to door. However, we could admire the stunning views from the boats, it was definitively worth the rides.
I studied in Manly for 4 months almost 9 years ago. I went there after high school to improve my English skills. I knew well Manly and it was really nice to be back there. I did remember the busy main street with some restaurants that stayed or other changed. The cute but naughty seagulls were still flying around the beach looking for food. Manly has a beautiful beach but with a lot of rough waves. I didn’t remember we had to swim in specific areas defined by the life guards. The current is so strong that we get taken in the water as being in a washing machine. We both love this effect and spent almost all afternoon in the water.
Manly is definitively an area we advise to visit while in Sydney. It is small and cozy and easily accessible by ferry.
Lyn drove us there for us to visit the area and the beach. She explained us that Australian people work during the week but sure like to relax on the weekends. The culture in Australia is pretty laid back and people like to have a “barbie”, to sit by the beach and enjoy their free days with family and friends. We totally felt the atmosphere that way. The Aussies are friendly and open minded. It is easy to talk to them. The population is very mixed and has a lot of Asian influence.
Bondi beach is full of small coffee places and shops to buy Billabong items or Banana Republic bikinis. It has also some good restaurants, we had a delicious burgers at Moo restaurant. Prices, in general, are not cheap at all. We needed to be very careful with our expenses. It is actually more expensive than the USA and Switzerland for many things.
Fortunately, going to the beach is free and it is one of the best activities to do in Bondi. The waves were quite rough but for surfing it is apparently the best spot in Sydney. Surfs competitions are held here almost every year. Surfing is seen as part of the culture and surely people living in Bondi beach must have a surf board on their balcony to go catch some waves during their free time.
New Year’s Eve !
We were in Sydney during New Year’s Eve, one of the first big city to celebrate the new year around the world. It is also known to be one of the most spectacular place to celebrate the new cap for its location and fire works!
We didn’t know what to expect but we can say we were not disappointed at all.
First of all we had to find a good spot. Jorge advised to go to Blues Point, located right in front of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. We told our friend Michael to meet us there at 4pm in order to have a good spot. When we got there, the place was totally packed !! Thankfully, we got there early enough to take the last good spots.
The place was full of people from all around the world. Helicopters were flying around us and the BBC news were filming not too far from us. Incredible the success that the city has for this special time of the year. We had some alcohol in our bags but got almost confiscated by the police as it is strictly prohibited to drink alcohol in public areas in Australia. Not that cool for New Year but we finally managed to have some drops of our sparking wine for midnight 🙂 At midnight the fireworks started. The show was amazing. Sparking and impressive, the fireworks were the most beautiful we had ever seen before. By the way, 15 millions dollars budget is needed for such a show ! Wow. Thanks to Juan that convinced me to go. At first I wasn’t much motivated to get into the crowd and to wait hours on end for a 15mins of fireworks show. But I didn’t regret it as it was once of my best New Year’s Eve. It has been fantastic to be there right by the Harbour Brige and Opera house; only the pictures and video below can speak for us !
The rest of the time we spent it with the family, Lyn or the two of us buying stuff we needed for the rest of the trip. It was very convenient to be in Sydney to get stuff we wouldn’t find in Asia such as specific medicines or material/brands.
We visited some nice districts such as Newtown known as being the hipster/hippie area. It is where we had our last dinner with Lyn and Michael by a good Turkish restaurant.
We also went to the Featherdale Wild Life Park located next to Black Town to see some local animals such as cute koalas and kangaroos :-).
We didn’t get the chance to go shopping to Paddington that has some nice markets or China Town.
The time definitively went too fast and we can say we totally felt in love with the city. We would go back tomorrow. It is just a pity Australia is that far from Europe. Anyway, for sure, it is not a good bye to Australia but a see you soon !
– The Australian dollar is quite high. a minimum budget of 100$/day for 2 people is required to visit Australia.
– Sunday public transportation cost only 2,5 dollars with the Opal card. This top-off/top-on card can be used the rest of the week to use ferry, trains and buses.
– Manly beach is a great place to relax and go to the beach. The ferry ride last only 20mns with a beautiful view along the way.