This will probably be my last post before I leave for Australia. From here on out I will be pretty busy finishing packing, cleaning (I like to leave a clean room behind), and generally running errands like a mad woman preparing for my trip. I am very excited about it all, but also realizing I don't exactly know what to expect... I'm praying for unexpected adventures, relaxation, and unforgettable memories when I get home.
So this post is going to be about what I have in store for myself in Sydney, Australia...
Good friends of my family's, Greg and Stephanie, are travelers like myself. They just finished a whirlwind adventure through Europe with their 3 daughters. Greg travels a lot for business and he is an amazing resource for knowing what to do in each travel destination.
** Greg actually was in England for the first 2 weekends of my time there, and happily showed me all over London - how to use the tube, where to buy my phone, and all the popular attractions I had to see on my first visit. See here. **
Greg was just in Sydney in May and he sent me the most amazing email filled with suggestions for walking tours, places off the tourist path, and must knows about Australia. So the rest of this post is taken from his wisdom:
Suggested Walking Tour of Sydney:
1) The Harbour Bridge – Expensive! You can walk with a guide all the way up the arches to the very top. Everyone I’ve ever talked with who’s done it says that it’s a once in a lifetime experience. If you don’t want to climb, you can take the metro to the Milson’s Point station, and then walk across the bridge (there’s a pedestrian path). If you walk on the East side, the views of the Opera House and the harbor are awesome! From the bridge, you can head east to:
2) Circular Quay – Located at the south end of the Harbour Bridge, you can take a Ferry to almost anywhere in the harbour (British spelling required). The Ferry system is great, and reasonably priced. From Circular Quay, you can walk East to:
3) The Rocks – This is where Sydney started. It was originally the open air jail where prisoners from England were off loaded. Today it’s filled with weekend markets, artsy stuff, restored old warehouses and sailor’s homes, etc. http//:www.the rocks.com. From The Rocks you can see:
4) The Opera House – You can walk around the exterior and you’ll take way too many photos (it’s an obligation). Sometimes you can get inside, but the interior’s almost a disappointment compared with the exterior. Just to the west of the Opera House is:
5) The Royal Botanical Gardens – This is an awesome park, with flora from all over the world. I spent a couple of hours walking around the park watching the vegetation and the people. If you keep walking East around the shoreline you’ll come to:
6) Mrs. McQuarrie’s Chair – The wife of Australia’s first Governor used to sit on a “chair” carved into the rocks to watch the tall ships sail in and out of the harbor. From the chair, you can walk south through the Gardens and then through a park called “The Domain.” If you keep walking south (and slightly west), this will lead you to:
7) Hyde Park – Not as big as the one in London, but often considered to be the “Heart of Sydney.” The park contains the ANZAC Memorial and absolutely gorgeous trees. In the evenings, it’s filled with adorable Australian Opossums. Walking West from Hyde Park will take you through downtown Sydney and, eventually, to:
8) Darling Harbour – You can get to Darling Harbour by walking or by ferry. The Australian Maritime Museum is on the West side, and a place called “Sydney Wildlife World” is on the East side. The Sydney Convention Center is in the middle, along with dozens of restaurants. I recommend Sydney Wildlife Worldhttp://sydneywildlifeworld.myfun.com.au . It’s a small indoor zoo, but there are lots of animals and the displays are awesome. I got within 3 or 4 feet of Red Kangaroos, and even closer to Koalas. The Sydney Aquarium is right there as well (I have not gone there). If you walk South from Darling Harbour, you’ll wind up at:
9) The Haymarket (Sydney’s Paddys Markets) – This is a building filled with hundreds of booths (like a flea market) with people selling everything from clothes to toys to souvenirs. I found it to have the lowest prices in the city on Boomerangs, stuffed Koalas, Opera House statues, etc. You have to ignore a few sleazy booths (Really? lingerie? here?) and some pretty crude t-shirts, but there’s a lot of stuff at reasonable prices.
There is also a free walking tour company that might be interesting if I don't want to go it alone like Greg outlines above. They actually meet right near an STA Travel office in Sydney. Details here.
Bondi Beach – locals say that this was the beach with all the action (whatever that means). I think it’s a surfer’s beach.
The Blue Mountains – To get out of Sydney for a day trip, I am taking a train to the Blue Mountains. The scenery is supposed to be spectactular.
The Taranga Zoo is on the North side of the harbor, across from the Opera House on Middle Head. It’s wonderful, but also a serious workout, due to changes in elevation (kind of like walking at the San Diego Zoo).
Sydney Tower – In the heart of the city. I’ve heard that the view is awesome.
I am also planning on visiting Hillsong Church in Sydney!
I absolutely love their worship music and my parents and I visited their London Campus when I was there. I am so excited to get to visit this church while I'm in Sydney!
Check back here while I'm away - or at my facebook for pictures and updates :)
See you in Australia!!!