We arrived back in Sydney after our time in rural Mudgee late Thursday night. We were both ready to be back in a city with lots of options of things to do.
Everyone we talked to emphasized that we had to see the beaches in Sydney. We are both beach people and the Sydney beaches are world famous for a reason. We spent Friday on Bondi Beach. The beach has sugary sand and the bluest water. You can see from the picture that the beach was busy, but we found a piece of sand easily and spread out the beach blanket we bought.
One thing that is very unique here is that they have public pools beside the beaches. The one we stopped at had a huge mural behind it (you can see it behind Brennan below). The pool was very shallow, which we figured out as we looked around was so that kids could easily swim.
We left the pool and went to find a spot to lounge around on the beach. As we were walking down the beach, we saw a proposal in skywriting, which was very fun.
Brennan went to explore the beach and took these incredible photos. The pools in the photo are called The Icebergs. I've seen so many photos of them on the internet-they really are as incredible in real life as they look online!
After several hours in the hot Australian sun, we took the bus back (busses to the beach! What an idea!!) to our hotel. On the way, we stopped to get dinner and had an amazing fried chicken sandwich from a place called Butter. I was so hungry I forgot to take pictures. I did get a picture of the sunset out our window that night. Sydney has incredible sunsets!
On Saturday morning, we did a walking tour with I'm Free tours. We covered a lot of the main areas of Sydney, including this park with the cathedral. Sydney started as a penal colony in the late 1700s and many of their buildings are from the early 1800s. It was interesting to be somewhere with history more similar to ours in the United States, instead of Europe, where you're seeing buildings that are so much older.
Our tour guide pointed out that Australia is one of the only countries that is willing to eat both of the animals that make up their national crest-the kangaroo and the emu. I thought it was kind of a weird fact to say, but I like that you're able to see the crest in detail from this sculpture.
The tour ended in the historic area of Sydney, called the Rocks. This is the area right below the Harbour Bridge and across from the Opera House. We were able to take some great photos, especially since the weather was beautiful.
Later on Saturday afternoon, we attended a Sydney FC game. Brennan and I have talked about attending a soccer game since we started traveling, but it hasn't worked out with the schedule of games and where we have been. This was our first professional soccer game and we had a great time. It was a family friendly atmosphere, with lots of kids who were doing cheers and high-fiving reserve players. Sydney tied Brisbane, so it felt like an anti-climatic ending.
We got back to our hotel and there were fireworks over the water in Darling Harbour, right outside our window. It was so fun to have random fireworks on a Saturday night!
Sunday was for the Opera House. Someone told us they visited Sydney and didn't go in the Opera House and regretted it since then, so we were determined to not have the same regrets.
We joined our tour (buy your tickets ahead of time-they were sold out when we arrived!) and spent about an hour learning about this famous building.
The first thing that really surprised me is the outside and inside of the Opera House are completely separate. The outside acts as a shell, with a wooden theater built inside for performances. The design was created by an architect from Denmark, after a worldwide competition. He was eventually fired because the government felt the construction was too expensive and taking too long. He never saw the Opera House finished, but did reconcile with the government in the 1990s to provide sketches for maintenance and renovation so the design will always be in his style. The building is also designated as a UNESCO world heritage site, so it will not change since it has been deemed to have historic importance.
The shell of the building is made from poured concrete, which you can see once you are inside. This was intentional; the architect wanted patrons to be able to see how the building was constructed.
I've seen pictures of the Sydney Opera House, but I realized two new things from actually being there. The first is there are multiple separate buildings, with two performance spaces, one holding a concert hall and another holding a theater, usually used for ballet or opera. The one I am standing in here has the concert hall in it; behind me is the building with the theater.
The other major thing I learned is that the tiles that cover the sails are not white. They're cream and glazed so they reflect the sun and look white from far away. You're really able to see the difference in this photo!
This is in the second building where the theater is. On the day we were there, a concert was setting up in the concert hall, so we weren't able to take photos. We also weren't able to take pictures inside the theater because the stage was set up for a performance that afternoon. Their website is very clear that you are not guaranteed to see either performance space, so I felt lucky we were able to see both.
I'll never be able to look at the Opera House the same after being there! Realizing it has two distinct buildings, as well as the coloring really changed my view of the building. Hearing about the controversy in building it and the detailed way the architect came up with the sails by using spheres and math was very cool too. I was a little afraid it would feel rushed to only be there for an hour, but it was well worth our time. If you are ever in Sydney, definitely make time to do an Opera House tour. I'd suggest going in the morning, since you're less likely to run into performances happening in either venue.
That evening, we went to the movies to see the new Ant Man movie. We weren't sure which ticket to choose when we got to the theater-there were several options. The one we chose was the biggest movie theater I've ever been in! The sign outside said 836 people could fit in it!
On Monday, we decided to go to another beach. Manly is across the harbor from the central part of Sydney, so we were able to take a ferry to get there. These ferries are part of the normal public transportation system, so it was very easy to get on one and enjoy the harbor as we headed to the beach! We passed by the Opera House and were able to see it from the water.
We got to Manly and found a fish & chips shop to get lunch. The city reminded me of St. Armands or Anna Maria Island in Florida. It was definitely a beach town with lots of tourist shops, but it was very cute and walkable. There were a bunch of picnic tables right by the beach, so we had a picnic lunch. The portions were huge!
I found a spot to sit on the beach and read my book while Brennan went out to explore. He found this cave at the end of the beach and was able to take these photos that show the whole area. It's very beautiful, with crystal blue water. The sand isn't quite as nice as Bondi Beach, but it's still a very nice beach to hang out at! This beach also had rentals for chairs and umbrellas, which Bondi did not. If we would have been there longer, I think we would have taken advantage of that!
After stopping for some ice cream, we boarded the ferry back to central Sydney. The ferry was much busier heading back into town at the end of the day and the sun was so bright! But it was still a great ride and beautiful way to get from the beach into town.
On our last full day in Sydney, we fit in one last beach day. We returned to Bondi Beach, stopping to get lunch at a cafe on our way down to the sand. I had an amazing açaí bowl and Brennan had a salmon salad. I'm not sure these were anything special, but it was great to eat them within walking distance to the beach.
Brennan is working with a running coach and wanted to get his long run in on the pathway between the beaches. While he did that, I found a spot in the sand and read, watched people surfing, and kids playing in the waves. Bondi Beach is one of the pretties beaches I've ever been to and I'm so glad we were able to go twice during our time in Sydney.
After a while, I started to see clouds rolling in. I was afraid Brennan wasn't going to make it back before it started raining, but we made it to the bus stop as the rain started pouring down. We headed back into the city and returned to the hotel.
Wednesday was our last morning in Sydney and I knew I had a few things to get before we left town. I ventured out and found my way to a mall, where I was able to buy this charm for my Pandora bracelet. I usually don't buy souvenirs, but this time in Sydney was really special to me, so I'm glad I'll have the charm to remember it.
We packed up and headed to the airport, ending our time in Sydney. It was an amazing city with beautiful beaches and lots of interesting places to see. I think we will be back in the future!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.