Ever since 2003 when I was cuddled up on the couch with my family (popcorn in hand) watching Finding Nemo, I’ve dreamt of going to Sydney, Australia. The Opera House and Harbour Bridge were just so alluring to me. In a way, I’m sort of like Marlin and Dory traveling across the world to Sydney. I’ve seen so many things I never expected…and yeah, maybe I didn’t meet a shark or become friends with a sea turtle along the way, but I sure have experienced so many things that are even better.
My journey across the ocean began about two months ago, and even though it took me longer to reach Sydney than it took Marlin and Dory, I enjoyed every second of my time once I got there. Sydney was full of surprises and I can’t wait to go back at the end of the semester to meet up with my grandparents.
Once arriving in Sydney on Friday, Ashley and I checked into our Airbnb which was in a harbourside suburb of the city. Our apartment was located in the upscale town, Cremorne Point. Transportation within and around Sydney is so much easier than I expected. Since our Airbnb was on the other side of the harbor, we were able to take a ferry to get there which is easily the best way to see Sydney. I was in complete awe seeing the Opera House for the first time and the view did’t get old every time I passed by it.
Our friend, Mikylah, is studying abroad in Sydney this semester at the University of New South Wales so we arranged to meet up with her for sightseeing and dinner our first day in Sydney. We met her at Bondi Beach, Sydney’s most famous beach, for the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. This walk was about 3.5 miles but it went by so fast considering we spent the whole time catching up. Bondi is home to the Bondi Icebergs, an international landmark. It is pretty neat seeing a pool right along the ocean with waves crashing in. If we had more time, I would’ve loved to swim there! We started our walk along the coast viewing beaches, parks, cliffs, bays and rock pools. We passed along the coasts of Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee. We ended our walk at the Coogee Pavilion for dinner sharing a pizza and treating ourselves to gelato. It was nice to catch up and see where the city meets the sea.
Saturday, Ashley and I made sure to stop at all the touristy landmarks. We began our day walking from Cremorne Point to the Opera House. We chose to walk there so that we could walk across the Harbour Bridge. The views from the bridge were so beautiful, I just couldn’t take it all in. This walk was about 4 miles, but once we got to the Opera House, it started to hit me that I was really in Sydney. Even though it’s just a building, it was surreal to see. I felt like a little kid wanting my picture in front of it and snapping a million pictures.
After our fun-filled day, Ashley and I took the ferry over to Darling Harbour for a sunset dinner cruise. We were served some appetizers, chicken stuffed with kale that was sided with veggies, dessert and unlimited drinks. It was definitely a recipe for a fun night with beautiful views!
Sunday morning I woke up early in hopes to see as much as I possibly could. Ashley and Mikylah took the day to see the Blue Mountain National Park, but I am lucky enough to be able to do that with my grandparents at the end of my school program once I meet them in Sydney. Because of that, I decided to see all the major attractions throughout Sydney on my own. I felt so independent! Here’s a brief list of everywhere I walked (which by the way, my phone tracked 27,000 steps for the day)!
Okay, wow that was exhausting! I started my day by taking the ferry over to Circular Quay (the ferry and transportation hub of Sydney) and walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens on my way to breakfast at Andrew Charlton Poolside Cafe. This cafe was so cute situated on the harbor with a pool attached where aerobics classes were being held. There was a baby shower going on as well and it was definitely a perfect location for one. I ordered an iced coffee and an açaí bowl they called Pink Paradise. Australia tends to use ice cream in their iced coffee instead of cream and sugar and I must say this was the best I’ve had since being in Aussie. I also really enjoyed my açaí bowl even though it was probably prettier than me hahah.
From there, I continued walking through the botanic gardens to the Art Gallery of NSW and viewed some really interesting art that is native to Australia. I was a little bummed because the main exhibit, 21st Biennale of Sydney, was still in construction so I couldn’t see it. Hopefully I can go there with my grandma and grandpa, though because it looks amazing. After walking through the art gallery, I made my way to St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was so beautiful and attracted so many tourists. From there I walked through Hyde Park on my way to the Sea Life Aquarium. There were so many street performers, including a little girl singing whom I thought was so talented.
The Sea Life Aquarium is located in Darling Harbour and is an underwater journey of amazing discovery with 12 themed zones. The aquarium is one of the world’s largest aquariums – with over 700 different species and 13,000 animals and is also home to the world’s largest variety of sharks and rays! I saw so many water creatures and fish that I didn’t even know existed. It was definitely a really unique experience. I liked the touch pool a lot, but it reminded me of Finding Dory and I almost felt bad poking at starfish and other corals but I couldn’t help myself. I think my favorite animal was the giant ray that looked like it was smiling at me. The shark cove was also really cool because I was able to walk in an underwater tunnel with sharks and rays swimming above me!
My ticket to Sea Life Aquarium also included entry into Madame Tussauds, a wax museum which was right next-door. I got my picture with Steve Irwin, Liam Hemsworth, Justin Bieber, and many others! To be honest, it was kinda creepy because they were so realistic that I couldn’t tell which people were real and which were made of wax!
Right next to Darling Harbour was Cockle Bay Wharf. I enjoyed lunch there and then made my way to the Chinese Garden of Friendship. This was a very zen and peaceful garden that was secluded even though it was in the hustle and bustle of the city. There were waterfalls, ponds, exotic plants, and hidden pathways. Koi fish were swimming in the ponds and willows were weeping in the breeze making it a serene destination. After a lot of walking, this was a nice little break allowing me to take it all in.
After this much needed walking break, I FaceTimed Yarko as I walked about a mile and half to The Rocks. I’m so lucky to be able to talk to him as often as I do and I was honestly getting a little lonely and he always makes everything better. I love talking to him as often as I can and it definitely helps make the distance seem more like a number than anything else. The Rocks is a neighbourhood of historic laneways in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge where locals and tourists enjoy the open-air markets. I stopped at The Rocks Discovery Museum and I think it is something my grandma and grandpa would really enjoy seeing. In The Rocks is the Museum of Contemporary Art which was what I thought was my final destination for the day. There was a rooftop terrace that had beautiful views of Circular Quay which I really enjoyed.
I began walking back to the ferry when I was taken back by the Opera House again, so I decided to walk over there and enjoy it once more. I snapped some more pictures and just sat down to people-watch. By this point in the day to say I was exhausted was an understatement. I took the ferry back to our Airbnb and planned on taking a nap…too bad I didn’t have time for one. The sun was setting and I knew I couldn’t miss the iconic views of it over the harbour. I FaceTimed Yarko again and we had a date watching the sunset together. It was so surreal and beautiful to share it with him even though it was over the phone.
He watched the whole sunset with me while I recorded a time-lapse video on my GoPro (which turned out so cool I must add). Once the sun set, we were both just taking in the views…or I thought, but Yarko actually fell asleep with the phone still in his hand because it was almost 4 a.m. back home and he looked so cute. We shared stories and it felt like he was right there with me. I loved every second of it. This was probably my favorite experience of the trip.
Monday was our last day in Sydney so Ashley and I decided to take a bus to Manly Beach located north of Sydney. It was a very cute, little town and the beach was a nice place to just lay out and relax after my long previous day of walking. We got some lunch and enjoyed frozen yogurt which was so satisfying before heading to the airport back to Gold Coast.
I really enjoyed my time in Sydney and I am looking forward to meeting my grandparents there in 34 days! I have a feeling it will be such a different experience than the one I have just had because there is just so much to see and do. Sydney lived up to all of my expectations and easily exceeded them. I am also super happy to say that I DID find Nemo after traveling across the world to find him!
Stay tuned for my adventure to the Fiji Islands. Wow, I can’t believe I can even say that. I’m so lucky it’s crazy!