Our plan for the two days we spent in Sydney was very simple. We want to spend New Year's Eve and see the four most emblematic things of the city, on the one hand, and recover from jet lag by another. We knew that Sydney was only the appetizer of what would come next. The highlight of the trip through Australia would be the route in Campervan through Queensland and the drive in the south. So we were not ambitious when it came to exploring the city and we divided our stay there in two days.
Day 1 in Sydney
After weeks of uncertainty and nervousness, the big day arrived. We are going to Australia! At last! We took a taxi at 4 in the morning, heading to the airport and making our dreams come true. We had to wait a long time, but finally there was no problem and in 20 minutes we check in, pass security checks and immigration. The flight was punctual and was time to watch a couple of movies.
Everything started very well. At around 8, we got dinner and then we try to sleep. Normally I am unable to sleep on the flight, but fortunately that day I spend almost the entire flight sleeping (not at groundhog level, but good). The landing was scheduled at 16:25 local time. But, because of the strong wind that hit the bay, there was only one operational landing strip.
Due to the heavy air traffic we had to start circling over the area to wait for a run and to be able to get off. There came a point when we had to go to Brisbane to land and refuel before returning back to Sydney. After a unforeseen journey around the country at the end of the world finally we landed in our destination at 21:40, five hours later than expected.
The positive part is that during that extra time hanging around there and already awake we talk with our seat neighbors. We have a very nice Australian couple, who told us a lot of things about the country and we were flattered and surprised for our choice of holiday destination. And, we must also say, apart from those small mishaps with the flights both on the way and the return, the rest of the trip went perfectly.
With the extra 5 hours of travel I was quite tired. Luckily the immigration and baggage arrival were fast, and they did not check our luggage or anything. So we finally headed to our little hotel in Sydney! To move from the airport to the hotel we chose the train, fast, practical and without problems of traffic jams.
There are other options, such as hiring a shuttle, but it was somewhat more expensive and we assumed that it would take longer. We did not even think about the bus. It was not the thing to start stumbling around Sydney stopping every two minutes just to save us a few dollars.
Our hotel was in the Potts Point area, near King Cross. It was one of the few hotels that allowed us to book only for 3 nights, since the vast majority of hotels in Sydney require 7 nights to spend the New Year's Eve there (apart from the fact that they charge a real fortune for each night). Such is the influx of people from outside (foreign or not) they have.
Once in Kings Cross, after 10 minutes walk we stand in front of our accommodation for the next few days. Located in the quiet neighborhood of Potts Point, the hotel looks like an old Victorian house and is tastefully decorated. It is very cozy.
The neighborhood itself is residential and very nice, but right next to it is Kings Cross, full of restaurants, and supermarkets. Going up the same street of the hotel and turning right seems entering another world. The room was small (although sufficient), but it looked new and modern. The bathroom seemed newly renovated and very new. It had a hair dryer, fridge, TV, kettle, complimentary tea and coffee.
And, after the unexpected air odyssey to get to Sydney, we went to rest, happy to finally start our adventure in the antipodes so long awaited.
Day 2 - Sydney New Year Fireworks
On the sunny first day of Australian exploration, we got up at 9 in the morning, after having slept about 8 hours. We must say that it was the day that we got up late, because, en route, the general tonic was to get up early! In this type of trips it is always preferable to adapt to the solar time and make good use of the daylight hours, especially in places like Australia where driving at night is a danger due to animals crossing the road.
I'll get into that topic later, but for now we're left with a newly-raised sleeper in Sydney and no news of the dreaded jet lag. We took our coffee in the room (wise decision, seeing the prices) and go for the attack! The typical New Year's Eve in Sydney is to look for a good place to see the fireworks that lights from the bay and from the bridge.
That day they charter an infinity of boats that walk through the bay, and it is a way to enjoy the fires. We had asked for one when we arrived in the city at the beginning of our trip, and we had quietly asked for between 400 and 500 dollars per person. At least the price included drink and food.
As we thought it was crazy, we opted to look for a place in one of the many entrances that are along the bay. And that's where we went on December 31st. After discarding several areas, in the end we discovered a park that had an incredible view, the Cremorne Point. The police who were already there told us that if we wanted to take a place we should arrive soon, around 5 or 6 in the afternoon.
And it is that people what it does is take the 31 as a picnic day. They go somewhere from where they look good and take the snack, the fridge with the drinks, the tables and the folding chairs. Some even install the tent. We bought a couple of sandwiches in a nearby supermarket and we went eating while walking.
From Potts Point we go bordering the neighborhood of Woolloomooloo. There is a naval base on the dock and we can see the warships moored there. We move to MacQuaries Point, where we enjoyed our first images of the famous Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge, or Sydney Bridge.
Of course, this area is a star point in terms of views and was full of Chinese tourists making millions of photos. We had to fight hard to find a good space from where to do our particular session. But they have been ahead of us for years and they work as a team, so that's what it is.
Australia is one of the countries where hordes of Chinese tourists go. We see them in huge numbers in Sydney and on the Great Ocean Road (from Port Campbell to Melbourne). After our first look at the two icons of Sydney, we walk through the Botanical Garden. It is full of nice birds and, in addition, the entry is free. The cockatoos were numbered, I guess to control their population or maybe because there is a lot of people.
From the Botanical Garden we go along the coast to the Opera building. Once we see the famous building, symbol of the Australian city, we continue to Circular Quay. Then we go up to The Rocks and look for the stairs that allow access to the Harbor Bridge. It is well indicated. We walk across the bridge, enjoying fantastic views, until we reach the other side of the bay, a neighborhood called Kirribilli.
I do not know where the names come from. Between Woolloomooloo and Kirribilli it became clear to me that they like to standardize the letters in endless words. The area of Kirribilli is not as touristy as the other side of the bridge. So we decided to eat there in a place that looked good and affordable.
After lunch, we went down to Milsons Point to see the Opera from the other side, but an infernal wind began to blow and to make the cooler cold. We could barely take a picture before the icy wind froze our fingers. It is not the place to take selfies as we came out with a disheveled face.
No wonder that the day before the plane could not land, with that hurricane wind that did not let us move forward. So, fleeing the wind, we crossed the bridge again and toured the neighborhood of The Rocks. The Rocks is the place where formerly prisoners were kept, and some historic buildings are still preserved. Now there are many pubs, and craft shops.
From The Rocks we went to Circular Quay again and went up to the CBD, to the Pitt Street Mall, next to the Sydney Tower. Here in this area we buy a phone card with data and unlimited calls within Australia (although there were other plans that included international calls). We did not make a thorough comparison. With the card in our possession, we returned to Potts Point bordering the Opera area.
We take the road that goes to Macquaries Point and we stopped to take some pictures of the sunset. There was peace and tranquility, and in general, after what I saw during the day, Sydney gave me the impression of being a spacious, orderly city. It is not overcrowded, and is full of light and water with ambience, its music bars and people chatting, laughing and drinking.
At the same time there is the possibility of seeing a sunset over the bridge from a garden, practically alone. Maybe it was because we went there on a weekend and we did not catch the daily hustle and bustle of people going to work. We bought a few things to eat and drink, took some towels and went to spend the afternoon at Cremorne Point. We arrived around 6:30 and it was already full of people.
At 9 o'clock at night they made a first batch of fireworks, but the big moment arrived at midnight. There were fireworks from various points in the city and they were phenomenally well synchronized. After all the life watching this celebration on television, we were on the other side of the planet to see them live. After midnight, we retired to our hotel after buying some food and breakfast for the next day. Life in Sydney is very expensive, but we are learning.
Day 3 - Bondi Beach and Manly Beach
We began to acclimate to the schedule that we would take from now on. We got up early. After our breakfast, we left at 8 in the morning towards the Kings Cross train stop. Today we will visit Bondi Beach, the famous beach known for its surfers and the veterinarian that appears on TV.
In about 15 minutes by bus we got on the beach. It is quite windy and cold, and there are some impressive waves. I understand that to practice surfing the waves are necessary, but this was excessive and seemed dangerous. Even so, there are people bathing and others trying to surf. These Australians are of another species.
Being tourists, dedicate ourselves to take pictures and escape from the waves, literally (a treacherous wave almost hits us). The wonderful day was ideal for swimming and practicing any aquatic activity.
After narrowly escaping hypothermia and wounded pride in equal parts, we continued walking towards the north area of the beach. The little sun had disappeared completely and the thermometer of the lifeguard club marks 13 degrees. Although with wind the feeling is colder. An autochthonous from Sydney confirms that this is not usual.
We continue to the south of the beach to go for the famous walk between Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. At this point I am very clear that no matter how hard I look for it, I will not find the vet. Along the way, apart from a beautiful coastal landscape, we saw a lot of different birds and each of them got its deserved photo shoot. I could capture few because not everyone gave up their image rights.
I see something like a pissed-off penguin because it's been messed up at the hairdresser, but I'd say it's a cormorant. Although I'm not sure, since my knowledge of ornithology does not amount to much. In addition to birds, in some areas of the walk we saw very crazy surfers, getting into some dangerous spots.
Once in Coogee Beach the cold was increasing at times. So fast and swift we got on the bus to return to the center of Sydney, specifically to Circular Quay. The journey takes about 40 minutes and passes through several areas of the city that we had not seen.
At Circular Quay we saw a ferry leave for Manly Beach at 12:30. So we decided to get up and eat once there. The ride from Circular Quay to Manly is quite fast, about 30 minutes, and with very good views of the bay from the boat. The sea was somewhat agitated at that time, so we decided to take the pictures on the way back.
Upon arrival, when leaving the ferry, there is a main street that goes to the beach. With hunger at its peak, we took the opportunity to eat in a restaurant on the same street. I did not write down the name but the food was good and the price was affordable. Then we went to the beach. Here there are many surfers. The water was curdled with black dots.
I do not know where the fans of these Australians come from to spend their holidays like lentils soaking in the icy water, but it is very typical here. From the beach we took a walk until we reached a cove surrounded by forest, full of people doing barbecues and acrobatic yoga. Nearby there are viewpoints and we can see the spectacle of the surfers. It must be said that here the sea is somewhat calmer than in Bondi.
Finally, we took the ferry at 15:45 and in half an hour we were in the center of Sydney again, where the day has improved a lot and it is sunny. We take the opportunity to take some more photos from the ferry. We have been hanging around the city for two days, and we still have not exchanged money, as we have been swiping cards without any problems.
So we went into the CBD to find a house exchange that give us a good deal, and we left happy. We did not change more than that in the whole trip, since we were paying almost everything with a card. I do not like to carry too much cash, so we prefer to do it that way. In addition, we found very few places where they charged some type of surcharge or commission for paying by card.
To celebrate the good change achieved, we went back down to the Circular Quay area to take advantage of the Happy Hour to have a beer. Well, I'm exaggerating a bit, as it does not reach the level of the countries of northern Europe, for example. Here, at Happy Hour, a beer and a glass of Australian wine is cheaper. We enjoy a very nice atmosphere, little music, and good views.
Towards 6 in the evening it was already dark, and we took the opportunity to see the illuminated bridge and the Opera. In addition, at 7 there was a music and lights show projected on one of the sides of the Opera building, so we took the opportunity to see it. Then we went back by train to the Kings Cross stop and to sleep early. The next day begins our campervan adventure to Queensland!