If Melbourne was about the culture, then Sydney was all about the scenery (if you missed the first part of the Australian travel diaries, see it over here)
One almost expects to be blown away by the city – Sydney is ranked at the top of just-about every poll of the most beautiful cities in the world. It took me a few days to get to that sense of “gasp”, but in fairness this was due to very unseasonal weather (think torrential rainstorm) during our first couple of days in the city, but I did eventually have my moment of amazement and understand why it is such a well-loved place.
Often when I reflect on holiday photos, I am left thinking: “Was I really there?”. I look back these photos of the iconic Harbour Bridge, the Opera House’s sails, the view from the Botanical Gardens, the sunset on a ferry to Manly, and that feeling hits me once again; especially contemplating it one month later as I write this post!
When we originally booked our trip to Australia – the dates of which were dictated by my husband’s business obligations – we wanted to achieve two things; a relaxing holiday, after a few demanding months as work, and the so-called “look-see” of Sydney and Melbourne. While we could have squeezed in visiting a few more places, the six days we spent in Sydney allowed us to absorb the feel of the city, and achieve the biggest outcome of the holiday – a break.
I won’t bother mentioning the serviced apartment we stayed in (I am about luxury), but it was central. For me, there really is no better way to explore a city than on foot; staying in the CBD allowed us to discover a few areas in and around the city (The Rocks, Circular Quay, Surrey Hills), and attempt to walk off some of the calories from the many, many wonderful meals we ate.
Of all our walking adventures, the one I loved the most was the Bronte-Coogee Coastal walk. By this stage, thankfully, the wet weather had cleared and we could enjoy magnificent views across the bay. I am not your typical outdoors-y/exercise fiend kind-of-person but spending the morning walking along cliffs, in the sun, with the smell of sea air and the slightest cool breeze was the highlight of the trip for me.
If you read my post before leaving, you would know that the most anticipated part of the holiday was lunch at The Quay on our final day in Sydney. Back in 2011 watching MasterChef Australia (season 2), I mentally added “Eating the Snow Egg at The Quay” to my travel bucket list, so I am grateful this holiday afforded us the chance to cross that one of the list!
The Quay is situated above the Overseas Passenger Terminal in the Circular Quay; thankfully, the massive cruise ships from the previous two days had departed, allowing us to enjoy the outlook across the Harbour.
The food was sensational – I lack the vocabulary to adequately describe all of the flavours and textures I experienced that day; the photos may fail to capture the majesty of the courses but it was an occasion I will not quickly forget.
That said, of all the amazing/excellent/mind-blowing/exciting/inventive (running out of superlatives here!) I ate in Australia; my absolute favourite place was China Doll on the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf. Besides (possibly) spotting MasterChef judge Matt Preston and the incredibly elegant setting, the modern Asian food was sensational! The Penang Beef Curry (slow-braised Wagyu beef shin) was the dish of the holiday for me – fall apart beef in mild curry; the perfect balance of East meeting West.
I cannot think of bad meal in Sydney – we went back to Bill’s for the classic scrambled eggs and brilliant coffee, feasted on the best pizza at Marios, savoured moules et frites at the chic Ananas restaurant, returned to the Night Noodle Market pop-up in Hyde Park for Mamak’s noodles and roti, dined on dry-aged steak and chopped salad (with a 65 degree poached egg – O.M.G) at the Chophouse and washed it down with some fairly good wines.
I’ll be honest eating out was not cheap (especially travelling on ZAR!), so we sacrificed taxis for trains, and later trains for feet, but it was worth every single cent to be able to experience the quality and variety of dishes we did. My expectations were high, so to meet and exceed them in every way must indicate how truly spectacular the food culture is!
I enjoyed so many parts of Sydney – and Melbourne too; it is decidedly first world and it just works. The interesting thing is that I came home feeling more grateful and blessed to live here than any other holiday in my adult life – which is always a sign that one has been gone long enough to appreciate home.