I visited Sydney with Chantal midway through my three week trip for two days and a night, and let me tell you, it was bloody hot.
Of course the rest of Australia is hot. Melbourne was hot. Perth was supposed to be hot. Its a hot country. Maybe its because we spent a lot of time by the water, maybe it’s because I was with Chantal, who hates the heat, but Sydney felt hotter than everywhere else I had ever been to. The moment we stepped off of the train from the airport, we were covered in a sheen of our own sweat, and we weren’t exactly rushing around doing anything that should make us sweat. Not like the hundreds of runners we saw around the opera house during the hottest part of the afternoon.
What the heck. Why do that.
Anyway, I found Sydney beautiful, although it has a completely different kind of feel to Melbourne. Sydney feels much more touristy, more business oriented, and is way more complicated to get around then Melbourne. Everything isn’t organized into neat little blocks for you in Sydney. But it does have a massive Asian district and lots of delicious places to eat all in one place, and although using the public transport can be super expensive, it was easier then walking.
What I loved about the transport system was that you can tap your travel card on and off boats, so you can use boats just like the trains. This means that we got to see all of the main landmarks that we wanted to see from the water, which trust me, is way more exciting. We departed from Darling Harbour (which looks exactly like it does in Finding Nemo), sailed right under Harbour Bridge, saw the beautiful buildings and sky scrapers surrounding the harbour, and saw the Sydney Opera House in all its glory, the water sparkling around it in the near unbearable sun.
Honestly, I don’t think anything can beat the sight of it, it’s so distinctive.
We got off so that we could walk around the opera house, indulging in sweet treats, and enjoying the wind that picks up around the back. I didn’t realise that the point parts of it are separate above ground, and I wish we had learned more about it and gone inside, although we were unsure whether it would cost us anything.
We then found somewhere that is legitimately one of my favorite finds whilst in Australia, and that is the Chinese Friendship Gardens. In this middle of this massive, bustling and confusing city, juxtaposed against the shiny chrome buildings and massive expanse of water, is this gorgeous green utopia, designed in accordance with Feng Shui to make it the most pleasing to the eye. We spent a long time in here, because the greenery and the beautiful buildings made it feel cool, and the water and art work kept it feeling peaceful in comparison to the outside world. We missed the traditional tea ceremony they do, but it was wonderful just to walk around and absorb the beauty of it.
It’s so important to remember that Australia has a massive Chinese population, and that they have a place in the city too. This lush garden quietened me and made me think about how difficult it is to move hundreds of miles away from your own country into another one. I know from my own friend moving how hard it can be to keep relationships strong through long distance. It’s nice to keep a piece of home close by.
After seeing all these things, we went to China Town for dinner, which was obviously delicious, but by 8.30 we were back at the hotel and in bed. Early flights and hot weather is not good enough preparation for going out in a city that is unfamiliar to you. Instead we cranked the air conditioning up and watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians. We are so classy.
The next day, though, was much more exciting – we went to Bondi Beach! This is the beach that so many people have gushed to me about, and I guess is a stereotypical Australian destination! We walked from the nearest train station to the beach, which was obviously a mistake in terms of the heat, but it did mean that we saw a lot of the area as we wondered down, and saw it from the top of the hill as an amazing view. We spent a few hours just soaking up the sun and I went in the sea, although not too deep; the current is strong and although I trust my ability, I am always wary of beaches that I’m unfamiliar with, and I would never go out of my depth without someone. But it was cool and refreshing after the heat of getting there, and we saw a lot of surfers having fun in the waves.
Bondi Beach reminded me a little bit of Sandbanks Beach at home, and of some French beaches I’ve visited before. It wasn’t as big as I thought it was. But it was still lovely and felt typical of Australia, chilled, stylish, and sporty. Even the drinks we went to get in the shade felt hipster and arty (I had a strawberry milkshake and banana bread and it was yummy).
Sydney overall was one of those places where I felt like I was seeing things but not doing anything, and that was good. I needed that break just to look and enjoy things without taking part in some kind of activity. Because it’s only an hour from Melbourne, the flight wasn’t too bad, although getting back to Melbourne was ridiculous due to a storm that brewed up in Sydney as we left. I don’t think I could live in Sydney, but I would go back.
Maybe when it’s not quite so hot.