The next stop of our trip was Sydney. We had heard about the extortionate prices charged by hostels for accommodation over the xmas and NYE period so we opted for an Airbnb in the inner west suburb of Marrickville (about a 20 min bus ride into the city and a short walk from bustling Newtown). Our hosts were Elisia and her staffie Jessie. Elisia was away over xmas so we looked after Jessie and had the place to ourselves, which was such a bonus as it gave us the freedom to watch festive movies and cook a roast on Boxing Day. Airbnb is such a great way to experience the local way of life. We have had a bad one yet so for those of you who haven’t got an account, sign up and start booking!
We arrived in Sydney early on 23rd so got ourselves familiar with our surroundings during the day and headed out to see the xmas lights in the evening. It was a great way to get to know the city and where our bus stopped etc – we learnt this the hard way though as we ended up crossing harbour bridge 😬. The following day we didn’t move from the sofa. It’s really weird how much you miss a sofa whilst traveling. There really is something about being able to watch what you want whilst being a bit of a slob. Christmas Day then came and went with a trip to Bondi beach and an evening in pigging out on cheese and red wine which we managed to transport all the way from Hunter Valley (all six weeks of coaches and planes!). It was so lovely to FaceTime our families, especially as it’s the first year we have been away from home over xmas. Boxing Day was another chilled day involving demolishing the kitchen during our roast preparation. We cooked way too much but it was good to have some home comforts even if it was 25 degrees outside 😂.
We wanted NYE to be special rather than buying a ticket to a random club as we would do in London, so after researching just about everything, we booked a BYO cruise on the harbour. We departed Manly wharf at 6.30pm and took a tour of the harbour whilst it was still light. The boat then took its position for the 9pm family fireworks (the view included the harbour bridge and opera house). These fireworks were amazing and we were so excited for the midnight display. In between the two displays, the boat took part in the parade of lights and followed the other 20 boats around the harbour lit up with LED lights. Everyone crammed onto the front deck for the midnight fireworks which were launched from harbour bridge and were spectacular. I’ve never actually watched the fireworks in London but this has made me want to give it a go. If 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that life is too short to bypass experiences like this and that I’m so lucky to be able to experience these thing with Jack by my side.
We spent the rest of our days exploring the city and I have summarised what we got up to below (a day by day account would’ve been way too long):
– Botanic gardens. Best view in Sydney and the perfect place for a picnic or sunbathe.
– The rocks/ circular quay. Best place to watch street performers. Busy at all times of day. Walk up the rocks around to the Observatory for views of the harbour bridge.
– Luna Park, more for kids but worth the visit for the candy floss and charm!
– Bondi beach. As mentioned above we ventured here on Christmas Day so it was packed and full of tourists and expats. The beach is lovely and it is also home to the famous icebergs if you would prefer to swim without the risks of sharks!
– Taronga zoo. 10 mins from circular quay via ferry. We had a great day out here (the seal show is amazing) but it didn’t compare to Australia Zoo (although the views of the city are amazing). If you are traveling up to Brisbane, Australia Zoo is a must.
– Blue mountains. I loved it and Jack hated it – take that as you will. A 2 hr train ride from the city takes you into the Blue Mountains national park home to spectacular views and the famous three sisters. We did a few shorter walks and visited Scenic World (cable car and the worlds steepest train) although I don’t really think it was worth the money. Views were just as good from other points.
As you have probably worked out by now, we love eating out and finding unique bars, so here are my recommendations for Sydney:
– Opera bar. Right under the opera house with great views of Harbour Bridge. Worth the $10 for a glass of wine (or $15 in our case as we managed to smash a full glass).
– Earls Juke Joint (Newtown). The shop front is a butchers so you have to be on the ball to locate it – we love a hidden bar. Great cocktails and great atmosphere. Definitely worth finding!
– Bar Luca. Jack’s favourite. Bar serving the best burgers in Sydney. Music was on point. There’s usually a queue so get there early.
– Nosh. An Italian restaurant in the city. We met up with one of my school friends for lunch. Enjoyed the food and company – it was great to see another friendly face so far from home.
– Doughbox Diner (Newtown). 30’s diner vibes. Huge burgers, milkshakes and desserts. Famous for their crepe burger cones (we were too wary to try).
– 360 bar. A revolving bar in the city. Sit for an hour and spend the $20 minimum on cocktails. A great way to see the whole of Sydney from above.
– Cow and the moon (Newtown). Famous for its Afogato gelato (coffee/caramel/vanilla mixture). We tried a number of flavours and all were just as good. We also found the 0.5 litre take home container and managed to eat our way through a few whilst in Sydney!
– Cloud 9 (Newtown). Famous for its gelato sliders – gelato sandwiched in between a dessert with melted choc. I had a cronut with salted caramel gelato and dark chocolate all for $5. Best dessert bar in Sydney.
– Steves backyard. We went here before our first coach out of Sydney on our east coast adventure but it’s worth a mention as it’s located right next to central station and serves proper pub food. Perfect if you need a bit of England in Sydney.
– Also, a special mention should be made to McDonald’s (or Macca’s as it is known here). The food is way better than in the U.K. and the sweet chilli and sour cream loaded fries are to die for. 7Eleven also do $1 slushies which are usually cheaper than a bottle of water and quench your thirst just as well.
As you can probably tell, I’m feeling about a stone heavier after all the gelato so it’s just as well that we are heading to New Zealand which I’m sure will be full of outdoor activities and hiking. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated along the way!
Australia has been a blast and we are so lucky to have been able to see so much of it. Trying to pick a favourite part is so difficult, but I’m sure it’s what you all want to know… so here’s my top 3.
1- I want to say the east coast here but I know that’s too general. It’s a toss up between Magnetic Island and Fraser Island. Both places were with great people and everything was completely different to our normal lives.
2 – camper van on the Great Ocean Road. We saw the most amazing scenery and had so much fun driving about.
3 – NYE on Sydney harbour. You really can’t get a moment more special than the midnight fireworks.
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Love as always & a happy new year to all xx