It was rainy the day I arrived in Sydney, and I had just spent the night in the Auckland airport, so I wasn’t in the best of moods. I wasn’t blown away when I first arrived. After I was well rested and the clouds cleared, I saw a different side of Sydney. It is a beautiful city with lots to do, and it is certainly worthy of its reputation. Here’s a short tour of the main attractions.
Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay
The Sydney Opera House is an international icon, and it is the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they think of Sydney. I didn’t take a tour of the interior, but I had a good time walking around and snapping some photos of the interesting “sail” architecture outside. Since the Opera House was built in 1973, it’s got a little bit of that 70s look going on, and it was kind of dingy up close, but it is still spectacular. Adjacent to the Opera House is the Circular Quay, a main port area where ferries and other ships come and go, taking people all around Sydney and to other parts of the harbor. Restaurants and cafes line the Circular Quay, so you can grab a drink or some food and take in the harbor and city views.
Royal Botanic Gardens and Harbour Walk
Next to the Sydney Opera House are the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Harbour Walk. The Royal Botanic Gardens contain a variety of plants and many exotic bird species that freely roam the grounds. The birds are probably fairly common in Australia, and the Sydney residents didn’t really seem to notice them. Meanwhile, I couldn’t get enough pictures. At night, giant bats would come flying out of the trees. The Harbour Walk takes you through the Botanic Gardens on a path that follows the shoreline of the bay. There are some incredible views along the way and a nice breeze to cool you off as you go.
The Rocks is one of Sydney’s original neighborhoods, and you can really feel the history there as you walk past the old homes and through the winding alleys that connect everything together. It’s called The Rocks because of the rocky sandstone soil in that section of the city. This neighborhood was originally a slum full of drunken sailors and prostitutes, but it has slowly (and controversially) been gentrified over the years. One of my favorite places in The Rocks was the Australian Hotel. Traditionally, Australian pubs are contained within hotels, so this hotel naturally had a pub and restaurant in the bottom. I sat out on the patio and had a Kangaroo Jack burger and a local beer. Later, I went to Lord Nelson Brewery, which is the oldest licensed brewery in the city, and had one of their beers called Nelson’s Blood. There is a legend that when Lord Nelson was killed during the Battle of Trafalgar (Napoleonic Wars) his body was stored in a casket of rum which his men later drank. From what I’ve read, this is just a legend, but it makes for an interesting beer concept.
To continue reading about Sydney, check out Part 2 of my city tour by clicking here.