One of the best parts of holding down a full time job? Flying around the world to meet with clients of course! Working at a global software company has many perks. My favorite is having the ability to travel to destinations I could not otherwise afford. I flew to Sydney, Australia a few days early to take advantage of the end-of summer sunshine and outdoor culture. If you are looking to make the most out of a short visit to Australia’s largest city, look no further.
Become a beach bum: Coogee to Bondi
After a 24 hour trek the last thing that I’d want to do was hit the ground running, so my first stop was Coogee. This beach is the little sister to Bondi. The quiet location and gorgeous rock pools makes the perfect spot to watch the waves crash against the shoreline. This area has plenty of reasonable accommodation right on the water. I choose Dive Hotel, a boutique hotel with a cozy atmosphere, free wifi, and delectable complimentary breakfast.
My first meal down under was a taste of the local seafare. Tasmanian salmon and chips from Chish and Fips snack bar on the beach. This turned out to be one of my best meals in Sydney; despite having to use karate skills to ward off the swarms of birdlife looking to enjoy my meal. I fell fast asleep on the beach, and awkward looking sunburn in just a few minutes. Amateur hour I tell ya. If you are going to take a nap under Australian sun, be sure to fully lather up in SPF 30.
Due to my jetlag and sunburn, I wasn’t interested in venturing far for dinner. If you are looking to enjoy a nightcap and kebabs with fellow tourists and expats, Coogee Bay Hotel is where it is at. A great seaside bar with live music on the weekends.
Rise early and hike the coastline to Bondi
Friday morning I awoke to a breathtaking sunrise. Yes it is worth rolling out of bed in the wee hours in the morning. Besides all the locals are already plunging into the Pacific or crossfitting in an aggressive fashion.
One of the best things you can do in the area is walk the coastline from Coogee to Bondi.There is no shortage of stunning views along this 5 kilometer hike, including an eerie walk through Waverly Cemetery. Be sure to take a dip at Clovelly, Bronte, and Tamarama beach before ending your hike at famous Bondi.
Bright Lights Big Sydney
By Saturday it was finally time to travel downtown, referred to as CBD by locals. The 25 minute bus ride a scenic (and cheap) way to make the journey. Be sure to pick up an Opal card at a convenience store before catching the bus.
Once downtown, I had to hit the stereotypical tourists attractions. When in Sydney, right? Take a leisure stroll through the Botanical Gardens, starting just outside the Sydney Opera House. It is absolutely worth your while to walk out to Mrs Macquaries’s chair. This sandstone chair carved out by convicts (more on that later) for the Governor’s wife and is a photographer’s dream. I couldn’t resist snapping a few selfies with the Opera House and Bridge in the background.
Be sure to head over to the Rocks to learn more about Australia’s dark past with the aboriginal tribes. Similar to American history, the Brits brought convicts to Oz in efforts to colonize the region in the late 1700s. I recommend downloading Walking the Rocks app and taking a free self guided tour through the neighborhood. There are also fantastic pubs and restaurants in the area. If you go during the weekend you can stroll through the market and pick a few unique handmade souvenirs.
Hitting the town Grandma Style
Now, onto my big night out…. of course I found a place called Grandma’s Bar. Anyone who knows me well knows I like to be in bed by 10pm, so this was a big adventure. I walked by it about 3 times before figuring out where it was… there are no signs!
Once inside, the hipster beach vibe caught me by surprise. The cocktails, while pricey (welcome to Australia) were very tasty! I enjoyed the Pineapple Express over a conversation with a lovely expat from Germany. She was taking a gap year to explore all the Australia has to offer before attending university. Needless to say I was very jealous of all of her adventures down under!
Cruise the Harbor to Manly
My colleagues finally arrived on Sunday, just as exhausted and hungry as I was. After devouring delicious avocado toast and fresh squeezed juice at Bowery Lane, we caught the ferry to Manly beach. Taking the ferry also doubles as fantastic photo opportunity with the Harbor Bridge and Opera House. If you use public transportation during your stay, your Opal card can be used for the ferry ride.
I must give credit where credit is due. Aussies are lean, tan, and fit! We happened to arrive in Sydney for The Australian Surf Open, there were many competitions happening along the boardwalk. Watching Aussies hop, climb, and swing through a ninja warrior obstacle course was a gentle reminder that it’s time to hit the gym when I get home. If you are anything like me, you’ll need to turn your keg into a six-pack if you want to fit in with this crowd.
Once we had our fill of the Surf open, we stopped by Manly Wine for some oyster and frozen treats. Frose, which consists of Rose wine blended with sugar, ice and strawberries. This is the perfect cocktail to enjoy seaside. About 3 maybe 4 drinks in, our waiter began to educate us on what Sunday Funday is, but we had a ferry to catch and work to do!
As my free weekend in Sydney drew to a close, I was longing for at least a few more days to see all this city down under has to offer. Guess it just means I’ll have to make a trip back sometime soon!