Sydney was a nice long stay after the constant moving in Tasmania. And it was real summer weather which meant beaches warm enough for swimming! We stayed in an apartment by Bondi Beach. The apartment wasn’t centrally located but it worked great for us. We had several nice grocery stores and a mall in walking distance along. The bus stop was basically outside of our apartment. I even found a yoga studio. The kids needed some time to catch up with online schooling, so Sydney was a more relaxed pace for us.
This beach is an iconic Australian landmark. And the surfers are everywhere along this beach and in high numbers! We did venture in the water but it was slightly cold for our American liking and the waves were intense. One end of the beach has stronger currents and the lifeguards will actively advise swimmers to head down the beach. These lifeguards are part of the oldest surf life-saving club in the world. The street running along Bondi Beach features cafes, boutiques, coffee stores, and hotels/hostels. There is a coastal walk leading from Bondi Beach to nearby beaches (Bronte, Congee). Stephen and I headed to Bronte Beach one afternoon. Bondi Beach was packed our first visit (on a weekend) with families, surfers, volleyball, surfing lessons, and sunbathers (yes, some topless). No matter the day or the time, there was a constant stream of people coming and going to the beach. It may have been crowded but it didn’t feel “packed”. We tried very hard to convince our son that the shark net was in place and very effective, but he was reluctant to stay in the water very long. We didn’t stop at Icebergs for the pool experience….how can you beat the beach?
Although these double decker red buses are completely touristy, we have thoroughly enjoyed each bus we have taken (Santiago, Capetown, Sydney)! We didn’t have a rental car so it allowed us to visit several sites within a day. We always learn quite a bit about the towns and history while on the bus.We opted for BigBus Sydney which offers two routes: City Route and Bondi Beach Route. Some of the stops were St. Mary’s Cathedral, Bondi Beach, Hyde Park Barracks, Australian Museum, Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Royal Botanical gardens, Sydney Tower, Paddington Town Hall, Rose Bay, and Double Bay. A “bus” day ends up usually around 5-6 miles of walking for us.
We walked a lot in the central business district and around Darling Harbor, many times with no destination in mind as we made our way from a restaurant to another location. We passed by many landmark sights and frequently forgot to take photos. E&S found a playground one afternoon and enjoyed being “kids” again. Afterall, 15 yo and 12 yo are too old to be “kids”. Below is the Queen Victoria Building, a cool street sign (we are doctors), ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, Hyde Park, and a cool shopping area.
We took advantage of public transportation on Sunday and took a ferry to Manly Beach. On Sunday, the fares cap at a relatively low rate, so you can travel quite far for a minimal expense. We took a bus to train station, a train into town, and then a ferry over to Manly Beach. It was an overcast day and cooler than our other days in Sydney but still enjoyable weather. We walked from the ferry landing down a large shopping district and along the beach. We even found an escape room but were short on time due to the ferry crossing timetable. We were able to enjoy the weekend beach volleyball tourneys and the last of a surfing competition.
Sydney Opera House
This building is another icon for Sydney and has been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site. We were divided on its appearance; half of us thought it looked larger in real life and the other thought it looked smaller. Stephen took E to watch Carmen one night with English subtitles. I took S to watch Black Panther after a conveyor belt sushi meal. (You can decided which parent had the better deal!)
We decided to not climb on TOP of the bridge, but did walk along the bridge. It offered fantastic views of the harbor and the Opera House. It was constructed in 1932 and is still the world’s largest steel arch bridge. The kids are pointing to the Harbor Bridge Commemoration Plaque in the photo below.
We usually decide against the local aquariums but we decided to tour SEA LIFE. It made for an enjoyable hour or so but definitely is not a must-see. My favorite was the dugong (a marine mammal) which are located in a separate tank and are usually eating. It belongs to the Sirenia order which also includes manatees. We also spent time at the Australian National Maritime Museum (a definite must see). We were able to walk aboard and around several vessels (a destroyer, a submarine, and a replica of James Cook ship) docked at the museum. The inside exhibits covers the deep Australian maritime history with artifacts, short videos, multimedia, and art displays. Exploring the vessels were definitely worth the admission price!
We ultimately decided to make the day trip to the Blue Mountains. We may be a bit jaded after New Zealand and Tasmania. How much natural beauty can one family take it? It is definitely not a quick side trip from Sydney but it was easy to take a train instead of driving (about a two-hour trip one way). We were glad we made the trip. The weather kept changing from a drizzly misty rain to sunshine throughout the day but never had a true rain. The Blue Mountains are a range of mountains that start just outside of Sydney. The National Park spans about 267,000 hectares of land. The mountains are named after a “blue haze” from eucalyptus forests. There are easy paved paths and more traditional paths. We started at the Scenic Railway visitor center and took a glass-bottom gondola over to the opposite ridgeline. We then hiked towards Echo Point to view the Three Sisters and then climbed down onto the valley floor. We enticed the hike with promises of riding the world’s steepest railway (Scenic Railway) to the summit.
What does Friends have to do with Sydney? E&S found in on a local TV station and jumped in mid-series. So we started them at the beginning with the first episode and have been slowly working our way with 1-2 episodes a night. #parentingdoneright