Sydney took me by a surprise. It was anything but what I had imagined about this largest city in Australia. My flight was all set to touch the continent of Kangaroos at 5.00 pm on a Saturday evening and I was so excited to meet my friend who lives in this big, beautiful city. As I was anxiously waiting to meet her, witnessed one of the most breathtaking landing of an aircraft. The runway is parallel to the blue serene waters and gives a feel as if you are gonna land in the ocean. For once I wanted a glass bottom plane so that my heartbeat could be normal , I was rewinding the instructions the pretty stewardess had given us on where to find the safety jacket and floaters. Is it really gonna land on the run way ? My hands were ice cold by the time the plane reached a halt. Gosh, we landed safely.
As we get into the car, my friends husband asked ; so what do you want to see in Sydney. Well, the stunning harbour side, iconic beaches, Opera house and anything and everything else. I felt a lil embarrassed about my poor GK and having not been prepared for that million dollar question. I was on a week long break and had all the time in my hand to explore this paradise.
Free Walking Tour
I had read about I’m Free Walking Tours and blindly went for it based on Trip advisor reviews. Their website said “Rain, Hail or Shine, I’m Free Tours walk EVERYDAY. NO NEED TO BOOK, just turn up and look for your local guide in a bright green I’m Free T-shirt. Since my friend had just picked up a new job , she could not afford to take leaves. I was happy to be let alone. Took a train from Hornsby to Townhall.
When I reached Town Hall station it was already 10.25 am, didn’t have any clue how am gonna find the group in this big city in the next 5 mts, as the website had mentioned it starts sharp at 10.30. Just as I came out of the Cathedral exit, saw a group of people around this guy wearing a fluorescent green T shirt …FREE TOUR written on it. I was so delighted to see him with a bunch of people from all across the world who were visiting Sydney. We all got a map of the city with details about the places that we would be visiting and some tips about navigation, bus nos, bus stop details ,best places to eat and shop etc. Our guide Ross was a walking encyclopedia. We were a group of 15 people and he kept filling our minds with the history of the place, rates cards at various restaurants, view points and things to do while in Sydney. Those 3 hours were magical. By the time it ended at the observatory , we were hungry for more.
All this for FREE ? He accepted “tips” graciously. $10 each that’s a cool $ 150 for 3 hours. And he does three such rounds every day. I envy his job.
MUST DO while in Sydney and in case you are a solo female traveler, here is where you meet fellow travelers. !!
Day 2 , I felt like a localite in Sydney. Walking tour had given me such wonderful insight about the city and public transport that I was ready for a solo roller coaster. First things first, got an “Opal” card from a 7/11 store . The card can be obtained (for free) and loaded with credit at numerous convenience stores across Sydney. You are good to board a train, bus of ferry “with Opal in your hand”.
I figured out the bus number from the city map , our guide yesterday had even shown us various bus stops and even alternate bus numbers to get to Bondi and Congee beaches. Here I was outside Hyde Park and waiting for my first bus ride in Sydney. This 45 mts long journey through the suburbs of Sydney took me through a very picturesque neighborhood.
Go surfing, swimming, paddling, walking, or simply laze in the sun. The famous Bondi is paradise on earth. A little something for everyone. You got me right..Free Wifi too !
Bondi to Congee walk is a stunning coastal walk with plenty of coves and beaches to visit along the way for a swim or a drink and a bite to eat. The walk starts behind Bondi Iceburgs and usually takes us 2 hours . Alternatively you could Catch the train from Central to Bondi Junction, then a bus to Bondi Beach.
Shopping in Sydney
Double Decker trains at Central
Everyone gets a shock after their first day in Australia. They see how much things cost, and their jaws drop. Heck, even Australians keep talking about it, how expensive it is to live here. Did you know that a kg of tomatoes cost $8 ? my friend explained to me while buying tomato puree to make sambar. Puree for sambar ? really ?? By end of Day 2 you would happily drink puree sambar Travelers go overboard with their budget because no one ever expects the country to cost as much as it does. Averaging roughly $100 dollars a day would be a safe bet.
Eating out is expensive in Sydney. A decent budget meal would cost you anywhere from $15 to $20. Even Mc Donalds wrap meal is $8.99 or even Hungry Jack’s (Aussie version of KFC) does not come cheap. Try some Lamingtons ; A cube-shaped slice of sponge cake, covered with chocolate frosting and desiccated coconut. Check it out at the nearest “Coles” super markets.
So what do we do we do next ..
Sydney Part II “Opera Queen and Darling Harbour”