Week Two: Sydney attractions and a bit of Urban Exploration

FOB

What do you do when you’re fresh off the boat (err, plane) and in a foreign city? Get a tourist guide and go crazy of course!

Credit: State Library, NSW

Credit: State Library, NSW

Before I arrived to Sydney I’d been scouring the interwebs for attractions and activities I wanted to do; this is a working-HOLIDAY after all. As last week’s blog detailed, I was greeted with open arms and heaps of plans, both of which were a welcomed relief. However, there’s no better way to get to know a city than to get out and walk around, explore, discover, get over the anxiety and talk to a local (still working on this part).

Urban Exploration 

So, on a Monday morning I turned up in Sydney CBD (central business district) bright eyed and bushy tailed as they say and made my way across Darling Harbour. First observation: these Sydney business folk wear a lot of black! They seem to be a cheery bunch so maybe it’s just the whole “black goes with everything and is uber professional” thing but my white long sleeve and baby blue jeans surely stood out in the sea of black suits and ties.

Once on the Pyrmont side of the Harbour I found a cute little coffee shop called Antidote… a fitting name for anyone who has ever suffered caffeine withdraws. I collected my flat white (basically caffe au lait) and was on my way to the Maritime Museum (covered in last week’s post). 

From the Maritime Museum I took the monorail to China Town/ Paddy’s Market. As of 30 June 2013, the monorail will no longer be available so travelers will have to hoof it or taxi from point to point- not that it is that far of a walk. Unfortunately for me, Paddy’s Market (think flea market, cleaned up and on steroids) is closed Monday and Tuesday every week. Taking the opportunity of being in the area, I wandered China Town and some of the markets there until heading to lunch.

Australian-Mexican?

Apparently, Mexican food here is somewhat hard to come by. An odd concept for me considering I grew up in the states where it seems like you can find at least a few good Mexican joints in every area, but Aussies don’t have that luxury. Although, one such place has opened in the heart of Sydney. Guzman y Gomez offers counter service and take away that is delicious and affordable; it is very much similar to Chipotle in the states. Huge burritos filled with great ingredients and wont break the bank- which is even more impressive considering food here is SO EXPENSIVE.

Sea Life Aquarium

ausshark

I’ve loved aquariums as long as I can remember. I don’t know if it was too much Little Mermaid or the allure of the unknown or the amazement and fascination with sea horses, but I will go to an Aquarium and spend hours being like a little kid staring in bewilderment. Plus, this is probably the only place I feel comfortable being in that close of proximity to a shark. Though I do catch my mind playing out scenes of Deep Blue Sea where the glass containers burst suddenly and we’re all trying to escape the now lose and angry sharks. Back on topic… Aquariums, they amaze me!!

SEE MORE AQUARIUM PHOTOS ON FLICKR

TIP: If you’re planning to see several of Sydney’s attractions, purchase a “Darling Harbour Big Ticket”. You get entrance to three attractions (SeaLife Aquarium, Maddam Tussaud’s and Wild Life Sydney Zoo) for less than the price of two individual tickets and you have 30-days to use the pass. 

Serenity in Sydney

ausbuddhaAfter leaving Sea Life I strolled up and down some of the streets in the city to get a feel for things and made my way back to China Town. Just before you get to the heart of China Town you’ll find the Chinese Garden of Friendship. What a wonderful spot this is; it’s a bit of tranquility in the heart of a bustling city. The admission was only $6 AUD and well worth it. When I get a job in the city I know I’ll be frequenting this little gem just for a break from the chaos that is the city.

The gardens were a gift to the city of Sydney from Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, China, on Australia’s bicentenary in 1988.  Though the grounds of this garden are not huge, you could easily spend an afternoon wandering the footpaths and taking in all the beauty.

austeaAfter enjoying the gardens you should definitely get a cup of tea from the Tea House and cozy up to a table that overlooks the koi pond. It was so nice to sit and recharge with a nice cup of green tea and watch as the koi swam around and the birds swooped in from their perches on the walks that keep the city out of this wonderful hideaway.

SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE GARDENS ON FLICKR.

Happy traveling!

-S

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