Whilst I was sad to leave New Zealand behind after having one of the best trips of my life there, I was happy to return to Australia and more specifically Sydney. Why? Because I had already been to Sydney two years prior, done the tourist thing and therefore planned to spend my 5 days here this time around at a slower, more leisurely place to get a better feel for life as a local.
After 3 weeks of travelling around the South Island of New Zealand, where food choices are limited and expensive, I was missing good, proper Asian food (I am Malaysian after all). It was therefore no surprise when all hell broke loose upon my arrival in Sydney with its myriad of food options, especially “cheap”, quick and delicious Asian food.
I started with Malaysian food, and made my way through Japanese ramen, Swedish smoked salmon, Indian roti and curry, Aussie burgers and Vietnamese spring rolls.
I also made sure to drop by some well known Aussie food institutions like Bill’s for Sunday brunch (amazing ricotta hotcakes!), the Bourke Street Bakery for strawberry tarts and praline croissants and the best of the lot, Messina for some of the best gelato I have ever eaten in my life (and I’ve eaten a lot!).
Exercise & Fitness
With all of the eating going on throughout the day and the lack of structured exercise I have been having recently, I had planned to get back into a habit of running around the city daily. I also find that running is a great way to explore neighbourhoods you might not necessarily take the time to visit ordinarily, enabling you to discover cute little side streets or interesting sites that you can take a mental note of to return to at a later time.
I spent my first morning doing a classic route comprising a run up through Hyde Park and onto and around the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Domain Park.
My second day of running was more ambitious, taking me to wholly new grounds. I ran to Circular Quay, hopped on a ferry to Taronga and then continued my run north to Manly Beach. As I had a lunch appointment with a friend at Manly, I had to rush through my run which meant taking the main road rather than the much more picturesque coastal route. A shame, but a route to remember to try again next time.
My last running session again took me to uncharted territory in the form of the Centennial Park. This was a lovely find and I enjoyed my peaceful run through both roads and trails, uphill and downhill, past lakes, trees, monuments and horse riders.
The one aspect of Sydney that I really like is just how sporty its residents are in general. I made it a point not to take public transport while I was there (apart from the ferry), choosing to walk everywhere instead. I seemed to be constantly passing by runners, cyclists, walkers and gym rats wherever I went which was very encouraging to see. I spent the last morning I had in a gym with a friend, surrounded by uber sporty types looking fit, toned and healthy. I couldn’t measure up against them but they certainly gave me motivation!
As it happened, a lot of my activities in Sydney tended to gravitate around central Sydney – the Rocks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Hyde Park and Surry Hills.
I seemed to be passing by the Sydney Opera House daily, not that I was complaining as I love the buzz and vibe in its surrounding area. After passing by it for the 3rd time in 2 days however, I told myself that I really ought to take this opportunity to explore the inside, something which I’ve never done before on any of my previous trips.
My plan had been to do one of the paid backstage tours. I ended up with two tickets instead – one for the famous Italian opera La Boheme and the other for the popular visiting performance of The Illusionists 2.0. Both were amazing though in very different ways.
I had also planned to take my time visiting some of Sydney’s museums. As it turned out, I only had time to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. There were some very strange pieces of art in there, and some of it was a little too modern for my liking, but it was a pleasant way of whiling away a few hours in the afternoon.
Chilling with friends and family
The rest of my time was spent catching up with family, friends and acquaintances whilst walking aimlessly around town, doing a spot of light shopping, eating, exploring the Summer Festival or cooking at home and playing board games.
Arriving in Sydney, I had initially thought that I would be happily bored for the next 5 days, after my last two months of go-go activities and sightseeing on a daily basis. It turns out that I was busier than ever doing the ordinary things, which were just as fun.
Have you ever visited Sydney? Are you from Sydney? What’s your one “local” recommendation to try out (I’ll be returning in about 2 weeks time)!