The city on the southeast coast of Australia is a place you should definitely check out if you get the opportunity. Yes the travel to Sydney is long and tiring but it is definitely well worth it. My travel to Sydney started with a 6-hour flight from the East coast to San Francisco. Unfortunately we hit a little travel snag missing our connecting flight (by just 5 minutes) and had to spend the night in San Francisco. We straightened everything out with the airline and were able to get a 9 AM flight out. We had an extra lay over in Honolulu but at least we made it to Sydney! We may have landed 12 hours later than expected but at least we didn’t miss anything we had already pre-booked!
The city is large with so much to see and do! We started off exploring the city by taking a walking tour of the Rock’s area of Sydney. Here is where Captain James Cook, while on an expedition for England, first discovered Sydney. It is named the rocks because when the area was first discovered it was just sandstone and rocks. From here we headed over to the Royal Botanic Gardens where you get an amazing shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House! Also in this portion of the gardens is Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. The chair is a large sandstone seat overlooking the water. The chair was built for Mrs. Macquarie to watch the ships and wait for the letters to arrive to get the latest news from England.
As we rode the bus through Sydney we got glimpses of St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Sydney Hospital, which is the oldest hospital in Australia, Hyde Park Barracks museum, the customs house, library and art museum. We then traveled to the world famous Bondi beach! This beach is one of the most visited tourist locations! If you see people surfing on this beach they are most likely a tourist learning to surf and not a local. Most locals will surf on the Northern beaches rather than Bondi. Still, this is a nice place to dip those toes into the Pacific! Most people will say the Pacific is cold, but the day I put my toes in the water is just fine to me! On this beach there are of course places where you can buy tee shirts and other souvenirs or like me you can buy a nice iced coffee!
Our tour continued through the neighborhoods of Sydney that included the yacht club, private schools and the Jetson futuristic house! Our last stop was a lookout point where you can take in the view of CBD (central business district), the opera house, and the bridge. The tour dropped us off close to the opera house so we took the opportunity to take an afternoon tour.
Sydney Opera House
Tours of the opera house leave every half hour to an hour depending on the time of day. The tour is approximately 1 hour long and you will learn about the development and building of the opera house as well as visit 3 theaters. We visited the Joan Sutherland Theater small intimate theater room, the drama theater and the main concert hall where the orchestra usually plays but is also used for contemporary performers, especially during Vivid Festival. We were lucky enough to be visiting Sydney during Vivid Festival so we were able to take in a show at the Opera House! We scored tickets to see Maggie Rogers our last night in town! I still can’t believe I saw a show at the historic Sydney Opera House!
During our stay we also took a stroll through the Royal Gardens, had a few quiet minutes of contemplation in St. Mary’s Cathedral, walked through the shopping district, enjoyed meals along the Sydney Harbour, strolled along the Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walkway and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
I have a slight fear of heights or some might say a healthy fear of heights! Leading up to us booking the climb I thought I would be doing the outer bridge climb, but I didn’t think I would be able to do that so we compromised and did the shorter and possibly less intimidating inside bridge climb. We booked our climb that morning at breakfast. We decided to do the mid-day climb, this allowed us to have a lazy morning and leisurely breakfast.
We arrived to the bridge climb 20 minutes before the scheduled time. This is recommended to ensure you are registered in time and ready for your climb. There is a little shop near the sign in area so to calm my nerves a bit I took my mind off the climb by spending some money on souvenirs! Once it is your time for the climb you meet in an outside seating area and wait for them to call your climb time. Once they call you back they have you sit in another waiting area to sign your liability waivers, etc. From here they take you back to the changing room for your jumpsuit. You cannot take anything with you – this means, no purses, backpacks, no phones, no cameras, no GoPros, and no watches – even Fitbits! You can secure your items in a locker – they do allow you to take the locker key, they have a spot on the jumpsuit to secure the key. Once this is all squared away you go through a metal detector – just for safety and to ensure you removed all items. If you have not already met your guide for the climb here is where you will meet the guide.
You next move on to getting the remainder of your equipment for the climb. You will be put into a harness of sorts, a helmet and if you are wearing sunglasses a clip to secure them. You are also provided a headphone set so that you can hear your guide throughout the climb. On the harness is your ‘clip’ that you secure to the bridge while climbing. You follow your guide, clip yourself to the bridge and climb! The steps are not steep or narrow. They are easy to manage and are wide where you do not feel as though you are doing a precarious climb. As you climb the steps the guide will tell you about the building of the bridge and the sites that you see from that vantage point. When you ascend the bridge the Opera House is directly to your right. You stop prior to crossing over the bridge to take in the views. Since we did the inner bridge climb we only went up ‘half way’ but from our stopping point where we crossed the bridge it didn’t look much further to the summit of the bridge.
When you are on the cross over beam of the bridge you will have a group picture taken. This picture is included in your price of the bridge climb. Once you cross over you will then have individual (or pair) pictures taken. You can purchase these photos after the climb. From here you make your descent down the bridge and back to inside. I am very happy that I conquered my fear of heights and did the climb. It is definitely a once in a lifetime experience!
Bondi to Coogee Walk
On our last day in Sydney we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather we had and take the approximately 4 miles Bondi to Coogee Walk. We took an Uber to where we thought the starting point of the walk at Bondi Beach. This walk is mainly on a concrete walk way along the coastline. There are many places to stop throughout the walk – benches, rocks, pools, etc. We took the walk at a leisurely pace since we decided this was the only thing we would do for the day. Since we did it this way we took time to sit on benches and rocks to just take in the Pacific and relax. During the walk we saw surfer, pools, and beautiful beaches. It was a nice change of pace from the ‘normal’ sightseeing while on vacation.