When I think back on our time in Sydney, a few experiences immediately spring to mind. To us, these moments exemplify OUR Sydney; some touristy, but others much more in line with day to day life. With nearly unlimited lodging options available in Sydney, it is simple to find your own home away from home in this fascinating city. In conjunction with IHG Hotels, I present to you my list of our five favorite Sydney memories.
image via Flickr by BeauGiles
When we first arrived in Sydney we felt intimidated by the size and scope of the city and tended to follow the well-worn tourist path of those who had come before us which, one day, led us to Bondi Beach. Set on a gorgeous bay, Bondi is stereotypical Australia. White sand leading to turquoise seas. A beach lined with tanned bodies, surf shops, seafood restaurants and the iconic lifeguards. Touristy, yes, but, Bondi is still a Sydney must see!
Although not as well-known as Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, the Taronga Zoo in Sydney charmed us completely. Set on terraced hills overlooking the water, Taronga opened in 1916 and is well-designed, well-managed, and has a delightful array of both exotic wildlife like the Przewalskis Horse, as well as the more “normal” zoo finds all in a parklike setting.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney’s Circular Quay is justifiably world famous as the setting for the Opera House, The Rocks neighborhood, and Sydney Bridge. And while all of these sights are impressive, we found ourselves regularly leaving view of their famous vistas to explore the back corners of the amazing Royal Botanic Gardens. The gardens are celebrating their 200-year history this year, and feature over 68,000 specimens of nearly 9000 plant species. The gardens, arboretums and artwork among the 158 acres create a gorgeous setting for a picnic, walk, or meditation.
image via Flickr by u07ch
Sydney is surrounded by water, the lifeline of the city. Each day we boarded our water taxi to and from Circular Quay to transfer from downtown to the neighborhood where we were staying. Occasionally joined by other travelers, for the most part we were simply two more residents making our way around the city. Inexpensive, efficient, and with breathtaking views, these water taxi rides became one of our favorite experiences in the city. For when ferrying across the bay, we were not “touring” the city, we were living in it.
Neighborhood Wandering in Search of Diana
One of my favorite days in Sydney was the day we walked, trained, and taxied around Sydney, away from Circular Quay and our normal haunts, in search of the Powerhouse Museum and the Princess Diana exhibit. What we found was, of course, the exhibit we had come to see, but also a completely different neighborhood experience. A working neighborhood, the streets were not overrun with tourists, but simply filled with local markets and restaurants. We wandered stores, had lunch at a roadside stand, got lost repeatedly, and later exhaustively made our way back towards home. In other words; a near perfect day on the road.
Sydney has so much to offer and we would encourage others to find their own five favorite experiences.