Friday, December 03, 2010

Iconic Sydney

The city center is accessible by train from the airport. We had originally planned hailing a cab to the hotel but we took the train on the last minute. I don't remember why. Though it was a brief 10 minute, uneventful ride, it was already a Sydney experience in itself.

My first glimpse of Sydney was a blonde lady in short skirt, dark top, high heels, sunglasses, totting a Louis Vuitton satchel on her right arm and a surf board on the other. Sydney is chic and at the same time cool, I thought to myself. Later in the trip, I learned that Sydney folks cannot be generalized. That was the first and the last time I was going to see her kind.

We only had five days to spend in the city we had a short list in our sight seeing agenda so we can relax afterward. The Sydney icons, the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, are truly impressive works in real life. However, the harbor is the most beautiful, it makes the two icons look like mere accessories meant to compliment the picturesque natural scenery. As a photo enthusiast, I couldn't help but marvel that one can capture the Bridge, the Opera House, the natural harbor in one picture. Three-in-one! It was such a bargain if one is willing to take time to figure out the vantage point where to take the photo.

The only thing I didn't get to do is visit the Hillsong Church in the Surrey hills and experience what it is like to be part of their worship service.

All in all, Sydney is a cosmopolitan city with world renowned icons, good restaurants, top notch services and a good urban vibe. I would live there.

My top three in no particular order:

Ferry Rides. You can take the ferry to go to the zoo, to the Olympic village, to the suburbs north of the city or to Manly beach. We set aside one day to catch the sun and to spend a relaxing time in Manly. If you buy a rail day-pass, unlimited ferry rides are included in the ticket. It only takes 30 minutes on the ferry to go to Manly but one would wish the ride was longer because the harbors views are just fantastic. The Sydney Harbor is stunning! Take the seats on the back of the ferry for the panoramic views of the city. On your way back, take the front seats and just breathe in the fresh harbor breeze and enjoy and savor the fleeting moment.

Bondi Beach. Going to Sydney and not see Bondi beach is like going to Hawaii and not going swimming in its beaches. The water maybe icy cold like here in San Francisco but you just have to take a dip. The water is crystal clear, the sand is like sugar granules. Reading the beach warnings was overwhelming at first but don't worry because there are lean and brawny looking lifeguards ready to save anyone in need. The undertow can be quite strong I was a bit frightened when I got pulled into the ocean a couple of times. Eventhough they screamed 'tourists', it was our intention to buy beach towels around Bondi. They're sort of souvenirs for us, something we can use when we go to Baker or Ocean beach in San Francisco. We did bring our designer board shorts with us so we can at least look cool enough eventhough we don't have the Bondi-quality build. Don't forget to bring a hat, put on the sunscreen, and a pair of sun glasses.

Streets of Sydney. Aside from the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, our list of places to see in Sydney was short. We wanted to savor the city by sampling as much local things as what Sydneysiders would do. As we walked around Sydney, we noticed the city is dotted with parks, massive brick buildings dating back to early 1900s, old world style shopping arcades like The Strand and the Queen Victoria Building, small cafes, museums, skyscrapers, asian restaurants and outdoor markets.

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