Early on in 2014 we decided that it had been too long since our last cruise and finally fell into my Mums demands of going on another family cruise. Both Jess and myself had just started full time jobs in January 2014 so we said, “what-the-heck, let’s do this”. We ended up deciding on Sydney as our port to leave from and scheduled a few days, both prior and after the cruise, to explore the city.
Fast forward 11 months and a lot has happened, we decided to move abroad and started a little blog called Flying the Nest. Besides a quick weekend road trip this would be our first official (drum roll please) trip whilst running a travel blog. We expected this to change the dynamics of our holiday due to blog obligations, but otherwise we were excited to go.
Despite the fact that we have been to Sydney only a few years ago, we were extremely excited to revisit due to our love of the city. Last time we travelled with Jess’s parents, but this time it would be with my family and my sisters-boyfriends family.
Exploring the city
During our last visit in Sydney we went all out, attending as many attractions as possible and didn’t really spend much time exploring and taking in the culture of the city. So this time around we grabbed my camera bag, picked a road and followed it to the end. Being Christmas time the city was packed with shoppers, tourists and families alongside carollers and street performers – Sydney had a great vibe to it this week and we loved it.
Another turn took us to an awe inspiring discovery, the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral. It is quite a well known landmark due to its spectacular architecture and history. We both decided that after exploring inside the structure that this has only fuelled our desire to visit Europe even more.
Visiting the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge
No matter how many times you see these two sites you can’t help but sneak one more look when passing through Sydney. This time around we managed to squeeze in a Opera House tour but skipped re-climbing the bridge due to being in major saving money mode. However, it is a great a tour and one we recommend you do!
We deliberately booked our accommodation very close to Circular Quay so that our lazy selves had no excuse in heading out and capturing these iconic landmarks at night. We usually do not explore places when the sun goes down (due to safety reasons) but agreed that this was something we wanted to do.
Forgetting we already had done a tour until halfway through it
Everyday in Sydney I said the one tour I wanted to do was to go to the top of the Sydney Eye to get a birds eye view of the city. It was almost brushed aside until Jess and myself managed to squeeze away from the group and do it.
It wasn’t until we lined up for 45 minutes and started watching the 4D movie that Jess quietly tapped me on the shoulder and said “haven’t we seen this before”. Struggling to remember, my memory was blank until she opened up Facebook and showed me one particular picture. It all came back to me – we had already gone up the tower, done the tour and even purchased the cheesy photograph back in 2012 – woops.
Seeing Bondi Beach for the first time
The last time we were in Sydney there wasn’t much time to dedicate a full day at Bondi Beach (which is another activity we highly recommend you do). The day before our cruise was set to depart we caught the bus (about a 40 minute trip) and headed down to Bondi with clear blue skies and a very hot sun above us.
There was one particular place that we had seen online and vowed to see in person and that was the Icebergs public pool in Bondi. As you can see, it is situated right on the edge of the ocean and if you are going for a swim during a windy day you can even catch the waves smashing over the rocks and into the lap pool.
There is always time for an ice cream stop, especially when it is a 40 degree day outside and the ice cream trucks are just sitting there begging for you to go over and buy a chocolate covered, nut dipped vanilla cone. Mmm.
After stopping off for lunch we noticed some enticing little local stalls selling handmade trinkets and I believe one caught Jess’s eye that she bought whilst I was looking the other way. Cheeky.
It’s Christmas Time
There was something different about this holiday than others, and it all had to do with the timing. I had worked in retail for about 8 years and Jess in hospitality for 10 years so we have never had time off around the Christmas holidays. Trust us – it was surreal feeling walking into a shop and not having to serve any customers or have our coffee brought out to us and not the other way around.
A pop into the worlds largest IMAX
If you follow me on Twitter you may know that I am quite the movie fan, so having the opportunity to see the last Hobbit film in the world’s largest cinema screen was something I could not miss. The image is about 10 times the size of your standard cinema and has stadium seating to fit everyone in. If only we had one of these back in Perth.
Visiting Martin Place
You may of heard about the Martin Place Siege that happened in Sydney during December, where hostages were taken in a local cafe, unfortunately two hostages did die. We had personally never experienced visiting a public memorial site so soon after an event. We did not plan to head here initially but instead stumbled across it when heading towards the Forgotten Songs art piece.
One thing about Martin Place that did stand out to us both was how packed the streets were with flowers and mourners, yet there was dead silence around.
Enjoying the street art
Sydney has some beautiful street art pieces worth checking out if you take the time to seek them out. Probably one of the most popular destinations in Sydney is the Forgotten Songs art collection off George Street. High above the alley way hang countless bird cages that represent the 129 species of birds that were native to the area and have since gone extinct.
Even during our time in Bondi beach we came across some noteworthy graffiti work whilst Jess munched down on her ice cream.
Exploring the Rocks
Maybe it was the time-difference jet lag or the eagerness to get out and explore the city (I am banking more on the time difference) that made us get up early, grab a coffee and explore the beautiful area known as The Rocks.
This very old historical section of Sydney is beautiful. The area is buzzing with culture as you see unique cafes taking residence in old buildings, farmers markets popping up and buskers performing with the Sydney Harbour Bridge looming over us in the background.
It is well worth the trip exploring The Rocks in both night and daytime, as this safe area buzzes with excitement from the surrounding bars and restaurants.
On our final day in Sydney we decided to have one last celebratory meal (we called it the Last Supper – even though there were only 9 of us) and decided to recommend a personal favourite to our fellow travellers – Pancakes on the Rocks. If you are ever having an extended stay or just popping into Sydney we highly suggest grabbing some delicious pancakes.
Where to next?
The main reason we headed to Sydney was to catch a cruise to the South Pacific, including Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, but as you can see we could’ve easily stayed longer.
Have you been to Sydney before? How was your experience?
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