travelling the seven parts of the world


Mar 11th, 2008

Sydney is the capital of Australia in every way other than being the actual capital (the capital is Canberra in case you didn't know). Its icon is the Sydney Opera House, which is possibly the most recognizable building in the world.

The arrival in Sydney by plane on a clear day really does get you some of the best views you are going to see. It really is a very beautiful place, where the modern meets the old in the way of stylish sky-scrapers standing next to monumental Victorian style buildings, all paired up with parks and botanical gardens that seemed to be everywhere. After all that time spent in Outback towns, it was nice to be near civilization once more.

We flew in Sydney from Cairns and were a bit jet lagged, so we spent the first day just doing absolutely nothing. We set out to explore the city on the second day, in part because we hadn't booked the hotel for our last night, and had to find a new place to stay. This was a blessing in disguise, because while the Travelodge hotel we stayed in wasn't too bad, the only thing really going for it was the fact that you could get free wireless internet from a nearby building. Other than that, it lacked everything Australian.

We set off through the main street off to Sydney Opera House. The Opera House is everything you expect. You have probably seen it so many times on TV, being next to it is like meeting up with an old friend. But it is still a great view and a great engineering feat - it took over 5 years for engineers just to figure out how to build this thing!

Another one of Sydney's icons and best attractions is the harbor bridge. It used to be the biggest arch bridge in the world starting from 1930s when they built it to until very recently, when a bigger bridge was completed in Shanghai. You can walk to the top of the bridge, but it is $179 per person, which I think is a complete rip-off. You also have to be on a guided tour and can't do it by yourself, and you can't take your own camera to take pictures, which really was the breaking point for me.

We found our hotel in the old Sydney town, The Rocks. It was an old style hotel with a pub in the bottom floor, and about ten rooms in the upper floor, and ended up being everything we expected it to be.

The pub was great, and also served great food. Their Queenslander pizza was probably the best pizza I Have ever eaten in my life. I also tried the Saltwater Crocodile pizza, and ironically enough, that was the worst pizza I have ever had to eat. Crocodile meat is very sinewy and difficult to chew, and is really not meant for eating.

The breakfast room was Victorian style and very worn down, just as expected. The whole place gave off an old vibe like we were back in the 1920s, starting from the breakfast room, and ending with the fact that you had to pull a long cord to turn the lights in the room on and off.

We started off the next day with a harbor cruise, which was about 2 hours long and takes you all around the harbor to see all the best sights.

After the cruise we had a stroll through the park, where the guys above where having one hell of a time fighting a war with a near empty water bottle.

One thing about parks in Sydney, and in fact, parks in most of cities in Australia, is that there are a lot of bats. Now these guys aren't just regular bats, they are called flying foxes, and are one of the biggest bat species in the world, with a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters, and there are thousands upon thousands of them, sitting on every tree in the park.

Sydney is a fantastic place, but I have to admit that after spending 20 days in Australia (plus another 4 days we spent in Western Australia before this), I was a bit tired and was longing for something else. Australia is a very interesting place to come and see, and I am glad we spent our time here to get to know all parts of it inside out, with some magnificent views and activities, such as climbing on top of Uluru, diving in the Great Barrier Reef, holding crocodiles in Darwin and walking the parks of Sydney. But it was time to move on, and off we went for a nine and a half our flight over the pacific.