Sydney is very walkable and easy to get around. Although I feel you could see everything in two days, you could also easily spend two weeks exploring. Most of my time was spent outside, but I did go to one museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales where I fell in love with the paintings of Australian artist Lloyd Rees, who does landscape with an impressionist feel.
Sydney Opera House is the iconic building with white sails you see on TV every New Year’s Eve with the fireworks behind it. I went there at least five times because it’s smack right in the middle of everything. Built in the 1960’s, it was very controversial at first, but now it’s loved by all. Inside, it has a very minimalist style with geometric shapes and no decorations. In one of the theaters I visited they were tuning pianos and on another theater they were rehearsing for a future production, so I could experience their impressive acoustics.
The Harbour Bridge is another recognizable Sydney landmark, connecting the north side with the south side of the city. Instead of just driving across it, I climbed to the top. For $265 you can walk across the arch of the bridge to the summit and then back for amazing views of the city, but unfortunately you can’t take your own camera, and they only give you four photos and a short video with your package. There is also no thrill. You have a harness on, and the steel platforms are very wide and secure, so I didn’t think it was that exciting. You can get the same views by walking on the bridge at car level, which is free and you can take as many pictures you want.
The best view of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge is from the Royal Botanical Garden in the morning, near Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, which has a stone chair built in 1816 for the governor’s wife to read and watch the ships go by. Then walk past the Opera House to reach Circular Quay and wander around the historical neighborhood of The Rocks to get a glimpse of the first buildings of the city, the ones that were built after the first ships of incarcerated people arrived from England in 1788.
Just a few miles away from Sydney, you can go to Blue Mountains National Park for a short hike to Wentworth Falls and then to Echo Point to a geological formation called “The Three Sisters”. Those rocks are sacred to the Aboriginal people because it is said three sisters tuned into rocks after a fight three brothers who wanted to marry them had with a sorcerer.
Finally, when I think of Australia’s east coast, I think of the beach. I absolutely hate hot weather, so coming to Australia during their winter has been great. We have blue-bird skies and temperatures in the 60s – perfect for a beach stroll and reading a book. Manly beach is easy to get to on the ferry and has a great boardwalk with water fountains, restrooms, restaurants, and art sculptures on the way. I am reading this book by Bill Bryson called “In a sunburned country” which is perfect for me because it mixes history with funny travel stories. While I was laying on Manly beach, I was reading a chapter about Sydney and its sites, including the one I was at, and it is just awesome being able to read about something and then look up to actually see it right in front of you.