I’d only been to Australia once for more than 4 hours – back in the days when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Aside from picking up a sole faded photograph – sat on the plane next to my little sister, both of us dressed in scarlet velvet dresses trimmed with crisp white ruffles, I can’t remember a second of it.
It’s kind of crazy – even though Australia is the closest geographical neighbours to New Zealand, as it was so close, I’d never visited. Fresh from the desert city of Doha, Qatar, where the lovely Polly had shown me around her home in 40°C+ temperatures, I was ready to walk into an antipodean Autumn – a far more reasonable range of 15-20°C temperatures.
Arriving late into the evening, I stayed in a hotel close to the airport (which luckily was a stone’s throw from KFC – don’t judge me, they do an amazing side of mashed potato and gravy which you can’t get in the UK) and slept off my jet lag.
Waking early the next morning, I hopped in a cab into the central city and dropped my luggage into the Four Seasons Hotel in Circular Quay. As it was only 8am and I wasn’t meeting my lovely friend until later, I literally just went wandering. I hadn’t quite realised just how central I was going to be staying, and to my delight I realised that there was a ferry hub just around the corner.
Delightedly discovering the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Opera House, I insta-storied my way around the bay before meandering over to the ferry piers where boats were bustling commuters to their workplaces.
Breakfast in Manly
With a quick Google, I jumped onto the Manly ferry in search of breakfast – ridiculous I know. 20 minutes of turquoise harbour hopping later and I was off to find a small cafe for coffee and a wee pastry.
My return journey was the prettiest with panoramic views of the Opera House – and even I wanted a selfie. I arrived back to a text message from the Four Seasons that my room was ready (at 9.45am!) to I pottered about there for a little while and then repacked my bag.
Meeting Kangaroos, Koalas and Quokkas
The Wild Life Sydney Zoo park, was where I was meeting the lovely Madam Globetrotter Postcards – she usually lives in London, but happened to be home staying with family – and one of my three absolute must-do’s whilst in the city.
New South Wales doesn’t allow tourists to touch or cuddle Koalas (which the RSPCA volunteer in me does agree with) but we were allowed to stroke their quokka and run our hands over one of the lizards which was rather strange and wonderful.
The park is compact but really well laid out, and with the variety of animals who live there, it felt like a walk through my childhood – our two countries have many songs and books which overlap – and necessitated a few little songs that my poor companion suffered through.
Kangaroos, Koalas and Quokkas, oh my!
Sample the Cafe Culture
Earning a late lunch in the afternoon sunshine, we consulted the great Google oracle and ended up in Bourke Street Bakery for a delicious iced chai latte and rhubarb crown (me), plus a flat white and cheese and tomato croissant that looked scrumptious (my date).
We then caught the metro to Surry Hills, where we visited Catmosphere, the out of this world (sorry) cat cafe. Fitting in a few feline snuggles is swiftly becoming essential when we visit new places, and Sydney’s offering didn’t disappoint. With two large rooms – one with cats, one with kittens, we were in heaven.
Dinner With Expat Locals
One more of my ‘must dos’ was to catch up with Miss Lux Life and a particular Nesting Nomad, both of whom left the rainy shores of England for a more relaxed pace of life in Sydney. We met for dinner in The Sheaf, a beautiful pub local to Catherine’s home suburb of Paddington. I can’t say enough how wonderful it was to literally be hanging on the other side of the world with these ladies, both of whom I initially met over the internet through this crazy little blog. They also have great local recommendations on their blogs.
Staying at the Four Seasons Hotel
I’ll blog a little more in depth about my stay here, but with a room service breakfast, a few lazy laps in the rooftop pool and a spell in the hot tub; to say my visit was restful is an understatement.
Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
Having seen the amazing pool jutting out over the ocean waves a hundred thousand times in my research, lunch at Icebergs Dining Room was another essential. Believe me when I say that the below photos are straight out of camera – no retouching in this entire post (which is my usual style) just look at those hues.
Watching the ocean waves roll into Bondi beach as we nibbled our delectable fish burgers and sipped our drinks was simply wonderful. I was pinching myself to think that only two days before I was in the Middle East, and five days before I had been sitting on my couch in London.
Eat Ice Creams on Bondi Beach
Of course the sea air necessitates an ice cream, so we strolled along the amazing street art panels to an ice cream shop that sits along the harbour. It took an age to decide between the range of flavours, but my Lemon Melting Moments cone was just the ticket.
Drinking at the Opera House Bar
Taking a look at our watches, we made our way back into the centre and decided to spend the twilight hour in the Opera House Bar, watching the world go by and toasting the last night of my trip with a cheeky glass of something.
Staying At The Shangri-La Hotel
This is one of the few hotels that I’ve ever actually made plans to return to within the schedule of our day – and sun set cocktails was the perfect memory to end with. (Full hotel dreamy hotel review of the Shangri-la Hotel Sydney here.)
Conclusion: Sydney was awesome. 48 hours isn’t enough to get a proper feel of the city (I say at least a few months to really get under the skin) but my taster trip was a lovely introduction to the vibrant city centred around a series of breathtaking harbours. Now I feel like I’ve finally had a bit of a chance to explore an Australian city.