Sydney Wouldn’t Let Us Leave

Posted by on Mar 23, 2013 in Australia, Featured | 2 comments

Sydney is fascinating. To a degree that we decided to extend our stay. . .twice. The city, its magnificent harbour, its beaches, its bar and restaurant scene, and, of course, its iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House never ceased to entertain us. Our three day visit turned into five and yet, we still could have stayed longer.
While we loved Sydney right from the start, our respect for the city continued to grow everyday. We began to explore downtown Sydney by walking through Hyde Park, strolling up Pitt Street – a pedestrian-only walkway filled with shops and street performers, before finally making our way down to Circular Quay. This is the crux of Sydney’s transportation network. Ferries, trains and buses all come together to the most visited section of the city – and rightfully so. Looking out from Circular Quay, we caught our first glimpse of the striking Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. We were in awe of the magnitude of these “stop you in your tracks” iconic structures – and by iconic, we’re talking on par with Paris’ Eiffel Tower, London’s Big Ben, and Rio’s Christ the Redeemer. We came back to this area numerous times and kept asking ourselves, “would this ever get old if we lived here?” The answer was a definitive “no”.
Over the next few days we explored all that Sydney had to offer. We utilized its efficient ferry system to enjoy a day at Manly Beach (one of many beach suburbs lining Sydney Harbour) where we strolled the main thoroughfare called The Corso and spent a few lazy hours on its relaxed surfers’ beach. We crossed over Sydney Harbour Bridge on foot during evening rush hour where we saw countless commuters running home from work . . .another example of this city’s (and Australia’s) strong emphasis on physical activity. We walked the beautiful coastline from Maroubra Beach to Bondi Beach (which we enjoyed so much that I wrote another blog dedicated to it). And lastly, we strolled The Rocks neighborhood just beneath the bridge. Kat enjoyed meandering through its charming and historic streets whereas I found joy in discovering a replica to my favorite bar back home in Chicago – Uberstein, a somewhat traditional German beer hall serving tall steins and warm, freshly baked pretzels. Ironically, while Uberstein was shutting its doors in Wrigleyville, we stumbled across Lowenbrau halfway around the world. 
Even though we felt like we had seen many of Sydney’s highlights, we weren’t ready to go. I initially thought this feeling arose from our desire to stay in one place for more than three nights, but when it came down to it, we hadn’t seen or experienced all that Sydney had to offer. We spent the next day strolling the Royal Botanical Gardens, Darling Harbour, and other neighborhoods we had yet to visit. After a long, tiring extra day, we packed up before bed, ready to embark up the east coast for the remainder of our time in Australia…. Or so we thought.
We had planned on renting a car on the spot at the airport, but after 30 minutes between four different rental agencies, our best option had more than doubled in price to over $500. To pay this amount hurt more than normal knowing that we really didn’t even want to leave. Something was telling us to stay. We quickly started looking into alternatives and Kat came up with the brilliant idea of taking a train. After some quick research on spotty wifi at the airport, we decided to take an overnight train to Byron Bay that night and spend another full day in Sydney. 
This second “extra” day ended up being one of our favorites. From the airport, we headed back down to Circular Quay and decided to take another ferry – this time over to Watsons Bay. Watsons Bay is another popular day trip or lunch spot and displayed another angle to Sydney… the perfect way to take a break from the beach. Although a nice stretch of sand crescents around the dock, other aspects draw visitors to the town. Within 10 minutes we walked up to the top of The Gap – high cliffs lining the Tasman Sea that form the edge of land extending out to the tip of Sydney Harbour. While one direction gave us great views of the coastline, turning around gave us a completely new perspective of Watson’s Bay and even Sydney’s skyline and Harbour Bridge in the distance. After strolling through Gap Park, we feasted on fish n’ chips at Doyles and relaxed back down by the dock for our return ferry. 
Kat and I were thrilled with our decision to extend our stay in Sydney.  It gripped us right away and held on tight for longer than we planned. But opportunities like this have helped us begin to realize the advantages that long term travel will afford us. Without a pre-planned agenda, we’re able to tailor our trip as we go, and this was a perfect time to do just that. Although extra days in Sydney cut into our two short weeks in Australia, we were more than happy to give it the time it deserved. 


  1. So glad you found an Uberstein replacement Mike! Too bad its so far away…

  2. Another great story. The views look incredible!!!

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