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Surprising Sydney

Why didn't anyone tell us to stay longer?

overcast 24 °C

Travel tastes its best when expectations are exceeded, and nowhere on our trip has this been more the case than in Sydney. We planned a pitiful three nights in the city, really nothing more than a leisurely layover between New Zealand and London. Wow, did we ever regret that decision! Sydney, and indeed Australia, go to the top of our list of places to return to in – say – thirty years when we are able to enjoy extended travel once more ;o)

With so little time to spare, we headed out as soon as we arrived late on Tuesday afternoon to take in the iconic sights of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From our hotel in Potts Point (nice, but - with hindsight we'd have spent the money to stay in The Rocks!), it’s about a twenty minute walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens to the home of the Opera House on Bennelong Point, and I think we were in love with Sydney before we even got there.

The sign says: "Please walk on the grass. We also invite you to smell the roses, hug the trees, talk to the birds and picnic on the lawns." Our kind of town!

The Botanic Gardens are right next to the central business district and offer a haven in the midst of the city. No one works through their lunch hour here, apparently, if the number of joggers in the park is anything to go by. Coming from a corporate culture where you need to get up at 5am to fit exercise in your day, I completely approve! I am a reluctant runner at best, but if you're going to do it, I'm not sure I can think of many more inspiring places than here, offering the beauty of the Gardens with a stunning Harbour vista.




Waking to a fairly grey day on Wednesday, we strolled through Sydney’s clean streets towards Darling Harbour, home of a number of Sydney’s museums and tourist attractions. Full of tourist attractions and therefore tourists, yes, but touristy? No. At least not when compared to the likes of Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco, for example. For this area also houses conference venues and tons of bars and restaurants which means that tourists are diluted with local officer workers and visiting conference attendees. We just loved it!

Our first stop was the Aquarium. Understand that we’re local to the Monterey area in California and big fans of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which on Tuesday night we’d have told you proudly was the best in the world. We might need to revisit that assessment. While the Monterey Aquarium will no doubt be a regular haunt once we return, the Sydney Aquarium was simply beyond words.


Among even the first few exhibits, I simply adored the above-water-below-water displays, and spent a good half hour looking at the sea horses alone. And then we found ourselves following downward ramps into the ‘Oceanarium’ where a massive tank revealed itself. Two large windows at either end offered a superb view of the tank’s inhabitants, including a couple of sea turtles, one massive ray with a wing span of almost two metres, and numerous sharks. But best of all, walkway tunnels ran the full length of the tank on both sides, which allowed us to observe the sealife on three sides.




We spent much longer at the Aquarium than we had planned, but late afternoon we couldn't resist popping next door to Sydney Wildlife World. Since we - stupidly - didn't allow ANY time to explore Australia, this was clearly, and sadly, as close as we would get to 'wild' life.


After the Aquarium, we weren't surprised to discover that Wildlife World was another world class attraction. From butterflies and birds, to locusts and spiders, you can't help but be drawn in and - well - find stuff that has never been that interesting absolutely fascinating. And all that is before you even get to the koala bears!

On the left: spot the wally. On the right: not quite Panda-cute, but pretty cute nonetheless.

Let me out. Please?

Posted by jacquiedro 08:11 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world

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