That Weekend in Sydney

Even those things you never dreamed of happen if you follow your heart.

I say so because I never dreamed of visiting this part of the world let alone live here. But because I took the leap of faith and decided on a whim to come and live in New Zealand with the man I love, here I am seeing beautiful places that I never dreamed to see. Just like Sydney.

To J it was a mere weekend getaway. To me it was the best birthday gift ever! I only became obsessed with Sydney a few months after we arrived in Wellington. I was finally only about 4 hours plane ride away from the city everyone was talking about back in London. So we planned to travel to Sydney half way through our intended year stay in Wellington.

But first, we needed a visa. We did not know this as I came to New Zealand without a visa but was given one upon arrival, so I didn't do my research and just assumed that they do the same in Australia. But apparently not. Prior to any travel to Australia, British citizens need to obtain an electronic visa and/or ETA (Electronic Travel Authority). Luckily, they were able to issue a six-month visitor visa at the information desk in Wellington airport. Phew.

We flew out as early as 0700 (with Air New Zealand). Thank God there were no flight delays as Wellington is apparently well known for delayed flights because of the wind. We arrived in Sydney just before 9am. From the airport we rented a car and drove straight to the city.

We didn't have any itinerary as such. I told J I only wanted to see one thing- the Opera House (but what else) then we can go to wherever he wanted to go afterwards. So he took me to the Opera House straight away.

But I was looking for a particular view- the opera house with the Sydney Harbour Bridge behind it. Yes, it's the view that has been photographed a hundred thousand times according to J. But it's iconic and I wanted to have my own photo. So the following day, we headed to the Royal Botanic Gardens to get the view that I was dying for. 

Then we went back in the evening for the night shot. Simply amazing.

On our first day in Sydney, we got lost on our way to the Opera House and drove over the Harbour Bridge by accident. Man, what an experience! I got a little scared as I could feel the height of the bridge. Perhaps I have not overcome my fear of heights yet after all. 

Then after that we wandered under it and looking up made me cringe. On the other hand, there were some people who were brave enough to climb the bridge or simply walk over it. Much respect to those people. 

The bridge looked quite complicated with the multiple lanes for motor vehicles, trains, pedestrians and cyclists. But it is a beautiful bridge indeed.

Then there's the CBD (Central Business District). We only actually had the chance to walk around the CBD in the morning of our last day in Sydney.  Hmmm, one of my friends said that it felt like San Francisco for them when they went there. I don't know why but the city gave me the Manhattan feel. I probably don't know what I'm talking about but walking amidst those tall buildings and across the main shopping streets somehow gave me the ambience of New York. Well, that's just me anyway.

Unfortunately, I don't shop when I travel. I really would rather spend my time exploring beautiful places rather than browsing inside shops -even if the sale was on and it's generally cheaper in Australia than in New Zealand. But for future reference, Pitt Street, Castlereagh Street and King Street are the main shopping areas in Sydney. 

Of all the places that we drove past and went to, the Rocks is my favourite. It's like old and new Sydney combined. It boasts really nice cafes and restaurants, beautiful little shops, old buildings, cobblestones and weekend market. It's just across the Opera House and a few steps away from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I particularly enjoyed our short walk by the harbour and within those cobblestone streets on two separate occasions. 

Another area we visited was Newtown. It actually reminded me of Shoreditch in London with all the graffiti and murals, long stretch of multicultural cafes and restaurants, interesting shops and lively atmosphere. We actually went there to find a bookstore. Oh, how I honestly loved this unique idea. It was not exactly easy to find one but we eventually found "Better Read Than Dead" in King Street. We ended up buying four books. Then we went to another bookstore and bought one more. 

Also while we were checking out the market, J overheard someone mentioned an apparently good bakery- the " Black Star Pastry" in Australia Street. Although we were not that keen to find it at that time, we came across it anyway while looking for a cafe. But we were not prepared to queue so we went to the cafe next to it instead.

You can't go to Sydney and not visit the beach regardless of the weather, because winter can also be summer over there. Just like on the day we decided to visit Bondi beach. It was definitely a summer weather so we were lucky to be able to hang out for a bit and watch the surfers. 

For me, three days was enough to get a real feel of Sydney. We didn't have to rush to see anything. In fact, we had enough time to really enjoy the city- sightseeing, walk around, sit at cafes, eat at good restaurants and drive around  some beautiful areas of Sydney.  We even had time to visit the Sydney Aquarium. Unfortunately, we didn't get to visit the zoo. 

We stayed at the Fraser Suites in Kent Street for two nights. The hotel is quite old with discoloured carpet, scratched cabinet doors and some mould in the shower, but it's clean otherwise. The service was good. Of course I got a complimentary wine for my birthday which we didn't drink because we no longer drink alcohol. Haha. And we had a very good view from our room on the 36th floor, plus I loved the L'Occitane toiletries. 

And now the food. I must tell you that we had really good food during this trip and we ate at some very good restaurants in Sydney. 

1. Home Thai - 1-2/299 Sussex Street
- On our first night in Sydney, we treated ourselves to Thai Food and the closest restaurant we found from our hotel was Home Thai. The busy-ness of the restaurant didn't come as a surprise to me because the food was cheap but good. For starter I had the steamed dimsum (AU$7.50 for 5 pcs) while J had the fried chicken (AU$9). For main, of course I had seafood Pad Thai (AU$17) but I was unable to finish it because it was far too spicy. But it was good. I just wish I didn't mix the chilli.  J went for the red curry duck (AU$15) which was very delicious. 

2. La Guillotine - 518 Kent Street
- Fortunately, J knows real good food. He was the one who found this oldest French restaurant in Sydney and it was one of the most amazing meals I've ever had. The restaurant was very quiet which I really liked. I may not have a photo to prove how good our meal was, but I can still remember how tasty, juicy and soft my Magret de Canard was. And J's creamy chicken and mushroom in pastry puff was very delicious as well.

3. Nick's Bar and Grill- 32-33 The Promenade, King Street Wharf
- Since I haven't found lobster in Wellington, I was very keen to find one in Sydney and I did (but of course). We went to Nick's Bar and Grill in Darling Harbour and although it was a little bit touristy I enjoyed my garlic and butter lobster. J on the other hand was not very sure with his kangaroo steak. He said he probably will not have it ever again. I had a bite and although it didn't taste that bad at all, it was the thought of eating a kangaroo that put me off I think. So, no more eating kangaroos.

4. Doyles on the Beach - Watsons Bay
- On our last day in Sydney, we enjoyed the scenic journey to Watsons bay via New South Head Road towards Vaucluse. I must write about this first because I saw the most amazing view of the Sydney harbour here. Unfortunately, we were not able to take any photos as we were running late for lunch and we couldn't find a good spot. Unless we went inside people's properties I suppose. So, it's so sayang.

Anyway, Doyles on the Beach was the highlight of our food trip. Perfect pre-birthday lunch. I love seafood and Doyles on the Beach exceeded my seafood expectations. Nothing too fancy, just purely delicious food. Plus the service and the view? Amazing really. One of the best food experiences ever.
Classic Prawn Cocktail, AU$19.60
Doyles Seafood Chowder, AU$18.50
Doyles Selection, AU$42.80
Doyle's Famous Fish and Chips (Barramundi Fillets), AU$46.90

I had a very good experience in Sydney because I like the city. Most importantly, I was with the best travel buddy ever. I know I have travelled so many times in the past but I am having a totally different travel experience right now. It's less stressful, no arguments (so far) and it's sort of more relaxing. I am hoping that J and I  will continue to travel like this as it makes the experience more meaningful, albeit without those romantic shots. What's important is that I know that the romance lives in our hearts. Naks.

But seriously, I have J to thank for, for being who and what he is.

tintin x


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