Getting Around Sydney
Although we didn’t cover all of the main attractions, I can definitely recommend a few (not too pricey and worth the effort). I think the best way to do this would be a TO-DO list ;) We all know how much I love those….:P
- Sydney Opera House—a must see, but you really can’t miss it when you’re at Sydney Harbour and in downtown Sydney. As for going inside, we didn’t, only because I assumed the inside would never look as nice as the outside and I didn’t want to be disappointed……but I guess it depends if you are an opera fan too.
- The Botanical Gardens- a must! On a nice warm day, it is just the perfect thing to do! You walk around the gardens (which are huge) and enjoy the shade and the sights and the sounds. Some parts of the gardens look like they are from Jurassic Park! A nice highlight is the toy train that drives around the gardens. It costs $10 to get on and there is a nice conductor who gives you tons of info on all of the plants, flowers, etc. We didn’t want to pay the $10 so we just enjoyed small snippets of info as the train would pass us by every once in a while. It was such a beautiful day when we went too, and the edge of the gardens are located right next to Sydney Harbour and (you guessed it) the Opera House! Beautiful views in every direction.
- Hyde Park- located in the heart of downtown Sydney, the park is just a cool place to relax. There are plenty of people laying out on blankets, resting, or having a picnic. There is a giant life size chess board in the park too. As we walked by, we saw 2 elderly gentlemen impeccably dressed pondering their next ever-so-important move. Worth a watch!
- St. Mary’s Cathedral- We went here for Christmas Day mass and it was beautiful! The interior reminds me of Gothic style Notre Dame church in Paris. It is massive! The choir was amazing too! It was the first time over the Christmas holidays that we actually felt like it was Christmas! Without snow and Christmas music, it is hard to get into the mood. But visiting St. Mary’s Cathedral brought back all of the spirit we were missing. A must see, even just for the interior beauty.
- Queen Victoria Market- indoor market with great eateries and cute little random shops (like a military miniature collectibles store??!). Worth a visit and easily accessible in the downtown area.
- The beaches and coastal walks! (Refer to the blogs about beaches!)—There are so many! The options are endless and one is more beautiful than the next!
- The animals!- At the zoo or just outside of Sydney you can spot Kangaroos and wildlife very different from what you are used to at home. Exploring and getting to know the animal life of this country is a great pastime!
- Surroundings of Sydney- although I didn’t get a chance to see the Blue Mountains, I have heard they are a must see. Barely 2 hours out of bustling Sydney, you get to rocky landscapes, beautiful canyons, and a completely different landscape to take in (and don’t forget the wild kangaroos frolicking about)! So, although I cannot throw out my personal experiences here, I have heard so many good things about the Blue Mountains that just from hearsay I would recommend the short trip from Sydney.
Sydney- Hours of Operation AKA ‘Trading Hours’
Then there is the interesting notion of ‘Trading Hours’ here in Sydney and throughout Australia. Hours of operation, or as Ozzies like to call it ‘Trading hours’ are very different from North America. Everything closes much earlier than I would have expected. There are few eateries open late, even liquor stores! The usual 9-5 hours are closer to 9-3 at best here. Even in a place like Bondi the clubs/bars close at midnight on weekdays! And this is the height of summer so you would expect long hours of operation. During the holidays, there were PLENTY of restaurants that were completely closed from before Christmas to well after New Years. I would assume a restaurant that is able to close for over 2 weeks solid would be doing incredibly well for itself. That is not necessarily the case. Australians value their time off and they take it very seriously. There are plenty of incentives associated with working more, but Australians have a really healthy balance of work life versus home life. All of the following situations in the workplace earn you more money/hour above the already great minimum wage base pay: working after 7pm on weekdays/working more than 30.4 hours per week/ working Saturdays or Sundays or public holidays/working more than 7.6 hours per day. Australians don’t seem to have as late of nights as we do, and they seem to get up earlier in the morning. This makes sense considering you might want to take a quick surf before work, and when you have gorgeous weather like this every day, there is no point to stay up in the night! Instead, you take advantage of the daytime! It is a well balanced lifestyle and I really admire that. I dare say they are not that nice to us inCanada. I won’t say they are bad to us but I dare sayAustraliamight be better!!! Let me look into that more closely….
Either way, Ozzie culture seems to value free time a lot more than the North American mentality. Europe also seems to value it more. It is sad to say that North America has a sick way of treating work as the most important thing in life. Clearly, other places look at it differently. Other places look at it better.
Our time in Sydney felt like it quickly came to a close. This is certainly a city I could live in and enjoy it to the fullest each and every day! Off to see the rest of this unique country!