Sydney

Posted by jay on Dec 10, 2007 in married life |

November 16-20

The flight
15 hours of fun. We had 2 piece so of good news. First, we had sleeping meds to help knock us out. Second, Qantas had individual entertainment centers, with video and games on demand.
Nothing really eventful came out of the flight. They served lots of food, we got (enough) sleep, and we landed safely. It wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d thought it would be.

Sydney was a blast. We arrived and went straight to our hotel - The Westin Sydney. It’s probably the nicest Westin we’ve ever stayed in, and that’s really saying something. It had free wifi in the lobby and Exec Lounge. In the Exec Lounge, they had free breakfast every morning and free drinks and snacks every evening. I think that lounge alone saved us a few hundred bucks.

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Food.
I think there must not really be an authentic “Australian” style of food, given Sydney is so diverse. There was lots of Indian, Chinese, Korean, Thai, etc.
Suellen wanted to make it a point to eat ethnic, so that we did. Our best meal was at a random Indian restaurant which had a really high rating on the Sydney equivalent of Zagat. I forget the name, but it was BYO so we stopped for a nice bottle of wine on the way.
Other than that, we ate Korean, more Indian, Thai, and Malaysian - all of which were very good.

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Alcohol.
All (and I mean ALL) of the Australians we know boast about how much they and fellow Australians drink. We’re just not sure how they can afford it.
At bars, prices were relatively similar, which local pints being around $5-7 and imports being slightly more expensive. But, the take home alcohol is what put us in sticker shop. First off, you can’t even go to a grocery store or 7-Eleven to pick up your digs. You have to go to a bottle shop, which are pretty much always attached to bars that are attached to hotels. There must be some strange origin of that colocation. Once you’re there, you have your selection of various 6, 12, and 24 pack varieties (usually on a list of some sorts). The thing that will drop your jaw (as it did ours) is the prices. A 6 pack of local beer is something like $15-20. For you non-drinkers, our local beers are something like $5-7 per 6 pack. We would pick up a couple six packs and be set out 30 bones. I just don’t understand it.

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For you smokers, it’s just as bad. Packs run between $12 and $17. I don’t know the exact prices back in the states, but I do know you have nothing to complain about now!

Tourism (non-beaches).
We hit up most of the popular spots - The Opera House, Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour, The Rocks… All of them were fantastic.
We took probably a thousand pictures of the experience, so we’ll post those online shortly. Of real note was the Opera House. It’s just an amazing structure, both in form and function.

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We also found a great tourist trap - Sydney’s oldest pub. It’s at the start of The Rocks area, and called our name out. Now we can officially say we’ve had a pint in Sydney’s oldest pub. It’s been around since 1832 or something, which is very old in Australian terms (the country is younger than ours).

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Chinatown was neat, but nothing like we’d expected. Suellen was hoping to find a goldmine of fake purses and watches, just like back home. Instead, we found a goldmine of fish markets and ethnic restaurants. So, we had some Korean for lunch and went on our way. The fun part about lunch was the “Hite” beer we had. It was “Fresh Taste Beer” straight from Korea. Fun times!

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Darling Harbour was beautiful, but very very touristy. We just did a quick walking tour, snapped some pictures, and went on our way. We’re staying in the Harbour one night before heading to Tahiti, so maybe we’ll check it out in more depth.

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We never ended up doing the bridge climb, mostly because we saw a “model” of someone who had done it and his arm was torn off! That’s not a very encouraging sign to build tourism!

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Beaches.
Sydney is known for it’s beautiful beaches, so we had to make it out to both of the big ones - Manly and Bondi.
At the advise of a friend, we checked out Manly beach first. This involved a 30+ minutes ferry ride from Circular Quay, which we definitely weren’t expecting. The good news is that we had some amazing views of Sydney Harbour and the city itself. The bad news is that we were preparing for a huge letdown.

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Manly is a pretty small beach located at the end of a very upscale residential area. It had some cool shops and what looked like a neat German bar, but the beach was tiny and filled with young kids. We hung out for a half hour or so, then decided to make our way back to the city to check out Bondi.
After about 45 minutes on a bus from Circular Quay, we found Bondi. It’s much larger, has many more things going on, but is in a pretty rundown part of the city. It was already 4pm or so, so we didn’t set up to get sun. Instead, we walked around, took photos, and realized why Manly was recommended. Given Bondi’s size and bigger waves, it’s a more popular beach for young people and surfers alike (mostly the same crowd).

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