Sydney Highlights!

I’ve been in Sydney for almost two weeks now, and I’ve definitely got some highlights and favorites that you should try when you come, too!

The Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, and Hyde Park

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Sydney is filled with open spaces, parks, and botanical gardens. Bask in the sun, go for a run, or read a book, but just make sure that you spend some time in a few of these places! If you come to Sydney during the months of May or June, make sure you don’t miss the light show around the Sydney Opera House, called Vivid Sydney, which you’ll learn more about if you keep scrolling down!

Kangaroo, Emu, and Crocodile Pizza at the Australia Hotel

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Well, I know it may sound strange, but kangaroos in Australia are comparable to deer in the United States. There is an overpopulation of kangaroos here, and it’s easy to find Kangaroo meat and hyde in many places here, for a very reasonable price. As part of my program’s itinerary, we had lunch at the Australia Hotel and ate kangaroo, emu, and crocodile pizza. None of them taste very strange, so when you come, I’d say give it a try!

The University of Sydney Campus

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This campus is truly beautiful! As I mentioned above, Sydney boasts of many open spaces that are great for many different types of activities. When we visited the University of Sydney, we ran into a field of what we thought were very colorful flowers, but when we got closer, we noticed that these were plastic hands “planted” into the ground (first picture from left to right). I was offered a “hand” (no pun intended) by someone working at the university, and was told that this activity was done in remembrance of the aboriginals of Australia (who are the oldest existing aboriginal community in the world!).  After that, we walked around the university and found this awesome graffiti tunnel (great for photo ops…ehm, third picture from left to right).

The Coffee Bar in Paddington

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Ah…coffee…I can never get enough of you. Coffee here is amazing, and this was one of the first cafés I visited in Sydney. I’ve gone to many more now, but I do recommend you get your daily fix here. My favorite type of coffee for now is Mocha. Make sure you know your different coffee types before you come (espresso, macchiato, mocha, cappucino, latte, ristretto…and the list goes on).

The Markets around Sydney (Paddington, Haymarket, Paddy’s and Eveleigh)

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If you come here and you don’t visit a market, you’re missing out! From farmers’ markets to vintage markets, you will always find something different in each. So far I have visited the three markets I mentioned above. In Paddington and Eveleigh, I was able to find delicious infused olive oils, great quality cheese and pastries, organic meats and vegetables, and fresh juice. If you want to save some money on groceries, make sure you visit Haymarket in Chinatown, where you can get 3 bags of a combination of vegetables for $5! Also, if you’re looking to buy some souvenirs, you should visit Paddy’s market (also in Chinatown), where you’ll find the exact same $30 souvenirs for half the price.

Bondi Beach and Manly Beach

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Great views, great waves, and great company – what else could you ask for? These two beaches are fantastic, and I’m sure there are many more you could go to here. If you want to do some surfing, I would recommend visiting Manly Beach (if you’re more daring or just better at surfing than I am, then try Bondi). The waves in Manly are a little calmer, there are less people, and the tide is lower.  For fantastic breathtaking views on a coastal walk, visit Bondi Beach. You won’t regret it!

The Museum of Sydney

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…and pretty much every other museum in Australia! There is so much to learn in each and every one of them, and a great perk is that many of them are free as well! What I enjoyed the most about the Museum of Sydney was learning about how Australia came to be as well as the history of the aboriginals of this continent. Also try to check out some of the art galleries in here. Although the art is much more recent (you’ll see many paintings dated from the 20th century onwards), the creativity of Australians is amazing!

Sydney Harbour Cruise (and the Sydney Harbour Bridge)

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I was lucky enough to travel to Sydney around the same time when the festival of lights, Vivid Sydney, was happening. This event focuses on creativity, in which different areas, buildings, and sculptures around the Sydney Harbour are lit up, creating a mesmerizing show of lights and music that is oh so pleasing to the senses. If you want to get the full view of everything, make sure you either have a walk around the area or take a Sydney Harbour Cruise to see the lights from a different perspective.

The Walkabout Wildlife Park

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From left to right: kangaroo, koala, kangaroo, echidna. Shall I say more? These furry little animals are adorable! You’ll get to see these and more (such as emus, tasmanian devils, and dingoes), as well as learn a lot about these animals and their surroundings. You’ll also get to learn about how aboriginals lived and survived in the bush. Definitely worth it!

Stay tuned for another blog post on my adventures in Sydney and some tips for when you come, too! And don’t forget to…

Try something different every day…

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My First Day in Sydney, Australia!

Date: May 28, 2014

I finally made it! After hours and hours of flying, I finally made it to Sydney, Australia. I flew from Boston to New York City (JFK), had a six-hour layover in JFK (I recommend staying in a lounge for these long layovers), flew to Los Angeles (LAX), and then had an almost 15-hour flight to Sydney. All my flights were great and I would definitely recommend Virgin Australia for the LAX to Sydney portion of the flights: great service, good space, and yummy food!

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I’ll be honest, when I first saw the city, I felt like it was any other city. The most exotic part of arriving was seeing the cars drive on the left and hearing the Australian accent. Nothing looked too special, but the good thing about this is that I felt very comfortable where I was, since nothing seemed completely out of the ordinary. I knew, though, that there was so much more to see and learn (and I had no idea what was coming).

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Our taxi driver drove us to the Meriton Apartments, located in Waterloo, Sydney (the cab ride was $35, split between two). This apartment exceeded my expectations for sure, so you may want to check them out if you plan on visiting!

Shortly after, we took a short walking tour around Waterloo, seeing the major hotspots, restaurants, supermarkets, bus stops, and train stations of the area. I noticed Waterloo is very diverse, so you can find any ethnic restaurant around here: Jamaican, Indian, Turkish, and Chinese cuisines were some that I spotted.

After that I just walked around with my roommates, ate some great gelato at Messina, exchanged some money at a bank, and found a great SIM card for our phones from Optus. Our night then consisted of trying to beat jetlag, going for dinner nearby, and getting a good night’s sleep for our next day’s adventures!

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Traveler Tips:

• If you have a long layover before arriving to your destination (over 4 or 5 hours), stay in a lounge to have some food, wi-fi, and possibly even a shower!

• When you find yourself on such a long flight, as was the almost 15-hour flight from LAX to Sydney, try to sleep on the plane when it’s nighttime at your destination and try to stay awake when it’s daytime, if possible, to avoid jetlag.

• Check out the Surry Hills area in Waterloo for ethnic food.

• Look for local banks to exchange money rather than doing so at an airport (the rates are much better). Try exchanging money back home if possible (or bring a “travel rewards” credit card with you to avoid international fees).

• Check out Messina for delicious gelato!

• Try out Optus if you need an Australian phone number. They even have a plan where you can use unlimited social media (Facebook, Foursquare, etc…).

• If you plan on buying groceries, check out Aldi supermarkets for cheaper prices.

 

Stay Tuned…!