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Taking a Break in Sydney

Taking a Break in Sydney

Destination Details
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Time Spent

  • 10 days


  • $50/person/day

    excludes accommodations

Stuff We Liked


More Information

When we arrived in Sydney on a chilly, rainy evening, we had just spent a month in South Africa, exploring Cape Town and surrounding areas. We didn’t realize until we arrived in Australia after two 10-hour flights, that we were a little burnt out. It didn’t help that we only had two sunny days during our 10-day stay in Sydney. Since most activities focus on being outdoors and the weather was crappy, we didn’t mind taking a break. We realized that we hadn’t taken a day off to do nothing since we started this trip, so we were overdue.

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    A view of the famous Sydney Opera House

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    The promenade leading up to the opera house

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    Lots of steel and glass in the construction of the opera house

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    The exterior is covered in lots of tiles, something I didn’t know

We split our time between the suburb of Coogee and the area of Potts Point. Coogee is a beach town that is pretty quiet during the low season, especially when it’s raining and the winds are blowing at 35 mph, but it is beautiful. Potts Point was a bit more our style and let us take advantage of exploring on foot, but it was a much more expensive stay. Because of our budget (Sydney is crazy expensive) and our desire to slow down (which is so important with long-term travel), we probably didn’t explore Sydney the way most people would. Of course, we didn’t just sit at home sipping coffee the entire time, either. Here are some of the highlights of our stay in Sydney.

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    On our way to Watsons Bay

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    Looking out across the Pacific from The Gap

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    Some fresh seafood from Doyle’s in Watsons Bay

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    A beautiful view of Watsons Bay

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    There were quite a few sailboats out on the bay

Watsons Bay & Sydney Harbor

The first really sunny day, we decided to take the ferry to Watsons Bay, a recommendation of our local friends. The main reason was to see the Sydney Opera House up close, but the best part of the day would be enjoying the views of the bay. Standing to the side of the ferry, we watched the landscape change from the high rises of downtown Sydney, to the densely packed houses and apartment buildings along the shore. At Watsons Bay we took a path through a park up to The Gap (not the store). With the sun to our backs, we had an amazing view of the cliffs and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. The water was a vibrant blue which I poetically described as toothpaste blue. It was pretty spectuclar to be standing at what felt like the edge of the world. On the way back we wandered around the Opera House exterior a bit more. Did you know the exterior is covered in loads of tiles?

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    The waves crashing in Coogee

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    Some of the sandstone formations along the walkway

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    Some more crazy formations

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    A great place to just sit and enjoy the views on the edge of the Earth

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    Looking back along the walkway

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    Everyone was out enjoy the beautiful weather

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    A few surfers at Bronte

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    Looking back across Bronte Beach

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    The famous Bondi Beach

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    Some of the street art at Bondi

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

While it’s not a difficult walk, it is a long one. It was a beautiful day, which meant the entire city was out walking or a running along the path, sunbathing on the beach, or surfing. We started in Coogee and walked our way to Bondi since it made more sense to hop on a bus back to Potts Point from Bondi. There is a well-maintained boardwalk that hugs the shore and wraps around some public tidal pools, exposing you to drastic cliffs and some of the best beaches in the world. We had a great time leisurely making our way to Bondi before stopping for a burger (the quickest way to cancel out a 3-hour walk).

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    The Grounds of Alexandria

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    Kevin Bacon and friends

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    A clever way to conceal the ugly ATM

The Grounds of Alexandria

Sitting in an industrial area that felt a lot like Redwood City in California, The Grounds of Alexandria is a garden, a tiny farm (a few goats, chickens, and a pig named Kevin Bacon), shops, and restaurants. It’s a nice place to walk around and have a hot cup of coffee, but it is a popular spot that can get crowded at lunch time. It’s worth a look around even if you aren’t shopping or hungry. Nearby is Mitchell Road Antique and Design Center, a HUGE warehouse of antiques that is amazingly curated. Ryan had to drag me out of there.

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    Looking down King Street in Newtown

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    King Street, Newtown

Erskinville and Newtown

Wanting to get more of a feel for neighborhoods in Sydney, we took a long walk from Alexandria through Erskinville to Newtown. I kinda love the ornate wrought iron of Australian rowhomes and there are a lot of great examples here. In Newtown, we walked along King Street, the main shopping drag there. There are a ton of restaurants and interesting shops tucked into turn-of-the-century buildings.

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    Some of the beautiful homes in Surrey Hills

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    More of the homes in Surrey Hills

Walking Around Surrey Hills

Surrey Hills is a really trendy neighborhood (read: expensive. Just kidding; everything in Syndey is expensive), and it was a great area for a couple of designers to drool over reasonably priced mid-century furniture or have a cup of coffee while people-watching. There were other local design shops, but to be honest, it was rare to see something unique; it reminded me of the Bay Area a lot.

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    The magnificent clock/diorama in the Queen Victoria Building

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    A view inside the Queen Victoria Building

Queen Victoria Building

When it was just too cold and rainy, but we wanted to go out, we went to the Queen Victoria Building. If you can look past the fact that it’s just a mall with a bunch of stores selling stuff you don’t need, you see some pretty amazing architecture. We were probably the only people admiring staircases and taking photos. But hey, it’s warm inside and you can watch a giant ornate clock/diorama from a cushioned bench.

Looking back several weeks later, we would defintely want to give Sydney another chance when we have more energy (and disposable income). There was perhaps some bad timing because of the weather and where we were at in our trip. Still it was an excellent stop on our trip and the bad weather was really just a good excuse to slow down.


Have you been to Sydney? Share your thoughts and experiences here or on Twitter @retreat2movefwd.

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