After spending two and a half months living and working in Melbourne we were extremely looking forward to the next part of our adventure. Having previously had a visit at Christmas from my family we were lucky enough to have Christie’s family visit us in Sydney for two weeks. Sydney is described by many as one of the most popular cities in Australia, therefore two weeks here exploring with Christie's family sounded perfect.
As we landed in Sydney we couldn’t wait to greet Christie’s family and arrive at the beautiful apartment we would call our home for the next couple of weeks. We were based in Surry Hills which is an inner city suburb and an area known for its stylish culture and cafe scene. As you stroll around Surry Hills the trendy pubs and wine bars, creative restaurants, fashion boutiques and hip coffee joints really stood out - we knew we were in for a treat. A restaurant we would highly recommend whilst in the area is The Winery. This quirky laneway restaurant serving modern Australian Food really does hit all the spots. As you enter the restaurant you are greeted by fairy lights which twinkle over picturesque collections of garden benches, cast iron tables and frangipani trees, it really is the perfect setting and the food is just delicious. Another good find was a bar we stumbled across next to where we were staying called Bar H, this hip wine bar serves a range of sharing plates which are Japanese/Chinese influenced - delicious!
During our time in Sydney, one activity Christies parents had planned for us was a tour around Sydney done by a lovely lady called Maria Masutti and her partner, Mani. We found it through Airbnb experiences. Maria calls her tour company Urban Caterpillar and it was the perfect way to see the city, the tour includes a mooch around Sydneys markets, seeing local street art, some unbelievable architecture and a visit to some more cool restaurants and bars. Having visited many cities on this trip, one thing we have noticed is that tours done by the locals are such a great thing to do and really do allow you to see the best of the city.
One amazing find we were shown during the tour was The Grounds of Alexandria which was a beautiful organic garden in a secluded area filled with homestyle food and speciality coffee. One part of the Grounds of Alexandria was a restaurant called The Potting Shed, it had a very similar feeling to the Winery and the food is delicious. The restaurant is twinkling with fairly lights and an abundance of hanging plants, terracotta pots and timber beams. As an extra touch some of the food is served on garden tools - its a lively place and worth visiting for some food or cocktails.
During the tour we were very happy to be introduced to the Chippendale area. Chippendale is now a happening area known for it converted warehouses and cutting-edge creative scene and many people now describe it as Sydney's hippiest suburb. However, Chippendale didn’t use to be the place it is today. Maria mentioned that ten years ago this didn’t use to be a place people would want to visit as it was known as a notoriously bad slum which housed many criminals and prostitutes. The transformation from the previous derelict buildings and warehouses is really quite spectacular, the area even has a skyscraper that doubles as the world's tallest vertical garden, maintaining 38,000 plants. This is now a very happening area and if you’re feeling like a bite to eat we would suggest a visit to spice alley - buzzing with people, the alley has many cheap, hawker-style asian joints and to top it off many of them are byob (bring your own booze).
Another great suburb we enjoyed exploring during the tour was Paddington. Paddington is a lively upscale area that has a collection of fashion boutiques and contemporary galleries. The area is home to some of the most beautiful Victorian terraced buildings and is such a lovely place for a stroll on a sunny day.
Another area that's well worth exploring is the iconic Bondi Beach, where I stayed about a month ago on a weekend visit up to Sydney from Melbourne. Bondi Beach is one of Australia's most famous beaches and a great place to spend the day or even the weekend. Packed with trendy, health-conscious Australians, Bondi beach is the perfect place for a backpacker. The beach has some of the best waves for surfing and is a great place to stay, I would recommend staying in The Bondi Backpackers hostel, it has free pancakes in the morning and yoga classes on the roof at sunrise - a great bonus! Another thing Bondi is known for is its vast selection of brunch places, two of my favourites were Harry’s and Lox Stock and Barrel - if your a big foodie you’ll love them both! When we were with Christie's family we spent one of our days doing the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk, you get stunning views and its a great way to spend half a day. Following the walk we went for lunch at Hotel Ravesis, the food is delicious and it’s also a great place for a drink at sunset. Make sure to also pay a visit to Anita - the best ice cream in Sydney! Bondi Icebergs is also a big hit for people visiting Bondi, you can go in the Saunas and salt water pool for just $7!
Sydney has many places to explore and spending two weeks here I feel we really got the chance to see the best of the best. Two activities that we really enjoyed were a trip to Manly on the ferry and a day visit to the Blue Mountains.
Manly has a relaxed holiday vibe and if the weather is good it is a great place for a beach day. The sandy, tree-fringed beach is another hot spot for surfers, you can rent boards on the beach and it’s known to be a good place for beginners. When we were with Christie’s family we opted for a picnic on the beach which many people seem to do. As another option, if you feel like going out for lunch the beach is also lined with a number of restaurants - Garfish, a restaurant I visited on my weekend trip to Sydney, has some delicious food and is a nice spot to eat at when the sun is going down. One other perk to the Manly day trip was the ferry ride there and back, the views from the ferry of the Sydney CBD were spectacular and if you get the ferry back around sunset you have an unforgettable view of the bridge.
The Blue Mountains is a region west of Sydney and somewhere we were told to spend the day. The area is known for its dramatic scenery, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and bushwalking trails. We were kindly taken out for the day by Maria which was a lot better than doing a public tour. The day she had planned for us included two walks, a lunch stop and a visit to the Three Sisters Rock Formation. First we walked down to Wentworth falls, then Govetts Leap where we could see an incredible panoramic view. Next was Evans lookout where we did a really long walk long walk down to Cahills lookout. If you are planning a day out of the busy city, visiting the Blue Mountains is a definite must.