Saturday, January 19, 2013

Manly, Sydney, and Bondi

Lots of beaches in our last 2 days in Sydney! We leave tomorrow, having kept this location short because it is pretty expensive.

From the ferry terminal, filled with sound from a man playing an instrument I haven't seen in person before (anyone know what it's called? I liked the music), we went to Manly, a beach we were told was so named because explorers saw indigenous people they thought looked macho in the area -- apparently "manly" was a word in use when Australia was founded. Although most major cities are on rivers, Sydney really does seem to have water everywhere you look and it's fun to explore the area on ferries included in the unlimited public transportation passes we bought when we arrived. Overall, we've been really impressed with the public transit here.

In the evening, at a local's suggestion, we went to the 47th floor O Bar to get a birds-eye revolving view of the city. The experience was worth it, but I must admit it's tough to dress up when you're living out of a backpack!

Sydney's botanical garden is on the water between the famous Opera House and city center and a lovely place to hang out, and they also offer a free guided tour every day. Today it was cloudy with light rain, in my opinion much nicer to spend time outside than yesterday's hottest EVER day in Sydney at 115 F / 46 C (!).

We went to Chinatown for lunch, where per a tip we went to a rather strange food court off a street filled with restaurants. We ate 10 spring rolls ($4) and 10 steamed buns ($8) and called it a day with a bubble tea. I'm not sure if it's usually this way, but we saw several different groups of musicians and Chinese dragon dancers who seemed to be blessing the restaurants in the area.

Next up was another famous beach, Bondi, which is quite accessible from Sydney center and a pretty, classic beach-town area. We walked for a bit on a trail cut into the cliffs right above the water towards Coogee beach and caught some great views along with quite a bit of wind.

Finally, we went to South Head, the southern peninsula separating the harbor from the Tasman Sea. The water here was surprisingly tropical, clear and really beautiful. I recommend it!

CURRENTLY: Sydney, Australia
UP NEXT: Auckland, New Zealand, and around NZ for about a week