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    Monday, 28 December 2009

    Doing Sydney on the Cheap

    Sydney Harbour [Enlarge & More]

    When travelling from Melbourne to Sydney, we had three options – bus, train, or plane. As all three were a similar price and two took ten hours longer than the other, we went with plane! We arrived at a nice early hour in Sydney – about 8am. Unfortunately, Sydney terminal two seemed to have just about no facilities for arrivals – the shuttle bus was nowhere to be seen, and no one was manning the desk so we had to get a taxi to the city – doh!

    View from YHA [Enlarge & More]

    $40 later we arrived at the brand new Sydney Harbour YHA – it was beautiful! Everything was very new and clean, and they had all the normal facilities, plus staff that smiled (pretty unusual!). In addition to this, there was a good view of the Sydney Opera House from the roof. Unfortunately, on the first two days we were there the view was obscured by a massive cruise liner parked in the harbour, but once that cleared out the view was brilliant.

    Opera House [Enlarge & More]

    The good thing about arriving early in the morning was that effectively we had an extra day of sightseeing, meaning that in total we were in Sydney for a full four days. I have to say that during our time in Sydney we did spend a lot of time around the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. This was partly because Mahmoud wanted to photograph these two landmarks until there were no more photos to take, and also because it was an aesthetically pleasing place to be, and the weather was good enough to wander around the harbour. We opted not to do the expensive guided tour of the Opera House!

    The Bridge [Enlarge & More]

    Mahmoud wanted to climb the Harbour Bridge, which I have to admit looked pretty cool. At $190 each though, it was just a bit far out of budget (considering how much we’d already spent in Australia), so we had to settle with the next best thing – walking over the bridge! It was a fair old hike from one side to the other, and the views of the harbour were very good.

    Luna Park [Enlarge & More]

    Once on the other side, we had a look at the bizarre Lunar Park. Sadly, it was closed and we could not go in. Never mind.

    Flying Foxes [Enlarge & More]

    Just around the bay, we walked through the botanical gardens. They were very pretty and peaceful, despite being so close to the city centre. The most interesting thing here was a colony of 22000 flying foxes (large bats). We heard them and smelled them before we saw them. Watching them fly from their roosts at twilight was a scary sight!

    Yacht Race [Enlarge & More]

    Another interesting thing we did on one day was take the ferry from the city to the suburb of Manly, which had a good surf beach. The ferry ride was the good point here – it was a great (and cheap) way of seeing the harbour from the sea. An added bonus was that there was a yacht race going on in the harbour on the day we were on the boat. We got some great close up views of yachts and the water was absolutely teeming with onlookers and racers alike. Fortunately, our ferry was the biggest thing there and we breezed through the traffic!

    Other than that we spent a lot of time wandering around the city itself. We found the cheapest food to be found in food courts where you could get some decent Asian cuisine, but once these closed it was difficult to get a good cheap meal. We were determined not to self-cater on our last few days, and our wallets suffered as a result. In our travels we wandered down Oxford Street which was an interesting walk to see a part of Sydney culture. We also did a bit of well-deserved shopping around town – Mahmoud bought some new shoes!

    Opera House [Enlarge & More]

    Finally, we left for New Zealand early in the morning of our fifth day in Sydney. We managed to catch the shuttle bus and got ferried to the airport. Our driver was a bit down on his luck – his boot door, wing mirror and glove box all broke during the drive. Still, we arrived at the airport on time, and got our plane out of Australia. It was a shame to be leaving – but also a wee bit of a relief. Australia is such an expensive country that we blew our budget out of the water, and still couldn’t do everything we wanted! Still, it was well worth it – some amazing sights to be had, and we had a brilliant time.

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