Easy going Sydney

This piece appeared in a compilation article for a travel-themed issue of PINOYexpats.

Sydney offers modern city attractions as well as quaint delights amid glorious sunshine during the warmer months. While the Opera House, the Centrepoint Tower and the magnificent harbour are well described in tourist guides, there is no shortage of unique experiences available to intrepid visitors.

Renowned for its spectacular harbour, you can spend an entire day at Circular Quay absorbing the sun, eating a picnic lunch as you watch the antics of street performers. On a tight budget, an all-day ferry pass takes you to various beachside suburbs where you can enjoy ice cream on a hot December day or hire roller blades and explore the beachside. If you can splurge, try a showboat cruise for dinner. For families, free entertainment can often be found at Darling Harbour—you might even catch some fireworks!

If you think the view isn’t spectacular enough, you can sign up to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you can afford it, schedule a climb that catches the shifting light of day either at dawn or at twilight. For those who prefer to be closer to land, try self-guided walking tours across the bridge.

The Opera House is best experienced by attending a performance. Lovers of music will find other venues offering different styles for different budgets. The City Recital Hall is reputed to have better acoustics than the Opera House and the repertoire is more diverse. The Basement caters to the jazz crowd. The Wharf theatre may well include stars, such as Geoffrey Rush, in small, intimate performances. For those on even tighter budgets, try the Seymour Centre which is affiliated with the University of Sydney and sympathetic to a student budget..

Accommodation in Sydney ranges from five-star hotels, such as the Park Hyatt and the newly refurbished Hilton, as well as two-star motels and backpacker’s hostels.

Sydneysiders are spoiled for choice when it comes to fine dining. Award-winning establishments, such as Tetsuya’s, can have waiting lists of up to three months that not even Tom Cruise can jump. Pick up a copy of the Good Food Guide or the budget-conscious Cheap Eats Guide (both are available from newsagents and bookstores) and scour the city in search of the perfect meal. Foodie blog Grab Your Fork features the delectable delights Sydney can offer. Oh, and make sure you stop by the Lindt Café—the first and only one in the world—at Martin Place.

For most Pinoys, no trip is complete without some form of retail tourism. Walk along George Street for cheap souvenir stores or drop by the Queen Victoria Building for something a little more upmarket. The Mid-City Centre is home to chain stores and small designer boutiques. For big-name designers, try Castlereagh Street or Martin Place.

For a little quiet amid the city rush, try picnic at Hyde Park – as night falls, its tall trees and fairy lights provide an enchanting atmosphere. The Botanic Gardens is an excellent place to take a siesta and affords a bit of privacy. In summer, live theatre productions are sometimes staged at the gardens and they’re always a bit of fun. You can also try the Open Air Cinema at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

Most of all, make sure you grab at the chance to chat and grab a beer with the locals. You haven’t experienced Sydney until you’ve been lulled into the same sun-drenched, easygoing style for which Sydneysiders are renowned.

This piece was first published in the October 2006 issue of PINOYexpats, an e-zine for Filipino expatriates. I have updated the links, but some of the places mentioned in the article no longer exist. Also, there is now a second Lindt Café at Darling Harbour.

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