Blue Mountains and Sydney, Australia

The remainder of our visit in Sydney (outside of our many beach journeys) was spent seeing some of the major sites of the city.

On Tuesday, we walked outside to a rain shower. We decided to hit up the Sydney SeaLife Aquarium – first, because it’s cool…and second, it would provide shelter from the rain. We took the train and made our way through Darling Harbour to the aquarium. It’s a super cute area, but unfortunately it was still pouring so we got our tickets and entered immediately. We saw some adorable penguins, jellyfish, tons of fish, sharks, sting rays, seahorses, dugongs (sea cows) and many more! Here are some pics we snapped throughout the aquarium.

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Jenny really loves penguins!

After we left the Aquarium, the rain had not let up, so we decided to park it at a place for lunch and have some beers (shocking, we know). We settled on King Street Brewhouse on the wharf of Darling Harbour and hung out there a couple of hours. Once the rain cleared, we headed back to our hostel to get ready for our “Galentine’s date” (see what we did there?! ha). We had known that it was Valentine’s day and wanted to do something fun to celebrate….so therefore we booked a show at the famous Sydney Opera House. Yes, we are super classy. Oh, but wait, not to mislead you…we saw no Opera. We instead opted to get tickets to see a cirque-type show called Barbu. We were warned online that it was slightly racy and to be prepared for brief male nudity. Ha, we were sold.

We decided to get to the Sydney Harbour where there Opera House is located a bit early to snap some pics of us “dressed up” (hair down and blue jeans on). Sydney Harbour also is home to the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, so we couldn’t resist getting some pics with it in the background. We then went to the Opera Bar and sat outside and each had a few glasses of Rosé.

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Jenny before the show

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Kerry outside the Sydney Opera House

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The birds really like Jenny…

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Selfie Fail 🙂

The show was fantastic! We were in the 3rd row right in front of the runway-type stage and the performers were incredible. It was not the giant production like a Vegas Cirque show, but in that way, it seemed even more dangerous. The show was full of daring acrobatic moves and, as promised, a bit of nudity. At one point, one of the male performers approached Kerry and danced on her a bit, leaving some sweat behind and 2 hysterically laughing, slightly intoxicated girls.

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After the show, in front of the Harbor Bridge

We ended the evening at a speakeasy type of bar called the Swinging Cat. We shared a charcuterie platter and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (because we clearly needed more alcohol). It was a great evening and we felt super lucky to get to see a show in such a famous place as the Sydney Opera House!

The next morning, we woke up (wearily) bright and early to catch our shuttle bus for our tour of the Blue Mountains. We only had to walk half a block to the meeting point, where we met our tour guide, Adam, owner of the small local tour company called Barefoot Downunder. The tour promised to be a smaller group, under 2o people, and take us on a really cool hike, as well as to typical tourist locations for pictures. The hour and a half (or so) drive out of Sydney was slightly rough (no fault of the tour company whatsoever) since we were rather hungover and thought at the time that we’d rather be on a beach being lazy. But here we were, being promised a 3 hour hike that no other tour company from Sydney takes people on…lucky us?!

He first took us to see some kangaroos, which were really cute, but we opted to not exit the shuttle bus because the only one near us was a male and honestly…he kinda looked scary! Then we got to the entrance of the National Pass Hike in the Blue Mountains. We unloaded and set off on the hike, walking alongside Adam and getting to know more about him and his company that he and his wife started. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the hike, learning about tons of species of trees and plants surrounding us (Adam majored in horticulture at university), and saw about 10 awesome waterfalls along the way. We also sweated out tons of booze walking up about 1,000 stairs (not exaggerating).

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ANOTHER set of stairs…

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Then we drove into Leura, a quaint town in the mountains. Here, people had the option of buying lunch in one of the many cafes, but we had packed a lunch, so we enjoyed it on some grass in the shade. We were ravenously hungry, and our lunch of salami, cheese, crackers, fruit, hummus and carrots hit the spot!

Adam took us next to see the famous “Three Sisters” rocks, and we also learned to play the didgeridoo. When we had first heard this word, we thought it was going to be some game, but it wasn’t a game. It was a long wooden tube-like wind instrument that you blow into and for us non-professionals, some oddly terrible sounds came out. Adam played one and it sounded really cool though.

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We went to several different lookout points, including Pulpit Rock Lookout. The views of the mountains and canyons were stunning! We snapped some cute pics near cliff edges.

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The trip ended back in Sydney, where we all had a drink (included in the tour!) together and mingled with Adam and the other day trippers. The bar was called Side Bar, which coincidentally was located within our hostel! We were wiped by the end of the day, but oh so glad that we had selected this particular tour of the Blue Mountains. In the end, we didn’t need another beach day…since FIJI was up next on our agenda!

Cheers!
~Jenny & Kerry

The Beaches of Sydney, Australia

Our first order of business upon arrival in Australia was to visit some beaches. We had read and heard a lot about different beaches in Sydney and we were eager to see them all and work on our tans. Some of the top beaches we had heard about were Manly Beach, Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. Each had their pros and cons and we were determined to experience them ourselves.

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Arriving at the Sydney Airport

Once we arrived in Sydney we settled into our hostel in the CBD and prepared for the next few days. We met our roommates and started talking to them about things to see and do in the city. After asking if they had tried any of the beaches in town, we were told that Manly Beach was the best bet. So the decision was made to spend our first full day at the beach.

On Sunday we got up and headed out to see Manly Beach. It required a train ride down to the wharf and then a ferry ride over to another part of town.Typically this could add up on costs, but since we had our Opal cards for transportation, our max charge for the day was a whopping $2.50. After a 30-45 minute ferry ride, we arrived at our destination and wandered through an adorable town full of restaurants and shops to arrive at the beach.

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Views from the ferry

Given that it was a bargain transportation day, the summer AND a Sunday, the beach was extremely crowded. However, it was beautiful, full of great people watching and had killer waves. We spent several hours at the beach reading, playing in the surf, watching the tourists and locals, reapplying sunscreen and even watching an ad hoc air show!

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Manly Beach… before the crowds

The next day we tried out a Coastal Walk that our guidebook had suggested. This is a walk that is 6km and works its way down the coast, starting at Bondi Beach and ending at Coogee Beach. Once again, we put public transportation to use to get to our starting point (this is one of our favorite things about big cities… we cannot say enough about our love for great public transportation!)

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A view of the coast we walked along, as seen on our flight out of Sydney

We started at Bondi Beach and figured the best thing to do would be to really experience the beach by laying out and tanning. The downfall of this was that we did not want to get off our butts, put on tennis shoes and start walking up a cliff. After about 2 hours we talked ourselves into continuing on and headed out to start our walk.

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Some views from the Coastal Walk

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Jenny & Bondi Beach

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Kerry & The Ocean

We headed up some cliffs and got great views of Bondi Beach from afar, as well as stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. We continued onwards and saw Tamarama beach, which was incredible, but we talked ourselves out of another 2 hour detour and ventured onwards. Our next stop was Bronte Beach where we had lunch and another tanning detour. Our lunch was an elegant tapas platter that we packed in our backpacks… salami, cheese, crackers, carrots and hummus! Once we were re-hydrated and stuffed with tasty snacks, we checked out Bronte Beach. Our favorite part about this beach was that there was a part of the beach that was blocked off by rocks and formed a natural swimming area that was safe from the waves. It was really difficult to walk away from this beach and continue on our journey, but we did it so we could see the infamous Coogee Beach that was located at the end of the walk.

The Coastal Walk has taken a slight detour in the past year due to storms, so we actually had a detour away from the beach and through an old cemetery that was quite eerie yet beautiful. We passed another swimming pool/beach, walked up what seemed to be never-ending stairs, then walked/hiked up a giant hill, then complained a lot about how we were never going to walk again, then kept walking.

Finally we arrived at Coogee Beach. It was a larger beach and pretty full of people, with plenty of amenities close by, though it was far from our favorite beach along the hike. We partly wished we had stayed back at Bronte and spent the rest of the day there, however we felt accomplished to finish the entire walk. We stayed at Coogee for awhile until the sun started to set and our skin was over it all.

The good news is that we were only 2 days into our visit to Sydney and still had a lot more to see and do. Until next time…

Cheers!
~ Kerry & Jenny