On our way into Sydney we stopped by Manly Beach. We ate lunch by the water as we watched people surf and play volleyball. There was even a school class there enjoying some recess. It amazed us that so many people were out enjoying the beach since the weather was in the low 60s and fairly windy. The beach looked really nice and it was easy to imagine how crowded it must be in the summer!
After walking around by the beach and through the town, we drove into the city to check into our hotel and return our rental car. Our hotel was a few blocks from Kings Cross Station, which made it very easy to get around the city. We spent the rest of the afternoon down my the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge waiting for the Vivid Sydney Festival to start. A ferry port is in the harbor where the Opera house is located, so the area stays fairly crowded. There are also a ton of restaurants and bars, so the area was packed for happy hour while people waited for the festival to start.
At 6pm when it's finally dark, buildings across the city lit up for Vivid Sydney. And let me tell you, this is not your average light show. Entire buildings and city landmarks are lit up with projections of beautiful art displays that interact with music. We didn't know what to expect, and we were shocked and amazed. The entire waterway was filled with people taking photos. We snapped pictures and videos of the Opera House and Bridge, then walked over to The Rocks. It's one of the oldest areas in Sydney and the cobblestone streets were lined with tons of food trucks and craft tents. Its really a beautiful area of Sydney, but we weren't feeling the food trucks so we walked over to Barangaroo to find some dinner. We saw some more light exhibits and a marching band doing a street performance. They were really good! They handed out little kazoos and drums to kids and we enjoyed watching them march around the street performing for a bit before grabbing a bite to eat at a Thai restaurant. Our love of Southeast Asian food still has not wavered in the past month! After dinner we took the train back to Kings Cross to get a drink at a bar before calling it a night.
The next morning we took the train to Bondi Beach and stopped by the Ice Breakers Pool on the far right side of the beach. The lap pool sits right on the edge of the water and the waves will crash over the seawall when its really rough. You can pay a small fee to swim in the pool, but we had left our swim gear at the hotel so we watched others get their laps in for a bit. You can keep walking past the pool and there are walking paths along the coastline, but we were ready for food so we walked back towards the beach and took the train back into Sydney.
We stopped by Henry's Cafe De Wheels for lunch. They are famous for their meat pies. There are many locations now, but we stopped by the original one by the Woolloomooloo Naval Dock. We enjoyed a chicken and a steak meat pie and a ginger beer before walking along the water in the Royal Botanical Gardens. The gardens have some incredible viewpoints of the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Chris had reached his limit on Gardens, so we only walked along the outer edge of the gardens on the water. After snapping a couple hundred photos of the Opera House and Bridge, we headed over to the Rocks to check out the weekend market. It ended up being mostly the same stuff as the night before, so we kept on walking to Darling Harbor.
With some time to spare before the Vivid festival started at 6pm, we stopped by a restaurant for happy hour. In Darling Harbor, they had huge water fountains setup and at once the festival started there was a light show in the fountains. It was set to music and was very impressive. The only downside was it had started raining so we enjoyed the show huddled together with 100 new friends under a building ledge. After the light show, we walked back towards the Harbor Bridge and had dinner at the Australian Hotel. They have all sorts of pizza with odd meats on them. We tried the Kangaroo meat pizza and it was pretty good. After dinner we walked back to the Opera House to take in the view of the museum of contemporary art, the harbor bridge and the city skyline, all of which were lit up for the festival. We were in complete awe of the light shows. It was truly incredible how they were able to project art onto the buildings and sync it to music. If you are planning on visiting Sydney in May or June, make sure you go while the Vivid Festival is happening!! With one last look at the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, we made our way back to our hotel to pack.
The next morning we said goodbye to the city and started our journey back home. We had a layover in Auckland, where for a while we debated ditching our last flight home to head back to the South Island. But reason, aka Chris, won out and we boarded our flight back to San Francisco.
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Chris & Taylor
Read our travel blog as we visit three continents in 2017.