In February 2014, I had a chance to revisited my childhood travel. Australia was the first country I had ever set foot on outside of Thailand when I was 8 and I was excited to see how my childhood memory differs from the reality.
The main reason I chose Australia as my destination was Uluru (Ayers Rock). Uluru is a large sandstone rock formation in the middle of the desert in Australia. The fact that it is magnificent in itself and it is my first time traveling to a desert, I decided without hesitation that Australia will be my next country after China. While planning, I found that flying to Sydney and then to Ayers Rock seems to be the cheapest option so I decided to stay in Sydney for 3 days, meet some friends, do some walks and see how people live. Since Sydney wasn't the highlight of my trip, I did not expect much but as it turns out, the experience far exceeded my expectation.
Even though Sydney is expensive as hell, it does offer one of the best and safest urban walk with one of the most vibrant and engaging backpacking community I have ever experienced. Since it was very expensive to stay in hotels, for this trip, I decided to be more flexible and stayed in hostels throughout my trip and I was not disappointed. The people in Australian hostels are one of the most inspiring, friendly, engaging travelers I have ever met. They came from all walks of life, have their own culture, experiences and stories to share with each other. We talked to each other as if we were friends for years. It was what made this trip different. If you are planning to visit Australia, you should definitely try staying in a hostel for a few days. You won't regret it.
Without further a due, let's enjoy the scenery and see what Syd
Day 1: Sydney Drive-around
First impression of Sydney: They have an awesome outdoor cafe culture. My friend took me to The Grounds of Alexandria near the airport and I was instantly hooked. The authenticity and the livelihood of the place left me wanting more.
Since it was a little cloudy that day, I was able to experience an almost deserted Bondi beach.
We walked along the coastline, chilled out, hang our feet off cliffs. It was amazing!
We drove to Watson Bay afterward but unfortunately, parts of it were closed due to renovation so we headed back, walked around China Town, Thai Town, and Korea Town (yes, these are all real). Afterward, we went for a German feast at the Löwenbräu Keller which was awesome, to say the least (and EXPENSIVE!). We filled our stomachs with a knuckle, sausages, and beers and in order to digest all that, we had to walk. I was able to get a glimpse of the Opera House at night from the Circular Quay.
Since it was during Valentine's Day, the Darling Harbor was very well decorated than usual with beautiful lightings, activities, and gatherings.
My friends and I parted ways as the night was ending and I simply crashed at the hostel called the Hostel Wake Up! near the Central Station. This hostel really spiced up my stay because the hotel environment is catered to party goers and they have a great club down in the basement with activities like Speed Dating and Trivial Night every Friday. It was new to me and was an interesting and refreshing experience. I met so many fun people during my 2 nights stay there.
Day 2: Sydney's Best Known Urban Walk
I started my second day with a morning walk across the Harbor Bridge. I took a train from the Central Station to the Milson's Point train station (2 stations away from the Central Station) and walked across the bridge, seeing the spectacular architecture in person.
Enjoying the magnificent Opera House while listening to Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men.
I paid AU$11 to climb the Pylon Lookout to get the overall view of Sydney from one of the towers on the bridge.
I saw people climbing the bridge. To climb, you will have to pay around AU$ 250 - AU$ 360 to climb this bad boy. I chose to stay and watched people climb instead. :)
I walked across the bridge, turned left and go through The Rocks, one of the most historic towns in Sydney. Since it was Saturday, The Rocks were turned into a flea market where people gathers to sell all kinds handcrafted products from hand-painted boomerangs to a handmade Chocolate.
From The Rocks approaching the Circular Quay, you will get a pretty unique perspective of the bridge.
Approaching the Opera House after 10 minutes walk from The Circle. Along the way, I enjoyed the street performances by the Aborigines, mixing traditional instrument with digital sounds creating a somewhat unique beat that I can see people dancing to.
Doing a little sketches of the Harbor Bridge, a travel ritual I got from my last trip in China.
I entered the Royal Botanic Garden from the Opera House's side and walk along the coastline, enjoying the view of both the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.
The garden was peacefully breathtaking. I spent several hours just sitting and absorbing everything in slowly.
When you are here, for one minute, don't talk, no photos and just look and see.
After spending a good amount of hours, I walked back from the Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, down through the city and went into Hyde Park.
A final stop at St Mary's Cathedral. I was honored to be able to sit inside and listen to the prayers. Even though I am an Atheist, I always love to explore other religions. It was a beautiful experience.
And that concludes my second day in Sydney. I went back to the hostel. Enjoyed many great talks with other travelers, before I went to bed and prepared for a take off to Uluru (Ayers Rock) the next morning.
Day 3: Bye Bye Sydney
My friend took me to the airport the next morning one hour before the plane departed. I was surprised by the minimal security checks at the domestic terminal in comparison to when I was arriving (I got to go through 2 - 3 security checkpoints to enter the city). No wonder why my friend insisted that 1 hour before departed was more than enough.
And this concludes my brief trip to Sydney and our first part of the Solo Traveler's Journal #7. Stay tuned for part two where we will explore The Red Center together and why Uluru is NOT just a single rock in a desert like most people think.
What do you think of part one? Are you looking to solo Sydney as well? Let us know in the comment below.
Updated on 18 Dec 2018: Add a travel video to the article.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.