The 15-hour flight to Sydney may have been the longest flight I’ve ever taken. I’m not the most relaxed while flying. Ok, that’s an understatement. If there’s even the slightest bit of turbulence, my whole life flashes before my eyes. Flying makes me nervous, so obviously a 15-hour flight, predominately over the Pacific Ocean, isn’t my idea of a good time. However, if you’re lucky enough to be able to book a business class ticket, which we did, at least you’re well fed and laying flat on your bed/seat while your life flashes before your eyes.
We left San Francisco International airport at 11:10pm on Monday and flew direct to Sydney. I ate, watched two movies and managed to fall asleep because a bout of turbulence woke me up. Deep breathing ensued. Eventually the shaking stopped and I fell back asleep. Next thing I knew, we were landing in Sydney and it was Wednesday morning at 9am. Where had Tuesday gone? Into space floating over the Pacific, I suppose.
After getting through customs, which was only a slight challenge because my passport photo is 7 years old and looks nothing like me anymore. Oh well. We were aboard the train into town. The trains in Sydney are so clean. They put any subway system in the U.S. that I’ve ridden to absolute shame.
We arrived at the Westin Sydney, and our room wasn’t ready so we freshened up at the nearby gym restrooms. The OCD germaphobe in me quickly tried to forget the situation inside that gym. In fact, I refused to mention any more about it. We started wandering around Sydney and exploring. One thing we noticed was that Yelp isn’t as widely used here as it is at home. In SF, I don’t do much or go anywhere unless Yelp tells me it’s a good idea. Here we had to rely on the few number of reviews we did find, a certain level of trust, or TripAdvisor.
My first impressions of Sydney are as follows: People are nice. Like really, really nice. They’re friendly, helpful and smile a lot. What a concept. The sun is intense. I later found out it’s because the hole in the ozone is right above us. The fact that I was sunburned after applying SPF 55 now makes some sense. The harbor is beautiful. Frankly, all major cities should be on the water.
We visited the Botanical Gardens and walked around and took in harbor views before our room was ready at the hotel. Later we enjoyed drinks and dinner at a really fun little restaurant called Farmhouse, which is owned and operated by four friends. We sat at the window looking into the tiny restaurant while we enjoyed our multi-course meal. Everything was excellent. I even ate lamb. I tasted pretty good, probably because my taste buds were dysfunctional from being sick.
The good thing about flying a day long red-eye is that you don’t have a super hard time adjusting to the time difference. Talk to me on the way back, that’s probably when I’ll be miserable.
Our second day in Sydney, we decided to hike from the Spit Bridge all the way to Manly. That’s 10km or 6+miles. I’d highly recommend this. However, don’t forget to bring water. And a hat. Have I mentioned that the sun here is a real bitch? Also, maybe don’t do it while you’re still sick because it involved a lot of stairs. I basically failed at preparing for this hike, but I made it to a Manly alive. That’s all that matters in the end, right? (There may or may not be a video of me drinking from a public water fountain for a few minutes straight at the end of the hike. If I was a dog my tongue would have been hanging out the side of my mouth.)
The views are spectacular and Jason finally allowed me to take out the selfie stick I purchased for this trip and use it to show the scenery behind us. (Probably because we were mostly alone on this hike and he wasn’t worried about being judged for bringing the girl with the selfie stick.)
That evening I was able to see my uncle Bahman and his sons Behzad, Babak and Babak’s wife Myra. We went up to the Sydney Tower and got 360 views of the entire city at night, which was great.
Day three we took an Uber to the famous Bondi beach and hiked along the cliff to Coogee. That’s much shorter than the previous day’s hike and I remembered that I’m a human and not a camel and brought water this time. Near Coogee there’s an old cemetery overlooking the ocean called Waverley Cemetery. Dead people have million dollar views in Sydney, apparently. We even stopped on a beach midway to lay on the sand. If swimming in oceans is your thing, there are tons of beaches to take advantage of in and around Sydney.
That evening we ventured to a new restaurant in the Paddington neighborhood of Sydney called Saint Peter for some excellent seafood. We followed that with drinks at a hidden speakeasy called Baxter Inn. Highly recommend both!
Saturday morning we decided to walk to the Sydney Fish Market. It’s packed with fresh seafood (including the biggest lobsters and crabs I’ve ever seen) and food stalls where you can eat. I don’t think I’ve ever had octopus, lobster and calamari for breakfast before, but when in Rome...
Later that day, we met up with friends of friends who had chartered a sail boat to cruise around Sydney Harbor for several hours. They invited us along. I’ve never been sailing before, so it was extra special to do it during my first time in Australia. That evening we joined our friends for dinner near Bondi Beach.
Sunday was our last day in Sydney and we spent the morning checking out the views of the city from Pylon point just at the base of the Sydney bridge. You could always shell out the $300 a person to climb the Sydney bridge, but it just didn’t seem like an appealing option to us. This was way more economical and the views are just as good.
Sydney was a blast but it was time to move to the next adventure. Tasmania, here we came!