My girlfriend, Natasha, and I recently made the trip from Nicaragua, to Sydney, Australia. While the flight seemed like it would never end, it was definitely worth it once we got there. We’ve never been to Australia before, and had every intention of spending our two weeks exploring as much of the continent as we could. After a few days in Sydney though we decided there was just so much to do here that the rest of Australia would have to wait for our next trip.
We landed fairly late in the afternoon, and we were both exhausted from the long day of travel and missed connections. We took a taxi to our hotel, The Sydney Harbour Marriott, checked in, and went up to the room. Oh man, we were in heaven. A great room, with a huge king sized bed, and a perfect view of the Opera House and harbour. After getting showered, and feeling only slightly refreshed, we decided to make it an early evening, and just dine in the hotel at The Front restaurant. I’m usually not a fan of hotel dining, but it was pretty late, and we just weren’t feeling going out after the long day we already had. Once we entered the restaurant I was actually very pleasantly surprised. Not only were the views great, but sitting there in the middle of the restaurant was the most beautiful seafood buffet I have ever seen. It was piled high with lobsters, clams, oysters, shrimp, and all of the sides I could want. The price tag was a little hefty for the buffet, but worth it. I swear I must have eaten my body weight in seafood that evening, all of it delicious.
The next morning we got up pretty early for our morning walk. Very close to our hotel is an area called, “The Rocks”. While it was still early, and only a handful of places were open, we could tell this was an area we would be spending a bit of time in. There were restaurants and bars of every type, lots of shopping, and lots of sightseeing to do in this area. After our little stroll we got back to the hotel and arranged for a rental car for our stay. I had plans to surf that day, and I wanted to get out there as soon as I could. Even though we live near great surfing in Nicaragua, I was very excited to check out the famous surf here in Australia. After talking to the concierge about which beach would be best, we decided Freshwater Beach would be my first Australian beach to surf. Freshwater was a pretty big beach, and a great spot for surfers and swimmers alike. This also just happens to be the very first beach that was ever surfed in Australia.
After a couple of hours of surfing I was ready for some food so we strolled over to Pilu, a great little Italian restaurant just off the beach. Still feeling the effects of filling myself full of seafood the night before I choose the potato and mint ravioli, while my girlfriend decided on the flank steak. Both options were fantastic. I was a little surprised to find such authentic Italian cuisine in the middle of Australia, but pleasantly so. After lunch we sipped a bottle of wine, and took in the beautiful view of the ocean. We eventually decided that if we didn’t want to spend the entire evening in the hotel again, we better head back for a little nap. Surfing and then scarfing down a huge lunch, and a bottle of wine, can be a little exhausting.
After waking up at around six in the afternoon we decided to check “The Rocks” out again. What a different scene than in the morning. There are people everywhere walking around, shopping, sipping drinks and taking in the sights. We went into a few pretty cool stores. One was selling nothing but original Aboriginal art work; paintings, crafts, sculptures, and didgeridoos. We hit a couple of other stores, two museums, and a number of tour guides. This area of Sydney seemed to have it all. There were more bars, restaurants, and shops than we could ever make it to in three days. We finished the night off with a small dinner at a great Lebanese restaurant, and then a couple of cocktails, and live music, at one of the many bars in the area.
The following day we decided to check out Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens. Beautifully kept, and a joy to walk around, the gardens have been kept on this site for the past two hundred years. You can
find many indigenous plants here, along with plants from other regions that were brought here to be cultivated for use throughout Australia. There are huge glass pyramid shaped greenhouses, ponds, trails, and many things to see while here. We spent a couple of hours walking around and taking it all in. From here we took a 10 minute stroll to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This museum is stunning, and offers you a look at the art and history of not just Australia, but the Pacific Islands. My favorite exhibit had to be the Pacific arts. Here they had hundreds of pieces from the Pacific Islands. We were able to see traditional masks from Papua New Guinea, carved ceremonial figures from the Solomon Islands, traditional pottery, and tools of war. As much as I loved the Botanical Gardens, I really wish I would have spent that time here at the museum instead. The collection was huge, and I felt a little rushed trying to get everything in. If you plan on checking this museum out, I suggest giving it all day Then if you have time left over you can walk over to the Botanical Gardens.
Nearing dinner time I was really excited to check out Sushi Roll. Our ever helpful concierge at the Marriott had recommended it, and told me that’s where the locals go for sushi. I couldn’t wait. Natasha and I have been known to put down a whole boat full of sushi before, so I was getting very excited. Upon entering I was relieved to find the place not overly pretentious, as some sushi restaurants could be. They offered both table service, along with seats at the bar. Since there was an actual conveyor belt of sushi at the bar, we decided that would be the best spot for us. That might have been a mistake, although a very pleasant one. Watching freshly prepared, and absolutely delicious, sushi just rolling past you on a conveyor belt ended up meaning we ate a lot of sushi. A whole lot. We sat there for two hours straight stuffing our faces full of some of the freshest fish you can find, expertly crafted into rolls, sashimi, and nigiri. Unfortunately just picking sushi off of a conveyor belt, instead of ordering it off of a menu, means you kind of lose track of how much you’re spending. And we definitely spent some money there that night. We weren’t worried though. We know splurging on a meal one night just means that we’ll have to have a couple of cheap dinners to re-adjust our budget. Sometimes sacrifices just need to be made.
The following day we decided our pocket book needed a bit of a break. We headed over to Manly beach for a little surfing and relaxation. This is a great beach for both. The surf is perfect, and the waves consistent. No sitting around here on your board all afternoon waiting for a wave. Almost the second you paddle out, there’s a wave just waiting to be ridden back in. While that makes for an enjoyable day of surfing, it can also wear you out pretty quickly. I was needing a break even before lunch time rolled around. The only problem with finding something to eat at Manly Beach is the choices; there are just too many of them. There is everything from fine dining to pizza by the slice. One of the surfers I was hanging out with suggested we head over to the Salty Rooster. Apparently it’s a favorite amongst the surf crowd. It was basically an upscale, fast food, burger joint. It was inexpensive, yet delicious. Chicken burgers dominated the menu, which was great for Natasha. She got the Greek chicken burger, and I opted for the ground beef burger. Neither one of us was disappointed, and at less than $10 a person, the price was right. After lunch our new friend went back to surfing, and we headed out for a stroll through the area, followed by a leisurely nap on the beach.
Before leaving for the day my new surf buddy told us his band was playing that night, and invited us to come watch. He gave us the name of the club, but for the life of me I couldn’t find anyone in our hotel who had ever heard of it, and could give me directions. Finally after a few minutes online I was able to find it; the Goodgod Small Club. The place certainly lived up to its name. It was small, and packed to the rafters. Apparently this club is flying under the radar of even the best concierge. The vibe was great, and the bartenders were very friendly, although a couple of them did mention that they don’t see too many tourists there. After I told them one of the musicians invited us he treated us like a part of the family. We had a perfect night; we listened to great music, met some cool new friends, and swilled
down drinks almost at the pace of our Aussie hosts.
The rest of our trip was spent touring Sydney’s many museums and galleries, renting bikes for touring the city, and checking out the many great restaurants and bars it has to offer. The one thing I made sure to do though was to hit the beaches as often as possible. Sydney has a plethora of fantastic beaches, and I surfed every one of them on that trip. Even if you’re not a surfer Sydney’s beaches are legendary, and suitable for everyone. Whether you want to surf, snorkel, swim, or just lay about looking out for the migrating whales, Sydney’s beaches offer something for everyone.