First 3 Days in Sydney

I posted a quick recap of our wedding exactly 4 weeks after the fact, so I’m going to continue that with our trip to Australia. The posts are listed chronologically on our Honeymoon page, so please start there. This post covers Thursday, October 6 through Saturday, October 8.

4 weeks ago today, we arrived in Sydney for the first leg of our 3-week honeymoon. That was Thursday morning, local time, after we had left Vancouver late Tuesday night, local time. With all the wedding planning and day jobs, we didn’t spend a lot of time planning our trip. Wendy’s aunt and uncle suggested staying at Simpsons of Potts Point and taking their advice was perhaps our first big success as a married couple. Ree was the perfect host. Every morning at breakfast, she would ask what we had planned for the day and enthusiastically offer suggestions if she felt we weren’t spending our time wisely.

Walk out the front door of Simpsons, turn right and head to the end of the block and you’re greeted by a view of the Harbour Bridge. A quick walk down some stairs, past Woolloomooloo Bay and the Royal Botanical Gardens leads to the Opera House, Circular Quay, and the CBD. So that’s what we did.

There was a pie shop along the way that looked like a good place to stop for a bite to eat and give Wendy a chance to sample the local cuisine. Turns out it was the iconic Harry’s Cafe de Wheels and was on my mom’s list of things to see in Sydney that I had conveniently forgotten back at the hotel. So far, things were looking pretty good for this vacation. And yes, that is Colonel Sanders eating a Cafe de Wheels pie in that picture.

When we got to the Opera House, Wendy had a friand at the Opera Bar that so enchanted her that she looked for it everywhere else but never found one that lived up to that first experience.

We walked through the Botanical Gardens, The Domain, and Hyde Park, where we enjoyed Sydney Life, a photography exhibit that included some charming children’s photos along with the more pro-level works.

The next morning (Friday), Ree gave us a photocopied hand-drawn map of her suggested walking tour. It included things like “take the bus from A to B” without any indication of the bus number, bus stop location, etc. but whatever, we were on vacation and things had started so well that we just went with it. Thankfully, everything worked out amazingly and we found all the waypoints on her map and then found our way home without any problems (thanks in part to a second tourist map with street names).

Sydney Harbour National Park or so

Bondi Beach

Wendy wanted to try Kylie Kwong‘s Billy Kong restaurant. It’s small and they don’t take reservations, so we took our chances and just walked over. It was a 45 minute wait, so we walked down the street to bills for some drinks and appetizers. Another great decision! We passed an Apple Store along the way where people had left flowers, apples, and even an old first or second generation iPod for Steve who we had just heard about that morning.

I think Ree’s itinerary went something like this.

  • Catch ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay.
  • Walk around the park and catch the bus to Bondi Beach.
  • Walk along Bondi Beach to the Icebreakers swimming club for lunch with a good view.
  • Walk to Bronte Beach and catch the bus to a street whose name I’ve forgotten but got us back surprisingly close to Simpsons.

Pretty good so far and it was only our second day in Sydney!

On Saturday, we left with a rough plan of visiting Paddington Markets. We didn’t really know what we were looking for, but we found Paddington, asked a store clerk for directions, and walked a few more blocks as instructed. We arrived at the Paddington town hall, where there was a market showcasing new designers. Interesting, but a little disappointing. We turned around and headed back to Bourke Street for lunch. It turned out that we had stopped a few blocks short and missed the real market.

The Sydney Rides Festival was on, and we happened to stumble on to a venue with some action like a bike polo demo. I get the impression that there’s always something interesting happening in Sydney’s public spaces.

We picked up a great little guide book called Slices of Sydney at the hotel. It listed all kinds of interesting sights in the neighbourhoods around us, including the “sunken water garden at architectural urban park, Paddington Reservoir Gardens.” It looked great in the guidebook photo, so imagine our surprise when we happened to stumble across it while searching for the markets. There was also something about the Surry Hills Library and the Object gallery, so we were happy to find them accidentally too. I didn’t care for the fossilized teddy bears in the Hyperclay exhibit, but at least they were striking and the use of iPads for info kiosks was novel.

Lunch was a great success. Wendy had heard about the Bourke Street Bakery from the blog of David Lebovitz, who had helpfully scouted Sydney just a few days ahead of us. All the locals knew about it too, so there was a long line but it was worth it in the end.