Sydney is my new favorite city. I still love San Diego and Wellington, but Australia is awesome and Sydney is the best. The coastline is a set of spectacular coves comprised of white sand beaches and turquoise waters. The parks are green and peaceful, and the public transit is remarkable.
Sydney is also where we met up with Dan and Marlene Diggins to kick off two weeks of exploring Australia together. We are thrilled to have them join us. We have been away for a quite a while now, and it is so nice to be around family again. We did a ton in our first few days and they matched our pace with enthusiasm.
Thursday: Beautiful Sydney was raining! However, we are not made of sugar so we did a bit of exploring and caught our first views of the Opera House.
Friday: Walked.the.city. According to the Fitbit, we walked over ten miles as we explored the neighborhoods, crossed the the harbour bridge twice and admired the Opera House from every angle. Friday was when we knew that we loved Sydney.
Saturday: The coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee takes you from one beautiful beach to another with a handful of adorable beach coves in between. A couple of these had salt water pools built into the shore’s edge for kids and for lap swimmers. Part way through the walk we got free Monster energy drinks because they are promoting a new flavor. We thought that Marlene was overestimating the friendliness of Australians when she threw her arms around a woman on the trail and held her tight, but it turned out to be a Pleasanton friend. She knows everyone.
Saturday night I met up with my friend Shannon Bubb who moved to Sydney last year. We ate dinner at a restaurant that required reservations so we called and made a reservation for an immediate table, then walked into the empty restaurant. The hostess nervously confirmed our reservation before she sat us, then a server came to the table and asked us again if we had a reservation. Next the chef came and triple checked that we had made a reservation before arriving. We couldn’t understand their concern because only one other table filled during our meal.
Sunday: Public transit is cheap on Sundays so we rode the train 50km east to the Blue Mountains for a day of hiking. The main rock formation is called the Three Sisters and a narrow, crowded trail led us to a skybridge to see them up close. The view of the valley floor is much more remarkable. The bluffs tower 1000 feet over the valley floor, and the bushes below are actually a canopy of dense treetops in the distance. We saw the people from our train around Sydney the rest of the week.
Monday: Zoo day! Every animal seemed to be eating or playing when we got to them. Even the sleepy koalas stretched and climbed for us. A tiger made a very half-hearted attempt to catch a bird while another napped on top of the Safari car prop in its enclosure. This is possibly the best zoo ay ever. New fact that I am excited about: the platypus has been around since dinosaur times (110 million BC). Second fact: adults get dinosaur hats too if they ask.
Tuesday: Art museum in the morning and Manly beach in the evening. I tried to bodysurf in the waves, but they were too powerful and erratic and they kept smashing me against the sand. I focused on diving under the waves after that, but I still had to time my breath of air before the next wave crashed into my face. We took a ferry back to the mainland after sunset to enjoy the sparkling city lights from the water. An energetic little boy did 15 mini-laps of the ship deck before announcing with an adorable accent, “There’s not much to do here.”