Flying from Los Angeles to Christchurch, New Zealand a couple of weeks ago I had a twelve-hour layover in Sydney, Australia from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. A little long to just hang at the airport so of course I was going to venture out. I got a tourist visa ahead of time. I immediately bought a round trip Airport Link (the train) ticket to go to the Circular Quay station in the center of Sydney.
Early in the morning it was already 27° C (80° F). Welcome to summer I said. It was going to be a hot one and I wasn’t dressed for the occasion, but hey look at where I was. I got off the train right in the heart of the city and all of the touristy stuff. Right in front me immediately was Sydney Cove and the docks for all the ferries transporting people around the harbour, bays and the most popular destination Manly Beach. I’m shooting myself for not taking the ferry to Manly. Next time.
I proceeded towards the Sydney Opera House along the east side of the cove passing by outdoor cafés, restaurants, hundreds of runners from the Australian Navy, people going to work and fellow tourists. I stood in front of the Opera House, turned 180° to see the cove, ferries and Harbour Bridge and then another 90° and wallah there was the Sydney skyline. One of many perfect panoramic photo opportunities.
I walked around the Opera House and Sydney Cove towards Farm Cove entering the Royal Botanic Gardens. I kept walking along the shoreline, taking lengthy breaks to relax and be in the shade and just stare at the scenery winding up at Mrs. Macquaries Point. A romantic spot and perfect place to get photos of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the same shot.
Continuing along I stood along Woolloomooloo Bay watching people swim in the outdoor Olympic size pool, more Navy runners passing by, seeing some ships and industry buildings off in the distance. I cut back through the gardens getting different shots of the skyline and greenery and wound up at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar around lunch time. I could have continued walking. Checkout a great example of a walking tour you can do from Circular Quay to Hyde Park.
At the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar I sat alongside the cove and watched the ferries go by while enjoying poached eggs on sourdough bread and an iced chocolate, the first of many. More on those in future posts. I remembered not to tip (a custom here) and got excited when I gave the waitress a big bill and got back a lot of smaller bills and coins. Love seeing currency from other countries.
I walked around to the other side of Sydney Cove passing by the ferries and docks walking through First Fleet Park, by the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Rocks heading towards the Harbour Bridge. I took pictures of the different street signs, streets and making sure to look to the right first when crossing the street.
It was getting into the afternoon and I wanted to give myself several hours to get back and ready for my flight so I turned around as soon as I got close to the Harbour Bridge. I was getting encouragement to climb the Harbour Bridge, but will save that for next time as well. I needed to stay overnight I said to myself, but got a great first taste of what Sydney has to offer. I picked up some postcards and headed back on the train towards the airport to head off to New Zealand.
If you ever have an extended layover, this is one place you want to get stuck at. Checkout the Layover Guide, a great resource on how to handle and what you can do during international layovers. Also checkout my photos from a day in Sydney, Australia.