This holiday season, I lucked up bigtime and won a door prize at a holiday party – one free ticket anywhere Qatar Airways flies. Qatar airways flies to over 150 places as of the time of this post (with more being added almost monthly). I could have chosen pretty much anywhere, but settled on checking out the home of a bunch of my new friends – Sydney, Australia.

Things didn’t mesh up with DH’s schedule (or desire for a 14-hour flight), and I found myself on one hell of a visa bounce – an 11-day Grand Adventure to a hemisphere and country I’d never been to.

This trip was fantastic. I absolutely loved Sydney, and had a splendid time getting in 20 – 30,000 steps a day, eating as little or as much as I wanted, sleeping in a schedule that made little sense, and speaking to no humans unless I really wanted to.

Sydney itself feels like a cross between New York City, Seattle and the California beaches – lots of big buildings, lots of beautiful coastline, a bustling maritime life – and of course, beaches (and that laid back beach life) aplenty.

Since I saw a bunch and took a ton of shots, I’ll be splitting the pictorial into 3 parts. This is Part 1. Stay tuned for the rest!

Thursday, January 25

This was mostly a travel day. Bye, Doha!

This was my home for the duration of my trip – Space Q hotel (hostel) in Haymarket (the Thai/Chinese area of town).

This place was really cool. The location couldn’t be beat – I was 20 – 30 minutes from pretty much anything I wanted to do, and blocks from Central Station and it’s trains, buses and light rail.

Friday, January 26 

Australia Day! I woke up and headed to Circular Quay to see the festivities, wandered The Rocks a bit, and headed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to catch the Australia Day Harbour Parade.

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Ship racing from the Sydney Harbour Bridge

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The conclusion of the Tall Ship Race 

Australia Day was cool. The whole city was decked out in Australia and Aboriginal flags, music was everywhere, street food was flowing freely, and the general atmosphere was one of a big party. Since I’ll miss my own country’s celebration day, it was great to take part in somewhere else’s.

Saturday, January 27

I woke up super late, wandered around downtown a bit trying to figure out what I wanted to do, decided to point my feet toward Darling Harbour and checked that out, went to the Sea Life Aquarium, wandered over to the Queen Victoria Building juuuuust as everything was closing (as I was discovering, much to my American chagrin/mild outrage, almost every damn thing barring restaurants and bars closes by 7pm), and decided to drown my lack of shopping options sorrows at this really cool viking bar I’d heard about on Facebook – Mjolner.

Hyde Park 

Super cool doorway on Elizabeth Street

Elizabeth Street

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Darling Harbour

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These guys were a big constant everywhere I went in Sydney

Cool sea stars

Fairy Penguin

Queen Victoria Building – Syndey, whyyyyy with the early closing?!?! Super frustrating for Americans! (I’ve since been told that Australia values work/life balance highly – which is actually something we should all aspire to. Just super frustrating when you’re used to everything being open late!)

Mjolner was amazing. The cup holds a fat-washed something alcoholic with gold sherbert paint on the outside. I had a short rib trencher and couldn’t finish half. 

The ferris wheel in Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour was a little tourist trappy for my taste, but was jam-packed with restaurants, shopping, the aquarium and other touristy things to do, a cool maritime museum I didn’t get to see, the convention center, and really high caliber street performers. I spent a fair amount of time here. 

Floaties in Darling Harbour

Sunday, January 28

I hopped down to Circular Quay and onto a ferry to Manly Beach. Walked that beach a bit, hopped the ferry back, decided I wasn’t done and hopped another ferry to Milson’s Point to check out Luna Park – which was cool, looks a crazy amount like the Luna Park in Coney Island (for good reason – it’s modeled after it), headed back to The Rocks to check that museum out and learn more about Sydney’s early history, walked the craft market going on there, grabbed Korean bbq on the way back to the hotel, and called it a night.

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The Sydney Harbour Bridge from the ferry

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Pulling into Manly Bay

Manly Beach – super crowded the day I went (I think there was some sort of kids surfing or other water sport thing going on), but full of cute little beach shops and restaurants. 

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The beach

From the ferry. The ferry system in Sydney is robust, convenient, and provides a great way to see the city. 

The Opera House looking all cinematic

Yes – this is a *lot* like the one in Coney

In fact, it was modeled after it. 

Part 2

Part 3