We were super excited about exploring Sydney. Both Martin and I had been there almost 20 year ago, before we met, and in my head, it was one of the coolest cities in the world. Would Sydney live up our expectations this time? Now as a full-time traveling family with two boys 9 and 12 years old.
Sydney from Up Above
We did get a great start to Sydney. Arriving by plane from Melbourne, we flew directly over the city on a beautiful day with a clear blue sky, and we got a good view of the city, the Opera House and Sydney Habour Bridge from the plane… we were even more excited now.
We quickly made it to our rented apartment, located in China town between the Central Station and Darling Harbour. A great place, where we could walk to most places or easily take the light rail (tram) or train. We have also learned that we like to have a two-bedroom apartment with living room/kitchen when we are staying in a place for more than a week. Since we like to start the day getting some work done and the kids doing a bit of homeschooling, it’s nice to have some space, as opposed to a hotel room. And for the obvious reasons, that we can cook a bit and generally be more comfortable.
The first evening we just explored our neighborhood right across from Paddy’s Market (with stalls selling everything from fruit/veggies to clothes and cheap tourist stuff and gadgets) and just about 500 meters from Darling Harbour! We were so happy with what we saw, and we couldn’t be more excited to get back out and continue exploring Sydney.
We spend our second day walking around all of Sydney. In a few minutes we were on George Street, walked down this central street, exploring some side streets and eventually ended up in the Rocks, where there was a food market in the streets. After a few little stops here and there, checking out the mall in the pretty Queen Victoria Building (QVB to the locals) and the huge underground maze of streets connecting the different streets underground, trying some yummy food, doing some people watching and coffee drinking, we walked underneath the impressive Sydney Harbour Bridge and down to one of the best vista points for the architectural masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House, by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon. One thing that we quickly learned… Sydney Harbour is frequently home to huge cruise ships incl. all passengers, completely blocking the view of the Opera House, so to have a full view along the Circular Quay was such a joy.
In the next days we went on a free guided walk with a very knowledgeable guide, sharing lots of history, interesting and fun facts as well as her own experiences in this awesome city. We went through different areas of the city, the spectacular Botanic Gardens, we were guided this time through the endless underground mall and streets and once again ended up in the Rocks this time checking out a new chess stand… for hours. Even though it was a long walk with a lot of information the boys really enjoyed it (most of the time) and we all learned so much about Sydney, its buildings and history.
Now, the Sydney Opera House was something we were all super excited about. Not only because of its beauty, but also because of its Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who was a neighbor of Martin’s grandmother and the boys thought that was extra cool. We decided that we had to experience the Opera House from the inside, so we got tickets for a show called Opera Hits. The boys got to choose the performance and we were all very happy with the choice. “It is an opera house after all” as they said, so that was what we went with. It was 15 of the most classic and famous pieces of Opera, so the boys did at least recognize some of the pieces. It was such a special experience and we all enjoyed it tremendously. To finish off the day, we celebrated our experience with oysters, drinks and kangaroo burgers on the Sydney waterfront.
Back home in our apartment the boys created new and every day more and more sophisticated caves – moved all furniture around and did their homeschool inside their cave – fun, creative and they were kept busy before we went exploring for the rest of the day.