On May 3 we arrived in Sydney, after 24 hours of recycled air and uncomfortable seats. It was a long journey, but as we descended, a glorious Sydney sunrise greeted us, coloring the harbor and the sky in brilliant pink and orange. Then we saw a rainbow in the distance as our flight taxied in. All was good. We semi-breezed through customs (I say “semi” because I wasn’t processed successfully and had to turn back to see a human instead of a computer). Eric snatched our luggage from the carousel and we took the train for 25 minutes to get close to our hotel. We were slightly directionally challenged at first, trying to figure out which way to walk to the hotel, but can you blame us? Our internal compasses were completely turned around. We’re down under now!
We made it to our hotel, showered (it was glorious after such a long journey – I felt like a cicada shedding my skin), and had to deal with the first order of business: BREAKFAST! Or should we say brekky? We meandered down to Darling Harbour, checked out the restaurants along the Cockle Bay, and stopped to eat at the first one that said “Aussie Brekky.” Eggs, sausage, bacon (which is like a cross between American bacon & Canadian bacon), fried tomato, sautéed mushrooms, hash browns, toast. It hit the spot. And the eggs were SO good – somehow they are different from back home… the yolk was much oranger than what we’re accustomed to. Oh, and Eric had some difficulty with his coffee. All he wanted was just a regular black. Apparently a “long black” doesn’t exactly translate to black coffee – it was very dark and bitter… more like an espresso. Poor Eric.
We continued to walk around Darling Harbour. It’s beautiful. It was a chilly, calm, peaceful morning. It was only around 9 a.m., there were no crowds. Eric and I were just speechless over how utopian everything seemed. Clean, safe, a fun park for families, every thing around this Harbour seems thoughtfully placed. Hardly anything is concrete or paved here; it’s all bricked, landscaped, manicured and aesthetically designed. We crossed the bridge over Darling Harbour and Eric stopped dead in his tracks, then was pulled like he was being sucked by a black hole: ice cream. Swiss ice cream. So yes, Eric & I enjoyed two scoops of Swiss ice cream on the harbour after a giant Aussie Brekky before it was even 10 a.m. Hey – we’re on vacation!
We had to take a post-flight, post-food catnap. Waking up after an hour felt torturous. My body was buzzing and dizzy and had become one with the bed. But I hoisted myself up and we explored Sydney. On weekends in Sydney, several streets shut down in The Rocks. The area is transformed into a little marketplace, tents lining the street, full of vendors peddling clothing, food, crafts, art, and more. We spent a solid amount of time investigating these tents and dipping into art galleries along the road. There are definitely some distinctly Australian crafts you don’t see from home – boomerangs, digeridoos, motifs of kangaroos and the Opera House – all things that further confirmed that yes, we have made it down under.
After a few purchases, we visited Sydney Harbour where we were greeted by the grandeur of the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Now, the Opera House is one of those iconic landmarks that has a LOT of expectation to live up to… it didn’t disappoint. As soon as we turned the corner and those giant pearl sails gleamed in the sun, I couldn’t stop a “WOW!” from escaping. It’s truly impressive and enormous, and no photo could ever do it justice.
Since it’s autumn here, night falls rather early. By 6pm the sun is set, darkness takes over, and the lights of Sydney begin glittering. We ended our evening by enjoying a nice dinner at The Meat & Wine Co. of Sydney in Darling Harbour. We indulged on some shiraz as we waited and by the time a table was available, we were fortunate to be brought to the top level of the restaurant right at the window – a perfect, unobstructed view. Eric ordered a kangaroo steak and loved it. I ordered a Monte beef filet – from the best cow breeders, meat aged for 21 days. It was incredible. At around 8:30, there was a huge BANG. A fireworks show began in Darling Harbour, and we had the best seats.
I don’t think I could have described a more perfect ‘First Day in Sydney’ if I tried.