Saturday, June 1, 2013


after dropping the rental car off without any major incidents, katrina & i were off to an early start sunday morning to explore sydney. we began at circular quay, the main hub of sydney harbour. while we waited to meet up with carolyn for breakfast, we wandered around the southern shore of the harbour to an area known as the rocks. in the late 1700s, the first buildings constructed here were made of local sandstone- hence the name. many of the original buildings remain after being renovated; it was cool to see the contrast between their historical nature and the modernity evident in other parts of the city centre.

circular quay (we were quickly corrected in pronouncing quay as "key" not "kay" .. we're just silly americans)

walking towards the rocks

milk crate art in an alleyway in the rocks. at night they lit up, part of Vivid Sydney's many light installations (more about that later)

historical buildings + ivy

i really liked the ivy

market at the rocks, set up every weekend

after a delicious breaky of pancakes and eggs, we set off to walk across the sydney harbour bridge to catch some great views of the harbour and opera house. 

if you look closely you can see the opera house in the background of the rocks

the rocks, opera house, and circular quay

we saw people doing the popular BridgeClimb - i was just as happy walking across and seeing the same views without paying a couple hundred dollars

when i thought of sydney, the opera house was definitely one of the first things i pictured. awesome seeing it in person! such an intriguing structural design

view of the north shore

i wouldn't mind living in one of these apartments..

we continued our journey from the bridge down to darling harbour. (ps- i realized i've been spelling harbour the australian way.. am i finally blending in?!)

just a little ways away from darling harbour was the chinese garden of friendship. we admired the flora and classic chinese architecture before heading further into chinatown, where paddy's market awaited. paddy's market is this gigantic market that sells tons of cheap clothes and gifts; i was instantly overwhelmed and highly uncomfortable in such close proximity to so many people and so many souvenirs. however, the prices were so irresistible that i managed to sucked up the claustrophobia for fifteen minutes in order to get some new earrings and sunglasses before booking it out of there. 

the chinese gardens

we recovered from paddy's market by grabbing some bubble tea at a nearby cafe before heading out of chinatown. it was lovely wandering down the streets of sydney, going from one neighborhood to the next and seeing such a range of character. 

in hyde park, st. mary's cathedral in the background

eventually we made it to sydney's royal botanic gardens. the gardens seemed to go on forever, with inviting green fields, glistening fountains, and beautiful blooming flowers.

i enjoyed taking some macro shots as usual

dragon blood tree - i'd never seen one of these before! fallen over, but still growing

lovely spot for an afternoon nap

we then found ourselves once again in view of the opera house and decided to go check it out up close. while we weren't allowed in past the box office, we were able to admire the iconic white tiled roofs. gleaming in the sun, they reminded me of abstract sails or shells. (or maybe orange slices, according to katrina)

of course we had to get some tasty pastries and take an artsy shot of them

as we left the opera house, we saw a castle-like building overlooking the harbour. we discovered that this was in fact the government house. peeking in through the windows, we caught a view of the luxurious interior - the surrounding gardens were just as gorgeous. 

just relaxing at the "house"

as dusk approached, we walked toward macquarie point to get the best view of the opera house and bridge silhouetted in the glow of the evening sun. after so much walking, our aching feet thanked us as we laid on the grass and enjoyed yet another beautiful australian sunset.

we consulted our bible, aka my guidebook, once the sun had gone down and decided to go check out lord nelson's hotel & brewery, argued to be the oldest hotel in sydney. the trusty guidebook suggested we try lord nelson's home brewed Quayle Ale, named after the former US vice president who had once enjoyed a beer at the same spot.

as we made our way back to circular quay, night time sydney was alive with elaborate light displays. we had unknowingly planned our trip during vivid sydney, a two and a half week long festival of light and music. every night, various buildings and installations were colorfully illuminated.

a smoking red orb.. interesting

the best display was hands-down the opera house. we walked back up to the bridge avoid the crowds down at circular quay and were rewarded with the best views of the light show. it was so cool watching the colors and patterns dance along the roof - we are still mystified as to how the light can be projected so perfectly along its contours. 

what an incredible city! although we only really walked around for just a day, i feel like katrina & i got a strong sense of what sydney is like. this trip was pretty impulsive- we decided to come down not really knowing what to expect, and i am 100% glad we did. 

the next day we were off to manly beach for surfing and hiking..

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