School got out for Spring Break at 3:10 on Friday. Only seven hours later, I was on a 13-hour flight to Sydney, Australia with my parents, my brother, and my sister. I sat by the window so I could take Hyperlapse videos of landing in Sydney the following day and slept most of the flight. I dreaded the long flight, but it turned out to be much smoother than I expected. Okay, so it wasn’t literally smooth because there was a lot of turbulence over Hawaii and the Pacific, but for whatever reason I enjoy turbulence. Whenever the pilot announces turbulence and whenever I hear the ding of the seatbelt light turning on just before the flight gets rocky, I feel calm. To me, turbulence is not only fun, but it also rocks me to sleep. So yeah, I slept a lot that flight.
The only problem was that my brother and I were seated next to this guy whom I had to climb over every time I went to the bathroom and who piled his trash on the floor in front of him. In fact, I even slipped over his trash pile when I got up to see my sister mid-flight.
I woke up about two hours before landing and read a book until getting to Sydney. The Customs line was extremely long and when we got out, my dad spent an hour trying to buy a SIM card, so my mom, brother, sister, and I went to get some coffee. This was my first taste of the Australian chai tea lattes, which (trust me) are different than the ones I get in LA. They’re a thousand times better. I guess it’s that they’re sweeter, but if any of you know why the Aussie chai lattes are better, please DM me on Instagram or write a comment explaining it because I don’t know how long I can last without it in LA.
Finally, we got out of the airport and waited in yet another long line to get a cab. I found out Aussies drive on the left side of the road as our driver took us to the Intercontinental right on Sydney Harbour. It’s a beautiful hotel with amazing service, comfy beds, and it’s in a fantastic location. Only a six or seven-minute walk away is the world-famous Opera House. Walk out the door and down a short hill and the Harbour Bridge is right in front of your eyes. Like every new location, it was surreal to be there at first. The Opera House, which I had seen so many times in photos, was staring me in the face. Sydney was a gorgeous city.
The problem was that the whole (first) time I was there, it rained. Hard. I was definitely unprepared for the weather. I packed a lot of bathing suits and tank tops, expecting Oz to be hot, as their summer has just ended. Nope. It was a lot colder than I expected. It was okay though because the cold was just an excuse for me to get more chai lattes. So the first day, we just explored Sydney and walked around Circular Quay and The Rocks.
The second day began with a trip to the Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney, which was a highlight because I love aquariums. Of course, it wasn’t Barcelona, where I got to dive with sharks, but it was still pretty amazing. From penguins to dugongs, that aquarium has it all. The aquarium is divided into different attractions. My favorite one was where we got to ride a Small World from Disneyland-type boat through the penguin exhibit. We watched penguins being fed and I even got to stand right next to one (ignore the fact that there was a glass wall between us). We ate lunch at the Queen Victoria Building and explored Sydney’s CBD, then went up the Westfield Tower to get a better view of the city. My dad and I were so close to doing the Tower’s skywalk, which is where you get to walk outside the building with the city below you. The day didn’t end there. I walked through Hyde Park with my sister and father and remembered the sacrifices soldiers make to keep the world free every day at the ANZAC Memorial. Finally, we went to Chinatown for dinner and I got boba (my fave drink) in Sydney.
I spent the next day at Taronga Zoo where I saw lemurs up close and watched a Tasmanian devil being fed*. Tasmanian devils have always been some of my favorite animals and I was really excited to see them. Taronga is on the opposite side of Sydney Harbour than the Circular Quay, so you have to take a boat to get there. I can’t imagine using ferries as a form of public transport or taking a ferry every time I wanted to go to the LA Zoo. After the ferry, you can take a gondola, bus, or a hike to the entrance of the zoo. My family took the gondola for a better view of the city. Seeing elephants in the foreground with the Sydney skyline in the back was pretty unreal. The zoo is divided into different sections for different animals, so there were different areas for various regions. The animals there were interesting and unique and, aside from the tassie, we saw a lot of other animals being fed also. Later that night, my family met up with my uncle who lives in Sydney at a nice Italian restaurant outside of Luna Park called Ripples. It was really good and seeing my uncle was amazing too! It’s pretty cool to know people from Poland to Australia.
I spent the final day in Sydney at Manly Beach, which is a beach (obviously) surrounded by a cute shopping strip and town. The beach was nice, but my dad lost his phone and we didn’t stay for too long. I shopped at Sportsgirl and got a denim skirt and a white shirt with a lightning bolt on it. The denim there was actually pretty nice considering the prices were pretty good. One of the things I really liked about Sydney was the setup. The area around my hotel had the Circular Quay, The Rocks, and the CBD/Queen Victoria Building, but just across the bay, Sydney looks more like the isolated beach of Yelapa near Puerto Vallarta in México. Manly and Bondi felt like completely different cities, even though they’re under an hour from the CBD.
Sydney has it all. From interesting museums to great shopping to delicious restaurants, there’s truly something for everyone in that city. And if you ever get tired of the city itself, you can easily (and cheaply) hop on a ferry and take a weekend trip to a suburb like Manly where you feel like you’re not even in a city at all.
Still, if you really want to experience unrestricted nature and being away from most hallmarks of modern society, we’re going to have to talk about the Great Ocean Road. But I’ll leave my stories about koalas and no wifi to the next post.
*Tasmanian devils are actually at risk of extinction due to a very contagious facial cancer which has ravaged native devil populations. They are adorable and very intelligent animals, and with humanity’s help, we can prevent tassies from going extinct. To learn more about these animals, please visit Devil Island Project and to donate to this cause, click here.