Some things are worth waiting for. You’ll have no regrets about flying the nearly 23 hours from New York to Sydney, Australia. The land down under should be high on your bucket list.
You’ve probably been mesmerized by the shots on New Year’s Eve of the fireworks in Sydney Harbor way before we see the ball drop in Times Square. But seeing the harbor and the Opera House in person is breathtaking. What a feat of architecture. There’s a good reason it’s a World Heritage listed building. There are more than 1 million tiles made in Sweden that are sitting over the structure. It took 14 years to build and involved 10,000 construction workers. Take a behind-the-scenes tour and learn about the history of the building and hear stories about the great performers who’ve graced the stages.
That beautiful harbor is also where you can get quite a thrill ride. The Oz Jet Boating experience is a must. When you’re not hanging on for dear life, you can see the Opera House, Clark and Shark islands, harborside mansions, Taronga Zoo and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. But mostly, you’ll do a bit of screaming as the boat spins, slides, power-break stops and fish-tails. Take your sunglasses off, and be prepared to get soaked, despite the ponchos they give you. The music is blasting, the guide will likely tease you and make you feel like you’re a wimp. It’s all good fun.
Recover with a relaxing walk through the Royal Botanic Garden. There are thousands of plants, flowers, trees, birds, fruit bats and water dragons. The Calyx is a world-class horticultural space, with changing exhibitions designed that will surely capture your imagination. You won’t believe you’re still in the city. There is no entry fee for the gardens.
With an appetite worked up, you’re ready to enjoy one of the best things about Sydney—the food! In this multicultural city you can find a cornucopia of cuisine. The scene at Mr. Wong is warm, with dim lighting, a lavish French-colonial setting with jazz playing. The vibe is cool. You could be in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. The food is modern Cantonese and with some 80 dishes you might have a hard time choosing. Pick several and share. The creative cocktails top off the night. Try the hibiscus-infused Antica Formula, Aperol, Camppari and kaffir lime-infused Beefeater gin, stirred down over block ice, or the strawberry-infused Absolut Elyx vodka, shaken with Lillet Blanc, jasmine and vanilla. Topped with lemon and soda. Sweeter still, the service is stellar.
When you call it a day, the place to lay your head is the newly $50 million renovated, five-star Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park. It’s opposite Hyde Park and near St. Mary’s Cathedral and many other attractions. There’s a rooftop health club, indoor heated pool and spa with sweeping city views. Be sure you make your way to the Sheraton Club Lounge, Sydney’s
What better way to start your day than with a morning yoga class in Hyde Park? You’re in an oasis in the heart of the city. Afterward, eat a hearty breakfast and get ready for more adventure with a Sydney Harbor Bridge climb. Take in the 360-degree panorama of Sydney as you journey to the summit of the bridge. It takes about two hours and provides thrills and more thrills.
While you’re by the harbor take a pause and have cocktails at one of the many restaurants. Find an outside table and watch the beautiful sight of people of every color of the rainbow, and the sound of many languages, lots of young people, but also families, couples and elders. The good mood is infectious.
Your trip to Sydney must include dinner at Catalina Rose Bay, one of the city’s most iconic restaurants. You’ll love that 180-degree panoramic harbor view. Catalina is among the Good Food Guide and Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurants. Feast on 24-hour, slow cooked pork shoulder, crackling, kohlrabi, burnt kale and peaches. Then there’s poached western Australian marron, radishes, aioli, dill and orange dressing, or the pan-seared sea scallops, sautéed squid, chargrilled sweetcorn, chipotle and romesco crumb. There are no bad choices.
What takes you by surprise is the awesome beaches. The Clovelly Beach to Bondi Beach coastal walk provides plenty of awe. It’s about a 7-mile coastal cliff-top walk. Take in the ocean pools, a cemetery, surfers and secret coves. You’ve likely never seen water quite so green. You can picnic or pop in Icebergs, the popular Biondi Beach waterfront restaurant for seasonal Italian dishes.
If you’re into nightlife, Sydney has its scene. If you’re in the know you can find the cool clubs and speakeasies. Art aficionados will get their fill at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. With all the great seafood you eat while you’re there you can get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Sydney Fish Market, which is the southern hemisphere’s largest fish market.
The bottom line, Sydney is special, like no place else. You’ll certainly miss hearing, “G’day mate.”