Martinis Down Under–Exploring Sydney

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I had high expectations visiting Sydney, one of the world’s true globally connected cities.  After six days in and around the city, I left with a wonderful impression and a strong desire to return.

  1. Introduction and Trip Planning
  2. LAX Oneworld First Class Lounge
  3. Qantas A380 LAX to SYD Economy
  4. Park Hyatt Sydney Part I
  5. Sydney Qantas Business Lounge
  6. Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas
  7. Exploring the Great Barrier Reef
  8. Cairns Qantas Club Lounge
  9. Park Hyatt Sydney Part II
  10. Exploring Sydney
  11. Sydney Qantas International First Class Lounge
  12. Qantas 747 SYD to LAX Economy

After dropping our bags off at the Park Hyatt Sydney, we headed out for a stroll.  We circled the Quay and the Sydney Opera House into the Royal Botanic Garden.


It became immediately apparent that they can pretty much grow anything they want here given the climate.  Each beautifully manicured tree has a sign at its base revealing its origin, most of which were from places 1000s of miles away.


Sydney is built on the hills surrounding Port Jackson, more commonly known as Sydney Harbor.  Essentially there are miles and miles of gorgeous coastline taking one all the way out to the ocean.

We kept strolling until we reached Woolloomooloo harbor.  There were more gorgeous views along with some ritzy food establishments.


The hotel built on the wharf was the former W Sydney, though now is a Taj hotel.  The structure is very unique and very chic.


Sydney was expensive enough so the fancy seafood restaurants weren’t too appealing to us.  We stopped at a nearby pub for some beers and pub fare.  In general, Food throughout our time in Sydney was never a highlight. We never had bad food but nothing stood out.  Rest assured, there are several world renowned restaurants in Sydney if that floats your boat.


Circling back towards Hyde Park we took in a few more of the impressive architecture around the city center.


The next day we grabbed a Harbor ferry to Manly Beach.  There was a nice little town center with food and then a long beautiful beach full of surfers.  We walked several miles through nearby Sydney Harbor National Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.  It was all gorgeous.


The nice thing about Sydney is that all the stereotypical Australian animals are just walking around the city.









OK, just kidding. Animal sightings were sadly nonexistent up north in Port Douglas so we were forced to go to the Sydney zoo to get our fix in.  I took away the impression that Australia is very concerned about their dwindling (quintessentially Australian) animal population.

We considered paying the hefty fee to do the Sydney bridge climb but the Park Hyatt Sydney concierge actually steered us towards a cheaper alternative.  In one of the pillars of the bridge, you can pay a small fee to climb to the top and get similar views.  The panoramic views of the harbor and city were spectacular.



The bottom line

Sydney reminded me of what it would be like if you picked up Chicago and moved it to San Diego.  The city is large and metropolitan yet sits in a beautiful oceanfront location with fantastic weather.  Sydney definitely met my high expectations and seems like a city I could easily live but a lot of that is because it felt so familiar.  Deep down, I was hoping to find something a little more different on the opposite side of the planet.  The city is great but don’t surprised if you leave feeling like it’s just a slightly cleaner version of major US cities.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at

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  1. “Sydney reminded me of what it would be like if you picked up Chicago and moved it to San Diego.” – Most unique description of Sydney I’ve read… love it!

  2. Bridge Climb is great. I don’t think you can compare it to the pillars. You have nice view from the pillars but the bridge climb is more about the experience, the adventure. Steep fee but memories will last forever.

  3. Steep fees, I’d rather pay the $11 for the pylon and take the other $200 and buy a helicopter tour. LOL. Steep fees are one thing, milking tourists is another. I’m glad you mentioned the pylon. I didn’t even know it existed!

  4. We were in Sydney 3 weeks ago (2nd visit)and really loved it! I agree – it does feel a bit like Chicago. Great food, architecture, art etc.
    However, I found Sydney to be cleaner than any US city. The people also looked generally healthier (slim, tan) and more attractive (well dressed) than those in most US cities.
    We really enjoyed our time there and very much look forward to going back.

  5. There are quite a few sections of Sydney that aren’t particularly “clean” but they are away from the tourist areas.

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