We were staying in a funky studio in Surry Hills, courtesy of Airbnb, and the location was perfection. There was a fantastic independent coffee shop just up the road (very important for a Melbourne coffee snob like Alex!) and everything we needed for the weekend was right on our doorstep.
On our first afternoon we had lunch at said coffee shop, then walked to and through the Botanical Gardens, and before we knew it we were on the steps of the magnificent Opera House. After taking plenty of photos we decided to celebrate our 9th anniversary in style – with a lovely glass of sparkling wine overlooking the Harbour Bridge at sunset!
Later that evening we stopped for a cocktail at Hinky Dinks – highly recommended for the 1950s decor, attentive service and tasty concoctions. So far we were loving Sydney (sorry Melbourne!) – everything was just so picturesque and iconic and interesting and breathtaking.
The next day we hopped on a bus to Coogee and did the coastal walk up to Bondi. Although we were fully prepared for an off-road hike, clothed as we were in walking shoes and outdoorsy attire, the walk was actually paved and pretty flat, so we felt pretty daft. We stopped for lunch at Bronte, another lovely little beachside suburb (but with BIG waves that day!), and then carried on to Bondi. The beach was practically deserted (as you’d expect on a chilly winter’s day), but we did see the lifeguard station from Bondi Rescue, which reassured us that this was in fact the same beach that is famously packed all summer long!
That evening we found ourselves in need of another cocktail, so we dressed up a bit and headed to Eau-de-Vie – in their words ‘an intimate, dimly lit, jazz infused speakeasy’. The cocktails were delish and it was indeed dimly lit and very atmospheric. One of the hosts/waiters was a bit pretentious, so it was a good job that he wasn’t around when we tried to pay and our card was declined! (Fear not, we quickly used our trusty banking app to transfer some money from our savings account – what are savings for if not to be spent on delectable cocktails?!). We found a great little sushi place for dinner (not unlike Melbourne’s Ichi Ichi Ku), and then rounded off the night with a handmade choc-top (as seen on MasterChef Australia) and sundae from Gelato Messina – pure ice creamy heavenliness.
After waking from our food coma the next morning, we decided to hop on a ferry to Watson’s Bay for another coastal walk. I completely fell in love with Watson’s Bay – it’s absolutely beautiful, with amazing views over to Sydney Proper and some lovely beaches (plus signs of scuba diving and some interesting history to boot!). This time we wore normal shoes and clothes, but it turned out the walk was actually much longer, more off-road, and hillier than yesterday’s – ooops! When we finally got to our destination (Bondi again), our first stop was Matt Moran’s North Bondi Fish for a beer and some seriously good fish and chips. But we couldn’t indulge too much because dinner was already booked…
Just before 8pm we left our Surry Hills pad for the wonderfully short walk to Billy Kwong, Kylie Kwong’s super famous restaurant. The restaurant doesn’t look much from the outside – you might not give the place a second glance if you didn’t know what was inside. And in fact the interior is very simply decorated and understated too. But the food is spectacular! We loved every mouthful, from the pork belly special and stir-fried organic warrigal greens, to Billy Kwong’s signature crispy duck dish, which has been on the menu for a whopping 14 years.
The next morning it was already time to leave, even though we had barely scraped the surface of what’s on offer; we didn’t manage to check out The Rocks or any of the museums, there wasn’t time for a trip to Manly or the Blue Mountains, and it was too chilly to attempt surfing at Bondi. But we’re already planning our next trip, so there will be another chance to tick those things off our list, and more!
We’ve since come to the conclusion that Sydney is one of the best cities in the world to visit, and it’s impossible not to love it and constantly marvel at the sights. But we’ll never regret choosing to live in Melbourne – not just because of the better coffee, but because we arrived as strangers 9 months ago and yet somehow felt at home right away 🙂