Head Down Under For G’Days And Great SightsRich In History And Loaded With Charm, Sydney Is A Shining City On The Sea
The capital of New South Wales, and one of Australia’s largest and most populated places, Sydney is best known for its laid-back attitude, beautiful beaches and some of the best quality of life on the planet.
Even though it’s reportedly one of the most expensive in the world, this shining seaside city nonetheless manages to be one of the highest-rated for livability. Green, serene and with a heck of a nightlife and surfing scene, it’s easy to see what draws people here.
Bustling and brilliant, this jewel on the Tasman Sea prides itself on its diversity—more than 250 languages are spoken and nearly 40-percent of the population comes from somewhere else—its countless green spaces, including Centennial Park, which has 540 acres of gardens and bike-friendly parkland; and more than 150 miles of shoreline, comprising hundreds of picturesque ports and harbours, about a hundred notable beaches, and dozens of distinctive islands. The weather is gorgeous, to boot. Sydneysiders, as the city’s inhabitants are called, lay claim to 338 days of clear ocean sunrises a year, with only 27 cloudy mornings annually on average.
Accessible and easy to travel, some of the standout places to visit in and around The Harbour City are the beaches. Most popular are best-known suburban surf spots, such as Bondi Beach (where Prince Harry and his bride, Meghan Markle most recently stopped and which is pronounced with a long “i,” much to our surprise) and the tourist town of Manly. There are also myriad waterfront attractions, such as the world-famous Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Luna Park amusement park, and a multitude of whale watching and sunset cruise tours.
Surprisingly pristine, this is a city that is keen on keeping a green profile and low carbon footprint. As a result, the natural coastline has changed very little in the modern age. Thus, seeing Sydney by boat, in my humble opinion, is the best way of all to experience it.
Other highlights a trip Down Under should include are the Royal Botanic Garden, the Sydney Tower, Sydney Aquarium, and Taronga Zoo, which literally has different animals than you’d see anywhere in this hemisphere, including cute wombats, eucalyptus-chewing koala, the rare cassowary, and free-range (to a point) kangaroos!
The history of Sydney, far too dense to go into here, is also quite fascinating. There’s a whole lot more to the story of the Aboriginal people, those shipments of convicts, of the men and women that tamed the land. A trip to one or more of the city’s many museums is a must.
Then there’s the architecture, which is stunning. An extensive array that visually illustrates the city’s 200-year history, it’s a compelling juxtaposition of old and new living in harmony. My favorite was the Queen Victoria Building in the central business district, close to Darling Harbour. That Romanesque Revival building, erected in 1893, occupies an entire block, and is by far the most elegant shopping center I’ve ever seen.
Of course Sydney is more than just its rugged landscape, tourist hotspots, grand architecture and natural beauty. The people there are equally attractive in their demeanor and welcoming spirit. No matter where you go, gregarious Sydneysiders are there to great you with “no worries,” a smile, and a damn fine cup of coffee. Seriously, the coffee in Sydney will spoil you for a jolt of java anywhere else in the world.
One of my top three travel destinations, so far, Sydney joins Copenhagen and London in my book of the best places in the world to visit. Beautiful, friendly, fun to explore and oh so inviting, it’s a very tough place to leave.