Summer in December: My Sydney Holiday Getaway

Before 2018 ended, I ticked off yet another goal in my bucket list: solo trip outside the country. This trip was a bit unplanned. I only decided on it barely 4 months before my travel dates. I flew to Sydney to visit my brother and spend Christmas and the New Year there.

The trip to Sydney was everything I hoped for. It was bright, sunny, and warm. The kind of comforting warmth you feel when your hands are freezing and you hold a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Speaking of coffee, it’s one of their best assets in the food and beverage department. All the caffeine I consumed while I was there were nothing short of great.

The Sydney City Experience

Sydney is a melting pot. There’s a bit of everything and everyone in this city. Mode of transportation is a breeze; from the trains, buses, down to the ferries — they’re all easily accessible to anyone in a tap or swipe. Like what most people say, this city is generally laid back; flip flops, tank tops, and daisy dukes are staple fashion ensembles. It’s heaven for health and fitness junkies, too; almost all restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan options, and there are yoga studios and topless runners in every corner . It’s conveniently livable (especially if you’re alone), but only if you can afford it.

Christmas day at about 6pm. After our holiday barbecue, brother took me to see the Opera House and the Harbour — two of the city’s main attractions that make Sydney one of a kind.

I arrived a day before Christmas and it was HOT. I had sunburns on my shoulder the next day. Sunscreen was a pre-requisite when going out as the sun was particularly stingy on the skin in this side of the world.

I spent my first week roaming the city; visiting museums, parks, and famous sightseeing spots. I joined the I’M FREE WALKING TOUR, a tip-based tour that lets you decide and pay what the tour is worth for you in the end. I highly recommend this if you’re traveling solo and want to see as much of the city through a local’s perspective. The guides are very accommodating too when you ask about local food stops and activities.

Of course, I didn’t miss laying my eyes on the face of Australia – the Sydney Opera House. It’s an impressive structure and very intriguing because of the drama it went through to get it built (the designer quit midway construction and was neither invited nor recognized for his work during the inauguration). Crazy, right?

 

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Australian Beaches

One my favorites was when I moved to a new Airbnb that’s much closer to the beach in anticipation of my birthday. I stayed in a private room at an apartment in South Coogee. For six days, I lived a few steps away from a cliff overlooking the sea with a magnificent pathway leading to Sydney’s famous beaches.

 

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I would wake up early in the morning to run the pathway and back, then chill on a park bench just watching the waves crash onto the stone cliffs. It was a moment that put me in a state of calmness and serenity. I wish anyone can freely have that kind of moment before they go about their busy day.

 

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After I’ve seen most of the free parks and museums by myself, I got to a point when I got tired of being on my own. So, I booked a local tour guide on Airbnb named Lisa and she took me to the different Aboriginal art rock engravings around Bondi. The history of these carvings dates back to the 1500s when Spanish ships sailed to discover new islands and look for spices. It has been speculated that the carvings reveal that Britain’s ships may not be the first to arrive in Australian lands, which was recorded to have been in the 1770s.

 

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Sydney Art and Graffiti

Much like the parks, art is everywhere. From free art museums to wall graffitis, Sydney doesn’t seem to run out of inspiration. A friend of mine suggested that I check out Newtown, a suburb in the inner west of Sydney that boasts of it’s amazing graffitis. Here are some of my favorites:

Then there’s Bondi’s trippy-colored boardwalk…

The Great Outdoors

We spent Christmas the Aussie way – BBQ on a sweltering afternoon at my brother’s co-worker’s backyard. It was a welcome change to how I used to spend the usual noche buena and Christmas back home. For one, I didn’t have to sit through titas commenting on how much weight I’ve gained (even if I didn’t). Ha!

On the 28th, my brother took me hiking to the Blue Mountains — a vast mountainous region northwest of Sydney. According to the guides, the place got its name because of the abundant eucalyptus plants that emit a blue haze causing the mountains’ surface to appear with a tinge of blue.

 

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What is an adventure if not for misadventures? The hiked proved a bit challenging because we got lost in the woods… on a 34-degree hot afternoon. I didn’t mind getting lost and discovering new paths but the heat was a bit of an inconvenience because I forgot to pack additional hydration. Nevertheless, I took advantage of it by taking photos, since there were little to no people crossing our paths.

The trip was one for the books. I always think about my life as one big storytelling series for my future grandkids; the kind of story they will brag about to their friends. This trip deserves a part of that series. The whole experience may have put a huge dent on my savings account but over the years I’ve traveled and saved, I’ve learned that these expenses are the ones that leave a lasting impact even long after the bills have been paid.

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