Book your flight now for the best ribs you’ll ever had…
Okay, so this is rather a VERY long overdue post, since I had the trip on summer last year. You see this trip was rather on the spur of the moment. My dear uncle had been wanting to book his kids in a trip abroad with me and my brother, but no real plan ever came into being… up until a month or so before our departure. So after a quick planning and arranging, we finally traveled to Australia—this time we went to Sydney and Melbourne. The planning part wasn’t that arduous actually, since I’ve been to Melbourne and my brother visited Sydney with my parents two years ago. The tricky part was arranging the whole trip, especially applying visa.
However, we had an amazing 3-day vacation in Sydney! This is my first time ever to visit the city and it was incredible. I had the greatest culinary (and alcohol LOL) experience here, everything was beautiful, and I can’t recommend a trip to Sydney highly enough! Even the cold wintry weather was worth everything! So if you fancy a great dinner with ribs and wine, beautiful buildings, and ferrying by the river, grab your notes—here’s my city guide for a trip in Sydney…
How to Explore
We managed to find CGK-SYD tickets at a great deal on Traveloka via Malaysian Airlines. Though we had some concerns about flying with the carrier (noting the accidents and incidents), I think our flying experience was rather okay. We had SYD-MEL later via Jetstar and couldn’t help but hate it. It was a busy morning when we checked in and the front-desk lady was very rude and not really helpful with everything. It really didn’t sit well on us since it’s freezing out there and we’re kinda lack of sleep. Had to hold the urge to complain because we just don’t want to waste our time on such lousy service and attitude.
Anyways, Sydney has ride-sharing pick-ups like Uber and Lyft, which also available at Sydney Airport. But taxis are easy enough to find and they accept passengers in a group (and a lot of baggage) too, so the ride cost us quite reasonable price. Since we stayed in the middle of the city, which’s very close to any tourist destinations, we found ourselves doing a lot of walking. However, we used the good ol’ Google Maps app to navigate and find the most efficient transportation to get around. For long-haul destinations, we switched to using buses and trains, and I’d recommend purchasing the Opal rechargeable card for this. You can get it from most convenience stores. Opal can be used for buses, trains, light rails, and even ferries! We once tried the Sydney Ferries service to get around Circular Quay by the river and it was awesome!
Where to Go
On our first evening in Sydney, we decided to check out Hyde Park and thought there’s nothing special about the park, except being a lovely and peaceful place in the edge of the CBD. But when we visited the park at midday on the next day, I finally got why Hyde Park becomes one of the popular place in the city. Turns out it’s a busy park where people and local communities do various activities. It’s perfect for a long stroll circling the park or a little picnic time on the green grassy field.
We enjoyed a warm afternoon at Darling Harbour, but after the sun set and the cold crept in, we went to Circular Quay by ferry and I’d recommend everyone to try it. The ferry service has the most scenic routes (watch the sunset disappear behind the Sydney Harbour Bridge by the river? LUSH). We managed to get a great view from the bridge and see the opera house glowed up for the Vivid Sydney festival (it was SO COOL). If you’re visiting on the festival dates (it would be on May 24th this year!), I’d recommend going at night to get the atmosphere. Everyone said to visit the Blue Mountains but we decided not to go this time and gave the nature attractions a chance when we’re in Melbourne.
If you’re into awesome buildings, with a little bit of history and many interesting facts, then I think you’ll fancy a tour inside the Sydney Opera House. Not gonna tell you about the whole thing, but I can make sure that it’s really worth the quite pricey admission. The iconic building is connected to the Royal Botanic Gardens too, where you can enjoy a pleasant walk and a great view to the opera house and the harbour bridge. For a more picturesque photo spot, I’d suggest you to take a long walk to the Mrs. Macquaries Point lookout area.
And although Sydney’s mostly freezing at that time, we braced the cold wind and took a bus to Bondi Beach. I’ve seen more beautiful beaches in Indonesia, but Bondi was still worth the long and cold trip. It’s a very iconic beach and there are some great photo spots, like the mural wall and—well—the beach. I also love the Queen Victoria Building, which is so beautiful inside and out with the art deco style. I was so marveled at the architecture that I forgot to take more pictures of the building AND in the building. QVB basically is a shopping, dining, and entertainment center, which also accommodates offices, showrooms, and a concert hall.
Where to Stay
Renting an AirBnB unit in Sydney is unfortunately quite pricey, especially renting units around the CBD or tourist destinations area. So if you’re going on a budget, I’d recommend you to book hostels or backpacker’s inn instead. We spent two nights at Westend Backpackers Sydney (booked through Traveloka)—not really the best nights, but enough to crash out on the bunk beds. However, the location is definitely five-rated since the lodge is in the heart of the CBD and… it’s the cheapest hostel that we found in the area. However, if you don’t really mind to chip in more for accommodations, there are a lot of nicer units on AirBnB with good location.
Where to Eat
We mostly cooked our own food (#backpackerslyfe fo’ sho) and did some grocery-shopping at the Woolies or any nearest supermarkets. However, we REALLY love Macchiato, where we got our first lunch in the city. It’s also quite close to our stay and we were kinda curious about the wood fire pizza. The place was super cozy, with live music performances every night. Everything we ate there was delicious—the pizza (it’s excellent, BTW), the chips (at first we had a bit of culture confusion by ordering “fries” instead of “chips”), the starters… everything.
We also love our big warm feast at Hurricane’s Grill, right after having a cold day at Bondi Beach. The steak place is known for having the best ribs in the city and it was so ZAMN GEWD. The pork ribs are to die for and I also love their original sauce. I’ve never tried such tasty and delicious steak in my whole life until the one I had at Hurricane’s. It’s highly recommended! Another steak place where we had a great dining experience was the Ribs & Burgers, which’s just a little walk from the Vivid Sydney venue and the harbour bridge. It’s famous for the wagyu burgers but I loved the ribs and grilled proteins more. The place’s also great with relaxing and cozy ambiance.
Where to Shop
Prior to the trip, Mom repeatedly reminded us to visit the Paddy’s Market, since it’s the biggest and most popular market in Sydney, where cheap souvenirs are. Hence it’s a recommended place to visit for tourists. But my brother took us on a Tuesday (the market is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays), so it’s quite a bummer. We didn’t really do much shopping in Sydney (since I’d been eyeing my shopping list for when we arrive in Melbourne later), and was actually hoping to buy a thing or two at Paddy’s. However, my cousin Ivan loved King Comics, which’s just a 5-minute walk from our stay. He’s not a nerd as you’d imagine for someone who goes to comic book stores. The store’s actually worth a wander if you love collectible pop culture merchandises and toys too. Ivan had himself a ‘Big Bang Theory’ keychain there, while I almost bought me a Groot funko figure.
Photographs by Ruth Vania Christine and Ivan Abram Pasaribu