Sydney is NOT the capital of Australia. Canberra is. Rather, Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales. And it is a most charming state capital. Earlier, I didn’t think much of Sydney. While I love the harbour bridge, opera house and adore Darling Harbour, it ended there. This recent trip of mine changed all that.
The Iconic Sydney Opera House
View of Sydney Olympic Park while having breakfast in “Lilies On The Park”.
This old hag from the Tropics arrived in the dead of a mild winter. Mild, for them. And I came NOT as a tourist but for very personal reasons. All of 6 weeks without stepping foot outside of the state of New South Wales. I wasn’t keen to “tour” around, having visited twice before, and really, not having much by way of expectations. But the family decided for me. After all, we needed the “break”, and we wanted to feel “family”.
Kid-friendly. Seniors-friendly. Lake Belvedere in Sydney Olympic Park.
Finally. BONDI BEACH!
The last 2 trips, I have not visited Bondi Beach. Many friends asked why I missed it, and I grew tired saying there wasn’t time nor a chance. Next time I was asked, I decided to simply lie. And so my family thought it’s about time I come “clean” and finally dig my toes into Bondi sands. Winter or not! Luckily, we had a sunny break and Bondi Beach was teeming with wakeboarders and swimmers in scuba outfits. So, this is Bondi! Frankly, I prefer the more relaxed vibes in Manly Beach, Watsons Bay and Coogee Beach. But that’s just my opinion.
The 9 km walk along the coast. Manly Beach.
Coogee Beach. Lovely. Even with planes hovering above…
Once, I was given some “me” time when I met up with my niece in Hyde Park. I decided to go a couple of hours early. Enough time to round up the park and the gardens before visiting St. Mary’s Cathedral where a Filipino priest said Mass. It was tempting to just stay inside the Church given that cold afternoon. Determined not to “waste” the opportunity, I walked till I grew tired and cold. This stab at solitude was most comforting, if you ask me. Plus it allowed me to see and appreciate Sydney in a different perspective. This country puts a lot of importance on quality living considering its many parks, gardens and safe beaches. Whenever I find filtered water stations, clean toilets and train stations, safe beaches and jetties, I gain a newfound respect for Australia. What clinched it for me was really the fact that I felt safe and undisturbed while enjoying my “me” time. Something I failed to do in other cosmopolitan cities elsewhere in the world. (Read: no touts selling their wares, no beggars or bums asking for a cigarette stick, no pushing crowds).
St. Mary’s Cathedral
The only things that broke my “temporary break from society” were those magpies swooping down as if to hit them dumb ones like moí. I took cover in the shaded areas of the park and royal gardens and then sought comfort in one park corner watching chess played out in a giant board. I found this gem right beside the Saint James Station.
Doesn’t look like winter, right?
The Domain. Be warned. It can be a long walk!
When the magpies took leave, I started walking again towards the church. Right outside were a bride and groom likely doing their pre-nuptial shots. Garbed in their wedding outfits, it looked kind of odd to watch them reviewing their shots. Leaving the odd couple, I walked towards the square fronting the church (or is that the back?) and headed back towards Hyde Park. There I waited till my niece arrived. Thankfully, in time before i started freezing. 😉
Shall i call this the Church Plaza? Or Church Square?
I didn’t mean for this photo to come out this way. Seriously. 😉