Our Australian adventure started in Sydney. We arrived on Saturday evening, had a quick bite to eat and headed out to Newtown, King Street to stretch out our legs and have a few drinks.
We stayed at Meriton serviced apartments in Mascot, close to the airport, the train station was a 2 minute walk away from the apartment with regular trains into Sydney. Mascot is only two train stops into the city centre. The apartment was clean, spacious and had air conditioning (essential in summer!)
On Sunday we had a leisurely start to the day, with late Aussie breakfast (avocado and poached eggs) and headed to Bondi beach. To get around Sydney we chose public transport using Opal cards, similar to London’s Oyster card for trains, buses and ferries. The Opal card gives you cheaper travel and sets a limit of cost per day $15. The card itself is free, all you need to do is top it up to pay your fare. Bondi beach isn’t next to any train stations, so we travelled to Bondi Junction and got a bus to Bondi beach. We sunbathed all afternoon, and had a dip in the sea. Bondi beach has good waves, strong rifts and most of the beach is used for surfers, one section of the beach is flagged for swimming and the life savers and lifeguards monitor this area from 7am to 6pm every day. This beach is where the famous TV programme Bondi rescue is filmed; lucky we didn’t see any rescues whilst we were there.
In the evening we stayed in Bondi for a few drinks and nibbles at Mamasan, the cocktails were good and the Asia fusion tapas was delicious, we would highly recommend it. We went on for a few more drinks at Beach Road Hotel outdoor area and then Bondi Hotel.
I was still training whilst on holiday (less than normal but enough to not hinder the last few weeks of training). Monday morning, I headed over to North Sydney Olympic pool, it’s a very picturesque pool with amazing views of Sydney harbour bridge. The outdoor pool uses seawater, but is cleaned so the water is clear. Great facilities, big pool and sun loungers. Make sure you apply sun cream prior to swimming; I totally forgot and got a burnt back afterwards!
The rest of the day we fully embraced being a Sydney tourist. We walked over the Sydney harbour bridge, and walked to the Sydney Opera house. We had lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants at Sydney Opera house overlooking the harbour bridge, called Opera Kitchen. The Food was nice, a little more expensive but worth it for the views. I had chicken laksa and dumplings and the portion was massive, I couldn’t finish it!
In the afternoon we got a ferry to Manly beach from the harbour. The slow ferry takes 30 minutes and use can use your Opal card. There is a quicker ferry which takes 16 minutes but costs more and you cannot use the Opal card. We took the slower ferry, it operates every 30mins and you can take bikes with you at no extra cost.
Once you’re off the ferry it’s a short walk to the beach, Manly is a vibrant town with many shops and restaurants. Manly beach is much bigger than Bondi but personally I preferred Bondi. We spent the rest of the day on the beach, soaking up the sun. On the way, home we had a cheeky doughnut from Doughnut time, I had the salted caramel one. I found it quite doughy, the filling is put in the top of the doughnut (instead of the side) so it wasn’t evenly spread but still enjoyable. Maybe I just chose the wrong one.
Tuesday, we got up early, 4.45am and not for a flight! We got early tickets to climb Sydney harbour bridge at 6am. Prior to traveling to Australia I was contemplating whether or not to pay so much to climb the bridge (it was $565 for two adults). All my friends who have been before raved about it so I kind of thought-would I get this chance again? I chose the early slot as we had plans later in the day but it was also the cheapest time to go. When we arrived, we were put in groups, had a full safety briefing and changed into ‘jazzy’ boiler suits and caps. Our group had ten people in and we were guided up the bridge by Chris our climb leader. The climb isn’t too strenuous, it’s a slow pace and we stopped a few times during the climb for photos taken by Chris. There are even water fountains to have sips of water during the climb. We were given headphones prior to the climb and Chris describes the climb, bridge and local landmarks with a few jokes for good measure. The climb up and back down took about 2hr 30mins in total (about 3 hours from entering to leaving). I really enjoyed it, the views were amazing, going early meant it wasn’t too hot and we had the rest of the day to do other things. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, thanks to Fiona for encouraging me to book it!
After our climb, we went to FairPlay cafe by the harbour for breakfast, it did not disappoint. I had breakfast bruschetta, we shared corn fritters and Sam had a chicken sandwich, all very scrumptious, I particularly enjoyed the corn fritters.
For that day we hired road bikes from Livelo Sydney, good quality bikes with all the extras (bottles, puncture repair kit, helmet), all we needed was our bike shoes and they put on the appropriate pedals prior to our arrival. The staff were friendly and very accommodating. We headed north through Sydney and over the harbour bridge. Initially, we cycled on the A8 but the road was very busy, so we went along the coast line, stopping at most of the beaches to top up our water bottles. We ended up at Newport Beach and stopped there for lunch. Afterwards we cycled to Manly beach and got the ferry back to Sydney, 46miles in total. It was 34-36 degrees, very hot, so we took the ride easy and enjoyed the scenery. Ideally we should have cycled in the early morning when the temperatures are lower and less traffic on the roads. I’m at freshwater beach in this photo, sadly my phone battery died so didn’t take many photos that day.
Wednesday, we dropped the bikes off and I ran back to the apartment. We headed back to Bondi, I had a swim at Icebergs, outdoor Olympic pool by Bondi beach. The pool is filled with sea water and every Thursday they empty the pool to clean it. Swimming on Wednesday meant the water was quite murky, I couldn’t see the bottom of the pool and much in front. This was good practice for the open water conditions I require during open water swimming in triathlons. Being so close to the sea, occasionally you may feel the waves crashing over the sides into the pool as you swim. I was at Icebergs late morning, early afternoon and the pool lanes were not marked by ability but lucky the lanes are wide enough to overtake with ease. The swim was an experience in a beautiful setting.
From Bondi we walked to Coogee beach with my little brother James and Sam’s friend Jordan. The coastal walk takes you along seven beaches before getting to Coogee. It took us all about an hour and a half to walk at a leisurely pace in the heat. At Coogee beach we stopped off at the Pavilion for a few drinks and food. The pavilion has spectacular rooftop bar, with views over Coogee beach. The pizzas were delicious and very good value, although you had to go downstairs to order and eat them.
James and I, with Bondi beach in the background.
In the evening we went to Sydney festival, a music, art and performance festival across Sydney. The festival is free and many of the acts you don’t require tickets in advance. We watched a few cabaret acts, pole dancing, singing and aerial hoop at Hyde park.
Thursday, we continued our holiday to Melbourne.