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“Sydney Rocks!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Sydney

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Level Contributor
3 reviews
4 helpful votes
“Sydney Rocks!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2007

My 2nd time in Sydney but it was different from my 1st time. Weather-wise, pretty hot (where was autumn?!) but it was gd cos swimming at Manly was greattt! water's soooo cold... brrrrh! but the waves were fantastic... big huge ones... caught some and did some body surfing, so fun!!
Visited friends there too - everyone's just sooo nice! and warm and bright and so full of life!
Sydney - I'll see you again - and that's a guarantee!! :D

2 Thank pinkthyme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
203 reviews
86 helpful votes
“Things to do in Sydney”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2007

If you are in Sydney may I reccomend the following low cost things to do;

Get your orientation by taking the Sydney Explorer is soooo mainstream but it gives you a good luck around and helps you to get a feel for the city.

Take 2 Ferry Rides.

The Parramatta ferry which goes down the river to the city of Parramatta. It is a great ride and you get to see all the riverside suburbs from the ferry, great views and you see abit of where Sydney siders live. Great way to pass a few hours in the sun shine, take something to eat and drink.

Take the ferry from circular key to Manley which has a great beach good waves and there is some cheap eats and ice cream if you want to do the whole day. Great views of the Harbour, the Bridge, Opera house etc from the boat and reminded me of getting on the Staten Island ferry in New York.

Walk along the cliff top from Coodgee to Bondi or further if you are up to it. Amazing views we saw a whale less a 100 meters off shore and lots people with hot bodies struting and puffing their stuff which is allways amusing.

In Coodgee there is great fish shop as you go up the hill to wards the Media Hotel and the city bus stop to get home, it is not your deep fried fish rubbish, take it to the beach or hang out and watch the people.

If you are at the Bondi end Walk up Hall St a few hunderd meters and there is an internet cafe which has a fold up front window, have a coffee check out the people and use the intenet (with Hebrew key board if required).

Walk up to the Art Gallery of NSW in the park and check out the great instalation by Lynn Onis an aborginal guy from Victoria.

Cruise down King St in New Town in the evening, lots of cheap eats and funky cafes, get a bus from Central or ask a taxi driver to take you to where the cafes and resturants start. It is a pretty down beat looking area but the main road is safe it has that Venice LA or East village vibe.

Eat what Aussies call iceypoles and hangout on the steps or walk way around the Opera House. Great views, if it is afternoon or evening you can get a beer in the open air bar under the walk way (the beer isnt over priced tourist trap stuff) looking over the harbour and circular key while writing post card, reading your book.

Get a bottle of Australian Sparkling Wine and carton of fresh orange juice and a couple of glasses a few snacks (especially Australian cheese from Tasmania or king Island) and hit a park or beach and watch the sun come up or go down.

The main thing is Sydney is to walk, walk every where ,you can it is pretty safe by international standards, down town has great maps. Common sence applies, espeically at night and of course Friday & Saturday evenings it can be tough to get a taxi if you are young and have a hair cut.

Like I said, get take out food and sit around in some great parks like Elizbeth bay and watch the people and take it all in.

China town is a dud, the Observatory Resturant yawn!! Blue Mountains in big coach AHHHH. Harbour cuises forget it get the public ferry and read the guide book, Darling Harbour fine bit or toursit trap, The Rocks ok a bit tourist good way to kick off, Opel shops think I would rather poke my eyes out ! Casino whoops washing my hair that night. Power House Musem, Ok for Australians but doesnt let you in on anything Australian. Jetboat ride my advice save it till you get to New Zealand.

Other stuff, Fish Market and Paddies Market where good half day. Middle Eastern and Vietnamese Food was top stuff espeically if you can get out to right suburb . Canyoning in the Blue Mountians (if you do a tour of the mountians take a small company). If you have a car Royal National Park for the scenery, Palm Beach good national Park walk sensational beach ritzy looking houses and to see the Blue Mountians the drive along Bells Line of Road is worth it (cut across to Katoomba and and come back via the Western HWY). Allways use the orbital toll road for every thing around Sydney even though it doesnt look logical on the map. If you need a shopping fix go to the Queen Vic in the city or Bondi Junction if you want the Mall experience.

Have a great time and guys Aussies swim between the flags on surf patrol beaches cause lots of people who dont drown every year and beware of the Sydney driver and anything that says authentic or real Aussie.

5 Thank Kabwe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 19, 2006

Those who never see Australia miss a ton of excitement and one of the best vacation spots on the planet. And one of the jewels of Australia has to be Sydney.

Although Sydney, much like any other large city that also functions as more than a tourist destination, is larger than a lot of places you might visit, it has to be one of the most laid back places I've ever seen - not laid back as in sloppy - just a place that recognizes people come there for a good time.

Hats off to Qantas! From the moment you step on the plane, the flight attendants seem to anticipate your needs and are there before you can push the call button. The only down side to flying is it takes so damned long to get to Australia from LAX. However, Qantas feeds you well all through the flight. The GPS flight map is a wonderful creation - it keeps kids glued to the screen for hours watching the screens change and the plane move across the Pacific Ocean.

One thing no one tells you is that unless you've done a lot of homework about the destination, you arrive with an information vacuum. If you check out what to do and what to see online, you'll find a dizzying array of things, all saying about the same thing. Although it costs AU$15, the Luxe City Guide - Sydney, available as a duty-free item on the plane, is a handy thing to have if you're not quite sure about things such as restaurants, shopping places, etc. The Luxe Guide lays it all out for you, with irreverance and humor, so you'll be ready to hit the town when you arrive, armed with the best information available. We used it constantly throughout the trip. It was worth the money.

Upon arrival at Kingsford Smith Airport, the customs and imigration process isn't the pain you might expect it to be after 13 and a half hours on the plane. Once again, the Aussies seem to know that no one is feeling their best after the long flight and make the process as painless as possible - in and out quickly.

The currency exchange is located just outside the customs area, before you leave the terminal. One of your first surprises is getting a handful of the Aussie plastic money - the only curency that can legally be laundered. One thing that was a surprise is that after 11 pm, there are no taxis waiting outside the terminal. There's a number posted on a sign to tell you where to call to get a taxi. That's a little silly, in my opinion, although I assumed it was because the late flight we arrived on from LAX was probably the last international flight of the day and the taxis simply shifted over to the domestic side. It's a little strange to see a city of 4 million+ sort of take a nap like that and have the transportation dry up. It also would've been very annoying if we got outside after the deadline and had to call someone after all that time spent to get there. Also, for those not used to a lot of huimidity, stepping outside the terminal will wilt your socks until you get used to it.

Taxis have a bad rep and probably deservedly so. In the Luxe Guide, it warns that you have probably been in the country longer than your taxi driver. English did seem to be a challenge for the guy who drove us to the Marriott Sydney Harbour. First, it seems they offier you the chance to tell them which route you'd like to take. Those unfamiliar with the place may end up taking the long way to their destination if you answer incorrectly. Telling the driver to get you there using the quickest route seems to work best. It seems like common sense but why some folks arrive near midnight then end up going on a sightseeing tour in a taxi at night is beyond me. When we arrived at the Marriott, English was still a problem as I couldn't get the driver to take the tip I was offering. It may have something to do with the general lack of tipping prevalent in some areas. Although a lot of people don't expect tips, they'll gladly take them when offered. Many deserve the tip - but the jury's out on the taxi drivers falling into that category.

The Marriott Sydney Harbour (as opposed to another Marriott several miles away) is a great place. It's right in the middle of the Central Business DIstrict and a couple of blocks away from Circular Quay and all the other great places to visit within very easy walking distance. Marriott Sydney Harbour has views of the harbour and famous Opera House from floors 18 and above. Those views are breathtaking and worth the extra money any day of the week. Better still, if you can afford to upgrade to the very top executive suites, the views are even better.

Service generally in the Marriott Sydney Harbour is excellent. Housekeeping was particularly noteworthy. On the first night, we filled out a customer card that specified when we wanted the room to be done each day, as well as requests for things such as extra towels. Although we could've done this online ahead of time, it was good to see the housekeepers were interested in their guests and went way overboard to make sure we felt comfortable. They were quite pleasant conversationalists.

The Opera-House-view room was large enough for the two of us, although I wasn't crazy about the idea of a water pot to heat water for instant coffee or tea. And, the use of the small containers of UHT milk could be scrapped and I doubt if anyone would complain. We chose to go to a convenience store for milk for the coffee. The in-room safe is a good idea as well.

Brewed coffee, as it's known in the US, is a little hard to find. The emphasis seemed to be on what's called a "flat white" - a shot of espresso with steamed milk on top and a frothy milk head on top of that. Very good taste but expensive. Most places had the small cup for AU$6.50, or approximately US$5.10. They're very tasty but your tab at the end of a couple of hours can be huge if you drink a lot of them or have a large group. We met five other members of our extended family at the Marriott, so evenings downing flat whites got expensive - not to mention the caffeine jolt could result in sleep deprivation.

Room service is good but pricey. For those who love hot showers - this is your place. You have to be careful when setting the water mix as the hot water meets or exceeds its description very easily.

One annoying disappointment was the elevators. Marriott Sydney Harbour has five. Waiting for one seemed a national past time. In one case, while visiting part of the family on the 9th floor, a local power surge knocked out the elevators for so long, a hike from the 9th to the 24th floor was necessary but not pleasant. The Marriott stationed employees in the main lobby at the base of the elevators to welcome you on and off - which was a good touch - but the frustration of waiting to get an elevator sometimes made the touch useless.

As you'd expect in a tourist city, there are many places that cater to you. We spent two weeks digging around to find those places mentioned in the Luxe Guide, but also those not well known. It was worth the effort, as prices dropped, service improved and we got a chance to spend time with locals.

If you come on a longer trip & don't bring a lot of clothes, cleaning could be a problem. You may find places that do dry cleaning but not many that do laundry as well. It was a little disconcerting to hand over a few days worth of dirty underwear to complete strrangers but without it, we would've run out of clean clothes after the first week. And, believe me when I tell you, that no matter how careful you are while eating, something will always end up on your clothes. Just next door to Marriott Sydney Harbour is a large food and shopping court. At the base of the down escalator is a chemists shop (drug store). We never expected a chemists shop to process laundry and dry cleaning but they did and did it well. The name of the chemists shop escapes me now but it had a folding sign out in front, "Maurice", as the only advertising about the service. They charged by the bag. Large bags were AU$25 (US$19 and change); small bags around AU$10-15. You get them back by the next day laundered and folded & still warm. For families with small kids, this is a life saver. You can find laundromats out on the streets somewhere, and cheaper, but who wants to travel thousands of miles just to wash clothes? And carrying an extra 30 pounds of clothing isn't practical.

The concierge, particularly Scott, was the best part of the service experience. They have many discounted coupons for the things you want to see or do so always check with them before you make a move outside the hotel. They saved us a ton of money.

The Marriott Sydney Harbour restaurant, Icons, was expensive. One night the service was less than ideal. A quick word in the manager's ear resulted in very much reduced prices as a comp for less-than-perfect service. In our case, one of the waitresses took a large dessert order, then disappeared for 30 minutes. We had to get someone else to get the order for us.

Eating outside is a large part of the vacation experience in Sydney. Pay close attention to the seagulls, pigeons and ravens. They're expert food thieves, especially if you let your guard down. So bold are they that if you leave the table for a second, they'll land on the table and help themselves to whatever you may've left unattended. The birds have everything timed so well and they're so smart, that while we were out on the harbour cruising, we saw none of them until the food was served. It's almost as if someone rang a dinner bell - the second it was served, the birds started circling. Being victimized by the wildlife takes a little getting used to.

Flies were a bigger nuisance than the birds. These aren't common houseflies. They are more agressive than the birds - and they bite. Rumor had it we saw more of them because the time we were there was during a two-week bout of wildfires in the local bush, driving the flies out towards the coast. I don't know if that rumor was true but it seemed to make sense.

Local tours were great! The best one we found that didn't take you a long way away was the Captain Cook Morning Coffee tour. It costs AU$44 (US$34.50) for a three-plus hour tour of the harbor areas out to the lands end just before you hit the Pacific Ocean. Compared to similar tours around Sydney, this was the best. With the Marriott Sydney Harbour being next to Circular Quay, getting on and off ferries and cruise ships was a breeze and the kids will love it.

Along the wharf, from the Opera House all the way around the quay to The Rocks, you'll find street merchants and performers trying to make a living. On The Rocks side of the quay, a performer has a soap bubble display that just keeps the kids riveted. He has a large, flat tub of soap with at least two large circular rods he dips in the mixture. Once he lifts the rods, the wind does the rest and produces huge soap bubbles that last forever. One of the treats for kids is standing inside one of his bubbles for a few seconds. He works for tips and deserves them - a good entertainer. In Sydney, many what I would call "homeless" people actually work or perform along the quay, doing anything to make a dollar. Some, such as the street artists, are very talented people and worthy of a decent tip. One of the fascinations is the display of native Aborigine music and folk art. Every time they set up to play the didgeridoos, large crowds followed. Not to miss the chance at a sale, about half way through the performance, the natives bring out the stock of CDs produced with their music.

Even with the wildfires, we took a day tour to the Blue Mountains. Considering we couldn't enter some of the areas because of the danger, it was a great tour. There are several available but the tour with a company called Dal Myles was the best. The concierge can book it for you. If you get a chance, ask to have the tour guide David or Lindsey guide your tour. They have the banter you expect for tour guides but these are genuinely nice guys, who made the trip a lot more personal - and worthwhile - than any other tour we took. The tour costs AU$165 (US$130) per adult and around AU$80 for kids, with really young kids taken free, if I recall, and had a stop in a park area where the tour guide served champagne, orange juice, or water.

There are ample currency exchanges and ATMS around Sydney if you need them, with one exchange right across the street from Marriott Sydney Harbor, in a convenience store. Shop around because some exchanges give you more for your money than others.

Shopping is close and plentiful. The Pitt Street Market, about 3/4 of a mile straight south down Pitt Street from the hotel has plenty from which to choose. Also, on weekends at The Rocks (a historical area next to Circular Quay), a few of the streets are closed down so they can set up tent booths to sell all kinds of goods. One of the booths you absolutely have to visit is The Chilli Factory. The gentleman running the booth has sauces of all different kinds from the mild chilli honey mustard sauce, to the stuff so hot people had to sit down after tasting it. We tasted and bought the mild honey mustard sauce. You won't believe the flavor of this stuff, regardless of how hot or mild you like it. Don't miss the chance to taste the variety of sauces he has - you'll buy a bunch to take home or end up using his web site to order. But that doesn't allow you to taste it for yourself - they're that good.

The Sydney Aquarium and Taronga Zoo tours were great for kids. The Blue Mountains tour with Dal Myles also takes you to an exclusive breakfast at the Featherdale Wildlife Park as part of the tour. Here's where the kids have a field day up close and personal with koalas, kangaroos and a multitude of other wildlife. The breakfast is on the order of a continental breakfast with extras of ham, cheese, strawberries, etc. What made it so great was that this is an exclusive breakfast to Dal Myles and Featherdale and is was good to be able to eat and check out the wildlife as a private party rather than have to do so with a gaggle of others. We had nine in our party and it was outstanding.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It costs AU$139 (US$109) but was worth it - as long as you don't have a fear of heights. At nearly 500 feet, it's a thrill. A lot of people climb it precisely because they wish to get over their fear of heights, and people of all ages made the climb. They make sure it's safe for all. They give you a breath test first to make sure you're sober. Then, after a briefing, you put on a thin rubber suit over your clothes and tether yourself to a static line that's your lifeline all the way up and down the bridge. On a hot, windless day, you'll sweat buckets but it's still a thrill - don't miss it!

The famous Bondi Beach is close by. Although the Aussies spend much time and money putting up shark netting to keep swimmers safe, you'll probably see some buckethead outside the nets, advertising him/herself as a menu item. Some areas have a fair few jellyfish as well, so swim with caution.

For those who like Starbucks, one is available near the hotel, across from the wharf. But, save your money on this one - the service and quality are both poor.

In summary, we spent the best two weeks of our lives in Sydney and probably never scratched the surface of what's available. Would we go back? In a heartbeat and plan to do so at the earliest opportunity!

11 Thank MAPCPP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
2 reviews
21 helpful votes
“Sydney –Once is not enough”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2006

We just returned after a five day vacation from Sydney and here is my little feedback for TA forum members and visitors, if it can help.
First thanks a million to the TA forum, without which we wouldn't have been able to draw up my day-to-day plan and followed it without a flaw.

Day1: Paddington Market- Circular Quay- Opera House- Town Hall- QVB.
We arrived on a Friday night (Taxi from airport to George street , near Capitol theatre- AUS$33) so after a night's rest we headed first to Paddington Saturday market (Bus no 378 -$1.70 each). The weather was just cool so we enjoyed walking almost the length of Oxford Street taking in the boulevard's fashion scenario.
The market at the Church grounds was a visual treat. Leaving aside the usual cloth and nick-nack stalls, the place is an art lover's favourite. Fabric paintings, water colours, stone paintings, hand made jewellery, metal sculptures, curios - a veritable feast!
Circular Quay- spend time watching aborigines play their traditional music from long wooden pipe, a cycle acrobat, etc. and then walked up to Sydney's icon- The Opera House. Took several pictures and then enjoyed a nice mocha coffee while watching another icon- the Harbour Bridge against the back drop of pregnant clouds. The weather became cooler (we didn't take our woollens that evening) and started drizzling so took the train at the Circular Quay train station to reach Town Hall. Went inside Queen Victoria Building – an amazing architecture. The DarryllLea chocolate shop is a must –try the marshmallow chocos – delicious! My wife and daughter found Equip- a little women's accessory shop - great and bought quite a few! Woolworth supermarket at Town Hall - you get everything you want - snacks, ready-to-eat, noodles, bread, groceries, fresh fruits, etc. We found even some Arabic bread!

Day 2: Bridge walk- The Rocks- George street- Paddy's market (Market City)- China town.
One of the best days in our trip. The morning was slightly cloudy. Took a day tripper pass from the Central station ($15.40 each) – just two blocks away from our apt.- and went Town Hall- to Milson's point. Got down and took the steps outside the station to walk back on the bridge. A must–do for any Sydney visitor. No cost and superb views and a chance to appreciate the gargantuan size of the bridge in close proximity. As we walked closer to the other end of the bridge the clouds cleared and the sun was shining magnificently on the white roofs of Opera House.. what a photo opportunity! The walk led us to The Rocks and we were twice lucky as the Rocks market is open only on Sats and Sundays. Colourful, bubbly and a bit of touristy yet very interesting.(We bought an authentic Boomerang –made by an aborigine family(so they claim)
Took the bus to Market City just a block away from our apt. The famous Paddy's market is at the ground level - an interesting mix of hundreds of souvenir shops- selling Australian souvenirs made in China!
Do visit the factory outlets at the 2nd level, you might get some lucky sizes and designs! Wide variety and good price and quality too. It is a pity they all close early 6.30-7pm. max. and is crowded in the evenings.
Dinner from a china town restaurant.

Day3: Darling Harbour- Aquarium- IMAX- Harbourside Mall- Sydney Tower-Oztrek- Pitt Street Mall- Myers.
Another good day. We bought a combination ticket for Aquarium plus Sydney Tower that saved us 30%. Aquarium was great, especially the sharks bay, and we were at a right time when they were feeding the sharks! IMAX is another experience by itself though we have seen one in Singapore some years back.
Reached the tower at around 5.30 pm and lucky we were as we could see Sydney in daylight, catch some fantastic shots of sunset little later and see Sydney coming alive with evening lights. I would recommend visitors to choose this time. Be there little early to join the queue to the lift so that you get to the top at the right time. (The Tower glass panels need cleaning sooner than later.)
Pitt Street Mall is very classic and Myers have already put up a giant, beautiful Xmas tree!
Day 4: Day trip to Blue Mountains: From Central Station to Katoomba – took the off peak 8.24 train (three tickets return just $48.50). Went up to the Trolley Bus shop and the girl at the shop was very helpful who suggested that we take a $38 ticket that included all three trips in Scenic World plus the trolleybus tour. The five minute cableway, skyway and sky train are a bit disappointing when compared to Switzerland's more dramatic rides over the Alps, but then this is no Swiss. The rainforest walk is quite refreshing and not challenging at all. The shops at the cable car stations had surprisingly impressive range of souvenirs – Opals, iron ore jewellery, etc. we bought some and the price is OK given the place it is sold. We stopped at Leura and at the Echo point, not in other waterfall view stops as the Trolley Bus driver said there was just a trickle in the waterfalls. The Echo Point is dramatic and way back surprisingly, we saw quite a few lodging houses nearby, with vacancies as low as AUS$60PP!

Day5: Private visit to Univ. Wollongong and afternoon to Manly Beach
Took an early train to Univ. of Wollongong - a very scenic ride on the pacific coast -particularly near Scarborough station from where we could see a viewing platform on the coastal road - offering awesome views of the Pacific Ocean. The road is even closer to the shore than the rail track and I am sure the views will be even more fantastic. I don't remember to have seen anything on this in TA forum- may be I missed it)

If any one missed Spit-bridge Manly Walk, the Corso- Shelley beach walk via Manly life saving club is a good option- we did it as guided by the forum. If you are at dusk it is even better – I had some beer on way back while enjoying the nice views – evening walkers, cyclists, beach sports, etc. The return journey was worth a million- as the ferry approaches Sydney- the flood lit Opera House, the Bridge and the harbour side Sydney skyscrapers - all glittering in glory with millions of lights against dark clouds. A sight not to be missed at all.

Day6: Toranga Zoo, last minute shopping and departure. Our final day. The Zoo is great with a nice map and a complimentary Sydney Herald given to you on arrival. After a bit of tour we were in time to see the Seal show around 1pm, I think. Did some last minute shopping at Paddy's market - souvenirs for people back home and then… to airport (AUS$28 from Pacific Apt ).
We knew we missed out several things but promised ourselves to come back because Sydney-Once is not enough.

16 Thank GoingGreek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
8 reviews
28 helpful votes
“Getting around with a broken foot”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2006

Yes it can be done,but with difficulty.We were lucky to be staying with friends so saw more of the places than we would have done on our own.
Drive to Watson Bay for fantastic views and a goanna walking over your feet.Use the local transport.We stayed about 45 mins out of town so got a daily travel pass for $15 which was good for trains buses and ferries.The ferries are a great way to get around,it's a massive harbour with lots of places/beaches to visit.
Take the Harbour Tour with Captain Cook,excellent value.Sit on the Quay to people watch and be entertained by buskers.We saw the Queen !!!
Visit the Aquarium,not usually my scene but set out and managed beautifully.
Have a "lift" Tour at the Opera House.If you have any walking probs,just ask at the desk,same price.There were 4 in our group and we just popped in and out of lifts to get to next level..easy on the legs and we got to see a lot more backstage areas.The normal tour consisted of about 25 people,rushing to keep up with the guide as she climbed the 200 steps inside and straining to hear what she was saying...no contest.
See Sydney at night,especially around the Harbour.
Have coffee and cake at the Intercontinental. We arrived to a barrage of FBI /police/helicopter/activity, How were we to know Ms Rice was staying upstairs??
Spend the day in the Blue Mountains,you need a sunny day though to see the "blue".
Scare yourself to death with a ride on the Mountain Devil at Katoomba.
Lots more to do and see but enough for my poor foot.I did see a podiatrist re foot,(worth every cent) it puts our Health service to shame.

5 Thank enidmpheasey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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