I have a confession to make…. The time was 9pm, the day Wednesday 27th April. Relaxed, and pensive I sat aboard the Manly to Sydney ferry. The night was dark, the air warm and the lights of Sydney’s skyline flickered in and out as my lens tried to focus on the twinkling buildings ahead. Seabirds caught the up-drafts, and glided alongside the ferry, the moon full, ethereal, otherworldly. I found myself thinking this is it. This is the jewel in Sydney’s crown. I confess, I turned to my husband and said, Sydney is beautiful, but without the harbour it’s nothing”. Of course, yes I’m a Melbournian, so now you understand. Those words I said on Wednesday night and then Friday happened. But I won’t tell you about it all, instead, I’ll show you…follow me to Sydney.
The Spit Bridge to Manly walk is 10kms and not 2kms. I mistakenly thought it was 2, but later learnt that the full length of the walk is actually made up of a series of shorter walks, approx. 2kms for each leg of the series. The walk took approximately 2.5 hours, but as we’d miscalculated the distance, we lost the light and found ourselves walking in complete darkness. Reassessing our location, we found an option to veer off the coastal path just before the walk turns into the Grotto and progresses into the National Park. The landscape is varied and the terrain changing. Appropriate footwear is important as at times you are walking on a pathed timber boardwalk, then stone steps, changing to sandy beach, then to muddy paths. This is Australia, so be mindful of snakes, this is their natural habitat, but if the weather is cool and the day early you should be fine. There are several opportunities for beautiful photos along the way.
Manly on a Wednesday night was quiet and calm, just the way I first like to become acquainted with a place. There are several dining options, but with the benefit of prior knowledge we chose to dine at Papi Chuyo, located on Manly Wharf with seaside views. A barbeque grill restaurant that did not disappoint on all accounts, interior, food and service. Save room for desert afterwards at the impossible to miss Gelato ice cream store located directly outside the Manly Ferry terminal. The best news, they’re open till very late, because who doesn’t love a sugar coma late at night?!
The drone of the engine, rhythmic sound of water lapping the ferry, along with seabirds, and to think we could have missed it all, had it not been for one very chatty taxi driver’s advice suggesting we sit outside on the upper deck. We had no idea this was even possible. I recommend it. It’s an entirely different (and better in my opinion) experience than being couped up inside with several others. The highlight, viewing Sydney’s skyline and iconic monuments from the harbour. The beauty of dancing lights and a city alive in the distance, and all of this for an inexpensive $8AU (one way), (you will need an Opal transport card to load the funds onto).
Manly Ferry Terminal pictured below
Thursday fatigue hit. In my defence, when I travel sunrise is my favourite time of the day, so with a 5am wake up, and morning walk to watch the world wake we headed to Observatory Hill Park. Despite the uncontrollable yawning, one discarded condom in the park and several Skittle Lane coffees later, I wouldn’t change a thing. The view is beautiful. The morning still. The remainder of the day was not overly ambitious. Unless of course you consider eating your way through Skittle Lane, Aqua S and the Meat & Wine Co ambitious. Oh, actually I did manage to walk 9 kms in pursuit of The White Rabbit Gallery. This is a 21st Century Chinese art museum gallery. By the end of Thursday I missed Melbourne. I missed the Melbournian people that had more “time”… read the euphemism people… don’t make me say it.
Friday arrived. Yet another 4:30am wake up to witness the day break, but this time from Milson’s Point, Sydney. Indeed it was a Fri-YAY, as thereafter I escaped central Sydney and headed to Alexandria for the first time, (approx 15 minute taxi ride from the city centre). Friday rescued Thursday. In fact it had me eating my hat. No longer did I believe that “without the harbour Sydney is nothing”, for it was within Alexandria that I found a hub of life, activity, friendliness and the most linger-longer kind of cafes. Bread and Circus cafe, if only it were in Melbourne. If the pink accented interior, the seasonably clean and fresh menu and friendly service at this café doesn’t give you the will to live, I’m not sure what will. No seriously, assuming you’re an appreciator of a beautiful café and quality food, pen this one in… and no I’m not sponsored or paid, (I wish once again).
Reluctant to leave the suburb Alexandria, I was introduced to The Grounds of Alexandria (approx. 900 metres walk away) from Bread and Circus. I spent the best part of the day with a dear friend who shared my burden of freshly cooked donuts and mused over which flowers we should buy, of the endless selection available. The Grounds of Alexandria is every bit the Alice in Wonderland whimsical wonder. It is a world within a world. Donuts, iced tea selections, two cafes, a florist, a barn with chickens and one very obese pig, come hungry. Come camera ready. Come cashed up. This is the place you want to stay and play.
Thereafter everything was a blur of fatigue induced hilarity. I laughed at things I can’t recall. Drank 6 coffees in 20 hours, sang out loud at Chur burger joint in the airport and may or may not have attempted to change my outfit in an airport lounge. Of course you’d know all this if you followed my escapades of the day on Snapchat, and yes, I snapped everything that moved, because quite frankly, that’s exactly what 4 hours sleep, on a 20 hour day, combined with a 4:30am wakeup call will do to a person. But that’s just it… all in the name of travel, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Please don’t make me say it…. Fine, ‘YOLO’. Ok, so I said it.