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Armine N.

Sydney, Australia Guide by Armine N. Status: Currently live here (since 1 May, 2011)

What are some of your favorite memories of Sydney?
Having a drink or getting a bite to eat at the bustling Sydney Opera House cafes/restaurants after enjoying a fantastic show at the Opera House itself!

How would you spend 36 hours in Sydney?
Without a doubt you have to begin your trip at the Opera House --- it’s only when you see the Opera House for the first time that you feel that you are in Sydney! Visit the Botanical Gardens, climb the Harbour Bridge if you dare (yes, you can actually climb the bridge), and make sure to take a fantastic tour of the Opera House itself – finish off with a beer and a bite in the area. I would definitely take the ferry to Taronga Zoo (probably the only zoo in the world with such a fantastic view) to see a kangaroo and a koala and if you have the time, take the ferry to Manly Beach. Pop into one of Sydney’s many neighborhoods (my top three would be Surry Hills, Paddington and Potts Point) and eat at a local gastropub or drink the world famous coffee (make sure you order a flat white). Stop by The Rocks (historic Sydney) to see what life was like in old Sydney. If you have time, catch a show at the Sydney Theatre Company just down the street from The Rocks. If you have the time, head to Newtown to see one of Sydney’s original bohemian hotspots (now mainly full of thai restaurants and students). Lastly, make your way over to Bondi Beach to watch the surfers in their element and then do the short coastal walk to Bronte at sunset.

What kind of practical information should first-time visitors know about Sydney?
Australia has it’s own colorful dollar, which is roughly equivalent to the US dollar at the moment. Sydney is expensive – very, very expensive. Most visitors have no idea and are taken aback by the prices, so beware! To mitigate this, you can take public transport instead of cabs and dine at the gastropubs as the food in Sydney is generally fantastic (even at the pubs). Book early for deals on hotels (the Lord Nelson Brewery in The Rocks is a great budget option). Sydney isn’t really a walkable city for the average tourist– not if you want to enjoy all of the diverse neighborhoods. That said, the train system is fairly useful – it will get you from A to B in central Sydney, but buses are generally better. The ferry system is used by commuters and tourists alike and I would definitely recommend it as an option. There is a hop off hop on tour that might be worth taking, if only because it takes you to Bondi Beach (which is otherwise a bit annoying to get to). Oh, and wild kangaroos and barefoot surfers don’t actually roam the streets, so don’t be too disappointed.

What are some precautions that people should take while exploring Sydney?
Sydney, on the whole, is quite safe. Kings Cross can be very rowdy at night and fights can break out quite suddenly, so keep a level head if you’re venturing out for nightlife in that direction. Also, I would make sure to carry sunblock (even if you think you don’t burn that often) as the Australian sun is quite harsh. Dress code is generally casual, unless you’re heading out at night to a restaurant or nicer bars.

Any other indispensable pieces of advice to share?
Depending on when you’re visiting, the weather can be rather unpredictable. Make sure to bring a few layers!

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  • Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain, Art Gallery Road, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Walk from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair through to the Botanical Gardens to get a feel for the Sydney Harbour and the incredible flora and fauna of Australia (but watch out for the plethora of bats that call the Botanical Gardens home!).

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  • Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia

Australia is nothing without its incredible beaches. Take a 30-minute coastal walk from the world renowned Bondi Beach to one of my favorite (albeit tiny) beaches in Sydney, Bronte Beach.

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  • Manly Beach, New South Wales, Australia

Though Manly Beach itself is quite lovely, I think taking the commuter ferry from Circular Quay to Manly is even better than the location itself!

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  • Paddington, New South Wales, Australia

Paddington is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Sydney. Not only is it chock full of gorgeous and colorful Victorian-era terrace homes (quintessential Sydney), but it also houses a fantastic weekend open-air market and a lovely cafes and shops (visit the tiny but lovely William Street and the “five-ways”).

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