If you’re about to jump on a plane with a round-the-world ticket, there’s a high chance you’ll be visiting one place in particular – Sydney in Australia. Ideally placed slap bang in the centre of the Southern Ocean, Australia connects East to West, bridging Asia and the USA and as a result, it’s the ultimate stopover city. Read on if you’re short on time and in need of a few ideas:
As far as accommodation in Sydney goes, check out ‘BASE Hostel’ – a pretty energetic place with young staff and a right backpacking buzz about it, not to mention an unrivaled location close to some of the cities most iconic sights. So if like me you’ve spent your first night at BASE, and quite possibly slogged it out in its popular sister bar and nightclub, ‘Scary Canary’s’, you’d be forgiven if you need a little pick-me-up in the morning… I took some advice from reception and strolled into the Central Business District, up George Street under some of the cities tallest high risers and into the Queen Victoria building. Oh-ho, it was the most luxurious shopping centre I’d ever visited and my ‘thongs’ (local for flip flops) were feeling a little out of place amongst the glitz and designer gear. Stomach grumbling and tiring of escalators I finally stumbled across what the BASE staff where on about – the greatest food hall you’ve ever seen.
Ok, so there was your Macdonalds and your KFC’s but there’s also schnitzel, Italian eateries, ‘Spuds n Crepes’, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, full roast chickens, sizzling pigs on a spit and hundreds of people busting, chatting and getting stuck into some great sharing food. Suddenly the thongs had friends and I grabbed a pork wrap and sat down. I would remember this place, Myers Food Hall, as it was one of those places that’s absolutely fine to visit alone, and all the more nourishing if you’re feeling slightly delicate…
Walking right to the end of George Street brings you out into the glorious vista that is Circular Quay and the part of the city known as The Rocks. With the harbour and Opera house spread out before me, I stumbled quite by chance across ‘the oldest pub in Sydney’ – The Fortune of War. It would be rude not to, I thought, and after a swift schoner (closest thing to a pint of beer) under the banners of the Australian Navy I headed across Circular Quay, up some historic steps, onto the main road and entered the Royal Botanical Gardens. A great place for a stroll to blow out the cobwebs, this place had phenomenal views over the harbour and gave plentiful sightings of the Garden’s chief trouble-maker, the Cocatoo. These mini-parrot relations have a peculiar addiction for clambering and flapping over groups of camera-flashing tourists and provided some great post-lunch entertainment!
BYO YUM CHA!
After heading back to my Sydney hotel, I was curious to check out Chinatown and something I’d heard about the night before – the backpacker ‘BYO’ sensation. Standing for ‘B-ring Y-our O-wn’ (drinks) I headed into one of Chinatowns many packed restaurants for a taste of the famed Yum Cha experience. Mixing buffet and table service, Yum Cha includes many oriental treats centering around the hundred or so stuffed steam dumplings (dim sum). Couple that with a pack of budget bought Toohey’s (local beers) and my evening was on the up. I only wish now it wasn’t a stopover. But at it is, I’m quite happy to call it the ultimate stopover…
5 things not to miss in Sydney:
• Myers Food Hall
• Fortune of War
• Botanic Gardens
• Chinatown Yum Cha
• BASE Hostel & Scary Canary’s