For a month, my travels had been plagued with rain in both Dublin and London and while not quite surprising in either city, I was looking forward to my Australia trip – my suitcase was packed with sunscreen, flip flops and summer clothes (my sneakers were thrown in last minute for the Bridge Climb as flip flops wouldn’t cut it). The weather app showed temps in the high 80’s with many pictures of the sun, the same sunny pictures missing in Dublin and London. How would my photos of Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart turn out?
With each leg of the journey to Melbourne (and eventually Sydney), I would slowly see the happy sun graphic slowly leaving my weather forecast replaced with dark clouds, rain and lightning bolts. Cooler temperatures were also moving in. I was a bit skeptical because this was Australia and it’s always sunny and warm according to all of the marketing materials! While Melbourne “has four seasons in one day” (a claim I would dispute not having seen snow during my visit), Sydney seemed to be the city of the sun – I can’t recall ever seeing a photo of the city in the clouds or rain (spoiler alert! you can see those photos of a rainy Sydney).
After three days of rain in Melbourne with a casualty (my trusty travel umbrella could take no more), my weather app showed the sun making a brief appearance in Sydney for one day – the day I would arrive. For me, by the time I made it to the hotel at 2pm, I had barely 1/2 day to chase the sun for the good photos of Sydney. With a warm day that drove people to sunbath in Hyde Park across from the hotel, I changed from my dark, grey, Melbourne three days of rain uniform to a lightweight, colorful outfit complete with sandals, sunscreen and sunglasses. Filled with possibilities, albeit with a ticking clock until sunset, the city was mine to explore.
As this was my third trip to Sydney and knowing that the sun was fleeting, I quickly walked from Hyde Park down to the Quay to board the ferry to Manly where I knew I could get to the beach, have lunch with a great view of the water and just take in the sun. If you have limited time, the trip to Manly provides fantastic views of the city – the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, Mrs. Macquarie’s seat along with homes, boats and military sites. Just being on the water was enough to recharge me my spirit and remind me that this was my Australia birthday vacation to enjoy.
Disembarking the ferry, I crossed the street walking with the crowds passing the many storefronts toward the beach – I was on a mission. While I should have taken my shoes off to dig my toes in the sand, I was more interested in people watching and capturing the daily life on the beach with my limited time (yes, I know I need to stop and smell the roses (or saltwater) sometimes).
With a plethora of cafes along the beach front road, I chose one that has outdoor seating and was still serving lunch at 4pm. The food was fine, the wine even better and the calming nature of the beach enveloped me and beckoned to stay longer but alas, the return ferry time was quickly approaching so I would need to hurry back to the terminal.
Having not seen the sun for a few days, it was refreshing to sit outside relaxing despite the sun in my eyes (no complaining allowed) . As the iconic sails of the Opera House came into view, I realized that it was too early for sunset over the bridge so an adjustment of the plan was needed.
At Circular Quay, I walked toward the bridge stairs to the pedestrian walkway. On my last visit to Sydney, my bike tour rode over the bridge which was a highlight, this time I would walk the bridge stopping along the way for photos. At first, I had the walkway to myself before it became busy with runners, tourists and even groups of schoolchildren so you need to be careful when stopping as someone might be behind you.
The sun was starting to set so as I walked back toward the Quay, I chose the path toward the Botanical Garden not knowing that there is no turnaround and that the path with runners ran along the side of the very busy highway passing in front of the cityscape. I continued walking until there was a break in the path leading to an area overlooking the harbour. It was here that I met a local man reading a book while his camera was set up to take photos of the sunset in the harbour.
Not wanting to sit for an hour waiting on the sunset, I lucked out finding the elevator down to the waterfront. Once there, I walked toward the Opera House. It was a Thursday night with perfect weather so the area was packed with happy hour people who were enjoying the cool evening with perfect view of Sydney – the lights of the bridge, the city and the Opera House – simply stunning.
Walking for miles I was able to enjoy the Sydney that we all know – bright and pretty (unlike the city I would discover over the next four days of rain). For now, in this moment, it was a good day – I caught the sun and it made me smile. I captured the photos of Sydney that matched my memories. Looking above the Opera House, I said “Goodnight, Moon, Goodnight Sydney” before falling, exhausted, into a cab back to the hotel.
Originally posted January of 2014 but with winter finally arriving in Philadelphia, I thought we could all use a bit of sunny warm weather photos of Sydney – don’t you agree? Now is the time to plan your trip to Australia for before the American Airlines miles devaluation in March 2016. Contact me to help you plan an awesome visit!