We spent our first day in Sydney trying to tick off a few of the must-see items from our list. Armed with Opal cards and looking to stretch our legs in the first Australian stop sans rental car, we were pleased to find that it was actually pretty easy to see quite a bit in a single day in Sydney.
Wandering The Rocks
We soaked up the warm winter day poking around near The Rocks, a neighborhood with a lot of colonial houses and an incredible view of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Feeling pretty accomplished, we gave ourselves some leeway to do a little less touristy things and live as the locals live. Well, specifically two locals, Nick's cousin Davina and her husband Kalman.
These two bravely struck out with us on a number of adventures, letting us take over their entire unseasonably warm weekend, invade their apartment, and get the group lost on some craggy sea rocks. They really let us feel right at home.
Coogee to Bondi
Our first excursion with the Lees led us on the trail between Coogee and Bondi beaches. Sydney's an amazing city for a number of reasons, but near the top of that list is the staggering amount of world-class beaches accessible by its public transit system. As we walked further up the shoreline, it became almost impossible to avoid incredible snorkel spots, great surf, and beautiful ecru sands.
As midday approached, Davina and Kalman led us off-piste and treated us to some Australian bowling. It reminded us a bit of bocce, with its characteristic old men and no-holds-barred daydrinking policy, but required a little more technique due to the oblong, bias-weighted balls.
We hungrily pressed on to Bondi, and more specifically Bondi Beach Burrito, stopping only to pose with the colorful graffiti along the embankment.
Earn your pie
The next morning we met up with Davina for another epic walk, this one trailing the rocky coast between Manly Beach and Spit Bridge.
Typically it's a 10k walk, which was already pretty ambitious. But after asking some people returning if you could make it across the rocks (and blindly following their affirmative reply), we ended up making a scrambly little detour that extended our walk even further. Once we finally reached the end of the line, the waves lapping up to meet us on three sides, we had crawled and climbed over a full kilometer toward this impasse.
While some local fishermen we found weren't all that helpful, we managed to spy a place we could climb up and reach an overlook about halfway back from where we left the original trail. We were back in business.
After hiking all this way, we'd worked up a fierce appetite. Fortunately, while we were off getting lost, Kalman had been hard at work preparing Davina's famed family recipe for cottage pie. You couldn't have conjured up a better meal to satisfy a few hungry adventurers, and we tore into it like the pack of wild animals we are.
After an action-packed month, we're saying farewell to Australia in what has become our signature style. We're headed back to the northern hemisphere, hopping a flight from Sydney all the way to Iceland!