A sleepy afternoon, with the day starting at 5 am to catch the flight to Sydney was just the adventure we were yearning for, for the exciting Easter weekend 2022. It was almost poetic and surreal to witness the waves crash on the serene ocean waters a few hours later at Manly beach.

With my bags packed for an exciting first – touchdown Sydney, a connecting line straight from the airport, made way for our first halt at Circular Quay. Unlike the Myki card required for travel in Melbourne, it was super convenient to just swipe your credit/debit card at the gates, and hop onto the double decker trains. In many ways, Sydney was reminiscent of an old city like Bombay, with its own characteristic charm found in the larger than life, buzzing train stations; some even underground, the gigantic tower clocks, or the graffitied walls.

With our suitcases in tow, we waded past a busy flock of crowd towards the Circular Quay exit to the Opera House. Moments later, I found myself gazing in awe at the spectacle that stood before me, the gigantic Sydney Harbour Bridge in all its glory, with the Sydney Opera House fixated bang smack opposite to it, complementing its expanse equally so. Like gin & tonic, bread & butter, jam & scones (hungry much?!)!

The wonders of Manly, Sydney

A stroll around, soaking in the wonder, and a few clicks later, we joined the rather long queue to the ferry to Manly beach, our abode for the next 3 days. The ferry ride was exciting, adventurous and fascinating all at the same time. As we approached the harbor, I couldn’t help but set my eyes upon the tall pine trees lining the vast expanses of blues – it was the best beachy escapade one could ask for!

Manly spelt wonder, and an endless, expansive rendezvous with nature. With waves and waters that could drive any blues away, Manly beach and its surrounds offer stunning coastal walks. It was my window to the quintessential Australia that I had envisioned before I came to Melbourne (I bet all Melburnians know what I’m talking about!)

With stunning views overlooking the beach, we found our perfect spot in Steyne Hotel as I gulped down an espresso martini following a pot of refreshing pale ale. The good Ol Aussie life! As I contemplate moving to Sydney, my husband chides with his characteristic “this is only the best part of Sydney that you have seen, only as good for a holiday”, heading yet again towards the Sydney vs Melbourne debate.

The seagulls serenaded the skies in a perfect symmetry, as if gazing at the crowds underneath them and diving ahead for the perfect flights of fancy! The Norfolk pines stood rock solid in their glory, adorning the background seas with surfers riding the waves. The crowds continued to swell, as did our wait time for the food we had been yearning for. I couldn’t complain, it was just the perfect idyllic spot, as I gazed into the distance!

On an early morning walk the next day, our trail led us along the coastline further north towards Freshwater beach, enroute exploring the Manly wormhole off Queenscliff beach.

The cacophony of the colony of seagulls assembled for an early morning team meet resounded in the near distance. With the sight of mansion-like houses peaking the skyline, and the glorious coastline on the other, it was the perfect escape.

Yet another exciting highlight were the ferry rides to Circular Quay! Equally fascinating for me was the fact that people commute to work using a ferry everyday, unlike any other city in the world ! Where mainstream corporate meets leisure, Sydney exposed its many facets like a slow-mo reel.

Coogee to Bondi walk

Coogee to Bondi walk is another not-to-miss adventure. The walk offered stunning coastal views which flashed by like chapters of life; in some parts prefaced by salty seas, wind in the face, and in other, offering a slice of the ocean in its pristine, turquoise green-emerald shades, with crowds passing by in active wear.

The topography changed with every stretch of the walk, while the currents and waves piqued and plummeted in a dazzling show of water works with yachts lining the shore, ferries buoyed, and canoes wading past adventurous swimmers. In the far distance, a ship approaches the shores, appearing still like the calm amidst the storm. In that moment, I seek solace in the present moment, as I am reminded of the poem ‘Next Please’ by Philip Larkins. “Only one ship is seeking us, a black- Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back. A huge and birdless silence. In her wakeNo waters breed or break.”

The next hot minute, Bondi Beach surprised us with its own thrill and charm – the quirky, colorful graffiti on the walls, the green patch of grass overlooking the waters, or a Salsa dance group tip-toing to some sick tunes with sassy moves, right next to the beachy expanse. Just across the road, we hogged on the umpteen seafood options and of course some Ben & Jerry’s.

The day went by quickly in the grip of time, and soon we were back in Manly, exploring the numerous restaurants and cafes over the next few days. The timeless Manly markets which see a host of vendors set shop on the picturesque streets across the beach, is an absolute treat. One can shop trinkets, chic sunnies, art, opals, coasters and lots more!

The evenings were spent in the cool breeze of the ocean, and the fine company of wine, cheese platters and my loving husband. We had a gala time at some of the finest bars and restaurants in Manly, sampling the gourmet menus and living the good life!

Second time lucky:

Our Easter weekend in Manly was so eventful, it nudged us into coming back again in October of last year where we attended our friends’ wedding reception inside the Opera House (wow, right?)

A blunderous flight to Sydney which took us almost 6 hours to reach, has officially gone down in my book of airport bloopers to number 1 position, thanks to Qantas! The reason you ask? Well, the aero-bridge got stuck to the airport door!! Yes, that is real. The night we reached we grabbed dinner at the laneways of spice alley teeming with lights and street food options galore. A gin lover, I really enjoyed the refreshing combinations of gin offerings at the Gin Lane right outside the spice alley.

We stayed at the Ultimo, a restored hotel in the heart of CBD, making the most of this fantastic location, where affordable stay met comfort. Built in 1911 and recently renovated to blend contemporary design with its heritage-listed charm, The Ultimo offers stylish and modern rooms thanks to the combination of exposed brick walls, sleek white tiles, and contemporary furnishings. Just a hop, skip and jump away from the Paddy’s market and Chinatown, this stay allowed me to spend more time in the city and explore its many offerings.

The beautiful wedding culminated into a weekend of bliss and bonhomie! St James church, the venue for the wedding is the oldest church in the city of Sydney, and characteristic of the Macquarie period. Besides the gorgeous couple, the colorful glass stained doors and the golden dome caught my eye. After the ‘I dos’ sealed with a kiss, and snaps clicked for posterity, we proceeded towards the reception venue of the Opera House. We raised a toast to the lovely couple, reveled in the night of dancing to some sick tunes, and enjoyed the lovely views of the Bridge across that stood in all its glory.

I spent the next day wandering around the Darling Harbour and ICC, getting some steps in and reminiscing the highlights from the wedding just the night before.

Sydney is like a breath of fresh air every time I visit, with perhaps 2 things better than Melbourne; the weather and its beaches. 😉 For more deets on the northern beaches, getting on the road all the way from Melbourne to Sydney, and the much revered Blue Mountains, stay tuned for my next blog post.

Have you been to Sydney before? What’s your favorite memory of Sydney? Or perhaps a favorite spot? Let me know in comments section below.