Things I Have Learned In Sydney, Australia

Things I Have Learned In Sydney, Australia

“But when the sun comes out in Sydney, it bats its eyelids, it’s glamorous, beautiful, attractive, smart, and it’s very hard to get away from its magnetic pull.” Baz Luhrmann

Sidney is located in the Australian state of New South Wales.

Sydney is the largest city in Australia with over 4,000,000 people. Canberra which is the capital city has  300,000.

I am a threat in the Sydney  airport. I have been checked for explosives, found to be carrying unidentified metal in  my plastic peak flow meter,  patted down for weapons, pulled aside for a search and set off the walk through security with my bracelets  – in the five times I was there.

The Sydney Opera House and the story of its magnificent design deserves its own blog.


Bondi beach has the cutest lifeguards.

Australians may not have invented surfing but when you see the long rolling waves on Bondi Beach, you know this is the place to surf. (This is coming from someone who lives in California )


The traveling rock-music festival, “Big Day Out”, originated in Sydney.  Grouplove is playing Big Day Out in Sydney on January 26 and 27.  Check dates for other cities in Australia and New Zealand.


The most famous legal art mural in Bondi Beach is one that is in memory of Chloe, a Bondi girl who was killed in the Bali bombings of 2002.


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You have to take a breathalyzer test before climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. (bridge climb –  photo Sean Dirks)

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It is touristy but definitely something I want to do. (some day) You have to be reasonably fit, have no issues with height and a few hundred dollars to pay for it.  Facing your fear of heights does not come cheaply.


It is also the sixth longest spanning arch bridge in the world, and it is the tallest steel arch bridge.  It was also the world’s widest long-span bridge, until construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver. (under the bridge -photo Sean Dirks)

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The Rocks is the oldest area in Australia. It was the first European settlement  – mostly military and convicts. It is filled with historical buildings museums and stories. Take a tour or get a map and explore by yourself. The Rocks Museum a good place to start. There are cool restaurants, bars and shops. It is a little touristy now but the history is everywhere. They have a great weekend market also.


Taronga Zoo is on some prime coastal real estate. You take one of those vintage ferries from  Circular Quay ( check the schedule) and then ride  a lift up to the entrance. Remember to get your ticket for all of that and your zoo entrance before you embark. You can also go by car or bus.  So what if it was a hot afternoon and the animals were sleeping.  Sleeping kangaroos are better than no kangaroos.


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Jordy gives a great Koala feeding demonstration if you happen to get there during feeding time. (Probably a good idea since that is the only time they move.) Koalas live on Eucalyptus leaves (called and spelled Eucalyp In Australia) which doesn’t give them enough energy to stay awake more than four hours a day. (They tell the tourists they are drunk but that is not true.)



One of the best museums in Sydney is the Art Gallery Of New South Wales. It is located in the beautiful parklands (That is how Australians refer to parks. It makes it sound further away then ten minutes of walking). The museum is five levels down – a lot bigger than that neo classical building looks. There are huge modern gallery installations. The Modern Australian Art and Aboriginal Art galleries are worth seeing.


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If you are walking to the gallery from Circular Quay, you will  pass The State Library of New South Wales. It is located on Macquarie St. (One of the many main streets in Australia names Macquarie,  after the colonial Governor of New South Wales.). It is the oldest library in Australia and was built in 1826. When I was there they had a great fashion photography exhibit, but if you are walking by, just pop in and see the grand splendor of the building.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located on Circular Quay . The back entrance lets you out in The Rocks Area. It is a new beautiful building. There is a wonderful exhibit called String  – modern interpretations of Aboriginal string games. It is a small museum, free and easy to find. Even if you aren’t a fan of contemporary art, walk in, while you are waiting for the ferry, exploring the rocks or having a drink on the Quay.




Rugby league is the most popular sport in Sydney. The NRL which began in Sydney in 1908 is the largest and most prestigious domestic rugby league competition in the Southern Hemisphere.

October is Food Month  in Sydney and that means Noodle Market in Hyde Park.  There are 47 stalls from  Sydney’s Asian restaurants, art, music and entertainment.


A great place to stay in Sydney is the Hughenden Hotel ( It was a family residence built in the 1870’s which renowned children’s author Susanne Gervay and family has turned into a boutique hotel.  It feels more like a home away from home than a hotel. Each room is different and breakfast is included.  The hotel is filled with art, memorabilia, and illustrations from famous authors. Their new restaurant, Vincent is already one of the trendy hard to get into places in Sydney for dinner. Make reservations.

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The hotel is located in the  affluent Paddington/Woolahra area which is ten minutes away from downtown Sydney. Paddington is filled with heritage Victorian houses,  trendy stores, antique stores, pubs, cafes and has a wonderful market on Sundays.


It is across the street from the Centennial Parklands , a beautiful park filled with local residents horses  swans and cockatoos.


One of the two statues of Charles Dickens in the world is found in Centennial Parklands  in Sydney. The other is in Philadelphia. He wanted to be remembered by his words only.


Sydney has the deepest natural harbor in the world.


The view of Sydney Harbor with the bridge on one side, the opera house on the other and the ferries in between will become one of my great travel memories. I plan to come back but if not, it will last a lifetime.  Good memories are like that. (sitting at the Opera House cafe overlooking the harbor – a last coffee before I go – long black with a side of milk)


Fly Safe,


Best Things To Do In London (With A Little Help From My Friends)

Best Things To Do In London  (with a little help from my friends)

” ‘The British really have everything in common with America nowadays except of course, language. “ Oscar Wilde

One of the nicest meals I had in London was at Square Pie in the basement food hall at Selfridges on Oxford Street. I had spent a week in London with my sister, and we had gone to restaurants like J Sheeky and The River Cafe, and had filled our days and evenings with sightseeing and theatre. One afternoon we were so tired from museums  and shopping that we collapsed at Square Pie, where we stood in line and had delicious and probably very un-PC lamb and kidney pies and mushy peas.    TN

I would recommend  taking in Hyde Park. Formerly one of King Henry VIII’s private hunting grounds, Hyde Park was the site of the triathlon at this years Olympics. Enjoy a spot of tea at the café on the river before you hop on a paddle boat and enjoy London on the river. Admire the Queen’s swans and gawk at the protesters at Speakers Corner. This  continues to become a part of recent history as there are monuments to Princess Diana and a shrine to the victims of the 7/7 attacks.  It’s a change to the outdoors if you get tired of being in museums all day. Enjoy the park and all its beauty.  AA

Anything in Covent Garden. i LOVE Covent garden.   HS

My favorite place to visit in London is the famed Silver Vaults.  These subterranean vaults, on Chancery Lane in the heart of the legal district, opened in the late 1800’s renting strong rooms to London’s wealthy elite to safeguard their household silver, jewelry and personal documents.  The strong rooms morphed over time into silver shops and since 1953 rapid expansion of the retail business has led to the present format.  The rooms range in size from elaborate and spacious to virtual closet and all manner of dealers are present offering their wares with the delightful addition of the “is that your best price” haggling element added to elevate the buying experience from conventional to enjoyable and delightful.  It’s a wonderful place to see  things silver from marrow spoons to salt cellars and everything in between.  HM

I enjoyed being at “Ye Old Cheshire Cheese Pub”, a historic literary pub on Fleet Street. There has been a pub in that location since the sixteenth century.  The famous people who have drunk in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese include Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Oliver Goldsmith and Alfred Tennyson. It is one of the 5000 pubs in London LS

I absolutely adore the British Museum. I can take any ages there and there are pieces of ambient Greek, Roman, Egyptian history (and more). Architecturally, the building is a marvel. Free admission. I will sometimes go on my own. It is a short walk to Soho and Covent Garden. I like the Southbank as well as I love the National Film Theatre to watch films on the Thames. Also, I enjoy going to the Buddhist temple In Wimbledon.  DZ

Loved going to Notting Hill flea market  and seeing where  the Notting Hill movie took place!   EW

A couple of absolutes. First the half price ticket office on Leicester Square in the theater district. From 2-6 day of performance, most theater at half off and potentially great seats. Second on Jermyn St. which is the men’s street for clothes and shirts. Turnbull-Asser. The best dress shirts for men in the world. Expensive but worth it.  A few nights at Cliveden, in Maidenhead about 45 min. from the airport. One of the great estates in England. Formerly the Prince of Wales, the Astors, where the Profumo affair rocked England 50 years ago. This magnificent estate sits on 500 acres and on the Thames. Have them pack a lunch and take their boat for a trip up the Thames. The experience is right out of the Great Gatsby. Expensive but something you will never forget.  SG

I went to see the Cecil Beaton exhibit at the War Museum – a place i have never been to. They had some interesting other exhibits and it a great place to take the kids on a Sunday – a lot of large tanks and planes from WWI and II.  I always visit the Tate Modern as well. This time they had a really fun performance art piece going on in the large entry hall. It was fun to have a coffee on the second level and watch everyone’s reaction as they walked in. Museums in London are free but you do have to pay admission to the special exhibits.   This time I stayed at the Charlotte St Hotel.  it is one of those boutique hotels where every room is different. It is really cool and everyone knows you .  i would stay there any time I am in London.  This is a big recommendation coming from me because I love to try different hotels.     JAZ

Take in a show at The National Theatre.  Make an evening of it by walking on the Southbank of the River Thames and dining there before taking in one of the critically acclaimed show that have some of Britain’s brightest and rising stars. Get a ticket early, because the best shows sell out every night of the week. We have big Hollywood movies, they have big budget Theatre.  AA

We enjoyed  going to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. They had a really good Karl Lagerfeld  exhibit.  We loved  eating and shopping on Portobello Road in Notting Hill.   SF

I think one of the things I like best (aside from all the usual) about London is all the ethnic food.  British food is awful, but you can find fabulous Indian, Italian, Chinese…all over.  AR

I love the taxi cabs in London.  Cab drivers in London must memorize 320 different routes, 25,000 streets, and 20,000 landmarks to be certified as drivers. It is called “The Knowledge” and takes two to four years to complete. A study of their brain scans show that their part of the brain that deals with memory has become enlarged.  It is the opposite training procedure of taxis in NY where I grew up. The only requirement seems to be that you have a taxi license  with a picture and have been in NY for five minutes.   JAZ

I  always go for the tour of Buckingham Palace when it’s open.  I love tea/cocktails at Claridges, I always go to the flagship store of Manolo Blahnik, I always visit a funky little boutique called Egg, I love dinner at River Cafe, J Sheekey & The Woolsey, I love the theatre, I always visit the Victoria & Albert Museum & I know there’s other stuff I love because I love, love, love London! CL

For more info go to things I have Learned In the UK

Fly Safe,