This city of sunshine and sandy beaches is not all about Sydney Harbour Bridge or iconic Opera House. There is always a pulsating, vibrant life in its core which you cannot miss. Sydney is a multilingual place having diversely different multicultural population. Nowhere in the city, will you find yourself out of place. David Wenham summed up about his Australia experience brilliantly –“Australia is a phenomenally beautiful country, and every time I go away and come back, it never ceases to amaze me.”
During my numerous and frequent trips to this country, I always prefer to stay closer to CBD area for practical reasons such as easy access to public transport, good food, freedom of walking around on free days, etc.; it makes life easier and simple. Considering moderate budget for accommodation, my preference and vote go to two properties—Capitol Square Hotel on Campbell Street, and Travelodge Sydney on Wentworth Avenue. While the first one is next door to historic Capitol Theatre and bears an old-timer touch, Travelodge Sydney is a relatively more modern facility in stone-throwing distance from famous Hyde park—a lush green refuge from bustling city life. Locations of both are quite friendly, warm, and encouraging to explore the city life at your own will.
Take a walk down via George Street toward Hay Market. There is a miniature Thailand all around with scores of Thai restaurants, grocery shops, and anything that is typically Thai. On the contrary, when you reach in front of Capitol Theatre on Campbell Street, it is a different look-and-feel altogether. There stands a symbol from the British colonial days—an overtly Victorian touch in everything that belongs to Capitol Square. Since you are in the neighbourhood, pay a visit to Paddy's Market, one of the oldest of its kind where immigrant Chinese population had traditionally had their first footprint. Night market in China Town is a distinct experience.
With a round-about turn it is a good idea of strolling down via George Street toward famous Town Hall. Entire stretch of the road is full of eateries—catering Thai cuisine—including well located MacD outlet on your right; this one is quite a life-saver in situations when you arrive the city hungry during early morning hours or very late at night when other joints are closed. Warm smile and delicious take-aways are available round the clock here. Little further down on your left, there is an impressive KFC outlet—you may have to struggle a bit to place and collect your order during evening peak hours. However, the patience and wait are worth of it. Meanwhile while waiting for your order to collect, admire the building from outside, its opulent and charismatic presence. You are close to next attraction—Sydney Town Hall. Feel the rumbling of underground Metro rail since the station is just around the corner.
At any point of time during day or night, I feel amazed by this historic Town Hall building, not that it can be always be explained with reasons. It is a fascinating sight to behold. The front steps of Sydney Town Hall are the city's most popular central meeting place – they are also the stage for many of Sydney's public civic events. Town Hall is donned with turret clocks on all four sides and you can hear those chiming in stroke of hours with sweet melodious gong.
Next to Town Hall, the majestic Queen Victoria Building—popularly known as QVB—is a must-see structure in town. The QVB fills an entire city block bound by George, Market, York, and Druitt Streets. The dominant feature is the mighty centre dome, consisting of an inner glass dome and an exterior copper- sheathed dome. Its huge anchor-shaped clock hanging from ceiling is awesome and structural design somewhat intriguing. Spend some time in any of the coffee-shops in each floor, and while sipping your cup of Cappuccino or Long Black, just ponder about the history of this amazing country when first British sailors set there foot here—many of them were gold-diggers and treasure-hunters. You can explore the amazing Food Court in QVB which offers multiple cuisines – a favourite hotspot for city diners in their lunch time. During office hours on working days, it will be quite difficult to find even a single empty chair or stool in common dining space. Check out the Indian food joint here; very tasteful dishes in reasonable price and on top of that smiling faces from India who manage and run the stall. A short flight of stairs leads to very happening Pitt Street Mall—an open space always thriving from activities of all sorts.
Pitt Street Mall is a pedestrianized section in the heart of CBD—Sydney's Numero Uno shopping destination for clothing, designer brands, retail shopping centres, and restaurants spanning over two blocks. Street singers with their amazing voice fill the area and bring in a festive, relaxed mood. You can rest your tired legs here by occupying one of well-placed sitting arrangements.
OPTIONAL: Sydney Metro Service connects dots across the city and suburbs. If you have a free day in hand, let us take a Metro to Black Town from Town Hall or Sydney Central station. It is a short ride for nearly one hour. A quiet, small place, Black Town offers you wide, bright, and beautiful smiles all around from people of African origins. Their cordial acceptance of you and a keen conversation on varied topics (if you have time to have one, of course) are bound to melt your heart. Once you come out of the station (toward Main Street), other than small shops and restaurants, there are few book shops dealing with old, used books just in case you are interested. They also sell old movie collections in throw-away price—many a times I found some priceless Hollywood movie collections hiding from common sight.
Are you planning to travel to this country by year-end? In this land of ethereal beauty, Santa Claus does not visit you on his iconic sleigh during Christmas. In Australia, Christmas rather comes with spring in the wind and lot of fun fares on roads, and overflowing, bubbly beer mugs in pubs, bars, and restaurants.
You may not have the opportunity of spending white Christmas here with snowmen around, but it is no less fun to try your hand with sandman on beautiful beaches all around the country, especially in Bondi beach. Christmas means ensuing summer here, and spend your days on the white sandy beaches, and in the company of deep blue sea.
Stroll around the Sydney harbor on New Years' eve and in the evening, you can be a part of a vivid and colorful celebration to welcoming a new year. You are not alone—people from all over the globe come to join this party.
Australia is a place having many countries living within and you really cannot afford to miss this lifetime experience.