Sydney – Welcome to Down Under


We are in Sydney, Australia! We have arrived a little more than a week ago. The flight from Bangkok to Sydney was smooth. In a central and lively neighborhood we found a nice place to stay for us. Overall we will spent four weeks directly in Sydney. Thus, we have time to explore the city in a bit more detail. The Sydney Opera House, Sydney’s most famous tourist attraction, we visited right away the first weekend. We also went to some very nice beaches in the north of Sydney. The Australian wildlife, which we saw in the Wildlife Zoo, is very interesting – especially for the kids. I am particularly happy about meeting some friends, that live in Sydney and which I have not seen in years. It was very good to meet up again after such a long time.

Exploring Playgrounds in Sydney

There are a few reasons why we planned to stay some time in Sydney directly. One of them is Carolina’s professional English course. Right from the beginning, one intention of our Family World Trip, apart from getting to know new cultures, was improving our language skills. Here in Sydney it is Carolina’s and Leandro’s turn to improve their English skills even further. Leandro is visiting a child care twice a week and already understands several things. With Carolina in school and Leandro in child care Diego and I are on our own for a good share of the week. During that time we explore the playgrounds in our neighborhood. I reckon, we found seven to eight different playgrounds already. Luckily, the kid’s favorite one offers much shade and is close to our apartment. Most of the playgrounds are ‘dog-free’ playgrounds. Something we would like to see back home.

Where is the beer?

Another reason for staying longer in one place is to learn more about the culture and the way of living. Therefore, we decided to stay in an Airbnb, instead of a hotel. Although not really cheaper, it gives us a feeling of regular daily life. Doing grocery shopping, laundry, garbage and so on is somehow different compared to home. One thing we noticed immediately, Australia is much more expensive than Germany. We heard before about restaurants, but were surprised that also regular grocery shopping is so much more expensive. There were even more surprises in the supermarkets when I wanted to buy some local beer. I was circling around two supermarkets to find some beer until I noticed, that in Australia alcohol is only sold in dedicated shops. It reminded me of the ‘English Wine & Beer’ shops in India.

Living in Bohemian Newtown

Once I understood the alcohol restrictions, the signs ‘B. Y. O. wine’ that many restaurants put up, suddenly made sense to me. Bring Your Own wine. The same for ‘fully-licensed restaurant’. In the past – little had I known – I had no clue what kind of license was meant. Now I know, that in a fully-licensed restaurant alcohol is available. I stumble upon these signs a lot, because Newtown, the area where we stay, is a very bohemian area with lots of small restaurants. The area is very close to the University of Sydney and somehow Newtown has this alternative, student flavor. Our two bedroom flat is nice and has almost everything we need for our stay. There is only one, but huge downside. The internet in the flat is very bad and hardly useable, which can be very annoying at times.

Poor Internet in Australia

Recently, I learnt, that all over Australia home internet is not really good. This surprised me, especially after Thailand, where we experienced fast internet even in Khao Sok in the middle of the jungle. No doctor within 50km, but faster internet than sometimes back home in Munich. Here in Sydney, the biggest city of Australia there is no way we can watch Netflix in our flat. However, apart from the internet issues, we like our apartment and the area. Newtown is very central and so far it is easy to get around by public transport. We definitely like the Opal card as ticket system. It is comparable to the Oyster card in London and very easy, especially for tourists, as one does not have to figure out, which ticket to buy. Simply use the Opal card for all means of transportation. Everything else is done automatically – great!

Asians love our Kids

The kids remain extremely popular amongst East Asian people. In Thailand almost everybody wanted to take pictures of Diego and Leandro. Most of them did not even bother to ask us if the may – they just took pictures of our kids everywhere. Especially Diego they grew very fond of. I agree, the kids are cute, but it sometimes reached a disturbing point. Here in Sydney it got less frequent, but again people with East Asian origin love to take pictures – especially of Diego. Carolina even started to ask for money when somebody wanted to take a picture of or with the kids. Unfortunately, we could not establish this as a proper source of income.

Stunning Sydney Opera House

Right away on the first full day, we visited the symbol of Sydney. I assume, most people in the world have seen pictures of the famous Sydney Opera House. In reality it looks as impressive and beautiful as on picture postcards. We saw the Sydney Opera House several times from different places by now and it continues to amaze me. That first day was extremely hot. We initially walked through the beautifully arranged botanic garden before reaching the Opera House. There we enjoyed the stunning view from the café at the waterfront. The Opera House on one side, the impressive Harbour Bridge on the other side. Too bad the cappuccino we had could not match the view at all. This was nothing unique. Sydney has many cafés, but the only decent cappuccino we had so far, was at my friend Carol’s home.

Meeting old Friends

We visited Carol, my former roommate from Chandigarh, and her husband Ben last Saturday for a typical Australian BBQ. I ate way too much, because it was so delicious. It was great seeing her again after more than 14 years. As usual Diego loved their cat, but I am afraid this time the affection was a one-way-street. The next day we met up with Katharina, who studied with me in Dresden, and her husband Oli at Manly beach in the north of Sydney. Manly is a beautiful and lively city beach with many restaurants and shops close by. Manly beach is a bit wild and good for surfing, but not the best choice for small kids. Therefore, we walked to the nearby Shelley beach, which is a much smaller and calmer beach.

First Time in the Pacific Ocean

For all of us it was the first time swimming in the Pacific Ocean. We were really excited about it. Initially, the water was quite cold and especially the kids did not want to go for a swim, but played in the sand instead. Seems like they got really spoilt by Thailand‘s beaches. My problem was different and came back to me in the evening. After putting heaps of sunscreen literally everywhere on the kids, Carolina and myself I must have somehow forgotten my feet. I thought I had them protected, too, but in the evening I saw, that the Australian sun definitely is no joke. Becoming extremely cautious over the years I did not have such a bad sunburn in years. Nevertheless, it was a very nice beach day and I was happy to see yet another friend of mine again after such a long time.

The Beard is Growing

During the week we visited Darling Harbour, which has a marvelous playground with much water to play with for the kids. The playground is amazing and the challenge is to get the kids to leave this place. We enjoyed this playground after visiting the wildlife zoo. This zoo is like Sea Life, but instead of fish, there are typical Australian animals. We saw koalas, kangaroos, a huge crocodile, Tasmanian devils, snakes and much more. It is absolutely worth it to visit this zoo. We also visited the Sydney Tower Eye, which offers good views over Sydney. Even so, it did not impress us as much as the Mahanakhon Skywalk in Bangkok. Last but not least, as you can see in the pictures, the beard is still growing. I have not shaved once during our Family World Trip. Let us see where this is going…

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