On a gorgeous sunny day, we hopped on a ferry over to Manly (AUD 15pp return), a beach town close to Sydney. The ferry ride was super easy and really beautiful, giving us a great view of Sydney Harbor and all the famous sites.
We picked a great day to hit Manly, the beach was absolutely packed with people. The water was crystal clear and inviting and on such a hot day, I couldn’t wait to get in. We walked a couple kilometers down to get to Shelley Beach and on the way passed tons of sunbathers laying out on the rocks, stand up paddle boarders and surfers. It was a great atmosphere and everyone was super chilled out.
When we got to Shelley Beach and claimed a spot, we headed straight to the water. We were shocked to find out it was absolutely freezing! None of the Aussies seemed to mind, we couldn’t figure it out. A couple quick dips for us and it was back to the towels for a nap. We were awoken by screams coming from the ocean, my first thought was a shark attack. But WAY BETTER, there was a bottle nose dolphin, swimming in the middle of a crowd of people! We later learned that this dolphin is named Harry and was separated from his pod over a year ago. Harry’s loneliness causes him to seek out human interaction 😦 There are signs explaining that you shouldn’t give him any attention so that he seeks out other dolphins but no one paid those any mind. Can’t really blame them when there was a wild dolphin swimming next to them! It was a pretty incredible sight and captured the attention of the entire beach.
After some tasty fish tacos and margaritas, it was back to Sydney for the night.
That evening, we met up with our friend Mark in Surry Hills, a hipster-ish neighborhood just south of central Sydney. We’d been told it was a must visit spot that was similar to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with lots of cute restaurants, bars and shops. We popped in and out of some great spots before grabbing dinner at Mr. Fox then caught a cab to an American whiskey bar, Shady Pines. The bar was hidden in an abandoned alleyway, behind an unmarked door. It was a big surprise inside, taxidermy everywhere, American flags and southern rock – I was right at home. We would have never found such a cool spot without our local tourguide Mark there to show us around. We had a great night and were loving our time in Sydney.
The next day we had planned to visit the Blue Mountains but in the morning, we realized it was the BCS Championship game, Auburn vs. Florida State. We’re both huge college football fans and would hate to miss this game so rearranged our schedule to catch it. We found the best place to watch was the sports bar at The Star Casino in Darling Harbor. Called 24/7, it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and has enormous big screens to catch any sports event you can imagine. And, you can bet on them! To make things more exciting, we put down $40 on some silly bets like who will be the first to score, who will be up at halftime, etc. We cleaned up on almost all the bets but promptly lost them on roulette after the game. Oops! We still had an awesome day there, just wish the right team would have won (ahem… Auburn)! Great game though and I’m so glad we caught it.