October 6, 2008

A summer soiree in Sydney

-This was my second visit to Oz land in last one and half years. I am re-publishing an article written for Times of India last year in May.

Nestled amidst gorgeous beaches, Sydney is special in very many ways. Water sports for the adventurous at heart, world-class restaurants for foodies like me and a vibrant nightlife, well for everyone! But let me begin with Port Jackson. It truly is the heart of Sydney, symbolising the sun, water and the outdoor spirit of those who inhabit it.

Sydney occupies the largest natural harbour in the world offering divinely picturesque sunset views from almost all of the 70 harbour beaches in the metropolitan region. The best way to see the harbour is by taking a ferry from central Sydney to the Toronga Zoo, where I saw koalas, platypus and more than 3,000 other endangered or rare species enjoy prime ocean front property!

I was fortunate to witness the Harbour Bridge's 75th anniversary celebrations. The iconic Harbour Bridge , known as the coathanger among locals is an adventure in itself. Climb the southeast pylon for an unimaginable view of the harbour or pay a little more to spend adrenaline filled hours climbing the bridge through a certified company.

Facing the Harbour Bridge is the signature Opera House against the beautiful backdrop of Port Jackson; making it difficult to believe that Sydney is just about 200 years old. A visit to Sydney would not be complete without a trip to one of its several dozen sandy beaches lining its suburban coastline. The famous Bondi beach is about 15 minutes from the Bondi station by bus and is in the eastern suburbs. It is Sydney 's sandy seaside escape, complete with gelato vendors, funky pubs and an overall air of relaxation.

The beautiful Manly on the Northern side of the harbour is about 30 minutes from the city by ferry from the Circular Quay; one of the most relaxing, picturesque and enjoyable rides you will ever experience! If you are an animal lover and have come all the way to meet the famous koalas – an hour's train ride to Paramatta will take you to the Koala Park. You can explore the city's central and North sides where you can see the Queen Victoria statue and the Royal Botanical Garden, which is quite remarkable featuring the preserved site of the colony's first paltry vegetable patch.

The Museum of Contemporary Arts is also a point of interest mainly because of the terrific Art Deco building in which it resides and the Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of 18th and 19th century works. Following a long day of harbours, beaches, art and amusement, King's Cross is just the perfect blend of trendy class and underground subculture for a fine meal, chichi cocktail or gritty groove. And if you want to escape the hustle bustle of the city, simply take a two-hour train ride to reach the Blue Mountains.

Perhaps these beautiful mountains get their name from fumes created by the eucalyptus oil released into the air by the carpet of trees lining the surrounding hills. But well, you can never feel blue here!

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