An Aussie co-worker of mine years ago used to explain his home country as “17 hours ahead, 20 years behind”. Anyone who has visited Australia will understand this statement, it’s simplicity is almost a return to innocence. I visited Sydney for the first time after completing the Western Australia Ironman in Busselton many years ago, and recently revisited Sydney on our way back from almost a month in New Zealand. As usual, we did a lot of research prior to arrival to maximize our our fun. Here are our recommendations for the best cocktails, coffee, landscapes, street art, shopping and food for 48 hours in Sydney.

TO STAY- We chose the Old Clare Hotel based on location. It’s tucked between two of the hippest neighborhoods in Sydney, Surry Hills and Newtown. The Inn, built in 1848 and then renovated in 1940 to an “Inter-war Functionalist style” and more recently into a chic reasonably priced boutique hotel, was just our speed. The rooms had modern furnishings and fixtures juxtaposed with original brick walls, moldings and marble. They have a dope rooftop pool and bar and also rent out cruiser bikes for riding in this super cycle-friendly city.

CAFFEINATE- The best place for brekky:  avo toast and a flat white or a cuppa (tea) or is the Paramount Coffee Project. (The first thing to understand when translating Australian is that most words are abbreviated and an “a”, “o” or “y” is added to the end.) PCP is located in a converted warehouse, its a modern cafe presenting local and international roasters presented in an unbiased and educational format. The avocado toast even held up to our San Francisco standards. Another solid coffee choice is The Caffeine Project. Amazing coffee, well-priced and you even get a buttery cookie with your coffee.

ADVENTURE DAY 1- Sydney Harbour

From our hotel, we walked all the way up George Street to the Wildlife Sydney Zoo. to get our koala and kangaroo on. A little touristy by most standards, but it's the closest place to see native Australian animals within the city limits. If you have more time, definitely go to the Sydney Taronga Zoo or there are many places where you can see Kangaroos in the wild an hour or so outside the city. From there, we walked to the Sydney Opera House. It's best to walk around it and take photos from multiple angles and also check out the interior architecture designed by Jørn Utzon. Check the website to see what performances are on the calendar, and see an opera if you get a chance as tickets are easily acquired online. We enjoyed lunch and walked the grounds at the Royal Botanical Gardens.  With over 75 acres of gardens and 45,000 species of plants, it’s total gardening porn. After a long day, we opted for a light meal more heavily weighted in alcohol at The Handpicked Cellar Door.They have amazing Australian wines, cheese and charcuterie.

ADVENTURE DAY 2- Bondi Beach

We started the day by walking over to see the MLK, I have a dream mural in Newtown. Sydney has some amazing street art, that was actually painted illegally, but allowed to remain due to its local historical, aesthetic and social heritage significance. We then ventured to Bondi Beach to spend the entire day in the sun. We started on the Bondi coastal path and walked from Bronte beach to Bondi. If you are up to do the full trek from Bondi to Coogee which is about 6 km, the views are unparalleled and you’ll work up a good sweat. When I was racing triathlons, I had always heard about the famous pool at Bondi Icebergs Club, a 90-year-old swim club. We spent a few hours sunning and drinking tinnys of Pirate Life, Throwback IPA we smuggled in and I dropped in for a few laps in this 50m infinity pool overlooking Bondi beach and an ocean 5 rows deep of surfers. For just $8 per adult, this was a great investment to swim in the most photographed pool in the world. Bondi Beach is a little overblown and touristy, but the sea wall contains some brilliant mural art. We walked down Gould street to browse at shops and found some boutiques featuring local designers like Tuchuzy and Annex. At this point, we were long overdue for a drink and headed over to the Stuffed Beaver for some Australian Grifter Draught and some dam nachos. This quirky Canadian bar does not disappoint on the Beaver jokes. We had an early dinner at Doyles on the Beach in Watson’s Bay. A known quantity for great seafood, cocktails and beach views. We ferried back from Watson’s Bay to Circular Quay during sunset and enjoyed the most amazing view of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A perfect end to our quick Australian adventure that completed our 3.5 weeks in New Zealand sourcing materials and testing product.

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Suzann Stone