Ways to Save Your Pennies in Sydney

I’ve been procrastinating from doing it, but I finally sat and actually calculated how much I’ve spent during my 15 or so days here in Australia.

After passing out from the shock of the number appearing on my calculator screen, I added it up again and fell over once more.

Let’s just say that it cost me less to get to New Zealand (from Canada!) and noodle around there for the same amount of time, AND fly from there to Australia. Unbelievable. For that kind of money, I feel that I should be wearing brand new Uggs while staying at the Four Seasons eating room service. Instead, I am hunched over on a top bunk at a hostel overlooking a train yard, eating nothing (I did eat today, though, further adding to the “donate my bank account to Australia” fund).

So yes, when people tell you Australia is expensive, they ain’t kidding. Thank goodness I have a job to go back to.

At any rate, there are things you can do for next to nothing in Sydney, hard to believe, which include:

  • Free Ride. There’s a shuttle bus that runs around the CBD, so if you don’t want to take the bus or train you can hop on a green bus and be down by the Opera House in no time.
  • Guided Walks.  While I didn’t do any, many hostels offer free guided walks to help you get familiar with your surroundings. There are also free twice-daily tours through the Sydney Botanic Gardens, which is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon with a picnic. You’ll find one of the best views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from here too, in my opinion.
  • Get Out on the Water. My one week Multi 1 transit pass did cost me $41, however I made sure to utilize the heck out of that sucker and get my money’s worth. On hot days, I parked myself on the front of whatever ferry happened to be leaving, and snapped pictures of the harbour along the way. Even if you don’t have a transit pass, most routes cost less than $5 which is a steal.
  • Weekend Markets. I explored the Paddington and Bondi weekend markets, and there are also well-known markets at The Rocks and other areas. Markets are great ways to pick up locally-made products or food and see the true character of a neighbourhood come alive. The Paddington Market in particular is huge, and it was fun to just sit with a coffee and people watch.  Sydney has great little neighbourhoods and you can pick up guides to each from various stores, cafes and visitor’s centres – I got some great suggestions from them.
  • Take a Hike. I previously mentioned the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, but there are numerous walks that range from a few minutes to full-day affairs. I took the ferry to Watsons Bay and did the Watsons Bay to South Head trail. A fairly easy trail (I saw some people wearing flip flops and HEELS, which always amazes me), you’ll wander past cute houses and across a small beach before gaining elevation and some pretty fabulous harbour views to boot. Also as a head’s up – Sydney’s only nude beach is along this trail. I saw a lot of Sydney that day. Not as much as the young family hiking behind me did, who actually went DOWN to the beach before realizing where they were. Another great area to explore for hikes is Manly. Yes, Manly has a fantastic beach but there are also several fairly lengthy hikes available to choose from. I did the walk to North Head, which promised spectacular harbour views (it delivered). It also left me completely tuckered out, but there are buses back to the ferry wharf.

So while you can go to the Opera House, climb the Harbour Bridge, and shop to your heart’s content (there are lots of good options), you can also give your wallet a vacation occasionally too.

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Keeping My Shape (Somewhat) in Shape

I’ve been talking a lot about food. Specifically, pastries. Cookies. Cakes. Wine. Sometimes all in one meal. Usually I am fairly healthy, I like to exercise regularly and I am a vegetarian. However, it’s become more regular for me to adopt the “I’m on vacation” mantra. A delicious mantra, that one is.

Such was the case when I stopped by Infinity Bakery in King’s Cross the other day. Yes, I took a photo of my dessert. But it was THAT good, I just had to remember it. It was also the size of a small pizza. Before judging me, I’m sure there have been times when you have eaten something and thought “man oh man, this is awesome. Nothing will ever taste better than this. I wish I could remember it forever,” well I went one step further and documented it. And I ate the whole thing in one sitting.

But it’s not all cakes and pastries. One of my favourite, cheap activities to do whilst vacationing is walking or hiking, and there are plenty of good options for it in Sydney. The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk (you can stop at Bronte if you get tired – or, alternatively, if you want some gelato! Which may be counter-intuitive to the purpose of this post) is a 6 km walk taking you past beautiful beaches and even more beautiful people. The latter makes it a bit easier to bypass some of the bakeries and cake shops in town.

You  can start the walk after doing some good people-watching in Bondi Beach. Then you’ll pass  Tamarama, Bronte (and if you’re like me, get absolutely tossed about by the waves and then subsequently sunburnt after napping on the beach), Clovelly, and eventually Coogee. Conveniently, there’s a bus stop near Coogee which was most helpful for the ride back to Bondi. I was exhausted!

Another great option that I’ve enjoyed quite a bit is to get out on the water on a ferry. I went to Watson’s Bay and Manly and puttered about both. Stay tuned for more about both of those, which deserve  their own posts due to my adventures.

While it wasn’t cheap, I splurged and went to Yoga on the Beach in Bondi, which afforded pretty fan-freaking-tastic views. Granted, it wasn’t totally relaxing – I had to really strain to hear the instructor over the crashing waves (neat) and sounds of Willow Smith blaring in the background (not so neat). There’s something about I WHIP MY HAIR BACK AND FORTH I WHIP MY HAIRRR BACK AND FORTH that does tend to distract your balance when trying to hold a position. But at any rate, after yoga I went for a swim here:

Yes, the ocean comes into the pool. Yes, it was hilarious trying to lane swim competing with that and semi-professional athletes. And yes, I only lasted about five minutes before calling it a day (yoga was tiring, yo!).

All this talk about exercise has made me hungry!

Speaking of Animals…

I’ve rented an apartment/room in a place in Bondi (Junction) for a week. It’s a nice, quiet neighbourhood, and about a 15 minute walk to the beach. I have two giant windows – neither of which have screens. Yesterday, I had a large wasp-like bug, some sort of beetle relative, and a spider. This morning when I came out of the shower, there was a parakeet. Sitting on the window sill, cocking its head to one side as if to say “sup?”

I stood frozen, as I thought sudden movements would escalate the situation very quickly. And given the panic I was in over a bug, I thought “yes, this could get much, much worse if I’m chasing a damn bird around the room.”

At any rate, it got bored and moved on to other windows. Who knows what unexpected roommates I’ll get tomorrow – but if a kangaroo drops by I’m leaving.