Travelling Article - Sensational Sydney

 All through my life I had wanted to travel to Australia. To find Sydney on a map and realise just how far it is from London I still find extraordinary; what's even more extraordinary, is that not so long ago families would pack up and head off to the unknown to start a new life probably never to return to the UK. After World War II my Great Aunt and Uncle did just that and as my Grandma waved goodbye to her sister, the boat left Southampton and she knew that she may never see her again. Today, thankfully, the world is a very small place and with the growing popularity of Facebook and Skype, keeping in touch has never been easier if jumping on a plane isn't an option.
 As a child I struck up a friendship with my distant cousin in Sydney and she would write to me about Christmas Day beach barbecues, unpleasant spiders and Neighbours spoilers. I would daydream at school in Classics lessons about what Sydney was like, perhaps somewhere between Neverland and Olympus. In my gap year I had planned to travel to Australia, however, this was not to be and before I knew it I was working long hours with a number of commitments which meant a trip down under was not on the cards. One day, not so long ago, I realised that I couldn't put this trip off any longer and booked a flight a fortnight later. My epic journey had begun, first stop Sydney birth place to mythological style perfection in the mortal form of Elle MacPherson and Hugh Jackman and, of course, my lovely not so distant cousin, Jenny.
 Sydney has a temperate climate with hot summers and mild winters. The airport is conveniently close to the city centre and transport links are extremely good. There is always a good time to visit and from my experience you'll probably not want to leave! These are my recommendations for a sensational stay.
 What to See
 With an unmistakable skyline, world famous beaches and iconic architecture it's difficult to know where to start. When you land in Sydney , it's safe to say you'll have no idea what day or time it is or should be! I didn't feel too exhausted so headed to Bondi Beach for breakfast followed by a whistle stop tour to see the Opera House and the harbour bridge. Sydney is the perfect city to explore when you have no set intinery and want to take things at a slow pace. A boat trip across to Manley is a great way to see the full beauty of Darling Harbour and enjoy a perfect day relaxing on Manley beach which is much larger than Bondi and some would argue much nicer. The outdoor Olympic pool is worth a visit to see a piece of history, however, come prepared as once you see it you won't want to leave without taking a quick dip. Sydney has many beautiful parks, perfect to picnic, read and relax in from the stunning botanical gardens to the tranquil Chinese Garden of Friendship and a familiar sounding Hyde Park. On George Street there is a famous and rather controversial statue of Queen Victoria, worth a look to see what you think.
 What to Do
 * Australia's wildlife is unique and a great place to see everything from a Tasmanian Devil to a big old Kangaroo is Toronga Wildlife Park which is located on the outskirts of Sydney. The park isn't too big and is perfect for a day trip. Meeting the Koalas is extremely popular so I'd advise going straight to see them on arrival before joining in on any of the extremely informative wildlife talks.
 * Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an awesome yet terrifying thing to do. You'll need to allow a number of hours and in hot weather the climb is strenuous, but well worth it for the sense of achievement and of course the spectacular view. It is expensive, but with a once in a life time justification. Worth noting that you can not be hungover to climb and to have a little dutch courage beforehand is foolish as the safety team are armed with breathalysers.
 * Learn to surf, the obvious and most expensive place to go is Bondi and there's a good chance you'll be mobbed by gap year students. I learnt in Manley, however, there is a certain kudos associated with Bondi Surf school and you're far more likely to want to frame your certificate. Both are brilliant so it's personal choice.
 *Cricket is a way of life in Australia, to quote the highly irritating song "I don't like cricket, I love it" was clearly written with "The Fanatics" in mind. Watching a day test at the home ground with a cold beer is the best way to experience this game Ozzie-style.
 * Shop until you drop in fashionable Paddington full of glamorous boutiques. The rather familiar sounding Oxford Street is the place to be, and unlike the chaos of London enjoy the unique shops and coffee shops at more of a leisurely pace. Oxford Street shoppers have style and more importantly, good manners which is refreshing if a little un-nerving to a London Pro.
 This article appeared in the Jan issue of Actuarial Post Magazine
 Where to Eat
 * Doyles in Watsons Bay was recommended to me by everyone I spoke to ahead of my trip. This sublime seafood restaurant has been run as a family business since the 19th century and it did not disappoint. Located on the beach, booking is essential, especially if you would like a sea view. The restaurant was packed, the food was amazing.
 * Lucious is the perfect place to stop for an Italian lunch when exploring Paddington. The setting is stunning and the walls are adorned with a selection of art from some of Australia's leading up and coming artists. My only complaint would be, combining an art gallery with such a fabulous restaurant it's easy to loose track of time and exploring Paddington's Reservoir Gardens was off the menu after all.
 * Rockpool, some say, serve the best oysters in town. The seafood is amazing, however, I had a steak which certainly ranks as one of the best I've ever tasted.
 * The Sydney Tower certainly has the best view in town, complete with a revolving restaurant, diners have a bird's eye view of the city. Food is of a bistro nature at the "360 Bar and Dining" and perfect for lunchtime, order a deliciously fresh caesar salad and large glass of Sauvignon Blanc and take it all in.
 Where to Stay
 The Establishment Hotel is conveniently located in the central business district and a stunning base to plan your Sydney adventure as the Circular Quay ferry terminal is only moments away. This hotel offers a true luxury experience, guests are treated to Bvlgari cosmetics in the bathroom, Apple TV, iPads and Bose sound systems in the bedrooms. Crisp white bed linen and fluffy bathrobes come as standard and if this wasn't relaxing enough each room comes equipped with a yoga mat. This hotel is an oasis for couples, it's incredibly stylish and a real treat for those who want to dress to impress in the evening. The Hotel's Ivy Bar or Gin Garden are the places to be seen sipping cocktails in the evening. There are several dining options, pop into Mad Cow for a juicy steak or feel virtuous at the award winning Sushi bar- either way, if you feel a little lethargic after an over indulgent dinner, reception can organise a personal trainer, with a small amount of notice. The Establishment is certainly somewhere that you feel extra special and that you won't want to leave.
 Getting there
 There is no getting away from the fact that getting to Sydney takes some effort. There is no such thing as a direct flight and the best alternative is a service that has one stop for a quick re-fuel. You'll need a day to get there and a day to recover. I broke my trip up with a stop-over in Hong Kong, this meant one journey of 12 hours followed by another journey of 8 hours a few days later. I flew Upper Class with Virgin which was fantastic, the cabin was complete with James Bond 007 bar, an endless supply of carrot cake and, thankfully, I was able to get some sleep. Cabin Crew were fun and attentive, I couldn't have wished for a better flight or indeed a more sensational trip.
 Follow Eve on Twitter! @AllaboutEvie

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