One City, Five Hours: Sydney

(Appeared in the December, 2010 issue of Hemispheres Magazine)

Head to Circular Quay (Alfred Street) to get your obligatory tourist photo of the Harbour Bridge. Walk out just far enough to get a good breath of sea air and a view of this majestic city, then turn back—time’s a-wastin’. (0:25)

Stroll to Sydney proper through Australia’s oldest neighborhood, The Rocks. Once home to the convicts who built the city, The Rocks is a warren of pubs, cafés and markets. Grab a beer at Fortune of War (137 George St.; www.fortuneofwar.com.au), which claims to be the city’s oldest pub. (1:10)

It wouldn’t be Sydney without a brush with nature. Hoof it to the Royal Botanic Gardens (Mrs. Macquaries Rd.; www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au) to see thousands of endangered flying-fox—the largest bats in the world. (1:40)

Your next stop, the Sydney Opera House (Macquarie St.; www.sydneyoperahouse.com), is a bit more refined. There isn’t enough time to hear the fat lady sing, but you can sip a quick glass of fine local wine at one of the bars inside. (2:25)

Circle back to Circular Quay and hop a ferry to Darling Harbour (www.darlingharbour.com), Sydney’s shopping mecca. Check out the alfresco exhibits at the Australian National Maritime Museum, like the replica of the ship sailed by James Cook, the British explorer who mapped the continent. (3:25)

Trek down to the nearby Chinese Garden of Friendship for a peaceful cup of tea. Feel the Zen as you contemplate the lotus flowers and waterfalls. (3:55)

Make a dash to Paddy’s Market (Thomas St.; www.paddysmarkets.com.au) just up the street to grab some souvenirs. Boomerangs and stuffed koala bears abound, as do vendor stalls peddling Aboriginal art. (4:25)

The city’s tastiest food is steps away in Sydney’s lively, diverse Chinatown. Snap up a delicious Cookies Cream Puff from Barby’s Puff, Donuts n Bakery (396 Sussex St.); it’s the perfect sweet end to your savory time in Sydney. (5:00)

—Christina Couch

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