December 24, Thursday

Airport

  • Sydney City Guide: We saw a rack filled with Sydney City Guides when we alighted from the plane. Make sure to get them as they provide not just detailed itineraries that you could read through, but also DISCOUNT coupons for a lot of the major attraction sites the city has to offer

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  • Optus mobile sim card: As soon as you exit the luggage claiming area (assume we exit in the same location), you’ll see an Optus store to your immediate right (which typically has ridiculously long queues). I advise you to walk left instead, and you’ll find another Optus store beside WH Smith with a very short queue, as most tourists don’t bother to go left (since the airport to city train requires you to turn right). You can opt to buy either the AUD 10 mobile data sim or the AUD 20 mobile data sim. Just keep in mind that 500mb per day (12:00am-11:59pm) will cost you AUD 2.
  • Opal card: You can buy at WH Smith (beside the Optus store), or you can buy at the airport to city train station. Queues at both location should be short, as they’re quite efficient. Top up at least ~AUD 40, as the airport to city train fare costs AUD 15.36 one-way

Hotel: Breakfree on George (653 George Street)

  • Included 1 Queen bed + 3 Twin beds, 2 bathrooms, a small kitchen w/ microwave, and a small balcony
  • Location alone is a win! We were debating between going with a hotel, or with Airbnb – but decided that we’d prefer to stay at the city center rather than the city outskirts. This gave us greater flexibility (e.g. wake up later since we lived near the Central station, grab dinner nearby as George Street has a variety of restaurants to choose from), and gave our poor feet much-needed rest. In the end, we felt that the $$$ we would’ve saved was more than offset by the convenience of the hotel location
  • Staff was courteous and polite. They quickly attended to our needs, and took into account our preferences (higher floor, room not facing out to George Street or Sussex Street – as we felt it might be noisy, 2 bathrooms)
  • Amenities:
    • Kitchen + small dining table served us well as we had our breakfast there every morning
    • Beds were REALLY warm and comfy – we had a hard time getting out of them in the mornings
    • Complimentary water and milk provided on the first day only. However, tap water is potable
    • NO FREE WIFI in the rooms, but this was not a problem for us as we simply used the Optus mobile data sim and put up a personal hotspot (never realized how far 500mb can get you when all you’re doing is Facebook, Instagram, and Google)
  • All in all, would definitely recommend this hotel, especially for families travelling together

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Lunch: Pho Pasteur (709 George Street) – cash only restaurant

  • Yummy beef pho at reasonable prices – servings are really big so if you aren’t big eaters, you can opt to share a large bowl between two people

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Grocery shopping: Coles Supermarket (inside World Square)

  • Extensive selection of food at quite affordable prices (by Aussie standards)
  • We stocked up on milk, juices, pastries, fruits, as well as bread, ham, lettuce, cheese, and smoked salmon (for our picnic lunch the next day)
  • Fruits: Their cherries are ridiculously good, so sweet and tender! Keep in mind that they were in-season at the time we were there. Blueberries and red mangoes were also pretty good (depends on the brand however). We didn’t particularly like their raspberries and strawberries, but perhaps it was because we didn’t know how to choose the ripe ones properly!
  • Alcoholic drinks: Sydney is pretty strict about where you can buy alcohol, so you won’t be finding beers and hard liquor in your neighbor supermarkets or 7-11. However, there is a liquor store beside Coles Supermarket and you can opt to buy from there

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The Rocks Free Walking Tour, 6:00pm (Meet-up at Cadman’s Cottage)

  • Do it if you’ve got time to spare, don’t if you’re crunched for time
  • I enjoyed the 1.5 hours walking tour with Ross, as he shared stories, myths, and legends surrounding The Rocks. At the end of the tour, I felt that I had learned more about the history and present turmoil of The Rocks and could therefore greater appreciate the city I was in, which I would’ve never have had if I had not joined the tour

Christmas illumination at Martin Place, Pitt Street, and Town Hall

  • I wasn’t particularly impressed by the Christmas illuminations and Christmas trees set-up, but this might be because I come from the Philippines where Christmas is THE holiday of the year, and is celebrated starting from September (with matching bright, colorful Christmas displays in every single mall, radios playing Christmas songs, and so on). Nevertheless, do check it out as it gives you a good sense of how locals celebrate this season. Also note that most of the Christmas illuminations are only until December 24, so check it out before they disappear
  • We were unable to check out both St. Mary’s cathedral where I heard there was both a lights illumination and a choir (7:30pm until December 24), and the Darling Harbor Santa Fest (with bricks Santa, a fireworks display, and outdoor Christmas films showing). Both the St. Mary’s cathedral and Darling Harbor Santa Fest were big and grand, so do check it out if you’re so inclined! I would’ve wanted to, but we were just too tired by that time

Dinner at Hungry Jacks

  • For dinner, we wanted something quick but uniquely Australian so we settled on Hungry Jacks, a fast food chain that we haven’t seen anywhere else
  • We tried out their different burgers. They were good, but nothing exceptional (what can you expect from fast food?) It reminded me of Burger King though…

For my other days of travel, feel free to click the links below to read more on specific parts of our 7-day Sydney journey:

Introduction: Tips and tricks on enjoying Christmas in Sydney

Day 2: Taronga Zoo + Manly Beach + Golden Century dinner

Day 3: City Tour + Fish Market + Paddy’s Market + Darling Harbor

Day 4: Blue Mountain + Leura Village

Day 5: Opera House + Rocks Market + Australian Heritage Hotel

Day 6: Bronte to Bondi Coastal Walk + Watson’s Bay + Harbor Bridge + Luna Park

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