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Life in Sydney

My top 10 tips on how to wake up for sunrise

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My top 10 tips on how to wake up for sunrise

I’ve never been an early bird - but I changed. For a long time, I was the typical frenchie who would go to bed between midnight and 1am and would be extremely happy to wake up no earlier than 9am.

This now feels like a distant past life…

I think Australia truly changed me in many ways and waking up early is a big one. Now I know I can wake up for sunrise most times - unless I am way too tired, the weather is extremely miserable or cold, or I am too hungover. But, yes, I can do it - those are the only exceptions.

It hasn’t been an easy road to sunrise though and although I now feel comfortable to get up, it took me a while to mentally prepare myself for it.

And because I think everyone should experience this more often, see and feel the very first sun rays and welcome the day with such a beautiful gift from nature - here are my top tips on actually getting up and enjoying it.

 Sunrise surf in Manly Beach, Australia. Photo: Marine Raynard

Sunrise surf in Manly Beach, Australia. Photo: Marine Raynard

  1. Spoiler: go to sleep very early!


There’s no secret here… If you go to sleep late, you’ll struggle waking up early! Figure out how many hours you at least need to function and try to go to sleep a little bit earlier than usual.

If that’s hard of seemingly impossible for you, try to have a big day to sleep early or relax by reading a book - no screens! Surely, you’ll fall asleep quicker than you think.

2. Visualise yourself

This is a technique I’ve always learnt and used recently but I swear it helps! Even though you feel weird for doing that, just try it. So before you go to sleep, just visualise yourself, physically going to that place you want to watch sunrise from, meeting your friends or preparing your photography equipment, and the feeling you’ll have from watching the sunrise. Hopefully, those little visualisation tricks will help you get up faster when you wake up!

 Pink sunrise in Manly beach. Photo: Marine Raynard

Pink sunrise in Manly beach. Photo: Marine Raynard

3. Get everything ready to go the night before

One big strategy I have is to not lose a minute when I get up super early so I can maximise my sleeping time. So obviously, prepare everything the night before - cameras, bag, clothes you’re going to wear, snack, water - so that all you have to do is dress up, grab your stuff and go watch that sunrise!

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4. Have a strong motivation

So you want to wake up for sunrise but you don’t know how. BUT you do want to wake up and watch that sunrise, so that’s already some motivation here! Use every little bit of motivation you can and why in the first place you wanted to get up that early. Surely this will help you to actually do it.

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5. Get into a habit

As everything in life, the first few times will feel a bit tough to wake up so early and get organised. However, you’ll quickly notice that the more and more you do it, the easiest it will get for you to get up in the morning.

Set up a little challenge and tell yourself you’ll do sunrises at least twice a week for a month and see how you go! After a while, you’ll surprise yourself and wake up before your alarm (I certainly do that now…!)

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6. Get some friends and unite

There’s nothing like knowing your friends will also be there for sunrise! I love that little text as 5am being like “you awaaaake?”. It motivates you so much knowing you’re all in the same boat, you’ve all woken up so early and you will all witness an amazing sunrise.

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7. Remember how good you felt / imagine how good you will feel

If you’ve gotten up quite early a few times now and loved the experience, try to take a moment to print that feeling in your brain. This seems silly but when you have to visualise yourself again to motivate yourself, this is quite important!

That happy  / emotional / still / calm feeling you had? Hang on to it and you’ll feel it again at the next sunrise!

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8. Pick your favourite spot

Needless to say, if there’s a beautiful place you know about and you love watching sunrise from, this will help you!

If you don’t know it yet, search where you think the sunrise will be most beautiful, and change it up by trying different spots facing east. Every sunrise is unique!

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9. Go back to sleep after… or not!


If really you think you’re going to struggle waking up so early, then you can always go back to sleep after or go for a nap!

But I personally think that sunrises really energise ourselves so it would be a shame to not start the day the best way. But I don’t mind a little arvo nap if I’m tired!

10. Be proud of yourself for accomplishing something different / getting out of your comfort zone / being one with nature!


If after all of this, you’ve made it to sunrise - congratulations! You can be truly proud for being an early bird and pushing hostels to do something different and appreciating the beauty nature has to offer.

You also had the power to do a little change in your life and you took it! So all props to you for being so awesome.

So are you ready to get up early this time? Let me know if you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them!

And if you want to see more of my sunrise pictures and stories, head to my instagram @thefrenchieescapes !

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How Sydney made me more active

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How Sydney made me more active

Without a doubt, I’ve never been so active and motivated to do sports than now. It’s been three years I live in Sydney, and lots of things have changed for me since, read here how living in Australia changed me, but one of them is definitely the level of activity I am doing.

If you’ve never been to Sydney, you’ll quickly understand this beautiful city is super outdoorsy, people live outside and exercise outside - a lot. There is a real beach body culture in some parts of Sydney too.

After those three years, I’ve realised that although I’ve always been active, I really wanted to up my game lately and become a lot stronger, fitter to be mostly a better surfer! Surfing has really changed a lot for me and my workout routine revolves a lot around it.

Discover below five sports which I think I really got into - more seriously - since living in Australia and I hope that you will too!

Cover photo of this article by Darcie Collington @darcieec

1. Surfing baby!

Surfing had been a goal/dream for me since a very young age but I unfortunately never lived close to decent waves and did only a couple of weeks of surf camps in France. Moving to Australia, this really triggered my willing to surf and I really started to take it seriously about a year and a half ago. I actually wrote a blog post here on how to start surfing in Sydney.

And I never thought surfing would bring me so much closer to nature, my body and my mind. I couldn’t imagine my life without it now and wish I could be in the water much more often (and that the conditions were good every day too!). Although I leave only 20 minutes driving away from a surfing beach (without traffic), it’s hard to get out there every day when working full-time in the city but I am grateful for every opportunity I get and have a ferocious will to get better at it and surf amazing waves with great style one day!

 Bondi to Coogee walk 

Bondi to Coogee walk 

 

2. Walking and hiking kilometres and kilometres...

I remember the first few weeks in Sydney, I was quite impressed with how many hikes were available in and around the city. Whether it’s a 20 minutes water walk, an hour coastal hike with incredible cliffs views or a 4-hour bush walk at nature’s heart - there is enough for a decade!

I love walking because it’s just so easy, perfect to discover surroundings, take photos and just take a moment to appreciate what nature has to offer to us. The most iconic walks in Sydney are Bondi to Coogee, Split to Manly and Heritage Walk in Vaucluse but don’t hesitate to explore further and try new walks! Check my blog on 6 walks in Sydney that you must do.

 Biking the harbour bridge in Sydney for the first time. Now something I do every day!

Biking the harbour bridge in Sydney for the first time. Now something I do every day!

3. Biking to work

This one is very recent. Since I moved to Sydney lower north shore this winter and my full-time job is now in the city, I decided that I’ve had enough of the bus and wanted to bike to work! I bought a $200 brand new blue bike from 99 bikes in Enmore and I was set! The beginnings were a bit hard as there are so many hills on my way (especially from work to home) but since doing it regularly, I am pretty much fine now.

I still haven’t done it 5 days in a row because of being too tired sometimes or having places to go after work. It takes me about 40 minutes instead of 30 minutes with the bus so not bad and a great workout + it’s free! My highlight is definitely biking on the harbour bridge and passing in some quiet streets feeling so free and happy! I’ve really noticed the difference in my mood and productivity at work after a few weeks as well.

I really want to research more bike paths now to just go biking on weekends too and mix exercise, fun and exploration!

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4. Zen vibes with Yoga and Pilates

I really got into yoga and pilates when I was in the USA, as I had free classes at uni (didn’t realise how good that was at the time), and decided to get back to it in Australia. There are SO many places to do both, it’s incredible. The price isn’t as fun though as it can get quite expensive but if you find a nice club you like, it’s worth the spend.

There’s yoga by the sea, acro yoga, yoga up to Sydney tower, even yoga beer I heard haha? I’m just loving the zen vibes of those classes and how relaxed I feel afterwards. I still need to find myself a new club as I haven’t found one since I moved. But I know that there are some great places that do it for free like the Buddhist Library in Camperdown - which I used to go to when I first moved to Sydney.

And you can always you know, just rock some youtube yoga video and do it at home or in the park!

 The Sydney Botanic Gardens - a nice place to run!

The Sydney Botanic Gardens - a nice place to run!

5. Run, run, run!

Sooo running is still a very much work in progress for me. I’ve never been bad or good at it, but just hated the feeling after running for a while. Swimming is my thing, running not really. But I decided to get better at it because it’s still fun and free!

And when you have such an amazing scenery to run to, you cannot be tempted! The Royal Botanic Gardens, Eastern Suburbs water runs, the Northern Beaches, etc… So many places. Only little problem: the hills and the crowds! Some places can get really hilly very fast and is just a killer. And the crowds can be pretty insane at some times in the day, especially Manly on a summer day.

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If I had more time, I’d even love to pick up even more activities… I”d love to join a sailing club, do a surf lifesaving course, try ballet lessons at the Sydney Dance Academy… I’ve got endless ideas but not endless time unfortunately so will continue focusing on surfing and do what I love.

Did a city make you more active before as well? Do you have a favourite activity that you love doing no matter where? Tell me everything!

 

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Winter in Sydney Part 2: Where to chase the sun

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Winter in Sydney Part 2: Where to chase the sun

Sydney Winter weather can get truly weird. You can go from 7 degrees to 22 degrees in one day. You’ll be wrapping yourself in layers in the morning and peel off like an onion throughout the day. Only to later feel way too warm while walking through the city.

Winter in Sydney starts on first June and ends on 31st August. I won’t lie, I much prefer warmer seasons as I don’t feel like wrapping myself under a blanket 24/7! But there are ways to keep warm during Sydney winters and even to - almost - feel like summer.

Here are some outdoor places suggestions per time of the day to keep you warm and happy in Sydney during those winter months!

 People enjoying sunrise at Bronte Beach Rockpool. Photo: Marine Raynard

People enjoying sunrise at Bronte Beach Rockpool. Photo: Marine Raynard

Sunrise at Bronte Beach

There are many many places in Sydney to enjoy the sunrise, but the best is without a doubt on the beach, whether it’s on the northern beaches or eastern suburbs.

A little while ago, I went for sunrise in Bronte Beach to take some pictures and although the 5am wake-up call was a bit hard, there was nothing more gratifying than the sunshine powering through the beach.

Some early morning people were as courageous as going swimming and surfing this early. But I am sure you start your day with a huge smile on your face after such a sunny start of the day.

Oh, and did I mention sunrise is amazing for pictures?!

 Sunrise on the ocean at Bronte Beach. Photo: Marine Raynard

Sunrise on the ocean at Bronte Beach. Photo: Marine Raynard

Morning walk from Dee Why Beach to Long Reef Beach

Mornings can still be cold and there’s nothing better than a good walk under the sun to warm up a little. I recently discovered Long Reef beach and how it has an amazing walk up to Dee Why beach. The whole walk would take about half an hour at least but has amazing views and you can also observe the surfers.

Start from Long Reef to then finish at Dee Why and have a warm coffee in any of the awesome coffee places by the beach - I really like Girdlers!

 From Dee Why Beach with a view of Long Reef in the background. Photo: Marine Raynard

From Dee Why Beach with a view of Long Reef in the background. Photo: Marine Raynard

Lunch at Hyde Park

I actually work next to Hyde Park so this one comes from daily experience! Hyde Park isn’t a huge park but a really nice place to walk around, sit on the grass or a bench. You’ll also get amazing views of Sydney towers through the middle of the park.

Many people have lunch there on a sunny day but there’s still space to take a break and relax. Also, make sure to check the Pool of Reflection next to the memorial, beautiful reflections obviously!

 Lunch time at Hyde Park, in Sydney CBD during the Winter months. Photo: Marine Raynard

Lunch time at Hyde Park, in Sydney CBD during the Winter months. Photo: Marine Raynard

Afternoon nap in the Sydney Botanic Gardens

Another park, another beautiful place! The Sydney Botanic Gardens certainly have the views, the greenery and the wonderful smells of flowers. It’s perfect for a stroll around with incredible sights of Sydney as well as lunch at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, coffee or some more exploration inside the park.

I find relaxing on the grass next to a tree is the best way to truly unwind with a bit of sun. That well-accompanied with a hot beverage and a book. I admit not having done that in a long time but it is definitely nice!

 The beautiful pathways of Sydney Botanic Gardens with palm trees. Photo: Marine Raynard

The beautiful pathways of Sydney Botanic Gardens with palm trees. Photo: Marine Raynard

Sunset vibe in Shelly Beach - Manly

Being on the East coast, we don’t, unfortunately, get sunsets right on the ocean horizon like in Perth. However, there are places in Sydney where you can still try to get every bit of sun as much as you can before it’s gone for another cold winter night!

Shelly Beach in Manly is one of my favourite places to soak up every last bit of the sun before night. You can get beautiful views over Manly, relax by the water and even take a little dip if it’s not too cold. The perfect way to end the day before wrapping back into a very warm blanket again!

 Selfie at sunset after snorkelling at Shelly Beach, Manly. Photo: Marine Raynard

Selfie at sunset after snorkelling at Shelly Beach, Manly. Photo: Marine Raynard

Don’t worry the Winter in Sydney isn’t that cold, the temperatures don’t get under 7 generally but it’s always nicer with a bit more sunshine! Do you have favourite places in Sydney to keep warm? Let me know where and I’ll make sure to check those out!

And if you’d like to read more about why winters in Sydney are awesome and what to do, check my previous blog post on 5 reasons you’ll love Winter in Sydney.

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Winter in Sydney Part 1: Whale Watching

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Winter in Sydney Part 1: Whale Watching

It seems the Summer in Sydney was only a few weeks away when in reality, we are well into Winter now. And of course we do all miss Summer already. Surprisingly, I’ve heard a lot that Winters in Sydney are plain boring with not much to do.  

I think there’s actually a lot more to do than we think during Winters in Sydney and yes, it can be super super fun! I’m going to prove it to you with this three part series article about three top activities to do and Winter will pass like a breeze!

One of the best things to do in Sydney during the Winter months and no other time of the year is… whale watching! From May to November, the Humpback Whale and its friends come back from Antarctica where they spent the summer and are setting along the NSW coast for a few months (see the top spots here).

 

The Southern Right Whale might be sighted as well although not as easily and comes on different months. They will come generally between July and September to mate and give birth to their calf.

There are many other types of whales like the Blue Whale but these are very rarely seen. You can also see dolphins and sea lions quite easily.

I went on the whale watching adventure at the end of May with Ocean Extreme and organised by Backpacker Deals. This was the first time for me to see whales so close in Sydney. The only whale I saw before was in November 2015 from Bondi Beach headlands and then in Byron Bay in October 2014. I also saw some whales in Alaska before but that’s pretty much it.  

The experience with Ocean Extreme was seamless and very fun from start to end. I embarked at Manly Wharf which was a good location for me but I thought after I should have embarked in Circular Quay to enjoy the fun ride in the harbour.

The boat itself is very very cool, all black and new, and super powerful. It’s also nice to not have too many people on the boat so you can move around very easily to take pictures and the captain doesn’t have to talk to you over a microphone!

We found the two Humpback Whales quite quickly off Manly beach and followed them for a good hour. We were spoiled with back tails and spouts but unfortunately no breaching. The captain explained to us in details about the whales and the pattern to see them wave the tail or breach. Breaching requires a lot of energy from whales as they need to go very deep down to then jump back up. It happens from time to time but not at every tour. Apparently the best time to see them doing this in around end of June / early July as this is when the male whales would be impressing females by doing so. But this is quite a bit of luck, you never know when they can breach!

If you are going for a tour, it’s best to go in the morning or late afternoon. Few tips when going on the boat:

  • Bring very warm clothing. The wind and air can be a lot colder on the ocean. You can always peel off. Ocean Extreme actually provides really cool waterproof and warm jackets as well so in case you forgot, you’re all sorted!

  • Sunscreen and glasses. The sun glare can be quite strong and reflection on the ocean is not forgiving either. Even if it’s winter, better be protected!

  • A good camera. It’s quite a hard task to capture the whales as they are constantly moving but after a few tries, you’ll be able to capture some nice moments. The captain also had a camera and offered to email pictures to anyone who would be interested so that’s nice too! But don’t forget to enjoy the moment of course.

  • Anti-seasickness tablets. This is very dependant on how you feel on a boat. Some days may be very agitated and some days should be fine. I know that I am fine on large boats but on smaller boats if going a bit further than the shore, I can get sick. So as a precaution, I took one tablet and I was fine. I definitely didn’t want to ruin this moment! Speak to your pharmacist before going on a boat to find out what you should take. If you’ve never been on a boat before and you don’t know if you are seasick, well you can try it out but if you are, it might not be a very fun ride!

After observing the whales for a good moment, we had a fun ride back home. We went zigzagging with the boat around the Manly headlands which was quite thrilling! I disembarked at Manly Wharf again but really wished again I went all the way to Circular Quay for more thrills.

Overall the experience was great, with a super intimate group and super powerful boat. The Ocean Extreme captain was super knowledgable on whales and happy to show it to the group.

Well worth the experience on a sunny Winter weekend in Sydney! Have you seen whales in Sydney before? If so where? Tell me more!

Thanks to Backpacker Deals and Ocean Extreme for organising this adventure!

 

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Review and Video of TreeTops Adventure Park in Sydney

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Review and Video of TreeTops Adventure Park in Sydney

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Just about half an hour from Sydney CBD, there’s a beautiful forest which many do not know about. The Cumberland State Forest is a perfect place to escape the busy city life but also to try on new adventures, such as climbing and flying between trees! I was lucky enough to try the newest Sydney TreeTops Adventure park in The Hills region and had lots of fun challenging myself and also connecting with nature. Ideal for summer, the TreeTops Sydney zip line experience is very suitable for a day away with friends or the whole family. Discover my thoughts and pictures below. Don't forget to check my video below as well! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=735yEFuSwps&feature=youtu.be

My first time trying the zip line

Weirdly, I’ve never had the opportunity before to try this kind of adventure and nor did I know there were a few TreeTops parks around Sydney! On a beautiful summer day, I was pretty excited by the challenge awaiting and to know how it would feel being on top of the trees.

The preparation was pretty extensive with first having the put all the equipment (so you know, you don't fall out without security) and the whole security/how to use the ropes and different flying foxes, challenges and stops. What at first I thought would be pretty hard to remember surprisingly came pretty naturally. Although I wasn’t super fast up there, I didn’t have much trouble to go around and enjoy the challenges.

One thing to know, it’s definitely not for the people afraid of heights (agoraphobia). Although I am not afraid at all, I thought it was pretty impressive to be so high up and having to balance out between ropes. Some were very easy and fun, some were a lot more challenging requiring good balance and a bit of focusing. The best was definitely the flying foxes, got to do three in total. Once again, this is a lot more impressive that we think, especially for the first time but thrills are guaranteed!

TreeTop Adventure Park General Manager Sandrine Gaymard said: “At TreeTops we say get off your bums and into the bush because we’re huge advocates for people getting outdoors, active, and gaining new skills. Participants don’t need any special skills to participate and there are varying levels of courses people can progress through – each offering something different and surprising.”

Allow plenty of time to enjoy the different challenges. There are different levels, green, blue, red and even black opening soon! It is probably best to go early in the morning to avoid the heat and also the crowd.

Once you are done, there’s plenty more to do as well. You can do a nice hike in the Cumberland State Forest (different levels and length as well), enjoy a delicious coffee and cake at the cafe next door (lunch can also be an option) and why not shop a few native Australian plants in the shop next door as well!

It is best to get there by car, there’s plenty of parking available around. If you don’t have a car, you might have to catch a bus and walk for a fair bit to get there. A good way to warm up as well!

So if you’re looking for a day of adventure and in the nature around Sydney, I would definitely recommend checking all those options!

TreeTop Park

About the Cumberland State Forest

Cumberland State Forest is located in West Pennant Hills and is the only state forest located in a metropolitan setting in Australia and a haven brimming with native flora and fauna and soaring 25 metre – 40 metre Bunya pines.

About TreeTops

TreeTops Adventure Park features high ropes experiences, an amazing array of challenges including 20 flying foxes, climbing nets, Tarzan lianas, monkey bridges, suspended rafts, trapezes and twisted ladders.

Founded by French couple Frederic Galimard and Sandrine Gaymard, TreeTop Adventure Parks are Australia’s most awarded zip line operators. Also located at Abbotsbury, the Central Coast and Newcastle, they’re open every day during the holidays (except for Christmas Day) from 9 am - 5 pm. Price starts at 28 dollars for kids and 48 dollars for adults. The experience can take up to two to three hours to complete, including ‘gearing’ time. www.treetops.com.au 

Cumberland State Forest Sydney

 

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How to start surfing in Sydney

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How to start surfing in Sydney

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You’ve probably heard of the Australian surfing lifestyle and maybe even dreamed of it.  Maybe you've just moved to a coastal town in Australia, even the most famous: Sydney!

Sydney is an ideal place to live for its lifestyle, especially if you love surfing. There are so many opportunities to go surfing and to embrace the surf lifestyle. I’ll tell you all about how to start surfing in Sydney in this blog post but first let me tell you a bit about my surfing experience.

I’ve been passionate about  surfing and loved it since I was very young but unfortunately where I lived had more wind than waves. I got to do some sailing and sometimes bodyboarding but that was pretty much it. I only started surfing at around 19 years old (wishing I had pushed myself to do it a lot earlier) in Lacanau, France, at a surf camp. After that amazing experience, I learnt the basics of surfing and surprisingly, whilst in Portugal, I got to surf in Sagres and I was actually better than I thought.

I then moved to Australia but couldn’t go surfing regularly as I didn’t have a board or car and had to rent each time I went, which was a bit daunting. However, I still tried to go often. I finally bought a car in November 2015 and this was the revelation! I got a board from my boyfriend in December and was set to go surfing! Since then I have gone surfing almost every weekend, joined the Girl Boardriders Fraternity (more about this below) and made some wonderful surfing girlfriends! Now I’m getting my second board, just got roof racks to fit everything and I have many plans for surfing trips around Sydney for the Summer!

Myself going for a surf in Manly beach!

Here is my guide on how to start surfing in Sydney:

1. Book a lesson or two

 

If you’ve never set a foot on a board and have no idea how to operate a surfboard, it might be a good idea to try it with a lesson from a professional surfer first. You may discover that you don’t like it or you could love it. Surfing is a hard sport and takes a lot of perseverance to overcome the frustration of the first few times.

A friend could teach you as well but I think it’s always good to start with pro surfers who can show you the best techniques, give you the right board and push you in the water.

Some great surfing schools in Sydney (depending on where you are):

 

2. Do a full week of surfing

One lesson is great but a full week of surfing when you start can really make a difference. It really helped me when I was in France to grow my confidence over the week and try my best each day.

It is also a great way to push yourself in different conditions and try new moves and even try to turn! If you can choose a full week surf camp, that’s best. And why not do it away from Sydney to take a holiday at the same time? For example, Byron Bay is the Mecca of surfing and you can enjoy a beautiful beach, seaside town and relaxed atmosphere at the same time. I would definitely do it!

bondi beach surfing

3. Rent a board and go on your own!

Once you’ve had a few attempts in the water with some help, it’s time to jump into the big blue on your own! Renting a board + a wetsuit if needed is super easy in Sydney although it can get a bit costly if you do it often.

But just try at least to go on your own or with a friend and have fun! Stay in the water one of two hours and test yourself, try new things, meet locals, and did I say HAVE FUN?

One of my favourite place to rent boards is Dripping Wet in Manly. They are super nice and always give you great advice! 

4. Get your own board and wetsuit

Now if you’ve mastered all those steps, you’re on your way to becoming a real surfer! Definitely get your own board, one designed for beginners at first, so you can practice as much as you can before getting a better board. There are so many second-hand boards for sale around Sydney, so you will have so much choice. It’s best to do a bit of research beforehand so know what kind of board you need. There are few types: the longboard, mini mal and shortboard. When starting it’s great to have a soft board for more fun than a hard board. I went for the hard board directly and loved it, but now I’m getting something a bit lighter and shorter as it fits me better. Just choose the right board for you and your level.

As for the wetsuit, you can also get some good ones second-hand but consider whether you need one for a long time or just for a few months. Also, think of the conditions; do you need a full ‘steamer’ or just a spring wetsuit? So many possibilities! Also, don’t forget to protect your skin that’s not covered by the wetsuit. Zinc or 50+ Extreme Sport from Cancer Council are both really good.

Freshwater beach surf sunrise

5. Spot your favourite breaks and remember the surfing rules  

Depending on where you live, there are lots of possibilities on where to go surfing. Each beach has a different vibe and different surfing conditions. Some beaches are more protected and some have more space. My favourites are Manly and Freshwater but I have yet to try new beaches! I have surfed in Bondi, Collaroy and Maroubra which are fun as well. It’s all about trying.

Remember when you are on your own, you can do anything in the water but there is surf etiquette and rules, just like skiing, snowboarding or even driving!

Just a few rules - more in details on Surfing Wave here.

  • Watch for wave priority and right of way
  • Don’t drop in (cutting in front of other surfers already up)
  • Don’t snake (paddling around someone to get in the inside position)
  • Don’t monopolise the waves (learn to share with others)
  • Do say sorry (if running into someone else for example)
  • Respect the locals
  • Help other surfers if needed
  • Respect the beach

I know these are a lot of rules but believe me, it’s essential to know and respect so we all contribute to a safe surfing environment and keep a good surfing culture.

Surfer in Manly Beach. Photo: Marine Raynard

6. Make some surf friends and talk to the locals

Surfing on your own can be fun but having some great people to go surfing with is more than amazing! Especially if they are locals, they will know where to go, what to do and will always be encouraging you!

As a surfer girl starting, I didn’t have many contacts already surfing around Sydney. For a while, I went with my friend Agathe in Bondi Beach and together we learnt a lot and pushed ourselves to get more and more waves. I’ve also joined a club called the Girl Boardriders Fraternity and met some amazing girl surfers. Each month we meet for competition time and we also just go surfing on our own. This has really boosted my confidence and makes me even more excited to go in the water each time! Now that I’ve moved more towards the North side of Sydney, I go on the Northern Beaches more often and love meeting new people out or in the water!

Freshwater beach surf

7. Learn to fall and wipeout

It’s going to happen and you have to learn the hard way. But that’s the way it is, so best to learn how to wipe out/fall to not get injured.

Falling is going to be pretty frequent when you start and you definitely shouldn’t think that you suck at surfing. Surfing is hard and you’ll fall, but falling can be fun! As long as you know where you are, that no one should be around you and where your board is to not get it in your head, fall happily!

Wiping out is another thing -- It’s when you get crushed by waves as a result of nose-diving or being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Wipeouts can be a bit scary because it’s like being in a washing machine for some time and having no idea where is the top, the bottom and where your board is. The first rule is: PROTECT YOUR HEAD and watch for your board! So, so important but hard to remember when in the water. Your head is the most precious and important asset to protect, in case your board bumps into it. Believe me, it can be very, very painful and even knock you off in the water. Then the second rule is: try to get back up as soon as you can, as you’ll feel much better! Final rule: take a break for a few minutes in a safe place, as wipeouts can shake you a bit. To learn more on how to wipeout safely, learn more here.  

8. HAVE FUN!

Remember that everybody is a beginner one day at surfing. Have fun and relax. This is an amazing sport which lets you connect to nature and yourself. Thank yourself for doing such a hard job. Many people wish they could surf and yet you are doing it so high five yourself for that!

Ps: if there’s a shark alarm, please get out of the water! I’ve experienced it at Bondi Beach and I still don’t get why people stay in the water, haha.

So have you tried surfing in Sydney? Tell me all about it and don’t hesitate to ask me questions!

Don't forget to have fun! Photo: Marine Raynard

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The Best Sydney Timelapses in 5 Videos

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The Best Sydney Timelapses in 5 Videos

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What’s the best way to capture Sydney beauty by time lapsing it? I’ve always loved watching timelapses, and although I still got to master the art, there are some really talented people out there capturing the daily life of Sydney in a few minutes. Between the city, beaches, events and crazy storms, I’ve selected my top 5 of Best Sydney Timelapses. Scroll below and let me know which one is your favourite!

 

1. Tiny Sydney by Filippo Rivetti

Timelapses making cities looking tiny have always amazed me. In this video, you really feel like that you are a tiny person in a big city. From Bondi beach to the CBD, it takes you on an energetic journey across the city. The colours are full of blues and greens. And the zoom lets you see the tiniest details of traffic, social activities and popular places in Sydney. Miniature and magnificent Sydney by Filippo Rivetti!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3Bti00TCDw

 

2. Vivid Sydney by Matthew Vandeputte

Vivid, known as the festival of lights in Sydney, is one of my favourite rendezvous each year. Around the CBD, you can see all the buildings lighting up as well as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Vivid lasts about two weeks and is a paradise for photographers! With the variety of colours, graphics and stories, there’s so much to photograph and video.

In this video, Matthew Vandeputte captures the groovy feel of Vivid Sydney as well as its busy spots! Can’t wait for Vivid Sydney 2017.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYPlQ4PRLtg

 

3. Syd-lapses by Romain Mongin

From day to night, Syd-lapses shows the most iconic places in Sydney. It also includes timelapses of Vivid’s best lights from 2015. Some of my favourite parts in that video are the night sky full of stars. This is the kind of time lapse that let you imaginative about the city and appreciative of its beauty!

 

https://vimeo.com/128715304

4. Sydney Superstorm by Matthew Vandeputte

Sydney’s weather can be hot and sunny but it can also lead to massive storms at any season. While they don’t last for a very long time, they can be very aggressive and mostly dramatic! I’ve seen lots of cool footage and pictures of last year’s superstorm but this timelapse tops it all. From dramatic skies to scary lightning, there’s something about Sydney’s storms to be chaotic and beautiful at the same time.

 

https://vimeo.com/131055168

 

5. 2010 New Year’s Eve by City of Sydney

New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney are probably some of the best in the world. It makes the crowd go crazy every year with some people starting camping on the best sites 48 hours before. This video from 2010 is an oldie but a goodie. You can notice how busy the harbour gets and the impressive amount of fireworks for the midnight craze! Probably the best way you’ll ever see the fireworks.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0hjTboG5X0

So what’s your favourite Sydney Timelapse?

 

 

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Checkup after two years in Australia

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Checkup after two years in Australia

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Happy anniversary to me! I can't believe it's already been two years today that I’m living in Australia. Year after year, it seems like time flies even faster. And after two years in Australia as a Frenchie, I now feel very happy and very set with my decision of living here. Last year I did a little recap of how I felt after one year of Aussie life and although it still feels like it was yesterday, I have more thoughts to share with you. I definitely feel like I’ve matured a bit more into the Australian life and I am keen to continue exploring Australia and beyond! Discover more of my thoughts here and head below to hear my radio interview with 2UE yesterday about my passion for Australia and travels! 

I’m busier than I ever been

This year is definitely the year of crazy projects, intense work life and fun opportunities! I’ve tried to increase the pace on The Frenchie Escapes with more adventures and videos. Blogging is a full-time second job but more exciting than ever! Can’t wait to do and show you more.

I’ve also taken on a new full-time job since almost a year and this has kept me super busy! Juggling everything takes a lot of organisation and determination. But you know what they say, when you love what you do, you don’t count and you do it! And I’m lucky to do something I love and that I am excited about every day. Australia has definitely a very open and dynamic job market. There are many opportunities if you know where to look for those and work hard.

Finally, there’s so much to do in Sydney, it’s sometimes hard to keep up! So many places to explore, events to attend, and friends to meet. Maybe New York City is the city that never sleeps, but Sydney is the city that never stops. I’ve had a lot to do since a year between my blog, my friends, my photography, surfing and more!

Loving Sydney! Photo: Marine Raynard

I bought freedom and… a car

A big step in my life since a year: I've bought a car! Now that’s adulting Level 100! Some people own cars since very young but for me I never had the need before so it was a pretty big step to buy my own car. I’ve never really had the need while living in France but after a year here, I couldn’t go one more day with slow public transportation in Sydney and not being able to go on adventures. Having my own and dear Honda 4WD has made me so much more independent and free to go surfing and exploring whenever I want to. And if you know me, you know I LOVE road trips. So having your own car means just one thing: freedom!

I feel a bit more Aussie day after day

I'll always be “The Frenchie” but this year I have taken on quite many Aussie habits and I've been told many times my accent is more Aussie than French from time to time.

This year for example, I’ve tried to wake up earlier every day, as many Australians love to do as well, and also exercise early in the morning. Thanks to a bit of determination, I am actually waking up quite early every day and even on weekends. I am totally addicted to surfing, and won’t hesitate to wake up at 6am on a Sunday morning to go hit the waves (ok not every Sunday that early haha). It also means I love even more my quiet evenings working on my blog, reading or relaxing. No shame here.

Speaking of surfing, I am 100% addicted and committed to it. I knew I already had this passion in me but couldn't totally do it as well without a car, it is a bit hard to go surfing. Now that I have all of this, I met amazing surfer girls as passionate and dedicated to this sport thanks to Girl Boardriders Fraternity. There’s nothing better than feeling the power of the ocean and challenge yourself. I am now getting my own new board in a few weeks and can’t wait to get better at it.

I am really embracing the Aussie lifestyle, whether it’s about being active, doing BBQs, loving my smashed avocado on toast, following the elections, go to concerts and follow trends. I love Australia and my life in Sydney more and more every day. And sorry not sorry, but no I don’t miss France at all. Of course family, friends and food are regretted but I see them from time to time and get to do my own kind of food as well so not that a big deal. Oh, and I now like vegemite (with my smashed avocado).

My favourite thing is going surfing and taking photographs! Myself with my friend Agathe. Photo: Marine Raynard

I feel more inspired and hungry for exploration

A year ago I met many other like-minded photographers and artists thanks to the Sydney Instagram community and this has been so inspiring for me. Discovering and building friendships with other creative people has truly inspired me and pushed me to do more. I’ve developed my blog and Instagram account more and more and am pushing for new opportunities. Unfortunately, time is sometimes missing and I wish I could clone myself to do all of it but it is so rewarding when you get amazing feedback.

I also feel more inspired thanks to surfing and exploring. I have many exciting things coming and can’t wait to see what next year will be like. I love going around Sydney and New South Wales, there is so much to see just a few hours away from your doorstep. I am also planning on more adventures in the future.

Actually, yesterday I had the amazing opportunity of being interviewed on Australian radio 2UE with Aussie legend Tim Webster. Have a listen here to discover more about my story, my travels and my love for Australia!

After two years in Australia, it's time to get to do even more exploring and blogging!

Cheers to another year in the lucky country!

Marine, The Frenchie.

PS: please follow me on Instagram or like my Facebook page for daily updates :)

 

Picture of myself shooting in the stockton dunes by Oli Coultard.

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Vivid Sydney: 2016 edition

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Vivid Sydney: 2016 edition

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I hope you forgive my lateness on reporting on Vivid Sydney this year, the past months having been extremely busy! But better late than never, here are my thoughts on Vivid Sydney 2016, a selection of my photographs and a video!

A young girl at Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard
A young girl at Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard

Vivid Sydney 2016 smashed records

Are you ready to read this number? Here we go: 2.3 million people attended Vivid Sydney this year! That’s like if the whole population in Brisbane just took a massive plane to Sydney and went to Vivid at the same time.

No wonder why I thought this year was SO crowded - I couldn’t even go to all the places I wanted. Even on a weeknight, past bedtime. In comparison last year, Vivid Sydney attracted 1.7 million people. So that’s an increase of 35% in just one year. Let’s just sink that in…

Number madness:

  • More than 132,000 attended Vivid Music events
  • More than 54,000 attended Vivid Ideas, with 658 speakers and 183 Vivid Ideas events
  • 88,000 people downloaded the Vivid Sydney app
  • 190 Vivid Music performances were played
  • 90 light installations and projections were created by more than 150 artists from 23 different countries

And what a better way to finish this by knowing that Vivid Sydney has actually the Guinness World Record title for the Largest Interactive Lighting Display awarded to the Dress Circle installation at Circular Quay!

I don’t know about you, but I feel so happy and proud to live in Sydney when I see this.

The Opera House illuminated at Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard
The Opera House illuminated at Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard

My favourite places

Each year Vivid Sydney offers some amazing installations and many ways to discover them. I always love to start Vivid from the other side of the bridge, at Kirribilli to have an overview of the city and the bridge. Luna Park has also some Vivid colours usually. I recommend taking the ferry from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour to Kirribilli to enjoy the view from the water as well.

But what’s most spectacular is to walk on the Harbour Bridge and watch from high the lights on the opera house and the city. It’s perfect for camera lovers as well as you really get a nice frame of the city.

The Rocks this year had some really good installations as well. I really like the one with the luminescent bottles suspended in a tiny street called “Tectonic” - although pretty hard to photograph with so many people!

Around Circular Quay, there were some really nice lights as well but it was so crowded it was hard to appreciate and stop at each of them. The opera lights were as dazzling as usual and high in colour and stories.

Finally, the Botanical Gardens this year welcomed some of the most spectacular lights as well. The “Cathedral of Light” was definitely my and a favourite this year. It was, however, a huge struggle to get in and go through. The wait was about 45 minutes so after shooting for more than 2 hours, I just couldn’t handle the wait… I still get to walk right next to it and get a few shots. Definitely magical with the opera behind.

The Cathedral of Light at Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard
The Cathedral of Light at Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard

Things to remember for Vivid Sydney 2017

I went to Vivid Sydney pretty late this year and I really didn’t expect so many people around all the time, every day of the week. Here are a few tips I’ll definitely apply as well next year:

  • Go the first night! I thought by going later it will be fine, but I heard so many times of people going the first night and not having huge crowds. The first night is also great to have a good first glance and then come back.
  • Get good shoes as you might be walking for hours and hours. There’s so much to see, you don’t want to have to go home because your feet hurts or you weren’t prepared. There’s still the possibility of doing Vivid via cruises but it’s a very different experience and not as enjoyable in my opinion.
  • If you are a photographer, get your best tripod and work on your light settings! So many photography opportunities but so many challenges. A great way to practice and get wonderful shots. Don’t miss the Canon HQ as well to print the photograph for free after!
  • Get a little map or download the app. Very useful to know where to go and what you really want to see. But I have to admit, I kind of improvise generally because I know my way around.
  • Don’t forget Vivid Sydney is more than just around Circular Quay. True, that’s the only part I usually do but you also generally have some lights in Chatswood, University of Sydney and this year was Taronga Zoo as well. I’m sure there will be more surprises next year!

So see you next year at Vivid Sydney 2017? Let me know what you thought of Vivid Sydney 2016 below! If you want to see more photographs, go see my full album here. 

Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard
Vivid Sydney 2016. Photo: Marine Raynard

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Trailblazer exhibition: do you have the explorer gene?

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Trailblazer exhibition: do you have the explorer gene?

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You might find out in a visit of the Trailblazers exhibition and from explorer's adventures at the Australian Museum in Sydney before July 18.

 

I finally got the chance to take a look and it is obvious why it won the Australian Best Exhibition Award for 2016. In an hour or more you can discover Australia’s 50 greatest explorers and how they pushed themselves to the limits. While it is not a big exhibition, you really get to see and understand what drove those explorers to do more and make us change the way we see the world.

 

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From the early Australian days and first Aboriginal explorers to the more contemporary times with astronauts, Trailblazers gives you keys to learning a lot about what it takes to tackle oceans, mountains, deserts and the air. I’d have to say my favourite parts were probably the ocean and the air as they are so unpredictable and mysterious.

As you go through the exhibition, you actually start thinking of what kind of explorer you would be and what adventure you would take on. I also got the chance to meet one of them, Gaby Kennard, the first Australian woman to fly solo across the globe.

 

The great Gaby

Here are a few numbers: Gaby flew 27 years ago in a Piper Saratoga VH-GKF, Maule M7260C Orion, did 39 touchdowns, visited 21 countries, flew at about 28,000 nautical miles, crossed the globe in 99 days and the equator 5 times. She arrived on the 10th of November 1989, the night after the berlin wall fell down. 

 

Gaby Kennard arrival small

 

More than numbers, her courage and strength got her out of scary and threatening situations. The video she showed at the beginning of her talk at the Australian Museum showed exactly that. I was very impressed of her calm when she encountered her first challenge with her plane engine stopping 5 times in the middle of the Pacific and the second big scare when she was thrown up and down for 4 hours during a thunderstorm close to the African coast.

But her perseverance kept her going, “It is easy to think, ‘oh bad luck, I'm going down the ocean’, but I thought I have to figure this out, I need to see my children again, I have to keep trying, focus and find a solution,” Kennard said about her engine failing 5 times but she kept trying, and she was fine.

On what drove her to start this exceptional adventure, it was certainly the inspiration from Amelia Earhart’s journey being the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. But there is more to that as Kennard explained: “If I can make this dream a reality, if people think ‘if she can do this, then I can do what I want’ is the reason why I did this.”

Although being a single mother, and with only 450 hours of flying - Gaby took down all the obstacles and got her commercial license, studied hard and bought her own plane. She mortgaged her house, started with 5000 dollars from Dick Smith and few sponsorships to make her dream come true.

Now 27 years later, she is still standing strong and her kindness and modesty shine. Her journey afterwards has not always been easy but she learnt how to face her fears that the worse thing can happen and that’s ok. Getting the Archibald prize is now her next dream.

 

Myself meeting Gaby Kennard at the Australian Museum

So what makes an explorer?

As Kim McKay, Executive Director and CEO, of the Australian Museum said: « They haven’t found it yet, but I’m sure the adventure gene exists. »

There’s definitely an explorer in all of us - but it yet has to awake. Going on an adventure isn’t always easy. It can take lots of resources, logistics, and planning or it can be totally improvised. It can trigger feelings of excitement, happiness like it can be scary and hard physically and emotionally. But then being an adventurer, isn’t just about trying something new? Getting out a bit of the comfort zone?

What do you think makes an explorer and are you, yourself an explorer? Tell me all about your adventures.

And if you just need to be inspired and are in Sydney, have a look at the Trailblazers exhibition - it will surely trigger some wanderlust and adventurous feelings.

 

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My favourite places in the Blue Mountains

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My favourite places in the Blue Mountains

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Located at about two hours west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains is an amazing place to discover. Apart from the main touristic points, there is so much to see you would need weeks to go everywhere!

For me, this is the perfect nature getaway for hikes, waterfall chasing and autumn leaves chasing as I did recently.

With an area covering more than 11,400 km2, there is a wide range of dramatic landscapes, steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, and cute villages to discover. These are mountains but of course, you can’t compare to the European mountains. There you can’t ski (if you want to ski in Australia, have a look at my article here) but nonetheless, it still gets cold in Winter. The highest point in Mount Werong with 1,215 metres.

Autumn in Mount Wilson. Photo: Marine Raynard

Quick history of the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains formed around one million years ago as part of the Kosciusko Uplift during the Pliocene Epoch. Before the Europeans arrived in Australia, the region was already inhabited by the Aboriginals - the Gundungurra people and the Darug people.

It also took a really long time to figure out how to build a road around the Blue Mountains. From first explorations, the rugged terrain and many challenges made the crossing of the mountains extremely difficult. It is only in 1814 that the first road was constructed thanks to great engineer skills from Europeans and Aboriginals.

What I liked in The Blue Mountains

Wentworth Falls and the Charles Darwin Walk

Wentworth falls is from far one of my favourite places in The Blue Mountains. It has wonderful views, entertaining hikes and so much beauty. I love how the atmosphere can change whether it is foggy, sunny or even stormy!

The Charles Darwin Walk let you follow the famous steps of the naturalist who walked this track in 1836. You can start it from Wilson Park and easily stroll through the boardwalk and bush tracks within the forest until the end of the walk for impressive views.

The Charles Darwin Walk. Photo: Marine Raynard

 

Hassans Walls Lookout

Located in Lithgow, this lookout (among many other cool lookouts around the area) will show you spectacular views over the Blue Mountains. At approximately, 1,100 metres above the sea level you will have an overview of to Mount Wilson, Mount York, Mount Tarana and Mount Blaxland and the whole Hartley Valley below. It is said to be at its most spectacular for sunrise or sunset. I’ve only experience during the day but can’t wait to go back!

Myself in at Hassans Walls. Edit: Marine Raynard

Glow Worm tunnels near Lithgow

Be forewarned, this is a true expedition to get there! Through about one hour of driving on a very wild, dusty and unsealed road in the Newnes plateau, you will arrive to the majestic and mysterious glow worm tunnel. My favourite part before arriving was entering with the car this massive tunnel that just looks like a decor out of Jurassic Park. Thrilling feeling and memories of Disneyland guaranteed!

Once arrived, you have 20 minutes walk through the forest to get to the tunnels. Make sure to bring some lamps as it can get really dark but don’t let them on for too long otherwise, you will have trouble seeing the worms. Best to go early or late as it can get crowded. And if you are not a scaredy cat, go at night. Even more thrilling feelings guaranteed!

Glowworm tunnel. Edit: Marine Raynard

Mount Wilson in Autumn

There are many villages in the Blue Mountains and I have yet to explore most of them! However, if you happen to be in Sydney during the month of may, this would be the best time to explore Mount Wilson and the Breenhold Gardens. You will see the most beautiful colours of Autumn leaves which will leave you with an unshakable feeling of mystery and beauty. Make sure to bring your camera!

Magic happens in the gardens! Photo: Marine Raynard

Katoomba and the Three Sisters

While this is a very touristy and probably the most famous area of the Blue Mountains, I would definitely recommend you have a look at it. Very accessible and free, the lookout offers majestic views on The Blue Mountains. You can also explore the area with many walks around, be careful though the lower you get, the harder it will be to go back up haha! But definitely worth it.

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Bonus: Lincoln Rock

On my last trip to Mount Wilson, we wanted to catch the sunset from somewhere and my friend Kel suggested Lincoln Rock. While this is a small part of the Blue Mountains, once again you can see wonderful views! The giant flat rock is great to sit on and relax and appreciate the view. Just be careful if you get closer to the edge, you never know!

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So this is of course a non-exhaustive list as there is so so much to discover in The Blue Mountains. I really want to go back again and discover new places!

What would you recommend I go to next :)? Looking forward to seeing your comments!

 

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Celebrating the Chinese New Year in Sydney

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Celebrating the Chinese New Year in Sydney

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Today marks the end of an amazing celebration for Chinese New Year in Sydney. For the year of the Fire Monkey, Sydney lighted up the whole city at night with the 12 lunar signs and some red everywhere. Discover a bit more about the new year as well as my photographs. 

For the 20th anniversary, the city of Sydney organised more than 80 events which place the Chinese New Year as one of the biggest outside from China!

In Australia, this is the time for most of the Asian communities to celebrate the new year with family, important customs and rituals as well as delicious food.

What’s happening for the year of the fire Monkey?

If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004 or 2016, you are a lucky monkey! This is also my lunar sign and I am very proud to be a Water Monkey said to be “smart, quick-witted, fond of being in the limelight, but haughty”.

Few tips for the Monkeys who want to travel this year! (Tips to take lightly of course!)

  • Go on an adventure with the right amount of people! Lucky numbers for Monkeys will be 4 and 9. Enough to fill in your car or two!  
  • Fly away on a lucky day, either the 14th or the 28th of any Chinese lunar calendar month.
  • Pack up your favourite clothes but with only those colours: white, blue and gold. Pink and red should be avoided!
  • Point towards your lucky direction - North, Northwest or West. Don’t even try to go South or Southeast for bad luck.
  • Finally, if you want to go on a long trip, choose your lucky month - either the 8th or 12th month of the Chinese lunar months.

Finally, the personality of the monkey is - in my opinion - almost perfect for travelling with!

People born in the year of the Monkey as said witty, intelligent, and have a magnetic personality which is essential when discovering new places and new people. Although, personality traits, like mischievousness, curiosity, and cleverness can also make Monkeys very naughty.

You’ll also never get bored wit a monkey person as they are masters of practical jokes because they like playing most of the time. They are also fast learners and crafty opportunists.

A good adventure is always a good idea, especially in big cities as Monkeys like to take challenges and they prefer urban life to rural.

So what’s your lunar sign? Did you ever experience the Chinese New Year in Asia? Tell me everything :)

 

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Stay cool for the summer in Sydney

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Stay cool for the summer in Sydney

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After a rough few weeks of rain and cold, temperatures finally started to rise in Sydney. Some may hate it, some may love it but for sure when the sun is on fire, everybody loves the shade!

Here are my top tips to prepare for hot days and stay cool this summer.

1. Hit the rock pools

This is totally my number one because I love swimming and rock pools are so (maybe too) refreshing! You also get to see an amazing view of the ocean, what’s better than that?

My favourite would be definitely the iceberg in Bondi Beach. This shade of blue and beautiful view is a must. However, there are rock pools almost on any beach: Manly, Coogee, Freshwater, Palm Beach etc.

 

2. Explore national parks and its waterfalls

Best way to stay cool and in the shade is exploring the national parks around Sydney. While it may be very humid on some days, it is still nice to enjoy the green beauty and even better - a dip in waterfalls on the way!

A cool one is at the Royal National Park in the south of Sydney with an amazing waterfall  at Wattamolla leading to the sea with a nice lagoon. More information on the best waterfalls to come too!

One of the waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, so refreshing!

3. Culture yourself with museums and A/C

Fan of modern art or history but also of cool air? Luckily, Sydney has great and mostly free museums open this summer. You get a tons of choice whether you want to know more about the Australian history, animals or just appreciate art.

My favourites are the Museum of Contemporary Art with always cool exhibits as well as the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Bonus: The Art Gallery of NSW is exhibiting at the moment “The Greats” with exclusive painting from Cézanne, Botticelli, Leonardo, El Greco, Gauguin, Monet, Poussin, Raphael, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Vermeer. It is on until the 14 of February!

The MCA in Sydney

 

4. Look up for windy spots

Weirdly with Summer, comes also lots of wind in Sydney. Why not enjoy a soft breeze then? Top spots for that would be near lighthouses. I’d recommend the one in Watson’s Bay or Hornby Lighthouse. Best view of the pacific ocean!

You can also take the fast ferry back to the city and get a bit more of refreshing air. So ferries + lighthouses? Oh yeah!

 

Horny lighthouse near Watson's Bay

 

5. Go sailing

Even better and more adventurous than the typical ferry. Go sailing! There are plenty of companies out there to take you on a wonderful sailing trip around the harbour or even you can learn in one day! Just don’t forget the sunscreen, the sea and sun won’t forgive you.

The start of the Sydney-Hobart sailing race.

6. Treat yourself

Get some ice cream is those great stops and enjoy it in the shade or just go for a bit of shopping - hopefully not during peak and christmas hour! While I can not say who got the best ice cream is Sydney, I actually tried n2 earlier this year - which is ice cream made of liquid nitrogen and honestly pretty cool and good.

n2 in Chinatown, Sydney.

7. Get up early and appreciate

The sun is rising at 5:38 at the moment. Early yes, but also fresh! Wake up nicely with the sun for a bit of a running, yoga, rockpool session and get freshened up for the rest of the day. I tested it and I approve it! I am definitely not an early bird but getting fresh air in the morning while watching the sun rises is super energizing!

So how do you stay cool for the summer in Sydney? Let me know, because we might run out of options…

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A look at Sculpture by the Sea 2015

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A look at Sculpture by the Sea 2015

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Each year between October and November, Sydneys-siders can appreciate the largest sculpture exhibition in the world.

Located on the scenic Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, Sculpture by the Sea is a very popular rendez-vous in Sydney. Each year more than 520,000 visitors discover unique designs from over 100 artists.

 

The waves of Barbies

 

This free event was created in 1997 by David Handley, Founding Director, who after a trip back in Europe wanted to do something unique and artistic for Sydney-siders.

“The concept for Sculpture by the Sea was the culmination of many years thinking, where a new step in the thought process came up every year or so. Essentially the exhibition came from my wish to create a major free to the public arts event for Sydney,” said Handley. “That 25,000 people visited the 1997 exhibition, the quality of the show and the media interest gave the impetus required for the future development of sculpture by the Sea.”

This year’s exhibition is once again a huge success with massive crowds of all generations exploring the coastal walk filled with sculptures.

 

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I have three favourites this year: the Rocket, the giant sea shell and the mobile mirrors reflecting the sky, the sea and people. You can also delight yourself with some great coffee and food from the grounds in Alexandria - well actually the Grounds by the Sea in this case. Their wooden installation is super cute and cosy.

Sculpture by the sea is on until the 8th of November, it is worth a look. If ever you are in Perth in March 2016, there will also be an exhibit from the 4th till the 20th.

For all the others, have a look at my gallery of pictures here and stay tuned because my video is also coming for the end of the week!

For more visit: http://sculpturebythesea.com/ 

 

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Happy Birthday Sydney Opera House!

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Happy Birthday Sydney Opera House!

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On October 21st, 1973, Queen Elizabeth inaugurated the Sydney Opera House for the first time. Here are five facts you need to know about the iconic Sydney Building.

 

1. A Danish Architect built it after being selected in a competition

Thanks to his visionary design and bold talent, Jørn Utzon started building the Opera is 1957 until 1973. This reflected into a mix of a modern urban sculpture and the graceful soft white of the patterned tiles - shining in the day and glowing at night. He resigned in 1966 but then was regularly called back for design changes and renovations. In 2003, Utzon received the international architecture's highest honour, the Pritzker Prize. Source: Sydney Opera House. 

 

 

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2. The Sydney Opera House World Heritage building listed since 2007

UNESCO says it itself:  “Sydney Opera House is a great architectural work of the 20th century. It represents multiple strands of creativity, both in architectural form and structural design, a great urban sculpture carefully set in a remarkable waterscape and a world-famous iconic building.”

The expert evaluation report to the World Heritage Committee stated: “…it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”

 

 

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3. This is one of the busiest performing centre in the world

There is no day going without saying a huge crowd near the Opera House. whether it is raining, windy or sunny, there will always be a good crowd visiting the building. See the numbers:

  • 8.2 million people visit the Opera House each year
  • 300,000 take guided tour
  • 3,000 shows each year with an average of 8 a day

 

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4. There are four permanent residents at the Sydney Opera House

If you go for a show or just for a visit, there will be a high chance you will see the Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The concert hall grand organ is composed of 10,154 pipes and is the largest mechanical organ in the world. It took 10 years to build it.

 

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5.  The numbers are insane

As the Sydney.com Infographic states:

  • The roof section weighs 15 tonnes or 230 kangaroos
  • 15,000 light bulbs are changed annually
  • There are more than 1 million roof tiles
  • 350 km of tensioned steel cable is helding together the roof sections.
  • 8 boeing 747 could sit wing to wing on the site.
  • The cost of buiding the Opera skyrocketed to $102 million instead of the initial $7 million.

The Opera House is one of the most beautiful buildings in Sydney and no matter how many times you see it, it will never get old. Happy Birthday Sydney Opera House!

 

 

 

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6 walks in Sydney you must do

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6 walks in Sydney you must do

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What's better than the feeling of walking near the ocean? Well luckily, Sydney has the best walks around and they are all by the ocean. Whether it is to escape the busy city or enjoy incredible views, there's plenty to walk around! 

1. Bondi to Coogee

From Bondi Beach to Coogee beach, there are about six kilometres of pure ocean, wonderful beaches and amazing scenery. It will take about two hours to walk the way but it is definitely worth to take time and enjoy it. If you are a bit of a runner, this is perfect for a nice up and down workout.

My favourite on the way: Tamarama beach - beautiful and tiny.

When to go: any time of the year, sunrise or sunset is the best!

Bondi to Coogee

2. Spit bridge to Manly

You can start from Manly or from the Spit but I would recommend starting from the Spit as ending up in Manly is so much nicer. For 10 kilometres, you can truly appreciate a great walk in the bush and some wonderful ocean views. Make sure to explore the small coves with crystal clear water. It will take about two to three hours to complete depending on the level of fitness.

My favourite on the way: take a dip in the crystal clear water

When to go: anytime, I took a swim even in Winter!

 

Spit to Manly

3. Marine Parade to Shelly Beach

This is a cute little walk that you can complete very easily from Manly beach to the tiny and adorable Shelly Beach. Along the way you can see some nice houses and a beautiful ocean pool. Once at Shelly Beach, you can go on and go up the stairs to enjoy a wonderful view on Manly and the ocean. You can also explore around by walking in the bush and discover other lookouts.

My favourite on the way: Well Marine Parade, because.. my name is Marine. Pun intended.

When to go: Pretty much anytime but it is nice in the warmth of spring / summer and at sunset as Shelly beach gets the most of the sun.

 

Marine Parade's pool

4. Blackwattle bay

To be honest I probably wouldn’t know this walk if I wasn’t living next door. Located between Ultimo and Glebe, the Blackwattle bay is also next to the Sydney Fish Market. You can complete it very easily and within half an hour to more if you stop on the way. You can enjoy wonderful views of the Anzac Bridge as well as a bit of a view of the Harbour Bridge.

My favourite on the way: counting how many dogs I’ve met on the way. Usually it is about 40 at least. Yes, I love dogs.

When to go: Anytime but it is a popular walk for locals. If you want some calm, go between peak hours.

 

Anzac Bridge on the right side

5. Botanical gardens to Opera House

Starting near Woolloomoolloo Bay to the Opera House, the iconic walk is great to discover the Botanical Gardens of Sydney and appreciate the beauty of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It would take about an hour to walk along, enjoying every step.

My favourite on the way: have a stop in the botanical garden to enjoy.

When to go: Spring for flowers

Cloudy day on beautiful Sydney

6. Hermitage walk from Vaucluse to Watson’s Bay

Now this is one of my favourite. Between Vaucluse and Sark beach, there’s a wonderful wooden path along small beaches with an impressive view of the city. Between bush and ocean, you can stop as much as you want along the way to relax on the beach, take a swim or just admire the beauty of Sydney.

My favourite on the way: stopping at Milk beach to enjoy the incredible view.

When to go: Anytime, it is so beautiful.

Bonus: continue to Watson's Bay to walk to the Hornby lighthouse, definitely worth it!

 

View of Sydney from Vaucluse

 

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5 reasons You'll Love Winter in Sydney

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5 reasons You'll Love Winter in Sydney

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Since several weeks, all I see is pictures of my friends hanging in the sun and enjoying the very hot summer. Well down under, it is the opposite. This is the middle of winter and it is oh so hard to go through… or not.

So how are Sydneysiders coping with Winter?

A winter day in Watson's Bay - photo: Marine Raynard
A winter day in Watson's Bay - photo: Marine Raynard

1. Sydney Winter is sweet & short 

Everything is upside down. Some will say it is the wrong way, others will say it is the right way. Winter here starts on 1st June and finishes on 1st September. (For the reminder in France, it starts on 22nd December and finishes on 22nd March but usually it feels a lot longer!)

However Winter here feels more like two months with many sunny and warm days and few cold nights. There isn’t much rain either. To be honest, some days you will easily go out in tee-shirt, sunglasses and yes, maybe you will need sunscreen.

But beware at night, it can be bloody cold. Also, I haven’t seen many places with heating systems so bedrooms are also feel cold at night. Mine in the day can top up to 27 degrees but at night between 14 and 18 degrees max… You better have a warm blanket!

Surfing on a winter day in Manly, I did it!
Surfing on a winter day in Manly, I did it!

2. You don’t need big warm clothes

Forget about the gloves, very warm hats and coats - unless you are living in the mountains. While it may be cold in the morning or at night, it is usually way too hot in the day to wear super warm clothes. How many times did I overly dressed (too used to it) and felt so warm once walking… At least, it is the perfect weather to wear this mid-season coat that you could never wear in Europe.

There are in my opinion two types of Australians. Those who really hate Winter and feel cold and wear warm clothes and those who literally don’t give a damn about it. You'll see so many people at night who will be dressed the same whether it is 10 or 30 degrees outside - and without even complaining of the cold.

That said, if you go in the mountains, be ready! Especially at night, it can get really cold. Warm clothes inside are also welcomed at night as heaters are not that common around here. But the scenery is definitely worth it!

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3. You got funny winter activities

Ice Skating in Bondi Beach anyone?

Few winter activities are organised each year. Sadly, I didn’t get time to go to each of those but you got lots of festivals like Cool Yule in Darling Harbour, Winter Garden in Hyde Park and Bondi Magic Winter in Bondi Beach. This is the perfect excuse to pretend like it is really cold, drink hot chocolate and see if your ice skate level is still on point. Ps: Yule is an ancient name for Christmas.

If you feel like you really miss the snow, you can also try skiing few hours away from Sydney. I made the experience and loved it, read it here.

Ice Skating in Bondi - source:  bondi-beach-sydney.com.au
Ice Skating in Bondi - source: bondi-beach-sydney.com.au

4. Christmas in July is a real thing

As my first year in Australia, it sure felt super weird to celebrate christmas in a hot humid weather. I actually didn’t feel like it was christmas - at all. Now that we are near to the end of winter in Sydney, I still feel lost with the seasons. iI doesn’t feel like August at all but somewhere like March. Well in Sydney, some people got nostalgic about this winter feeling from the Northern Hemisphere and especially the christmas celebrations. So they thought, “why not having a Christmas in July?” From making the best christmas food to dressing in the Christmas theme, this is totally real and people love it.

Usually between July and August, the Blue Mountains celebrate Christmas with Yule Fest. They describes themselves on the tourism website as a “Winter Wonderland” for Christmas.

Chef Nelly Robinson and his Christmas in July feast at Nel. in Sydney. Picture: Cole Bennett Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Chef Nelly Robinson and his Christmas in July feast at Nel. in Sydney. Picture: Cole Bennett Source: Sydney Morning Herald

5. Winter has the best sunsets (but we all want summer quickly back please)

As soon as winter comes around, sunsets are incredibly beautiful. A great way to end each day.

Even though it is not - that - cold, I personally and I know lots of other Sydneysiders can’t wait for summer to be back! The easiness of not wearing many clothes, the warmth of nights and the longer days are coming in only a few weeks. Hang on Sydney, Summer is coming!

Sunset from Vaucluse, Sydney.
Sunset from Vaucluse, Sydney.

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Top 10 places to escape Sydney

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Top 10 places to escape Sydney

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Top 10 places to escape Sydney

  1. Queen and Milk Beaches, Vaucluse

These are by far my favourite places in Sydney. Hidden away but not too far from the city, the two adjacent beaches are in the perfect spot to admire the beauty of the city from the peaceful wilderness.

There is also a path along the coast, the Hermitage Shore Walk which is a must-do! Make sure to come early in summer because even this supposedly “secret” spot has more and more people liking the area.

 

The view from Milk Beach

 

  1. Blue Mountains

Only an hour away from Sydney, the Blue Mountains offer a wonderful landscape and really nice walks. Although some parts are very touristy, the main roads have little offshoots leading into the massive forest and incredible sightseeing. A must-see and do!

Main panorama to the Blue Mountains with the Three Sisters

  1. La Perouse

The name sounds French and so was Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse who landed in the area in 1788. La Perouse makes you feel like you are on the bottom of the Sydney world! Although the coast seems far away, it is also only an hour away from the city. The beaches around are incredibly white and blue and it is said to be one of the best spots to dive.

A beach in La Perouse

  1. The Sydney Observatory

Now this is probably not a typical escape as the Observatory is in the middle of the city - but if you are interested in stars, space or just curious, have a look at the Observatory and take a night tour. There is nothing more incredible than looking at planets and stars that are far, far away.

 

The Sydney Observatory. Photo from maas.museum

  1. Shelly Beach

Walking through the Marine Parade to Shelly Beach from Manly is definitely worth it. Arriving on this little beach, it feels like you’ve landed in another paradise with white sand and blue water. This is also a good spot to dive. You can get a nice panorama of Manly Beach, and to go back to the city the ferry trip is always fun.

Ocean pool next to Shelly Beach with the view of Manly

  1. Cockatoo Island

The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cockatoo Island was used as a prison and a shipyard. It is thrilling to go on such a mysterious island full or surprises. Cockatoo Island definitely has the vintage touch and offers the most beautiful sunsets in winter. This is also an unusual place with lots of interesting things such as the Underbelly Art Festival.

Sunset from Cockatoo Island

  1. Watson’s Bay

Further after Milk Beach, Watson’s Bay is another place to enjoy and escape the city. There are many walks around - whether it is near the harbour, in the little streets or further near the ocean and lighthouse. As a bonus, going to Watson's Bay by ferry is definitely worth the trip. Watson's Bay has my heart and I hope to live there one day!

On the other side of Watsons Bay, massive view of the Pacific Ocean

  1. Palm Beach

Only a few hours away from Sydney, Palm Beach is a wonderful place to spend the day. The beach is incredibly beautiful and you can even hike up to the lighthouse and discover an amazing view. Palm Beach is also famous for Home and Away, a popular TV show in Australia.

Palm Beach

  1. Royal National Park

South of Sydney, The Royal National Park is a giant beast of forest and wild beaches. With more than 15 000 hectares, it is very impressive. You need to drive to get there but once in it you can hike, surf, kayak or just relax on the beach. A really wild place to be!

Garrie Beach in the Royal National Park

  1. The Chinese Garden of Friendship

Even if in the middle of the city, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is a really nice place to peace out. The perfect place to take a walk by the water, relax and see beautiful Chinese architecture. There is also a traditional tea house for an even more relaxed experience.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship

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Vivid Sydney, a Festival of Light

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Vivid Sydney, a Festival of Light

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  For almost two weeks, Vivid Sydney lighted the CBD’s buildings with wonderful animation and color.

Lights, music, exhibitions, workshops and conferences were all part of the Vivid Festival.

There were so many ways to re-discover Sydney’s most famous buildings through art and music.

“Vivid Sydney is where art, technology and commerce intersect.” - Vivid Festival. For my first Vivid, I think it was a magical way of starting winter in Sydney.

Discover here my best pictures of Vivid Festival. A video and a full article on the Light Show exhibition will be coming soon!

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First Time in Sydney: My top places

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First Time in Sydney: My top places

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There are so many things to do in Sydney, the city centre is not that big but when you go beyond the city, it is just incredible how many places you can discover. However for the first time in Sydney, here is what I really recommend to do!

CBD walk with QVB, Chinatown, Main streets

Sydney CBD is not that big and complicated to go around. When somebody get in Sydney, I definitely recommend them to start walking from Central station to Circular Quay. It may seem like a distance but to my opinion, walking is the best way to discover a city and indeed Sydney CBD.

The best highlights on the way are the Queen Victoria Building, Town hall, Chinatown, Hyde Park, Westfield Tower, and Martin Place. My favourite is definitely Queen Victoria building where you can wander around beautiful shops in a vintage atmosphere.

Queen Victoria Building

Circular Quay with the Opera House

Once in Circular Quay, you never get bored with the view with the harbour bridge on the left and the opera on the right. It may seem crowded and overwhelming sometimes but I love sneaking out at the opera bar for a drink with this amazing view or just walk around and enjoy. The Museum of Contemporary Arts is also not too far, which is nice for a cultural afternoon.

Opera Bar at night with Opera House in the background

 

The Rocks

Moments away from Circular Quay, one of my favourite place for dinner and party in Sydney. Historically one of the first places founded, The Rocks has beautiful buildings and many good places to eat and especially drink! I love The Argyle, great place to enjoy drinks and food on weekends with friends.

 

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Surry Hills and Paddington

These two neighbourhoods are just perfect for a morning coffee or evening drink. Paddington has many places to party at night till late. I especially love the little streets with cute houses  and vintage shops at every corner. You also get really nice markets on Saturdays and Sundays.

Typical cute houses

Watsons Bay

A little away from the city but such a nice ferry ride and view from Watsons bay. There are tons of paths to explore the bay and find hidden beaches (more to come about this soon!). This is also an amazing spot to have a sunset drink with a view of the city.

The view from top of Watsons Bay

 

Bondi

It may seem touristy but Bondi is a must-do in Sydney. The beach is quite large and it is a great spot to surf for beginners and even non-beginners. Bondi Iceberg swimming pool is probably one of the most beautiful to swim in. I did some great yoga classes there and there is nothing more resourcing than the beach life! My favourite thing is to take a walk to Tamarama (only 30 minutes away) and even continue until Coogee (2 hours away). Just amazing.

Breathtaking view of Bondi from Bondi Iceberg

Manly & Shelly Beach

Manly is my favourite spot to go surfing. As I am not really a pro, it is a perfect spot to practice and learn safely. The shops around are fun to wander. Another amazing place is shelly beach, just minutes away from Manly main beach. This little - almost private beach - will give full sun until late and sometimes clear water where you can see some nice marine life.

Manly Beach

Harbour bridge walk to Milsons Point

This walk is breathtaking! The view is just more than amazing with boats, the opera and the city. I just love it - day or night. It especially leads to Milsons Point and Kirribilli where you can see a wonderful view of Sydney, especially on Sunset.

View from the Harbour Bridge

Royal Botanical Gardens

Another beautiful place to walk around and discover another view of Sydney. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve seen a wedding! I love sitting on a bench under a tree and appreciate the view peacefully.

Another view from Royal Botanical Garden

Darling Harbour

This is not my favourite place in Sydney but I think it is still an interesting part of Sydney with lots of restaurants and animations. The view is also pretty nice at night and if you are here on a Saturday, there will be fireworks every week around 8:30pm!

Darling Harbour at night

 

So, what was your favourite place in Sydney when you discovered it for the first time?

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