I spent five days in Sydney while Brett competed at the Fitness Expo in Powerlifting (where he reclaimed his world record total in the 83kg class). I won’t bore you with the details, but expo’s have a cheese factor of 99/100 – and powerlifting is the only thing keeping it from maxing out (pun intended). I’ve also been to the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, USA – which was actually quite impressive. I think everyone should go to at least one – you know, to get it out of your system.
Aside from the competition, I managed to see a fair bit of the city. And instead of the same “Top 10 Things to Do in Sydney” list that every other blogger posts, here are some of my favourite things in Sydney – as un-glamourous as they may be.
Sydney is a feast for the eyes in a couple of respects. The Cockle Cove/Darling Harbour area is well-developed with countless restaurants and cafes, along with the International Convention Centre being a hub of activity.
My favourite part, however, is what’s inside some of the older buildings – a unique fusion of old-meets-new and bringing the outdoors in.
If the weather had co-operated, I would’ve loved to spend a bit more time here. Many years ago I dreamt of moving to Bondi Beach and living in a hostel while becoming a beach bum. These days, I’m not much of an ocean seeker and prefer to peruse the scenic coastline on foot. We did the Bondi Coastal Walk to Tamarama Beach, and I spent most of the time marvelling at the rock formations and multi-million-dollar homes lining the coast.
** Travel tip: Purchase an Opal transit card and take the bus from the CBD to Bondi Beach. Although the train will get you there a bit faster, I think the bus reigns supreme simply for the fact that you get to see more of the city while in transit.
On the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency is a stunning cocktail lounge, called Zephyr. The drinks are a bit pricy but I bet you’d be willing to pay even more once you see the incredible harbour view from the open-air balcony. The lounge seating is comfortable and they offer warm blankets in case you’re feeling a bit chilled. Dress code is smart (i.e., put on your fancy top). I highly recommend it if you want to have a few romantic cocktails in a chilled atmosphere (sorry for the lack of photos – but trust me on this one).
Best Big Coffee + Cheap Eats
On Monday morning Brett was catching up on work and asked me to go find “Big Coffees” (coffees in NZ/Aus are tiny). So I wandered around the Sydney CBD checking out people’s cup sizes (being in a new city gives you the ability to act like a weirdo), and I stumbled upon Aurora Café on Kent Street. They have BIG COFFEES and offer an extra espresso shot and soy or almond for no extra charge. And the girl working at the counter was so friendly and great to have a morning chat with on more than one occasion. 🙂
Good Life Cafe
In general, I found food service to be quite slow in Sydney – but Good Life Cafe was anything but. Before I could sit down at the table after placing my order, I had a hot egg and spinach breakfast burrito ($6) sitting in front of me. We went back a couple of days in a row here for a quick breakfast, and I highly suggest paying the small amount of $2 to add bacon.
Legit AF Burger & Wings
We started off looking for a good sushi restaurant, and by the time we found this place (aptly named “Ribs & Burgers”) we were hangry. Forget the sushi – nothing is better than cold pints of cider, crispy wings with ranch dipping sauce, and a monster chicken burger. Oh, unless you also order a side of sweet potato fries.
When you travel with an athlete – especially one who is nearly always prepping for a competition – you end up visiting a lot of different gyms around the world. In Sydney we trained at City Strength HQ, owned by two of Brett’s (and now my) friends. This gym was just set up in late 2016 and has some impressive (and drool-worthy) Eleiko equipment. There’s nothing like a new Eleiko bar to rip some skin off your hands during deadlifts.
Sydney is a massive city with a lot to do, but I’d be lying if I said I was eager to get back there. I certainly missed Wellington and its eclectic vibe while I was away. If and when I travel back to Australia, I’d aim to spend most of my time out of the city, exploring the beaches, hiking terrain and the infamous Outback. It would also be handy to not plan a vacation around powerlifting – but that’s just how life unfolds sometimes.
Powerlifting has become a huge part of my life since being with Brett, and given me a reason to travel to a few different places I wouldn’t have been to otherwise. And although I won’t be joining him at his competition in Minsk, Belarus this year, I’ll be at home with the Strong Girls cheering him on at 2:00am. There will likely be pizza and chicken wings involved, as there is in all powerlifting competitions. 😊
Oh, and also: