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Tourist in Sydney

I’ve been to Australia four times, following Linux.conf.au around the country as they went from Perth to Geelong (and Melbourne) to Hobart. With the conference finally landing in Sydney, I made my first visit there last month. I wrote about the conference here, but I flew in a couple days early to adjust to the time zone before my talk on Tuesday and take the opportunity to spend the weekend doing some tourist stuff around the city.

On Saturday morning I met up with my friend Stephen and his wife Lauren, who I’d never met. Stephen and I both lived in Philadelphia for some time and have since met when he came to San Francisco for work a few years back. This was my first time getting to visit his new home city! We met at Central station, just a couple blocks from my hotel and took a train over to Circular Quay. Circular Quay is where the two most famous landmarks of Sydney reside, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

After my proper glimpse of the Opera House, we began our morning with brunch at Opera Bar, getting to sit outside and soak in the breeze off the harbor. It was there that I realized I had come to Australia without a hat. First purchase I needed to make once I got to the zoo! I did put on a pile of sunblock before I left my hotel though, even though my failure to reapply did cause me to eventually burn a little.

The Taronga Zoo is located on the other side of the harbor and there’s a ferry that goes directly there. It’s a beautiful way to get there, which passes the opera house and gets you there in about 15 minutes. From there, if you have zoo tickets in hand you can hop directly on the “sky safari” ski-lift like tram that will give you some lovely views, but there’s also a public bus, which we took since we had to buy our tickets at the counter.

The first thing I’ll say about the zoo itself, is that it has AMAZING views of the city.

The giraffes get to enjoy a particularly nice view!

The rest of the zoo is also great. They have an extensive section of Australian animals, including areas where you can get quite close to the animals, but I didn’t get to pet anything this time. There’s a walk through area with kangaroos, wallabies and emus. At the “seal” (it was all sea lions) show you get up close to an Australian sea lion. The lemur exhibit allows small groups to walk among the lemurs, which we did and had a wonderful time doing.

We spent much of the day at the zoo, but it was hot out and eventually it was time to find some beers. We took the ferry back to Circular Quay and then over to The Rocks and had some drinks at a local bar before our dinner at 6PM. Dinner was at the wonderful Sak√© Restaurant and Bar. Since it’s summer there, the walk back to the train station was during sunset, which made for some great views of the harbor again, including catching the sunset against the opera house.

Sunday was spent closer to my hotel, meeting up with my friend (and former colleague) Matt to explore Darling Harbour for several hours. We last met up in Prague back in October when we were in town for the same conference, and previously had adventures in Singapore. Another continent added to our list! It is a pretty touristy area, but it’s that way for a reason, with lots of nice water views. I was pretty excited to even catch a glimpse of Ferry McFerryface, the hilariously named ferry that Stephen had mentioned the day before, and I have since learned is still controversial. We snagged some Italian food for lunch, went out for gelato, and had some drinks after swinging by registration for the conference. That evening we went out for some Korean BBQ before making our way back through Chinatown, where we stopped for some Emperor’s Puffs – little creme puffs created by a creme puff machine! It was a good day, and low key enough not to exhaust me right before the conference.

Finally, coming in early allowed me to meet our newest hire there in Sydney in our pre-sales team for Mesosphere. We had a great chat over coffee about the company, the role of the community team, and generally technologies in the container space and opportunities that could be realized there in Australia. My elevator pitch for developer advocacy could use some work, but I got there eventually in describing the role.

Food definitely played a central role in this trip. The venue was nicely placed near a lot of Asian food, so I actually ended up having sushi three times during this trip, Indian food another night. The bow that nicely wrapped up the trip was dessert on Friday. I was a bit tired post-conference, but tagged along with a group heading out to dinner. I had a lovely steak and cider, but it was the huge “Fire + Ice” shared dessert where they cooked the creme brulee at the table and tossed in some dry ice that really made the meal. It was quite the experience.

I wish I had booked a few more days at the end of my trip to stay a bit longer and visit with friends who were either local or staying longer. Alas, with the move to the new house already in motion, I had to get back to get back to helping push that forward. There’s a lot more I wish I had seen, I never even made it to a beach! I’ll have to go back some day.

More photos from tourist adventures in Sydney here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157665149718998/

 




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