If someone asked me what’s the best way to discover a city – my reply would probably be on foot or on a bicycle. However, in Sydney, never would I have ever imagined even in my wildest dreams, to be riding atop an actual Harley Davidson motorcycle! Awesome!
So as the day starts in the wee hours of the morning, I jumped on the magnificent bike (it’s my first time on a Harley!) and the next thing I know, I am enjoying the cool breeze in my hair! I wasn’t the one driving the magnificent beast but the professional, friendly and cool riders from Blue Thunder Downunder did.
We were picked up from our hotel in Old Sydney and from there, we donned the cool leather jackets and shades, hopped on the mighty cool ride and went on the ride of our lives!
As we rode through the sunny Sydney neighbourhood, my friendly rider Mr.P shared stories behind the oldest pub in Sydney (It’s the Waterloo Pub if you want to check it out :-D), Kirribilli (Admiralty House, the official Sydney residence of the Governor-General of Australia) which means “good fishing spot” in Aboriginal language, and as we rode underneath the Harbour Bridge, interesting trivia such as how many workers it took to build the bridge.
Sadly, I couldn’t take any notes on my iPhone during the ride (both my hands were occupied as I hung for dear life), or I would have been able to share even more stories!
It is really fun to discover Sydney on a Harley – it is exciting (going uphill was adrenaline rush for most of us!), interesting (Blue Thunder Downunder riders are all well-experienced and knowledgable about Sydney history, local and tourist attractions which make the ride absolutely entertaning and educational) and awesome (come on, riding on a Harley, feeling the breeze on your face – it’s helluva awesome experience!). So fun that we wished the ride will never end!
We were dropped off at Manly Beach to experience a sporting activity that is quite synonymous with the Australians – surfing! We were scheduled to take our surfing lesson from Sydney’s largest surf school – Manly Surf School! Interestingly, Manly is widely regarded as the the birthplace of Australian surfing, which meant we were going to learn surfing at the point where it began!
On another note, I’ve always had the impression that Surfers’ Paradise in Gold Coast was the birthplace of surfing in Australia
We met up with Chris and Sue – our surfing instructors, signed the “form” (have you ever felt so nervous while signing an indemnity form because it declared that if anything happens, the company is not responsible for it :P), donned the surfing school “uniform” (basically it is a Manly Surf School t-shirt which helps instructors to identify the students in the water), picked a surfboard suitable for our sizes, and off we go!
And here’s where the hard work really begun.
Carrying (more like dragging) our surfboards for quite a distance was no easy feat. It was tiring dragging the surfboard to the spot where we will be taking our surfing lessons!
Upon reaching the spot, we were asked to sit in a circle where both Chris and Sue sat in the center explaining the basic surfing techniques like sleeping on the surfboard, how our hand and leg positions should be placed while in the water , how to hold our surfboards, how to push ourselves up and more. We were also given a safety briefing on how we should fall from our board – yup, there are ways to fall off from your surfboard for safety reasons.
So after the briefing, what’s next but to head down to the water? We were given the assurance that it is not cold (it’s autumn) but boy, was it icy cold! Brrrrrr! However, it did not deter me!
It was not easy trying to hold my surfboard while going against the waves. This was where I realized, geez, my stamina is really low! Still, it was really fun to lie down on the surfboard and just ride along the waves while trying to stand on my surfboard! After a few attempts, I managed to ride the surfboard – a happy success!
Surfing was really fun but I also learned that it was not as easy as it seemed (like many things in life) and the my safety as well as the others are also very important. As most of us were first timers, there were a couple of times that we collided – one surfboard collided with mine and I went underwater, got hit on my head and smacked surfboards at the same time. It was a big painful experience, not to mention, getting hit by the surfboards left a couple of bruises as memories
Now, a lot of you might might be wondering “what about shark attacks?” Actually, just right after our surfing lessons, there was a siren alarm with an announcement on shark sighting. The distance was really far off from the surfing area but for safety purposes, everyone was asked to get out of the water. Shark attacks are not common in Australia, though it was good to take precautionary measures such as swimming in-between the flags, to not swim too far away and to always pay attention to the lifeguards’ announcements at all times.
Muscles aching after the surfing lesson, our next activities in the itinerary were less taxing. In fact, it was very relaxing and entertaining! We headed to Sydney Tower Buffet to enjoy the delicious buffet dinner accompanied by a breathtaking 360-degree view of Sydney, at 250metres above the city’s streets!
The international buffet offers a wide variety of delicious cuisines from around the world and the must-try would be the Sydney Rock Oysters!Though smaller than usual oysters, Sydney Rock Oyster are very sweet and awesomely delicious too! The buffet also offered exotic cuisine, for example kangaroo meat and crocodile meat. Australia is probably one of the few countries in the world where you can consume their national animal. Want to know if I dared to try the exotic cuisine? You’re going to have to guess the answer yourself
The night did not end here! Right after the delicious dinner, we headed over to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour for a unique outdoor opera experience, La Traviata!
La Traviata tells a tragic love story told in spellbinding beautiful music, spectacular sets, dazzling lighting (imagine a 9-metre chandelier sparkling with Swarovksi elements crystals suspended above a purpose-built stage on the waters of Sydney Harbour, with Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge at the background).
That’s not all – would you’ve imagined watching an opera and seeing spectacular fireworks at the same time? It was my first time watching the opera and I must say, it was an experience for first-time opera-goers to watch it out in the open. Not to mention, the weather was pleasant too, which made it extra memorable!
Swee Ping (AirAsia Social Media Team)