We’ve all used one in school and if you say you haven’t, then you’re lying! You know, that tiny piece of paper with the impossibly hard to read small font – yet you’ve managed to fit a textbook chapter’s worth of information on there. So I’ve decided to take that concept and apply it here only this time, you won’t get in trouble for using it! Here are some things that might come in handy if you’re planning to visit Sydney:
- Sydney Airport (also known as Kingsford-Smith Airport) – cabs in any city are expensive. An alternative would be to take a shuttle. Most shuttles from Sydney Airport will drop you off anywhere in the city centre. The only downside is that they’ll most likely be making a few stops since there’s a pretty high chance you’ll be sharing that shuttle with some strangers. But if you don’t mind the extra stops, it’s probably the best option. There are some different companies. If you’re arriving from an international flight, you will find a kiosk just before the airport exit. That’s where you’ll find $38 roundtrip ticket. If you’re arriving from a domestic flight, you can find some shuttles outside. There’s one called Redy2Go, which comes out to about $16.50 per person, one way. There are a lot of shuttles you can reserve online ahead of time, but that isn’t necessary.
- Opal Card – this is a prepaid pass that you will need to ride Sydney buses. A lot (if not most) of the buses do not accept cash so you will need this card. Think of it as a debit card. You fill it with money. As soon as you get on the bus, you have to tap your card on the machine. Then when you get off, you tap it again and that’s how the fare is calculated. You can buy it at almost any convenience store. I say almost any because some of the shop owners will probably realize that you’re a tourist and take advantage of that fact. We went into a random convenience store and they said the minimum amount you need to buy is $50. We already knew that the employee was lying because the worker from another store we went into before that had told us that the minimum was $10. Your best bet to make sure you don’t get ripped off is to go into a 7-Eleven.
- Weather – is unpredictable. You never know how it’s going to turn out until the day of. Believe me, I know. I must have checked accuweather.com 10 times a day during the weeks leading up to my trip. Even the day before we were set to go to Bondi Beach said that it was going to be cloudy, but it turned out to be a beautiful and sunny day. You’ll just have to hope and pray that the weather gods are on your side!
- Dining out – Sydney doesn’t split bills at restaurants. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of a law there, or if it’s just the restaurant’s policy, but they do not do separate checks. So make sure one person can pay with his/her credit card. Otherwise, be prepared to pay with cash.
- Tours – my friends and I already had our own (jam-packed) schedule planned out. We didn’t have time to join any tours of the city but if you’re interested, there is a free Sydney walking tour (http://www.imfree.com.au) that departs at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. everyday.