If you ever travel to any of the cities that I have lived in, check out the places that I liked showing my friends around when they were visiting.

Sydney travel highlights

Some suggestions (1-5 are best, but I wouldn’t be able to decide on order between them, 6 & 7 would not be as good as 1-5):

  1. Sydney Opera House tour: it is SPECTACULAR. The normal one during the day (1-1.5h) is great and a no-brainer. It covers the outside and a bit of inside – but mostly in the public areas. There is also a backstage VIP tour, which is a bit pricey – $150 or thereabouts – but TOTALLY worth it. Starts at 7am, finishes at 9-9:15ish with a breakfast in the Green Room, where all the employees and actors eat. I have done the day one 3 times by now (each guide has its own stories), and the VIP one once.
  2. Bondi – Coogee walk: great ocean views, an absolute must-do, whatever the weather. On the Bondi end, try coffee, drink or a meal at Icebergs or lunch at Vue if it’s a nice day.
  3. Surfing at Bondi Beach: the north end is the best beach in the world to start surfing. And it is full of pros in the south. “Let’s Go Surfing” has lessons that are great for beginners.
  4. Harbour Bridge: you can climb it (I have never done it – and don’t have plans), but walking over from Ciruclar Quay to the other side gives you SPECTACULAR views, and takes about 45-60 mins if you take it easy. The first part of the walk is on a side-walk on Cahill Expressway (the highway above Circular Quayt), but it is only 10 mins, and gives a cool view of SOH. You get there with an elevator on the East corner of Circular Quay next to Cahil Expressway (looking towards Sydney Opera House, to your right)
  5. Sydney Fish Market: BEST FISH I HAVE EVER HAD IN THE WORLD. PERIOD. A friend of mine lived in Tokyo for years, and was super picky about his fish – he would only eat sushi in 3 places in Sydney. This was one of them.
  6. Manly: a suburb in North Sydney, you take a ferry from Circular Quay to get there. A large beach, in a quiet, resort-like place. Tons of good bars / restaurants with a view (and I probably appreciate Ben & Jerry’s there more than US residents will, but still – it’s there if you need it). You can walk to Shelly Beach if you east in Manly at the beach, or to Sydney Harbour National Park if you go West from the ferry
  7. Zoo in Taroonga: hands down best zoo in the world we have been to. While we probably appreciate it a bit more because we have kids, it is pretty effing awesome (and has great views of the city when you take a ferry from Circular Quay)

My friend Serena has written an article about her favorite spots too – your can read it here.

New York travel highlights

  1. Walk across Brooklyn Bridge (I prefer Brooklyn to Manhattan direction)
  2. Best burgers in the world – Bare Burger (multiple locations across the city). Try Jalapeno Express with a pint of Pale Ale
  3. Brunch at Yuca Bar in East Village (be ready for sangrias with your eggs)
  4. Park Slope (the lovely, but yuppie-fied, neighbourhood in Brooklyn, filled with iconic brownstone houses, leafy side streets, idiosyncratic boutique shops, and gentrified thirtysomethings pushing monstrous strollers around)
  5. Central Park
  6. Met Museum: THE museum to see in NYC. One of the largest collections in the world – several million pieces, including a massive collection of Egyptian artefacts (yes, thieves…) – is an incredible museum and you can spend hours and hours inside.  It is a sliding scale admission, which means you pay what you can afford (including just $0.10, if that’s all you can afford). It’s located in Central Park, which means it is easy to fit into most itineraries.
  7. Guggenhaim Museum (as long as you hit the Met too)
  8. Grand Central – prettiest train station in the world
  9. New York Public Library: The NYPL main branch on 42nd and 5th is right in the heart of midtown New York, down the street from the Empire State Building and a couple of blocks from the Chrysler Building and Grand Central.  It is a beautiful piece of faux-classical and feels about as New York as you can get.  The interior of the library is lovely, with some gorgeous wood-bedecked reading rooms, and I have yet to find a better place to peoplewatch than the stairs in front of the library, with the two stone lions on either side and one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares in front of you.  Behind the library is Bryant Park, which has a lovely grass field and plenty of benches, along with an al fresco cafe and free wi-fi
  10. Shopping on budget: Century21 (just outside Ground Zero). Ridiculously priced stuff from top brands
  11. Shopping with unlimited budget: go to Rockefeler Plaza, then walk within 2 mile radius. Prepare your credit cards for carnage
  12. Overhyped (but you probably will want a tick…): -Ground Zero -Statue of Liberty -Times Square (I will mock you if you waste any time in this godforsaken hellhole)

Milan travel highlights

  1. Duomo. Go to the rooftop.
  2. Bio Pizza – Corso Italia, 16. Order Carpaccio in Bianco, which instead of red sauce, has white truffle sauce – IT IS THE BEST PIZZA I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE (I also made a lot of people eat it, and they agree with the assessment). It is 10 mins walk from Duomo, so you don’t have an excuse not to visit
  3. Torre Branca – You get to see Castello Sforzesco while you are at it, so you kill two birds with the same stone. Cool views – take lots of pics! If you are a football fan, an added bonus is that you can see San Siro!
  4. Alchimia – most chilled place I have ever been in (outside Amsterdam at least…). Apperitivo is great there (it’s a Milanese tradition – they will serve free food during happy hour, so you can stuff your face with appetizers while getting drunk on cheap cocktails). I normally started with Long Island Iced Tea, followed by Capiroska alla Fragola, but if you are with a female companion, then a awesome girly drink is strawberry amaretto colada Totally walkable from Duomo as well (and you get to see Colonne di San Lorenzo which are awesome) Via Francesco Brioschi, 17,+Italy&cid=426902463743938265
  5. I would hang out in Navigli after aperitivo (which normally finishes around 8-9pm depending on place) and hit more bars – just head two blocks over to the canals (walk both Naviglio Pavese and Navilgio Grande). I would start with Maya on corner of Navilgio Pavese and Via Borsi – they had some good mango cocktail if I recall, and a generally solid drinks menu
  6. If you are hungry after drinking, then have a salmon puglia at Ambasciata Tarantina pizzeria (Via Giosuè Borsi, 1). I lived above that place for 3 years! Go to the takeaway place, although the sit-down place is alright too
  7. Remember that if you have coffee at any bar standing at the bar, the prices will be regulated by the govt – expect around EUR1 for espresso or machiatto, 1.30 for latte or capuccino (although if you order the latter after 11:30, you will get laughed at – only tourists do that in Italy). If you sit down, they can charge you whatever they want

San Francisco travel highlights

For a second most favorite city that I lived in, I don’t have too many things to share. It’s probably a function of not only the relatively short period of time that I lived there, but also the fact that I spent half of the time travelling to LA for work. And the remaining time was spent changing diapers, rather than going out a ton…

But anyway – here it is!

  1. Baker Beach – original setting for the Burning Man. We lived close enough to the beach to hear the waves when falling asleep.
  2. Burritos – you can start with my local favourite Gordo’s, but there are TONS and TONS of great places – experiment with all ingredients!
  3. Rent a bike in San Francisco, cycle across the bridge to Sausalito, then Tiburon. Catch a ferry back
  4. Ghirardelli Square – order ice cream with freshly made chocolate
  5. North Beach (Italian area in town) – find an ice cream place and a pizza place
  6. Rent a silly yellow cart at