15 June 2013

See / Eat / Stay : Sydney +

After my week in Melbourne I headed to Sydney for a week. As well as doing my first site visit for The Big Project (half a house - GONE! - so exciting! more on that at a later date...) here's some other fun things that happened.

See / Blue Mountains - We like to head out of town with the step-sons whenever we get to Sydney. The problem is, in contrast to Melbourne, Sydney has a bit of a dearth of great things to do within a few hours drive. The Blue Mountains is a good standby when we can't think of anywhere else to go. Even with some slightly foreboding skies and the odd spatter of rain it still made for a nice break - great views, fresh air, a bit of a stroll...

See / Art Gallery of New South Wales - The gallery in Sydney is such a lovely place - the garden setting with views over Woolloomooloo, the mix of old and new architecture, the cafe (it serves cider!). And it's free. As a teen I fell in love with modern Australian painting, so visiting the gallery is like catching up with old friends. Funny what a strong reaction seeing a piece of art in the flesh can evoke. If you visit make sure you head downstairs to the contemporary art galleries. I was blown away (and a bit creeped out) by the installations down there. Inspiring stuff. 

See / Sydney Theatre Company - One of the things we've missed about living in Seoul is access to quality English-language the-ar-tar (you have to pronounce it like that, otherwise you might start taking everything too seriously). Anyway, knowing we'd be moving back (eventually) we signed up for an STC subscription this year. This trip we saw Fury, which I really liked. 

But really - it almost doesn't matter what play you see. Part of the fun is not knowing what's coming up, like reaching in to a lucky dip. Sometimes its wonderful, intimate, affecting, hilarious. And sometimes its terrible. But again, that almost doesn't matter, because then there's the great conversations about exactly how, where, and when the play was terrible. 

And the theatre isn't just about the play. It's about fighting your way to the bar and downing a wine at intermission. It's about the view of the Harbour Bridge from The Bar at the End of the Wharf, the 'ding ding ding' telling you to take your seats, the rituals, the crowd watching... (Also we sat next to Hugo Weaving, so we're basically famous.) 

See / Vivid Sydney - I've heard so many rave reviews about the festival of light that is Vivid Sydney, I was pretty excited to realise our visit coincided with the 2013 festival. So excited in fact that I tried to convince the husband to can the Blue Mountains trip (apparently he is not as thrilled by light projections as I am...). Anyway, I strolled around Circular Quay one mild Sydney night and took it all in. I only managed to see the tiniest bit but it was great, worth it for the MCA projection alone (which was really wonderful). The festival has finished for this year (sorry) but maybe you can start planning for 2014?

Eat / est., Sydney - The husband is in the midst of two months of crazy busy work travel, so to celebrate a rare night together we treated ourselves to an uber-fancy meal at est. And quite the treat it was! The best bits were: 1) The creamy, melty Brillat-Savarin; 2) The passionfruit soufflé (we were meant to share, but the chef clearly saw the look in my husband's eyes - he doesn't have a sweet tooth but he can inhale a soufflé in seconds - and made us one each!); and 3) The lamb rib eye. Yum. 

Eat / Ippudo, Westfield Sydney - I'm going through a bit of a ramen phase right now (actually, anything involving soupy noodles makes me weak at the knees right now) and I'd read about this place in Gourmet Traveller, so I checked it out. It was pretty tasty, though the soup base was on the heavy side - a bit too porky for my liking. Maybe chalk it up for when you need a slightly greasy, meaty, carbohydrate fix? (As a side note, the new Westfield food court in Sydney is pretty damn impressive! Looking forward to exploring it a bit more...) 

Eat / Bistro Moncur, Woollahra - My husband used to live just down the road from this (slightly expensive, but very good) bistro and it's always been one of his favourites. I always love the salads, and we always share the deliciously simple linguine as an entree. The restaurant has had it's ups and downs, but on this visit the meal and service were both great. 

Eat / Echoes, Katoomba - We had dinner here as part of our Blue Mountains weekend. I thought the food was good but not spectacular. If you're keen to go, I'd say do it at lunchtime when you can see the view (which apparently is spectacular). 

Eat / Sailors Thai Canteen, The Rocks - The more casual cousin to Sailors Thai, we went here for a post-theatre dinner of green curry and papaya salad. So delicious. And it made me realise that all the fancy French food and mod-Oz is great, but it's the good Asian meals I really, really get excited about these days. (See also, Longrain). 

Eat / Various - I had a decent red velvet cupcake (they're hard to come by) at Ghermez Cupcakes, Bondi Junction; a good coffee (also hard to come by, in Sydney at least) at Chrysler Cafe Bar, Sydney; and a fine (if unexceptional) breakfast at Indigo, Double Bay

Wow, we ate a LOT in Sydney!

Stay / Lilianfels, Katoomba - A hotel with a ye olde feel, spectacular location and decent food. And tennis courts, which we made good use of. And by 'good' I mean we used it more than once. And played appallingly. Considering the rooms, service and location it's the best place we've stayed in at the Blue Mountains. Sometimes in the hills you find that hotels translate 'ye olde feel' as 'we don't need to do building maintenance or provide any modern services or conveniences; but we'll still charge you as if we are'. But Lilianfels was not like this at all. Plus it had fabulous wallpaper, which counts for a lot in my books. 

Stay / Blue, Woolloomooloo - I like this hotel a lot. I like the way they've treated the old wharf building, and melded it into a hotel. I love the location (especially when I'm on my own, it feels a bit less intense than staying in the city). I love the sparkly blue water, the neighbourhood and the fact that it's only a short stroll to the gallery, Opera House and city. And I really like the service (so responsive it's a little spooky...). I like that as a Tablet+ member I get free internet and breakfast when I stay here. I like that it's (relatively) reasonably priced for such a nice hotel. But I don't like the thin walls and windows, because (call me crazy) I don't like hearing my hotel neighbours cheering as they watch the footy on the TV, or the drunken pub goers across the road. Fix that and this would be perfection. (ps. If you ever stay here make sure you check out the intriguing Artspace gallery space across the road.)


  1. Looks like you enjoyed your time in Sydney. I was there a couple of weeks ago and visited the Vivid Ideas festival too it was amazing.

  2. Some very nice dining in this list!! You remind me I need to get out a bit more in my own town :)

  3. Wow! You fit a lot into one week in Sydney! I haven't been to Sydney in years. Not since I moved out of Canberra. One day I'll revisit that fine city. :)


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