At the start of May I have a business trip to Sydney. I have not been there for 13 years and Vicky has not been since she was a teenager so she decides to come with me. As I am working Vicky gets to see a lot more than me but we do have a Saturday to explore and this is great chance to retrace some of Louise's steps when she had a great time on her last holiday in 2011.
We are staying at the Shangri La hotel at The Rocks - the small hill at one end of the Sydney harbour bridge behind the quays. From here we have a great view of the bay and opera house. The picture above is a typical early morning view. We were also very lucky with the weather - surprisingly warm for the time of year and mostly blue skies. A great relief after Singapore which also made early morning runs along the quays, around the botanic gardens and Mrs Maquarie's Chair very pleasant.
Another great advantage of staying at The Rocks is that we are surrounded by great restaurants. Sydney has some great cooks and a general love of good food. While the staple Ozzy fare might be beer and steaks we also find some great seafood as well as Japanese. On our first night we join the team from work at The Cut where some of the team have large slabs of bloody Australian beef while others sample the other meat and fish off the menu. The Japanese next door, Saki, is also a great success with good food (above) and a great atmosphere. Two other nearby restaurants, Cafe Sydney on the roof of the newly restored old Customs House building, and Fish at the Rocks also deliver the goods. We try to sample good Australian wine as we travel around although all the best white appears to be from New Zealand!
A bonus to our trip is meeting up with University friend Marion (above) who we have not seen for over 30 years. It is amazing how you can pick up with friends who are separated by half a lifetime. By the time I join Vicky and Marion in one of her local winebars they have already explored much of the intervening period. Marion then invites us to her house for a relaxed Saturday breakfast in Darlinghurst. This is a great way to start my day off and is also an introduction to the attractive streets of downtown Sydney - terraces built in the 19th Century which (according to Wikipedia) now house the highest percentage of generation X and Y in Australia. We are all baby-boomers but happy to be hanging our with the younger crowd. The small terraced houses (below) on these hilly streets have been extensively gentrified in the last 20 years and there also seems to be at least one coffee shop on every corner.
After leaving Marion and our delicious breakfast we explore the streets for a while and then jump in a cab to get to Bondi beach. We want to walk the coastal path from Bondi to Coogee. About half of Sydney seems to have the same idea when we get there around noon. It is a beautiful day - the sun is shining and the water is full of surfers making the most of it before the winter sets in. The coast path winds up and down the cliffs through a series of bays - Tamarana, Bronte, Waverley Clovelly - and we admire some spectacular properties, eavesdrop on the locals, grab a beer and a salad in Bronte, and watch bowls and rugby training on the way.
I agree with Vicky's comments on her blog (lots more info than this post) that Sydney is a delight. We can see why Louise enjoyed her time here and feel her presence as we explore the clifftop paths or walk around the opera house. When you finally land at Sydney airport you feel that you are miles from the rest of the world but it was well worth the visit.