Snapshots of a quick trip to Sydney

Flying into Sydney felt like coming home. Fourteen years have passed by since my time in Sydney but everything is still so familiar. I was in Sydney for two nights for work reasons yet lucky enough to score some extra time in the city for shopping and catching up with a dear friend. Sydney Harbour is a fabulous spot for people watching, the many cafes and bars provide the perfect reason to stop awhile and enjoy the view.

Pitt Street mall is shopping heaven, new shoes and perfectly fitting black pants are easy to come by as is delicious Thai food at Assamm under the Queen Victoria Building. Many shops have Christmas decorations on display, the most wonderful of them all vein the Swarovski Christmas tree decorated with beautiful, sparkling crystals.

Leaving Sydney makes me a little sad, it has been so much fun shopping and sightseeing with my dear friend J and I love being in the city. An electrical storm hit Sydney airport on the way home, delaying the flight somewhat and giving me time to share these snapshots with you.

Have a great weekend!

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Bondi Beach Street Art

Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club
Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club

Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most popular and well known beaches, located in eastern Sydney, Bondi is accessible by bus and train and during the summer the beach is jam-packed with locals, tourists and back packers all eager to develop their tans and do a spot of people watching. When I lived in Sydney I rarely went to Bondi, our local beach was at Cronulla and ratio of sand to people was alot higher so there was always plenty of room to move.

Bondi is currently a landing point for people wanting to experience Sculpture by the Sea, but once you’ve finished checking out the amazing 3D art forms there is still plenty of art to see along Bondi’s esplanade. Not wanting to swim or fuss around with membership requirements, My Dad and I bypassed Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club and headed to the strip of cafes and shops opposite the beach, we enjoyed a tasty lunch served with a smile at the Lamrock Cafe,  around the corner from one amazing piece of street art done by Mr G. Mr G is known for his paintings and illustrations of dogs and I had been following his ‘dogathon‘ of paintings for quite sometime prompting me to ask the waitress about the location of a particular mural he painted titled Happy Staffys.

When asked why he painted dogs, Mr G replied:

Because dogs are bloody awesome, that’s why.

I couldn’t agree more so I left Dad sitting in the shade of a tree while I went in search of the Happy Staffys and discovered some other amazing street art.

Enjoy!

The holiday is over

Frangipani flower
Frangipani flower

Well, that is it then, holiday over and back to work. Can’t complain too loudly though, with temperatures over 40 degrees celsius in some parts of Australia it is great to be able to work in air conditioned comfort. My poor doggies are melting, throughout the day they move from one cool, shaded spot to another and you can see the relief on their faces when I come home and they can finally lie on the nice, cool tiles.

Bundy the dog napping on the cool tiles
Bundy napping on the cool tiles

Joy to all at Christmas

 

Kookaburra and surfboard Christmas decoration
Australian themed Christmas decoration

Christmas and New Years Eve was spent south of the border in New South Wales. My parents live in the country, surrounded by cows, horses and alpacas, it is a very peaceful place to stay and the nights are so dark that you can easily see the stars. The dogs love it there although they’d be much happier inside with us, but their Nan and Pop don’t allow dogs in the house so Maxi claimed the deck and Bundy decided that sitting on the outdoor table was the place to be. Every morning I took Bundy for a walk down to the river while Maxi got to have a walk through the paddock (her legs won’t carry her very far anymore), on the first morning everything was shrouded in fog, it was magnificent to see especially when the sun’s rays started to burn through the fog and throw a little more colour and light onto the picture.

Dew on a spiders web

Cows

Alpacas

Christmas day was a hot one, after the traditional early morning opening of presents I joined my husband’s family for brunch, watching our nephews playing with their presents reminds me of the excitement I felt when I got my first record player and the soundtrack for the movie Xanadu – I loved Olivia Newton John :-). The heat and the boys desire to try out their new boogie boards drove us to the beach, it was cloudy and windy, the water freezing but we still got sunburned and soon it was time for us to head off to my cousin’s house for a late Christmas lunch. Christmas with my family usually means five types of meat, a tonne of baked vegetables and more desserts than anyone could possibly need, not to mention lots of bubbles and beer. At some stage water is involved, often swimming in a pool however this year it was a water fight using the latest in water pistols (they look more like cannons) and buckets, this is when holding a camera has its advantages.

Nephews on boogie boards
Christmas day at the beach
Flynn's Beach, Port Macquarie
Flynn’s Beach, Port Macquarie

The 2013 National Beach Volleyball tour kicks off in Cronulla, my husband is part of the operations team that organise the event and work started on Boxing Day, December 26 so that is where we spent New Years Eve. Cronulla is heaven for surfers and beach goers, alot of effort has gone into tidying up the foreshore but this Sydney suburb still feels as though it is made for locals and on New Years Eve it was surprisingly quiet. New Years Eve is also our wedding anniversary, this year we celebrated our 5th anniversary and although in Sydney we celebrated quietly with bubbles and delicious nibbles on our hotel balcony, avoiding the crush of two million people on the harbour’s foreshore. New Years Day was spectacular weather wise, the beach was packed and the temperature soared, the lifeguards were going to have a busy day.

View from Rydges Hotel, Cronulla
View from Rydges Hotel, Cronulla
Cronulla beach
Cronulla beach
New Years Day at the beach, Cronulla
New Years Day at the beach, Cronulla

Wonderful moments in Sydney

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Ferry
Sydney Opera House

I’ve been a little ‘out of touch’ this week as a result of choosing to minimise the number of gadgets in my carry on and only take my DSLR and iPhone to Sydney. Sure I could access the internet on my phone but I preferred to indulge in other activities on my week off.

One day was devoted to food and window shopping, although an Olga Berg handbag on sale did convince me to open my purse and hand over the plastic. Jamie Oliver has opened a restaurant aptly named Jamie’s Italian in Pitt Street, the reviews from friends and family were good, nobody was in the least put off by the fact that they had to queue because the restaurant doesn’t take bookings – the bar is a fine place to wait. My friend and I were there for lunch and we just beat the ‘business lunch’ rush so there was no waiting and we were directed to a tiny little table off to the side, the wall next to us was stacked with bottles of wine and kept in place with wire mesh. Bubbles being the drink of choice, we perused the overwhelming menu (overwhelming because we wanted to try a bit of everything and knew we couldn’t) and watched as tasty morsels of food were delivered to the tables around us. The food we ordered was heaven, a taste sensation that I hadn’t experienced for a while and with any luck I’ll be heading to Sydney again with a meal at Jamie’s Italian high on the list of things to do…again.

Jamie's Italian restaurant
Jamie’s Italian restaurant on Pitt Street
Green olives on ice served with tapenade and crispbread
Green olives on ice served with tapenade and crispbread
Italian Nachos - fried ravioli and arrabiata sauce
Italian Nachos – fried four cheese ravioli served with parmesan and arrabiata sauce
Bruschetta with grilled vegetables, bocconcini cheese and pine nuts
Bruschetta with grilled vegetables, bocconcini cheese and pine nuts
Truffle tagliatelle with a sauce of parmesan, butter, nutmeg and truffle
Truffle tagliatelle with a sauce of parmesan, butter, nutmeg and truffle
Jamie's Italian menu
Jamie’s Italian menu

A walk around Circular Quay to admire the Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art and to watch the buskers at work is always a pleasant way to work off the kilojoules consumed at lunch, especially if the weather is being particularly nice. At the moment all the gardens are in full bloom and the Jacaranda trees are covered with purple flowers, it is a spectacular sight and even though there are many similar photos in my archives I can’t help but take a couple more.

You wouldn’t think we would need afternoon tea following such a delicious lunch, but Laduree has also recently opened in Sydney and I was not leaving the city without purchasing some of their famous Macarons. We stopped off at David Jones prior to Laduree in order to see their Christmas window display, although not as good as Melbourne’s Myer Christmas windows it was still fun to see and listening to Christmas Carols always puts a smile on my face. Laduree is on the third floor of the Westfield shopping centre in Pitt Street mall, we were expecting a more of a Paris salon or high tea ambiance but the Laduree counter is adjacent to the escalators and the seating is in the open. Still, it was a nice way to enjoy a pot of tea with my friend and the raspberry and pistachio macarons were scrumptious even if they were imported frozen from Switzerland. The additional coffee, vanilla, chocolate and pistachio macarons I purchased were presented in a pretty paper bag and gently placed in my handbag, slightly squashed, they were later enjoyed with family.

Circular Quay and the Jacaranda trees
Jacaranda trees in full bloom, Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
David Jones Christmas window display
David Jones Christmas window display
Border Collie and sheep, David Jones Christmas window display
Border Collie and sheep, David Jones Christmas window display
Laduree, Sydney
Laduree, Sydney
Silver service tea at Laduree
Silver service tea at Laduree
Laduree macarons and merchandise
Laduree macarons and merchandise

And now for the real reason I went to Sydney…

Gorgeous baby girl
My beautiful little niece, Aleyah.

…my brother’s first child and my parents first grandchild was born in August, I had not yet had the privilege of meeting Aleyah and already she is 3 months old. This gorgeous little girl stole my heart with her easy going nature and smiley face, spending time with her was the highlight of my stay in Sydney.

 

 

 

A weekend trip to the ‘big smoke’

There were many reasons to head down to the ‘big smoke’, as my husband jokingly calls Sydney, but the most important one was to attend the baby shower of my brother’s girlfriend. My brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby, this baby is also the first (human) grand child for my parents so on Friday, armed with gifts for the soon-to-be parents, I boarded the plane to Sydney.

Vivid 2012 is a light festival of sorts, you may have already seen photos on This Sydney Life, imagine my delight when my brother’s girlfriend arranged for me to meet her and another friend at Circular Quay to check out it out on Friday night. Of course the area was jam-packed with people wanting to see the installations, the weather was perfect for such an event and this was the last weekend of Vivid. Moving at the pace of a baby learning to crawl we walked from the train station around to the Rocks, stopping regularly to take photos and just admire the show. Light and music combined to create an awesome display on Custom House and the Museum of Contemporary Art whilst the Opera House had slow moving images projected onto the surface of the sails, serious photographers lined the water’s edge with their tripods with the aim of capturing the perfect night time shot. Dinner was from a stall at the night markets, the choice of food was huge and varied from corn on the cob, sweet potato chips, pad thai, paella and organic hamburgers to dutch pancakes, gelato and cannoli. The seafood paella was scrumptious, we squeezed fresh lemon over the dish and looked for a place where we could sit, relax and enjoy the meal.

The baby shower was on Saturday, a fun time was had by all and of course there was plenty of yummy food to snack on, not to mention cakes and apple crumble pie for dessert. Games are always on the agenda at a baby shower, over the years I have played a few different ones but never have I performed so poorly at a task than on Saturday when as part of ‘pass the parcel’ I was required to sing a nursery rhyme. Even with assistance I could barely get out more than a couple of lines and I’m pretty sure that I even stuffed that up, someone suggested a buy a book of nursery rhymes however I’ll probably just end up googling them instead.

While in Sydney it seemed a shame not to go shopping with one of my dearest friends Jo, when I lived in Sydney it was a popular past time of ours and we often combined shopping with a visit to David Jones Food Hall, the Rocks Markets and a gallery or two. The plan was to meet up with Jo on the Sunday, the weather was looking bleak, it was a good idea to stay indoors and thankfully many of the shops in the Pitt Street Mall and Queen Victoria Building are linked and rarely require you to venture outside. Much money was saved shopping in the sales, my objective was to find new shoes, shirts and a handbag for work and I did just that, saving $100-$150 in the process which is pretty good by anyone’s standards. Lunch was in an asian kitchen/laksa house, we assumed that the number of asian people eating there was a good sign and certainly we found both the seafood and chicken laksa to be more than satisfactory. A hot chocolate mid-afternoon sustained us until we had to head home, shopping bags aplenty and a box of cupcakes in hand we joined the throng of people underground, said our goodbyes and caught the train home. With the rain pouring down and the temperature plummeting as night fell, walking into my brother’s home and smelling the heavenly scent of roast lamb and potato bake cooking in the oven was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend.