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!
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.
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.
And now for the real reason I went to Sydney…
…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.
It is often thought that Auckland is the capital of New Zealand however, as any Kiwi will tell you, the current capital is actually Wellington, a smaller but no less interesting city located further south on the North Island. The original capital of the colony of New Zealand was actually a small settlement called Russell in the Bay of Islands, but I digress, this post is about Auckland, otherwise known as the City of Sails. Auckland was the capital for a short period of time after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and then it moved to Wellington in 1865, Auckland is now considered the economic capital of New Zealand and it is the largest city in the country.
Earlier this year I posted photos taken with my iPhone 3, the quality was pretty poor however I liked the ‘retro’ effect created by the app I was enamored with at the time. These shots were taken with my handy little Panasonic Lumix TZ10, a great point and shoot camera that we bought to take to Europe last year. I did make the mistake of messing around with some of the automatic ‘effects’ such as HDR, although fun at the time the result was pretty ordinary.
My time to explore the city was limited to one full day and one night, weather on arrival was woeful and typical of the miserable weather that usually follows me on holiday so imagine my joy when I awoke to blue sunny skies the next day. Friends and family had advised me to hop on a ferry and cruise the Waitemata Harbour weather permitting, it was good advice and for about $20 I spent a relaxing couple of hours on the water. Stops of interest include Devonport, Stanley Bay and Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto Island is a unique, volcanic island with 3 peaks, it formed more than 600 years ago and if you have time you can hop off the boat and walk to the top of the crater for 360 degree views of the city, harbour and environs.
Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour is a recent development consisting of upmarket hotels, restaurants and office buildings, it is a popular spot for residents and tourists and if you love boats it is worth checking out. I wandered around for an hour or so, soaking up the sun and doing a spot of people watching but looking at boats for long periods of time doesn’t really interest me that much. The National Maritime Museum is near by and I could have spent more than a few dollars on All Blacks World Cup Rugby merchandise but the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki was calling and I’m a sucker for art gallery souvenirs.
The Auckland Art Gallery is free to visit, there is an entry fee for special exhibitions and events, at the time the Degas to Dali exhibition was touring and being a fan of many artists during the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries I couldn’t resist buying a ticket.
As the sunsets the harbour is quiet a pretty place to visit, a group of us from the conference I was attending gathered to explore the waterfront and find somewhere nice to eat. We headed to Queens Wharf to inspect ‘The Cloud’, a curved structure created to erected to accommodate events during the Rugby World Cup 2011, the view of the harbour and city was great, the lack of a space to sit and have a drink…not so much. Obligatory happy snaps taken, we moved on to the Viaduct harbour precinct and managed to find a most suitable place to drink and eat, alas no decent food photos to share but I can assure you that the meals were creatively presented and tasted absolutely delicious.
This was my first real stay in Auckland, yes, even though it was only for a short period of time and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Most of my trips to New Zealand usually only include a short stop at the airport before heading further north or returning to Australia, next time I hope to extend that to a nice long weekend and visit something of the amazing markets and wineries that I’ve heard so much about 🙂
Free time during a quick visit to Auckland for work allowed me to do a little sight seeing, thankfully the heavy rain dissipated and I had a perfect day for walking around the city. Rather than lug my DSLR to New Zealand (the weather was predicted to be miserable the entire time) I made use of the Retro Camera app on my iphone and a little point and shoot camera. These photos are all taken with an iphone 3 and the ‘polaroid’ function on Retro Camera, the result reminds me of all the old photos that my Mum took when we went on family holidays. I’ll share the other photos and details about my short stay later, my happy snaps of the City of Sails will have to do for now.
I spent a few years living in Sydney and would have happily stayed for longer, but life happens and you move on. I loved working by the Harbour and walking around the Botanical Gardens in my lunch break, on weekends there were trips to the galleries and shopping at the Rocks Markets and in the evening we would dine on delicious food in little Italy (Leichardt). When possible I spend a weekend visiting my friends and family and doing all the things I miss such as going to Taronga Zoo and having a hot chocolate at the Lindt Cafe. This is my Sydney.