samedi 17 mars 2012

Sydney Rediscovered - Playing the Tourist

Our home exchange is at Erskineville an inner suburb of Sydney and only a couple of minutes walk to King St and its 600 shops which stretch for kilometres through to Newtown and to the University of Sydney. This is not your fancy, shmancy Double Bay but rather a vibrant, cosmopolitan area with many students and gay couples. There are many speciality shops, bookshops, galleries, lots of restaurants, pubs and cafes. The choice of food is huge including: Vietnamese, Korean, African, Thai, Polish, Macedonian, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Lebanese - and the list goes on. Apparently the area is referred to as 'Eat Street'. There are also vintage clothing shops, music stores, massage and nail salons and second-hand shops.

View along King St, Newtown
A wonderful start to the day with brunch at Martini Café in Newtown. Great to have options for the sizes of the breakfasts. Thoroughly enjoyed my fruit, ricotta, honey and berry compote on sour dough toast along with one of the best espressos I have ever had. 

Brunch at Martini Café, Newtown
We caught the bus into the city where we picked up the 'I'm Free' city tour at the Town Hall. There were about 30 in our group. The tour takes in the well-known sites of the city. I am unfit and yet easily managed the 3 hour walk (with a 10 minute break) which finished in the Rocks area.
Clock in Queen Victoria Building
From the Town Hall we went to the Queen Victoria building and through Pitt Street Mall to Hyde Park where I heard about a rather unlikely French connection. The fountain was bequeathed J. F. Archibald to commemorate the association of Australia and France during World War 1. Archibald in spite of being the editor of The Bulletin magazine which encouraged writers to write about Australia, was a proud francophile. He had a neat French styled beard and changed his name from John Feltham to Jules François Archibald.
Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park
From Hyde Park we wondered past many historical buildings as we headed to Circular Quay, where the ferries arrive, and then on to the historical Rocks area.

The pubs in the Rocks were filled with Irish people good naturedly celebrating Saint Patrick's Day. I am not sure what the traditions are for celebrating Saint Pat's Day, apart from drinking Guinness of course. I was surprised to see girls in haut talons with so much haut that they were nearly toppling over. On their heads they had fascinators and they wore skimpy dresses that were no match for the cool, windy conditions as they spilled out of the pubs on to the foot paths. Security guards ensured that all drinking was kept within the confines of the temporary barriers. The girls looked more suitably dressed for a day at the races than downing a few Guinnesses at the pub with the boys wearing funny hats and green wigs. The bizarre thing is, that on 18 March they are having the Saint Patrick's Day Parade through the city and festivities in Hyde Park.  I am trying to work out whether the Irish are having a bit of a lend of the Aussies, two days to celebrate seems a bit much, or perhaps they didn't check their calendars to see what date it would be on this year when they planned the parade.     

During our 10 minute break in our tour I did manage to sneak a chausson aux pommes from La Rennaissance Café and Pâtisserie. I was eager to taste their pastries having read so much about them online. I was not disappointed. The pastry was crisp and light, enveloping an exceedingly generous amount of tasty apple filling. 

We finished our tour at the free observation tower (near Quay Restaurant) at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. It offers a panorama of about 270° of Sydney Cove, Circular Quay, Bennelong Point and the Sydney Opera House, Kirribilli, Luna Park and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Unfortunately today the weather was much less kind - it was cool with intermittent showers. No photos today of the blue harbour bathed in sunshine. I was too busy shivering. Tim, our guide today, was personable and knowledgeable about his city and its history. At the end of the tour participants are encouraged to tip with what they feel the tour was worth. 

Wine Odyssey - Great food and wine!
The obvious option would have been a coffee to warm me up, but I recalled Wine Odyssey Australia, owned by an ex-student of a good friend. A glass of wine was just what I needed to warm up. Wine Odyssey introduced a wine journey room which allows you to serve yourself one of their 44 Australian wines. The wines are available in a taste (25ml), a half glass (75ml) and a full glass (150ml). Its rooms are beautifully decorated and its staff are very knowledgeable about the wines and foods on offer. We thoroughly enjoyed the mezze plate of dips, dukkah and olive oil, sword fish wrapped in parma ham, crispy soft-shelled crab and risotto balls. I sometimes find sword fish a bit dry but it was cooked to perfection. One of the dukkahs had the most delicious lemon flavour. The mezze serving was very generous and regrettably we could not manage to eat it all.  We chatted to a very friendly couple, Mary (ex-Scotland) and Lucy (ex-England), from the table next to us about our meal and home exchange. The meals, wine and warm, friendly ambience at Wine Odyssey are such that you are eager to share your experiences with your neighbours. As Mary and Lucy headed off to the Opera House to see a play we wandered back to our bus stop to catch the bus back to Erskineville.

La Renaissance Café Pâtisserie47 Argyle Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000
Martini Café, 529A King St, Newtown NSW 2042
Wine Odyssey Australia, 39-43 Argyle St, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000

2 commentaires:

  1. Well, thank you for that excellent description. I'm going to try the free tour o our next trip to Sydney in September! And you must be reasonably fit to have done a three-hour walking tour.Sounds like that chausson aux pommes was better than some of the stuff you get in Paris ...

    1. I don't know about being reasonably fit. I was the one always looking for an opportunity to sit when the guide was explaining things.

      There is another group that do the free tours in Sydney. I thought that I'm Free sounded like the best when I checked them out on Tripadvisor etc. They also do an hour and a half one in the evenings in the Rocks.

      There are quite a few groups that offer free tours in Paris. Most of them seem to offer their tours in English but I would rather do them in French. For me it is another opportunity to improve my French language skills as well as seeing the sites.


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