29 October, 2013

The Harbour City: A Weekend of Shenanigans

A couple of weekends ago The Man and I headed down to Sydney for a long long weekend. The main event was to see the Monster Jam, but as I had never been to Sydney before (I know right!?) I also wanted to get in some sightseeing and catch up with some people we knew down there. We flew down on the Friday morning, hoping the poor people affected by the bushfires were seeing some relief and that our plane in fact would be able to land and not be overcome by smoke. We arrived surprised to see that there was in fact no smoke to be seen. More hoping for the bushfire people.
 
We touched down and after a chaotic and rather heart stopping shuttle bus ride to our hotel, we dumped our bags and jumped on a train out to Circular Quay. The afternoon was warm and sunny and the Harbour truly was a sight. We went for a little walk around the Opera House and tried to get some photos on the steps (that thing is actually best photographed from a distance - too big!) then settled in for some windy beers by the harbourside overlooking the Bridge and Opera house. It was brilliant, so lovely and I felt like a total tourist in my home country. It was strange, but we both remarked on a number of occasions that weekend that for some reason we felt like we could have been in another country.
 
I was willing to give Sydney a go but wasn't sure how much I was going to like it as I had heard some bad experiences with record rainfall and not so nice people. But we had THE BEST weekend with gorgeous weather every day and met some very lovely people. I actually LOVED Sydney and would definitely go back! Anyway, Friday evening we hurried back to the hotel and got ready for dinner at Porteno. A restaurant I had heard much about and had been dying to try for quite some time, you know how much I like my food. Well the restaurant absolutely didn't disappoint!! The food was AMAZING, the atmosphere was great and they were playing THE BEST music!
 
We could have stayed there all night...but after meeting a lady on our way to the restaurant and saving her from a man she thought might be following her, her and her date for the evening ended up buying us a bottle of wine at the end of our meal. We went upstairs to finish it at Gardel's and said we would wait from them to join us. We'd just finished the bottled and decided it was best to head home (we had to be up early the next day to get to the zoo) when the couple appeared and somehow we ended up with more drinks. And more. Until the staff were kicking us out of the bar for closing time. Not to be perturbed, the couple convinced us to join them at a nearby venue which turned out to be a bit of a divey bar but that happened to be playing some great old school rock and hair metal (a not so secret love of mine). Safe to say it was rather late (or should I say early?) when we got home. 
We didn't make it to the zoo that day but we did visit the famous Harry's Café de Wheels for a tiger-style pie which both helped and hindered the hangover before continuing on to Circular Quay. After a few touch and go minutes where I was convinced I was going to throw up, The Man decided a ferry ride would be a good idea. Convinced my stomach couldn't handle the motion of water travel, we hesitantly bordered a ferry and went straight for the top outside deck...in case of emergency. Surprisingly the fresh air did me the world of good and I actually felt better. I love the Harbour, we spent a fair bit of time on and around it over the weekend and honestly I could spend all day moseying around it. My poor sunburnt scalp may have something to say about that though.
 
We headed back to our room for a little lay down before making the journey out to ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park out at Homebush for the Monster Jam. A couple of slightly chewy beers at the pub outside and it was time to go in and find our seats, but not before finding out the stadium didn't sell full strength beer and that a mid was $8! HIGHWAY ROBBERY! Our hangovers and bank accounts thanked us for choosing to go alcohol-free for the remainder of the night. The Monster Jam was fun as usual, although not a scratch on the action of the World Finals in Vegas earlier this year. The Sydney track was much tighter unfortunately and saw many of the trucks having difficulty getting any real momentum and crashing out early, with little fanfare thanks to said lack of momentum. Still it was a fun night and the addition of some motocross during a break was a nice change of pace.
 
Thankfully, an early night that night allowed us to rearrange our sightseeing schedule to get up early Sunday morning and get out to Bondi to check it out. As I'm not really much of beach-lover, we didn't plant to spend a lot of time there but rather enjoy the views and a coffee or the like so the early morning visit actually worked quite well, with conditions not TOO busy and the day not yet too hot. We grabbed a coffee from a swanky cafe nearby and grabbed some lovely shots from about the Surf Club then headed down to the beach itself. I had the bright idea of walking across the sand to the main beachfront. Man, that Bondi sand is LUSH and VERY hard to walk on. By the first ramp, my calves were screaming and we headed back up to the concrete, then sat on the steps in front of the bars looking out over the beach. Very nice indeed.
 
Then it was time to hightail it back to Darling Harbour to Margaritaville where we were catching up with some new friends. We had a delicious, leisurely boozy lunch with one of the loveliest couples ever and who will soon be hopefully visiting us up here in Queensland. These two look to be travelling to a few of the same places as us next year and especially to a big event that we all look forward to partying at together (more on that soon). We actually met online (I know, sounds weird right) and Sydney was our first time meeting them but we all got on like a house on fire. After lunch we pottered around Darling Harbour for a bit then caught the ferry back to Circular Quay for some arvo beers, fish and chips for dinner and some more beers as we enjoyed the Harbour by night. Very pretty!
 
Monday we were up early to FINALLY make it to Taronga Zoo and I couldn't wait! Y'all know how much I love animals and I had heard such great things about Taronga. I was really excited about seeing the animals and I'm pleased to say that the zoo didn't disappoint (unlike another world famous zoo that we only travelled thousands of kilometres to see and hated. Ahem.) My hands down favourite of the day were the giraffes, they were so beautiful and I'd never seen one in real life before! I waved and chatted to them for a little while, telling them how much I wished I could touch them and they came right up to the fence and posed for some lovely photos for us. The zoo was beautiful and I'm pleased to say that all the habitats were quite spacious, well looked after and the animals generally seemed happy. All very important aspects of a zoo in my book.
 
 
Sadly it was time to head back to Circular Quay for a last couple of beers on the Harbour then catch the train to the airport for our flight home. It was a full on weekend with SO MUCH walking and running around but I had SUCH  good time and would actually love to go back again. Perhaps see a bit more outside the city and visit The Rocks. Oooh and do a harbour dinner cruise. And see Newtown and Enmore and do a bit of shopping. It was lots to cram into one weekend but it was such a brilliant weekend! Thank you Sydney for being so kind to us!

Have you been to Sydney? Did you love it?

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