Well the sun was shining on my day off last Wednesday and I had a lovely brekkie with Jem and then bought a few cheap clothes, including a singlet which is what the ozzie's call a vest top, from Kmart in Bondi Junction then went into the city. Had a delicious ice-cream at the Royal Copenhagen and then walked down Kent Street to Darling Harbour, popping into to see my mate Helen who works at a cafe nearby.
Darling Harbour is a huge waterfront leisure park which was once a thriving dockland area and was reinvigorated in the 1980's. There are loads of bars and restaurants and it's a good place to go at night. I crossed over the Pyrmont Bridge, a pedestrian-and-monorail-only route once famous as the world's first electrically operated swingspan bridge, and went to visit the National Maritime Museum. This tells the story of Austalia's relationship with the sea, from Aboriginal canoes and whaling history to the First Fleet and surf culture. There was also a boat made of beer cans and some really good exhibitions which included Little Shipmates - seafaring pets is a photographic display celebrating the animals that accompanied sailors on long voyages. Sydney photographer Sam Hood went on board countless ships between 1900 and 1950s and took hundreds of photographs of crew members, many of which included photographs with their beloved pets. An exhibition called Bateaux Jouets - Toy Boats from Paris 1850-1950 from the collections of Musee national Marine, Paris and finally photographs from Steel Beach called Shipbreaking in Bangladesh. Photographer Andrew Bell captures dramatic images of half-scrapped oil tankers and liners, and the people who work in this dangerous environment. This was definitely an eye opener and made my cleaning job look very easy!
Back across the bridge is Sydney Aquarium which displays the richness of Austalian marine life. Three 'Oceanariums' are moored in the harbour with sharks, including Grey Nurse Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks and Lemon Sharks, and Rays, including Sting Rays and Shark Rays, and big fish in one, Sydney Harbour marine life and Seals in the others. Also has exhibits of freshwater fish and coral gardens. The transparent underwater tunnels are amazing especially when the sharks swim over and you see their teeth really close! For the first time in ten years the tiny but deadly blue-ringed octopus is on display. Despite it's size, it's one of the most toxic creatures known to man, carrying enough poison to kill up to 26 adult humans within minutes and they are found on the nearyby beachs! My favourite was an ozzie fish called 'Old Wife' which has venomous spines in its fins!
Friday was a brilliant day for us because we both left our jobs!!! We celebrated in a Japanese restaurant in Paddington called Wasavie which was amazing. It was BYO so we drank an Italian bottle of white wine called Terlaner which is a mix of Pinot Bianco (60%), Sauvignon and Chardonnay and it went perfectly with the Sushi and Sashimi (which means pierced body in Japanese and is very fresh raw seafood) and the Prawn Tempura. We also shared a lovely lamb dish. All in all I'd definitely recommend this restaurant and it only cost us $70!
After the meal we headed to Kings Cross and had a cheap happy hour drink in The Bourbon which is a great bar and then walked to the Old Fitzroy which is a cool pub in Woolloomooloo. We stayed here for a few scooners and met a nice irish guy called Barry who we persuaded to come to the nearby Tilbury bar for one! I just enjoyed not having to work cause it was my first Friday off in 3 months!
Saturday morning we had a gorgeous cafe latte from Gusto, 5 ways, Paddington (our fav cafe) and then we got the train and bus to Glebe, passing Glebe market on the way, and went to lunch at The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay which had been recommended to us by Bill and Maureen. This one hat (like our one star) restaurant is located in a converted boathouseoverlooking Blackwattle Bay. We had a table by the window with superb views of Anzac bridge and the Sydney Fish Market. The food was mainly seafood and I had Grilled Bonito from Coffs Harbour with Pedro Ximenez, Jamon & Pine Nuts to start followed by Pan Fried Smoked Marlin from Coffs Harbour with Boston Bay Mussels, Mushrooms & Horseradish Cream which were both strong fish and delicious, Jem had Big Eye Tuna from Coffs Harbour with Black Olive, Dried Tomato, Parmesan & Aioli to start, followed by Roast Rare Breed Kurobuta Berkshire Pork with Celeriac, Star Anise, Pear & Almond Skordalia which he thoroughly enjoyed. I preferred both my choices but Jem preferred my starter and his main. We drank a bottle of Rippon Riesling, 2004, Lake Wanaka, Central Otago which went perfectly with our starters and my main. Jem had a glass of Drummer Pinot Noir, Central Otago with his pork. For dessert we shared Chestnut & Pear Sorbet, Pear & Almond Tart with a Poirre William Vanilla ice-cream and Sheeps Milk Panna Cotta which was lovely. This restaurant is definitely a hidden gem!
After lunch we met Jem's friend Mike from kemeney's at the The Royal, Paddington for a scooner and popped into Five Way Cellars for their Torbreck tasting were we tasted the Run Rig Shiraz 2002 which costs $250! We then headed to the Opera House to meet up with Guy & Helen to watch all the lights go out on the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House for Earth Hour. This wasn't as impressive as I thought it was going to be as not everyone turned their lights off but we had a great view and had bought some wine so we were happy! We then popped into the Hemmesphere Bar, Establishment and realised it was well out of our price range - nice place though and decided to go to the Lord Nelson Brewery for a couple. I had a Quayle Ale and the lads had Three Sheets.
We had a great day on Sunday which started with BLT's on the balcony then the bus to Nielsen Park in Double Bay which overlooks Shark Beach. We had a wander up to Greycliffe House then we walked along Coolong Road through Vaucluse to Vaucluse House, originally a small cottage in 1803, then home of statesman and explorer William Charles Wentworth. The house has beautiful gardens which we walked around and then carried on walking along The Crescent around to Hopetoun Ave to Watsons Bay & the nearby beach, Camp Cove. The walk took us a couple of hlours but the sun was shining so we really enjoyed ourselves. We then chilled in the park around Watsons Bay and had take away fish & Chips from the famous Doyles restaurant which were yummy.
Today we got the train from Central Station to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains (very cheap only cost $16 return). This took 2 hrs and we arrived at midday and walked to Echo Point to see the magnificant Three Sisters rock formation. It was such a lovely day and the views of the Jamison Valley was breathtaking. From here we walked along Prince Henry Cliff Track to Katoomba Cascade and Falls down in Valley. Juliet Balcony on the way was the best lookout. We had a great time and a good couple of hours walk up and down lots of stairs! At Scenic World we hopped on the bus to the quaint village of Leura, bought a fantastic bottle of Bowen Estate, Coonawarra, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc, 1998 at Leura Cellars which had an amazing selection of old ozzie wines and then got the train back to Sydney. I'm looking forward to trying the wine tonight!
Tomorrow we're getting our hop on hop off Greyhound bus ticket to Airlie Beach, book our bus to Byron Bay for next Monday 7th April and then we're going to head to Nielsen Park & Shark Beach for a swim in the very cold water within the shark nets, picnic and a chill in the sun!
Our plans for the rest of our very busy week include an evening drink in the clubhouse of the famous Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club which has views over the beach. On Thursday we're catching the bus to one of the many Northern beaches, Palm Beach which is at the tip of Sydney and is well known as the fictional Summer Bay in the Ozzie soap Home & Away. They film on a Tuesday & Thursday so fingers crossed we'll bump into some of the cast! Friday we're really looking forward to having lunch at Quay Restaurant which was our wedding present from our friend Garry Lewis. Saturday we're catching the ferry to Manly to do the beautiful 1.5hr coastal walk to North Head, pop in Le Kiosk Restaurant, Shelley Beach to say hi to the son of a friend of Hil & Gordon's whose a chef there and meet our friends laura & Ian for lunch at Four Olives. Saturday night starts with drinks in the revolving Orbit Bar. Finally on Sunday we're having a picnic at Mrs Macquaries Point and watching the 1st Red Bull Flugtag (which means 'Flying Day' in German) event which involves manpowered flying machines & crazy pilots attempting to launch themselves off a 6m ramp & into the water below. The competitiors are judged on the distance of their flight, the creativity of their machine and their pre-flight performance!! Basically it sounds a laugh and it's all free!