I hope you enjoyed part 1, the trip continues onto Melbourne and Sydney ……….. off we go!
The trip so far had been very much by car and with lots of scenery, so it was time for a change and to explore a little by foot. We arrived at the QT hotel, a 5* Boutique hotel (we decided to splash out a little for the cities!) walking into the lobby we were greeted with a colourful peacock that stood proud at the bottom of the stairs and from there I knew I was going to like this hotel. That was even before the lift started speaking to us! (more on this later in the world of interiors section). It was already late afternoon so we decided to just take a stroll around the streets of our hotel; which was very central, and grab a coffee. That night we had tickets booked for a stand-up comedy gig at the Comic lounge, so after a few hours exploring we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our first big night out of the trip (I mean like out out…. Few will understand that reference but I still couldn’t resist! The hotel had a steak restaurant, so we thought it only right that we should fill our bellies up before heading out. The steak was very good and the service was amazing, even if you are not staying at the hotel I would recommend heading there for food. While in America a few years back we went to a couple of stand-up comedy nights and it was always a good time, so we thought we would do the same in Australia to see what it was like. The taxi dropped us outside and we soon realized that it wasn’t quite what we had expected and I was ever so slightly overdressed for the occasion! Think flip flops (sorry thongs!) and boardshorts with very manly long ungroomed beards and that will about do it! Anyway after a few drinks we got into the swing of it and despite the “local” jokes that went over our heads, but the rest of the crowd seemed to enjoy. The headline act, Harley Breen was hilarious (check him out on youtube if you haven’t heard of him)
The next morning with slightly sore heads, we walked to a place called Bowery to Williamsburg for breakfast to feed the hangover. A very popular place, so don’t wait to be hangry before you decide to go there, be prepared to wait on a list to get a table, especially on a weekend. It was worth the wait the waffles and fried chicken were just what we needed to cure us and the milkshakes were like a second meal. We spent the afternoon wondering the city taking it all in, the beautiful architecture and just the general vibe of the city, which was very calm for such a busy place. We had wanted to visit the arts centre but unfortunately it was closed for renovation works, instead we headed down to south bank and casually strolled looking at all the hip bars and restaurants that lined the waterfront. It was a Saturday, so there was lots of brunching going on (now I don’t mean brunching in Dubai standards, I mean civilized buffet we a couple of drinks!) It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to join in the fun and stopped at a bar called Left Bank, which had a live musician and a singer on the terrace setting the mood perfectly, singing laid back renditions of popular music, and we happily lost a couple of hours.
We only stopped in Melbourne for 3 nights, so we got up early to make the most of our last day and headed over to the famous Hosier Lane to check out the graffiti lined alleyway. It was already busy with tourists posing for Instagram shots, but we had popped by the first night and it was so busy that we decided to come back another time. I would recommend visiting Hosier Lane in the morning, as even though it was still busy it was much quieter than in the evening. We got our Insta shots and even though I am not yet used to this posing in public milarky, it had to be done for the gram! It was time for a much-needed coffee, a friend had recommended a place called Brunelli and so we sussed it out on the map and began the 20 minute walk. Again, another very popular place (probably much quieter on a weekday) and we could see why, the coffee was incredible, so smooth, and the pastry and cake selection; oh! the pastry and cake selection was well, to die for!
Another recommendation was a restaurant called Chin Chin, so we swung by to book a table on our way back to the hotel, only they didn’t take bookings and just recommended that we got there early. We arrived at 6pm to a long que of people, but the food was supposed to be delicious so, we decided to wait it out. After about 15 minutes we were offered a seat at the bar or a longer wait for a table, so we sat at the bar and ordered our first round of cocktails. Oh! I forgot to mention that as it was our last night in Melbourne, we decided that we would hit up a few bars after dinner and so we were just getting warmed up! The cocktails were soooo good! and very strong might I add and the food was worth the wait. The flavours were so well paired and it was obvious why this place had people queuing around the block to experience it. First stop on our night out was a little place I had read about called; The Storyville Bar, it was only a short walk from the restaurant and it sounded very quirky. It was quite hard to find as it was down a little alleyway, we followed the stairs up, enticed by the glow in the dark paint and toadstool mushrooms; yes mushrooms, I did say that it was quirky! The clue is in the name, the bar was a fantasy story book land and had cocktails to match! We ordered a Harry Potter drink which arrived on fire with sparkles, unfortunately the place was not exactly a bustling bar, we made the headcount to a staggering 10 people and the place seemed a little tired; a great concept for a bar and fun for the intrigue of the entrance, but that was pretty much were the fun stopped! Oh! apart from the hanging swing, which with a fiery cocktail seemed a little reckless if you ask me! Nevertheless, of course I had to have a go! From there, drawn in by a nearby neon light, we went to a bar called the Heartbreaker; which was the polar opposite of the last place. This place was a dingy biker rock bar full of leather and tattoos, but we loved it. We selected our own music from the old jukebox (of course bearing in mind the clientele of the bar, we didn’t want to be ‘those’ people! (and I am partial to a little light metal music!) settled into the torn leather seats with sticky tables and ordered a beer that tasted like piss…..but it was perfect!
Sydney & Bondi
A short flight over to Sydney and another QT hotel, this time the hotel was in the State Theatre building and was movie themed; much to my husband’s delight! This hotel certainly impressed right from the get go, arriving into a Gatsby-esk bar and lead by the pink haired door lady to the elevator to take us up to the lobby. Even the elevator was impressive, it would play music based on the occupancy, for example; when I went up alone it played “all the lonely people”, very clever! The lobby was adorned with movie posters from the likes of Casablanca and Pulp Fiction and spot light lamps lit the space. (I am getting carried away with the interior again, more on this later!)
While the trip had been incredible so far, we were feeling the need to actually do an activity now, rather than just exploring…… and eating! So, we booked in to do the Bridge climb experience that morning, and unfortunately the weather was not great, even with the jumpsuit and hat it was pretty blustery and chilly up there. We had a great guide who was telling us all about everything that we could see far and wide as we climbed the bridge, not that I can actually remember any of it now, to be fair, it was pretty distracting being harnessed to a chunk of steel; albeit a very impressive chunk of steel, that high up! With our feet firmly back on the ground we explored ‘The Rocks’, and grabbed an orange flavoured hot chocolate from Guylian (you know the one, with the seashell chocolates) I could feel the calories being added to my hips from just looking at it, but god damn, it was good!
Even though we have been to the Dubai opera many times, we have never actually been to see an opera, we always thought that it wasn’t really for us. So what better place to have our first opera experience than at the Sydney Opera House. We booked a tasting dinner at a swanky restaurant called Aria, when I called to book the lady at the other end of the phone informed me that there was a dress code and that men were not allowed to wear thongs, I was quite taken back initially, I thought, even if my husband was partial to wearing a thong on weekends, how would she tell, was there a strange ‘drop em’ situation at the door to check!, then I remembered that thongs were flip flops!….. and it suddenly made much more sense. The restaurant was right outside the opera house and it was divine, the food, the setting, the service; all of it was top notch. The Opera house looked so beautiful all lit up in the evening and so obviously I was excited to see what the inside had to offer; turns out, not much! I was so surprised that it was really industrial looking, with precast concrete which gave off a really cold feeling, I guess they didn’t want to outshine the outside! We got settled in our seats for Madama Butterfly and the show began. We were not disappointed and turns out that we are opera people, it was absolutely amazing! I found myself so intently sitting on the edge of my seat as the intense drama unfolded before me, in tears so moved by the performance, I honestly did not expect to enjoy the experience as much as I did.
One night in Melbourne I was whinging a little to my husband about the lack of activities on the trip so far, and after a few too many cocktails we ended up booking the shark dive experience in the Sydney Sea Life centre. I was fine with it at the time, fuelled with cocktail confidence, but the morning of the big event I wasn’t so cocky anymore! We slid into our wetsuit (ok truth be told there was no sliding, it was more a wriggle and a fight; you know the one you do when you attempt to get your jeans on after Christmas!) First, we had to get to grips with the scuba equipment, which was fine for my husband, who just before the trip had done his PADI certification, but for me was not so second nature. Just breath naturally the instructor was saying as I was staring into the shark enclosure watching them all eyeing me up, and it didn’t help that the water was bloody freezing. Suitable happy with my breathing the instructor lead us into the tank, a huge enclosure with far too many dark spots for my liking. Apparently, they had already been fed that morning so we were fine; as our ‘funny man’ instructor Jack told us, just before getting in, now is not the time for jokes Jack! In the practice area I was petrified, why the hell did I have to open my mouth and moan about wanting to do more adventure stuff, note to self, keep bloody quiet next time! It was so strange because when we got in there with them and I could see how graceful they were, a sense of calm seemed to come over me, “maybe they are just misunderstood”, JESUS CHRIST THEY ARE BIG TEETH! one glided right past my face and practically tickled my nose with its tail as it swam away. I was un-nerved for a second but calmed myself down, as I realised that if it wanted to eat me it had the perfect opportunity and had just swam right past me like I wasn’t even there. It was an incredible experience, that I am so glad we did in the end. Right, I have had my adrenaline fix now, let’s just go for a walk and be calm again! No more whinging from me!
The next morning the adventure continued and I got to live out a childhood dream, I was obsessed with whales and dolphins when I was younger and have always wanted to see them in the wild. I was so excited for this and it was a perfect sunny day with clear blue skies, good sea conditions, or so I thought. We pulled out of the dock under the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House to see her in all her glory, and she was a stunner! I had been looking forward to this for so long, but once we hit the open waters, even the sickness tablets couldn’t keep the vomit train at bay, and 7 bags later I was a shrivelled mess in a corner. Unfortunately, the dolphins came to play while I was deep in the trenches with my head firmly positioned inside a paper bag, but I was determined not to miss the whales, so I pulled myself together (pretty sure there was nothing left in me at this point anyway!) and headed out to the deck. It was a long wait and everyone on board had their eyes wide open looking for the blasts of air from the water. Then it happened, two huge humpback whales joined us and every 3 minutes would pop up to say hello. I was poised with my camera ready to get the perfect photo. I could not believe what happened next; a double breach and I managed to catch the second one on camera. That was it for me, I didn’t care that I had lost the contents of my stomach and quite frankly thought I was dying (dramatic I know, but if you had seen me!). I was filled with emotion from what I had just witnessed and that was a huge tick off my bucket list, I couldn’t be happier than I was right then and it was the perfect end to our time in Sydney.
I have a friend who had moved out to Australia about 10 years ago and she lives in Bondi, which is only a short drive from Sydney, so we picked up a rental car and stayed with her a couple of nights. The first morning we went for a lovely coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte, the weather was beautiful and we passed by the famous swimming pool that is essentially in the sea. We spent the afternoon exploring the quaint little town and all its boutique shops, looking at all stylish clothes and trinkets. That evening we played at being locals and went to a couple of the bars in the town, spending hours reminiscing about the school days and having a much needed catch up, before we knew it the only place open to get food was the Indian takeaway. We were halfway through our Australian adventure, so a quick bite and an early night suited us fine as we were pretty beat; turns out its quite exhausting having this much fun!
Stay tuned for part 3, coming soon in 2020! …… See you on the other side!