Sydney for the weekend

Sydney is not very far from Melbourne. But for some reason, I haven’t had much to do with it over the years. I have two friends in Sydney – one who grew up there, and one who was just forcibly removed from Melbourne to Sydney for work.

Last week I went to Sydney for work and decided to hang around for a few days. Figure out for once and for all what that city is all about.

Before I tell you the answer to what Sydney is all about, let me first tell you about the ‘work’ I had to do in Sydney. When I say work, what I meant to say was “collect my award at the Australasian Reporting Awards”. It’s kind of a big deal. (but seriously, not).

My annual reporting partner in suffering, Gabrielle and I headed up to Sydney on Thursday for a gala dinner followed by a seminar on reporting on Friday. The invitation said the dinner was black tie. We dismissed it, assuming that no one in their right minds would turn up to an event about annual report in a tux. Oh, we were so wrong.

Fortunately, Gabrielle was very well dressed, which made my dress acceptable. Like the cumulative total of our outfits brought us across the line.

Then we sat through dinner (at the beautiful Sydney Town Hall) and applauded mining companies and government departments and weirdly-named non-profits for preparing insightful annual reports. Yes, it was as weird as it sounds.

The seminar the next day was over in a blip. By 3pm we’d thoroughly examined the elements of a good annual report and even gone into the detail of commonwealth government requirements as set out in the following four pieces of legislation…

And then the real fun began.

I was staying here at the Hilton:

In a room with a view:

On Friday night I headed to Newtown for a drink with Joni. I can’t help but try to understand Sydney through the lense of Melbourne. So I get to Newtown and try to figure out the equivalent suburb of Melbourne. There were plenty of suggestions, but I think I’ll just label it “inner North”.

Then I headed back into the city and wandered the CBD, realising along the way that I was hungry. I’m sure Sydney has places to eat, but I couldn’t find them (a lot of options seemed to close at 10pm). Fortunately, Sydney is similar to Melbourne in one crucial way – the food truck.

This is Eat Art Truck, which I discovered was only operating from 4 to 10 June. So I don’t know what do about food next time I’m in Sydney.

On Saturday I hung out in my huge hotel bed until right before the 11am check out.

Then I walked all over town. I headed down to Cockle Bay and then over to the Rocks. I was delighted to stumble upon the market at the rocks which had a good mix of stuff you might want to buy and cute, creative Australiana for tourists.

Just before I found the Rocks, I was stopped by a lady sitting outside a church: “excuse me, do you know where I can find the most historic and holy St Paul’s Catholic Church?” I told the lady I wasn’t from around here so didn’t know where the church was. She looked disappointed and then mustered up a “Oh well (sigh….) God bless you”.

After wandering the market at the Rocks I found Circular Quay West and finally remembered to take some photos.

After that, my Sydney on a Saturday morning love was going through the roof. Everywhere I turned I found something new. After I took this picture I turned a corner and found the Sea Shepherd. It was open for tours but the queue was loooong, and I had to find myself some breakfast.

And I did at Workshop Espresso. It was good.

Then my dear old Aceh friend Jess picked me up and showed me the sites.

Like Russel Crowe’s house (and Domain Park and the Art Gallery of NSW). We drove up the hills and it reminded me an awful lot of Gianicolo in Rome. Is that a silly thing to say?

And then a walk around Manly Heads. What a beautiful place:

No whale spotting while we were there, but the clear skies and uninterrupted view of the sea was good enough.

That night, Jess and I did what Jess and I do best – hung out at home. We got Thai take away, which seems like an essential thing to do in Sydney.

At one point I had decided that, like the Milky Way is a collection of stars and planets, Sydney is just a collection of Thai take away shops and taxis.

Bright and early on Sunday morning, Jess and I wandered down to the best cafe in her neighbourhood (according to Joni) – Cornersmith.

It was really good. Not even in a “this could be in Melbourne” way. Yes, it would have fit in very well in Melbourne. But there were two things that made me love this place especially.

1. The tiles on the walls of the open kitchen. A bit french provincial. A nice touch. I like a rustic cafe, but I also like a well-placed tile. It raises the tone somewhat over a grey painted cement wall. See:

2. Breakfast rice. So delicious:

As soon as breakfast was over, so was my trip to Sydney. It felt as if I had been away from Melbourne for a month. Sydney, you aren’t very much like Melbourne and I will be glad when I have stopped trying to figure out whether Marrickville is Brunswick or Coburg. But you are very, very nice and I look forward to coming back for a super-charged month-long-holiday squeezed into three days again soon.

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