Friday, 4 January 2013

Sydney and the Excellent Weekend! (Pt 2)


Garry. Or possibly Muriel. (Photo from
Mondays are always so much better when you don't have to go to work. Our Monday in Sydney was sort of cloudy and grey, and when we went outside it was hella windy. We walked through the city down King Street, to Darling Harbour again  because our plan for the morning was to go to the Sydney Sealife Aquarium - another tradition for these trips. Last time we came down, we named the dugongs, and so this time we wanted to check in on Garry and Muriel.

Sentimental attachments to zoo animals aside, the aquarium is a super-interesting place to visit. (Avoid the weekend crowds if you can, though, seriously.) The displays seem well set up and pretty well cared for, and I'm a fan of those underwater walkways they do. It's always so cool when a huge sting ray swims right over your head, you know? And the fish themselves are kind of awesome; I always come out wanting to watch Finding Nemo, cause damn that movie is accurate.

We took another ride on the ferry afterwards, back around to Circular Quay. We were headed in the direction of Jamie's Italian, which is just off Martin Place and the Sydney installment of the Jamie Oliver cooking empire. They don't take reservations, so we fronted up for lunch at around 12.15 and waited in the bar for a table.

I'm not totally sure what I was expecting, but honestly, the overall experience was pretty top notch. It might be a chain restaurant, but it didn't really feel like one. The venue and decor were pretty nice, and seemed well-considered. The drinks were great; there were some lovely Italian wines on the menu. The food was delicious, too, and I know the fresh-twist-on-classic-dishes is a thing he does, but it works really well in this case. The service was really good, too. It seemed like they put a lot of effort in, but they pulled it off without seeming like they were trying too hard or taking themselves too seriously. Plus, reasonably priced. Two thumbs up from me!

Following lunch, we rode our post-food mellow back into the city and wandered around for some more shopping. Sadly, we visited Kinokuniya again, and I may have bought one more thing... (Considering I bought about twelve items on one previous visit, three total still seems tame.) We did a bit of Christmas shopping, and a bit of looking at beautiful things we could never afford to buy. (Jo Malone cologne is delicious, and anyone who wants to buy me something expensive should come talk.)

Over this trip, we'd been for a couple of walks in Hyde Park, and it's honestly one of my favourite things to do in Sydney. You can go and sit on the grass, or get a bench in the avenue under the fig trees. It's a great place to sit and have a chat, or listen to the buskers. We happened to sit near a couple of young guys playing Christmas Carols on a pair of what looked like tiny tubas. (Possibly euphoniums? Or alto horns?*)

For dinner, we met up with a buddy of ours, and went to the Nippon Club, which was amazing! It's very unassuming-looking - the decor's not unlike an RSL - but it's got Japanese beer on tap, lots of kinds of sake, and delicious Japanese food including an in-house sushi chef, who makes THE BEST fresh sushi. Delicious!


Our friend from dinner Monday night (and Saturday's basement bar crawl, incidentally) offered to get us in to the Francis Bacon exhibit at the Gallery of NSW for free, which we were naturally pretty excited about, so on Tuesday morning we walked into the Domain to take in some art.

The exhibit was excellent. It was a retrospective of his work, containing pieces arranged according to decade - the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, as well as source material from his workshop and a documentary about the exhibit. What I liked about the arrangement was that it let you see how Bacon had developed as an artist, and how the themes and imagery he used evolved over time. In the descriptions and blurbs, there were also tantalising tidbits about his life, and the art scene in London in the 1950s and 60s. All of it was very interesting; I'm thinking about tracking down some kind of super-gossipy autobiography or something.

(Image from
Once we'd enjoyed the show, we headed back into the CBD for lunch. Notice how I didn't mention breakfast? We didn't have any; the plan was to go to another of our favourite Sydney spots. Diethnes is a very old-school Greek restaurant on Pitt Street, away from the mall, down past Bathurst Street. It's an older restaurant, established over 50 years ago, and the food is awesome (and incredibly filling, hence the no-breakfast thing). Last time we were here, we ate Diethnes and Ichi Ban Boshi on the same day - mistaaaaake.

After a delicious lunch, we wrapped up our trip with some more shopping and last-minute Christmas-gift-hunting. We went for another walk in Hyde Park, then headed back to the hotel to pack before the gig we were going to**.

Thus tragically ended our Sydney holiday! We took the train to the airport at ass o'clock the next morning, and were back in Brisvegas by around 10.30am. (I went straight to work, it was awful.) Overall verdict was that it was totally worth it, though. An early-December mini-break is a great way to relax in advance of the Christmas season, especially if you can go somewhere low-key, and enjoy yourself with lots of good food and good shopping.*** Merry Christmas, folks!

*I tried to work out what these instruments were, but I'm really not sure. Meanwhile, how hilarious are sousaphones?

**Alexisonfire, on their Farewell Tour, at the Hordern Pavillion. Too excellent to write about.

***I guess other people like to exercise or do things on their holidays or something? I don't know. For me, walking places and drinking beer and eating things equals good times, what can I say?

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