Debbi's Favorites | Sydney, Australia - Down Under
I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed Australia. You might be asking why did I plan the trip then.
I hadn't seen my daughter in over six months so I was headed down under to see Bianca. I had visualized Australia to be too much like America, and to travel that far without ending up in Italy just wasn't on my bucket list.
Wow! Was I surprised. I loved Australia!
We began our journey in Sydney. Here are my favorites! It didn't hurt to have an amazing tour guide, who like her mother, loves the good things in life.
STAY: Four Seasons Sydney - When in doubt, always stay at the Four Seasons, as this one was no exception. I was a bit worried from the website photos as the exterior of the building wasn't the most interesting. However, in true FS style it was perfect. We upgraded to a suite with a view of the Sydney Opera House and the Port aka Circular Quay. The service was excellent, as were the restaurants and bars. I spent every afternoon in the spa, working out, taking in a treatment and of course enjoying the steam room. Ahhh, the Four Season. Never the wrong choice.
To Note: Sitting with Bianca, my mom and her friend Monica on the morning of our arrival in the Four Seasons Restaurant we were about to order coffee when Monica explained the differences and how to order. Not a huge coffee drinker I was in awe how good their coffee is and ended up drinking it at least two times a day! Of course, at night I chose decaf. Here are the different coffee descriptions, my favorite, A FLAT WHITE. I love these two names, Flat White, Long Black.
Eat: RockPool Bar & Girl - Sydney - A Neil Perry restaurant. The dining room is magnificent, the wait staff attentive, the food creative. Bianca and I shared a variety of appetizers so we could taste a little of each.
And of course we ordered dessert. Dessert, my favorite part of any meal. Bianca introduced me to Australia's signature dessert, Pavlova. Light and delicious.
Excerpt from ROCKPOOL Bar & Grill website, because they just describe it best.
Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney is Australia’s most beautiful dining room. Situated in the sensational 1936 Emil Sodersteen-designed American style art deco skyscraper, the dining style, like its Melbourne sibling, is simple and uncomplicated – perfectly wood fire grilled meats and seafood from Australia’s very best producers – a perfect match to what is Australia’s greatest wine list. With an emphasis on excellent produce and an efficient and friendly service style, the adjoining bar is the perfect spot for pre or post lunch and dinner drinks, or a more relaxed dining experience.“The cornerstone of good cooking is to source the finest produce.” – Neil Perry
Cocktails: IVY POOL CLUB | Sydney - Right in the center of the financial district a few floors up is this wonderful club with a swimming pool in the center. Business people hold meetings during the day and after work. Come for lunch, eat, sip or swim. Anything goes. We enjoyed a cocktail by the pool after touring the city one afternoon. What a great concept. Merivale owns many popular restaurants, bars and venues. A must go. Check them out.
Cocktails: Cruise Bar - where our daughter worked for about six months. Right on the Harbour overlooking the Sydney Opera House. A lovely venue and a vibrant space. Where the beautiful bartenders are.
Lunch: OPERA BAR - On our first day we had a long, leisurely lunch and a bottle of rose at the Opera Bar on the Sydney Harbour next to the Sydney Opera House. Ideally situated with stunning views of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, CBD and sparkling Harbour. Whether it’s breakfast, a long lunch, a pre show dinner date or simply a cocktail; Opera Bar is truly perfect for any occasion.
A shout out to Sailors Thai on The Rocks. We had yet another delicious dinner but heard it has been closed. It was housed in a very cool building just above Cruise Bar. read more
Pit Stop: La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe - early morning or late at night or anytime in between. Also located in The Rocks, New South Wales
I'm getting long winded as I usually do, so here's the short list.
Lunch: @ Bills in Bondi Beach - We purchased two cookbooks. In one word or two Healthy, Fresh, Amazing, Creative. Well, okay, that's 4! But it is so good. Click for more awesome hot spots in Bondi. Our daughter also ate at Bills Tokyo. I am still waiting for mom and Bianca to make some recipes from the two cookbooks. As I don't cook.
Lunch: Ms. G's - ( Asian Fusion ) Another one on "Bianca's Favorites" list. Located in Sydney, in Potts Point, walking distance from Darlinghurst where Bianca lived for 10 or so months while living and working and traveling abroad. Go figure, another home run by Merivale - venues, restaurants, bars, clubs and hospitality - what doesn't this co do!?
To Do: Ferry to Manly - Take the Fast Ferry to Manly from the Sydney Harbour. The vistas and the Bay looks very much like the Northern side of the San Francisco Bay -- Tiburon, Sausalito and Marin. Sydney Ferries services use Wharf 3 at Circular Quay for services to Manly. You can see it from the Four Seasons Hotel. Beautiful sightseeing past the Sydney Harbour Bridge where you will find tourists climbing it to the top and down. Not for me! Although Bianca tried to get me to do it. No way! Climb the Bridge if you so dare.
Manly Beach: Once you disembark from the Ferry you find yourself in what to me was a cross between Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe - Beach and Trees, and the walk way to the beach from the Ferry, a pedestrian walk filled with beachy shops.
Walk, shop, sip, swim or surf. First up we walked through the shops to the Beach, down along a path that took us past a sea swimming pool - the waves from the ocean coming over into the pool A cute older couple swam. On the other side of the path from the pool was a craggy hillside where we saw a lot of iguanas basking in the sun. So close to us. We arrived at Shelly Beach, a small private beach with a darling indoor outdoor cafe, The Boathouse Shelly Beach - super cute! Coffee, smoothies, lunch or drinks, we opted for Bloody Mary's. One of my favorites photos of my daughter and I. We had just arrived the day before and I was so excited to see her and was also pleasantly surprised how much I loved Sydney, in such a short time.
As you can see so far, we ate a lot. The food in Australia was amazing. I had a preconceived notion that the food would be fish and chips and nothing more. Was I wrong! The food in Sydney was really quite good. Who knew!
Lunch: at Hugo's on Manly Wharf - Great Food with A View - home-style Italian, received many awards for Best Pizza + creative desserts. We ate it all. Fresh, delicious with a great view overlooking the beach and Bay. I could dine there everyday!
Manly also has a beautiful Harry Potter looking the International College of Management. We took ourselves on a little tour, it was magnificent. Take a peak. It sits high on the hill overlooking the beautiful Bay below.
Prior to my arrival in Sydney I had a misconception that I would never return so I booked all five star hotels. As noted the Four Seasons Sydney, great location and exceptional service + a lovely suite with sitting area, spacious bath and walk in closet.
What To Do: Catch a show or the opera at the Sydney Opera House. We saw Blanc de Blanc. It was hilarious! Walked through the lovely Royal Botanical Gardens from The Rocks to Darlinghurst, and rode the elevator up the Sydney Tower overlooking the greater Sydney area and skyline. Click to preview a few other attractions, some we didn't get a chance to do. But there is always, next time!
From Sydney we flew to Hamilton Island and took a yacht to the One & Only Hayman Island. For the life of us, Bianca and could not figure out how we were going to get from Hamilton Island to Hayman Island - with water in between and nowhere did we see how we would be arriving to this small, private island. Upon departing our plane we saw a small kiosk with a sign ONE & ONLY. They offered us a wet cloth and bottle of water. Ah, we knew it was going to be amazing. They lead us to the dock where we boarded a beautiful yacht followed by champagne and strawberries. We were in heaven. We upgraded to a one bedroom suite with our own teak decks that lead directly into the swimming pool. It was as if we were on our own private yacht. Also with the upgrade was our own personal butler. I was in heaven, but I think I already said that. Our butler escorted us to dinner each night, a made sure we were seated before he left us. He met us each morning to drive us in a golf cart to our activity. I wanted to take him home! I adored him. I am blanking on his name but his smiling face will be with me forever. Photos will say the rest. Snorkeling, Sailing and Scuba Diving ( although I failed ) Bianca had to go without me. We took a private boxing class, visited the spa, hiked and swam around the expansive swimming pool sipping champagne. The One & Only Hayman Island, don't forget that name, you must visit - simply breathtaking!
Sad to leave, and say good-bye we boarded the One & Only Yacht back to Hamilton Island and flew out over the vast Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays. Landing back in Sydney we rented a car and drove a few hours into the Blue Mountains - reminiscent of a drive to Lake Tahoe with all the magnificent trees. It was a winding road like highway 17 to Santa Cruz, lined with small towns and train stations. The only way, however, to get to our resort hotel was by car or by helicopter. But if the fog settled into the valley the helicopter would be grounded, so driving seemed the only reasonable choice. We ascended to the very top then we started to go down into the valley, so far from civilization, my mother was a bit afraid. "Where are you taking me," she said. Into the valley floor, Bianca driving, had to slam on the breaks for kangaroos and wallabies were everywhere -- with no regard for the road or passing cars. There were few, actually none, just us! Prior to this first sighting I thought perhaps kangaroos were a myth as I hadn't seen any previously. Boy was I wrong, the next 4 days I saw 100's - and within very close proximity to us.
We thought the first to hotels were nice, but I have to say, the Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley Wolgan Valley is to die for. "An ultra-luxury conservation-based resort occupying just one percent of a 7,000 nature reserve in the Greater Blue Mountain World Heritage Area." Spectacular. Had I known the cuisine was going to be so amazing I would have fasted for days before arriving. Be sure to save room and eat at every meal. The yogurt is the best I have tasted, and dinner is in courses, and lunch is also not to be missed. Each evening at dinner the CEO and/or manager greeted us and always stopped by to say hello during dinner. The service was 7 stars.