We got to Sydney around 4pm yesterday. The flight was pretty quick (just under 3 hours), and we easily grabbed our bags and hopped in a taxi. We were pretty surprised that the taxi driver wanted the address to the hotel. I think that the Park Hyatt in Sydney is fairly well known. He was Asian and there also seemed to be a slight language barrier (which we weren’t expecting). Luckily, we both had SIM cards in our cell phones, and we quickly looked it up.
Justin warned me that the Park Hyatt Sydney does not do automatic suite upgrades for the diamond members. However, they are supposed to upgrade you to the the best available non-suite room. Most of the hotel has an incredible view of the Sydney Opera House and a balcony overlooking the harbour. We didn’t get either of those things. The person checking us in said that the hotel was completely booked, and they couldn’t upgrade our room. Justin was pretty disappointed by this, as he was really looking forward to taking pictures of the Opera House from our room (I’ll let him go into more detail about it).
Anyway, the room is still very nice with a great view of the Harbour Bridge, a nice bathroom, and a comfy bed.
After we got settled in the room, we decided to go walking around the city before our dinner reservation at 8. I fell in love with Sydney immediately. There is so much going on! Our hotel is in an area called “The Rocks.” There are tons of great shops, restaurants, and open cafes along the water. It was a Saturday night, so it seemed like it was extra busy.
For dinner, we ate at a little place called Wine Odyssey. We ordered a bottle of wine, a cheese and charcuterie plate, and had a nice, relaxed dinner.
The next day, we decided to do some more exploring around the city and walk across the Harbour Bridge. We decided not to do the Harbour Bridge climb. Basically, the bridge climb includes walking OVER the very top of the bridge. It is really expensive for what it is (about $230 per person), and we had a couple of big (ie expensive) meals planned in Sydney.
We enjoyed walking across the bridge and taking some great pictures. When we got to the other side, there was a cute little park that had a great view of the Opera House. Justin brought his tripod, and we had a mini photo shoot (it is really hard to get pictures of us together!).
After we walked back to the other side, we spent some time wandering through a market that had several booths selling local art, food, jewelry etc. Justin and I have different shopping philosophies. I could have stayed in the market for hours looking at each little booth, even if I don’t buy anything. Justin likes to walk through the market without much stopping.
I did stop at one booth for a while that was selling jewelry, including opals. Apparently, most opals come from Australia, and I think that a piece of opal jewelry would be a great souvenir and reminder of the trip. Unfortunately, I am an incredibly indecisive shopper. When I’m shopping at home, I rarely buy anything the first time that I see it. Usually, I go home, wait a couple of days, do some research, and if I am still thinking about it, only then do I buy it. This is the reason why I am having so much trouble buying souvenirs! I am having trouble commiting to anything because I don’t want to regret buying something that I don’t really love. Also, I don’t want to see something later and wish that I used my money to buy that!
I came very close to buying an opal pendant at the market. The lady told me that she would give me a 10% discout if I pay cash. Of course, I never have cash on me, so we set out to find an ATM. The one she directed us to was closed so we went back to see if there was another one. The lady should have just given me the discount anyway, but she pointed us towards another ATM (her mistake). Unfortunately, it was very near another opal store. I decided to look around in that store, which distracted me from the previous purchase. I went back to the hotel empty handed.
Once we got back to the hotel, we rushed around to get ready for the opera. Amazingly, our fancy clothes still fit (even though they were a little snugger than when we left)!
Neither of us have ever been to the opera before, but we figured that it would be a great experience while we were in Sydney. Justin bought tickets to the “Great Opera Hits on a Sunday Afternoon.” Basically, this was a mix of songs from different famous operas and a few from musicals. The operas included: The Barber of Seville, Faust, The Magic Flute, The Pearlfishers, The Masked Ball, Don Giovonni, Rusalka, Carmen, and Cosi fan totte, and La Traviata. The musicals included songs from South Pacific and My Fair Lady (one of my favorites). I recognized a few of the opera songs but not many. There were no sets, per se, just a piano and a couple of tables and chairs on the stage. There were 4 different performers.
We both really enjoyed the show, and I think it was a great introduction to the opera.
After the show we walked to dinner. We were a little early, so we hung out by the water and took some pictures. The restaurant, Quay, is on the water and has an amazing view of the Opera House. However, if there is a cruise ship docked, it can block the entire view. Reading about this in advance, Justin inquired wth the restaurant whether or not a ship would be there. They said that a ship was scheduled to leave that night.
The weather was drizzly, so we decided to head up to the restaurant. When we got there, the hostess said that they arranged some “bubbles” for us because we were Park Hyatt guests. We were both pretty sure that she was talking about a pre-dinner complimentary glass of champagne, but she quickly clarified after seeing our confused faces.
We enjoyed our champagne then were escorted to our table.
Quay is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Australia and in the same league as some of the finest restaurants in the world. Justin was surprised that we were able to get a reservation. I’m so glad we did. From start to finish everything was delicious, but the pork dishes and dessert were really the standouts. There were 2 different menus: an 8 course degustation or a 4 course menu where you could choose each course from a list of 5 options (per course).
We decided to choose the four course menu. We liked some of the options on this one better (although I’m confident that we would have been thrilled with either one).
Like I said, everything was great, but I don’t think we will forget the pork dishes or dessert.
My pork dish (my second course) was smoked and confit pig cheek with shitake mushrooms, shaved scallops, and crispy Jerusalem artichokes.
Justin’s pork dish (his third/main course) was Berkshire pig jowl, cracklings, prunes, and cauliflower cream.
These were some of the best dishes that we have ever had!
For dessert, we got the 8 layer chocolate cake (chocolate heaven) and the cherry and coconut snow egg. The waitor told us that people go to Quay purely for these desserts. So, of course, we just HAD to try them. The chocolate cake was delicious and the server poured the final (8th layer) of chocolate ganache tableside. But I think that the cherry snow egg was the more interesting of the two. It was basically a meringue egg with cherry sorbet in the center. It was sitting on a bed of cherry granita and coconut cream. Holey Moley.
We didn’t want the night to end.
Besides the food, the action outsde the window was a show in and of itself. We were able to watch the giant ship (Voyager of the Seas) take off which reveled an incredible view of the Opera House. Justin particularly appreciated this. As an engineer, he does alot of work on the docks back home.
A little bit after the ship left, the entire Opera House turned red, in celebration of the Chinese New Year. The waitor said that he has never seen this done before, so it was really special for everyone.
It was such a magical evening!