Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sydney Stories - One Single Day (Ok, Maybe Two Days)

June 2016

Let's start with the basics here.  I was in Australia in early June.  As I'm writing this, it's August.  You guys, I can't explain why it's taken so long.  I mean, life and everything takes over, but I don't do much normally.  Sure, it's a slower time at work, so I could be doing this at the office, but then I'd be even further behind on the staff reviews I should have had finished two weeks ago.  And I could be doing this at home, but there's only so much time to sit slack-jawed in front of the television.

So here we are.  Let's go back a few months.

Sydney was weird.  And by weird, I don't mean the city was weird.  I mean what we did in Sydney was a bit awkward.  We had two full days to explore.  And we had a bit of a bummer with the rain.  There was serious rain around Sydney during our stay.  So anything we tried to do would be based around how much we were dealing with the rain.  We focused our attention to the walkable areas from our hotel.

The Rocks

When a co-worker said, "You need to visit The Rocks."  I didn't really understand what he meant.  Then, we found it and realized it was a super cool historical area near where we were going to be wandering.  The Rocks were considered "the slums" back in late 1700's.  And the bubonic plague hit in 1900.  But times have changed.  No more plague!!  It's super close to Circular Quay and it was a nice area for a quick walk.  It was also a nice place for food.  We visited The Rocks on Thursday as we wandered a bit, but we went back on Friday when we knew they would have a food market.  Come on.  You know me at this point.

This is our Reservoir Dogs walk.
As we walked into The Rocks, we were greeted by the First Impression sculpture.  This sculpture is a memorial that depicts the three types of groups that made their way into the area at the beginning of this area's history.

The Settlers
The Convicts
The Soldiers

You can't not take a picture of a sculpture of a dog.
Every day needs some kind of a snack, right??  Our snack on one of our days was from La Renaissance Patisserie Francaise.  I shouldn't need to say this, but if you see a line snaking out of any establishment (especially a patisserie), you'll want to choose that place to visit.

White Chocolate Mousse.
We always love a fruit tart.
 On Thursday, we stopped at The Fine Food Store for a light lunch.  I had a salmon sandwich on a bagel.  Good.  Really good.

The Friday Foodie Market was our stop for lunch the next day.  Elias wanted fish and chips even the day before.  Mom and I split a pork roll from Philip Foote.  Come on!!  That was too good.

Circular Quay

We hung out in Circular Quay for a while.  Mostly because we had to kill some time.  We had a cruise scheduled in the afternoon, so we just wandered and saw the sights.

I'm trying to do something with the picture...
It's not quite working.
And there's the Snark Face (tm) in being caught trying to do something with the picture. guys...

That bird terrorized everyone.
We stopped for a break at the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe to warm up during our time in Circular Quay.  This place was great.  It's a chain (for those of you who care), and it was great.  

Elias went with a cafe mocha.  Gorgeous.  And still known as the "best coffee he's ever had."
Action Shot!!  The hot chocolate included a small chocolate placed in the bottom of the cup.  Nice touch.

Sydney Harbor Cruises

Our big Sydney tour was a harbor cruise.  I mean, if you're going to go to Sydney, you need to see the harbor to see all of the sights.  And it was our only real chance to see most of the city.  I know you're probably looking at these thinking, seriously, how many pictures of the bridge do I need to see??  The answer is ALL OF THEM!!  The bridge is gorgeous.

Dad does seem to hide from the Selfies.


Queen Victoria Building

We had some members of the family that needed to do some shopping.  So much so that if I ever hear anyone mutter the word "Uggs" again, it'll be too soon.  I may also actually murder that person talking about Uggs.  But I digress.  Near-ish to our hotel was the Queen Victoria Building.  If you need to do some shopping and want to go to a bit of a mall, you can go there.  The building itself is gorgeous and historical.  It was built in 1898, during the midst of a severe recession.  The building was erected as a monument to Queen Victoria and has been a concert hall, a library, and a place for regular offices.  Now, you can find your Uggs here.  Ugh...

These might be stairs to nowhere.
Donut Break!!

Mom, Elias and I walked around Sydney during National Donut Day.  Some group was handing out free Krispy Kreme donuts.  And we snagged some.  As you can see, we were VERY happy with this turn of events.

Sydney Opera House Tour

One of the coolest things we did in Sydney was an Opera House Tour.  We actually wanted to see a show at the Opera House, but nothing seemed to work out.  Because of the Vivid Festival, the Opera House had later tours that could be scheduled during the lights.  We took advantage of that one.

What I didn't realize was how much there was to do around the Opera House.  As you walk up to the Opera House, there was a whole block of restaurants and bars you could hang out at while waiting for your show.  You'll also notice I didn't take any pictures of that area.  I can't do everything, you guys.

The Opera House Tour was one of the best things we did on the trip.  There aren't a ton of pictures that were taken during the tour.  Some areas, you just can't take pictures.  Others, it's not a great area to take pictures.  The building is so iconic that you just need to do this tour.  We learned about the architect (who was kicked off the project midway through construction).  We learned about all of the different areas within the Opera House.  It's not like it's just one theatre.  There are many in the building.

They were setting up for a New Order show later in the night.  
The seating looked a bit dated, but they were pretty comfy.

Between the sails.

Stairway to a theatre.
Even though it doesn't feel like we did everything we could have, when I think back about Sydney, I will have such fond memories.  I wish the weather would have been better so we could have seen more.  I wish we had a bit more time to see more even if the weather was garbage.  But we saw what we could.  And it was great.

And with that, our Australian Adventure was over.  I'll post one more story about our hotels, but this is pretty much it.  This trip was like no other one I've been on.  Not only was it one that included almost the entire family (a rare feat), but we really got a sense of most of the country.  A few months later, we still talk about it in a dreamily "we really did this" sort of way.  The trip was so many years in the making.  It was Mom's dream trip to start.  But I think it ended up being all of our dream trip.  Until next time, Australia!!  Until next time.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sydney Stories - Vivid Sydney

Early June, 2016

When our Travel Agent met the family at Uluru, she said she was "in town" for Vivid Sydney.  I wasn't entirely sure what she meant at the time.  I thought I had read something about Vivid as we moved around the country.  But I didn't really understand what it was.  She was very excited and said she would report back when she arrived in Sydney.

When we were in Hobart, I got an e-mail from our agent.  "Vivid Sydney is amazing!!  You're going to have a great time!!"  By this point, I had read a bit more about Vivid, but didn't entirely understand what we would be seeing.

This.  We'd be seeing this.
The Vivid Sydney website calls the festival a place where "art, technology and commerce intersect."  It began in 2009 and has grown since then.  In 2016, it was a 23 day festival, with art installations, live music and speakers scattered around the city.  Basically, you couldn't swing a dead cat without running into an installation of some sort.

It was awesome.

So really, this post isn't about Vivid and the history and such.  It's really about the pictures of the lights.  We wandered around parts of the city for two days and nights to see the lights.  And one evening, we climbed aboard a cruise on a rainy night to see the lights from a different angle.  I didn't get a chance to hear any speakers or see any music.  But we saw quite a bit of the lights.  And that's what really mattered.  At least for me.  

Cathedral of Light

Probably my favorite of the lights.
EORA - The Land

This one is a bit of a cheat.  The video of people dancing is to the right of this picture.  Just, I liked this picture better than the one I had with the guy dancing.

A close-up of what was coming out of the fountain.



I Love You guys...
The Matter of Painting

In the Frame

I was trying for something here.
Not sure I got it.
And there's the snark. Every picture Dad took of me, I'm sporting this face.
Mountain of Light



Lighting the Sails "Longlines"

This is the only one I really want to talk about.  The pictures (and video) of the Opera House are important.  The lights projected on the Opera House are of animated Aboriginal art.  The music in the background of the video was on the cruise we were taking.  Which, if you think even a moment about, is the complete wrong music to be playing on any kind of floating object.


The Art of Performance


Electric Garden

Enchanted Forest

Window of Opportunity

There was food in this area.  Ramen was there.  But we didn't eat.  Which I kind of regret.
True Life

Totem Forest

You hit these things and the lights changed.  I didn't do this.  But Mom and Elias did.  Obviously.
It's not often when we time things right.  We normally get to town right before or right after something really cool.  But we nailed this one.  And it was awesome.