Last week I took another trip up to Sydney for work. It was a continuation of the training I had received the month before. Essentially, it was 2 long days trying not to fall asleep and hoping to get some free alcohol during the evenings activities.
I wasn’t looking forward to the trip and had considered not going, however, as I had been picked as one of our company’s leaders I figured my bosses probably wouldn’t appreciate me turning down the opportunity and so I was Sydney bound. On the plus side, this time we were able to fly up instead of a back breaking 4hr limo drive. We also wrangled a mid afternoon flight so we could enjoy the night before having to do some really long days (8hrs of ‘learning’ and then 3hrs of networking disguised as dinner). As requested by Holly, I took a billion photos to show everyone! This is even my cut down version, there are probably only so many angles of buildings and the opera house that you can see.
I haven’t flown very much and each time I do the airport looks different (I might have gotten lost looking for the cab rank when coming home) but fortunately there is basically nothing in the Canberra airport except a few gates and an overpriced cafe so it is pretty easy to navigate.
We were on a little Dash 8 plane and the sky looked pretty grim so it appeared as though we were in for a bumpy right. Luckily, the flight is only about 30mins in the air so we didn’t have to tolerate it for long. It was very strange being above the clouds and having the sun warming my face when it had been cloudy and a bit rainy as we walked across the tarmac to board. I also got to see a rainbow from the plane! It was especially awesome.
Once off the plane, we headed for the hotel and checked in. As I’d travelled with a colleague we decided to meet back later to make a snack run (instead of impulse buying $6 bottles of water!) and make dinner plans. We went for a wander around but ultimately ended up back at the restaurant attached to the hotel, Vapiano. I don’t have any photos of it but it was fast, tasty and they had $4 happy hour! It has a really neat system I’ve never seen before, when you enter you’re given a card that has up to $75 worth of value, you swipe the card whenever you purchase anything. When you decide to leave you go to the front counter and pay up. Very efficient and easy (especially when you’re expense claiming it). They mostly do pizza and pasta, the pasta is made while you wait, it’s very cool!
Once happy hour was over and we’d finished eating I decided to part ways with my colleague and went back up to my room. While looking for somewhere to eat my colleague had mentioned that Haigh’s Chocolates was around, I’d been wanting to try their chocolate for ages but their website kind of sucks (you can see all their offerings but you can’t buy any of them online) so I decided to look them up, it turned out they were open for another 30 mins and they were only a 5min walk away from the hotel!
I turned up to find that, no they weren’t open until 8PM and they close at 6PM.. at least I didn’t walk too far to find that out. Instead of walking back to the hotel I decided to use the time to wander around the city and check out all the beautiful buildings Sydney has to offer. While I would never want to live in Sydney, it does have a lot more history and beauty than much of Canberra, I also like how many of the buildings have been preserved and re-fitted rather than being knocked down.
I started my journey by walking down Pitt Street and heading towards The Rocks (part of me was going to Pancakes on the Rocks, mostly I just wanted to walk around and check out the city). I saw some lovely intricate designs on buildings, stairways, footpaths, everything really! It seems like, at one point in time, we spent a lot more time on the details when creating buildings rather than the speed of which we could build them.
One thing I found strange was that, although I was walking around the city by myself at night, I didn’t feel afraid that something might happen to me. I walked through areas that, had they been in Canberra, I might not have. Maybe that’s just because I know the areas in Canberra you shouldn’t walk through at night and I was blissfully naive when walking the streets of Sydney.
Once I got to the end of Pitt St, I decided to cross the road and walk into First Fleet Park (I didn’t consider it had a name, google saved me) and noticed an increase in souvenir stores and wondered why that might be. That is, until I turned the corner and saw the Harbour Bridge, and a few steps later the Opera House. It’s funny that I have such a poor sense of direction in Sydney that I didn’t see them coming.. even though I was heading towards The Rocks, I never considered I’d be near the water..
Eventually I hit a bit of a dead end so I decided to walk back to the hotel, this time following George St instead. Basically, if you can find George St you can find anything in the city, or so I’m told. Worked for me anyway. As I walked up the street I noticed a beacon up ahead and it was a Guylian cafe! I didn’t know such a thing existed and now, having Googled it, it turns out they’re only in Sydney (at 3 separate locations). They were also open which I was super excited about. I took a quick look around, bought some chocolate I’d never seen before and went up to the cakes and slices window. Oh my, they all looked delish!
They’re a bit pricey and I wasn’t overly hungry, so I settled for buying the chocolate blocks and a Chocolate Praline Hot Chocolate, it was pretty amazing.. even if it did burn my tongue on the first sip – I was too eager to see how it tasted! I wish they had a store here, I’d definitely go back!
After that minor distraction I decided to continue my trek back to the hotel, with Hot Chocolate in hand, and try to take photos at the same time. I kept having to find places to put my drink down. I took a detour down a little laneway (something I’d never have done at that time of night in Canberra) because I was drawn by a beacon of light. This mysterious laneway held a beautiful second floor courtyard and a store dedicated to buttons! I wish I’d been able to get access to the courtyard but alas, all I have is the photos.
Lastly, as I walked back I noticed a sign for Sydney’s oldest pub! Claiming to have been around since 1828. I wanted to take a look but had my Hot Chocolate and I as took a look in, everyone looked back at me and I got a bit nervous. After looking up The Fortune of War it turns out that while it’d been in business since 1828, the building itself was re-built in 1921.. which probably makes it more to my style but oh well.. maybe another time.
Here ended my adventure for the night, I got back to my room and relaxed for the rest of the night as preparation for the days ahead. They were incredibly long and dull and I feel like I accomplished very little. We also had to go out the second night together to do some trivia (yawn) which took 3 hours! It ran from about 6:30 – 9:30 and I really wished I were elsewhere. That being said, we were at the Stacks Taverna and the food was very good.
There was a lot of it as well, which was good when the Churros came out because I probably couldn’t have just eaten one.. fortunately for me, my colleagues were pretty full and I ate most of them (you should always have room for Churros!).
Also fortunate for me was that a few of the guys decided to head back to the hotel at the same time as I’m fairly certain I would have gotten lost.. it looked pretty straight forward on the way down.. who knows where I would have ended up though if I’d walked by myself.
Finally, after getting through the next dull day (we weren’t given any breaks either) I was on my way home! I was pretty pleased as, other than the first night, it had been a pretty uninspiring time. At lease the first night was worth it.