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stay-cationing sydney

November 27, 2014
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This is Bondi. We’re not going here, but it sure is pretty!

I love getting away. Finding myself in fresh surroundings. Opening up myself to new experiences.

But.

I don’t like travelling. Or jet lag Or anything that involves me sitting in one spot for hours on end, waiting to get to wherever it is I’m heading, only to be exhausted for a whole day after arriving from the process of getting there.

The solution? Staying home. But better.

In recent times, when a full blown holiday has been a touch out of budget, Koji and I have taken to the habit of planning stay-cations. A fancy hotel with a large bed and clean sheets that someone else will tidy up (and wash! and press!) later. With a bathtub to soak in and a view to soak up. Oh, and a heady mix of food, fashion and fun at your doorstep, so you never have to worry about how to get home after it all wraps up.

Seeing as the two of us don’t have any imminent travel plans, I’ve decided to dream big and start planning our next stay-cation. Oh, and to share it with you thanks to some helpful prompting by Club Carlson*. (And, in the interests of keeping travel time to a minimum, I’ve kept it all very close to base – who wants to spend an hour or two traipsing up to the beach and back when you’re staying city-side? Not me.)

While most weekends-at-home-but-not start kick off with a running of the Friday night gauntlet, we’ve taken to leaving it later. Friday nights are for packing. For making plans and getting excited, and for getting an early night’s sleep so that Saturday morning comes sooner.

Dream Itinerary? Right this way.

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Saturday Morning

(jump out of bed, put on my best suit)

Let’s not start this day too early, shall we? A late and lazy breakfast is the Sydney way on Saturdays and there are more worthy spots for a fast breaking bite than you can poke a stick at in the suburbs surrounding town. So drop your bags off at the hotel (they’ll mind them for you even if your room isn’t ready for check-in quite yet) and toddle off to Flour & Stone for avocado on toast, the cutest soft boiled eggs you ever will see and one of their delicious baked treats for “later”.

(By “later”, I mean immediately after you’ve eaten that last skerrick of proper breakfast. Lemon drizzle cake waits for no-one.)

Down the last drop of your latte and it’s time for a spot of exploring.

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Not quite Hyde Park, this is a snap of Centennial Park in the East

Saturday afterNOON

It’s a pleasant wander through the back streets of the city to our next location. Cut through the back of St Mary’s Cathedral, along the forecourts (don’t forget to look up and snap a sneaky selfie with the longest church in Sydney) and through the tree lined pathways of Hyde Park, where you can watch the children chase ibis around the bronze Archibald Fountain.

We’re heading just a block south to what is now known as Sydney Tower (ex-Centrepoint & a medley of other, forgettable names). At a mighty 309m above street level, you’ll be able to really see the Sydney you know and love.

I’ve always wanted to try the sky walk – a 45 minute wander along a glass platform that extends from the golden barrel of Sydney Tower. (Mainly because, given the choice of climbing one of Sydney’s great icons or catching a lift to the top of another, the lift is going to win every time).

Booking online saves you a pretty penny ($50-$63 instead of $70) and means you won’t have to linger with the other last minute Larrys if your preferred session is full.

Not into heights? Satisfy yourself with the spectacular shopping found below along Pitt Street Mall, in the Galeries Victoria and through to the Queen Victoria Building and / or stop off for (another) bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area.

We’ve got a big (and early) dinner up ahead of us, so a tray of xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung (Level 5, Westfield Sydney) or a couple of hand rolls from Sushi Hotaru (at the Galeries Victoria) should tie us over until then.

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Saturday late afternoon / Early Evening

There’s a free bus (the 555) departing from just outside the magnificent Queen Victoria Building that runs all the way down to Circular Quay and departs every 10 or so minutes. Pop in to crane your neck up towards the large domed ceiling while you’re waiting for the green machine to take you to your hotel.

And now, relax.

Check in. Take a shower. Open all of the cupboards and drawers. Roll around on the bed and rifle through the tea selection.

Sit in the steam room or paddle about in the pool. Get a romantic, candlelit massage for two and swan about in your bathrobe like a lady of leisure. Because you are! If only for a weekend. (Unless you’re a boy. Sorry.)

Oh, and get ready for dinner. It’s a good’un.

Saturday sunset hour

Is there anything quite as quintessentially Sydney as fine dining with water views? The beach, maybe. A pie at the footy, probably. Steaming hot noodle soup on a swelteringly hot day out in the ‘burbs? Definitely.

But I digress.

I’ve been dreaming about eating at Quay again since my first meal there (as a wedding guest, no less!) seven years ago. Book yourself in for an early sitting (the dining room opens at 6pm) and make the most of the floor to ceiling windows as Sydney slowly descends into dusk and then darkness.

Nibble on crab congee. Crack open a snow egg. Ignore the price tag until the credit card bill arrives next month.

The best part? You can enjoy a (responsible) tipple, knowing that bed is just a romantic stroll away.

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You might be lucky and catch some fireworks, though they won’t be as spectacular as the NYE version.

sunday morning

Buffet breakfasts make my morning. Hell, they make my whole day. I’m notoriously bad at eating before midday when cloistered up in my home office, but give me a wide and varied selection of food made by someone who isn’t me and I’ll try one of everything. (And two of the pancakes please).

We’re spending today waterside, kicking off with one of Sydney’s most iconic buildings.

My usual Sydney special for overseas guests includes a walk across the glorious coat hanger (with a trip up the pylon for the Capital-V Views) and a ferry back from Milson’s Point (with ice-cream, of course), but having done that route more times than I remember, I’ve decided to explore a different icon today.

The Sydney Opera House (aka white sails of glory) runs behind the scenes tours that are rumoured to include a chance to tread the famous boards of the concert hall. Book ahead to plan your day to perfection and allow yourself at least an hour and a half so you’ve got time to soak in the atmosphere before and after.

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Sunday afternoon

The ferry to Cockatoo Island leaves every 20 or so minutes from Circular Quay and takes you to a haven in the middle of the harbour – rich in history and (if the timing is right) one of Sydney’s best installation art festivals.

Take a self guided tour along the convict trail or just soak up the sun and sea from one of the deck chairs at the Island Bar, along with a $45 cocktail jug and some food to help with absorption.

Watch the sun set from the shore (or on the ferry ride back) for one of the best views in Sydney.

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A kids park in the leafy suburb of Ryde, 20 minutes out of the city.

Sunday evening

Most weekends away are done and dusted by this point, but not yours! So whilst everybody else heads home to their ironing and grocery shopping, you’re getting ready to chow down.

The strip of George Street between Bathurst and Hay Streets is home to cheap, chic and tasty heart of Sydney City. Dine on Japanese hot dogs and matcha sundaes at Cha-noma in Regent Place or bowls of udon and tempura from Menya Mappen a block and a bit down.

Crunch on Korean Fried Chicken at Naruone in World Square or head to Madang for grilled meats, just off the parallel running Pitt Street.

Wander into the Haymarket end of Chinatown for chewy handmade noodles and fat dumplings at Chinese Noodle Restaurant, or skip upstairs to Kiroran Uyghur Restaurant for cumin dusted lamb skewers and bowls of spiced curry with sliced noodles.

And when you’re almost full, join the queue for a dessert roti at Mamak. Or the late night supper menu at Chat Thai where deep fried doughnut sticks come served with a lurid green pandan custard. Or slurp on herbal jelly with chewy taro balls from Meet Fresh. Or get scientific with one of the ever-changing flavours served up at N2 Gelato.

Oh, and then (somehow) find the energy to toddle back to your hotel and to bed. After a cup of herbal tea to aid digestion, of course.

Monday Morning

It’s a good thing the buffet opens early.

Kick off your working week with the best kind of breakfast (an unlimited, cooked-by-someone-else kind of meal). Dust off your shirt, leave your bag to pick up later and make the shortest trip to work you’ll have to cope with all week. Assuming you work in the city, of course. There’s no time for Monday blues when you’ve walked right past the traffic you’re usually battling. Right?

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*No, this isn’t a sponsored post. Yes, this is a competition entry because (yes) this girl needs another holiday. Stat. (And doesn’t have the dough to take one quite as extravagant as this).


  • #1
    Bigbite
    November 29th, 2014

    Now, I can with Opal card! [email protected], public transport to explore the sight and sound of Sydney and stopping wherever there’s great food to enjoy.

Shez