Thursday, January 05, 2012

Beautiful Sydney

I left the place 15 years ago with the convinced idea that Australian Sydney was the best city on the planet to live in. I returned to it with the firm conviction that this is the best city to have lived in and to leave from.

Opera House, Sydney

It sounds hypocritical but it is not. In reality nothing has changed. Sydney is still a great place to live in, on this planet. Who could refuse such a gorgeous spot, with a languid life style, beaches and natural swimming pool on every corner street, and a decent food and music scene. Not to mention the most (de)lightful NYE fire works I ever seen in my life. Since my last trip way back then, many things happened: an Olympic Game, renovations, gentrifications, new harbor, and a new central district.

St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney

In fact the city has improved even more than what I could have imagined. The economic boom of the last decade seems to have benefited the city and its horde of neo “Bobo”. Poverty has been pushed away from the city, and the famous red light district have tainted pale in the colored rainbow.

St. John's Church in Darlinghurst, Sydney

More international and local tourists are embracing the many attractive attractions that the city has to offer, despite the horrible price hikes. Sydney has now moved to a different scale. The city is now in the same category as other interesting destinations in the world such as Amsterdam, Montreal, Buenos Aires and Singapore.

Manly Beach, Sydney

Old trendy places have moved to new spots. Corky and funky restaurants have emerged from residential neighborhoods. Free shuttle buses run for tourists to enjoy the best parts of the city. Everything seems to look even better, cleaner and simpler than before. Sydney is a great place on the planet. Nothing changed except for the better.

Surfer at Mackenzies Bay, Sydney

What has changed in reality is … me. I wish I had chosen to live there 15 years ago to learn to surf and rock ‘n’ roll, so that today I would have been happy to leave from Sydney ... to explore the world.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Sydney Addresses

With a population of approximately 4.6 million people, Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and is the state capital of New South Wales. Sydneysiders are the most blessed cosmopolitan populace of Pacific, with the Tasman Sea at their feet and the mountains behind their back. Sydney is one of these few cities in the world that is turned inside out and exist for the beauty of its landscape. In short, Sydney has it all: nature, ocean, hills, cosmopolitan lifestyle. If only if wasn't at the end of the world, it would be the best place on the planet. Actually it might be because it is at the end of the world that Sydney is the way it is today.

The Rocks, in Sydney

On a long weekend trip these are the addresses that could be recommended, but be warned that Sydney like any other cosmopolitan city changes fast, the addresses of today could be the wrong ones the next day.

Park8 Hotel
185 Castlereagh Street, Sydney 2000, Australia.
[Website] [TripAdvisor] [Map]
At the corner of two very busy streets (Castlereagh St. and Park St.), the hotel holds all the floors of a corner building. The small entrance leads to small rooms and a cozy ambiance. The diligent and fun staff does not erase the loudness of the street noise and the final bill. This place is too expensive for what it has to offer.

Pensione Hotel Sydney
631 - 635 George St, Sydney 2000, Australia.
[Website] [TripAdvisor] [Map]
Also part of the 8Hotels group, Pensione is less central than its slightly bigger sister, Park8. Still based on the same boutique hotel concept (refurnishing an old building into a contemporary hotel), Pensione has more caché and is less expensive than Park8. The street noise has been suppressed with triple-windows. Note that the a free-bus stop is at the doorstep of the hotel, and runs from 9AM to 3PM covering a popular main street route. Convenient for tourists and locals alike.

Swissotel Sydney
68 Market St, Sydney 2000, Australia.
[Website] [TripAdvisor] [Map]
Perfectly located at the corner of George St. and Market St., Swissotel Sydney is what you'd expect of a large hotel chain: vast room, great service, solid staff and consistent quality. Would go back to the Swissotel if budget permits.

The Winery
285A Crown St Surry Hills, NSW, 2010.
[Website] [TrueLocal] [Map]
The Winery, on Surry Hills' Crown Street is the sister venue to Elizabeth Bay's Gazebo. Whether planning something more large or you're just coming in for a drink, you'll find something on the menu to suit from starters and tapas to mains and desserts. Great tapas, great wine list and great atmosphere. What else to ask for on a Sunday afternoon lunch - early dinner.

Felix - Bistro and Bar
Ash Street, Sydney, Australia.
[UrbanSpoon] [TripAdvisor] [Map]
In a dark back alley, between clubs lies a French bistro. Menu, wine list and service look all as good as a French bistro could be 20,000 km away from France. Nevertheless the price does not justify the fluffiness of the service. Special mention to the cheese soufflé on the dessert menu.

417 Crown St, Surry Hills 2010, Sydney, Australia.
[Website] [TripAdvisor] [Eatability]
Located in front of "The Clock" bar, this vegan place is a must try for your green tooth. Menu is short but consistent and varied, service funky but fast and low key, bill is small but quick and non-biodegradable. Nice vegan spot in Crown St.

Other Restaurants Recommended
Sydney is a nice place for eating-out options. Among the many recommended:

- Toko (High-End Japanese) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- Porteno (Barbecue Restaurant) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- The Norfolk (Tapas Bar) [Website] [UrbanSpoon] [Map]
- Longrain (Urban Thai DJ) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- Bentley Restaurant and Bar (Sitting Classy Dinner) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- Mahjong Room (Modern Chinese) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- Trinity Bar (Pub & Cool) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- The Local Taphouse (Pub & Music) [Website] [UrbanSpoon] [Map]
- The Commons (Beer Festival & Bar Food) [Website] [UrbanSpoon] [Map]
- The Victoria Room (Smooth Dinning) [Website] [TrueLocal] [Map]
- Slide Bar (Show + Set-Menu) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]

- ZanziBar (Roof-Top Tapas Bar) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]

- Bellevue Hotel (Sophisticated Bistro) [Website] [TripAdvisor] [Map]
- Darcy's Restaurant (Home Cooking Italian) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- L'Etoile Restaurant (High-End French) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- Lucio's Italian Restaurant (High-End Italian) [Website] [TripAdvisor] [Map]
- The Print Room at Durty Nelly's (European-Aussie) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- A Fish Called Paddo (Casual Seafood) [UrbanSpoon] [Eatability] [Map]
- Avido Restaurant (International Dinning) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- Buon Ricordo (Must-Try Italian) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]
- Four In Hand (Classy French Dinning) [Website] [Eatability] [Map]

221 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst.
[Website] [Map]
This contemporary art gallery focuses on Aboriginal paintings. They deal with all the artists directly and return all of their profits to charity. You can order online if you want and they can ship. This is the best place in Sydney to buy modern Aboriginal paintings. A must visit anyway.

129 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.
[Website] [Map]
Karlangu is the opposite of Artery. Central, large, with established painters and very expensive. If you want to buy the best of the classic Aboriginal paintings, this is the place to bring your Amex.

The Clock
470 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia.
[Website] [Eatability] [Map]
A hotel transformed into a giant multi-level bar with a nice terrace from which you can watch passing-by. The happy hour is a fantastic deal in town and is already well known judging by the number of people coming over.

The Terrace at The Clock

NYE Fireworks
With crowds of more than 1.5 million people, Sydney has the second largest New Year celebrations worldwide, after Rio de Janeiro (over 3 million people on Copacabana Beach). For a nice view of the fireworks, four options for you: [1] know someone with a nice view of Sydney bay; [2] watch it on TV; [3] camp at 10AM for a nice spot and wait until midnight; [4] pay a lot to reserve a cruise, dinner seat or a botanic event place. Whatever you do, don't miss it, it's grandiose.

Sydney Walks
Sydney is a walkable city with easy public transit access. The diversity of its landscape and the nearby ocean make the walking discovery a must try. Among the places to visit, you should definitely gun for The Rocks - Opera House - The Bridge - Botanic Garden - Darlinghurts - Elizabeth Bay - Potts Point - Double Bay - Woolloomooloo - King Street - Newtown - Gebe - Oxford St - Crown Street - Surry Hills.

Manly Beach by Ferry
Circular Quay, Pier 3.
A nice and quick afternoon trip is to take the ferry from Circular Quay (Pier 3) to Manly. You will be able to see the Opera House and the Bridge from the water, and land a half hour later on the quaint beach of Manly. The Corso has now become a shopping mall for tourists, but if you are ready to walk few hundred yards away from the popular spots, you can have the beach to yourself.

Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach Walk
[Website] [blog] [Map]
Take a bus to Coogee beach ("Cuji" as in "Muji") and walk all the way north to Bondi along the bays. You will encounter the beautiful beach of Clovelly, Bronte and Tamarama. A full afternoon, especially if you start with a brunch at Coogee.

Bondi Beach, in Sydney

Sydney is a city surrounded by nature and you should explore everything that the city as to offer, such as parks, ocean, terraces, restaurants, bars and shops. This ultimate modern city at the end of the world is a must try on any traveler's list. Make sure you don't go there for the NYE time, or bring a lot of cash with you because this is very very very expensive.