Sydney: May 2017
The usual plane flight followed by a very quick and pleasant train ride into Sydney's city center.
Breakfast at Paramount Coffee Project, a hip breakfast place in a surprisingly quiet area on a Saturday morning. Chicken and waffles as well as gumbo were both recommended-- while the chicken and waffles weren't bad, they were a reminder that some American things are just better in America. (should've thought about my very similar chicken and waffles experience at Workshop Coffee in London a few years ago...).
Over to Darling Harbour, Chinatown, St. Andrew's, and Sydney Town Hall after. Victorian architecture side by side with more modern, particularly the all-glass Apple Store near the Queen Victoria Building. A superb meal at Automata for lunch, where things like the lamb and cuttlefish were delicious, the smoked lamb rump was excellent, and the seared bonito was artfully and delicately enhanced by the pickled shiso leaf and grilled gai lan. And the most talked about item, the sugarload cabbage with mushroom butter and dried venison, was worth the hype (!!!!).
World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 inside the Public Library of New South Wales (NSW) was an amazing collection of the best photos and stores I've seen in one place. Right across the street, the Royal Botanic Gardens weren't quite up to the same standards, but the flower wall inside was definitely worth a stop while walking up to Mrs. Macquarie's Point. The view from Mrs. Macquarie's Point or up at Mrs. Macquarie's Chair is quite beautiful at sunrise, unfortunately being closer to sunset it wasn't quite as spectacular.
A quick walk to Sydney Opera House for their standard tour. Fairly informative and a remarkable feat of engineering for the era. Well worth a visit, and if you have lots time on your hands, the backstage tour is supposed to be even better. With Vivid Sydney running, tons of art, music, and lights took over Circular Quay, Royal Botanic Gardens, and Martin Place, including a full slate of contemporary rock and pop at the Opera House.
Off to a slightly early dinner at Restaurant Hubert, where making the first seating is crucial if you don't have a reservation (and they only take reservations for parties of 6 or more). A very old world feel as soon as you walk in, with creamy raw oysters, a deep fried gruyere, and two extensive bars. Delicious and traditional, quite a contrast to Automata's airy, modern feel. Wrapped up the night exploring some of the artwork part of Vivid Sydney scattered around town.