June 30, 2014

Old and New South Wales 2: Sydney

The following weekend it was Sydney's turn; a trip prompted by reading about Milonga at the Opera House and my friend working in the city for three days beforehand. I flew down from Brisbane on Friday arvo.

When you've visited a place many times and you have hundreds of pictures already, the emphasis has to be on the detail – colour, architecture, strange juxtaposition, a new angle – rather than the familiar.

On Saturday morning we headed off to The Rocks for a quiet breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien: most Sydneysiders were watching the Socceroos lose 2-3 to the Netherlands in their first group match of the World Cup. It was grey and a bit rainy.
Part of the city's public art programme, the bird cages suspended above Angel Place (off George Street) commemorate the native birds displaced by development. Forgotten Songs is supposed to include their calls, but I couldn't hear anything. Perhaps rain stopped play.

The Bridge, the House and the Botanic Gardens always provide photographic inspiration. And by then the sun was shining, although it was chilly enough for a hot chocolate at Guylian. Milonga, a tango-inspired Sadler's Wells London production choreographed by Belgian-Moroccan Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, involved a cast of ten tango dancers from Buenos Aires, two contemporary dancers and a tango band of five musicians. The choreography was intriguing and complex, and the footwork so deft the dancers became a mesmeric blur.
Dragon's Blood Tree
Bunya Pine
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
After tea in Lion Gate Lodge, we continued out of the Gardens to Woolloomooloo and Kings Cross on our way to Darlinghurst, where I'd decided we should eat Italian. We didn't like the look of the place when we got there, however, and moved on to Surry Hills, to Mille Vini in Crown Street for an aperitif and then Bodega Tapas Bar in Commonwealth Street. With a certain feeling of déjà vu, we got caught up with Swans fans departing Sydney Cricket Ground, happy having beaten Adelaide. Bodega didn't disappoint. You can't book if you're fewer than 5 ('leaving our tables of 4 or less free for walk-ins'), so get there at 5.30 for opening at 6, and observe Australians' queuing (and parking) habits while you wait.
The 'inner-city village' of Paddington is often on our agenda. If you've never wandered around the Victorian backstreets north of Oxford Street, you've missed a trick. On Sunday, we got off the bus we'd caught on Elizabeth Street just beyond Paddington's town hall and turned up William Street, which has small, individual shops to tempt you with high-end chocolates, Marant or Kenzo designs and rather bizarre French fashion jewellery. To give you an idea: I loved a grey cashmere sweater with random blue stars. It wasn't even a label I was familiar with yet it would have set me back almost as much as it did to buy two flights for our next destination, Melbourne at the end of July.

We wandered almost as far as Woollahra in the east, back in the opposite direction to Five Ways for a coffee, before lunch at the London Hotel, on William Street once more.
 And, finally, this, right on Oxford Street. Can't believe I'd never noticed it before.
This post was last edited on 1 July 2014

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