SYDNEY is such a big apple, I’ve learned over the years to appreciate it by taking small bites.
Such was the case with a recent 48-hour visit, which included some new experiences and reminders of past good times at former haunts.
Our base was Fraser Suites on Kent Street in the heart of the city, within a few minutes’ walk of Chinatown, Darling Harbour and the Queen Victoria Building. The one-bedroom suite featured views to the north and west of Darling Harbour and beyond. The international staff were friendly and attentive. The buffet breakfast was sufficient and the pool, spa and sauna perfect for winding down after a full day of walking. The pool even has glass windows at the bottom, looking down on a food court.
With underground parking, Fraser Suites is a good find if you want to zip down to the Big Smoke, park your car and use public transport and your own two feet to get around. Frasers Summer Fun package starts from $259 per night and includes breakfast and wifi access.
We took the easy option on our first night. We had a couple of relaxing thyme gin & tonic specials at the Belvedere Hotel on the corner of Bathurst and Kent streets. It was old school, the kind of thing you do when you don’t have to be anywhere at a particular time. Afterwards, we had a good soak in the hotel spa before walking next door to the Regent Place complex and checking out the array of Asian dining choices, finally settling on MissChu’s Vietnamese street food (steamed scallop & prawn dumplings, barbecue pork buns, duck pancakes with sriracha sauce and a Tsingtao beer).
The next morning we hit the pavement, window shopping in the Queen Victoria Building and Myer before catching a train to Wynyard station so we could walk along the Barangaroo development along the harbour. (Yes, it is essential have an Opal transport card; we picked up a couple the night before at a convenience store; to enjoy hassle-free public transport in Sydney you need a cashed-up card).
While Barangaroo adjoins Darling Harbour, it feels like another world. You keep looking for a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it’s not there for quite a walking distance. Barangaroo Reserve is an intriguing public space, with soothing sandstone rock pools and the constant rhythm of passing watercraft.
We wander up the hill in the reserve, take in the view and sneak around the corner where Merriman Street becomes Bettington. There, amidst the terraces, we slip into Hotel Palisade, an innocent-looking old pub that’s full of life on the top floor where the Henry Deane bar is located.
The glass box on the fifth floor offers magic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and surrounds. It also features a stylish menu. We feel like royalty, sipping French rose and Italian pinot grigio while enjoying share plates of oysters, half-shell scallops, spicy blue swimmer crab rolls and sesame crusted tataki. No reservations necessary and it didn’t cost the world (food bill: $66).
An absolute Sydney moment to remember.
More walking, more trains, and a late dinner at the Golden Century in Chinatown (simple, inexpensive and delicious for less than $50 – steamed prawn dumplings, crispy chicken and steamed eggplant).
And topped off with a late movie (Hacksaw Ridge) at the George Street cinemas, a very short walk from the hotel.
Another 48 hours in Sydney, another satisfying bite.
The writer was a guest of Fraser Suites.