So what’s been keeping me busy the last couple of weeks since Hunter Valley? I’ve been getting stuck in to what Sydney has to offer – mainly eating and drinking it seems (despite my intentions for a pre-holiday detox!🙊)
1. Food tours!
Since arriving I’ve got involved with a small business called Guerrilla Eats that runs food tours around Sydney. The concept is you pick an area, then G.E. has partner restaurants and organise your reservations and send you a map for the evening, so all you do is turn up and eat and drink. You go to one venue for a starter and drink, another for a main and drink, and then a final venue for a pudding or a cocktail.
We’ve just launched 2 new tours around Surry Hills so Toots and I tried out the ‘Sexy Surry‘ tour together, where we visited:
- ‘Absinthe Salon’ – I didn’t think I liked Absinthe but it was very drinkable when done properly;
- ‘Pizza Authentico’ – All you can eat pizza and pasta but done in a very civilised way, no pizza hut buffet here;
- ‘Pocket Bar’ – choice of a giant Nutella crepe or gin cocktail (Toots went crepe, I went cocktail).
2. Mardi Gras pride parade
Mardi Gras is a celebration of gay pride in Sydney, and there’s an epic street parade on the Saturday night. Toots, Liam, Linn (Norwegian Linn of Guatemala fame who was staying with me for the weekend) and I went along to watch.
There were some absolutely mad outfits, both in the parade and the spectators. We bought some little plastic chairs for $10 each from an enterprising Chinese lady that we used to stand on to see over the crowds. They are now our ‘patio furniture’.
However we were stingy and only bought 2 so we had to do a balancing act where 3 people stood on the 2 chairs clutching each other until their legs gave in and the person on the ground would rotate up. Still preferable to the poor guys being forced to have their girlfs on their shoulders!
3. Cockatoo Island
The following day Linn and I went on a day trip to Cockatoo Island with some of the ladies that I’d met at the travel blogger meet up. It’s an old industrial boatyard hub in the middle of Sydney harbour.
We caught the ferry from Circular Quay and had a lovely 30 minute cruise around the harbour before landing and heading to The Island Bar where we chilled on deckchairs and enjoyed cocktails, snacks and music. An excellent day trip (and I nerdishly want to go back to explore the boatyards more).
4. Being a culture vulture at the Opera House
I saw a poster for the Club Swizzle show the week I arrived in Sydney and instantly added it to my ‘to-do’ list. I’d seen the group’s previous show ‘La Soiree’ back in London and loved it. It’s a weird and wonderful mix of comedy, burlesque, cabaret and circus performances.
An added bonus being that the show was on at one of the Sydney opera house theatres, meaning we could enjoy the stunning harbour views before heading in.
As always I got my overwhelming urge to become a circus performer after seeing a show like this (it also faded after about a day as usual). One day I have to accept it just isn’t going to happen.
5. Blogging workshop and Mehiiican dinner
The guest speakers were all great, but I felt they fell into the trap that when explaining their transition from a hobby blog to a business, there is always one step that is lightly brushed over which is actually really difficult to achieve. I.e. “so I was working full time and just doing my blog in the evenings, and then companies started contacting me to work with them, and then I went full time into blogging” Sooo it’s that middle step that I’m not sure just happens…..
Anyway it was a fantastic evening, and very interesting the number of comparables between running a blog full time and running a business. You are effectively your business.
After the event we went to a fantastic Mexican restaurant that KP had discovered in the CBD called Mejico where we had wonderful margaritas (although after this last weekend I have had my fill of tequila for a loooong time – more to come later in this post!) and I had a divine pork belly and churros.
6. Jervis Bay (again!)
Far less active than my last trip to Jervis, I went for a girls weekend with Hannah, the great ocean road ladies, and the Irish contingent (who I went for Thai with my first weekend in Sydney!)
We honestly ate our body weight in incredible cheese, supplied by Di Jones’ (from Coogee Tri) cheese company Somerdale and BBQ’d goods. Hannah was our BBQ master for the weekend.
There was also a lot of Cards Against Humanity played (both English and Aus versions!), and flip cup – which turned out to be good prep for the pinata party (see below).
There were 16 of us in total and Ash had organised an incredible pad in Vincentia, 5 mins down the road from where I stayed in Husky last time, and virtually on the triathlon cycle route.
We had a highly amusing drive down on Friday from Sydney, with a tipsy Hannah (who’d been at a St. Paddy’s lunch all afternoon) and a delicate Kristin who’d had a big one the night before. Between them they managed to fall asleep at sporadic intervals, demand that we play Nelly at full blast, and eat all of driver Megan’s popcorn that she’d brought for the journey. Great fun.
On the Saturday we went down to Hyams beach and the sun was shining! Hannah and I ran the length of the beach up to the navy base at the southern end. Note to self: do NOT have a giant strawberry milkshake before running ever again!
The weather was in our favour (of course, it’s Australia!) and also in the favour of the couple who were GETTING MARRIED right slap bang in the middle of the busiest part of the beach, just as you come down from the car park.
I mean, there’s a whole giant beautiful beach, and this is meant to be one of the most special days of your life…could you reaaallly not be bothered walking the 10 mins along the sand to the deserted section so you don’t have to have chumps like us gawping at you? I think they didn’t want to carry their cooler box of beers that the groom was swigging on that far!! 🙊
Just in case we hadn’t eaten enough that weekend we wrapped things up with a trip to the ‘Famous Berry Donut Van’ on the drive home on Sunday. We steered clear of the Treat Factory (and the vineyards!) this time.
We were obviously looking super glam – well, by Berry standards – as the donut van staff requested a pic so that they could feature us on their Instagram (@berrydonutvan)
7. Taste of Sydney food festival
A wonderful evening full of food and drink and catching up with an university course mate who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years! Full foodie details in a separate post here.
8. Long launch lunch at the WinterGarden
On Friday I was invited to a ‘VIP’ (WoooOooo) lunch to mark the launch of the WinterGarden Sydney. I went representing Guerrilla Eats and met a whole host of Sydney food bloggers.
I am evidently a total amateur at this since I actually attempted to eat all of everything that was put in front of me. After polishing off a sushi platter and panini/salad sampler, I was getting a little full, and the realised this was just the start of about 10 courses!
Lunch ran from midday until 4pm. I was well and truly stuffed by the end of it and had fun with some great people! I guarantee if I go to a similar event in the future I’ll forget this entirely and try my ‘eat all’ approach again.
Check out the Guerrilla Eats instagram for all the pics from the lunch.
9. Hosting the Pinata party of the year
Toots and I decided that we wanted a pinata. But we weren’t sure it was socially acceptable to do this with just two of us. So we decided to throw a pinata party.
I’ve had one before back in London and it was a roaring success (if I say so myself) so off I trotted to the party shop to purchase our pinata. Loren berated me for not making one, but I think it made the party far more fun for everyone since mine would have undoubtedly broken on the first hit, or just stayed as a balloon wrapped in newspaper and never made it to the ‘pinata’ stage of the arts and crafts lifecycle.
We had to get warmed up before tackling the pinata so decided that a game of flipcup was the best way to do so. Boys vs girls:
It was a tense game. Started of best of 3. Then first to 3. Then first to 5. Final score: Girls 5 – Boys 1.
Special mentions go to Loren-‘1 flip’-Lane for consistently excellent performance and Liam-‘can’t flip’-Gardner (it helps if you open your eyes Liam!) 😉
We then moved on to UK vs Rest-of-World but this was not such a tense match.
Note: playing drinking games with passionfruit margaritas isn’t smart kids. It can only lead to a sore head.
Then it was time for the main event, the pinata. We decided it would be wise to not hang it next to the glass balcony door as originally planned, so instead we took turns to stand on our mardi gras stool and hold the pinata out, risking taking a hit as people swung wildly once blindfolded.
Jen was the eventual winner, sending Mr. Caterpillar crashing to the ground. Sweets haemorrhaging. I think the loser in all this was Toots, who was absolutely taken out by the boys in their wild attempts to get sweets.
The other loser of course was the pinata:
10. Mexican wrestling
Now I don’t usually drink tequila. So to have two big tequila nights in a row. Oh boy. Well that’s what happened this weekend:
Toots and I pulled ourselves out of bed about 8am (Loren had left at the crack of dawn to go running….she even asked if I wanted to come…met with a resounding and incredulous “NO!”)
We realised that we had very little food in the house as we’re both off on travels this week, so we couldn’t make the usual weekend favourite of Arepas (Venezuelan pancakes!)
Instead we headed 100m down our road to the Israeli cafe ‘SHUK’ which is permanently packed full at the weekends for a delicious brunch.
When walking past SHUK on Thursday I’d been a little surprised to see two topless women climbing out of the upstairs window to sunbathe on the roof! They were not present on Sunday. Or if they were they were fully clothed and blending in with the brunch clientele.
I then went to meet with Daniel and Ben, the owners of Guerrilla Eats, to do some work with them. Daniel had asked me in the week if I fancied going to a tequila party on the Sunday evening after work, I should probably have taken this into consideration on Saturday night but hey!
Once we’d finished working we headed over to The Beresford Hotel for some afternoon drinks. Daniel speculated that he thought it might be gay night at the Beresford, and after a quick scan of the other guests we concluded that he was correct. Despite this I ended up getting some chat from a guy called ‘Rex’ who was on his 4th bottle of wine that we were sitting near outside. Rex gave Daniel and I deep life advice such as “the best thing in life is the moment”.
We seized that moment and moved on from the Beresford to Pocket bar where we met up with the Sierra Tequila team who we were going to the wrestling event with (and who I’d been supporting with my passionfruit margaritas the night before!)
The wrestling was the after-party for a wider weekend event of tequila appreciation called ‘Agave Love‘. It was a bizarre and hilarious event. Each of 6 tequila brands had a wrestler representing them. Donning the traditional Lucha Libre wrestling masks and capes!
They would then strip off the cape, pull on a sumo suit, and take each other out! The moves got more and more daring as the night progressed, with body drops off the ropes, and some flips going on!
Daniel was very keen to get in the ring, but I’m sure his body is probably grateful today that he didn’t get the opportunity to.
After the battles were over and the honour had been won, we headed up the road to Shady Pines cocktail bar for a non-tequila based cocktail.
11. And a little bit of exercise for good measure!
To counteract all the eating and drinking mentioned above I’ve had to actually try and do a bit of exercise.
Which isn’t too tough when you have sunrises like this to run on the beach to:
Loons like these to cycling with early doors around the park:
Babes like these to keep me going on the soft sand:
And the fab run leaders at Nike run club who managed to just about keep me hanging on to the faster pace group last week:
Let’s see how I get on keeping up this week now that I have tequila instead of blood.
I’m off to Indonesia and Malaysia tomorrow for adventures! I’ll be keeping instagram updated with my antics!