Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Goldbergs in Sydney and Hunter Valley - Day 2-3

After returning to the hotel for a quick shower and change we decided to paint the town.  We realized its hard to the paint the town when you really have no idea where to go.  We had heard of a few neighborhoods, and popular areas so we figured we'd go try to make our own way.  Anyone that knows Hannah knows that this is not ideal and not how she operates at all, and the miles of walking around desolate streets in uncomfortable shoes was frowned upon.

As we walked around Sydney it became very apparent to us that this is no ordinary city.  Not only is it beautiful, but it is incredibly diverse.  The proximity to SE Asia definitely lends itself to a very Asian flare.  We have seen more Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants, and the city has one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world.

We headed directly to a spot recommended by one of her co-workers called Toko for sushi.  We may have gone to the wrong Toko, as this was simply a sushi boat bar.  We had a great time as we don't really go to sushi boat places at home, and its fun to just grab whatever goes by and hope we like it.  We picked a few rolls off the conveyor, were full in about 20 minutes, and realized we needed to get out of there as soon as possible before we ate any more.  We made the experience fun, but we could have done better with more homework.  We walked down Oxford St for another mile or so and realized we were not where we needed to be.  Eventually I broke down and let Hannah ask for direction from a barman about where to go and we were directed to the Kings Cross neighborhood which had a good deal of bars.  We stopped off at a local bar to quench the thirst we had developed after our walk.  Hannah ordered jalapeno drenched calamari, and complained about fire in her chest for the next 12 hours.  This is definitely an area we need to return to, but given our impending jet lag we decided to partake in one cocktail and head back to the hotel.

Day 3

Friday morning we were up at the crack of dawn to catch our bus to the Hunter Valley wine region.  Neither Hannah or I are huge fans of organized tours, but as we know from living in San Francisco, the best way to see Napa is to let someone else do the driving.  We took a tour organized by Boutique Wine Tours, a tour company specializing in smaller wineries, those with more of a family owned feel.  Our guide Rohan was a fantastic dude, and Hannah and I got the pleasure of enjoying lunch with him, not as romantic as a picnic and a bottle of wine, but the company was great and he had a lot to say and a lot of recommendations about our upcoming adventure as we travel up the Gold Coast.  The tour took us to 4 wineries, Iron Gate, Tulloch, Tinkle, and Mount View.  The wineries represented a much quainter style than we are used to in the more exclusive Napa Valley.  The wines offered for sale ranged a very reasonable $15-20 a bottle, and they had a much different taste than those we are used to, much more delicate, with less emphasis on heavy over powering tastes.  They all referred to the wine as the jewelry of the food.  Knowing we had a few days of driving and two more weeks down under we stocked up on some great local wines.

That evening the highlight wasn't dinner, it wasn't drinks, it wasn't the naked man on the unicycle, it was Hannah trying to curl her hair.  Maybe it was the wine we had been drinking all day, but regardless, I commended the effort.

Before dinner we stopped off for a drink at a local pub called Scruffy Murphys which reminded me of every pub I ever visited in Ireland, loud music, rugby jerseys, Carlsberg on tap.  It was the perfect interlude as we waited for our table for dinner.

Our tour guide Rohan recommended we check out a restaurant in Chinatown called Golden Century....this was our first great recommendation of the trip.  The restaurant had that familiar feel of a Chinatown restaurant, the model of chaos and efficiency, where the menu has 30 pages, and 10 items make any sense at all.  We stayed away from anything unfamiliar, which in hindsight was a mistake.  The lobster was fantastic, and we got the opportunity to make its acquaintance before we enjoyed its tasty meat.

Our waitress pictured above was a darling girl, she definitely had our best interests in mind as she carefully picked out Larry the lobster for us.  She picked a golden lobster, as when we got the bill we realized he cost $140.  I guess we should have asked what Market Price really means.  Needless to say, the cost of the meal left us feeling as though we had just been bent over by our lovely waitress.  Don't get us wrong, the Golden Century was amazing, but knowing what we know now we would have ordered differently.

We rolled ourselves back to the hotel, and within 5 minutes I was asleep and Hannah was trying to figure out how to move me into a position where she may also lay down.

Tomorrow we are taking off on our journey up the Gold Coast, first stop Newcastle!

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