After a seven course dinner the night before, we started off Sunday morning with a walk into town and across the harbour bridge. I didn't see the point in forking out for the official bridge climb when there's a free pedestrian walkway with the same spectacular view. Under the bridge on the North side was a craft market. One stall in particular took my attention and I wish I'd taken photos. This woman from the Central Coast was selling gorgeous cupcake tea cosies and knitted 'The Very Hungry Catepillar toys'. What a cool idea!
We took the ferry back to Circular Quay from Luna Park. There we headed to one of the oldest pubs in town, in the Rocks, for a kangaroo and lemon myrtle pie - part of the Coopers Ale Pie section of the Food Festival. It was pretty tasty. I can safely say I'm a kangaroo meat convert. Also I'm pretty sure lemon myrtle is a native Australian plant so it was an interesting (and very Auzzie) mix.
Katy had to head back to the airport that afternoon so after I dropped her at the train station I checked into a different hostel in the heart of the rocks. Mainly I chose it because it has a rooftop terrace that'd give me a easy vantage point to see the Opera House all lit up at night. The view did not disappoint.
I whiled away that afternoon sitting outside the Opera House with a glass or two of bubbles and my knitting, watching the cruise ship leave port and ferry after ferry departing. The people watching was fascinating. So many people both there and around the Rocks that afternoon were having wedding photos taken. I stayed sitting there until the sun sank behind the harbour bridge. I really loved this city.
I also took a stroll through the Rocks market that afternoon, namely to find the corn on the cob I saw so many people walking around with. It was a favourite street food in Peru (and doesn't feel like such a guilty snack - bonus). Oh my gosh, it did not disappoint! Slathered in butter with spicy chilli on it too...somebody needs to start selling that in Wellington!
Monday morning I made the most of my work discount and checked into Rydges for a night - purely for the luxury of a bath and a sleep in a MASSIVE bed. Check in sorted, I headed out to Blacktown on the train to visit the Ferndale wildlife park conveniently also owned by the same group. Staff discount - woo!
I spent a few hours there transfixed by the wallabies and kangaroos (there were some seriously large joeys trying to fit into not-so-large pouches), stroked a koala (or two) and saw all the typical animals (tazzie devils, crocodile, all the birds, wombats, echidnas etc etc) in a much more personal way than behind the glass of Auzzie World. It was a serious trip highlight. I didn't mind in the least when I missed the bus and had to stay an extra half hour. Cup of tea while sitting on the ground next to a friendly wallaby - hell yes!
I did have to rush back to town though as I had dinner booked at the Hilton. Yes, you
The dinner itself took me out of my comfort zone a bit. I don't mind going places by myself but this particular dinner was communally seated. At my table they were all at least a decade (or two, or three) older than me and very very successful - owned large companies kind of successful. I felt slightly inadequate when they asked what I did and I had to say well, I am a manager at a cinema. Ah well. We were all there for the food and after some initial awkwardness the conversation and wine flew freely. Perhaps it was because of the wine that the conversation flew so freely haha.
Each course came with matching wine - mostly from Argentina. Photos to come. It was a great evening and I enjoyed both degustation meals a lot. The thing I love about modern Peruvian cuisine (and I am very passionate about it) is that it takes the elements of pretty simple and humble street/home cooked food and transforms them into something quite different - sophisticated and chic but still very true to its roots. If that waffle makes any sense.
I didn't plan the night in the hotel very well though as I didn't get to sleep in the next morning. Instead I did a quick spot of souvenir shopping, in a yarn store of course (Morris and Sons). So. Much. Pretty. Yarn. There was a whole wall of Noro and a lot of Peruvian and Italian yarns. I ended up taking home a 300g of yarn in total, which I thought was pretty restrained. Oh and a little owl cross stitch kit too.
Then it was on the train to the Blue Mountains. I spent most of the ride balling up the yarn I'd just bought.
The Blue Mountains I'll save for the next post...