02 September 2011

Our trip to Sydney!

Last week Andy had to travel to Sydney for work and since there was a fashion festival I could go to for work as well, I decided to come along and have a mini vacation.

We stayed at the Four Points Sheridan right on Darling Harbour and we had a pretty spectacular view!

I guess I should start this blog off with our ridiculous journey getting to Sydney. When we booked our tickets we accidentally booked them for Avalon airport which is this teeny tiny airport wayyyyy out in the western suburbs. The cab fare would have been outrageous so we decided to take the last train in the night before our flight and just sleep in the airport. Our flight was at 6am and we got on the 10:15 train towards Geelong. When we got off at our train stop the cab we had ordered to pick us up was nowhere to be found so we asked a woman who was coming back from footy if she knew the local cab number. She didn't but asked where were going and then offered us a ride to the airport. We decided to go for it and get in the car with the random woman. We got to the airport and get this, ITS CLOSED. The gates don't open until 3am. So here we are, 4 hours early and have no idea what to do. At this point Janine, our new friend, suggests we try to get a room at a motel until morning and we agree that it's a good idea. The problem is that the 3 motels in the town are all booked out. So we eventually go to a motel with a bar and pokies in it (slot machines) that is open until 3 am. Janine buys us a couple of rounds of beers and we chat. She is a super cool lady and we were so so grateful for her help. Janine if you ever read this, thank you so much!! After she leaves around 1:30 we decide to play a couple of rounds of pokies. I won as much as we spent but then we spent that too so....oh well. 

At 3am the security guy says they have called us a cab (probably because we were pretty much asleep in their lobby) and we head to the airport in the most expensive cab ride on earth. Like 10cents a second. UGH. We got to the airport and the gates are still closed but we call and they come to let us in. For about 20 minutes Andy and I are the only people in the airport. No employees or security or anything. It was crazy!!! 

We ate a couple of sandwiches and put a movie on the laptop and pretty much just fell asleep. Around 5,  more people started arriving so we got up and checked in for our flight. Nobody checked our ID's at all, I brought an aerosol can of mousse and liquids from outside the airport! Where are we?! So much easier than flying in the States, and we got to keep our shoes on. We grabbed a coffee and waited to board. Neither of us remember the flight because we were completely asleep. 

When we landed in Sydney we took another expensive cab to our hotel hoping to check in but seeing as how it was barely 8am at this point our room was obviously not ready. We decided to go out in search of breakfast, got about 500 metres and walked back to the hotel to just eat the breakfast buffet there. Too sleepy to make choices. We took our time but when we were finished our room was still not ready so we had to choice but to go outside and try to enjoy the day. We walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens and saw the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and overall looked really sleepy. 

First sighting of the Opera House/Harbour Bridge.

First Aussie sighting of wild Cockatoos. 

So many Cockatoos!!

Giant tree, using me for scale.

Andy looking very sleepy in front of a fountain in Hyde Park.

Weird turkey like birds that can fly. I saw one steal some girls ice cream...hilarious.

When we finally got our room we pretty much napped until Monday. For dinner we found the best burrito/mexican food we have had in Australia at a place called Guzman y Gomez and are now very sad that there isn't one in Melbourne.

On Monday we went to get coffee at a place called Joe Black and then breakfast and coffee at Single Origin. The espresso was good at Joe Black. We had pretty high expectations of Single Origin and were sort of disappointed. I got a cold brew coffee which was soooo nice. They are rare in Australia. Andy had a pour over coffee, also delicious. The disappointment came with the food. Our poached eggs were hardboiled and the bread was so burnt it hurt to eat. Overall, we would go back for take away coffee but wouldn't stay for food.


 Then we wandered around China Town and looked at some crazy stores in the mall. I really wanted to buy this portrait of Drake but Andy said no.

We got lunch at an amazing Thai place called Home and it was super affordable and delicious. I had a Thai iced tea which I have been craving since we got here and yet somehow haven't found one in Melbourne. Andy had the pad thai which was a little too spicy for me and I had some bbq pork. 

Pad Thai

After lunch we decided to check out the Maritime Museum. It was kind of boring and there were a ton of school children on a field trip. There was a pretty interesting exhibit about an Antarctic expedition though.


Really big anchor. Andy for scale.

After that we killed some time at the hotel and then went to the Aquarium. I was really hoping to see a Platypus but it was hiding. We did see some Dugongs (manatees) though! And all the usual suspects. There was also a huge Lego exhibit going on so Andy loved that.

Lego whale, Andy for scale. (rhymes)

Attempting to get a photo together and Andy always with his eyes closed.

Whale Tail!

Whale Tail!

I guess they sort of look like mermaids?

Little Blue Penguins!!!!!!

For dinner we had our very first sushi train experience! I would say it was so-so. It was really hard to know what you were getting and kind of stressful but the fish was very fresh.

On Tuesday I had my first fashion show of the week. We got coffee and pastries for breakfast and Andy walked me to town hall where the fashion show was. I wrote an article about it here. Andy spent the day going to work meetings and other boring stuff. We met up later that night and went out in search of dumplings for dinner. We couldn't find the place we were looking for so we ended up in China Town and had dim sum/yum cha for dinner. It was pretty good. Not the best I've ever had but the steamed bbq pork buns were incredible. I could have eaten a thousand of them. Sorry no pictures from this day! 

On Wednesday Andy's conference started and I sort of just wandered aimlessly around the city and did some window shopping at stores I will never be able to afford. We went to a company dinner that night and had really nice steaks! Woohoo!

On Thursday Andy had more conferencing and I wasn't feeling that well. It might have been all the meat. I took it easy until 3ish when I had to head out for another fashion show. Afterwards we all met up for another company dinner. This time we had some INCREDIBLE sushi. Probably the best I have ever had in my life. I personally thought the best thing was the tuna and avocado salad and I think Andy would agree with me. We also had some really nice cocktails this night including one the waitress lit on fire at the table. Crazy! They don't tell you these things when you order it. I could re eat this meal every night for the rest of my life and be happy I think. Also left my tummy feeling much better than steak.

On Friday Andy had even more conferencing (obviously I knew this when I decided to come along on this trip but it was a bit lonely at times) so I decided to check out the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This museum is the best I have ever been to. They have an amazing modern/contemporary collection that I spent hours looking at. I took a ton of photos but you can view their entire collection on their website which I highly suggest that you do. When I left the museum the sun was shining and it was warm and I was just feeling fuzzy inside from all the great art. 

come of things by Del Kathryn Barton

if there were anywhere but desert. wednesday. by Ugo Rondinone

Untitled (man with baseball cap) by Barry McGee

Jeff Koons

Two Wrapped Trees by Christo

Package by Christo

Decoration by Sydney Long 

We all met up again Friday night for another company dinner. This time dumplings! Between 7 of us we had 170 dumplings and 27 beers. What a night. Andy went out with the guys for a bit and I went back to the hotel to sleep off the 15 pounds of dumplings I just ate.

Saturday morning we got up, got packed and checked out. We left our bags at the hotel and went back to the Art Gallery of New South Wales because Andy had to see it and I wanted to see it all again. We had breakfast at the museum too and it was really good! Amazing scones! Andy loved the museum as much as I did. We then attempted to find the Museum of Contemporary Art but it looked closed for construction so we wandered over to a street fair in The Rocks and ate junk food like soft German pretzels and chocolate covered strawberry and banana on a stick. We walked around Circular Quay (key) a bit and got some better, less sleepy photos of us in front of the Opera House because it's a requirement when you visit Sydney, right?

FINALLY! A good picture of us together!

We got to the airport, headed home, took a bus and then a cab from the airport and were soooo happy to go to sleep in our own bed.

Overall, a pretty good week. I hope we can go back to Sydney again soon without any work involved!


Katie and Andy

07 July 2011

We've Been Eating Food!

I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some of the tasty food we've been eating because, I mean, who doesn't like looking at pictures of food, right?

We are both really missing Mexican food, Chipotle especially, so when we heard about a place called Mad Mex we had to try it. This place is basically a direct rip off of Chipotle but not nearly as good or affordable. Nothing is spicy enough in Australia unless it's Asian and we have yet to find decent Mexican. When we have the intense craving for a burrito, this almost does the trick.

We found some familiar friends on our visit. But $4.50 for a Jarritos makes me want to cry.

Corona light fixtures. 

You can almost see how closely they are copying Chipotle in this picture.

Giant Corona light fixture!

This is Binh Minh, a Chinese, Malaysian and Vietnamese restaurant that is SO GOOD. It's not too far from our house and you get a lot for your money. This is just a picture of our apps: yummy chicken wings (thats what they are called!), dim sim's and some spring rolls. We also ordered chili beef, salt&pepper squid and a bean curd and vegetable stir fry. On our second visit we also tried the sweet&sour pork in addition to some repeats from the first visit. YUM! That's all I can say. I can't wait to go back. 

This magnificent breakfast is called The Lot. It's two pieces of Australian style bacon, two sausages, two eggs and caramelized onions on a roll. It costs $5 and feeds both of us. It's a steal and so, so tasty...even if it makes our hearts hurt a little bit after we eat it. We get it at our local farmer's market on the weekends...but not every weekend because we would probably die.

I have been trying to cook at home more often and with the easy access to all the local markets and fresh ingredients it has been so fun! I tried out this tasty salmon recipe and it turned out AMAZING!

Yum!!! I paired it with a really nice local pear cider. 

I also made these killer scallops with an orange saffron aioli. Served with angel hair pasta with some lemon dressing drizzled over the top.

We found this cool cafe in the CBD (central business district) called Manchester Press that does fancy latte art!

Our friend James got a busty lady on his (not so) flat white. (A flat white is basically a latte with 1 shot of espresso)

They are also possibly the only place in Melbourne that serves decent bagels. This is one I got with avocado and a soft boiled egg. Embarrassing Fun Fact: This was the first soft boiled egg I had ever had and I had to google how to get the top off as I was sitting in the cafe. Oops.

For the 4th of July we had a little shin dig at our friend James' house and I decided to make my own version of Denver's famous Biker Jim's Dogs. AKA sausages (in this case lamb and feta or beef and caramelized onion) topped with cream cheese and onions that I caramelized in coca cola for a couple of hours. So good. If you are in Denver you absolutely MUST go to one of Biker Jim's many hot dog carts or his restaurant near Coors Field.

Our Canadian friend Carley made an American flag cake! She even made this in her weird microwave that acts as an oven and it actually turned out really good. She also took both of these pictures.

One night we went out with a bunch of Andy's coworkers to a really neat bar called Der Raum which is only a couple minutes walk from our house. Bonus! They do these really elaborate, borderline science experimenty cocktails. My first drink ended up being a cup full of ice cream! Andy ordered a really complicated martini that came to him in parts: Gin in a glass, a spritzer bottle of citrus, a vile of vermouth and the craziest "olive" you've ever seen. I can't even try to explain it.

The drink pictured above is called The Pharmacy and is served in a pill bottle with a syringe of fruit nectar and a little fizzy pill and instructions. You are supposed to take the lid off, squirt in the syringe, drop the pill in, put the lid back on, shake it up and enjoy. It was so delicious!! On top of the drinks being really creative, the bar is super secret. You have to be buzzed in and on busy nights, if you aren't a member, you are out of luck. The vibe inside is super low key and the bottles hang above the bar from bungee cords (called ocky straps here). We will definitely bring everyone who comes to visit us here!!!

So there you have it. We haven't really had a bad meal here yet. We eat a lot of sushi around lunch time. It's one of the most affordable (and healthy!) options. I do secretly miss American sushi with ingredients like cream cheese though! I will continue to try and post about our food adventures, hopefully with some more regularity. It finally feels like things are slowing down here and we can sit down and write this blog.