We had to grab the opportunity! It was one of those rare moments we were able to get out of the clutches of my mom to be able to enjoy Sydney without her in tow. While the whole trip to Sydney was to help her set-up and manage her newly bought salon, it would be a drag not to be able to enjoy the trip and slip in a few touristy activities. It was also my partner’s first time in Australia and I wanted to showcase a lot of things in 14 days. Luckily, I’ve lived in Sydney for 13 years before moving back to the Philippines and I am still very familiar with the place, but it feels different when you are a tourist in your own backyard and bringing someone along to experience the place for the first time. It’s like watching a movie the second time with someone who hasn’t seen it. You already know what to expect and you are trying your hardest not to spoil it for the other person yet you are still hoping there there is still something in it that will make repeating the experience worthwhile and that you are not just going to act as a tour guide.
It was a Thursday and shops close at 9PM. In Sydney they call this late night shopping and it’s only every Thursday. In
Manila it’s the usual business hours for malls everyday and there are some that closes at 12 midnight even. We left Fairfield, a suburb in the South-West area of Sydney about 45 minutes away by car from the Central Business District, at 6pm. We figured we’ll reach the city before 7pm and that would still allow us some time to go around in a leisurely pace. Mom let us borrow her mini van and we were off! With me was my partner and his friend Ervin who is currently studying and working part-time in Oxford Street.
Halfway into the journey we got hungry. I suggested to eat in Gioia, an Italian Trattoria I know in Leichhardt since I’ve been there countless of times and they have authentic Italian cooking. The restaurant was a converted old petrol station, which now looks like an Italian piazza fronting the beautiful architecture of Leichhardt town hall. Of course, we underestimated the time and ended up finishing dinner around 8:30.
We got to Sydney before 9pm but finding parking was a feat! I had to circle the block behind the Sydney Town Hall and Queen Victoria Court twice but we hit the jackpot. I found parking just behind the town hall and we only had to pay 30 minutes of parking because it’s already free after 10pm. Considering the cost of parking in Sydney it’s a relief to just pay $6 for 30 minutes.
When we got to town hall we hit another jackpot. The Sydney Town Hall building had Christmas themed video mapping projections that changed every 30 seconds. It was fantastic but then we didn’t have much time to marvel at the show since my partner saw a place selling boots, and this was one of the things in our list to get. We ran across George Street but when we got there they only had UGG boots – not the kind you would wear in tropical conditions, and not something that I would really wear anywhere except in the bedroom
Then suddenly I thought we could go see if Queen Victoria Building (QVB) was still open, go up to the top floor where we could see outfits worn by the Queen on exhibit. It was almost 9:30 then so we had to run across George Street again hoping that the place is still open. Jackpot again, it was still open! I always get excited going inside the QVB. I could still remember when I got my first paycheck from my first job in Sydney and how I spent practically all of it shopping for clothes in QVB. The place had Christmas lights setup and it was so bright. Most of the shops were closing and it was not really a shopping trip so we proceeded to the fourth level to see the exhibit. No jackpot here. They pulled out the exhibit years ago and I remembered it was back in 1998 when I saw it last. Then I remembered that they also have a quaint toilet that looked like that of Hoagwarts’. It was still there and that made up for the disappointment.
By this time we were beginning to get really tired from running around, taking photos and climbing stairs that we wanted to call it a night. But Ervin suggested to have hot chocolate and coffee at Guylian’s at the Sydney Opera House Quay. He got us at hot chocolate but I remembered that the Opera House is at least a kilometer away from where we were and that the place might also be closed knowing that its already 10pm. Hot chocolate sounds so good though and it was also a cold night at 18 degrees Celsius in the middle of summer. Since parking is free at this time I suggested we took the car to cut the traveling time, plus my feet were killing me from all the running.
Jackpot! We got a parking in one of the streets near Circular Quay and only had to walk for 5 minutes. More jackpot, Guylian was still open for another 30 minutes. We ordered Belgian hot chocolates, waffles with ice cream, tiramisu and espresso, parked our butts in the outside sitting area admiring the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. A perfect way to end our 1 hour Sydney city tour on sprint!
There was still one more jackpot on our way back to the car. My partner saw a wall made of rough sandstones with lighting coming from the faint yellow glow of a street lamp. Great photo opportunity to capture Sydney in a different light.
This sprint-trip made me realize that it is not only the place that makes the adventure worthwhile but it is the company and the spontaneity. There is still something to discover even if you’ve been to the same place countless of times.