Wednesday, October 4, 2017

[TRAVEL] 1 Day in Sydney Central Business District, Australia

Following the travelogue on my first day in Sydney around Sydney Fish Market, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and Chinatown, here comes Part 2 where I spend a whole, fruitful day at the Central Business District of Sydney. The CBD area is mainly for sightseeing and shopping, and I am truly in love with the beautiful architecture here especially during this winter season.

Weather Check:
❤ 12°C in the morning and evening, 15°C during midday
❤ Bright and sunny, no sign of rain


4D3N Itinerary in Sydney
Day 0: KL - Sydney (11.45pm Departure from KLIA)
Day 1: Darling Harbour / Sydney Fish Market / Mrs Macquarie's Chair / City Tour / Chinatown
Day 2: Sydney Town Hall / Queen Victoria Building / The Galeries / Paddy's Market / Sydney Opera House
Day 3: Featherdale Wildlife Park / Scenic World Blue Mountains
Day 4: Sydney - KL (1.05pm Departure from Sydney)

Now, let’s see what I have explored in Sydney CBD area in 1 day! 

DAY 2: Sydney CBD / Opera House
❤ Central Railway Station
❤ Sydney Town Hall
❤ Queen Victoria Building
❤ The Galeries
❤ Western lunch at Darling Harbour
❤ Paddy's Market
❤ Sydney Opera House
❤ Wine dinner at King Street Wharf
❤ Night stroll at Chinatown

Our first morning in Mercure Sydney kickstarts with a hearty buffet breakfast at Four Elements Restaurant & Bar, the all-day dining venue in the hotel.

The buffet spread is pretty decent as it offers a fairly wide variety of standard English breakfast components, cheese, cereals, pastry, bread, fruits and juices. But having the exact same menu on the buffet spread for the next few mornings during our stay is not really a good idea.


 Central Railway Station / St. Andrew Cathedral
Central Railway Station
Eddy Avenue, Haymarket, Sydney, NSW 2000.


Along our way to the shopping area, we pass by this 111-year-old Central Railway Station located right next to our crib. This building is one of the most recognized landmark in town that you shouldn’t miss, well at least it showcases the best of architecture back in the 19th and 20th century that is worth a picture or two.

Although it is the end of winter going into spring season during our August trip, the winter landscape with beautiful branches taking center stage is just so beautiful that I am falling in love with it everyday.

St. Andrew Cathedral
Corner of George and Bathurst Streets, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.

Our next stop is the St. Andrew Cathedral, located adjacent to the infamous Sydney Town Hall. If you’re commuting, just get down at Town Hall Railway Station and you’ll see these two lovely architectures right in front of you.

There is an open plaza between these two gigantic landmarks, just perfect for lovebirds to sit back and enjoy romance in the air. I don’t mind spending some “me” time here doing some personal reading :)

Sydney Town Hall
Sydney Town Hall
83, George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000.


Travelling Tips: To further explore Sydney’s sights, feel free to join the walking tour group. You’ll be guided by a friendly and knowledgeable local walking tour guide. And it’s FREE!


One of the nearest Starbucks from our crib.


Queen Victoria Building
Queen Victoria Building
455 George St., Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

Website: www.qvb.com.au


Business Hours:

Lower Ground and Ground: 9am – 6pm
Level 1 and 2: 10am – 6pm
*Extended opening hours to 9pm on Thursdays

Impressive landmarks come one after another. Just across the street, I am finally here at my favourite destination of the day – Queen Victoria Building! QVB, with a longstanding history of Romanesque architecture since 1898, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Sydney that you must visit at least once if it is your first time here.

Travelling Tips: Best to visit QVB in the morning before the tourist crowd floods this place in the afternoon.

Standing boldly along the intersections of George, Market, York and Druitt Streets, QVB is truly a beauty at the first sight. Outside the QVB, we are greeted by the Queen Victoria's statue and the Royal Wishing Well on Town Hall Place. Here you can easily spot street performers (fully equipped with guitars, drums etc) serenading the public with vibrant tunes.

From the mighty centre dome, glorious stained glass windows and original 19th century staircase to every tiny detail such as the arches, pillars and intricate tiled floors, I truly admire the superb craftsmanship of the artisans who put the elaborated structure together.

And QVB has plenty of Instagram-perfect spots that you shouldn’t miss :P

The Galeries
The Galeries
500 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. 
Instagram: @thegaleries
Business Hours: 10am – 6pm daily (except Sundays: 11am – 5pm)

As soon as 11am approaches, we quickly head to The Galeries, a shopping mall that houses mostly prominent fashion brands – Vans, MUJI, Crumpler, Ben Sherman, etc – for the city’s most sought-after dessert, Strawberry Watermelon Cake.


Didn't know that the famous brunch place, The Grounds of The City is here too!
Would have tried if I am not up for Blackstar Pastry instead.


Blackstar Pastry Café
Level 2, The Galeries.
Contact: (02) 9557 8656
Website: www.blackstarpastry.com.au
Facebook: fb.com/blackstarpastry
Instagram: @blackstarpastry

Business Hours:
Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am – 6.30pm
Thurs: 10am – 7.30pm
Sun: 11am – 5.30pm

Blackstar Pastry Café, a quaint café sitting inside Kinokuniya Bookstore, is our main reason of being here. Its colorful pastry and cakes can easily melt our hearts just by looking at them.

My quick conversation with the baker there reveals that this shop actually sells over a thousand slices of Strawberry Watermelon Cake each day! How amazing is that.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake @ AUD $8 per slice It is indeed a piece of art, beautifully composed of 2 layers of almond dacquoise (like a meringue), rose-scented cream, watermelon, strawberries and garnished with pistachios and dried rose petals. The taste? So fresh, light and floral fragrant.

Unfortunately I am not quite a fan of rose or anything rose-scented, so I think it could be a winning taste if the rose flavour can be slightly toned down. Nevertheless, it is a good try!

Total Damage: AUD $8 (=RM27)


Lunch at Darling Harbour
Hard Rock Café
Level 1 and 2 of Harbourside Centre,
2-10 Darling Drive, Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.
Contact: +61 2 9280 0077
Business Hours: 11.30am - Late (Weekdays), 11am - Late (Weekends)

What’s next? Lunch! We are back to Darling Harbour (again, same area as our Day 1’s lunch), and our pick of the day is Hard Rock Café. I have fond experiences with Hard Rock Café in few countries, so I thought why not try this out in Sydney too. With Rock Shop at the ground floor and dining at the first floor, this is an ideal venue for tantalizing food and shopping.

Tupelo Chicken Tenders @ AUD $16.95
A delicious sharing platter of hand-breaded, lightly fried chicken tenderloins, beautifully coated with sweet-tangy sauce.

Hickory Smoked Ribs @ AUD $34.95

The Hard Rock Café is famous here for the Fish of the Day (Lightly battered fish fillet) and burgers. But I opt for something different for lunch this round – Hickory Smoked Ribs – a hearty platter of fall-off-the-bone tender baby back pork ribs (Half rack), rubbed with the signature seasonings and basted with hickory sauce.

I love the rich, smoky flavour which is well-infused into the ribs, but I probably need another helping of hickory sauce so that the ribs don’t feel dry on the palate.

Rump Steak with Tennessee Barbeque Sauce @ AUD $39.95

Also from the menu, we try the 8-oz (220g) rump steak marinated in the homemade Tennessee barbecue sauce and grilled to a well-done perfection, served with garlic smashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. The well-done steak is rather tough, but the sauce makes up for the dish by injecting delicious smoky BBQ flavours into it.

Total Damage: AUD $50 per pax, excluding wine (=RM170)

Market City / Paddy's Market
Paddy's Market
Market City, Hay St & Thomas St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.

Website: http://paddysmarket.com.au/

Business Hours: 10am – 6pm (Wed – Sun)

Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

It’s shopping time after lunch – How nice it is to have so much leisure time exploring the Market City, one of Sydney’s oldest and biggest markets that have everything you need ranging from food and fashion to gifts and gadgets in a true market atmosphere.

To be honest, the “flea market” atmosphere is not really appealing to me, as most stalls offer really cheap-looking stuff but at premium price. It feels like being in Petaling Street except for the fact that it is indoor and air-conditioned. There is nothing I fancy, so I am done with it in less than half an hour.

Travelling Tips: Paddy’s Market is only worth a visit if you want to buy cheap yet good quality nuts.

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.
Contact: (02) 9250 7250
Email: tourismbookings@sydneyoperahouse.com
Twitter: @SydOperaHouse

By the time we reach the world famous iconic Sydney Opera House after shopping, it is already late afternoon – a perfect timing to experience this UNESCO World Heritage place surrounded by the sea glistening in the sunlight.

The sun in Sydney sets around 5.35pm, so be there earlier and you’ll see the perfect view of blue skies, glittery waterscape and great urban sculpture.

Travelling Tips: Stay a little longer here to enjoy the 7-minute long Water Lights Show, available at 7pm daily, for a different experience after sundown.

 Sydney Opera House Guided Tour

Operating hours: 9am – 5pm
Price: AUD $37 per adult, AUD $28 per concession (student 16 years and over and Australian Seniors), AUD $20 per child (5-15 years old)

Total Damage: AUD $37 per pax (=RM125)

Seriously, a trip to Sydney is not complete without exploring this great architectural work of the 20th century. Although I find it rather pricey for a one-hour visitation, it is worth the experience for first timers who have not stepped into the opera house before.

Equipment is provided during the tour so that we can hear the tourguide well.

Currently it is the home to 1000 rooms, 300 corridors and hundreds of tales and secrets, with over 40 shows and experiences a week across Opera, Music, Theatre, Dance, Comedy, Talks and Tours. And it is the guided tour that allows us to gain access to the “prohibited” areas such as ballet room, garment room, production floor, backstage, etc.

Mine is a one-hour tour in English version, complete with audio visual aids that makes it a truly immersive experience. If you’d like to discover how Danish architect Jorn Utzon's ambitious vision for a world class performing arts centre came into existence, join the tour.

*Tour is also available in French, German, Spanish as well as Australian Sign Language.

One thing I like about the guided tour is that we have a better view of the Harbour Bridge and its surrounding, from a different angle in the opera house itself.

Approaching evening, the Opera House transforms into a more captivating landmark
and I wish I don't have to leave this beautiful place!

 Sydney's hungry seagulls are seriously no joke!

We have seen them at the Sydney Fish Market during our first day here, and now outside the opera house too. These seagulls are showing no regard for table manners, brazenly stealing food from plates as diners sit by the waterfront area. 

Be careful of your food, people!

My only regret here is to miss the water light show, as we are running behind schedule for dinner. If I have the opportunity to visit Sydney again, I’ll make sure this would be in my must-do list. 

Wine Dinner at King Street Wharf

Nick’s Bar and Grill
The Promenade, King Street Wharf, Sydney NSW 2000.
Contact: 1300 989 989
Email: restaurant@nicksbarandgrill.com.au
Instagram: @nicksgroup
Business Hours: 11.30am – 3pm (Lunch), 5.30pm – Late (Dinner) daily

Our dinner venue tonight is rather special because King Street Wharf is Sydney’s iconic waterfront where a wide variety of international restaurants and bars are housed here. I am attracted to the concept of dining on a cruise available here, perhaps next time when I have more budget :P

Complimentary House Bread with Butter

Nick’s Seafood Chowder @ AUD $16.00

This is, by far, my favourite starter in Sydney. Perfect for the cold evening, the creamy seafood chowder exudes strong oceanic flavours, mainly from mussels and other seafood ingredients. And I can taste chunks of salmon in every spoonful of soup, it’s lip smacking good!

 Nick’s Seafood Basket @ AUD $36.00

Here comes my main – a hearty basket of fresh seafood, deep-fried into golden brown perfection although I find it a tad oily. Served on a bed of thick cut chips, the seafood medley includes the Catch of the Day, Salt and Pepper Calamari, Fried Scallops and Fried King Prawns. The portion is so huge that I can only finish half of it!

Seafood and red wine? Oh yes, why not!

Chargrilled Angus Top Cut Sirloin Steak @ AUD $36.00

Beef lovers would be on cloud nine when the medium rare sirloin steak sitting on creamy mash arrives with strong whiffs of smokiness. For those who love their steak to be tender, juicy and slightly “bloody”, this is definitely something you’d enjoy.

Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream @ AUD $12.00

I am already full to the brim by then, but the signature dessert looks pretty promising so I don’t mind going for it. And it doesn’t disappoint at all. Love the generous amount of chunky nuts within the warm, moist cake!

To my surprise, my meal here is pretty satisfying although the price falls slightly on the high side. Recommended if you enjoy romantic dinners by the harbourfront!

Total Damage: AUD $70 per pax (=RM240) including house wine

An evening stroll around this area sounds like an idea if you don’t mind the chill and strong winds at 12°C.

Sydney International Convention Centre
Sydney International Convention Centre 
14 Darling Dr, Sydney NSW 2009, Australia.

We call it a night after a breezy stroll around ICC area, to get ourselves ready for yet another full-day itinerary to Katoomba on the next day. Basically, it is a very empty compound, but good to chill around here and enjoy the super cooling evening in this quiet town. 

Next up: Nature Trip to Blue Mountains and Featherdale Wildlife Park in Katoomba

Find out more about my trip to Sydney:

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