Zurich is the home to the official headquarters of FIFA, the world governing body of football. When I discovered there was an interactive FIFA Museum in the city, any chance of getting out of Zurich without a visit for the sport mad Itchy Feet children was near impossible.
Whilst not a football (soccer as we call it in Australia) mad family, we do enjoy sports and could appreciate the value of a visit - and it was a wise choice, we were impressed.
This is not just any old stuffy museum, clearly a sizeable amount of money was invested in the build - which you would expect nothing less of from either Zurich nor FIFA. The displays are impressive to say the least - interactive and high tech. And the memorabilia collection would have a sizeable insurance premium upon it.
Spread across three levels this museum covered everything from the history of the sport, memorabilia, statistics presented in a myriad of ways as well as interactive skill testing fun.
From learning a celebration dance using an interactive life-size screen, to commentating from a media sound booth the final minutes of a close game, there was plenty of displays that required much more than just reading a plaque next to a display.
The museum also incorporates a fantastic display on the human elements of the sport with life size screens presenting monologues from around the world of people who have had life-changing moments through football.
From the English grass roots coach who has seen the sport teach children discipline and team work, to the beach football team from a tiny island in Thailand who represented their nation on a world stage, and Brazil’s ultimate fan who vowed to spend his whole life in the colours of his team for the remainder of his life - the human stories were well presented and a great alternative display.
Then to top it all off, an interactive play area where the kids (and adults) got to practice their skills in skill tester games including accuracy challenges, dribble against the clock and life like pin ball with soccer balls.
With so much to see and do, you really could spend a whole day here. We squeezed in as much as possible over 3.5 hours and both adults and kids enjoyed the time invested.
The museum was accessible via the public tram system, just a short ride from the city centre. And at a cost of CHF 64 for a family of four - roughly $AUD85 - a fair investment in the ultra expensive city of Zurich.
Whether you are a football fan or not - If you happen to be in Zurich - check it out. Further details can be found at www.fifamuseum.com
Itchy Feet Family
If you are looking for accommodation in Sydney there is a myriad of choices. A range of hotels to suit your budget, apartments, AirBNB, camping and more. We have stayed at a number of hotels across the city, last year we took the kids and stayed at the Funky QT hotel. This year on a weekend trip without the kids we decided to up the star rating and checked in to the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.
Here are six reasons you may want to check in to this hotel that you may not see listed on their website.
So you may see this listed on the website - but it has to be said. As far as locations go, you are not going to get much better than this in Sydney. Right in Circular Quay, at the bottom of The Rocks the hotel is really centrally located.
The airport train stops some 500m from the hotel, you can catch a ferry from Circular Quay to a myriad of destinations around Sydney and you can see the Opera House and the Bridge from your room! (dependant on room location - we had a partial view of the Opera House from our room as pictured).
You can walk to The Rocks and enjoy the restaurants and bars, stroll down to the Museum of Contemporary Art and enjoy breakfast there with the Opera House over your shoulder, a 10 minute walk will have you in the Shopping malls, a 15 minute walk will have you in Darling Harbour and a 10 minute walk will have you in the Botanical Gardens.
As far as locations go in Sydney for accomodation, this one ticks many boxes.
Complimentary Shoe Shine
How many hotels offer you a complimentary shoe shine? At the Four Seasons Sydney you simply place your shoes in a bag and hang on your room door by 1am and by 7am they are returned all polished and shined ready for your day! Loved it - wished I had packed more of my shoes!
Turn Down Service
The turn down service is probably one of the first things hotels cut when they are looking at tightening budgets - but I love it. There is nothing better than coming back to your room in the evening to find fresh towels hanging in the bathroom, bottles of water by your bedside, curtains drawn and the night lighting turned on.
If you like to pack light it is great to know before hand if your toiletries can be left behind. Four Seasons Sydney offer a great range of quality Appelles toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bar soap and moisturiser.
Australian designed skin and hair products, Appelles feature a combination of essential oils with botanical extracts in environmentally friendly packaging. Safe to say, it will not be detrimental to your skin or hair to use these products on a weekend getaway.
Check In Service
Now this is something I have not seen before - the check-in staff physically step out from behind the desk to personally hand you your room key when you have completed the check in process. Check in staff generally have a desk as a barrier between them and you and conduct the checkin process from behind that counter.
At the Four Seasons Sydney they have obviously recognised that barrier, so to break it the staff physically walk out from behind the counter to stand beside you, hand you your room key and welcome you to the hotel. Such a small act but one that really stood out as a hotel that is determined to offer an element of personalised service.
Charismatic Chef - Francesco Mannelli
This one you may also see on their website, but that may not translate into how charming and passionate the head chef Francesco is. Apart from the amazing premium spirit cocktails with unique mixes of fresh ingredients that are on offer, Francesco has introduced a stylish and simple menu at Mode Kitchen and Bar that focuses on fresh, quality, Australian produce.
We were fortunate enough to meet Francesco on our visit where he enthusiastically spoke about his joy for cooking at Mode, creating a new menu and sourcing quality ingredients. He proudly displayed the restaurants signature menu item, a 1kg grain fed T-bone sourced from the Coorong. As South Australians we were impressed that much of his produce comes from our State. I was a combination of impressed yet disturbed by the size of the cut of meat on offer - surely no-one would eat that on their own! Would they?
And restaurant manager, Simone Cordedda also ensured we were welcomed and taken care of. When we passed him in the lobby after our initial meeting he made sure to say hello.
Of course there are plenty of other reasons listed on the hotel’s website - the rooftop pool is also a key highlight - but the above were our personal takeaways.
Have you stayed at the Four Seasons Sydney? What non-brochured perks have you found at hotels around the world?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Last year we visited Sydney with the kids and completed an epic 24 hours in this magical city that packed in some great highlights. This year we were able to get a child free weekend, something that rarely happens, so decided to head back to Sydney to see what a child free weekend in Sydney could entail.
Some of the things we did, the kids would also enjoy but we tried to do activities that we normally wouldn’t choose to do with an 11 and a eight year old in tow. Or that would be more enjoyable as adults without children. So here are our tips for 7 things to do in Sydney on a parents retreat.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
This is quite the investment. At AUD$298 per adult for the classic weekday 3.5 hour experience, this is not something you would do every day. Whilst children are able to climb the bridge from age eight, I can’t imagine taking my eight year old on this long tour and expect her to enjoy it.
Almost a decade ago I climbed the bridge solo whilst hubby and our then 6 month old son watched on, this time we were able to share the experience together.
It is a slow climb, plenty of pauses to enjoy the views both on the way up and down. And although the bridge looks daunting from the ground, it is not a strenuous climb at all. Apart from a few ladders to get you up and down from the arch, the climb is quite leisurely.
The views are amazing, the tour guides are informative and narrate the journey providing as much a history lesson as a great activity. Book your ticket before you go.
The last thing our children ever want to do is sit quietly at the end of the day and enjoy a nice pre-dinner cocktail. The last thing a fancy bar wants is children sitting at said bar!
We stayed the weekend at Four Seasons Sydney and took the opportunity to try out a few of the premium cocktails at the in-house Mode Kitchen and Bar. Bar tender Adam mixed up a mean Mojito whilst we enjoyed bar snacks prepared by head chef Francesco Mannelli including the salt & pepper school prawns.
Mode is a modern bar offering a relaxed and comfortable environment to enjoy the house specialty cocktails. With an open kitchen it was fun to sit and watch Francesco prepare the specialty dish for diners, a 21-day aged 1kg Coorong Angus T-bone!
A Friday night in Sydney’s Rocks area means packed bars and happy hours! There is no way I would ever take the kids into such a busy bar, so the opportunity to sample a $7.50 Mojito at El Camino Cantina was one not to miss.
Surprisingly the drinks were quite strong and, coupled with unlimited chips and salsa, this bar was pumping. A DJ mixing in the corner, plenty of sombreros around to use in your selfies - this is a great happy hour option between 5-7pm Monday to Friday.
Darling Harbour restaurants also have great daily happy hour offers if you are prepared to have an early start to your evening. Normally with the kids we have to eat at 5pm for them - was nice to eat later saving time for pre-dinner happy hour drinks!
Harbour Dinner Cruise
Sydney’s Harbour is one of the most picturesque in the world. As avid cruisers, we have taken a few ships in and out of this harbour and know how magical the view from the water can be.
Captain Cook offer a range of dinner cruises where your dining experience is coupled with spectacular scenery. For 3.5 hours we enjoyed a relaxed experience that gave us plenty of time to leisurely dine and enjoy the sights and lights of Sydney’s harbour.
We joined the cruise at Circular Quay and sailed under the bridge to Darling Harbour before going back under the bridge and out towards the heads closely following the shore past some of the most prime real estate in the country at Potts Point, Darling Point and Watson's Bay.
The cruise featured a live band offering a dinner dance scene for those inclined, we opted for the open deck and some magical night photos in front of the Opera House and Bridge.
The Captain's Dinner Cruise provided a three course meal with sparkling wine on arrival, priced between AUD $99 - $149 per head. The menu provided a number of choices, the service was quick and efficient - however it is really the views and the experience where your investment is returned.
Run across the Harbour Bridge
If I am going to take a morning run, having some good scenery for the task is helpful. We were staying close to the Bridge so a Sunday morning pre-breakfast run across the bridge was a great way to start the day.
The initial incline was a bit steeper than what I anticipated, but the downhill runs at either end made it manageable for a novice runner. A return trip from our hotel in Circular Quay the run was just short of 4.5km.
Afternoon at the Pub
Sydney has some great old Pubs, none better than the Glenmore at the Rocks. Perched up high, the split level pub offers spectacular views of the Opera House from the rooftop bar.
The ground level bar is open and breezy with lots of open windows and light. We were in Sydney for the AFL grand final so found a spot at the bar and enjoyed the atmosphere of watching AFL amongst a packed crowd passionately supporting their teams with a cold brew in hand.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
If you thought Bondi was a great attraction, you should try the coastal walk that winds through 6km of spectacular coastline taking in Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee beaches.
The natural beauty of this coast offers plenty of postcard moments coupled with calm swimming beaches, golden sands, green parklands and cute seaside cafes.
Another attraction of the walk is the famous Waverley Cemetery which overlooks the ocean and must be one of the most beautiful places in the world to be offered as a final resting place. Due to some recent storm damage, the walk actually diverted right through the heart of the cemetery. And although I did not see that of famous poet Henry Lawson it was fascinating reading the turn of the century headstones.
Although this is something the kids would also enjoy, it was nice to do the walk at adult pace and not have to be carrying water bottles for two others in my pack!
Have you taken a parents retreat to Sydney? What would you recommend?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family