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
A flight to Europe from Australia is no mean feat for a traveller - let alone a family. So when we booked flights with Qatar Airways, recently voted World’s Best Airline, I had high expectations.
Here were the highlights and the lowlights of flying on the World’s Best Airline - Qatar Airways, as we experienced on a flight from Adelaide to Doha on June 27, 2017 - unfortunately the highlights are slim.
2. Kids Packs
The kids packs are pretty impressive - as voted by our 7 and 10 year olds. There were activity packs and a mini ‘Game of Life’ board game - that although they did not play - they were impressed with! And the bag they come in can double as a soft iPad pouch - so that was impressive. The kids definitely rated the kids packs.
3. Direct out of Adelaide
Qatar Airways now fly directly out of Adelaide to Doha, Qatar, and then on to a myriad of destinations around Europe.
The Adelaide to Doha leg takes 14 hours, the beauty of this is the elimination of a domestic flight out of Adelaide.
We continued on to Berlin - a further six hour flight. Twenty hours of flying time - add to that the transit times, pre-flight check in etc, and our trip still ended up being nearly 30 hours from the time we left home until checking into our Berlin hotel.
In comparison to Qantas international where you receive a menu, including beverage list, have access to a pantry for fruit and snacks throughout the flight, receive hot chocolate and ice cream during the flight, as well as a personal snack pack and bottles of water to keep you going. Qatar really did not hold a candle to other international carriers when it comes to onboard food, snacks and beverages.
The kids received their “kids meals” first before the main service, which is always helpful - however their meals were exactly the same as the adults.
2. Seating configuration
The seats are configured in rows of 3 - 3 - 3 seat configuration. For a family of four this configuration always causes a dilemma. Do you split up? Travel in pairs and have a stranger in the third seat. And if you do that - do you take the aisle or the window? The alternative - which we opted for - was to take a row of three, 1 Adult and 2 children, with the second adult essentially flying solo on an isle seat in the middle row.
The adult on their own sits next to two strangers for a 14 hour flight - the other adult has 14 hours to deal with two tired children frustrated by not being able to lay out and sleep - on their own.
3. Doha City Tour
One of the draws to flying Qatar Airways was the opportunity to explore a Middle Eastern City. Qatar Airways offer a free city tour to passengers in transit. Knowing this, we booked a flight with a seven hour transit time so that we could take advantage of this opportunity. However, in reality, by the time we made it to the City Tour desk the 8am tour had already booked out! So, despite booking a seven hour transit and applying for Transit Visas, we ended up spending the seven hours inside the airport. It would be great if these tours could actually be pre-booked so that you knew if you were going to fill your transit time and see the sights of Doha.
If you are wanting to get on one of the city tours, also try not to make the mistake we did by exiting the airport (as opposed to going through to transfers). We passed through immigration and exited the airport only to find that the tour needed to be booked from inside the airport in the transit area. It took us over an hour to exit the airport and then re-enter through immigration and security. On the plus side, we got our passport stamped!
So for what reason Qatar Airways was voted World’s Best Airline I am unsure. If the price was right I would fly them again, however I would prefer Qantas International or Singapore over Qatar.
What are your thoughts, have you flown Qatar?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in:
24 hours in Sydney with Kids
Christmas Cruising - Pros and Cons
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They call it “Taking on the Icon” and that is a pretty fair summary of the experience that is the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb.
Every city has an iconic building or feature, in Adelaide, South Australia, the Adelaide Oval has to be it. Many sporting greats have created memories on the hallowed ground, the iconic turn of the century score board still stands proud amongst the now high tech stadium with a capacity to house 53,500.
Some 18 months ago, the opportunity to “Take on the Icon” was born - since then thousands of people have scaled the roofs and experienced angles of the stadium otherwise unseen.
The experience takes roughly two hours, the preparation itself taking some 30 minutes. Climbers are taken into a dressing room where a custom jump suit is provided to go over clothing and harnesses strapped on and secured. All loose items - watches, rings etc, are placed into lockers, including cameras and phones.
Climbers are taken in groups of 10-16 with a lead guide who communicates with the group via a headset microphone - all climbers wear a receiver and ear piece.
We took a twilight tour - departing at 5pm (5:30pm by the time we were ready to go) and took in views of the sparkling city lights. As it was during winter, we just caught the tail end of the sunset so we did not see the sun disappear, but the sky was a gorgeous orange glow until it went dark.
A purpose built climbing track takes climbers on a journey starting at the Western stand before weaving through the front of the Southern stand to the ultimate lean out point 50 metres above the southern goal posts. A height incidentally equivalent to the spires of St Peters Cathedral which are a great spectacle to see at night from this vantage point.
Winding around the back of the Southern stand to take in the picturesque Adelaide riverbank views before descending again on the Western side, the track is some 1.5kms in distance.
When crossing from one stand to another, a connector bridge is ascended which may give those scared of heights a bit of a challenge, however the climb is not a major physical feat at any point - so can be enjoyed by most fitness levels.
The tour guide provides a great commentary which includes the history of Adelaide, the oval and the scenery. They also carry a camera during the tour and capture photos of climbers that can be purchased at the end of the tour. There are a couple of points where climbers are encouraged to ‘do the lean’ making for some fun photos and moments along the way.
One of the more interesting angles is given when winding under the canopy of the Western Stand. An engineering feat, it is fascinating to hear the science behind the physicality of the stand. Albeit a little scary when you discover that essentially only two major poles are holding the structure in place!
The Adelaide Oval Roof Climb operates all year round with a variety of climb options including the Twilight tour we took as well as day climbs and Game Day climbs that operate whilst sporting events are in full action and stands packed with spectators. Climbs are priced from AUD$99 which includes a climb certificate and group photograph. Additional photos can be purchased from AUD$16.
If you are visiting Adelaide, even for a weekend, this is a great tour to add to your itinerary. The oval is within walking distance of the CBD and accessible from city hotels. For details and to book take a look here.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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When the boys booked a footy weekend in Melbourne, Miss 7 and I decided this year we would make it a family trip. The boys could indulge in as much football as they liked and the girls would take in the sights.
Although we have travelled to Melbourne many times before, it surprises me that there is always a few hidden gems to be found on each return visit.
Here are some of our highlights and tips from a quick weekend away.
1. Melbourne Star
The Melbourne Star is a giant observation wheel located at the Docklands in Melbourne. One of only four observations wheels in the world, it is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.
To get to the location, utilise the free city circle tram that takes you to the doorstep of the harbourside shopping village. The Star is located in the same precinct and a short walk from the tram stop.
We were so surprised at how quiet this attraction was. Lunch time on a Saturday and we walked straight to the ticket booth, purchased tickets and walked straight on. There was not a line to join at all! And, best of all, it meant we got a whole pod to ourselves. Unheard of on any of the other observation wheels around the world in London, Singapore or Las Vegas.
The “flight” takes 30 minutes to complete a full rotation and the views are pretty spectacular.
Savings tip: I googled discount Melbourne Star tickets before paying at the gate. I managed to purchase a Scoopon deal that allowed instant purchase and use. Gate price was $48 for 1 x Adult and 1 x Child - Scoopon price was $35.
2. City Circle Tram
The city circle brown tram does a great loop of Melbourne and is an excellent way to orient yourself if you have never been before. The trams run every 12 minutes, travels in a circle in both directions and is absolutely free.
Onboard you will also receive a pre-recorded commentary, occasionally you will board a tram with a live commentary which can be entertaining.
There is not really any major attraction within Melbourne CBD that can not be reached via the free city circle tram.
Savings Tip: ALL trams in the Melbourne CBD tram zone are free! I have been travelling to Melbourne for years and only just realised this. So if you need to get from one side of town to the other, you don’t have to wait for the circle tram and do a big loop, you can catch a tram going straight across the city - for free. Or if you are going 4-5 blocks down Spencer or Flinders street and have tired children with you - don’t make them walk when there is a tram free to take you.
3. Queen Victoria Markets
A trip to Melbourne is not complete without a visit to the markets. The sights and sounds of the fresh produce, butchers, fish mongers and providores is an experience not to be missed. We headed there first thing in the morning and started our day with breakfast at one of the many cafe’s and stalls serving freshly ground barista coffee and organic barn laid eggs!
Once breakfast was complete the kids entered what they described as “fidget spinner heaven!” after purchasing the craze items on e-bay and having to wait weeks for their arrival from China, they were overwhelmed by the plentitude of options available for instant purchase. Every colour, every style imaginable. Thank goodness we gave them a spending budget for the weekend - it was then up to them to seek out the best bargains to maximise their allowance which now became fidget spinner spending money.
And a visit to the markets is also not complete without indulging in hot jam donuts. We opted for the ever popular American Doughnut Kitchen located in a converted old bus that parks at the market. For $5.50 you get five hot jam donuts.
The quote of the trip went to the gentleman in the line in front of us arguing with the staff demanding donuts with “not too much jam, not too much sugar!” Both the staff and everyone in the line were perplexed by the customer’s request. Pretty sure we were all in line wanting sugary, jammy donuts!
4. Australian Rules Football
Melbourne is the home of Australian Rules Football - commonly known as AFL, if you are visiting during the months of play it is almost a sin to not take in a game. Both the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Etihad Stadium host games and both are easily accessible from the CBD.
We were fortunate enough to time our visit during the AFLs annual Indigenous round and were treated to an Essendon Vs Richmond Dreamtime game at the MCG on the Saturday night.
Nearly 87,000 people packed the stadium which celebrated and honoured the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players of the game. A traditional welcoming ceremony provided pre-game entertainment that sparked the enthusiasm of the lively crowd.
Savings Tip: A family pass in general admission cost just over $50 pre-purchased online. Pack drinks, snacks and dinner purchased from outside the ground and get there early to secure a seat and enjoy your picnic dinner. Concession prices are over-inflated as with any stadium around the world. There are plenty of Coles Express and Woolworths Metro stores that you can pick up some snacks from in the city before you take the free tram out to the MCG.
5. Dumplings in China Town
On previous trips to Melbourne we have enjoyed amazing Yum Cha in China Town, this trip we did not manage a lunch time visit so instead thought we would try one of the many dumpling houses that receive rave Trip Advisor Reviews.
People queue for dumplings in Melbourne - we got there early so did not have to wait, but was it worth it……. they were just dumplings……
Sure they were tasty, the service was quick and the meal relatively cheap. But the dumpling house was pretty run down and unless you are a uni student wanting somewhere to hit a record for most dumplings consumed in a sitting - I probably would not line up for the experience.
But we can say we have done it, we did consume a large amount of dumplings for a relatively small amount of cash and were given the privilege of drinking our soft drinks and beers straight from the can - classy!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in:24 hours in Sydney with Kids
Christmas Cruising - Pros and Cons
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Ahh mother’s day - breakfast in bed, relaxing sleep in, new fluffy slippers and cups of tea delivered while I indulge in the Sunday paper. Right? Umm not in my house! Does anyone really have this?
Mothers Day in Australia will be next weekend - Sunday May 14, 2017. This will be my 11th mother’s day and never have I experienced this hallmark moment.
And not to the fault of Master 10 or Miss 7 – it has really been my own creation.
The first year of motherhood I am sure hubby made a big deal of it, but to be honest I was too tired to notice.
And for the last nine years I have circled the Adelaide Torrens Riverfront as a participant in the Mother’s Day Classic, awake and in the city for an 8am start.
In 2010, a beautiful friend lost her battle to cancer and left behind two young children. At age 30 she never really got the chance to enjoy Mothers Days either. Each year I do the run in honour of her and the many other Mother’s who have lost the battle to cancer.
The Mother’s Day Classic is a fund raiser for Breast Cancer Research. Participants can run or walk either a 4.6km or 7.3km course. The city becomes a sea of pink as thousands of participants showcase the colour for support and hit the track to bring awareness and raise much needed funds for the cause.
The event, which first began in 1998, is run Australia wide with both major cities and regional towns hosting a course for people to participate. To date, the event has raised some $30 million.
My proudest mother’s day moment was when Master 10 joined me for the first time. In 2016 both kids and hubby joined me on the track and we will do it again this year, with a time now to beat.
Miss 7 is the leader, we cross the line as a family so really it is her 38 minute record that we are aiming to improve. A year older, with longer legs to take her on the course - I am sure that is achievable.
Of course, I could sip cups of tea for the rest of the day – however whilst I am still fortunate enough to have a mother and mother-in-law in my life, it is to them I will bestow the honour.
After all, I believe the real test of a good mother is the adult children they release into society. That is a test I am yet to pass so will happily wait my turn rather than indulge in any premature celebrations.
If you would like to donate to Breast Cancer Research, you can contribute on our fundraising page. For more details about the event, head to the Mother’s Day Classic website.
Follow the Itchy Feet Family on Instagram and Facebook for updates from the track next Sunday.
How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Have you started any traditions for your family?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Recently we took a weekend Sea Break P&O Cruise out of Adelaide departing Outer Harbour on the Friday, sailing around the coastline to nowhere in particular, before coming back to land on the Monday morning and heading off to work for the week.
It was a fantastic weekend away on a cruise to nowhere! And the added benefit of the departure in and out of Adelaide meant there were no airport connections or long drives required for our quick break.
The cruise we sailed on was billed as a “Comedy Cruise” which to be honest I really had no idea, nor cared, what that meant as I was just happy to get away. However it become apparent that there were cruisers on this particular journey for whom the Comedy element was the main drawcard.
So what can you expect and take away from a comedy cruise?
If you are a budding comedian, or have any desire to tick off your bucket list standing in front of a large crowd and giving it your best to make them laugh - this is a perfect opportunity to do just that. Not only did this cruise come complete with nightly comedy shows, it also offered passengers the opportunity to learn from the masters before giving it a try.
Our first night at sea we were warmed up at the Sit Down Comedy Club. An adults only show performed at 9pm in the ships main theatre featuring our MC/Host for the cruise and a stand up comedian. For our weekend we were entertained by Kehau Jackson and recent Adelaide Fringe award winning performer Luke Heggie.
On our first full day at sea passengers were given an opportunity to join a Comedy Workshop with Kehau Jackson. Tips on joke writing, delivery, knowing your audience, stage presence and more were handed out to budding comedians posing as passengers on the cruise.
On Saturday night the 400+ seat Marquee theatre filled again at 8:30pm for an all ages performance and then at 11pm for an Adults only Comedy Gala. This evening we were entertained by Pete Rowsthorn of Kath & Kim fame, Bev Killick, Elbow Skin and an encore from Luke Heggie.
For cruisers with little ones wanting to see the late show the kids club is open until 10:30pm at no extra charge, for a minimal charge of just $5 per hour you can leave the little ones in until 1pm so you can make the most of the comedy on offer.
For our last sea day the comedy continued and was packed into the day and night. Starting with an up close and funny session with the comedians at 2pm, this lead into the Comedy Gong Show where passengers hit the stage. The twin deck theatre was packed as budding comedians took the microphone and did their best to make us laugh, impress the judging panel and avoid the sound of the gong ready to be hit at any time by the entertainment director.
I must say I was surprised at how many passengers hit the stage. There were eight contestants brave enough to get up and give it a go. Granted, some of them probably shouldn’t have! but credit to them for giving it a go - it was more than I could do!
For our last night at sea a new act performed, Moments of Magic and Humour with Jonas Jost followed later in the night with one final Sitdown Comedy Club performance that featured Kehau Jackson and Bev Killick.
With all this entertainment included in your cruise fare, along with your accommodation, meals and child care - what a great value weekend. A night out to a fancy restaurant, a show at the Adelaide Fringe, a hotel in town and a babysitter for the night would almost cost you the same!
Whilst I loved the weekend, my only negative was that we sailed in 2016 on the Adelaide Comedy Cruise and we saw some of the same comedians - who disappointingly used much of the same material again in 2017. I would love to do the weekend again in 2018 and really hope that P&O can find some new fresh talent before then as a joke is only really funny once…….
Have you done a comedy cruise before - let us know what you thought?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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As a regular cruiser, I like to explore every corner of the ship. I love the idea of having a spa at sea where you can indulge in beauty and health treatments but often find them to be very overpriced.
P&O cruise ships Eden and Aria offer an area on the ship called the Thermal Suites, other cruise ships offer similar such areas. The Suites on the Eden and Aria offer, for a price, access to a sauna, 2 x steam rooms, mineral spa, heated relaxation lounges and a relaxation room with comfortable day beds and refreshments.
On a recent 12 night cruise the ship was offering a limited number (they said 20 - but I think they may have sold a few more than that) of all access passes for the entirety of the cruise for $199 for a single $299 for a couple. So I decided to try them out!
But was it worth it ? Here are the pros and cons - you decide……..
Pros of Thermal Suites
1. A Hot Tub with No Children
The Aria and Eden offer an adults only area - Oasis - however there is no hot tub, only a pool, in this space. I like to refer to the main pool deck hot tubs as bowls of children soup! Don’t get me wrong, I like children - I even have two under 10 of my own - but in a hot tub I would rather not indulge in children’s soup.
The Thermal Suite pass gave access to a mineral bath that nine times out of ten I got to use on my own. With only a limited number of people allowed access to this area, it made for a nice way to relax at the end of the day. The Suites were open from 8am to 8pm every day.
2. Peace and Quiet
The last cruise we did was a NYE cruise which meant there was a pretty lively crowd on board and many late nights to be had. It was nice to have a semi-private space to simply chill and relax away from the crowds and the masses. With only a limited number of passes on sale it meant many times there was not even anyone else in the area. It was like a private oasis.
The relaxation room offered inviting day lounges with wall to ceiling windows to sit and watch the sea roll by. Couple that with a herbal tea or a fruit infused ice cold water and it made for an inviting quiet space.
3. Steam and Sauna
With all the calories consumed on a cruise the steam and sauna gave easy access to sweat some of them out. A dry sauna was always my first point of call followed by an aromatherapy sauna. Great way to sweat out the alcohol!
Whilst I would have loved to spend hours in the Thermal Suites, the reality is I never quite got around to it. With port days and fun filled activities on sea-days I barely managed to squeeze in an hour a day. However I did make a point of visiting every day - even if for a quick 30 minute thermal bath.
2. No Products to Use
When the Suites are shown on the first day of the cruise there were lovely scrubs on display near the showers. Many of us got the impression that they would be made available for the duration of the cruise - however that was not the case. You do however receive a take-home pack of the scrubs when you sign up - which of course you could make use of during the cruise. Of the 12 night cruise, only on one day were any beauty products/scrubs made available for use - which of course I took full advantage of.
3. I Felt Lazy
Laying on a thermal tiled lounge for any length of time made me just want to go to sleep! If you want to completely wind down, switch off and relax this is the place for you. I am generally a bit more active on my holidays so I felt a bit lazy spending time just relaxing. (ok this is not really a con - I just could not think of a third one to balance the article!).
Have you ever used Thermal Suites - or Private Spa areas on a cruise ship? What did you think? Would you indulge again…..
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Australia is a great melting pot of nationalities from all over the world. Sydney has a concentration of Asian cultures in China Town and the surrounds - the perfect location for Yum Cha.
When we told the kids we were going to Yum Cha for lunch, they decided they wanted McDonalds instead. We compromised by allowing them McDonalds but they still had to join us for the experience.
To find a good location for lunch we of course checked Trip Advisor, however then asked a shop keeper in China Town which of the shortlist he actually ate at. It was by this process we decided on Marigold - a choice that proved a winner.
In my experience some of the best restaurants I have discovered have not been on main streets or even at street level. But rather on a high floor of a high-rise building in a location that many would never know even exists.
When we got out the lift at level four we instantly knew we were in for a treat. What greeted us was a large bustling restaurant with a great mixture of tourists and locals enjoying the culinary experience of Yum Cha.
Yum Cha ladies dressed in blue pinafores rolled trollies of delights between the tables whilst traditionally dressed waiters in black pants and white shirts seated guests and served pots of Chinese Tea.
Before we even had a chance to sip our tea, the trolly dolly was laying a plate of prawn dumplings on our table stamping our Yum Cha sheet before we had a chance to say Ni Hao!
The Yum Cha trolly dolly does not take kindly when you reject her delicacies - especially if it is the last on her trolley and she is wanting to head back to the kitchen for a reload.
If you have never experienced Yum Cha the process is this - you sit at your table and a selection of food is paraded around the restaurant on trollies for you to pick and choose what you desire. For every plate that is placed on your table a stamp is placed on your table’s Yum Cha Menu.
You really have no idea what each plate cost - nor really what it is you are actually eating no matter how many times you ask the server what it is she is serving.
The food is almost secondary to the experience. However fortunately in this case the Marigold delivered both great food and atmosphere.
The kids regretted the burger that had already made it to their stomach and found room to squeeze in a sampling of prawn dumplings, spring rolls, pork buns and Chinese Tea. Miss 7 enjoyed the challenge of the chop sticks and Master 10 surprised us by his natural ability to manipulate the utensils as if they were an extension of his hands.
Have you sampled a great Yum Cha in an obscure location? Let us know your top tip for Yum Cha restaurants with a great atmosphere.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Book Your Sydney Getaway Today - We Recommend QT Hotel.
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December 2016 we had a two-night stay in Sydney before joining a cruise. Finding a hotel in Sydney this trip had a few challenges. A) The price of accommodation in December is always at a premium and B) Finding a hotel room in Sydney with a room occupancy for four people also limited our choices.
The Itchy Feet Family consists of two adults and two children, Master 10 and Miss 7, and we prefer to only have one room. Many hotels in Sydney require families to purchase two rooms due to maximum occupancy rates of three.
However, we stumbled across a flash sale with priority rewards chain and discovered the QT Hotel. Located in Market Street, this boutique hotel is situated in the centre of the CBD right in the thick of the shopping district and almost directly underneath the Sydney Tower.
At $250 a night the hotel offered twin queen beds, perfect for a family of four with young children. And what a surprise this hotel was.
The Boutique hotel is actually owned by the State Theatre and the styling reflects the connection. Quirky little additions throughout starting from the uniform of the porters, the wall of vintage suitcases in the lobby and the dress mannequins reflecting pieces of art - we were fascinated by the intricate details of the hotel.
The room was spacious for Sydney standards, really funky decor topped off with a large bathroom consisting a his and hers sink, deep round tub and large shower with a rain shower head.
In-room we had free Wi-Fi and movies as well as a Nespresso coffee machine that came with fresh milk to warm in the milk frother for a true in-room cappuccino.
The hotel had a tiny in-house gym with a few pieces of equipment, however another great addition to a stay at the QT hotel is access to the Virgin Active Club located just a few minutes walk from the hotel. We were staying on Boxing Day, so it was closed, however from what we saw on the internet anyone that takes their fitness seriously would appreciate the value of this additional extra.
Although located in the thick of the CBD, another great advantage of this hotel was just how quiet the room was. We were only staying on Level 4 and yet not a sound of the outside world could be heard from the comfort of our room. Another rarity for a hotel room anywhere in the world, let alone Sydney.
From the hotel you are in walking distance of China Town, Circular Quay and Darling Harbour and on your doorstep you can just walk across the street to be in the Westfield Shopping district with a myriad of choices for shopping and dining.
I did overhear a guest unhappy that her room had not been serviced in the afternoon and when we went out in the evening at 5pm we also had to request a room refresh as it had not been done. However given it was a public holiday I imagined they may have been low on staff. To their credit the reception staff were very apologetic and when we returned later that evening the room had been cleaned.
If you are after something a little bit different from your typical chain hotel, the QT Hotel in Sydney certainly delivers.
Check Availability Today.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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With just over 24 hours in Sydney we wanted the kids to see as many of the major attractions as we could squeeze in. We are an active family - this is what 24 hours in Sydney looked like for us.
7:30am wake up
As the weather was going to be hot we decided to get up and going early. Everyone dressed in sneakers and sports gear we slapped on the sunscreen and hats and headed out nice and early.
Stop One: The Sunrise Set
An early morning in Sydney would not be complete without a walk by the Channel 7 studio to try and get yourself on the morning Sunrise show. We headed for Martins Place and hung around the glass viewing area until we got a wave from Andrew O’Keefe and the kids got a wave in on the National TV show. Half an hour later our phone received messages from those at home that had seen us. Check!
Stop Two: Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens in Sydney are expanse and tranquil. The park was abundant, the strong floral smells smacked you in the face as you entered the gates and the garden beds were immaculately kept with an array of various plants and flowers. The contrast between the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle streets to the green and lush of the gardens is worth a visit. Albeit for us a quick run through to stop three.
Stop Three: Macquarie’s Chair
Of all the visits to Sydney I had never made it to this point and I was glad we had taken the time to do so this morning. The views that you get which take in the Opera House and Harbour are well worth the visit. However I was disappointed that there was no actual “Chair” - that is a hoax! We had to google to make sure we were in the right spot due to the absence of a chair.
Am I the only one that thought there was supposed to be a chair there?
Stop Four: Opera House
Our jogging (well kids are walking and complaining a little by now!) path then took us back along the water edge around to the Opera House.
A few sets of stair runs for the adults to get our cardio in for the day and some great photo opportunities.
We continued to follow the path along the edge taking us up through Circular Quay and around to view the cruise ship docked in port for the day.
Stop Five: Pancakes at the Rocks
The only way Miss 7 would continue to walk/jog was based on the promise of pancakes. This place did not disappoint. A 4-stack of pancakes for $9.95 was pretty good value for breakfast in this part of town.
Stop Six: Harbour Bridge
Following our late breakfast stop we continued our walk around the water to take photos under the Harbour Bridge and wave to those taking the climb. We had wanted to recreate a photo we had taken of Master 10 when he was just 6-months old on his first visit to Sydney, however set-up for New Years Eve had the lawns cordoned off. It is still a great perspective to stand under the bridge and take her all in.
Stop Seven: Ferry Ride
When in Sydney you have to get out on the water. We wanted to head to China Town so chose to take a Ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour. A single trip ticket for the family of four cost $20.60 and took us on about a 30-minute water ride with a stop at Luna Park and some great photo opportunities of the Bridge and Opera House along the way.
Stop Eight: Darling Harbour
We then strolled through Darling Harbour to take in the atmosphere and grabbed a cool drink whilst the kids tried out the flying fox and rope course at the Darling Harbour playground. This was a popular location offering welcome relief from the lunch time sun and humid Sydney weather for the toddlers that could strip down and splash in the water park.
Stop Nine: China Town
A short stroll from Darling Harbour and we were in China Town. We walked the main street and grabbed a steamed pork bun taking in the authentic flavours of the locals. Sydney has a strong Asian influence and China Town depicts this well.
Stop Ten: REST
Our morning run turned into an epic five hour adventure. We headed back to the hotel to take advantage of the air conditioning and free wi-fi to catch a movie and recoup from the morning’s adventures. We were staying in the CBD in the thick of the shopping district so the parents tag teamed a few hours of shopping while the kids relaxed.
Stop Eleven: Hyde Park
Walking shoes back on we headed towards the SCG via Hyde Park. This park in the centre of the CBD offers plenty of lawn space to picnic and relax, large trees for shade and some interesting memorials and statues to take in.
Stop Twelve: Oxford Street
Our path then took us along Oxford Street where the coloured rainbow symbol is proudly displayed on shop fronts and bars. The kids really did not understand the significance of the area they were just interested in the butter chicken and naan on offer at the Indian restaurant we tried.
Stop Thirteen: Sydney Cricket Ground
Our epic day was capped off by a visit to the SCG where we took in all the atmosphere of 30,000 people attending the Big Bash Cricket: Sydney Sixers V Perth Scorchers. We clapped and cheered and joined in the Mexican wave with the lively crowd enjoying a great summer night of cricket at the stadium. We paid a ridiculous $6.20 for a bucket of hot chips but that is what you expect from stadium concessions - it is part of the experience.
We worked our way out of the crowds and managed to grab a taxi on Oxford Street before getting back to the hotel around 11pm. What an epic day in Sydney! How do you think we went?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.