Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sydney Reviews

Sydney Opera House
We did have ‘sticker shock’ when we saw prices in Australia. Food has always been rather more expensive than what we see in US restaurants, but lodging and things to do have always been slightly less than we pay here.We did have ‘sticker shock’ when we saw prices in Australia. Food has always been rather more expensive than what we see in US restaurants, but lodging and things to do have always been slightly less than we pay here. These reviews are based on many things including our enjoyment, the quality for price paid and truth in advertising. We tend to be relatively easy to please but do not tolerate incompetency, lack of manners, or misrepresentation. There are a few ‘must haves’ when we write about lodging: cleanliness, heating/cooling, available necessities (soap, toilet paper), sufficient space (for ourselves, luggage, toiletries), two rubbish bins (one in the room and one in the bathroom), comfortable bed/pillow, sufficient linens, hair dryer (at least available if not in the room), fast and reliable internet, and on-site parking. Breakfast at the hotel is always nice but if it is available, it must be well prepared. It’s also nice to have in-room coffee/tea makings, a refrigerator and a microwave. Places that really make me smile have a 24-hour reception desk, free and fast internet in the room, free on-site parking, facial tissue (I hate having to use toilet paper to wipe my nose), a ceiling fan and a sheet between me and the comforter.

The ‘must haves’ for restaurants depend on the type of eatery: well prepared food, good quality ingredients (don’t give me ground meat with hard bits of gristle in it), a table large enough to accommodate the diners and their plates and drinks, cleanliness, attentive wait-staff (I expect someone to check that my food is tasty and that I have what I need), readable menus, and efficient staff. Really good restaurants give you the appropriate amount of food ~ no one needs four cups of pasta, for instance. They also have interesting offerings, a reasonably broad drink menu, and a chef/cook who can adapt to special diets.

The Reviews: Food and Lodging
4 Carrots
The Mariners’ Court Hotel, 44-50 McElhone Street, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011 is a wonderful place to stay. The people running the place are truly concerned about their guests
Marque and view from our balcony
and were very helpful in getting us breakfast (free) upon our arrival, taking care of our bags while I went to buy clothes, and recommending easily walkable places to visit that wouldn’t wear us out since we’d just gotten off of the plane. The hotel was once housing for naval cadets and some of the furnishings show this military décor. Our room was very comfortable with a great little balcony overlooking a church and surrounded by plants. The internet was free (one of my key interests) and blazing fast. The shower was good, with plenty of hot water; there was also a trash basket in the bathroom as well as in the bedroom (another of my requirements). Breakfasts, which were included in our room fee, were excellent; scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, beans and sautéed mushrooms were the hot offerings. There was also a plentiful supply of breads for toasting, fresh fruit, and cereals. The coffee was great! From the hotel we could easily walk to most of the places we wanted to visit and it was but a short stroll to catch public transportation.

Olivo Harborside on Darling Harbor was a great place for a refreshing adult beverage. The
Adult beverages
waitress was most pleasant and efficient. Our drinks were cold and her recommendations were right on target. She also did not rush us away when we’d finished and were simply people watching and planning our next excursion.

Tea, dessert, quiche and sandwich
The best bargain going is the Chinese Friendship Garden. You can have a very nice lunch (sandwich or quiche + drink + dessert) and your entry fee for $16AU. The entry alone was $6AU, so that made lunch $10AU which is really good here! To top it off, the food was really good. We needed the hot tea, as well as the warm quiche and sandwich.

Our favorite place to eat was the Frisco Hotel Restaurant, 46 Dowling Street,
Frisco Seafood Platter for Two
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011. On the main floor is a pub, but upstairs is a really great restaurant. For just about what we paid for lunch at the zoo we had a Frisco Seafood Platter for Two ~ four grilled shrimp, four fried calamari rings, three grilled calamari steaks, and two huge beer-battered fish filets. The cook knows how to prepare seafood! We went back nightly for local beer (a different type each night), Grilled Barramundi Burger, Big ‘Frisco’ Burger, and Antipasto Platter.

3 Carrots
Kings Cross Hotel Cocktail Bar/Pub has a good location for people watching at 244 Williams Street, Potts Point. The balcony overlooks a busy street and has plenty of tables for couples and for groups. The beer the bartender recommended was a local brew and my Salt and Pepper Crumbled (lightly breaded) Calamari was fine. However, they never did bring out the second plate of food and although they were very apologetic, did not offer to do more than put in the order, again. When this sort of mistake occurs, I expect some small tidbit (another drink, a side dish or appetizer, etc.) while I’m waiting.

Activities and Sites (See descriptions in Singing in Sydney Blog):

5 Carrots
Sydney Opera House Tour but without Alex I’d only give it 4½ carrots. This is well worth the price of the tour
4 Carrots
Australian National Maritime Museum: The docents on the destroyer and the sub need either more information to impart or more training.

Chinese Garden of Friendship: I would have appreciated more signage information about the plants.

Taronga Zoo: The food is really expensive for what you actually get.
3.5 Carrots

Royal Botanic Gardens: More signage about the plants, more information about the greenhouses, and a better map of the gardens.

Sea Life Sydney: Some of the areas need better lighting and some tanks need ‘de-gunking’ so that you can see the animals.

Sydney Attraction Pass: Expensive for what you get, particularly when you can only choose five activities. For a tourist, it really doesn’t matter that the pass is good for three months. I would have much rather had a five day limit rather than a venue limit.

The Rocks and The Rocks Discovery Center: The center is free, but not particularly extensive. The map of the area is more focused on shopping/eating than on discovery of the area, itself.
3 Carrots

Sydney Tower: Really expensive for riding up and down in an elevator to get a 360o view of Sydney.

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