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It was time for another weekend away, so with three of my friends, a few weeks ago we flew up to Sydney for a couple of nights, mainly to see Phantom of the Opera on Sydney Harbour. The musical is performed on a purpose built floating stage with the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and city skyscape as background. It was spectacular so more on that later…

My friend Natalie found a great hotel for us to stay; the Margo Kimpton; recently opened and housed in a magnificent heritage-listed Art Deco building. The heritage site was a hotel previously but before that it was space for the Sydney Water Board. The hotel is beautifully placed in the middle of the city within walking distance of shops/Hyde Park and the harbour which meant we were able to walk to restaurants and the show.

The foyer of the Margo Kimpton hotel is very Art Deco and contained on one side is the Wilmot Bar; very impressive with its 1930’s style and a large range of spirits lining the back wall.

courtesy: http://www.kimptonhotels.com

I read that the ‘Margo’ was chosen and added to the Kimpton Hotel as a tribute to the artistic women of influence that played a leading role in shaping Australia’s design scene in the 1930s. And to tribute women, you will find stunning artwork picturing women along the corridors leading to the hotel rooms. And on occasions dogs as the hotel is pet friendly!

Our first evening we had booked Cafe Sydney a restaurant located at Circular Quay with spectacular views over the harbour and Sydney Harbour Bridge; this is an old favourite of mine and my friends and on this occasion it certainly didn’t disappoint. We arrived early and ordered a bottle of champagne from the restaurant’s extensive wine list and enjoyed a glass or two whilst looking at Sydney’s magnificent harbour and bridge. The vegan menu is very good and I really enjoyed my dishes as did my friends from the non-vegan menu.

No matter where I travel, city or country, I always like to get up early and go for a walk to see the sights and even though I have been to Sydney many times and in fact lived there, it was too good an opportunity to take a walk with a friend. I met Mandy at a well known meeting place outside the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) at the bronze statue of Queen Victoria which stands three metres high where she is wearing a gown that falls over the pedestal at the front and a cloak that falls over the back. The QVB was opened in 1898 to honour the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and restored beautifully in 2009.

We took a stroll around the harbour with views, of course, of the bridge and also Luna Park, probably Sydney’s most iconic amusement park on the foreshore of the harbour. As a teenager, my friends and I used to travel on the train for an hour to get there; buy a day pass which allowed you ten rides and then buy food with absolutely no nutritional value – great day out! The most iconic thing about Luna Park is entering through the face at the entrance to the park.

After our long walk, we decided to stop for a bit of breakfast and returned to the Queen Victoria Building where we found a lovely little cafe with views of one of the two great clocks. This clock was built over four years and installed in 2000 and aims to tell a story of Australian history from both European and Aboriginal perspectives. But I couldn’t keep looking at the clock all morning as I had a delicious vegan breakfast to eat along with a pot of peppermint tea to drink.

Then it was finally time for us to meet in the hotel foyer, enjoy a quick beverage then stroll down to the harbour to get ready for the longest running show in musical history. Our other friend Sue, had driven up from Canberra that morning so she was joining us also so with about an hour to go before the start we all set off, some of us walking and others in a taxi. When we arrived, it was lovely to see some people dressed up for the evening but we had decided casual was best as the plastic seating was outside and we preferred comfortable over glamorous! We had excellent seats with a fabulous view of the stage and what a magnificent stage it was.

For those of you who don’t know, Phantom has been playing on Broadway for over 34 years and over 35 at the West End and I am really lucky to say I have seen it on Broadway, but by far this would have to be the best stage for such an incredible show and we even had fireworks at one particular part, which now I can’t remember but it just added to the magnificence of the evening.

The staircase was enormous, lighting incredible and the huge chandelier required a crane to move in and out of the stage. The score is fabulous and the voices of all were outstanding and lastly the orchestra was wonderful even thought it was hidden beneath the stage. What a night!! We all decided to walk back to our hotel, along with thousands of others but it was eerie when the five of us were walking through Hyde Park as we were the only people I could see!

Our final day in Sydney was ANZAC Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp). The date marks the anniversary of the first military action fought by Australians and New Zealanders at Gallipoli during the First World War and was devised to honour the members of the ANZACs, however now it is regarded as a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. All around Australia there is a Dawn Service and usually followed by a March around mid-morning. In Sydney the March commenced at 9am so my friend Naomi and I met along the main street to honour those who had served and those who had lost their lives and as is said ‘Lest We Forget’. I actually did a little bit of research on this phrase and found it originated from a poem by Rudyard Kipling called ‘recessional’ written for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and was adopted in its current use around a decade after the end of the First World War.

For the first time, I saw Fire & Rescue New South Wales honouring those who have served their country; a really special sight as they are the only non-military group sanctioned to march as a contingent on ANZAC Day. Very special!

So that was it for my fabulous weekend away; time to take a taxi to the airport for our plane trip home. Bye bye Sydney, see you next time!