Sydney travel diary/travelogue - 2000

Coastal drive, ANA Hotel, Cocklebay Wharf

Day 5 ::: Saturday 9th September, 2000

Another day, another stroll along Campbell Parade to kick-start proceedings. Among the many cafes and restaurant were a few clothes shops, including a rather fine Mambo shop with a massive Reg Mombassa design in the window. I bought myself a T-shirt, but not from Mambo (although I sifted through every single design they had), instead from a chemists, of all places. A dumb touristy number - Sylvester the Cat with the word 'Thydney' underneath.

Back at the flat, Andy admitted that he hadn't in fact paid for the meal last night, that he was so sozzled that after he answered the call of nature, he'd walked on out of the restaurant after us. He'd gone back down to the restaurant this morning to settle up the bill and clear his conscience at the same time. Turned out that the people working there were not even aware that they had been short-changed anyway - a new girl had started and they'd mixed up tables and all sorts.

Andy wanted to take us somewhere in the CBD today to give us a surprise, but before we got there we were driven the pretty way - a diversion down along the coastal roads along Tamarama, Bronte and then Coogee beach. This was a sneak preview, as we were planning to do the same route on foot some time in the next couple of weeks. The coastal walks make for a great day out in Sydney.

What with all the traffic restrictions, it quickly became obvious as we drove closer in to the city that we were unlikely to park a VW Camper anywhere with ease. Instead we decided to leave the camper in a side street in Surrey Hills and hail a cab from there. The side street we chose had just been resurfaced. How did we know this? Well, evidently there was a car parked in that street the day that the tarmac truck arrived, because they put fresh tarmac on the whole street, working around that single car, and now there's a car-sized stretch where the level drops by about three inches!

The priciest view in town

The taxi took us to the ANA hotel. We didn't know what the ANA hotel is, but suffice to say it's one of the best hotels in Sydney (look in any guide book and it'll be in the top range section). We entered at ground level (well, what else would we do?!) which faced directly on to an elevated section of road. This should have been a clue ...

Sydney Harbour Bridge, as viewed from the ANA hotel

The lift took us up many floors, then as we exited the lift and rounded the corner we saw what the surprise was - a view that people pay through the nose for. We had a light roast meal in the Horizons Bar as we looked out over the bridge and afterwards went next door in to the even more expensive sushi restaurant (which was not open at that time) to take a few snaps. Andy told me how another mate who visited him got the same surprise, but he hadn't even seen the bridge at all up till that point. That's a great way to see the 'old coathanger' (as it is sometimes referred to by the locals, if the guidebooks are to be believed) for the first time.

Homeward bound

The plan for the evening was to go to Home, the nightclub in Darling Harbour (part of the chain that owns Home in Leicester Square, London). The club was to relocate to University grounds during the Olympics (while the venue was hired out for corporate functions at a high price, no doubt), and this was our only opportunity to see the club's interior (which was supposed to be something special). First, we went to collect Craig (my brother's 'boss' and fellow wake-boarder) and Craig's mate Alex. Craig had a lovely house in Randwick - Palm trees in the back garden and immaculate throughout. He lived there with Jo and their daughter Sïan, although the two had supposedly split up. They seemed to get along to me though. Sïan chose this night to start walking, which was obviously a camcorder moment for proud dad!

Our first port of call in the City was a hotel/bar called Shelbourne. We had to pay to enter a very empty place, but I guess it gets busy later. At this time of night, though, it wasn't exactly buzzing! We only stayed for a couple before walking over to Home.

The queue was massive. I've not seen a queue like it before (well, apart from the Olympics ticket queues!), but we had to wait. While Andy, Manda and I shuffled along in the line, Craig, Alex and Wendy went over to HomeBar to grab a couple of drinks (and, we thought, to bring us some too!). We waited an hour and the others had not reappeared, with or without refreshments, but we were at the head of the queue and about to go in. We were frisked then moved on to the next person who then asked for ID. Well, I didn't have any - I generally avoid taking out anything that isn't entirely necessary when clubbing, but apparently ID was entirely necessary. I may have been 28 years old, but no photo ID, no entry.

I pleaded with the guy on the door "Can't we talk about this?" but he'd already lost interest: "No we can't, sir, please step aside." And that was our experience of Home, Sydney. A robot bouncer who was not willing to let us in and was not willing to discuss it. We were just a problem to him. If photo IDs were compulsory, I hadn't read that in any guide book, and there were no signs outside (which could have saved us an hour!). Nil points for Home, I'm afraid.

We went over to Home Bar and saw the others at the bar, but our way in was blocked by another gorilla in a black bomber jacket. Andy wasn't up for another wait, and he could see they were in the corner on a balcony that was just a step up from our level. Andy snuck round and climbed up and we quickly followed. Moments later, as we were about to get a drink, we had a tap on the shoulder - the gorilla had seen our manoeuvre and wanted us out: "You're not welcome back!" he added for good measure as we found ourselves outside by the harbour with nowhere to go. The others decided to go back to Shelbourne, but Manda and I just decided to head back. We'd come out for Home, but this had put a downer on the night. So instead, we just went home. Some irony.