FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Sydney: Love, Sydney

Nov 1, 2004
2004 / November 2004

For me, it was a date. For you, it could be a business meeting. Either way, avoid the 3th floor bar of the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Sydney, Australia. That evening, we took a table by the
window and I instantly fell in love. With the view. The greatest harbor in the world stretched before us. The bridge, the Opera House, the city lights glittering on the water. My date didn’t stand a chance.

It’s all about chemistry. Sydney undoubtedly has it: the perfect synthesis of people, architecture and environment. From the moment you set foot here, you become part of the place. Only a handful of world cities absorb visitors in this way, allowing the newest arrival to feel instantly at home.

For orientation, start at Circular Quay on the southern side of the harbor, in the midst of the main attractions. This was the landing site for the First Fleet in 178, and it remains the main gateway for
downtown. Every day, all day, 500,000 commuters shuttle in and out by ferry, train and bus.

The quay is more than a transport hub; it is the core around which the different facets of Sydney life revolve. Here, it is not unusual to find windsurfers in their wet suits rubbing shoulders with pinstripe-suited businesspeople. That’s the city in a nutshell. It is both an outdoor playground and a powerful center of commerce.

On one side of Circular Quay lies the Opera House. On the other is the historic, cobbled district known as The Rocks and the mighty 1,650-foot arch of the Harbour Bridge. Looming behind the quay are the skyscrapers of the Central Business District (CBD), which is the commercial heart not just of Sydney but of Australia. The city’s economy is estimated at around $ 175 billion, accounting for more than a quarter of the entire country’s economic activity.

Sydney’s two ports, Port Jackson (the official name for Sydney’s harbor) and Botany Bay, helped to lay the city’s economic foundations and remain vital, handling 23 million tons of cargo each year. In tandem with the constant flow of imports and exports, the city is also an important manufacturing center, though in recent decades other economic sectors — financial and business services, information technology, telecommunications and retail — have begun to overshadow the traditional industries.

The Olympic Games of 2000 stimulated the largest capital investment the city has ever seen; the lasting legacy includes upgraded transportation, state-of-the-art leisure facilities and new housing. More recently, the downtown area has experienced a resurgence in residential development, with increasing numbers of Sydneysiders choosing to live within the city rather than in the sprawling suburbs that cast their neatly ranked shadows over vast swaths of the hinterland.

You’ll find reminders of its sorry origins as a colony for British convicts scattered throughout the city, yet Sydney feels more dynamic, more optimistic and younger than almost any other city on earth.

Sydney is the perfect place to do business (or to go out on a date) — just as long as you avoid the 36th floor bar of the Shangri-La Hotel.



That view, which can be so distracting when there is business or
romance at hand, is the Shangri-La’s biggest asset. It’s worth splashing out extra to stay on the Horizon Club floors (30-35). To make the most of the panorama, book an Opera House View room — plain City View rooms on the other side of the hotel are, of course, a little cheaper. There are 561 rooms in total, all of them spacious and fully geared up for business travelers. This prime-location hotel — the CBD is within easy walking distance — was formerly the ANA Harbour Grand Hotel and is still in the process of rebranding, involving a rolling program of temporary closures of the hotel’s restaurants, bars and other facilities.
176 Cumberland St.
The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
tel 61 2 9250 6000, fax 61 2 9250 6250


Another angle on the harbor, this time from close to water level. This dockside hotel is right in the thick of things. The Harbour Bridge is almost directly above it, and many of its 158 rooms have balconies that look directly across Sydney Cove at the Opera House, so close that you can count the tiles on its famous roof. All of the rooms are well-equipped for business travelers, with two dedicated telephone lines and Internet access.
7 Hickson Road
The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
tel 61 2 9241 1234, fax 61 2 9256 1555


If you want a home-and-office away from home and office, then an apartment hotel is a good option. The Waldorf chain owns several properties around Sydney. This one is best placed for the CBD and is just a short monorail ride from Darling Harbour. One- and two-bedroom fully serviced apartments are available; they’re smart enough to serve as the venue for business meetings, providing you with home advantage in a foreign city. Leisure facilities include a
rooftop pool, a spa and a sauna.
57 Liverpool St.
Sydney, Australia
tel 61 2 9261 5355, fax 61 2 9261 3753


Look familiar? Natives of Chicago will certainly experience déjà vu as they approach The Grace Hotel. When the building was constructed as a department store for the Grace brothers in 1930, it was explicitly modeled after the Chicago Tribune Building. The U.S. link continued in WWII when it served as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters. It was converted into a hotel in 1997, so, while the exterior has a historic bearing, the interior is state-of-the-art: All of the 382 rooms are equipped with fax machines, three telephone lines and modem ports. The hotel is strategically located within the
CBD; had MacArthur been planning Sydney business meetings rather than war in the South Pacific, his choice of HQ would have been the same.
77 York St.
Sydney, NSW, Australia
tel 61 2 9272 6888, fax 61 2 9299 8189


There are still some Aussies for whom the height of cuisine is a meat pie and mushy peas drowned in gravy. Don’t knock it — in the right circumstances, a good old pie goes down a treat. But when a little more sophistication is desired, Sydney has it in abundance.

As you’d expect in a cosmopolitan city, you can eat your way around the world here. There’s a particular emphasis on Asia; the influx of immigrants from across the continent has transformed Sydney’s gastronomy. There are many excellent and relatively cheap authentic Asian restaurants throughout the city. More recently, some of the top establishments have embraced fusion cuisine, borrowing ideas and ingredients from across the globe.We’re still awaiting the haute cuisine version of the meat pie, though.


There’s no getting away from that view. The Quay, arguably Sydney’s
best restaurant, is located on top of the cruise ship terminal and offers a great panorama of — you’ve guessed it — the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. To compete with the surroundings, the food has got to be out of this world, and it is. The Quay recently picked up the Restaurant of the Year Award from the Sydney Morning Herald, again. This is fusion cuisine at its best. Expect to pay more than $50 per person with wine. Reservations are essential; online booking is available.
Overseas Passenger Terminal
The Rocks, Sydney, Australia
tel 61 2 9251 5600, fax 61 2 9251 5609


Japanese Chef Tetsuya Wakuda is a Sydney institution. For more than
20 years he has pioneered the use of locally grown produce in an innovative cuisine based on Japanese, Chinese and Mediterranean influences. Although the restaurant is downtown, you wouldn’t know it once inside: It faces a beautifully tranquil Japanese garden. Advance booking is essential. Expect to pay more than $100-$150 per person for a 12-course dinner with wine.
529 Kent St.
Sydney, Australia
tel 61 2 926 72900, fax 61 2 926 27099


If you can afford to devote a full afternoon to lunch, and if you want to try some of the best seafood in the world, then Doyle’s on the Beach is the place. Located at Watsons Bay at the mouth of the harbor, the best way to get there is by water taxi from Circular Quay (where you’ll find another restaurant under the same management, Doyle’s at the Quay). The Watsons Bay restaurant has been run by the same family since 1885, bringing the full weight of that experience to a wealth of stunning seafood dishes. Expect to pay $50-$60, including wine and the water taxi fare.
11 Marine Parade
Watsons Bay, Sydney, Australia
tel 61 02 9337 2007


For a fair dinkum (genuine) pie with all the trimmings, Harry’s is world-famous. Since 1945, this rustic pie van on the wharf at Woolloomooloo has served the best pies and mushy peas in Australia. In 1974, Colonel Sanders himself — he of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame — appreciatively ate here. The low point in the cafe’s history came when it had its wheels stolen. Inevitably, locals instantly
re-named it “Cafe de Axle.” Expect to pay less than $4 per person. Ask for the wine list only if you dare.
Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf
Sydney, Australia


The city’s signature attraction is undoubtedly Sydney Opera House (www.sydneyoperahouse.com), the greatest building of the 20th century. Be warned that renovation work is under way to complete the architect’s original vision, so part of the façade will be screened off until mid-2006. The Harbour Bridge is the other outstanding attraction. If you’ve got a head for heights, sign up for the bridge climb (www.bridgeclimb.com). Between those two must-sees lies The Rocks (www.rocksvillage.com), an atmospheric district of restored 19th century buildings, home now to a bustling variety of shops, pubs and eateries. The Opera House, the bridge and The Rocks form one city focal point; Darling Harbour
(www.darlingharbour.com.au), on the far side of the Central Business District, is the other. The key sights there include the Aquarium, the amazing Powerhouse Museum and the Maritime Museum.

After dark there’s a wide variety of venues, highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between. For the latest listings, visit www.whats-on-in-sydney.com.au, or contact the Sydney Visitor Information Centre,
tel 61 2 9240 8788.


The palatial Queen Victoria Building (QVB) on George Street is one of the most attractive shopping centers in the world — inside you’ll find more than 200 shops. A more modern mall is Centrepoint, directly beneath the 1,000-foot Centrepoint Tower, the city’s tallest building (admission to the viewing deck costs $7).

For high-quality souvenirs, there are several shops and galleries
specializing in aboriginal art. One of the best is the Aboriginal and Tribal Art Centre at 117 George St. in The Rocks. For more populist Australiana — boomerangs, hats with corks, koala toys and the like — there are plenty of outlets at The Rocks and Darling Harbour.


Qantas Airways (www.qantas.com.au) flies to Sydney from New York and Los Angeles; codeshare connections are available from many other U.S. cities in association with American Airlines.

International flights arrive at Sydney International Airport, aka Kingsford-Smith Airport (SYD), beside Botany Bay. A taxi from the airport to downtown takes about 20 minutes and costs about $14. If
you rent a car, remember that Australians drive on the left.

For more information, visit the city’s official Web site at www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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