One of the perks of being self-employed is having the flexibility and freedom to take time away from work when other people are the busiest. For the past two and a half years, I've worked as an independent business consultant helping restaurant chains strategically grow (my day job: www.goodworkforce.com.)
With two holiday cycles behind me, I've learned that when clients get busy with holiday parties, Christmas planning and end-of-year activities, I can take some time away to relax and get ready for the busy new year ahead.
A few weeks ago, I took that opportunity and turned it into a two-week vacation in Australia - enjoying the start of summer in the southern hemisphere; visiting some friends in Sydney; snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef; and making a stopover in Auckland, New Zealand; before returning to Dallas. Thanks to my friend Geoff for connecting me to Cranky Flyer's concierge service who turned my credit card points into a round trip flight for a small service charge.
Lucky for me, I stayed with my friend Carmine in his beautiful home in Kirribilli neighborhood overlooking the Sydney Opera House (photo below from his balcony!) and caught up with Alissa, a Leadership Dallas classmate. By staying and visiting with locals, I stumbled across some really special places that I thought you might enjoy knowing about, too.
Celsius Coffee Co. at Kirribilli Ferry Wharf
Thanks to Carmine's guidance and neighborhood location, I had an opportunity to see Sydney's many tourist sites and also experience Sydney like a local (the best of both worlds.) You no doubt have a great list of key Sydney experiences which should include::
Harder to find are those spots that locals like to keep a secret. Here are three locals spots I stumbled across thanks to the hospitality of Sydney locals that you might check out when you make it to Sydney.
The first place I recommend is the Celsius Coffee Co. located on the Kirribilli Ferry Wharf (Commuter Wharf, Holbrook Ave, Kirribilli NSW 2061, Australia.) When you visit Sydney, you'll find out that it's a wonderful place to use ferries for transit from place-to-place.
I took the ferry from Kirribilli Wharf over to Circular Quay many times on my visit and stumbled across the gem with just a handful of seats and limited hours. I ordered the Celsius waffle with berries, maple syrup, toasted nuts, and peanut butter cream -- it was, without a doubt, the most beautiful waffle I've ever eaten in my life!
More than likely, you'll be coming from downtown and the Circular Quay Wharf. Find a ferry that goes from Circular Quay during the morning hours -- this places is only open 7:30 am to 2:30 pm on weekdays and 8:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekends. It's the perfect mix of a few minute ferry ride, having brunch in a secluded gem that is a coffee shop and small restaurant, and enjoying views of the water and nearby shoreline.
The lobby of Celsius Coffee Co. on Kirribilli Wharf, which has limited hours and does not take reservations. Be sure to take the ferry over. Super sorry to the lady in the chair on the left who definitely didn't want to be photographed, but happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Photography: Jamie Griffin
Dulcie's Bar Bohemia in Kings Cross
Because of my minor obsession with online "thirst trap" and all around nice guy, Brandy Martignago, on Instagram, I discovered that I would be in Sydney the week his bar, Dulcie's Bar Bohemia in Kings Cross, opened (44B Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, NSW 2010 Sydney, Australia.)
After visiting the newly opened Employees Only, Carmine and I visited Brandy and Dulcie's to find a very cool 1930's bohemian bar serving only Australian distilled spirits. Beyond the inviting space and craft cocktails, the stage featured a singer with an amazing voice... I think we called her the "Lady Gaga of Kings Cross." We literally could have stayed all night -- but Dulcie's closes around midnight so get there immediately after dinner.
If you make it to Sydney, be sure to go to Kings Cross and check out Dulcie's for a craft cocktail. Brandy mentioned something about a naked magician, psychics and other very interesting entertainment to compliment a talented bar team and beautiful space managed by a warm & friendly host.
Inside Dulcie's Bar Bohemia. [Photograph by Josh Raymond, www.joshraymond.com, @joshraymond]
The Boathouse Shelly Beach
A fun part of traveling is catching up with friends when you find yourself in their city. I've had some of the best times visiting friends in their "hometown" from around the world and even visiting friends of friends and family of friends. People within your circle make wonderful hosts and always know how to direct you to a local's spot or two that will really take your vacation to the next level.
Such was the case when I visited Sydney. Aside from staying with my friend Carmine, I had a wonderful dinner with my dear friend Alissa Booker, a Sydney-based Leadership Dallas classmate who returned home a few years ago. We had dinner at The Bathers' Pavilion restaurant & cafe (another wonderful find.)
Over dinner, I was talking to Alissa about my next day's adventure to Manly Beach and she insisted I travel the path away from Manly Beach and walk over to Shelly Beach (where I would find a more local beach and also The Boathouse (1 Marine Parade, Manly, NSW, Australia, 2093.)
Alissa also firmly recommend I take the local transit system ferry boat (these are green and tan) to Manly Beach and not the FastFerry (yellow and blue) from Circular Quay. It's really a beautiful boat ride through the Sydney Harbor.
After a few minutes walk from Manly beach, I stumbled across the restaurant pictured below and had a wonderful brunch of poached eggs, bacon, tomato, and sourdough bread. The Boathouse had many other wonderful fresh juices, cocktails, and delicious items on the menu. It's worth a visit.
The approach to The Boathouse at Shelly Beach.
Poached Eggs with Bacon, Roast Tomato + Sourdough at The Boathouse Shelly Beach.
If you have the time and enjoy the adventure of finding unique places, check out Jangling Jacks, Thirsty Bird, and Stitch Bar!