day two: city cultured comfort

i’m sure sydney has a fantastic nightlife full of seedy clubs in king’s cross and swanky skyscraper cocktail bars overlooking the harbor, but my week in the city was all about the morninglife. the poached eggs. the cappuccinos. the ricotta hot cakes.

nowadays, it is so easy to find things to do in a new place. you pop onto google and browse through the hundreds of online reviews and event listings. aimlessly wandering becomes purpose driven direct pathways to five star rated restaurants and galleries. but you never know until you arrive exactly what you’re getting.

i had stumbled upon a small well-reviewed cafe attached to a garden shop that looked promising and set the iphone google maps app to guide our feet. each street we walked along perfectly embodied the sunshine smiling morning. birds chirping. nowhere to be. the way walks to breakfast should be.

as our wonderful walk through surry hills transformed to a personality-less strip of shops, i saw that my “hidden gem” of a cafe might be hidden for a reason after all. tucked right off a side street, we took a seat outside looking out onto a noisy auto repair shop. the inside seats did look cozy and surrounded with greenery, but they were filled.

with our day loosely planned out, we filled our bellies with underwhelming food and took in the underwhelming atmosphere. we had been trying to figure out when to meet up with ryan’s uncle and cousin that live in sydney, and after a quick phone call, it was determined that the day’s agenda needed a bit of rearranging.

within the hour, we were at central station boarding a train out to merrickville to meet his uncle at cornersmith, an unassuming, trendy corner cafe owned by ryan’s cousin with delicious gourmet dishes, portland-worthy coffee, and jars of pickled vegetables and homemade jams lining the shelves. just browse their instagram and fall in love…


i felt home. you don’t really find these type of spaces in the desert outback or even in small coastal towns. you find them in cities. they prosper in cities. an immense audience of hipsters looking to sit and sample gluten free toast smothered in homemade yogurt, fruit, honey, and pine nuts.


and yes. i am totally one of those hipsters. although my motives might be different than the usual coffee catch-up suspects, i feel home with the aroma of filtered coffee brewing and the buzz of conversation filling up the rustic tile walls.

comfort comes from familiarity.

as cousin james brought out some snacks for us to indulge in, we drifted into the unconscious conversation of family. but ryan does not see this side of his family very often. he had actually not seen this cousin since he was about 10. there was a lot to fill each other in on over the last 18 years, not to mention explaining the new american gal touring around sydney with him.

comfort comes from family.

an impromptu meal with relatives is always a pleasure in my eyes. digging roots deeper into the story of ryan. hearing his uncle reminisce about his father. losing myself in the laughter of yesterday’s memories.

and then we were back on the train. fully taking advantage of the public transportation systems that are synonymous with city living. (clearly ryan is not an experienced user yet.)


a quick walk out of the way to our apartment was necessary to drop off some cornersmith loot we had been given from james. luckily, i had a checked bag to get all these delectable goods back to port hedland with us. although, i did make ryan agree to buying me new clothes if i end up with shattered glass and pickled choko all over my bag.

after all this, it was only about 2pm. the day was young. we had fancy dinner reservations at 6:15pm and tickets to the theatre at 8pm. but what should we do in between?

you can’t spend a week in sydney without flying across the harbor via ferry. so after introducing ryan to the magnificence of uber (yes it’s in sydney too), we abused his free first ride and got to circular quay just in time to catch the next ferry to manly beach.


and just like that, we were out of the city and back on a standard aussie beachfront lined with surf shops and fish & chip stands. we knew how to do this. ryan grew up doing this. we bought some calamari & chips and popped a squat on the grass to watch the surfers catch their perfect waves. we also acquired a bodyguard seagull who ensured that no other gulls bothered us as we munched on our fried squid.

with time dwindling away, we strolled the footpath and found our way to a second story lookout for an afternoon brew. sitting around an old wine barrel looking out over the main plaza and off into the ocean. it was cold, but the sun was waiting just around the corner to warm my skin as we set back off for our ferry ride return.

standing at the bow, the wind tangled my hair as the sun started setting illuminating sydney’s skyline. now it’s no chicago, but there is something beautiful about the harbor bridge and opera house silhouetted in the evening hours against the shimmering sea. arm in arm, we stared into the fresh wake and watched the water disappear.


the evening was here. we shifted personalities as best we could as we took a seat at our reserved table for two at baroque in the rocks district. although we are both probably more comfortable eating fish and chips on the grass, sometimes it’s nice to have the waiter drape the cloth napkin over your lap and serve you a three course chef’s choice pre-theatre menu.

i didn’t do a ton of research prior to arriving in sydney, but i did sniff out the dance scene and purchase tickets to sydney dance company’s world premiere performance of louder than words.

wow. the two contemporary pieces performed were pretty packed with powerful partner work and integrated immersion of lighting and movement. there was one dancer in the company who absolutely held me captivated through her ferocity.


(above photo from the daily review powered by crikey)

of course, sitting through the pieces made me miss performing, but i was so happy to have caught such a great work while in sydney. and expose ryan to a side of my life that he has not gotten to experience very often in the art and culture void known as port hedland.

again i was home. seamlessly slipping into the city culture i’m used to…

2 thoughts on “day two: city cultured comfort

  1. whew, i am exhausted… you sure keep up the pace – and seem to be able to eat a lot! that dance group looks great! wonderful start to your trip. i am packing for salalah, oman – and the sunshine!

  2. Sara!

    Great to hear more on your adventures!!!!! Our Stephen is in Fremantle Australia for the semester- finishes mid Nov and then will travel til Christmas. Will you be near him at all? He has not been to the East coast yet- will at the end of Nov- his cell is 630 397 9088 and I copied his email on this email to you. I hope all is well! Have fun-

    xo Jane/ Mrs Mason


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s