Archives for category: See

see a trend here? either i have really bad luck traveling or i have superhuman meteorological powers. i like to think it’s the latter.

so i’ll keep this short and sweet. apparently, london had one of the hottest, sunniest weekends ever. in sydney, it was rainy and cold. to that i say feh! you can still have a great time! try this:

1. shop like mad. i ❤ the boutiques of william st. especially the corner shop, which stocks label lovers’ marc jacobs, alexander wang and opening ceremony but also quirky accessories from emerging designers.

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2. eat sushi. try toko after a marathon shop up oxford street in paddington. simple, fresh and uncomplicated. just like it should be.

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3. take a stroll in sydney’s hyde park. the trees are so lush they’re like umbrellas (even in winter).

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4. take the ferry to manly. great views even if it’s pouring.

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5. climb the sydney harbour bridge. or just watch the insanity from afar. why you’d want to climb 400 feet in the air in pouring rain is a bit beyond me.

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6. go sailing. loads of people do it rain or shine.

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7. or just kick back and watch the view.

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8. have a late lunch at manly ocean beach house overlooking the surf.

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9. read the paper overlooking the surf.

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10. take your time finishing lunch overlooking the surf.

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11. enjoy the journey. even if it is just a ferry. 

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host: table for two? it’ll be about 5 minutes. let me just take your name and mobile…
me: it’s a UK number, is that ok?
host: oh no that won’t work…just need a way to find you then. (looks me up and down)…ok (writes) ‘reallly…white…legs’

and so went my first dining experience in sydney. seemingly unintentional insults aside, it was a most excellent dining experience…not to mention, a most excellent first few days in this chilled out, stylish, diverse and strangely familiar ‘city of villages’. here’s how day 1 and 2 went:

sunday 25 may

arrived at 6am after a superb 22 hour flight on qantas (highly recommend requesting exit row upon check-in, even though they’re going to start charging 160 AUD…so worth it)

breakfast (lunch? dinner?) of poached eggs, sausage and toast at a restaurant in the centre of brunch mecca on macleay st in potts point

quick hop on the subway two stops to bondi junction to spend the afternoon watching the surf at bondi beach

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back to elizabeth bay around 7 for a dinner of fresh salmon at gazebo wine garden (see ‘really white legs’ incident)

monday 26 may

give in to the jet lag around 6am and go for 10 laps in the indoor pool of the building where we’re staying (bliss!)

coffee and a poached egg al fresco at the charming and quintessential sidewalk cafe fratelli paradiso off macleay street

stroll up paddington’s enticing oxford street to check out the array of vintage, local designer and high end label boutiques…nice. i’ll be going back to belinda, shag and the paddington markets on saturdays

taxi (about $20 AUD – lazy but worth it for the nice view on the way) to sydney harbour to tick the tourist box that is the sydney opera house

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next, a lavish seafood lunch (and martini) at wildfire overlooking the harbour – we shared the wildfire selection with king prawns, sydney rock oysters, pacific oysters, blue swimmer crab, balmain bug, mussels, tartare of ocean trout (about 30 quid) and then a ‘decontructed’ banana split. wow.

then back to potts point to meet lovely friend liz for a glass of prosecco at gazebo wine garden (i’m a sucker for punishment)

it’s safe to say i’m going to like it here…

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i’m no art critic. my evaluation of a work is less intellectual assessment, more visceral reaction. when i go to an exhibit, i usually sweep the whole space to get a sense of the collection, then go back to the individual pieces that i was drawn to for a closer look. after that, i’ll read the narrative for context. counter intuitive, but it works for me.

so here’s my review of german artist thomas bayrle’s exhibition ‘i’ve a feeling we’re not in kansas any more’ at the MACBA: whoa.

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a cross of politically-charged conceptual art and pop art, your perceptions of reality are tested by photo and 16mm film collages, digital animations, cardboard sculptures, paint ‘machines’ containing millions of little figures and, best of all, a vast wallpapered room of colourful patterns that morph into anatomically correct cartoon figures upon closer inspection (and the entire ramp in the MACBA foyer is wallpapered with potato counters in maoist china).

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the sheer volume of detailed works made me wonder how he ever slept. every single piece drew me in. it was mesmerising. and left me feeling like a bit of an underachiever…

check out a rather more sophisticated review of the exhibition here and read the narrative from the exhibition (if only to see the editor’s notes that the museum apparently missed in tracked changes oops) here.

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you booked two months in advance. the city break twinkles on your calendar…a shiny, flickering beacon getting you through the arse end of wet, cold, grey winter. then what happens? you get to barcelona and it rains. all weekend. and it’s an average of 5°C colder than london.

but fear not, intrepid traveler! barcelona is not all beaches, park strolls and sangria in the sun. i would take a million rainy days in the catalan capital of culture. this little agenda only scratches the surface of what you can do.

8-10:30am: sleep in

you’re in barcelona, just relax. it’s not going anywhere. in fact, no one’s up and nothing’s open anyway.

11am: pre-culture caffeination

head to the plaça dels angels in raval, home of the MACBA (museu d’art contemporani de barcelona) and the CCCB (centre de cultura contemporània de barcelona), for coffee and a bite to eat to tide you over until lunch. the catalans don’t really do brunch or big breakfasts with the exception of tortilla and the odd pastry. any of the cafes opposite the MACBA are good for a café con leche. try l’original, which is a lovely experience in itself with its creative interior and friendly service.

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noon: get your contemporary art fix

walk across the plaza to the MACBA. it’s only about 7 euros for access to all the exhibitions. i just saw the MACBA’s latest exhibitions — joan rabascall, thomas bayrle and cildo meireles — which i’ll review in my next post. the main floor holds the ‘collecció’ but the next three floors are worth it if only to experience the light and air of this stunning white building.

MACBA
placa dels angels, 1
www.macba.cat
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3pm: time for tapas

next stop: cerveceria catalana. the absolute most authentic, high quality, dream-about-for-days tapas in barcelona. i would move there just to eat at this restaurant once a day. the crowd’s a combination of sophisticated catalan couples and families, local ex-pats and tourists wise enough to take the rambla (slightly) less traveled.

cerveceria catalana
carrer de mallorca 236
tel   +34 93 216 0368          
hours: 7:30am-1:30am every day

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if you’re not sure what to order, here’s my usual: una tortilla, pan tomaca, pimientos de padron, brochetas de gambas (shrimp skewer on a piece of bread) and a solomio (small piece of succulent steak on a piece of bread). and of course, una cervesa. if you have any room left, go for the crema catalana and a cafe con leche after. you won’t be sorry.

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5pm: art fix, part 2

take a taxi up to montjuïc to the fundació joan miro. the ride’s no more than 6 or 7 euros and is a stunning journey winding through magical gardens and lush green parks (save a walk through the area for a sunny day). the museum is relatively small so you can see both the permanent and new exhibits in about an hour (approx 8 euros)…but if you like miro, you’ll want to spend several hours pouring over every detail of his masterpieces.

fundacio joan miro
parc de montjuïc s/n
tel   +34 93 44 39 470       
http://fundaciomiro-bcn.org

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6.30pm: birds-eye view of barca

if you’re brave enough, take a left outside the museum and walk 5 minutes to the teleferic de montjuic (cable car) for a 15-minute ride that gives you a sweeping perspective of the the city and the harbour. if the view doesn’t take your breath away, the height will. gave me palpitations, but in a good way. very worth it. the teleferic closes at 7pm, so get there at least 5 minutes before.

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8pm: dinner time

right across from the teleferic station is one of my favourite restaurants in barcelona — montjuic el xalet. beside the view, the food, wine and service is superb. it doesn’t open until 8pm, so if you need to kill some time, pop over the equally spectacular hotel miramar for an aperitif.

montjuic el xalet
avinguda miramar 31
tel 93 324 92 70
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10pm: nightcap

end the day with a nightcap at the super chill hotel omm just off passeig de gracia in eixample. the lobby has a modern fireplace, bed-like sofas, well-crafted cocktails, attentive staff…what more could you ask for to zone out after all that culture.

hotel omm
roselló, 265
http://www.hotelomm.es/

see art for free

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go window shopping

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look down

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New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
212.219.1222

or head straight to the roof and see the poetry of the city

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