Sydney, Surry Hills and the Shangri-La
Just after six in the morning, the sun began to peek through the drapes of my Premier Grand Harbour View Room at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney. I went over and opened the curtains; I haven’t yet tired of the view, and I don’t think you ever seriously could. There, tinged in shades of amber and yellow, were the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and Carnival Cruise Line’s recently-arrived Carnival Spirit.
It’s a pity I can’t board Silversea’s Silver Discovererhere in Sydney; the hotel is literally a five minute walk from the cruise terminal. But, other Silversea vessels do call here during the Australian summer (North America’s winter), and I am already actively plotting to come back here.
But while we’ll embark Silver Discoverer in Broome on Monday, today is a great opportunity to explore Sydney and revel in our Shangri-La homebase.
The revelations started with breakfast in Café Mix on the hotel’s first floor. Being an international brand, breakfast at the Shangri-La was a suitably international affair. French cheese, Australian sausages, Japanese Miso soup…they were all on offer this morning. In fact, it’s one of the better breakfast buffet spreads I’ve seen at a hotel.
Guests with Horizon Club Membership and those staying in select suite categories can also avail themselves of light breakfast and fresh tea, coffee, juices and newspapers in the Horizon Club Lounge on the 30th floor. Situated next to a five-story bank of windows, this is the ultimate private enclave.
Back in Café Mix, I asked for a long black (black coffee) this morning and felt rather proud of myself for remembering the local jargon. The girl even came around again when she noticed I’d finished my first coffee and asked if I’d like a second long black. Seconds later, it materialized. I normally eat breakfast quickly and go, but today I lingered for well over an hour, enjoying coffee and orange juice and catching up on the local news.
One of the best ways you can get to know a place is by giving the local newspaper a read. I’ve discovered I love the Australian style of journalism; it’s fact-based but sprinkled with clever little asides and bits that warn readers to, perhaps, not take the fellow quoted too seriously as he’s got vested interests a mile long.
Making waves today in Australia is the story of two business magnates – James Packer and David Gyngell – who came to blows on Bondi Beach last weekend. Rupert Murdoch’s New Corp. reportedly paid $200,000 for photographs of the beachside smackdown, an action which already seems to be stirring up more controversy with a renewed focus on the priorities of the media.
Says AFR Weekend: “they scrapped with a cartoonish lack of practice before Packer was prised away by his minders, telling him to ‘walk away’.” Both men were slapped with $500 fines from the New South Wales police.
There was also a remarkable article on why writers procrastinate, though I fear I’ve adopted Hemingway’s unique brand of procrastination, which typically involves a drink with an alcohol percentage listed on the bottle.
But along with reading the newspaper, I believe that setting out on foot is one of the greatest ways to experience a new place. It directly involves you with the place you’re in, making you an active participant in its ebb and flow. As much fun as hop-on, hop-off tours are, they’re passive: a stroll through a new place involves you intimately with it. You’re no longer a tourist; you’re an explorer.
Our Live Voyage Report from Silversea’s adventurous Silver Discoverer continues tomorrow as we fly to Perth, Australia for an overnight stay before our journey to the ship in Broome on Monday! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.