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Soaring to New Heights and Tastes in Sydney

April 1, 2011 By: Jena Tesse Fox

In his recent one-man show on Broadway, actor Colin Quinn quipped that certain planets are closer to New York than Australia is. After traveling for the better part of 30 hours to get from New York to Sydney, I’m inclined to believe him … but it’s sure worth the trip.

Upon arriving in Sydney not nearly as jetlagged as I’d expected to be, thanks to sleeping quite nicely in Qantas’ business class, I headed in to the city’s InterContinental Hotel Sydney to clean up and get some lunch before heading out into town. My room, #2404, overlooks the city and the bay and the gorgeous Botanical Gardens right below and, if I press my cheek to the window and look to the left, I can see the famous Sydney Opera House. Incidentally, the hotel’s Café Opera has a really lovely buffet lunch spread but, priced at $67 per person, it’s a wee bit steep. Very tasty, though — I encourage your clients to try the lamb.

Photo courtesy John O'Neill/Wikipedia

After lunch, my little group and I departed for Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, which is exactly what it sounds like. Established in 1998, the company escorts people up to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, one of the city’s iconic landmarks. All climbers are tethered to the bridge (though the tether seemed rather thin for my tastes) and are guided by staff with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the bridge, the city and their combined histories. Scott, our group’s guide, was a fantastic guide, by the way: Funny, cheerful and endlessly patient with me. We opted for the Express Climb, which starts on the lower level of the bridge’s arch—and giving a view of its interior design, which nicely illustrates the stories about how the bridge was built—and then moves to the upper level for unsurpassable views of the bay and the city. And yes, climbers do go all the way up to the very top of the bridge, standing right in the center of the arch, so it your clients who are afraid of heights might take some coaxing to give it a go.

Fortunately for me, I’m not afraid of heights. I’m just absolutely terrified of them. We’re talking hyperventilating, knees shaking, white-knuckle scared out of my mind. But as I said, Scott was a very patient and gentle guide, and with his and the rest of the group’s encouragement, I made it to the top. With every step, I reminded myself that I was tethered to the bridge (although, the higher I got, the thinner that tether seemed), that there were sturdy handrails to hold and that the company has taken millions of people safely up the bridge (including Oprah Winfrey and her entourage when they visited Australia last year). If they could do it, so could I, and even if your clients are anxious of heights, encourage them to try it. Once they’re back on terra firma, they’ll get an even bigger rush just from the sense of accomplishment.

Needing to refortify ourselves after our adventure, our group went to Marque Restaurant, one of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, which is owned and operated by Mark and Valerie Best. Mark is a multi-award-winning chef and his wife, Valerie, handles the front of the house. The menu focuses on unusual combinations of flavors and surprising ingredients. Encourage your clients to throw caution to the wind and try the Degustation Menu, which offers small plates of such unique dishes as duck egg with black cabbage brussels sprouts and vinegar; almond jelly with blue swimmer crab; almond gazpacho, sweet corn and avruga; and pickled calamari with ink, wakame and caper water. If your clients have any dietary restrictions, let the restaurant know when you make reservations, and they will create a degustation menu to fit their needs.

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About the Author

Jena Tesse Fox
Jena Tesse Fox covers Europe, Africa, Australia/South Pacific and business travel for the Questex Travel Group's publications. The daughter of history teachers, she can spend...

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