NSW Trip: Day 7: Sydney

31 10 2009

The reason for our trip to NSW and Sydney was the wedding of my husband’s niece, to be held on a function boat on Sydney Harbour, and leaving from the Sydney Opera House steps.

We started off with a leisurely fully cooked breakfast at the Sir Stamford (part of the room deal). The only complaint was that the tables were too high for the chairs — all part of that ostentatious French decor, but not very practical!

After breakfast we got a call from one of the brothers suggesting meeting up at a pub in The Rocks for lunch. It wasn’t far to walk, so we left the car in the parking garage and hoofed it over there. There were lots of people about on Circular Quay and in The Rocks, and a big cruise ship, the ‘Amsterdam’, was in port. It was a gorgeous day.

We joined the brothers and the groom-to-be but decided not to have lunch — we’d been overeating all week, and had had a late (big) breakfast, and we knew there’d be food at the wedding later this afternoon/evening.

The wedding guests were to meet at the Man’o’War steps at the Sydney Opera House at 5 pm, for a 5:30 departure on ‘The Pontoon’, a glass-enclosed function boat. We walked down from the hotel (5 minutes away), and waited and waited and waited. Eventually we got on board and left the wharf around 6 pm. My feet were hurting from wearing heels and walking on paving, and standing up for so long! There was even more standing while canapes were served outside on the top deck, and as we motored to the steps near the Park Hyatt at Circular Quay to pick up the bride and her father. Then it was back to Farm Cove where the wedding ceremony took place on the top deck of the boat, with the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the city in the background. It was very windy, so the symbolic candles couldn’t be lit.

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Iconic backdrop for a Sydney Harbour wedding

There was a lot more standing around until we were asked to move downstairs to the main level for the dinner. By this time it was close to 8 pm and my feet were killing me, even though the heels I had on were reasonably low.

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Downstairs on 'The Pontoon'

Dinner was two courses, plus cheese and fruit platters, and coffee. There were two dishes per course and they were served alternately — person A got dish A, person B got dish B, person C got dish A, person D got dish B, etc. There’s a name for this style of catering, but I’ve forgotten what it is. You could swap with your neighbour if you didn’t want what was put in front of you. The entree courses were a goat cheese and onion tart or a ‘wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil infusion and grated parmesan’. I had the risotto — it was yummy! For the main course, the dishes were ‘aged porterhouse steak’ or a chicken dish. I had the steak. And it was aged all right — it was tough as old boots! Our dinner knives had no serration on them at all (what’s up with that??), though I’m not sure it would have made any difference. Pushing hard, it took me 33 slices to cut through each piece of the steak, and then 140 chews to break it up enough to swallow (I counted it ‘cos it was taking SOOOOOO long). That steak was very tough and I left half of the small portion I’d been served. Others at the table left some of theirs too, so it wasn’t just mine that was tough.

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Miniscule portion of incredibly tough steak

The wines were from Hardy’s but I didn’t see which label. I had two glasses of the red to try to wash down the tough steak. And that was all the alcohol I had the whole wedding.

A few speeches were given between the courses, and once the dancing started, my husband and I retreated upstairs to take in the lights of Sydney at night. A few others did the same — mostly the smokers (I was surprised by how many were smokers). It was still pretty windy, but the air on our faces was better than the stuffy air downstairs. And going under the Harbour Bridge was neat!

We got back to the Opera House steps around 11:30 pm. Just before we landed, a Venetian-style water taxi came to pick up the bride and groom and ferry them off to wherever.

We said our goodbyes, and walked back to the hotel — well, I hobbled as my feet weren’t coping well!

It was a lovely ceremony and a delightful and beautiful setting, spoiled by three things — sore feet (my fault for choosing the shoes I did and not realising we’d be standing for some hours); very tough steak; and the incredibly steep, narrow and downright dangerous stairs that led down to the toilets. Those stairs were a real problem, even for those of us who were sober. In fact, I overheard a couple of ladies say, very early in the evening after they’d come down the stairs for the first time, that they wouldn’t be drinking as they wouldn’t want to negotiate those stairs under the influence of alcohol and in their (very) high heels. I have no idea how the boat catered for anyone who was a little infirm or wobbly on their feet — these seemed to be the only toilets.


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