The new Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW was our excuse to fly up to Sydney for a few days this week, but of course we had to do some shopping, eating and sightseeing as well to justify the trip.
The “we” in this instance is my good friend Kitta. We organise to meet at T4 (we were travelling Jetstar) on Monday morning, which we duly do. Chat, chat, chat until we hear the Gate announcement, at which point we wander off to the loo and then head towards the gate. I happened to glance up, only to see to my shock and horror that we had 7 minutes until Boarding closed! Our speed picked up as we careened down what seemed like an endless empty concourse. I swear it must have been over a kilometre until we reached the gate, watching the minutes tick down on the boarding announcement. All I could think of was, how to explain to Pete I missed the flight despite having been at the airport for 1 hour and 40 minutes before departure (I caught the airport bus you see)! However, we arrived with 2 minutes to spare, out of breath and slightly embarrassed.
Our arrival at Sydney airport was much more civilised as our B&B, Tara Guesthouse (http://www.taraguesthouse.com.au), offers a free pick up service, and sure enough, there was the immaculately attired Julian to collect us and drive us the short distance to their charming guesthouse in Enmore.
Our hosts, Julian and Brom – and the gorgeous Oscar, a very cheeky and indulged border collie – welcome guests into their eclectically decorated home, and you are part of their daily life (so, this is not accommodation for shy and reclusive types). Julian is an avid art collector, and delights in showing off his pieces – and, is determined to feed you an amazing breakfast that will leave you bursting at the seams. He considers he has failed at his task if you need to eat lunch.
The rooms are huge. Mine is at the front, looking into the jacaranda tree, with an extremely comfortable 4 poster bed that invites reclining – and on this occasion, snuggling, as it was freezing cold in Sydney for our arrival.
But, I resisted, and we hit Enmore Street for an explore. And, what a funky street it is, with an array of different architectural styles, places to eat and interesting shops. The Marie-Louise salon is in fact a restaurant, called stanbuli, but the facade is protected – fabulous. The next picture shows a hair salon – retro is definitely in in Enmore. And of course the deco Enmore Theatre (where the Rolling Stones once performed).
However, a word of advice – do not visit on a Monday (or before 11 on any other day) as just about everything is closed. Quite a surprise for us Melburnites. So, all my Googling about where to eat and where to have coffee was all in vain – every single one of them was closed. You can imagine my sad face.
We eventually found the Shenkin Kitchen, which turned out to be a great little Israeli cafe. Yummy food, and warm greetings on a chilly day.
Darkness is beginning to descend and the wind chill is increasing, so we grab a bottle of red and retire to the warmth of the Guesthouse for refreshment before heading out for a bowl of pasta in one of the only places open on Monday (with me still looking mournfully at the tightly shut Stanbuli, Hartsyard, Osteria Di Russo and Russo, and The Stinking Bishop, all of which sound fabulous – we will have to come again).
Next morning the sun is shining, hurrah, although still quite chilly. We have a ticket for the 11.30 entrance into the exhibition, and there is a long queue waiting to enter when we get there (Frida is a very popular lass). I have to admit however to being somewhat disappointed, as we almost spent as long queuing as we did looking at the exhibition – it is smaller than either of us expected. Only 2 rooms, with 33 artworks done by both Frida and Diego, many of them drawings, plus photographs of the pair and some letters (which are not overly interesting). But, her self portraits are the highlights for me:
We spent some time checking out the rest of the exhibition spaces of the Gallery (which seems a lot smaller than NGVI or NGVA) before wandering out into the sunshine for a walk through the Botanic Gardens and heading around, past the Opera House, to Circular Quay. We decide to hop on a ferry, so choose the soon to depart ferry to Watsons Bay – staying on for the almost hour long round trip. It is a beautiful harbour.
Upon our return to Circular Quay we continue our cultural enlightenment with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art – mainly to use the loo, but we become captivated by a exhibition entitled “Telling Tales – Excursions in Narrative Form”, especially a piece that consists of maps projected onto a screen and a hand drawing the journey taken by the refugee, accompanied by their sub titled story. So very poignant. The museum closes before we are finished.
It is now 5pm, cold and darkening, so off we go to one of the bars in The Establishment hotel for a glass of bubbles to restore our tired spirits, before meeting Kitta’s nephew for dinner at nearby Mr Wong.
Mr Wong is hopping, even at 6pm on a Tuesday night. It takes time to read through the impressive wine list before I even start on the food menu. Our selections finally made, and praised by the waiter!, we settle back to take in the venue. Very cool.
Wednesday morning we again work our way through the formidable array of breakfast goodies before mooching down Enmore Road for an excellent coffee, in a beautiful cup, at Black Market Roasters, sitting soaking up the sun.