There’s something really special about visiting a city you used to live in and acting like a tourist and that’s just what I did recently in Sydney. Back in the days when I was working in magazine land, I would catch the train into town, walk head down from the station to Park Street, do my job and go home. I wouldn’t stop and admire how incredibly stunning the verdant walkways of Hyde Park were. I didn’t go to any of the nearby museums and take in any of the exhibits. I’d have lunch at the same sandwich shop in the interests of expediency, not taking advantage of the plethora of incredible restaurants nestled in the CBD. 

Sydney Centerpoint
Hello again, Sydney my love.

But this weekend, with just about 48 hours in Sydney, I had resolved to treat it like I was discovering it for the first time. 

A hotel that’s a walk in the park

When I first get off the plane, I marvel at how great the transport system is in Sydney. Within ten minutes of touching down, I have my bags and I am stepping on a train from the airport to the city. Within a further 15 minutes I am hopping off the train at St James Station, a short stroll from my accommodation. 

For my hotel this time, I have chosen the Pullman because it’s right in the heart of things, but also buffered from the hustle and bustle of the CBD by the leafy surrounds of Hyde Park. It’s also right near Oxford Street, which still feels buzzing after the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. 

It’s clear the Pullman also got in on the party, with a fabulous rainbow crossing across the driveway, rainbow sign above the door and an All For Love mural out front.

Pullman Hotel Room
My room is huge and super comfy.

I am staying at the Pullman as part of their Ramses & The Gold Of The Pharaohs Exhibit Accommodation Package.  The hotel has partnered with the Australian Museum just next door to create a “stay and play” type deal where, in addition to your luxurious stay, you get tickets to the latest exhibition exploring the life and accomplishments of Ramses II. If I had kids with me, it also would have included a snazzy themed activity pack. (Bold of them to assume I, a grown woman, would also not like an activity kit LOL).

When I check into my room, I go straight to the window to check out the park view and it’s just as glorious as I hoped it would be. Stunning park views surrounded by picturesque high rises—honestly I forget how glorious Hyde Park is but then you just see it all from above, spanning across the city and it’s just perfection.

View from pullman sydney
This is the view from my room. STUNNING job, Pullman.

Since the museum is open ‘til late (which is incredible, more museums should do this so we can all go and be arty after work), I decide to pop up to the rooftop pool for a swim before I go. The pool also has incredible views, and I can see right out from Darling Harbour all the way past the famous Coca-Cola sign in Kings Cross.

Pullman Sydney rooftop pool
The very best way to spend a Tuesday.

The sun is shining and the water is refreshingly cool. I try to feel bad for all the people at work on this glorious day but I just can’t muster it. Then it’s time to get dressed and head off to immerse myself in the world of Ancient Egypt. 

Exploring the ancient ruins at Australia Museum

Even though I lived in Sydney for a few years, I never visited the Australian Museum. I literally worked right across the park from it. I feel guilty and resolve to not take Brisbane so much for granted. 

I walk up and join the line, as my hotel stay has given me a “golden ticket” which means I don’t have to book a particular session time. Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs is described as “a multisensory museum experience” and our journey starts as we are guided into a dark room fronted by a large curved cinema screen.

Ramses exhibit 1
Tickets were included as part of my stay at the Pullman,

After we are treated to a brief history of Ramses II’s 67-year rule, we are granted entry to the dual level exhibit. There are an impressive 182 priceless artefacts spread across two levels, including some incredibly impressive royal coffins and one-of-a-kind relics, some of which have never left Egypt before.

I most enjoyed both the majesty of the coffins and the intricate jewellery the most (I am not sure what that says about me as a person). Either way, a fascinating way to spend an afternoon. 

coffin ramses ancient egypt
Ramses and the Gold and the Pharaohs was impeccably curated.

Quick bites in a busy schedule

The next morning I indulge (sorry, I OVER indulge) at a scrumptious buffet breakfast at Pullman’s Windows on the Park restaurant. Creamy scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, flaky buttery croissants and I GUESS some fruit so I don’t feel bad. 

Then, because clearly I enjoy cramming stuff into my stay I spend the day at House of Sephora: a press day where media people like me get to see what’s new and hot in the beauty sphere of the beauty giant’s shiny aisles. 

Rare beauty house of sephora
A little bit of Rare Beauty at House of Sephora.

This event is catered by Oti’, a Sydney favourite located in the ivy precinct featuring a rotating selection of sandwiches and pizza by the slice. In a little Sephora-brande pizza box, this slice of pizza is among the most delicious I have ever eaten. A simple but perfect margarita, the dough is about the thickness of focaccia but is so light and fluffy.

Oti pizza
I must go back to Oti’ and try more of their amazing pizza.

Whole cherry tomatoes have been roasted on top of the slice, alongside fragrant herbs and sharp, stretchy cheese. It’s heaven in one bite. I make a note to go back here and order many other slices when I have time. Alas that is not today. 

All the world’s a stage (but especially Sydney)

Because I clearly do not like rest or sleep, I book a ticket to a show that night because it’s Sydney. I firmly believe you can’t go to Sydney or Melbourne without booking a ticket to a show because there’s just SO MUCH ON. I can’t wait until Brisbane has a second large theatre so we can have more than one big ticket show on at a time. 

And because I am a millennial, I grab my bestie and we go to see & Juliet. The new musical poses the question: what if Juliet of Shakespeare’s famous play DIDN’T kill herself over a man she knew for four days? Naturally, it explores this through the medium of Nineties and Noughties bangers by the Backstreet Boys, NSync, Britney and more because OF COURSE IT DOES. Recontextualising pop hits through new stories about familiar characters is such a great way to capitalise on nostalgia and I have a massive smile on my face through the show. It’s silly fun with a great message and trashy/excellent tunes and it better come to Brisbane because I need to force some of my friends to come see it with me. 

Shakespeare, now with added noughties pop songs.

I feel like this very short minibreak experience has changed something in me. I come home to Brisbane with a greater resolve to explore more. To visit more galleries. To walk around without a destination in mind and just look at my surroundings like I am seeing them for the first time. There’s a lightness to finding new in the familiar and I think I want more of that from now on. 

Keen to book a stay? Check out Pullman Sydney Hyde Park, 36 College St, Darlinghurst NSW, p. (02) 9361 8400.

Fancy a trip to Ancient Egypt? Visit the Australian Museum for Ramses & the Gold of the Pharoahs, 1 William St, Darlinghurst NSW, p. (02) 9320 6000.

Want to brush up on revisionist Shakespeare by way of nineties and noughties pop music? Get tickets to & Juliet, Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star, 55 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont NSW, p. 1300 795 267.

Elizabeth Best

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