Happy Hour Drinks By The City’s Two Main Landmarks
Well excuse me, for it took me all of three hours to find the most happening bar in Sydney.
And what a find!
It’s the Opera Bar at the base of the famous Opera House and it nearly blew me away, right into Sydney Harbor.
The Opera Bar is not just some waterfront restaurant with a few tables outside, but rather a bar in the middle of the walkway from the ferries to the Opera House. I mean it takes up the entire walkway for perhaps half a kilometer!
There are rows and rows of tables on the walkway and people everywhere, at the tables, standing around the tables and sitting on and standing by the seawall. All with a drink in their hand. A good 90% of it is outside. There’s even a band!
I arrived at 5:30 on a sunny Friday afternoon – a mere three hours after first setting foot out my hotel in King’s Cross – and I had discovered Sydney’s #1 party scene. Or let me put it this way: If there’s a better party scene in Sydney I want to go to it immediately! There were about a thousand people at this bar – though not once did I feel squeezed or crowded – and there is no doubt this is the best late afternoon/early evening spot in the city. And it happens seven days a week, I’m told.
The Opera Bar has no Happy Hour – it doesn’t need it – and I approached the bar somewhat cautiously, for I had heard sticker shock stories about the prices of drinks in Australia. I was expecting – hoping – to escape with spending $10 for a beer. But to my surprise, the beer was only $8 and if you take into account the fact you don’t tip in Australia and the American Dollar exchange rate (about $1.20 to the Australian dollar) then it really is the equivalent of spending about $6.50 for a beer in the States.
This is not a rocking club with “hipsters” but a casual hangout comprised of hundreds small groups of people having drinks with friends and co-workers. This makes it an ideal bar for mingling – it’s easy to walk up to people and start conversations. In Sydney, singles don’t need on-line dating services, they can just come here and present themselves to a member of the opposite sex in person.
Unfortunately, I was alone (a solid wingman would have worked wonders) and no doubt looking a bit ragged. The place had admittedly caught me off guard and I was in beach shorts and a t-shirt when jeans and a bit of a nicer shirt would have put me more in step with the wardrobe of the others.
Plus, I had just arrived from Los Angeles, a trip that involved an 11-hour flight to Fiji, a three-hour layover in its airport and another five hours to Sydney.
I was remarkably fresh from the journey and eager to see Sydney when I arrived. Sleep would have to wait, so encouraged by the friendly staff of the Lido Suites – a real find for about $150 a night right by the main, er, drag, of the funky King’s Cross neighborhood – I set out on foot to see what I could see of Sydney.
Here are some of my fine finds other than the Opera Bar:
• On the way out to the find the harbor (turns out there are two of them), I went by a pub in King’s Cross. It’s a bar called O’Malley’s and that, I said to myself, is where I will go to plan my “Escape” later that night. I would have beer and not pina colodas, tho. And later I did go there and it’s a cozy pub with $6 beers and a guy on guitar playing rock covers. I hear the place gets packed but it was not so on the Friday night I visited.
• The best Happy Hour spot in Darling Bay (which is also called Cockle Bay) is a large, open-air bar/restaurant called Cyern. It has wines, champagne and Coronas (Coronas!?) for $5, M-F from 3-6 p.m. I had a glass of champagne. There are fireworks in this harbor every Saturday night, by the way, at 9 p.m.
• Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville also has Happy Hour. Likewise it’s 3-6 p.m., and $5 for house wines and “house beer.” The “house beers” turn out to be a choice of three good drafts on tap. I chose the Toohey’s New and it’s a very good beer. There’s little doubt I’ll have several more of them during my month in Oz.
There are many more discoveries to make in Sydney. I have one more day here – a Saturday, no less – before heading to the Gold Coast for a week at the V8 Supercars race in Surfer’s Paradise. I’ll be back in Sydney for 10 days the first of November and already in one day, I’ve set the stage for a great trip.
Keep following my journey and discoveries on this blog!