Sydney features pretty high on many people’s bucket lists, but I don’t really know why. I mean, it’s a great place to live and the city has a lot to offer. But for your typical sight seeing tourist, once you’ve seen the opera house and harbour bridge, and maybe visited Bondi Beach, what really is left to do? When you look up Sydney tours or experiences, they are all variations on the same theme. Lunch harbour cruise, breakfast harbour cruise, afternoon tea harbour cruise, twilight harbour cruise… you get the idea.
It is possible to get all harbour cruised out.
Finding a good tour or experience can be tough when you are travelling. Often times there are many companies offering the same thing, and it can be difficult to look past the hype or glossy brochure to actually judge the quality of what you are about to purchase. Unlike in a shop, you can’t touch or try on the tour or hotel you are about to book when you are organizing a trip. That’s why a resource like TripAdvisor is so useful. Real, honest, and timely reviews from other travellers. It’s the ultimate in word of mouth. I often consult TripAdvisor for recommendations on what to do, and especially, on where to eat when I am visiting a new place.
TripAdvisor has recently come out with a new feature where you can not only read reviews about a tour or experience, but if you like what you see, you can also book that tour straight through the TripAdvisor website. This way you don’t need to search for your tour companies own website, and it also means that instead of having ten different bookings from ten different operators all somewhere in your inbox, that all your tickets are kept handy and safe within your TripAdvisor account.
We recently used the TripAdvisor booking experience when we were looking for something a little different to do in Sydney. Something to be our send off before we head off on a 6 month tour of South America.
“What are you celebrating?”, the hostess asks as we enter the Slide venue.
We’ve decided to skip past the myriad of harbour cruise varieties and have chosen a night at the circus instead.
“Umm nothing really… umm we are about to leave Australia?”
“Ok good, leaving Australia”, she writes down.
Damn I hope there is no audience participation.
We are shown to our seat. We were promised VIP seats by booking via TripAdvisor, but we didn’t expect to be right in front of the stage! And not just in front of the stage, but right in front of the pole. This is going to be interesting. Being VIPs we are offered a welcome drink, and it’s no standard welcome drink of their cheapest house wine. We are actually allowed to pick any glass of wine of beer from the menu. Pinot Noir please.
We are presented with our menu – all nine courses, and a list of drinks available for purchase. Everything is spring themed, and the majority of the menu items are vegetarian, a refreshing change from most other degustations I have been to. As we settle into our seats, or host comes over to perform a magic show. Try as I might, I was not able to catch what slight of hands tricks he was using. At one point he handed me two red foam balls. I clenched them in my fist and when he clapped, there were suddenly four red balls. If anyone can explain it to me, please do in the comments!
As the lights dimmed, the show began. We were introduced to our circus/ burlesque evening by two scantily clad men with washboard abs performing a tandem pole routine. I was too mesmerized to take a photo (sorry). Then we were introduced to our hostess. A flamboyant drag queen whose dress became more revealing with every appearance.
Between every course on the menu (there were actually 7 courses rather than 9, as the three desserts came out together) we were treated to some sort of circus act. We had ropes performers, sword jugglers, burlesque dancers, and trapeze artists. And there was a refreshing balance between both male and female scantily clad artists.
The shows were all incredible. I think my favorite was the contortionist, although she did make me cringe at more than just a few moments. The food was hit or miss. Most of the courses were hit, with some really incredible offerings. There were only 1 or 2 which were a bit meh, but those were more than made up for by the courses which were total hits. But really, the experience was less about the food and more about the performance.
I never would have heard about this experience if I had not been browsing through the TripAdvisor app. Your average search engine search about Sydney Tours all turn up the same old same old, but luckily, we were able to find something a little different to send us off from Sydney.