Our Own Reality Show Day 1: Sydney and TravelBlog Brunch

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March 17th 2018
Published: April 3rd 2018
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On approach to the Sydney airport I started to get excited. The final segment of this trip was ready to unfold and I had turned over the itinerary to Dancing Dave and his wife Denise. To keep myself honest, I went back to my email to make sure I had agreed to this. “Glee, trepidation and a thrill of the unknown by having accepted placing myself in your hands. I will view this as a reality show in which unwitting travelers are put through the paces of a modern-day city. Jo and I will compete for the best photos, stories and there will be no losers, only an incredible time on which to look back, smile and/or shudder and think how amazing that was.” Yup, those were the parameters I placed upon this portion of the trip, and it was time to see what I had gotten myself into.

While trying to see which carousel my luggage would be on, I heard someone ask if I needed help. And just like that, there was Dancing Dave in person. He and his wife Denise Hooper have traveled a couple time with D MJ Binkley, so I knew him through TravelBlog and their stories. I had no doubt that we would hit it off or that Denise and I would be completely in tune with each other. We chatted easily as we walked out to meet Denise at the car. Jo Trouble was arriving from Auckland in about an hour, so we drove over to the International terminal and waited for her. When I sent my flight details to Dave months ago, he passed them on to Jo and she had her flights booked within 10 minutes. Travel-bloggers are nothing if not on top of things. Unfortunately, Jo was in a motor scooter accident, not her fault at all, and broke her femur, but was mobile once again and ready for this adventure. Can one call something a reunion when we hadn’t previously met? I am throwing caution to the wind here and am going to say yes. Since I have communicated online for several years with all three of these people, this was an airport reunion. Smiles and hugs all around as we met.

The three of them had met before, so once we were all in the car it was a gab fest. We drove down to Mrs. Maquarie’s Chair, a park on the opposite side of the harbor from the opera house and bridge. The views were amazing. This was the postcard view of Sydney and I made good use of the glorious scenery . It was sunset and the colors were vibrant. Well, heck, don’t take my word for it, check out the pictures. Once we had warmed up the cameras, it was time for food and the Hoopers had a place up their sleeve. It was a Korean BBQ that they frequent and are friends with the chef. Ordering was simple as Dave saying a few words and out came bowls of pickled vegetables and kimchee. Oh man was it good. Then came sizzling pork and I was in heaven. Right on the heels of that came a fried chicken platter and finally spicy shrimp still in their shells. As prove that this food was amazing and exciting, all I have to do is say this- I had to be reminded to take pictures of it. Yeah, let that soak in. Me. Not taking pictures of food. Wow!! This was a true feast. And to top it all off, the chef brought his saxophone out to play for us. What an incredible first evening in Sydney. If we were on the reality show I mentioned in the email we all would have been immune from elimination.

Ah, Sunday morning. Quiet, calm and, well, none of that. I knew that Jo had her sister and her family coming over, so I had in my mind that Dave, Denise and I were off to do something. How truly gullible I can be. They had arranged a TravelBlog brunch. Denise was cooking up a storm in the kitchen and I helped in the best way possible. I made us both a nice cocktail, left her alone and wandered the house, drinking and enjoying the day. Jo’s brother in law excitedly pointed out the window at a huge black snake hanging from a tree in the yard. I had taken some Facebook ribbing from my friends about the Vemillion Room before this trip. The Binkleys have the Vermillion Suite, yes, they really do and it has a plaque on it saying just that, so the Hoopers put a picture up of the Vermillion room they had prepared for me. Please take a minute and really look at the picture. You can see how I would have been a bit skeptical of this. That being said, this huge snake was right outside the Vemillion room which made me question what I would have done had I run into it in the middle of the night. I don’t want to keep you in suspense, so I am jumping ahead to the next day to when I was in the yard with Dave and realized it was rubber. For frick’s sake. I really believed that it was real. So, this is how the Sydney portion of the trip was going down huh? Fool me once. The judges on the reality show in my head frown upon this, so I made mental note to step up my game. I was playing in the big league with professional troublemakers now. Where is Outback Brenno when I need him?

So, back to the TravelBlog brunch. We had michelleandkev, John and Sylvia, deejayvee, Nomad Old Farts and SkiSet come over to spend the afternoon. How luxurious it was to sit, drink wine and talk with people that I have known from online. There is a unique bond among travelers, so meeting all of these people was like catching up with old friends. We talked about where we have been, where we will go, where we want to go. During lunch Ali, the founder of TravelBlog and the Binkleys skyped in so we could all chat. How amazing is it that we had 15 of us all talking at once. Difficult decisions had to be made on my part. Did I talk, be social and engaging, or did I stuff my face with the incredible food that Denise had made while savoring the wonderful flavors? I opted to take turns doing both. Salads, prawns and chicken gave way to sinful desserts as we talked and before I knew it, the afternoon had to come to an end. I am grateful that I was able to meet these people. As they travel and blog, I will be following along with them and can guarantee that they are reading this as well.

Before I could catch my breath, David, Denise, Jo and I were off and running to our next surprise. There had been murmurings of stadium, sports and such. I didn’t know what we were going to do but didn’t believe that we were off to watch footie or cricket. Sure enough,
Sizzling PorkSizzling PorkSizzling Pork

aka Happy Happy Yum Yum!!!
we wound up at a music venue called the Basement for a show by Andrew Strong. This was the 20th anniversary tour of the Commitments, a movie in which he starred and for which he won a Grammy. In person, he was an intense, pure showman with a commanding stage presence. While he stepped off to catch his breath, his sister would sing and darn could she sing too. It was an adrenaline filled evening. The venue was small, filled with people enjoying the show and musicians working their magic. We were only about 8 feet from the stage, so were able to watch everything that was going on with them.

Before going home, we went to a park underneath the bridge. It was a beautiful evening, cool, quiet, deserted. The views were stunning. Across the harbor was the opera house, above us was the bridge. What a great evening to enjoy each other’s company while taking some postcard worthy shots. And then, it was time to head home to recharge for the next adventure. It was a big one, so I will give you some time to catch your breath and will have the next blog up shortly.

Korean Fried Chicken aka The chicken of dreams
Until then, ciao.

Additional photos below
Photos: 37, Displayed: 27


Really? This is Where You Want Me to Sleep?Really? This is Where You Want Me to Sleep?
Really? This is Where You Want Me to Sleep?

Everyone loves a joker, right Dancing Dave and Denise???
TravelBlog JanTravelBlog Jan
TravelBlog Jan

From SkiSet, Spending Kids Inheritance
Bruch Fit for World TravelersBruch Fit for World Travelers
Bruch Fit for World Travelers

Denise outdid herself with this. Amazing desserts were brought and a wonderful brunch was had by all
Pour That Caramel SylviaPour That Caramel Sylvia
Pour That Caramel Sylvia

Uh-huh, the caramel popcorn cheesecake wasn't quite rich enough.

3rd April 2018

A great day
TB meet-ups are always fun. It was good to meet you after having followed your blogs for many years. I notice you carefully avoided mention of the 40C temperature outside. Glad you enjoyed yourself in Sydney.
3rd April 2018

A very great day
Thank you very much. I have followed you two for years as well and was so happy to finally meet you. It was a lot of fun, and if you didn't know, caramel is one of my favorite foods ever!! To be honest, I forgot how hot it was. That was a scorcher wasn't it?
3rd April 2018

Travel blog hospitality
Nothing like hanging out with like minded people. The world of travel is kind and accepting. Sounds like a bit of playful snaking around. The food looks fantastic....the Hoopers can throw a party. Keep those tales coming. MJ
3rd April 2018

Silly Rubber Snake
You are so right. It was a fantastic party with very interesting, fun guests. I am fortunate to have been part of this.
3rd April 2018

Meeting friends
Seems like you all had a wonderful day , and what a brunch. Your Korean resto ( yes I can speak Aussie too ) is something I will have to try on my upcoming visit. I met up with MJ and Dave when I was in California and it’s great the way we all feel so connected through the world of the internet and travel. I hope that Dave and Denise will be around when I land up in Sydney .... probably November , and still making the plans. Lovely views of Sydney Harbour sunset. Last time I was there I loved just hopping on ferries and exploring so many of the coves and beaches . You can’t fail to enjoy Sydney.
3rd April 2018

Sounds Wonderful
Your trip sounds perfect. It will be great for you to catch up with friends and take some time to enjoy the country. I hope that the Hoopers will be there, as they are amazing people and very fun.
3rd April 2018

A lunch for the ages
Dave here....looks like a great time was had by all!
3rd April 2018

Spot on you are
A good time was had by all for sure. Glad you were able to join us via Skype.
3rd April 2018

We went to such an effort to prepare the Vermillion Room for you...even cleaned the spa jets so you could have a floating sleep experience among our flora and fauna. And then you turned out to such a great guest we had to give you an upgrade! What a trooper Jo is...crutches and all...not prepared to miss a minute of the fun. And then there were the surprises coming thick and fast. There is something about the Travelblog community that brings out the best in people...the joy on Sydney TB faces meeting in person in our home...Denise's masterchef cooking...desserts from Jan, Michelle & John & Sylvia...Ali's chuckles as he greeted us in the ether with Dave & MJ joining us as virtual guests for lunch from USA on Skype followed by Andrew Strong of the Commitments belting out songs and wrestling with his guitar...to us. Thank you Brendan & Jo for joining us for this ride...and accepting the Platinum upgrade. And you have only touched on the beginning.
3rd April 2018

Upgrades all around
The Vermillion Room was quite lovely and would have been perfect, but receiving the upgrade to the house was truly the golden ticket. I could not have scripted a more perfect introduction into Sydney if I had tried. You and Denise get a huge high 5 for this. The next blog is well under way.
4th April 2018

Harbour Bridge Climb
Someone has been inspired by your blog to imitate your adventure but did it on his own in the middle of the night. Attempts to retrieve him were eventually successful but caused total chaos as the main thoroughfare into the Sydney CBD was closed for five hours. Traffic was affected as far back as Parramatta (nearly 50 kms away) and traffic queues were over 3 hours for some. You need to curb your enthusiasm - not :).
4th April 2018

Holy Cow
That must have been quite a mess. I can't imagine how much chaos there must have been. True, my descriptive commentary may have lead to this, but hopefully the authorities won't know. Shhhhhh. I hope I can count on your discretion. lol. Thanks for such a fun comment. It made me laugh.
4th April 2018

Please, sir, I want some more!
"The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear." - With apologies to Charles Dickens! I'm not saying that any of our party at Denise & David's Travelblog lunch were fat but, like Oliver Twist, we sure wanted more of the delectable feast which Denise prepared for us all together with your help Brendan. It was a wonderful way to meet fellow travelbloggers and I'm extremely grateful to have received an invite! So glad that you were able to experience music at The Basement as unfortunately Sydney's iconic music venue is closing its doors. "The Circular Quay nightspot first opened in 1973 and is one of Sydney's oldest jazz venues. Over the years it has become a stalwart of the city's broader entertainment and live music scene, hosting everything from cabaret shows to intimate Neil Diamond concerts." Report courtesy SMH 26/03/18. So, lucky you Brendan!!
5th April 2018

That we did!
What a wonderful quote to go with the story. I love it. I am very glad that you were able to make it so I could meet you. Also glad I was able to enjoy a show at the Basement. Such sad news. I know the Hoppers will be very unhappy with that. But, on a happier note, looking forward to your next trip and blogs.
5th April 2018

Sydney Opera House
So glad you like our beautiful Opera House Brendan. My husband Kev designed a lot of the lights etc there, so we feel that we are part owners of the place!
5th April 2018

A Personal Connection
How awesome is that? I love that you have a personal connection with the opera house. Those are the stories that bring a city to life.
12th April 2018

Travel Blog Meet Up
Wow, what an amazing experience it must have been to meet up with so many Travel Bloggers who you've been in touch with for so long. I bet indeed many travel stories were shared that day in Sydney :)
12th April 2018

Thanks Alex. It was a very nice surprise to meet so many TravelBloggers. What a unique and eclectic group of people we are, but there is a common thread that connects all of us. Living where you do, you may have the chance to meet some as they visit. I hope you will have a chance to.
1st June 2018

I wish we could bottle these TB meetups
Now you know why my flights were booked within minutes. I'm glad you arrived after I was out of hospital, as I would seriously have considered self discharging to be there!! Always a safe bet leaving yourself in the hands of the Dancing One :-)
3rd June 2018

So True
I couldn't agree more about bottling the TB meetups. What a eclectic group of people with the same traveling passion. Each has a story to tell. Having you with us was such a sweet addition to the trip. I would have supported you in breaking out of the hospital.

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