On our last morning in Sydney as we prepared to leave on our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice, I didn’t want the rain to deter me from getting out and exploring before the cruise. One of the areas I wanted to visit was the Lindt Chocolate Café in Martin Place and with an umbrella in hand, we were off to face the downpours.
If you’re unfamiliar with Martin Place in Sydney, it’s a pedestrian mall that runs between George Street and Macquarie Street in the CBD (central business district).
While acting as a home to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Macquarie Bank, it’s also a center of business and finance. It’s also been an area that attracts film and TV production such as The Matrix trilogy and the television series, The Amazing Race. But that wasn’t the reason we decided to go to Martin Place.
In case you’re unfamiliar with what happened at the Lindt Chocolate Café in Martin Place on December 15th and 16th of 2014, a gunman held ten customers and eight employees hostage. After a 16 hour standoff, the gunman and two hostages were dead and others injured. We were at the location about six weeks after the incident and the store was closed, but there were still indications that something had happened as you can see flowers left in a makeshift memorial and messages left on the pavement. I felt guilty walking over the writing on the pavement and weird taking pictures, but no one should forget that this tragedy occurred and I was there to pay my respects.
I’m happy to announce that the café reopened on March 20, 2015. The opening included plaques with the names of the two hostages killed are on the wall while hundreds of people lined up to shop, many to let the world know that “terrorism had not prevailed.” If you’re in Sydney, why not stop in and show your support?
Lindt Chocolate Café
53 Martin Place (Cnr Phillip Street), Sydney
Tel: (02) 8257 1600
Mon-Fri 7:30am to 6:00pm
Sat-Sun 10:00am to 6:00pm
My next stop before getting to the ship was Sephora, which is located in Pitt Street Mall. I ran out of my Bare Minerals foundation and needed something and fast! While Sephora may not seem like a big deal in the US because we have them everywhere or at least I feel like they are everywhere when I need them, they are brand new in Australia. The new two-floor 800-square-meter store opened on December 5th to crazy crowds, many of whom camped out overnight despite a pre-opening social media blunder (#C*ntdowntoBeauty instead of #CountdowntoBeauty) and their promise to match US prices, which so far hasn’t been true. In fact, a news report only two weeks after they opened indicatedt hat they were selling some products up to 60 percent higher than US stores. Not so good Sephora.
Despite whatever was being said, I still needed my makeup. My husband stayed outside (surprise!) and I ventured inside the store. The brightly lit, sparkling clean, and fresh smelling store was like a new toy at Christmas and was just waiting for me to open it up and explore it. I fully expected the store to be packed, but there were more employees than customers, which was fine for me as I needed help. Turns out they didn’t carry Bare Minerals , which meant I needed an alternative. The reason they don’t carry it I was told is because the store is stocked from Singapore and not the US. I was presented with tarte, an Amazonian clay full coverage airbrush foundation that with repeated use makes your skin look better. I have to say that right from the beginning I was in love with this product.
My only complaint was that my Sephora VIB membership didn’t work at the Sydney store. What? Are you crazy? So sad, but it’s hard to hate on a company that you frequent often. Here’s to hoping that they will eventually fix this.
Address: 188 Pitt Street Level 2
SYDNEY, New South Wales 2000 Australia
Phone: 02 8236 9200
While I was shopping, my husband was standing next to this Coca Cola billboard opposite the Sephora store. What he discovered while standing in the rain was that it was an interactive billboard that dispensed cans of Coke! Normally I don’t drink Coke, but hey – it’s a free green can of Coca Cola so why not? Apparently, the billboard display would reset after a few minutes so you couldn’t stand there and empty it out.
I can honestly say that there were many points along the walk that I really wished I had chosen thePark Hyatt Sydney as it was much closer to the cruise terminal and I was soaking wet, but I trudged on and admired the view of the harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Celebrity Solstice.
After checking out of the hotel, we decided to walk to the ship, but that lasted about 30 seconds. Luckily, with so many taxis available, we took a cab to OPT, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that everyone else was thinking the same thing. The queue for cabs trying to get to the entrance of the OPT snaked its way so far back, I thought we were going back to our hotel. I’m so glad we had a nice taxi driver who was friendly and as upset about the port as we were.
The last time I was in Sydney for a cruise, the process for boarding was a breeze. It was also sunny and beautiful outside and Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) wasn’t under construction. This time it was cold, grey, and raining buckets. Those people who dropped off luggage early in the day we later learned had to deal with damaged clothing because it seems like the luggage was left out in the rain. I guess you could say that my desire to go out and explore and shop, which ultimately had me arriving later than planned to the ship did pay off for me although I looked like a drowned rat by the time I boarded the ship. But that didn’t stop me from visiting the Martini Bar as soon as I got onboard!