Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Whirlwind trip in Sydney: Harlequin, Kinokuniya and Anish Kapoor

Last week was pretty rocking. Or two days were anyway. On Wednesday I hopped on a plane and flew down to Sydney for the Harlequin blogger summit, and I extended my trip to spend Thursday with a friend checking out some of the galleries and museums.

I flew in early so that I'd have a chance to check out Sydney and man, I landed on the most gorgeous day possible. The sun was shining, and I had the best time walking from Central Station down to Darling Harbour, popping into book stores and clothing stores that Brisbane could only dream of having. Number one stop along the way was the most wonderful book store ever, Kinokuniya. I must have spent an hour and a half in there easy. Amazingly I made it out with only Ready Player One, but believe me when I tell you how hard it was not to spend several hundreds of my cashesh on all the amazing books, comics and toys they had.

At Darling Harbour I checked out the bridge and the Opera House, (it really was nice of the town planners to situate the two biggest tourist destinations next to one another) and even though I've seen each of them countless times before it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement of all the tourists hanging around the harbour.

Darling Harbour
A quick trip to my hotel to drop off all my stuff and then it was Summit time! Harlequin were nice enough to invite me, along with about 30 other bloggers to their offices in Chatswood for an afternoon of drinks, books and gossip. When I walked in I was met with a room of chairs covered with red bags. The Harlequin team had collected together a gift bag that excited us bloggers a whole bunch. Thanks to Harlequin I now am the owner of;

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
With All My Souls by Rachel Vincent
Wicked Kiss by Michelle Rowen
Saving Grace by Fiona McCallum

and a flash drive filled with the romance e-book titles for the whole month of March. And not so bookish, but equally great, was an umbrella - because the weather in Sydney had been less that sunny for the week or two previous.

Harlequin gifts. 
But the afternoon wasn't just about gifts. The team took us through the titles that were being released over the next few months, and introduced us to the new Community page that they've started up. Then author Rachel Vincent regaled us with talk on her books series, her less than smooth trip in Australia and a few teasers about what we can expect from her in the near future. She was very talkative, personable and funny, and wonderfully honest about the difficulties and problems that writing entails. While Rachel signed books, answered questions and posed for photos the rest of us mingled and got to know the people behind the blogs. It was a little awkward at first, mostly because so many of us don't go by our actual names or use photos as our icons - but once the conversations started (thanks to some wine and tasty treats) it was great to talk blog designs, new books, awkward author interactions and a bunch of other blogger topics.

After the afternoon wrapped up, we continued the conversation up at the Chelsea Hotel over more drinks and dinner. Rachel Vincent joined us for a brief spell, and I had a great time speaking to Belle (Belle's Bookshelf), Michelle (Maree's Musings ), Bree (All the Books I Can Read ) and Shelleyrae (Book'd Out) amongst others. I don't know anyone in Brisbane who blogs (about books or anything) so it was nice to finally have people to talk to face to face about blog related issues, but it was nice to also discuss weddings, degrees, living in the city and all the other things that go on in the lives of 20/30 somethings girls.

After the evening it was back to the hotel for a good night's sleep before day 2 of my super-short adventure. It really was a darling hotel, there are a few pictures on my instagram account, but they don't really do it justice. It was a preserved house from the turn of the century filled with creature comforts, personal balconies and the warmest welcome I've received at a hotel for quite a while. If you like the white sterility of Hiltons and Co you'd probably hate it, but I love how much character it had. It was also situated in leafy Chatswood, so it was like leaving the city - while only being a 10 minute train ride away.

The view from the seat on my balcony
Thursday my friend Ollie came up from Newcastle and we spent the day wandering around the city, and visiting the Powerhouse Museum (a must visit if you're ever in Sydney, it was my FAVOURITE place as a kid) which is a science and design museum housed in a huge old warehouse, and the Museum of Contemporary Art to see the Anish Kapoor exhibit. If you haven't heard of Anish Kapoor, he's an artist that like to make your head hurt. Or that might not be his goal, but it's certainly the result! He creates amazing installations and pieces which play with your idea of perspective and make it impossible to know if what you're seeing is, in fact, what you're seeing. There is a lot of work with mirrors and I had a wonderful time snapping the weird reflections of Ollie and I in these pieces. Two of my favourites were a large round mirror that was fragmented and showed a fly's perspective of people around/in front of it. But when you found the sweet spot, you were roughly recreated with these fragments of yourself, and the ambient sounds around you were dampened while your voice was amplified.

My next favourite was a HUGE mirror outside the museum. And when I say huge I mean mind-bogglingly huge and I still can't process exactly how it would have been transported there. It both completely fit in its surroundings and completely at odds with it - I'd love to see it in even more of an odd location, like a park or nature reserve, I'm sure the effect would be amplified even more.

That's me reflected in the big mirror on the right.
And that just about wraps it up. I said goodbye to Ollie and to Sydney and trekked it out to the airport once again. And aside from a brief freak out at the airport when I tried to plug in the wrong code into the self-service desk and thought I'd accidentally booked for the wrong day it was a pretty smooth trip home.

It was super fun to spend two whirl wind days in Sydney, and I must thank Harlequin for giving me an excuse for taking the trip! The summit was amazing, and I'd be the first to put my hand up if they were to host another. Thanks Harlequin!


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