Where to go in Buenos Aires

What an awesome city. It is picturesque, there are plenty of good sites to see, food is amazing and to top it off, it’s not expensive.

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We found it safe to walk around here, people are very friendly, but make sure you know some Spanish! It’s a big city so you can’t walk everywhere, so we used Uber a bit (more convenient than public transport for us).

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Where to stay 

Buenos Aires is about 45 Mins from EZE International airport and we recommend getting an Uber as they work out a lot cheaper than taxis.

In terms of areas to stay, Recoleta and Historico are both good and close to the main points of interest. San Telmo is also good for antiques and galleries. We chose Palermo as its for a younger crowd with lots of bars, restaurants and trendy boutiques. As you head closer to the Libatore av you will find plenty of cheap patisseries too.

There’s so many options of hotels to stay, get online and do you research as to what suits you the most.

Hotel First Palermo

This hotel has a great location in Palermo. We have been going budget and this was a good budget hotel with a pool and lifts! We appreciated the upgrade room – it was a large room with a television, a safe and a heater. Breakfast was also good, included breads, fruit, eggs and even dulce de Leche. The staff were outstanding and made so much effort to help, and organised football tickets for us and offered advice for food etc. But to be honest everything was great except it is incredibly loud on the street side. Mostly partygoers in the early hours of the morning.

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What to do 

Recoleta Cemetery tour

We decided to join the Recoleta cemetery tour with “Buenos Aires Free walks” to learn the stories of the people buried there such as Eva Peron. Our guide Victoria was superb, extremely passionate and knowledgeable and looked after the group well. We learnt lots of interesting information about the cemetery. Although this particular walk wasn’t “free”, $150 pesos is totally worth it.

We heard about stories such as “the girl who died twice”, “till death do us part” and the gravekeeper”. They were very interesting and made it better than simply walking around ourselves. If you do choose to go yourself, entry is free.

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They also have the free city centre tour and free Recoleta tour, as well as $200 peso tours to La Boca.

You can look them upon online at www.buenosairesfreewalks.com

Jardin Japones 

This is a  little Japanese Gardens in the heart of Argentina. Serene and calm. It’s 120 Peso to enter and have a look around.

Shops

We loved Buenos Aires for shopping, whilst there are a few large mainstream plazas, we recommend heading to Palermo Soho for more boutique style shopping, smaller designers, cool clothes and furniture. We enjoyed looking around here. There’s also some discount outlets.

** Tourist refund 

There’s plenty of advertising about getting your tax back on purchases at the airport. It’s a good idea if you can, just be very sure to do the following:

  1. Check that the shop facilitates this (usually a sticker on the shop window)
  2. Check all the labels on that the item is made in Argentina. The airport staff will check.
  3. Have your passport at time of purchase
  4. Ask for the tourist refund scheme form
  5. Have the form and goods to show at the airport before going through departure gates

La Boca

This is a cool place to visit for its colourful houses, street art, street performers (tango) and steakhouses. However people are hesitant because of the area and its perceived danger. Even Buenos Aires locals are wary of the area. BUT follow travel advice and you’ll feel absolutely safe. Yes the outskirts are rough. So, get a cab to Caminito street where the majority of colourful houses, artists and restaurants are. It’s a huge tourist spot and you will be absolutely fine, just don’t take valuables to prevent theft. This area is also home to the famous and successful La Boca Football team. See a match if it’s on (be sure to arrange a tour).

Futball 

When visiting another country, we are always looking at experienes that can be enjoyed that give an insight in to the local area and it’s people. In Argentina there are a few that come to mind, including Gaucho and soccer. They were both a bit pricy to do both and we love sport and had heard good things about going to the soccer in Argentina. We chose to go to the soccer. After reading reviews online, it seemed a little difficult and time consuming to arrange tickets yourself. We spoke to the concierge at our hotel who arranged tickets through an agent. The agent provides transport to and from the game and your entrance tickets. This experience is a little expensive, but worth is to immerse yourself in local culture.

To say the Argentineans are fanatic is an understatement, they are very extraordinarily passionate about this game. As such, it can even be considered a little dangerous to attend. There are measures in place to make attending a game safer, these measures include; home fans only (YES! no rival fans in the stadium), no alcohol is served within the stadium and there is also plenty of security and police to keep things in order. In Buenos Aires, there are two main teams: Boca Juniors and River plate, who have a fierce rivalry and stadiums that accommodate 60000 plus fans. Tickets are members only, with a seven year waitlist for membership. We went to a smaller game between Boca and smaller local team Argentinos Junior. The game was played at Maradonna stadium, which is named after the Argentine soccer legend. He also represented both clubs in his career. The stadium is basic, with cement step seating and no cover with the stadium accommodating 20000.

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The magnitude of how fanatic the supporters are is evident through the stadium set up, no plastic seats, fences with barbed wire separating sections of the crowd. It was a dreary wet night, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the Argentinos fans, with rythmic drumming and passionate chanting continuous through out the game. The tunes so rythmic it could have been used as tango music, another Argentine tradition. It was an awesome atmosphere, with quality soccer from both sides. Boca was too good on the night, taking the game 1-0. It was also bizarre when Boca scored their goal and there was the sound of crickets, not one applause or cheer. Despite the rain and a Boca win, all fans stayed until the final whistle.

Going to a soccer in Buenos Aires is more than a game it their a passion. It was wonderful to experience the local culture and passion and it is a highly recommended activity.

Other

Some attractions we didn’t have time for but come thoroughly recommended include

  • Teatro Colon – a 7 storey landmark
  • El Zanjon de Granados – to see a tour of their tunnels and cisterns
  • The polo
  • Horse racing
  • Plaza de Mayo
  • Congresso Nacional
  • Plaza Dorrego – the city’s oldest plaza
  • Galerias Pacifico Shops – for shopping and beautiful ceilings
  • A visit inside Casa Rosa (pictured below). Be sure to buy tickets online.

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Where to eat and drink

Vinosfera Wine Gallery 

Lovely little wine gallery offering wine/cheese/chocolate tastings for 600. We had a glass of wine each and received great advice from the staff. He even gave me a complimentary taster. It was an enjoyable visit.

Lab Training Coffee 

Trendy little coffee store with a range of coffee styles and you can get your preferred milk style. No chemex on the day we visited. I personally found the coffee quite strong. Food and cake on sale too. Staff are efficient and nice.

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Felix Felicis and Co

A small coffee shop selling good milk based coffees as well as cold brew, plus a number of small baked goods. Staff were friendly and the cafe has a cool vibe.

Chori 

Chori is a takeaway style sandwich shop, serving chorizo sausages with various toppings. We tried the chorizo with aji sauce, caramelised onion, yoghurt, spinach and tomato on a fresh roll. It was a good burger. Although we didn’t have them, they have some cheesy vegetable sides too. The shop was pretty busy and they also sell alcohol and soft drinks.

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Pani

We couldn’t go by without a visit here. The desserts are phenomenal. Yes you might consume your daily intake of calories and need a wheelbarrow home, but we’re pretty sure it’s worth it. Amazing cheesecakes and everything dulce de Leche! We tried the dulce de Leche cake with Oreos. It took us two days to eat. Amazing. The cafe is styled in an antique / rustic decor and the staff were lovely.

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La Cabrera 

This is a famous Latin American steak house that is famous for a reason, they do really good steak. We visited both locations in Palermo. Be sure to keep an eye out for their happy hour each evening, which provides 40% off. We also recommend you book as by 8:30 people are lining up outside (but you get free snacks and champagne) so it’s not too bad at all. Don’t expect to leave this place hungry, to say the servings here are huge is an understatement. It is recommended that you share a steak, unless you are survivor hungry. The restaurant has a casual but upmarket feel, suitable for all including the niño (children). The waiters have character, making for an enjoyable experience.

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The restaurant provides you with a delicious bread basket, which is very common in Argentina, there is olive oil and basalmic on the table and they provide a meat dipping sauce. We visited a couple of times and it never disappointed. The 850g T-Bone was a massive piece of meat, nicely seasoned and perfectly cooked. Some theatrics included when the waiter busts out the carving knife. The steak had a thick layer of fat, but other than that, it was delicious. The rib eye was superb, also seasoned nicely and perfectly cooked. The steak also came with a large assortment of sides including carrot brûlée, mashed potatoes, ratatouille, mixed salad (with egg, bacon, dressings), mate foam, pickled vegetables, beans and cheese, confit garlic as well as apple sauce and chimichurri. We don’t recommend you need any sides. The wine is also quite nice, the 375ml bottle is perfect for one person. We couldn’t do dessert as we were so full! They also bring out a lollipop tree at the end, which is a nice touch.

Don Julio

Don Julio is an upmarket steakhouse with a classy feel to it. They had the best steak we had in South America, maybe ever. The service was slightly off when we visited, one of the waiters appeared to be sick with the flu and the sommelier wasn’t interested in discussing the wine (she seem more  interested in serving the most expensive wines to the rich people). As with most restaurants, the meal is provided with a nice selection of bread. To start, the grilled provolone was very nice, impossible to go wrong with hot cheese. For our meat dishes, we choose the beef ribs which were a tasty option, but the rib eye was out of this world. We could eat here everyday We really liked the cutlery, especially the steak knives, which are small gaucho knives. You can purchase these knives and they also come with a leather sheath, which makes for a nice souvenir.

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Casa Dulce De Leche 

We also did more research about places to eat which we didn’t get time for so maybe you could consider:

  • Scarlett cakes bakery for their chocolate torta
  • La Mezetta for their super cheesy pizza slices
  • Cafe Tortini – a historically famous cafe known for their Tango Sensation routines with dinner
  • Fabrica de Churros Olleros in the federal district for churros
  • La Panera Rosa – a huge pink cafe known for brunch and desserts

Overview

Buenos Aires has been one of most favourite places to visit and we’re sure you’ll love it too.

Incredible waterfalls @ Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Iguazu falls can be seen from the Brazilian side as well as the Argentinian side. We hear Brazil is good for the Panoramic shots, but Argentina for everything else. You can visit both if you desire. How can the falls be described: jaw-dropping, incredible, and unforgettable.

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The falls are 190m of cascading waterfalls, with power and depth. We had previously been to Niagara, but this is absolutely better.

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The falls are part of a broader national park, and UNESCO heritage site, which you pay 600 peso to enter (per day of visit). It is about 20 minutes from the airport and 30 minutes from the town of Puerto Iguazu.  You can organise a bus or taxi in, or tours. Guided tours are really not necessary if you read about the falls before your visit, and can read signs – you’ll be right. Within the park there’s a few trails to walk. Only one of them has stairs, so most of it is wheelchair and elderly friendly. You can also get a train to the climax of the falls, Devil’s throat.  The train leaves every 30 minutes and takes about 20 minutes travel (mainly because it is slow). From here you see the falls from above.

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You can do ecotourism tours and birdwatching or a guide if you simply want more information. Throughout the park there’s some fast food places and a restaurant to eat at, though we recommend having lunch at the Melia hotel within the park. It’s the same price and so much better.

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There’s plenty of flora and fauna to spot, we saw a crocodile, turtles, plenty of birds and coatis. Be careful the coatis can bite, just keep your food away and don’t annoy them and you’ll be fine.

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Make sure you pack your bug spray and hat, as well as a poncho or raincoat. It can get humid and sunny as well as rainy. It is a rainforest.

We visited overnight, arriving at 9:25 am. On this day we did one of trails and the boat ride. We could have easily fit everything else in too, but wanted to enjoy our hotel a bit too. On the following day we did another trail and the train trip and had lunch at the hotel as well as a masage at left at 6pm. It was completely do able to stay overnight only.

It’s 100% worth a visit.

What to do

Iguazu Jungle (boat trip)

We wanted to go on the boat ride because it takes you under the falls. We first began with a drive in a truck through the jungle (information provided in Spanish and English).

You then are given a waterproof bag and walk down some stairs (quite a lot) to the boat. Hop on the speedboat and it takes you on a trip through the rapids to both the Brazilian falls and Argentina Devils Throat falls.

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Getting up close makes for great photos. The driver then drives you straight into the falls. It is awesome fun and pretty crazy! We were warned you would get wet and thought we were prepared. We were covered full head to toe in a poncho. They give you a waterproof bag. Note you will get wet – very very wet! You may as well wear a bikini and thongs because you will get soaked right through. Totally worth every dollar you pay. Hold on tight to your phone and leave your cameras at home if they’re not waterproof.

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What else to do?

Some attractions we didn’t have time for but come thoroughly recommended include:

  • Guiro Oga – animal rehabilitation centre
  • Casa Ecologica de Botellas – house made of packaging
  • Museum tower
  • Mano Das Americas – point where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet

If you’re staying in Puerto Iguazu, some food options we read about include:

  • Feria – if you want some Brazilian food
  • Tatu Caretta – for Asado
  • La Misionera – empanadas
  • Maria Preta – dinner for steaks

Where to stay 

Most accomation options are in the town of Puerto Iguazu. You then need to get a bus, taxi or tour group into the falls. You then pay your 600 peso entry each time you enter the park (daily). The other option is the Melia hotel (old Sheraton) inside the park.

Melia Hotel 

We chose to stay here because it is the only hotel inside the park. This makes the trip to Iguazu easy because you pay your entrance fee and then you’re in the park. Elsewhere you pay everytime you want to enter.

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The lobby of the hotel has a view of the falls, as does your room if you choose a falls view. As the hotel is pricy, we selected the room facing the jungle. The hotel wasn’t very busy and they offered us to upgrade for $80 (most hotels just give you free upgrades in that instance). The hotel is then in walking distance of al the activities; train, bush walks and boat tour so it’s the perfect location.

The hotel has (and is) undergoing renovations. The lobby, dining hall and half the rooms have been completed. The renovations and styling really is beautiful, very country cottage/Hampton’s style and feels very stylish. The rooms look lovely too. The half of the hotel is being renovated but it isn’t disruptive at all.

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Big rooms and bathroom with a TV and desk. There’s a safe, mini bar and laundry service.

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The outdoor pool is being renovated but there is an indoor one (could be a bit warmer) and it would be good if they had a spa bath. There are massage, facial services at reasonable prices and they do a good massage. There’s also a huge bathroom with. Wet and dry Sauna and the area makes you feel so relaxed.

The gym is excellent – fully equipped with machines and weights, and a view of the falls.

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Staff here are lovely, particularly the bellboys who were so happy and eager to help.

The dining room was comfortable and the food here was excellent – for the same price as junk food in the park, you can get delicious fancy food here. Begins with a free bread basket with cheesy balls too. We ordered some lovely lemongrass prawns and grilled vegetables with hummus, as well as the amazing steak. Good wines and cocktails on the menu as well.

The buffet breakfast was outstanding, everything you can expect from a buffet and more. I was impressed to see oatmeal and egg whites for those in a health kick. There’s also Champagne to make brunch cocktails.

We loved this hotel and can’t fault it.

Overview

Iguazu is brilliant and should not be missed. Feel free to ask any questions you may have

 

Flour drum is now open for dinner in Newtown

From its humble beginnings at the quirky end of King Street, Flour Drum has flourished into a local Newtown favourite, renowned for it’s creative flair. With a new dinner service, diners will be able to hangout at Flour Drum both day and night.

Drawing ‘foodspiration’ from around the globe and elevating the experience of home-style meals, the dinner menu will offer a nostalgic dining experience with classic throwback dishes complimented by inventive takes on comfort foods. Is all about those simple, delightful guilty pleasures we all love. It celebrates nostalgic memories, traditions and childhood favourites. With Executive Chef and co-owner John Ageletos to take the helm of the kitchen, diners can expect his signature slow cooked style to be front and centre. Dessert will offer a trip down memory lane with the likes of Bombe Alaska and Cookie Dough Skillet. A selection of Australian-focused bio-dynamic wines and a good mix of homegrown Aussie beers will provide the perfect compliment to any culinary combination.

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By day, Flour Drum continues to offer up refreshing interpretations of breakfast and brunch classics. Local favourites including the velvety banoffee pancakes with dulce de leche and Anzac biscuit crumble, Moutai-cured Atlantic salmon, fusion style ravioli wontons and the popular house-made pappardelle lamb ragù (with a subtle Asian twist) will remain staple all-day items.

A treasure trove of rotational baked goods also remains, including reinterpretations of two Australian classics: the humble lamington (with flavours ranging from creme brûlée to black forest and red velvet), and the pavlova cake. The new range of giant plate-sized cookies is also here to stay.

Flour Drum’s interior is rustic and eclectic. The front room is a cosy coffee/wine/dessert bar with banquette seatings. It opens up into a diner-friendly space with individual and communal tables alongside a dramatic 12-meter mural depicting a quintessentially Australian pastoral scene by Sydney’s infamous street artist Scott Mash (famous for his Kanye West and Tony Abbott murals). Group functions are easily hosted here with a capacity for 50 seated or 70 cocktail reception.

Small Share Dishes

You could start the night with a unique fusion of two world famous comfort food, ravioli from Italy and wonton from China. The dish, a BBQ Duck and Shiitake Mushroom Ravioli Wonton is Chinese on the outside and Italian on the inside. The wrapper of this dumpling is traditional Chinese, inside however, is a smooth as silk ravioli style filling. They are deep fried and served with Black Chinese Vinegar.

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Another small share dish on offer is the Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Thyme Terrine served with a sweet mix berry compote, Charr Walnuts and Caper Berries. Creamy and tangy, it is an imaginative recreation of a common but amazing combination of beets and goat cheese.

Next up to share small palate is the Smoked Salmon Rillette. Rillettes are coarse, pâté-like French spreads typically made from duck, pork, or rabbit. The salmon version is a lighter take on the traditional dish made with fresh and smoked salmon and severed with pickles and Flour Drum’s rustic housemade artisan bread.

In coming months they will be introducing a lot more small share dishes.

Housemade Pastas

All pastas are made in-house at Flour Drum daily with extra fine premium Italian Drum wheat flour. Choose from a more traditional big flavour Slow Cooked Pork Belly Ragu with Pappardelle or try the Lime, Chilli and Parmesan King Prawn Angel Hair Pasta served in a rich and deeply savoury Seafood Bisque. Vegetarians can enjoy our Peas, Mint Ricotta, Sheep’s Cheese Angle Hair pasta.


Large Dishes

More ambitious diners will want to tackle a Slow Cooked Whole Lamb Shank served on the bone. If you love the look of a hunk of meltingly tender meat wrapped around the bone you will love this. It will hit your carnivore g-spot! The meat on these lamb shanks is so tender that it falls off the bone, served on a bed of mash potato and mushy peas for the ultimate comfort food supper.

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Another Chef Johnny’s signature slow cooked is the Slow Braised Beef Cheeks in Green Peppercorn Shiraz served with delicious Parmesan Polenta and Crisp Parmesan Lace. Beef cheeks, when cooked long and slow result in tender, juicy and flavoursome beef. When paired with creamy smooth parmesan polenta, doused in a rich sauce spliced with a parmesan crisp , you have a dish made in heaven.

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Those who prefer something light, simple, healthy and fresh should try our Grilled Salmon with Season Greens. Grilled to perfection, the Salmon is crispy on the outside and slightly pink on the inside.

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Desserts

Bombe Alaska, the ultimate sweet treat combination of ice cream, meringue and sponge cake. Their take on this classic dessert contains the perfect pairing of goat’s milk gelato, toasted hazelnuts, dulce de leche, sponge cake and Italian meringue, spectacularly flambéed at your table with Cointreau.

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The desserts at Flour Drum are large enough for two to share. You can try this for size… the Giant Molten Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Skillet is massive, served in a hot skillet, the giant cookie dough is cooked to order, served warm and gooey in a hot skillet topped with house-made creme brûlée icecream and drizzled in Nutella!

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Call beforehand or check the boards for the vegan options that will be based on seasonal produce. The sticky date pudding for dessert is a must try!

For those new to Flour Drum dinner, trust in the promise of their current brunch and baked offerings because their dishes are turning out to be just as irresistable.

Flour Drum is located at 531 King Street, Newtown.

Opening hours from August:

Breakfast & Lunch : Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. Sat-Sun 8am-4pm

Dinner: Thur-Sat from 6pm

Mama Mulan for your next event!

Having opened it’s doors in June, an elegant interior of free form art provides an irreproachable setting for celebration and purlieu.

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The vision of their menu is one that triumphantly reimagines Chinese cuisine.  The impact on classic dishes many have come to know and love as staples in this food is subtle, yet compelling.   Second generation restaurants you could call them, as the palette  of the multi-ethnic Sydney dining culture is ever evolving.

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(Mud Crab)

 “Mulan” meaning wood orchid or magnolia blossom, said to represent femininity, power and strength in Chinese culture.   Mama Mulan, therefore a place of warmth, love and passion setting the tone of what to expect in your dining experience.  Chef Marble Ng (ex Lotus) has created a menu focused on the Shandong regions of northern China.

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(Signature Dan Dan Noodle soup with pork, chilli and peanut sauce)

The ingot shaped dumplings are preserved in their usual crowd pleasing form.  An appropriate introduction to the Mama Mulan dining experience while saluting the old belief of wealth and prosperity, the handmade pot stickers of pork and cabbage, spicy wontons with pork and watercress and pork xiao long bao set the standard of what to expect. 

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The setting for our dining experience takes place in Mama Mulan’s Den – the largest of its private dining spaces easily seating 16-20 guests.  It attracts alot of natural light and has it’s own private balcony.  

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In contrast, the Magnolia and Blossom Rooms have a roundtable configuration for 8-10 people.  Great versatility in the number of functions and gatherings the space (total capacity 180) can accommodate as we enter the peak planning season of Spring/Summer celebration.

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Offering a range of banquet menus and dishes, expect to spend anywhere between $41-$100 for a three course experience.

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There are some very interesting ideas in Chef Marble’s menu.   The sashimi is available only in lobster, the unexpected salad pairing of pear and cucumber, the use of rockmelon in duck pancakes and mushroom as the hero in their spring rolls,  in its ambition to make its mark and cement itself as the definitive in north shore Chinese, they’re definitely playing a different game to many in the area and making us re-think our ideas on this cuisine.

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Location:

The Concourse, Level 1 above Willoughby City Library, Chatswood NSW 2067

(02) 9157 1488

reservations@mamamulan.com.au

Online Reservations:

https://www.opentable.com/r/mama-mulan-reservations-chatswood?restref=53168

Joseph Lloyd, Contributor

images supplied

Mama Mulan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicama – for a surfing holiday

If you’re heading to Chicama, the reason is for the surf. It has a famous point break and surfers flock from everywhere in search of the perfect wave. The town is an old remote fishing town with very little to do.

Walking around, you will see pueblo’s and brightly painted properties which is interesting artistically. There’s a few hostels and restaurants and a park but it feels like a pretty empty place.

 

The surfing 

 As you know Chicama is a long long sand bottom left point break, it is suitable for all levels. The sweep along the point is quite strong, you will want to have your paddle fitness at a decent level. This being said, it is not really a wave of consequence, except for the odd rock and the pier at the end, which you will be unlikely to get to. The vibe in the water is fun and relaxed, as there are plenty of waves for everyone, when there is swell, this break is a literal wave machine.

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There are a number of fun sections along the way, best not to fight the current and pick off waves down the point. The point itself has a super strong current that sorts the crowd out. 

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Next section is named las tittas which is distinctly recognised by a couple of fallen boulders, then there is the reef, with a steeper face for vertical turns and some barrel sections. Further toward the pier is another hollow fast section with some sharp rock, which we were told is a good wave on its day.

Chicama Boutique Hotel 

This area has a number of small hostels and the town has very little to do. So if you have a non surfing partner or simply want a bit of luxury during your non surfing hours, then this is the place for you. The hotel is a beautiful little beach apartment style rooms with a main dining area and central spaces like a gym, spa, sauna, jacuzzi and games room. The rooms have a huge bed, a balcony to watch the surf (be sure to select an ocean view), a big bathroom with fresh towels. They provide 2 water bottles each day and really good organic beauty products. The room was super comfortable.

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Surfboard room

The Board room is set up well to store a number of surfboards including short boards, long boards and stand up paddle boards. There are also padded saw horses in case you need to repair you surfboard. With Chicama being a cool water wave, a wetsuit is important and they have a drier on spin cycle to help your wetty dry quicker. 

 

Gear hire

From the resort you can hire wetsuits for USD$15 a day. You can also hire boards and the boards on stock are shaped by a local shaper and will suit the waves, they have some chunkier shortboards and longboards on offer.  They are perfect for the wave as it does not pack that much punch. The cost to hire a board is USD$30, which is a little pricey, but the boards are in great condition. 

There are plenty of places around town to hire boards, they are cheaper between S30 – S45. It tends to be a bit of a lucky dip and the boards are little banged up. We mainly hired our boards from The Surf House Hostal, the ladies running the joint were cool and they had an ok selection of boards.

Boat and boat crew 

There is always a solid current running at this surf break. The boat assist is a great option to help you maximise your wave count, especially when the waves are bigger. The crew running the boats are Del Mar and Steve who are champion guys. They will put you in the spot to catch plenty of waves and may even take you out to the cape. A chunky deep water wave, you’ll need some length on your board if it’s bigger.

Restaurant / Bar 

Breakfast is included in your stay, and it’s a great spread. Many types of bread, Jamon, queso, fruits, cereals and yoghurts. There’s also fresh juices. You are able to order one selection off the made to order menu – French toast, crepes or eggs. We had scrambled eggs daily and they were awesome. 

For lunch and dinner you can order off their ala carte menu. We found the prices to be rather expensive, but since there’s not a lot in town (expect the traditional almuzera lunches), you tend to just do it. The food is good; a great variety of salads, ceviche, fish and beef dishes as well as pastas and kids meals are available too. I think some smaller type snack food would be a good addition to crave the hunger bursts, like single empanadas or wraps or even sushi would be awesome. 

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We liked how they took care to make the dining room look fancier at dinner time. 

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The bar sells cocktails, juices and coffees. Cocktails are relatively pricy so be sure to buy them when it’s happy hour (6-10pm). The coffee is just a pod machine so unless you like that, just go for the free coffee.

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We appreciated that they had a hot water, tea and coffee station available for free all day, with regular supplies of biscuits to keep us full between meals. 

Water 

 Water isn’t drinkable so the hotel provides two small bottles each day in your room. You can also purchase a thermos bottle for $15 USD and have it refilled by their filter in an unlimited capacity.

It’s clear that they are keen about being environmental and sustainable, not only with this but with water usage, signage about not washing towels all the time and encouraging locals to collect rubbish in exchange for a coffee. 

Gym 

They have a basic gym downstairs with a set of weights, a few old step riders, 2 old bikes, press up and a boxing bag. They look like the got a set of cables as a recent acquisition which was great. There’s also some mats to use. It’s sufficient to get a routine in, but I would thoroughly recommend a new bike and a pair of boxing gloves to use on the boxing bag and maybe a good skipping rope. 

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Saunas/Jacuzzi

There’s a hot and wet sauna which has some nice aromatherapy scents in there, as well as an indoor and outdoor jacuzzi. These were great and the staff would turn up the temperature if you wanted it. 

Pool

There’s a large outdoor pool overlooking the ocean. It was a bit cold for us to make use of but it’s surrounded by deck chairs and in summer would be great. 

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Entertainment 

Upstairs there’s a pool table (with extraordinarily small ball pockets), table tennis, chess, fuse ball, a frog game ? 

Rooms don’t have tvs so there’s also a tv room with digital / cable tv. Plenty of magazines around the place too.

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In the bar they have a tv playing surf movies daily.

Music is a constant repeat of jazz at breakfast and Jack Johnson / Donovan Frankenteiter for the rest of the time. It makes for good ambience despite its repetition. 

You can also arrange massages in house – some of the best we’ve had on our trip.

Staff 

Manager Ralph does an excellent job, he showed us the full tour when we arrived. He speaks English which made our stay easier. He seemed to always be around when you needed him and he is a good addition to the staffing. 

Restaurant staff are excellent. They don’t speak English, but they understand our basic Spanish and are very efficient. Joi in the bar always remembered your name and regular order. They clear plates away quickly and always do a great job.  

The staff constantly seem to be working and the maintenance men are always busy, turning lights off if not in use, gardening, painting and cleaning so it constantly feels like they care about the place and want it to look it’s best.

Jorge, the security man, is a breath of fresh air. His outgoing personality made for a fun stay, every time we went out to surf. 

We loved our stay at Chicama and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good surf. 

 http://www.chicamaboutiquehotel.com/

 

Astrid y Gaston, Lima – Peru

We booked here upon reading about it on the Worlds Top 50 restaurants. We got a booking easily and opted for the ala carte menu. We appreciate that there is ala carte on offer and not just a tasting menu. This means the restaurant is financially more accessible.

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We arrived at the beautiful mansion that is the restaurant and made our way into the dining room where the chefs are at work.

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There are numerous rooms with big tables, large doors and nice art. The room we sat in also has some awesome upside down plants.

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We both ordered some good cocktails as the wines were a bit expensive and there weren’t many by the glass.

We began with a bread basket for one (which easily served us both). Being a connoisseur and lover of restaurant bread, this did not disappoint. The charcoal bread with fruits was flawless and the the savoury scone was delightful, just to name a few.

We ordered two small plates to share: the “tacos de chicarron de Limeno” which were two small quinoa tortillas with beans, sweet potato and aji peppers. The flavour on these was superb.

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The other dish was Dim Sum Cuy which was guinea pig dim sum cuy on beetroot buns with Chinese mushroom salsa, criolla and sweet and sour chifa vinaigrette. These also had really nice flavour combinations.

We were intent on ordering one of their special
Desserts so we decided to share a main meal.
We ordered the Tortellinis De Arracha which is quite possibly one of the nicest pastas we’ve ever had. It was Arracha (beef) filled tortellini with sage, tomatoes, pecans and an Andean cheese emulsion. We thoroughly recommend this. They also sell large meat based plates, fish and seafood and skillets to share. The Tasting menu is also a good option if you want a bit of everything in smaller versions.

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The piece de resistance was the chocolate dessert ball. A thin tempered chocolate ball, which, when cracked reveals a dessert full of beer ice cream, caramel and more surprises.
This was fantastic. It was huge and could easily feed 4 people.

Overall the food here was incredible and in particular the portion size is generous and and reasonably priced for such a fine establishment. We thoroughly suggest you pay this restaurant a visit.

Where to go in the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo, Peru

We were told this town in the sacred valley was interesting and worth a stop on the way back from Machu Picchu, so we opted to get the Peru Rail train there and stay a night.

When we hopped off the train from Machu Picchu, we were expecting to find a small
Archaeological town, which it is, but it is also a thriving little tourist village with cafes, bars and markets.

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The following day we secured a taxi back to Cusco, but you could book the train again the following day if you prefer. It’s much of a muchness in price. Since we had some other sites to visit on the return trip, this suited us.

Where to visit

El Albergue

Upon hopping off the train, we were met with a fabulous looking coffee shop, restaurant and hotel. A few questions later, and we found the had a farm and distillery too. The lovely Stephen showed us around. He was extremely enthusiastic about the brand and highly knowledgeable about everything on site.

Hotel

El Albergue has a hotel and although we didn’t stay here as it was out of our price range, we had a tour through and it’s a good high end option.

This is a property right at the train station with beautiful rustic styling, large rooms and it is built around a garden. With an attached vegetable farm and distillery (where they produce Cana Alta on site), it’s really a lovely place to stay.

Part of this complex is also a cafe: Cafe Mayu and a restaurant: El Albergue farm. You can also have a wonderful Pachamanca lunch for US$40 (we explain this in further detail later). This accomodation is considered to be expensive for the town, between $150-$200.

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They also support a school called Kuska on site to promote education amongst local children.

Mayu Torrefaccion and Cafe Mayu

The site has a workshop for roasters and we had the opportunity to see their roaster, beans and learn about their selection and roasting process. These beans are used at the Cafe and you can order your preferred coffee; an espresso, latte or Americano. The cafe also sells beers, wines, snacks and especially a delicious choc chip cookie!

Distillery Andina

The property also has a distillery on farm, producing Cana Alta. We had a tour to the distillery and learnt about their artisanal distilling methods and also tried a number of different Cana Alta Canazo flavours.

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Chuncho

This is not on site at El Albergue, but a sister store. It is located more in the main town of Olltaytambo, which is less than a km from the train station.

We were recommended to visit here for dinner since we were staying in the town, and we were encouraged with free drinks! Newly opened, their rustic styled restaurant is on the upstairs of the property overlooking the main square in Ollantaytambo. The atmosphere and ambience here is cool and casual and the staff made it a great experience. It is a bar and restaurant selling food based on native ingredients sourced from their farm and flavours from the area. The food offered changes based on the season. Drinks are inspired by the Cana Alta flavours.

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Food is designed to be shared, and using your hands to eat. We were recommended to share a banquet since it was generous portions. This was great advice since there was so much food!

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The banquet involved a number of tasty dishes to share, the food having a rustic style and plenty of flavour. The appetiser was some maize, salt and herbed sauces followed by an entree with potato crisps, cream cheese, potatoes and a tasty vegetable salad. Then came a mixture of nicely seasoned roasted meats including lamb and the local delicacy: cuy(guinea pig). With this was a few salads and quinoa pancakes. The banquet completed with a trio of Andean desserts such as a beetroot chocolate truffle, quinoa rice pudding and poached tomato. You will be so full by this point, you will need to channel your dessert stomach for this.

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The bartender/cocktail designer made some brilliant cocktails based around the Cana Alta including the “Quillabandida”: Cana Alta, pineapple syrup, passion fruit, Tahiti lime, garden mint and also their creative version of an old fashioned “Mosoq”: Cana Alta, house bitters, wild mushroom butters, brown sugar, aperitif and wild mushrooms.

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We were surprised to find a restaurant of this calibre in a small archaeological town and it made the visit even better.

Pachamanca lunch

The highlight of our El Albergue visit was the day on the farm where we experienced the traditional Pacahamanca lunch. It was $40 per person and and you learn about everything from farm to table.

The Patchamanca involved heating rocks using wood, once the rocks hit the right temperature, the marinated meats; lamb, chicken and pork are placed on top and with a hiss, the meat sizzles on contact with the rocks, then some potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans are added. This is then covered with a wet cloth and dirt to retain the heat, sealing the food with in a primitive oven. 15 minutes later the food is ready and the layers are removed to reveal a simple exquisite meal.

The meat served on a long table set nicely, in a serene setting, on the farm where many of the ingredients were source and with tranquil surrounds of the Andean snow covered mountains.

The meal delivered to the table in rustic earthenware, perfectly suited to the meal being served. The meal is served with a mixed salad of ingredients sourced literally meters away, simply not possible for it to be any fresher. Another tasty side of quinoa cheese and vegetables cooked in a sealed cast iron crockpot also provided a great dish. Then there were the inviting chunks of super tender meat served on the bone, very succulent with the skin charred and crisp. This cooking method instils a magnificent flavour to the meat. To wash this down, a jug of their refreshing house made beetroot cordial. It is also possible to order beer wine and spirits to accompany the meal.

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Where else to stay

Valle Inca

We chose this cheaper hostel style accomodation for our one night stay. Right in town, just off the main square. Check in was easy and a lovely staff work they. They were super eager to assist with anything. Room is a decent size, large bed with warm blankets, TV, charging ports and a cupboard. Hot shower and soap provided. We didn’t need it, but the room doesn’t have a heater. You need to climb stairs and they have a terrace where you can buy breakfast. It’s pretty quiet, though if street side, you hear the running water of the aqueducts. For $25 it’s a bargain.

Where to visit?

Archaeological site

You can enter this site at 130 peso as part of your 4 pass ticket if you purchased it with other sites in the sacred valley. However, it’s otherwise 70 peso entry. Your other option is to visit the free site, overlooking the city. It doesn’t give you as many ruins, but certainly a good option if you’re not spending as much time or money.

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Cerveceria Del Valle Segrado (Sacred Valley Brewery)

About 5 minutes out of Ollantaytambo, you can visit this brewery for a taste of some of their local brews. We tried a sampler of 5, but you can also try them all if you like. It was reasonably price and they also sell food. Unfortunately they were out of the pale ale when we visited.

We highly recommend a stopover to Ollantaytambo.

Aguas Calientes & Machu Picchu

If you’re keen to see Machu Picchu, and you’re a seasoned camper and trekker, then maybe the Inca Trail is for you. If that’s the case, find a travel company and book significantly ahead of time.

The other way to see Machu Picchu is to get a train from Cusco, from Poroy station in particular. If you want to see Machu Picchu early, then it is recommended to travel by train the day before and stay in the town of Aguas Calientes overnight.

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There’s two companies to travel by rail to Aguas Calientes with; Peru Rail and Inca Rail. For no reason other than ease of access when purchasing online, we selected Peru rail.

Peru rail

We purchased our tickets fairly easily online to travel to Aguas Calientes. We chose the Vista Dome. The pictures show it as a glass carriage where you can view the sites on the way. Although not quite like the pictures, you do get a lovely view of the countryside. We picked the more expensive tickets which have a comfortable seat (many facing other passengers), a provided snack (sandwich or brownie), tea or coffee and entertainment. The train has clean bathrooms too.

On the way we could purchase Pisco Sours and on the return journey, there was a fashion parade of clothing made from llamas Wool, as well as traditional dancing. The train also provided commentary on the sites as we passed them.

Staff were absolutely delightful and excellent at their job. When we wanted to get an earlier train, they were able to accomodate. Wi fi was available at the station.

Where to stay

Aguas Calientes is a town entirely to accomodate visitors to Machu Picchu. For this reason, there are hundreds of places to stay. We’d recommend as close to the bus stop as you can, so that you can be there early in the morning for your trip up to Machu Picchu. But that said, everything is pretty close anyway. There’s some upper class accomodation, including some right at the entrance to Machu Picchu, but we personally don’t think it’s necessary when your there for one night, and not going to hang in your resort.

Andino Hotel

Not far from the train station, Andino is in a quiet street. Our room was of decent size with a double bed and a single bed, as well as a table and chairs. The room has spare pillows and blankets, as well as charging ports and a safety deposit box. A bathroom with fluffy towels and shampoo/conditioner provided. The man on the front desk spoke little English but was super eager to try and help. He provided excellent service. Wi Fi In the rooms is poor, but good in the lobby. They were happy to store our bags whilst we went to Machu Picchu. They provide a breakfast and whilst I don’t recall paying for it in my room fee, they provided us with a huge takeaway breakfast/lunch box with bread rolls, fruit, juice, chocolate and it was excellent especially when you are on your way to the bus stop at 4am.

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Where to eat

There’s plenty of places to eat, from cheap bakeries to restaurants. They pretty much all serve the same thing, at inflated prices. So inflated, a water will set you back 8 Soles (approx 4 dollars).

If you’re heading out early for Machu Picchu, get your hotel or one of the cafes to make a take away box (fruit, cake, bread roll, drink, choc etc) to have on your way up. Given that Machu Picchu allows entrance til noon for the early group, you can easily be back to town for lunch.

La Boulangerie de Paris

We were impressed they opened at 4 am with baked goods and coffee. I got a Leek and ham quiche which was delicious. They also do breakfast/lunch boxes to go.

What to do? 

I’m not sure that this should really be a question. You are here to visit one of the new wonders of the world – Machu Picchu. It is amazing! An archaeological site and history of the Incas to behold!

The town also has some hot springs and a few walks to do, but you’re mainly here for the site.

How to get from Agua Calientes to Machu Picchu?

Bus is the easiest method and how we got up to Machu Picchu. Purchase a bus ticket from the Ticket office. Make sure you have your passport with you as ID, We’d hate to think what would happen if you didn’t. Be sure to have it on you to enter Machu Picchu too.

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The alternate is what looked like a gruelling hike up to Machu Picchu, sure to take a few hours and a lot of energy.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an incredible archaeological site, the remains of the the lost city of the Incas. It was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an explorer from North America. It is now one of the busiest sites for tourists to visit across South America. There’s two sessions daily to visit Machu Picchu, from 6am – 12 noon and then 12 noon onwards.

We were climbing Wayna Picchu with a 7am start time so we booked the early session. The first bus leaves Aguas Calientes at 5:30 am and we were told to arrive early. We arrived at 4:30am and there were already approx 200 people in front of us. We secured one of the first buses (about 6 or so arrived) and took the 30 minute windy bus route upto Machu Picchu. This meant some sunrise photos. Once you get to the entrance it’s all a bit of a shamozzle and people in a disorderly line to get in. Don’t fret, it moves quickly. Make sure you have your tickets and passport to enter.

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Once you enter, you will see two routes 1 and 2. Basically everyone goes up route 1 for the Classic Machu Picchu postcard shot. But if you’re doing Wayna Picchu, you’ll get much better photos there and we recommend taking route 2 which is practically empty at 6 am in the morning. This makes for uninterrupted viewing and photos.

The site is certainly an impressive architectural and archaeological feat.

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The Inca civilisation occupied this site at the height of their empire and it became an economic, religious, military, political, social and cultural hub. It was strategically built to watch over any potential invaders and many aspects of the site are evidence of this.

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Today, you can still see a huge amount of archaeological remains including high defensive walls, houses, granaries, an aqueduct, temples and steeped levels for cultivation of their crops. Many aspects also show their astronomical knowledge.

  • Watchmans House
  • Terraces / agricultural crops
  • Funerary rock
  • Main building and entry door
  • Quarry
  • Sacred square: here is the temple of three windows (creatively named), the main temple and the priests chamber
  • Chamber of ornaments
  • Intihuatana
  • Main square
  • Sacred stone
  • House of the virgins of the sun
  • Industrial zone
  • Temple of the condor
  • Sacred ceremonial spring
  • Temple of the sun tower
  • Princess House
  • Streets of the sanctuary
  • Royal Mausoleum
  • Royal palace

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Huayna / Wayna Picchu trek 

Towering above Machu Picchu, the peak of Huayna Picchu is 2,693 metres (8,835 ft) and you can climb it. Don’t be intimidated though, it’s not as hard as it looks.

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Having read the reviews and spoken to fellow travelers, we were not so confident that it was a good idea to climb Huanya Picchu. With the nickname of ‘stairway to death’ we were apprehensive, despite no one ever succumbing to accidents there. However, we were keen to complete the challenge and get some amazing photographs. If you plan to to do this, you must book ahead as there are only two time slots per day, 7am and 10am with 200 people permitted for climbing each session. Be sure to remember your ticket and passport to climb.

For the bus ride up Machu Picchu we gained our first view of the peak was a very intimidating and daunting sight, especially for people who haven’t really done much mountain hiking. However before arriving in Peru, we had already dealt with altitude in Mexico City and Quito in Ecuador.

They recommend it as a 2 hour round trip. It took us about 45 min to reach the top of Waynapicchu, with it’s steep slopes providing a great vantage point to view the ruins of the great Inca City. This mountain is a sacred site used by the high priest and local virgins for the Incas to conduct daily rituals. Due to this, there are plenty of archaeological remains along the walk and at the top of the peak.

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The climb itself is pretty steep and it gets narrow in some parts, but some steel cables and ropes provide support.

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There are also plenty of great vantage points along the way to take in the spectacular views whist having a rest. It is very scenic, there is not only Machu Picchu to view, but other mountains and rivers way down in the valley below. There are also many pretty flowers such as orchids along the track to admire.

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How hard was the climb? It is pretty steep so you do need to be relatively fit, coming down is also hard on your knees and quads. There is a little up section at the end which is the hardest part especially after tracking down the mountain. Was it dangerous? Not really, maybe if it had been raining, if you have a heart condition or are susceptible to altitude. Take water with you and a small back pack. You can’t snack up there and there are no bathrooms. Hiking poles aren’t necessary or practical here.

We totally recommend doing this hike, you will not regret it.

This site is testament to their architectural skills and strength of the empire.The fact that it still remains today is evidence of this, and of the subsequent archaeological excavations and conservation work conducted.

Where to find the best locally brewed beer in Darling Harbour? All hands Brewing

Open since December last year, not sure how we’ve missed this spot at destinationsville – Darling Harbour. There’s a nice Inner West kind of vibe to this place which is uncharacteristic of the standard King Street Wharf venues.

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A growing mainstream awareness of craft beers, they offer a unique and rare experience joining local mircrobreweries, Endeavor Tap Rooms at The Rocks and Circular Quay’s Squire Landing.

There are five permanent taps with another four that alternate depending on the demand. Despite production having to rely on demand, it provides a creative space for Head Brewer, Sam Clayman and his team to refine and retweak seasonal releases. This is a win for beer lovers, enabling Sam to experiment with different yeast strains and play around with fermentation temperatures.

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The microbrewery acts as a backdrop to the bar entry housing five vessels which can produce over 5600 schooners. Exposed piping and mesh gating accentuate the timber setting giving an urban edge to a casual night out.

For the laymen out there like myself, the IBU measure indicates the hop content in the brew – impacting flavoring and stability of the beer.

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We lined up 7 from their taps. It was like a rainbow of beer showcasing some very distinct styles of lager and ale:

From Left to Right (man that was hard work):
HUMP DAY I.P.A. (Alcohol Content: 6.2% ABV • 45 IBU)
It’s an inviting copper toned schooner of trickery. iThe artist paints and you see exactly what they want to express, one of the more abstract styles in the All hands repertoire, if you’re bitter – this one’s for you! They tell me it’s an acquired taste for the refined palette.

WOOD DUCK CREAM ALE (Alcohol Content: 4.7% ABV • 18 IBU)
It’s the signature and crowd favorite. It uses nitrogen to replicate the foamy tops of a cask ale but there are other carbonating/oxidising factors to it also. The only thing you need to know is there’s a nice comfortable sweet spot of vanilla and speckles of spice that come through.

BUNNY HOP LAGER (Alcohol Content: 5.0% ABV • 30 IBU)
It’s a radiating straw colored brew that answers the legacy of the original Pilsner. Crisp, bitter, snappy with a backbone and is always a good safe choice.

LONGNECK BEST BITTER (Alcohol Content: 4.1% ABV • 22 IBU)
The deep amber elixir with its caramel malt, coppered toast and spicy rye. Using two species of Hop plants for stabilization there are whispers of conflict in each sip of citrus and spice that are quite alluring.

IRISH SPORT STOUT (Alcohol Content: 5.1% ABV • 51 IBU)
We enter the realms of fruity-dry, top fermenting ale with this basic black concoction. It’s thick, it’s dry with punch packing hues of coffee and chocolate. It’s their unique house blend and not for the light hearted.

This was recommended in a pairing with the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Rye also on offer during the event from their pop-up station. Surprisingly, one of the most memorable of the evening.

HOUSE CIDER – This golden wheat beer of cloudiness sits on the fruitier side if you’re after something light and easy.

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SCORCHER IMPERIAL SUMMER ALE (Alcohol Content: 9.0% ABV • 25 IBU)
It sits on the fruitier side with hints of passionfruit, lime, papaya and berries. It’s the strongest in terms of alcohol content in their repertoire and dangeorously smooth.

KING’S TIPPLE KOLSCH (Alcohol Content: 4.6% ABV • 16 IBU)
Light copper tones of pear and apple which is where I comfortably sit in terms of beer.

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Photo – Supplied 

It’s a southern style menu put together by Group Execuitive chef Graeme McLaughlin and chef Michael Acevedo. It takes the casual pub menu up a notch with a focus on sharing plates, smoked meat, with a strong focus on locally sourced seafood both in their salads, mains and platters.

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Photo – Supplied

Unlike many around the harbour, All Hands provides a very different experience to many of its neighbours and definitely worth a visit. For a family catch up, birthday celebration, or an after work drink, it’s the perfect venue.

All Hands Brewing House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Joseph Lloyd, Contributor

Where to cool down with Gelato this summer? Gelatissimo! For their Deluxe Range!

Masterchef alum, Reece Hignell, unveiled the first in a series of artisan luxury desserts as part of the new Deluxe Range available nationally at Gelatissimo. Known for his unorthodox flavor combinations on Masterchef, he integrates locally sourced ingredients into the classic gelatos.

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The Gelatissimo story began in 2002 in Sydney winning the hearts of many with its traditional Calabrian family recipes. Gelato is made fresh daily in store with no artifical flavours or colour offering punters dozens of choices.

As Summer approaches, three new flavours have been released featuring extra chunky goodness in every bite.

Introducing the new range:

Golden Macadamia Blondie: Creamy macadamia gelato swirled with rich caramel & topped with golden blondie chunks.

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Choc Dipped Strawberries: Strawberries & cream gelato with chunks of real strawberries, mixed with milk & white chocolate.

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Wicked Double Choc Brownie: Fully loaded with double choc brownie chunks & swirls of chocolate.

C45E26A5-F58C-4116-A84B-3F326D264E83Find your nearest Gelatissimo store here:
https://gelatissimo.com.au/find-us/

This is only the beginning, more flavours are set to roll out over the Summer – stay tuned!