Rachel Pupazzoni


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Review: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

I recently had the good fortune to stay at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney. ¬†It was a surprise I’d organised for my partner in crime. ūüôā

We had a fantastic time. ¬†Here’s the review I posted on Wotif (which I booked the accommodation through) and TripAdvisor. ¬†Also, all the photos here are form the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney’s facebook page.

RB outside

The exterior of the hotel.  (Photo from Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel facebook page)

I booked a night here for a birthday surprise. As soon as we pulled up outside, the staff were great. Straight away a staff member came across the street to collect our car and take our bags. Check-in was a breeze and I was delighted to be given a complimentary upgrade to the Studio Spa Suite.

The suite was incredible!  So spacious.  The decor was lovely.  The bathroom was huge, the spa was great.  I loved that the toilet was in its own separate room from the bathroom.  Great when 2 people are staying.  The bed was the perfect comfort level of a mix between hard and soft.  The pillows (for fussy people like us) were perfect.  We wish we had checked the brand of the pillows and the mattress so we could buy them for home!  The King size bed was divine.  We loved the TV feature coming out of the foot of the bed.  Lots of fun!  Thanks for the upgrade team Blu!!

RB suite

This is the suite we stayed in.  Actually amazing!  I have never stayed in such a nice hotel room.  (Photo from Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney facebook page)

RB suite 2

The lounge area of our suite.  We played dominos here and enjoyed snacks from the mini bar after our trip to the spa.  (Photo from Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney facebook page)

After we came back from massages at the spa, we noted housekeeping had straightened up our room and left some bottles of water and ice for us.  Such a great touch.

The 12noon standard checkout time was brilliant. ¬†Checkout was super easy and fast. ¬†I would very happily stay again. ¬†Thank you Radisson Blu Sydney for a fabulous stay. ¬†A shame it didn’t last longer.

I was pleased to get a reply from the hotel to my review on TripAdvisor.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts regarding your recent experience at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney. We certainly take pride in offering five star service and facilities to our guest and your feedback demonstrates that our continuous efforts have been recognised. We look forward to welcoming you back next time you travel to Sydney.

I gave the hotel 5 stars. ¬†I really couldn’t fault it. ¬†We will definitely look at Radisson hotels for future holidays.
** This was a fully paid holiday by me – I received no benefit from the hotel.


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Adelaide: How to put on 2kgs in 4 days

I’m sure you know that feeling after a holiday. ¬†The world seems like a wonderful place, those annoyances at work don’t seem so annoying anymore, the sky is bluer and everything tastes sweeter. ¬†For about 6 hours after you get back.

So the happy post holiday feeling has pretty much worn off and now I have those lovely memories to file away forever.  (And some tough sessions at the gym to work off the extra kgs)  Here are some of the highlights of my recent trip to Adelaide.

Jam Face:

I’m a huge Poh fan. ¬†So naturally the first stop was her cafe at the Adelaide Central Markets. ¬†She was there! ¬†Oh the excitement. I took a lame I’m-not-taking-a-photo, photo of her. ¬†Then ignored my lactose intollerance and dug into a milly filly. ¬†Heaven!

pohs-milly-filly

Poh’s Milly Filly!

Hahndorf:

We hired a car and drove the 30 or so minutes to Germany.  Well not really Germany, obviously, but a sweet little town pretending to be plucked from Germany and dropped in South Australia.  A stroll down the high street took us to bakeries, candle shops, sweet treats shops, German tourist stuff shops and a bunch of pubs and places to eat.  We settled on The Haus Handorf.  The pork belly and beef cheek were suitably rich and filling.  A quick stop for a candle on the way back to the car and we were back on the road.

german-merchandise

German merchandise as far as the shelves can contain it.

sugar

Sugar anyone?

german-lunch

Lunch at The Haus

Windy Point Cafe:

A high vantage gives diners Рlike us Рat this restaurant or cafe (we opted for the cafe) a spectacular view of the city at night with lights twinkling in the distance.  Oysters were a must (hello, South Australia!) and they were delish. So we ordered more.  A little weird though that they came in serves of 5 or 10, not the standard dozen or half dozen.  Is that an SA thing?

oysters

Oysters at Windy Point

Barossa:

The best way to visit any wine region is with someone else driving. ¬†So that’s what we did. ¬†It pays to have good friends. ¬†We visited Seppelt Winery and tried the sparkling Shiraz (let’s be honest, we tried more than that). ¬†Cue photo session among vineyards on the way back to the car. ¬†Penfolds cellar door was a fun spot. ¬†Lots of tastings (it costs $10 to taste, so obviously¬†you’ll be like us and get your money’s worth). ¬†Last stop was Yalumba. ¬†Our driver (actually our friend Hugo) is a regular there. ¬†The staff recognised him. ¬†So we felt very VIP when we were given numerous wines¬†to taste that were not on the standard list. It worked. ¬†I spent $100 on 2 bottles of wine. (FYI – that’s not my normal budget). ¬†Last stop was what we’d been promised months earlier – the best pizza in Australia at the Roaring 40’s cafe. ¬†It was good. But I had been drinking so anything would have been good. ¬†I would not call it the best pizza in Australia though.

barossa-vineyard

Barossa vineyard

my-pick-of-the-penfolds

My pick of the Penfolds

terrace-and-yalumba

The terrace at Yalumba

McLaren Vale:

We joined some more friends in the Vale for a very long table lunch at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant. ¬†20+ adults and 6 kids under the age of 4. ¬†Just think about how that could have turned out. ¬†But actually it was great. Canapes were served to us on the lawn (arancini and bruschetta) with more at the long white cloth-covered table (stuffed olives and bread) I chose the lobster and crab ravioli entr√©e (to die for!) and Salmon for main. Roasted vegetables and salads spread along the table ensured I was full to the brim. ¬†Out on the verandah we were served dessert. ¬†I inhaled the chocolate ice-cream/chocolate fondant serving. ¬†Hello deliciousness! ¬†A massive photo was taken of us all. ¬†I’m looking forward to seeing it.

the-view-from-darrys

The view from our long table lunch

chocolate-dessert

A dessert fit for a chocolate lover like me!

Rundle Mall:

To be honest, my main priority about our final day in Adelaide was a visit to Haighs. ¬†Rest assured we bought half the shop while we were there. ¬†I’m not even home a week and one packet is already gone. ¬†Yes, there are plenty of Haighs shops in Sydney and I am a regular visitor, but come on, when on holiday…

Osteria Oggi:

We ate our last lunch¬†at Osteria Oggi thanks to a recommendation from my friend and food writer Max Veenhuyzen (on Instagram as @maxveenhuyzen – look him up). ¬†It was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. ¬†A great decor and perfectly attentative service. ¬†We shared grilled squid for entr√©e. ¬†Yum! ¬†Main was a couple of pasta dishes with sausage and crab. ¬†Add a glass of crisp white wine or a G&T and you’ve got a couple of very happy customers.

grilled-squid-osteria-oggi

Osteria Oggi grilled squid

pasta-with-pork-sausage-and-fennel

Sausage and fennel pasta at Osteria Oggi

pasta-with-crab-and-corn

Crab and corn past at Osteria Oggi

Four days of overeating and drinking was definitely enough. Thanks for a great visit Adelaide.  Muchas gracias also to our hosts Hugo and Natalia.


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Review: Dream Lover

I’ll admit, when I first heard about ‘Dream Lover: The Bobby Darin Musical’ I thought, ‘who’s that?’.

But a quick Google and YouTube search later I realised I knew a lot of his songs. ¬†Thanks mostly to my mum’s music taste influencing mine. ¬†Mac The Knife, Splish Splash, Dream Lover, Things and Beyond the Sea among his some of the songs that I recognised. ¬†So I was looking forward to seeing the show.

bobby-darin-poster

The poster.  Image from Dream Lover РMusical Facebook page.

Sadly, it’s opening number did not live up to my expectations.

The set was good. ¬†It reminded me of an old ‘band stand’ type style. ¬†A black stage, with podiums slowly increasing in size and musicians pride of place on top of them. ¬†The whole lot was bordered by an arc of bright blue lights that changed colour and strobe patterns through the show. ¬†That was cool. ¬†I liked that the 18 piece¬†band was such a focal point – it makes sense, after all this is a show about music.

 

stage

The stage. Image from Dream Lover РMusical Facebook page.  

 

The show opened with Mac The Knife.  Woohoo, I thought, I love this song.  But enter the first cliché of the night: David Campbell aka Bobby Darin rose up from inside the stage, dressed in a tuxedo and singing in that staccato way Mac The Knife is sung Рin between the musicians.  While he was singing a great song, I could hardly hear him.  His voice was not loud enough compared to the band.

A bunch of backup dancers and singers joined him on stage in black trench coats and hats. The number definitely got better as it went along.  But I was after a bit more pizzaz to get me in the mood from the outset.

As the show went on David Campbell clearly began to feel more comfortable and get into the groove of things. His musical performances definitely got better. ¬†Highlights for me included: Splish Splash (perhaps a better opening number with the bright bath towels, sparkly bikinis and boys in boardies); Call Me Irresponsible as Bobby Dari wooed Sandra Dee (played by Hannah Fredericksen) on the set of Come September; their duet version of Dream Lover on the couch after she opens up about her past and; the ballad version of More sung by Nina (played by¬†Marney McQueen)¬†and Polly (Caroline O’Connor).

A gold star to Marney McQueen whose voice blew me away.  While her speaking voice was, for me, a little exaggerated-America-musical-theatre for me, when she sang More I was blown away. In fact it was that song that made me then download the accompanying soundtrack of Dream Lover.

It’s always a treat to see Australia’s musical theatre darling Caroline O’Connor. ¬†Her voice is like no other. ¬†She cleverly portrayed two very different characters in this show. ¬†If it wasn’t for her unique voice I probably wouldn’t have realised it!

One critique – the show is too long. ¬†There are a few slow points that I’m sure could be done more succinctly (or not at all) to shave off¬†20-30 minutes from the show. The first half of his life is extensively covered, the downfall and latter years, not so much. ¬†I think the creative team could do something to address that.

But for all the Bobby Darin diehards out there (looking at you mum) then this show is for you. All the classics you know, a great band, short cameos from other music greats such as Buddy Holly (Tim Madden) and Frankie Avalon (Joshua Robson) plus flashing lights, glitter, sequins and a lot of toe taping.

A special treat at the end of the opening night performance was Bobby Darin’s son Dodd taking to the stage to give his thanks and regards to the team. ¬†It’s hard to believe this is the first musical ever produced about¬†Bobby Darin’s life – his music repertoire could probably fill three different shows!

dodd-darin

David Campbell and Dodd Darin.  Image from Dream Lover РMusicla Facebook page.

I must give kudos to David Campbell. I’ve seen him on his usual TV gig most mornings¬†this week. ¬†It can’t be easy doubling up like that, from taking on Bobby Darin until the late hours, then wiping off the stage makeup to make room for¬†the TV makeup to be himself.

 

Let me know what you think of the show!

 


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Review: Tragédie

I saw Olivier Dubois’ Trag√©die the other day. ¬†I was an invited guest at the 100th performance. It was lovely to be invited.

It’s billed as ‘A meticulously constructed minimalist work that brings together women and men in a chorus of hypnotically repetitive movements backed by a pounding bass.’

What that little pr√©cis doesn’t mention is the¬†¬†n u d i t y.

My friend who came with me said at the end of the 90 minute performance, “that was an assault on all my senses”. ¬†I have to agree

I really want to keep this website positive, so I’m reluctantly writing this review – because I didn’t like it.

So, some positives:

The dancers performed non stop for 90 minutes. That’s very impressive.

Mostly the lighting concept was really nice. (But not the strobe lighting)

Some people liked it because they gave a standing ovation.

My favourite bit was when the dancers came out for the curtain call – dressed. They actually looked more attractive with a little bit of clothing on.

If you like nudity, marching, incessant beats and strobe lighting, this show is for you.

If you don’t, it’s not.
 


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Olympics

Years ago I visited the Olympics Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.  It was pretty great!!

I love what the Olympic Games represents. ¬†To me, they’re¬†about pushing aside any political woes, the atrocities of the world – and there are many – and realising the good we humans can do. ¬†Now of course, I am the first to say we actually need to pay much more attention to the ridiculous amount of pain and suffering in the world. ¬†The money spent preparing athletes could be much better used sheltering the homeless, feeding the starving and allowing researchers to make new discoveries. ¬†But I’m aiming to write a happy piece here, so I’ll leave that aside for now. ¬†I would also say the level of competitiveness between athletes goes too far. ¬†But if I put my blinkers on and look straight down the middle, blurry section, I see teamwork, kindness, laughter, health, learning and humanity on show.

I learnt from that visit to the Olympic Museum back in 2009 that the modern games were founded by¬†Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He loved the idea of the ancient Olympic Games from¬†Olympia, Greece (they ended in 393 AD) that he thought he’d set up a modern version. ¬†So off he went. ¬†He created¬†the International Olympic Committee in 1894. ¬†His aim was ‘to help build a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport.’ (I found that line on¬†the museum’s website olympic.org)

The first Olympic Games of the modern era took place in Athens in 1896.

 

Prior to the Rio games starting, some of my colleagues were discussing how they didn’t think it would be a good opening ceremony ‘because they didn’t know any famous Brazilians who’d be in it, unlike the Spice Girls at London’. ¬†But that’s what I¬†love the most. ¬†There is so much to learn about Brazil. ¬†I loved the opening ceremony! ¬†I found I learnt a few things and enjoyed a great show at the same time.

So back to what I love about the games. ¬†Here are my top 11 moments from Rio 2016. ¬†In no particular order (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some).

  1. Witnessing Michael Phelps continue to outdo himself.  23 Olympic gold medals is one heck of a resume.
  2. That photo of the lifeguard at the pool.
  3. Usain Bolt’s triple triple.
  4. The post swim interviews by our swimmers – all the ones I saw showed each swimmer humble and proud, no matter what time and in what order they touched the end of the pool.
  5. Simone Biles.
  6. The marriage proposals.
  7. New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin and American runner Abbey D’Agostino in the 5000m heat.
  8. Melissa Tapper. ¬†After her efforts at the Olympics she’s now preparing for the table tennis tournament in the Paralympics!
  9. Colombia’s Caterine Ibarg√ľen winning the triple jump (I have a personal link to Colombia).
  10. Chloe Esposito and my newfound love for pentathlon.
  11. Watching the Matilda’s against Brazil – although I didn’t like the result, obviously.

As I write this, the closing ceremony is just a few hours away. ¬†It’s been a great couple of weeks Rio. ¬†Thanks for the inspiration¬†athletes of the world!

 

 

 


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The Archibald Prize: my review

I recently made my way to the Art Gallery of New South Wales to look at the annual Archibald Prize exhibition.

The Archibald is given to the best portrait each year. ¬†The subjects of the works are normally ‘distinguished’ (read ‘somewhat famous’) people.

The trustees of the gallery choose the winner. ¬†They’ve been doing it since 1921 when the competition began. ¬†It’s named after JF Archibald (a journalist who created the Bulletin magazine and later was a trustee of the gallery) who wanted to encourage portraiture, support artists and ensure great Australians’¬†faces¬†were immortalised¬†in art.

There’s also the Packing Room prize, chosen by the staff¬†who unpack and hang all the works. ¬†That tradition started in 1991. ¬†Before that though, in 1988, the People’s Choice award was created.

So, this year’s Archibald went to Louise Hearman who painted Barry Humphries. ¬†It’s¬†oil on masonite and is 69.5cm tall and a metre wide. ¬†This is her first entry every into the competition.

 

Barry1

A woman and her daughter gaze at the winning entry by Louise Hearman 

I like how this piece is all about Barry. ¬†His image appears almost luminescent against the glossy¬†black background. ¬†His face looks warm, understanding, inviting. ¬†Exactly how many people I’m sure imagine Barry Humphries.

Barry2

‘Barry’ by Louise Hearman

I like the simplicity of this work. ¬†It’s such a contrast to the characters Barry Humphries plays. ¬†The glasses, purple hair and bright clothes of Dame Edna are nowhere in sight here.

Barry3

Simple and beautiful.

 

The Packing Room prize went to Betine Fauvel-Ogden for her work featuring celebrity chef George Calombaris.  The work is oil on linen and is 124.5cm tall and 1.1m wide.  This is her first time entering the competition.

George Colombaris

‘George Calombaris, masterchef’ by Betine Fauvel-Ogden

 

I used to love the TV show Masterchef. ¬†This year is the first time I haven’t watched the series. ¬†No real reason why. ¬†Just life and my changing TV viewing habits. ¬†On the show George Calombaris appears to be the junior of the judges. ¬†Mostly because of his age and size really. ¬†This painting depicts him as a tough kind of guy. ¬†He means business. ¬†I’m sure this is an accurate representation of him, but I feel like that’s not the George we see on TV. ¬†I like that we’re seeing this side of him. ¬†Because no doubt it’s those ‘tough’ qualities that has enabled him to have his success.

I love the golden yellow behind him in this painting. ¬†It’s warm and inviting. ¬†A nice contrast to the expression on his face. I also like the bright beads on his wrist. ¬†It brings in another side of his personality. ¬†He’s more than a chef.

The People’s Choice winner is announced in early September. ¬†I, like many others, cast my vote after looking at all the finalists.

People's Choice

Visitors voting for their favourite entry in this year’s Archibald Prize

My pick this year is ‘Deng’ by Nick Stathopoulos.

Deng

Perfection in my eyes

The painting looks like a photograph. ¬†(It reminds me of the painting¬†of Asher Keddie a couple of years ago that also looked like a photograph). It’s breathtaking. ¬†I know I was not alone in loving this work. ¬†Many people around me commented on how great it is.

You may not know Deng Adut’s story. ¬†He was a refugee from Sudan. ¬†A former child soldier, he put himself through law school at Western Sydney University (he was featured on an ad for the uni which you may have seen on social media) and¬†is now a refugee advocate and community leader. ¬†It took Stathopoulos four months to paint this image using¬†acrylic and oil on linen. ¬†It’s 1.37m by 1.37m.

The artist says, “You really need to have the subject there in front of you to capture that life-spark and commanding presence. ¬†Those eyes, those scars, tell a story no ad could ever convey.”

It’s a stunning piece of work.

I liked a lot of the works.  Here are a few more of my favourites.

The usuerpers

‘The usurpers (self portrait)’ by Michael McWilliams

This portrait is pretty incredible. ¬†It depicts introduced¬†plants and animals, the artist says have damaged our environment, fashioned into a self portrait. ¬†It’s a cool idea.

Michael says, “I chose to paint a self-portrait as I thought it unfair to ask any individual to be included in a painting called ‚Äúthe usurpers‚ÄĚ.”

It’s acrylic on linen and is 2m by 1.6m.

TheCost

‘The cost’ by Abdul Abdullah

The story of this painting is what really drew me in. ¬†I like the subject’s face, the sadness it shows. ¬†I also like the use of colour in this work. ¬†Craig Campbell was a police officer working on the day of the Cronulla riots. ¬†He saved the lives of two people that day. ¬†Later, he was denied a bravery award, he lost his home, his marriage fell apart and he now suffers PTSD.

Abdul says, “I didn‚Äôt want to paint him as a knight in shining armour, but rather as he is: a rough, battle-hardened old warrior who lives with the ghosts of a lifetime of trauma.”

It’s oil and resin on board and is 180cm wide.

There's no humour in darkness

‘There’s no humour in darkness’ by Kirsty Neilson

The sadness in this painting is so confronting.  A man we see on our TV screens, Garry McDonald, so happy and making us laugh, is not always like that. This painting shows that so clearly, but compassionately.

Kirsty says, “Garry graciously invited me down to his home in Berry where we walked around his beautiful property and talked. This portrait represents the state of never thinking you‚Äôre good enough. Anxiety and depression take you to such a dark place, which is illustrated by the use of black spray paint for the background.”

It’s oil and spray paint on canvas and is 193cm by 159cm.

Wendy Whitely

‘Wendy Whitely’ by Natasha Bieniek

 

Don’t be fooled by the lack of scale here. ¬†This painting is actually tiny. ¬†The artist has so meticulously painted such fine detail in this work. ¬†Look at those leaves, the flowers, the hair. ¬†I love the subject’s face here. ¬†There’s a smoothness to it.

Natasha says. “I recognised her instantly. After our first conversation, I knew that I had to paint her. I‚Äôd spent the last 18 months painting inner-city landscapes and I couldn‚Äôt believe that she had spent more than 20 years transforming unused railway land into a living sanctuary.”

It’s oil on wood and is 13.5cm by 18.5cm. ¬†(See, tiny!)

I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of some of my¬†highlights of the Archibald Prize finalists for 2016. ¬†You can see all the finalist entries on the gallery’s website.

Please let me know your favourite work.


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Colours of Carriageworks

Have you paid a visit to the Carriageworks Farmers Market? ¬†I recently took a look. ¬†It’s a great little produce market.

The really healthy and organised people do their grocery shopping there.  I just bought treats to eat.

The markets are every Saturday from 8am to 1pm. ¬†It’s also undercover, which is great if it’s a rainy day.

Take a look at some of the snaps I took while there. ¬†It’s worth a visit if you find the time.