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Monday, October 27, 2014

Cirque Du Soleil Totem | Australian Tour

Cirque du Soleil returns to Australia with a spectacular show presented under the much-loved blue and yellow Big Top. 

TOTEM traces the awe-inspiring journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. 

The cast features 45 performing artists from 16 countries specialising in many breathtaking acrobatic acts. TOTEM marks Cirque du Soleil’s second collaboration with acclaimed theatre and film director Robert Lepage following KÁ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

Somewhere between science and legend, TOTEM explores the ties that bind mankind to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.


Sydney, NSWOpens on October 28, 2014
Melbourne, VIOpens on January 21, 2015
Brisbane, QLOpens on April 10, 2015
Adelaide, SAOpens on June 11, 2015
Perth, WAOpens on July 31, 2015

Sydney Morning Herald Review of Totem | Cirque Du Soleil

Every night during Cirque du Soleil's performance of Totem, Pascal Sioui, the head of automation, straps a chunky black and yellow box to his right hip. In its centre is a big red button surrounded by three words: "Stop Stop Stop"
Sioui, in charge of "everything that moves", has not had to push the button many times. In his 15 years with the world's biggest and best-known circus company, only two shows have been cancelled.

"I would say I have looked after about 4000 performances in 95 cities," he says, tapping his iPad screen to make the set's 4500-kilogram mirrored hydraulic bridge rise like a scorpion's tail.  "We stopped the show in Washington because the wind was picking up and it was too dangerous to use the tent. Safety is No. 1." 

Totem's close-knit troupe of 120 cast and crew  from 14 countries features people who perform and create astounding, gravity-defying acts of visual and physical wizardry. It also includes coaches, creative artists, physiotherapists, cooks and technicians.

But when you have presented a show 1500 times in 25 cities during four years of touring, with three more to come, another priority creeps in: how to keep everyone, including accompanying spouses and children, happy and sane on such an epic theatrical roadtrip.

With the American, Dutch and British legs of the tour completed, Cirque du Soleil performed Totem - it's 26th show - in Auckland in September.  On October 28, it begins a 10-month Australian tour in Sydney before moving to Asia for two years.

Cruise Hot Deal at Metro Apartments on Darling Harbour

Metro Apartments on Darling Harbour is offering this Cruise Sydney Package, Book your pre/post cruise accommodation with Metro Apartments on Darling Harbour and you'll save 10% off our Best Available Rate!
Metro Apartments on Darling Harbour is ideally located within easy walking distance to many of Sydney’s shopping precincts, theatre and entertainment venues.
Nearby Darling Harbour attractions include the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney Aquarium, IMAX, Australian National Maritime Museum, harbour cruise departures, Tumbalong Park for concerts and events and Sydney Entertainment Centre.
The loft style apartments are fully serviced with plenty of room to relax and enjoy your stay.  The bedroom and bathroom is located on the mezzanine level and the fully equipped kitchen and lounge with balcony downstairs. Complimentary WIFI is available in all apartments.
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The Rolling Stones | Live in Sydney

The Rolling Stones today confirmed the rescheduled dates and venues for the postponed Australian and New Zealand leg of their ’14 On Fire’ Tour.

Ticket holders who are able to attend the rescheduled date need take no action, their existing ticket will remain valid and their location within the venue will remain unchanged.

Fans unable to attend the new shows are asked to secure a refund from their original point of purchase prior to 5pm (local time to the venue) on Monday 28 April, 2014. Refunds can be secured through:

Sydney | | Ph: 132 849

Lead-up to the Tour Down Under:

Production manager Dale Skjerseth - who has been involved with the band since 1994 - says it takes a lot of work to get everything perfect.

"We’ll be up to around 200 (people) working today, tomorrow, up to the prep for the show and then of course the building will expand. Security ushers, and all the rest of the staff will come in," Dale said on Wednesday afternoon.

"It’s a well oiled machine but we all have to get the joints moving."

Dale says the crew won’t know the specifics of the set list until moments before the show starts.

"They’ve been rehearsing so many songs, we really don’t know what it’s going to be… Of course there will be the favourites and the things added in and stuff they haven’t done,"

"They look back at what they did before years ago when they played here. They think about it and it’s just gotten better every time they’ve gone out."
Promoter Tony Cochrane also confirmed that Jimmy Barnes will be healthy enough to support the Stones after the Cold Chisel singer underwent back surgery last month.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Sydney

Australia's largest city is the jumping off point from exploring the country's vast landscape.  It's  also the city with the most inbound flights from North America. 
Here are some essential tips to plan and enjoy your visit.
Airfare tips
October to March is Sydney's busiest tourism period, when the weather is most pleasant. Airfares are cheaper for travel during Australia's winter months (the North American summer), and higher for the Australian summer, with the southern hemisphere's spring and fall being shoulder season. 
Getting through the airport
U.S. citizens must get an electronic visa online at least two weeks before travel for AUD $20. If you have an "electronic passport" with a microchip, look for the kiosks at immigration for a quicker entry into the country. You need to fill out an immigration card on entry, as well uponleaving the country. The train from the airport costs $21, round-trip.
Getting around the city
Sydney is very walkable—it's basically flat, with no hills to climb, and the streets are well marked. (Warning: pedestrians do not jaywalk, and police are not hesitant to fine you for doing so.)  Newsstands sell the recently introduced Opal Card, a stored-value transit card similar to London's Oyster Card and the cheapest and most convenient way to access public transportation. The daily maximum you'll pay for travel is capped at $15 for adults, $7.50 for children, or $60/$30 for a weeks' worth of travel, which includes busses, trains and ferries. As for taxis, they are metered and in egalitarian Sydney, where everyone is a "mate," people still ride in the front seat with the driver. Uber has come to town, and is gaining popularity. 
Recommended hotels
As with airfares, hotel rates go down in winter (the North American summer). The highest rated lodgings with the most reviews, according to, are two serviced apartments rather than hotels: Merton Serviced Apartments Campbell Street and its sister property Merton Serviced Apartments World Tower. Accommodations include full kitchens and washer/dryers. In the luxury category, the 155-room Sydney Park Hyatt gets top marks, but the prices are a splurge (in the $700 per night range). But perhaps the best value, say TripAdvisor groupies, is the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbor, which recently advertised rates at $160 per night.
Top eats
There's no "traditional" Australian or Sydney dish or cuisine other than, perhaps, "shrimp on the barbie," made famous by actor Paul Hogan's appearances in those tourism television ads. But Sydney now has a considerable food culture, even though it's only been in existence for about 30 years. Australian beef is an especially tasty option, and you'll find lamb dishes on many menus. For fine dining, two highly recommended options are Nomad, 16 Foster Street in Surry Hills, with its Mediterranean-inspired menu sourced with local Australian ingredients, and long-running Rockpool, now in a new location at 11 Bridge Street in the Central Business District, where chef Neal Perry also provides tasty menus for Qantas.
Top attractions
Tours of the Sydney Opera House (, which, amazingly, took 17 years to build, are extremely popular and a great photo opportunity. The standard tour takes one hour, while the backstage option lasts two hours. For many who do it, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge is a highlight of their trip. Do it at sunrise or twilight and, of course, bring a camera. Even jaded locals are amazed by the experience.
 Annual festivals
Every January the Sydney Festival brings stages around 400 contemporary cultural performances: around140 events performed by more than 1000 artists in more than 30 venues. In October, the annual Good Food Month brings street food festivals and other culinary events to Sydney.
Off the beaten track
 Don't be confused when Sydneysiders talk about "suburbs"—these are what you and I call "neighborhoods," inner-city enclaves similar to Sunnyside, Queens in New York City and there are hundreds of them; they include virtually anything outside the Central Business District. For an unusual insider's tour of "emerging" 'hoods such as Redfern and Darlington and hidden scenic spots that few tourists see, in a beautifully restored 1964 Holden sedan, sign up with My Sydney Detour, a unique private tour run by native son Richard Graham. A half-day tour costs $299 for up to three people and includes lunch.
One thing to bring back (that you can't find anywhere else)
Tim Tam Chocolate Biscuits. According to the company, 1 in every 2 Australian households has a packet on hand. Lambskin rugs are also popular shopping finds, although you can often get them at IKEA for less.
 Exchange rate
The U.S. dollar currently fetches 1.14 Australian dollars.
Tips are not customary nor are they expected, perhaps because the minimum wage is $17 an hour.
Voltage is 220, and you will need both an outlet adaptor and a voltage converter if you're using appliances without built-in converters (you don't want to fry your curling iron or WaterPik). Even many top hotels, airport lounges and other venues lack 110-volt outlets, although they usually provide adaptors on request or you can get them from housekeeping, but it's best to bring your own.
Useful apps
Locals give high marks to the TimeOut Sydney and Australia Good Food Guide apps. The Sydney Official Guide app from Destination New South Wales is also highly rated. Arrivo Sydney (Android) and NextThere (iTunes) are useful public transit apps.
Useful websites
Destination New South Wales
Airfare listings to Sydney
Air New Zealand
Virgin Australia
TripAdvisor Things to Do in Sydney

Find Accommodation At Metro Apartments on Darling Harbour

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