The Dock of The Bay

For my friend, Antonio, who is “new in” to Sydney

So I am back here again at Quest Base Camp, after my little sojourn in the Southern Hemisphere – and in reflecting back on this quest so far on this (sadly) rather gloomy May day in old London town, am realising that  probably everyone has their Sad Café, their Home Town Café and their little café in the middle of nowhere.

It would be great to receive a few comments from my fellow bloggers – and other visitors to this site – on whether they have their own ones for each type I’ve noted to date, as well as hear about different types – as maybe that is the key to the “unusual element” that makes this quest interesting: recognising quirky elements of a good café.

Maybe I am just a frustrated café marketeer – or perhaps a café-a-holic – but it is not just a great coffee that makes for a good café (although that clearly helps). It’s about something more.

My first thoughts are that some of the keys are “good people , positioning and great atmosphere” – so that you see it and feel you want to sit down and “take the load off….”.  Otherwise you might as well just get a takeaway (although I do know some good and quirky places for that too – such as Peruvian Eddie’s coffee cart down in Merchant Square, Paddington Basin every week day morning in London, which does something mean with a Caffe Molinari coffee bean).

In stopping over in my second home of Sydney, on the way back through to London from Wellington, I had just enough time to grab a coffee at another café that has stood the test of time – and also fits another type too.  I think I’d call this one “the dock of the bay café”.

It’s called Rossini’s and is right down on the parade at Circular Quay, Sydney.  When I first lived in Sydney, way back in 1990, I used to either grab breakfast there on my way to work – and having travelled the 7 miles by ferry across Sydney harbour from Manly – or stop off there at the end of the day for a wine with friends or workmates before we each went on our ferry way.

Hot buttered raisin toast, and a cappucino, were de rigueur for me as a quick breakfast snack back then – before taking the train two or three stops down (depending on how much time I had) to where I worked down town on contract putting in a new car registration and licensing system for the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority.

Rossini’s is all about the setting. You can sit down, outside, and have your Otis Redding moment:

“sittin’ on the dock of the bay, watchin’ the ships roll in – and watch them roll away again”

The staff make you feel like royalty there, as they lead you to your table.  There is also something of a movie-like feel to it all as you sit there and watch the Sydney ferries dock and all the people roll off on their way somewhere.

You can clearly spot the travellers with their luggage in tow. The “new in” (as the locals refer to them) are those who have just come from the airport to there. It’s here that they get their first glimpse of the majestic Sydney harbour and its amazing icons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House all in one compact setting.

The best way to get a shot of these architectural icons is actually from Circular Quay station itself – but not many of the “new in” people may realise that though, as the train coming in stops on the other side of the station that does not look out across the bay.

So often it is only for the luxury of those leaving – heading out t’other way – that get the best view of this amazing spot as shown in the photo gallery below.

The Scene from Circular Quay Station

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For those that have the time though, I can thoroughly recommend a coffee and raisin toast at Rossini’s.  That way you can “sit and watch those ships roll in – and watch them roll away again….”


About Matt's Tale

A New Age travel writer, seeing the old in the new and the bold in the blue - but mainly seeking the freedom to be, as much as to do. His tales come from meeting modern day travellers following their likes of King Arthur to Geoffrey Chaucer, leading him on to places considered "Camelot" and different ways to see Canterbury and cafes a lot. Email: Twitter: @mattstale
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