Vivid Sydney + Guylian Cafe / by Jessica Lee

While in Sydney, one of the things I had been missing about Toronto was its big arts festivals and events.

I finally got my wish for an arts event as this week the Vivid festival was happening down at Circular Quay.

There's something lovely about big crowds, a good vibe and lots of interesting things to stimulate the mind and imagination.

I think it's great cities are putting on free cultural events to enrich the minds of its people.

The quay was lit up with installations and it reminded me of a smaller-scale Nuit Blanche back in Toronto, which is an all-night arts fest that goes on until the wee hours of morning. It's pretty intense.

Sydney has the sun, surf and weather, but I think in terms of arts festivals, my hometown takes the cake. Toronto's council was talking about slashing funding to the arts a few months ago, and I hope they never do because it would be a great loss for Toronto. Art inspires and educates. It sparks creativity. I could write a whole speech about art, but I don't want to get preachy.

At the quay, there were some pretty cool things. An artist took Sydney's cultural icon and made it look like different things was happening to it.

Here, it looks like there is a hand sticking out of it.

Here is a closer look.

The artist did some other pretty cool things, like making the opera house look like it was catching wind like the sails of a ship or projecting images of cartoons.

That was pretty much the main attraction.

Here are some giant glow sticks: 

And here is a glowing giant fish.

It's definitely cooler in real life than in the picture because this fish actually moves. Not sure if you can see, but there is someone inside the fish, cycling the fish around the dock. There were a set of three fish that just cycled around the dock and a crowd of fascinated people just followed these fish around. It was surreal and kind of weird- like a movie.

We decided to take a break from the festival midway and stopped at the Guylian cafe right on the quay. For those of you that don't know, Guylian makes fine Belgian chocolates. They are my second favourite chocolates after Ferrero Rocher. Godiva is okay too.

They had a menu full of things like sandwiches and salads. But honestly who goes to the Guylian cafe to eat sandwiches and salads? I think it's just there as an option incase you are like my housemate Myra who doesn't eat sweet things but is sometimes dragged by me or the rest of the housemates to some place (usually cafes).

Here is a bunch of pastries that look appealing.

The fifth one from the left looked particularly good. It was creme brule but with a chocolate topping!

Here is a closer look at other pastries. See the impeccable perfectionism?

We ordered a tiramisu and a pot of hot chocolate to share on their heated patio.

I made these next photos black and white so the food and people in them would look classier.

See? Doesn't it look like we're in a French cafe or something?

The tiramisu and hot chocolate were delicious. Then we ordered hot water (big mistake) to follow the chocolate.

Did you know it is $0.75 for a cup of hot water at the Guylian cafe?

I know it is tacky to take pictures of your bills and post them online but this is atrocious!

Actually, it is not that atrocious but I know even Citizen Kane would not approve if that happened to him when he first met Susan Alexander.

Anyway, we got past that and continued to work our way across the harbour.

Beautiful isn't it?

We also encountered a colourful fibre optic display.

Here come the bokeh photos:

Some artist made a giant tic-tac-toe board. It would have been interesting reading the artist statement for this one. Sadly I passed over it.

These are some kids playing tic-tac-toe with each other.

Here is a photo of me riding a bike where the wings on the back are lit by kinetic energy.

More wings...

This exhibition was really fun.

Basically the structure reacts to noise (the cards flip up) so every five seconds, there would be crowds of people screaming at the structure, mostly kids because most adults are too boring to do anything.

This is a photo I took of kids screaming. I love the energy.

See what I mean about a great vibe at art festivals?

People just seem more open towards each other, interacting with each other and smiling more.

Here are some buildings with lights imposed on them.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (which I still have to visit!) had a DJ party thing going on.

I took a photo of the street full of people to capture what the mood of the night was like. It was bustling.

This is a giant cube that spins when people pull it in a direction.

I didn't read the artist statement but I like how it got strangers to talk to each other and interact. I mean, you see people every day on the subway or on the street but rarely do you share smiles or moments.

I think this feeling of being "connected" to other people at events like these is similar to being at a sports game, being part of a big crowd cheering for your team.

It was a pretty good night. I got some good photos, enjoyed some art and had gourmet chocolate.