When I first arrived in Sydney I will admit, I wasn’t really
taken by it. There was nothing spectacularly outstanding, my hostel was AWFUL
and it was FREEZING and raining. So not the best recipe to develop a fond
attachment straight away.
However, the more time I spent in Sydney, the more I began
to like it. There are many old buildings, the pubs are old, the houses are old.
At first I thought it was just that these things were built in the 1960’s and
never changed, many of which appeared run down. But actually, they were very
well maintained, just not particularly modern. But this represents the way of
life here; not materialistic nor hugely fashion conscious, but laid back and
Much of Sydney is so like home, and I suppose it would be seen as it was created by the British settlers not so many years ago in terms of history. But it looks like London probably did (not that I am old enough to make
that judgement first hand) 30 years ago. There are old fashioned pubs on many
corners that are frequented by locals and tourists alike regardless of hour,
many of the public and business buildings appear to have been built in an old
style. There are markets and individually owned shops, not the usual
multi-national chains that one would expect of a globally renowned city such as
However much of Sydney is also not like home, there is the
beautiful weather (OK it was raining when I arrived, but it did perk up as the
week went on, and it is the midst of their winter after all), the beautiful
harbour and relaxed, calm and friendly culture. Sydney boasts a metropolis of
cultures, and all seem to live together in harmony, with little segregation
(apart from the aboriginals but I didn’t see any at all in Sydney), which is
wonderful to see. Life here is not all about work, it is about living life and
enjoying it. It is a lovely place. I completely understand why so many people
want to move here to live.
Everything is more expensive in Sydney; the food, the tourist attractions, the accommodation. We (I was still travelling with my friend Karen that I met in Brisbane) booked a dorm room for $24 (which was extraordinarily cheap for Sydney!) at the Base hostel in the city centre. It was a fantastic location. But that is the only positive remark I will make about this hostel. It was TERRIBLE! The staff were rude and useless, they couldn’t tell me barely anything about the local area, nor could
they answer any of my questions. They were incredibly slow (queuing for an hour
to check out is just unreasonable!) and they were so bad one member of staff
even called a guest a c**t!!!! I thought that was just awful!!! (However I have
since been told that that word does not bear the same severity as it does in
the UK, but all the same it was still massively inappropriate!)
The hostel was filthily dirty absolutely everywhere and to top it off there were two COMPLETE KNOBHEADS in our room that thought it was funny to come in drunk at all hours of the night, turn on the lights, start shouting and dancing around the room. I hate to admit, but almost all of the drunken idiotness like this that I have
encountered on my travels has been the acts of the British or Irish, it is
really quite embarrassing. So anyway, I didn’t like my hostel, but rather than
move again (I am so tired of moving all the time!) I decided to bear the brunt
and put up with it as it was only for a few short days.
So my first day in Sydney was really cold. It was a lot colder here than it had been further up the country, A LOT. I don’t like the cold. And to top it off, not only was it cold, but also wet.
I would normally walk around the city, firstly because of my new found love for walking, and secondly because I think you get to see more and take in more of the city this way. However I was not willing to do this in the cold and the wet, so we opted for the tourist bus. The bus took us around, what is actually a lot smaller than I expected,
the city centre. I know that Sydney is actually really big because the suburbs
are really spread out etc, but the main city itself I did expect to be a bit
bigger. But that’s cool, bigger doesn’t mean better. We did the whole tour in
around 1 ½ hours, stopping off for hot chocolate breaks and to see the famous
Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
The Opera House was lovely, what a magnificent work of art. It is such an iconic symbol of Sydney, it seemed almost unreal to be stood in front of it. I pictured the images of New Years Eve and how incredible it must be to be there watching the fireworks and being one of the first places on earth to welcome in the New Year. The bridge was also fantastic.
\We also stopped off at a shopping mall where we were approached and asked if we would like a free desert, to which we replied ‘why not!’. They sat us down and gave us a HUGE $15 bowl of ice cream of our choice. It was great-how often would you get this back home!? And all we had to do was tell them if we liked it or not-fantastic!!
- We also went to China Town. Every big city seems to have one, but here it is a bit more prominent with the huge amount of Asians that now live in the city. Here they have many food courts selling all types of Japanese and Chinese dishes, and these were much cheaper than any other restaurant, so we decided to eat here, which was very nice. I called it Australian-Asian food, because the meals were not small as they typically would be in Asia but instead were HUGE! My meal could have fed three or four people!
One of my friends that I used to work with back in the Sainsbury’s days, Tony, now lives in Sydney. So in the evening we went over to his bar in the city centre to say hello and have a few vinos. Well a few actually turned into a few too many and I felt terrible the entire next day! (Eeeek, I really think I should just become tea-total!) It was
lovely to see him and the bar was very nice, it became a club at night which
was very interesting because it was rammed FULL with Asians!! At home it’s not
really that common to see Asian people out drinking and dancing, but here they
are Asian by appearance, but definitely Australian at heart! And Australian’s
know how to drink….
The following day we went to check out Bondi Beach. The sun was shining and it seemed like the perfect day for it (although it was still very cold!). And it was a very nice beach. But there’s not much more to say about it really. Nothing massively stood out about it, there were a few shops/restaurants along the sea front and it was a nice
Lots of people were surfing here (the cold water temperatures don’t seem to bother them!) and they were also kite flying. There were some fantastic kites, including a HUGE whale kite! It looked pretty difficult to control though as it kept crashing to the ground.
We walked along the beach, had some lunch and then decided it was too cold to stay and went back into the city. It was a nice beach, but I’m not entirely sure I understand why it is so famous.
In the evening I met Tony again for a proper catch up and he took me to Darling Harbour. I had walked past in the daytime and not really thought too much to it, but by night it was beautiful! All of the harbour was lit up by the high rise buildings around it, and it looked lovely. We had a drink in a very nice bar and then unfortunately he had to go to work again, but it was nice to see him.
The following day we checked out Manly. Joanna (my friend from Fraser Island) lives in Sydney and had just got back from her travels down the east coast so she took us out and about to check out the city. Firstly we went to Paddy’s Market.
The market was nice, selling all of the souvenirs I had seen in so many shops on my travels at a discounted price. They also sold clothes, food and various other things. To my horror, they also sold kangaroo BALLS!!! And CLAWS!! And people actually buy these things and put them on keyrings etc! It is disgusting if you ask me, but there
is clearly a market for it! :S
To get to Manly you have to take a ferry from the harbour. The ferry ride was lovely and gave fantastic views of the city, with the opera house and the bridge in the foreground.
Manly itself was also very nice, there is a lovely promenade and a lovely golden sandy beach. I actually preferred this beach to Bondi! We enjoyed some nice fish and chips by the beach (how very English!) and chilled out for the day. And then Joanna introduced me to the Brennan chocolate shop…. And it was amazing!!!!! They sold the most amazing hot chocolate I have EVER tasted!! Yum!
It was nice to see Joanna again, we had bumped into her at so many points on our way down the coast (we probably would have just travelled together had she not have pre-booked everything) and it was nice to meet up to say goodbye.
When we got back the sun was
setting and we went over to take some more pictures of the opera house, and
they were beautiful! The sunset put a pink tint onto the otherwise cream
coloured tiles, and it looked beautiful. From there we decided to walk across
the harbour bridge, I mean it has to be done while in Sydney!!
By the time we got to the bridge it was dark, and the city looked incredible! The dazzling city lights reflecting off the river and the Opera House all lit up, and the full moon shinning bright in the sky was just amazing. I even got to see flying
foxes-they were everywhere! It was like a scene out of a vampire movie or
something, with the huge bats flying across the moonlit sky….I almost expected Edward and Jacob to appear!! He he
This was my last night in Australia. I looked over the view of the city reflecting on the time that I had had here and all of the things that I have seen/done. I didn’t take to
Australia straight away, the high costs and cool weather being the main
reasons, but it really had grown on me. A month is not long enough to spend in
Australia, but any longer would require a significantly higher budget than I
had, or getting a job.
As I have said before, the fact that I am the complete other side of the world is very strange to me, but with it being so familiar to the UK, home does not seem far away at all. It is a truly wonderful country and I did love it in the end. I will return someday, when I have more money and I can truly appreciate what the country has to
offer. But for now, it is back to Asia before returning home to the UK….
See you again someday Oz!