As a city, Sydney is one of the best that I have visited. Not as hectic as London or as laid back as Budapest but with enough energy and things happening there was always some place to be, a view to look at and a bar to visit. Luckily I know a few people who have decided to move there so my main priority was to catch up with them first, after all what better way to get around than with the knowledge of a local to point you in the right direction. There is the standard list of things to do: a visit to the Opera House, a quick peak at the Harbour Bridge, a walk around Darling Harbour, a pop over to The Gap and of course a session in the sea on Bondi Beach. As I was only there for a couple of days fitting it all in would be near impossible, I tried my best but I have left a couple of “excuses” so that when I go back I have something new to look forward to.
My first stop was Darling Harbour, an easy one as it was close by to where I was staying and there were endless amounts of restaurants and bars to choose from so that a friend and I could sit down and plan out my next few hours. It was looking hectic but I was excited to be there absorbing it all and channeling my inner city slicker. Darling Harbour looks beautiful at night, the lights of the city provided a beautiful scene for some night-time photography and being surrounded by so much energy was great. Living in Middlemount you don’t often get that, if ever so the city buzz and bustle was actually exciting, call me sad but I’m a country bumpkin and I love the bush so being in a city is so different to my normal and genuinely thrilling for a couple of days or so until I start getting city fever and have cravings for the country again. With Christmas just round the corner too, the added bonus of Christmas lights and floating Santa’s was enough to get me in the spirit and in the mood for a drink.
A few drinks later and a private drive round the whole city I had seen it all, I had done Sydney. Well what I wanted to do anyway. The Harbour Bridge and Opera House again look beautiful all lit up and I can definitely see why people would enjoy living there. Being shown around by two locals you really do get a taste of what local life is like. I was almost tempted to pack up and move straight away, it all sounded fun and vibrant but very expensive.
The next day was spent doing all things touristy. A casual stroll in to town to soak up all that Sydney has to offer again only this time in daylight. The Opera House (no offense to the architect, designers, builders and lovers of this piece of art) is less impressive during the day, somewhat over rated in my opinion. Many of you will gasp at this and by all means carry on. I expect this to be met with shock and horror but in my opinion it is a tad on the ugly side. Structurally its impressive, the lotus flower petals are a great design and the concept is beautiful but it could have been made slightly prettier. The brown glass and brown cladding makes it look a little dirty and boring. I am glad that I saw it as it is an iconic structure but as structures go, it is far more glamorous lit up at night. The Harbour Bridge is as bridges go, well made and a good piece of engineering, it frames the harbour well. In fact from afar these two pieces of art do work well together and encompasses Sydney as a city and they actually look beautiful. It saddens me a little that up close I felt a disappointment. I took some photos obviously but got bored. The cruise ships coming in and out of the harbour were to me far more exciting to look at. So for the majority of the morning I wondered up and down the various streets, in and out of the galleries and decided that I had had enough of this side of the water. I wanted to go to the other side to see Sydney from another perspective in the hopes that I could begin to like this city a little more.
From the middle of the water it becomes more apparent how impressive Sydney really is and to try to grasp how a city was built around this water way was intriguing. I wanted to peel back the layers and have a look at it from ground zero. That evening I watched a program called Strip The City and it just so happened to be based on Sydney. After watching that I had a different appreciation for the skyscrapers and monuments that lined the shores. Impressive structurally and a mean feat of engineering, if only they could make it seem a little less bland up close. The majority of my photos were taken through Instagram as the filters to me added a little something extra and actually brightened the city quite significantly. I enjoyed it a lot more through a camera lens than I did on eye level. I felt somewhat cheated but you can’t love everywhere and not everything is perfect. Whilst I am blabbering on and on about how much I was disappointed by this place let me remind you all that this is solely my opinion. I understand that not everyone will agree and I sure as hell hope that not everyone does. If at this point in time you want to shake me silly and open my eyes a little I would stop reading if I were you or just skim over the next few lines. It isn’t going to get better. You win some and you lose some, I can deal with that. This blog is meant to be enjoyed and if you only feel anger and irritation save yourself. Come back another day and read something else, I am not always so negative I promise!
From the other side of the water the view was more to my liking. Sydney did look magnificent as a bigger picture. With all that it encompasses fitted in to one very neat but giant package, I could like Sydney but from the other side. My plan was to head to Bondi Beach as I hear this is a must do for everyone that comes to the harbour but in all honesty I had enough of being a tourist and I didn’t feel like spending a day soaking up the sun rays. After all it looked like rain and I was getting thirsty! I jumped back on the ferry and headed back for an afternoon of shopping.
Now the shopping is impressive, it has everything you need down one road and all in one place. Very convenient. I am no shopper by any stretch of the imagination but when you need some new clothing you don’t want to spend too long or have to go very far. Unfortunately I missed a random busking session by Passenger (if you don’t know them listen to them) but I enjoyed the thought that people could stop and be entertained by some good tunes whilst on their lunch break. It is the best excuse to get out of the cubicles in the skyscrapers and to get some sun. I heard from a group of people that this often happens and it actually improved my first impressions. How cool would it be to casually stroll round town and possibly bump in to a favourite band or just a good group of people playing awesome music. The other buskers around were not to be out done either, a guy with a very broken guitar and another one on some empty buckets made for a spontaneous street dance party. My spirits were lifted and I thought I should end of a high note (pun intended). I took myself and my shopping back for a shower and then I was hitting the bars again, friends in tow and with a list of places I needed to go. I started off at the O Bar. A cute but slightly chaotic bar at the base of the Opera House and a view to the bridge. The cider was good and the food there was great too. I thought that it was perfect, I had everything I could need from a bar and then the live music started. Nothing beats more good music to keep the high notes going (pun intended). From the Opera Bar To the O Bar we went and what a treat. A bar and restaurant right up at the top of a very tall building. The view was to die for and thanks to awesome engineering the revolving 360 degrees provided the best backdrop. Sydney is stunning at night, I will stand by this. A glittering array of expensive living and I was loving it. After a full revolution it was off to Grandmas bar and my personal favourite of all places. I had been told by a friend from South Sudan that I must go here so I did. It was slightly hard to find but with some map reading and a good sense of direction we were outside a building that really didn’t look like much. I instantly recognized the wallpaper and there was no mistaking it, we were indeed paying a visit to Grandmother. The quirky interior didn’t stop there; the chairs were old school and covered in crochet, drinks were served on doilies and bar bitings came in nana’s finest china. I was in love with everything. At that point I immediately wanted to pack by bags and hand in my resume to the owner. I wanted to be part of the charm and the character and even though it wasn’t busy you could tell that if the furniture and fittings could talk they would share epic tales of drunken debauchery and good times with great people.The staff were lovely and made a delicious cocktail or two and the billtong was the best yet. I was hooked. This bar alone made up for every disappointed moment and I was finally liking Sydney. If you have never been check it out, it has everything you want in a bar and more. It’s like visiting your boozy nana, and everyone knows that trips to nana’s are the best kind.
As much as I could have stayed at Grandmas all night it was time to hit the hay. It had been a long day… life as a tourist really is tiring plus I was up before dawn and on a flight back to the Mount. Sydney was cool, it is up there with places to revisit. The next time I will do things a little differently. Less like a tourist and more like a local, I think that is the key to really enjoying what this impressive yet equally unimpressive city has to offer.