When I asked my sister to describe Sydney, she told me to imagine the city was my hand, with all ten fingers stretched wide. Each fingertip was a “head,” or a bluff that overlooked the ocean, and the spaces between were beaches and coves. She then said to multiply my hands by ten, and picture an endless coast of gorgeous beaches scattered up the north and south of the Australian coast.
Sydney is a vibrant city and a nature lovers paradise. It’s a multicultural metropolis filled with beaches and harbours, like Darling Harbour below. Sydney is for city, water and outdoor lovers.
Sydney has a great public transportation system. There are cheap buses and ferries everywhere, and a decent living wage. People in Sydney work really hard but they like to have fun too. They are incredibly friendly. I met bumped into several people in random public places that invited me to join them for a drink – and were offended when I paused (not because I didn’t want to, but because I had a tight agenda). They are social and love to join friends and have fun.
The city is filled with hills and valleys. Steep steps are everywhere. This may be why people are so attractive and trim. I had a really hard time finding anyone who looked out of shape. In fact, a lot of people wore workout pants as an every day outfit. I wore my yoga pants a lot and fit right in.
The food in Sydney was great, for me. It’s Euro-Australasian, with lots of veggies and lean proteins. Not a lot of junk food. Lots of Asian restaurants so I was in heaven. I didn’t see much junk food at all. I guess the lack of potato chips and alternative of “soy crisps” on the flight showed a true sign of things to come! It was good. People looked healthy.
But many of them like to party, party, party. They throw planned and spontaneous parties – Sydney is festive! Cops takes this pretty seriously. On our way to my sisters house from the airport on a Saturday morning, police had setup road blocks and were randomly testing drivers with breathalyzers – on a sunny morning! My sister this is not unusual, and penalties for drinking and driving are huge. So people take it pretty seriously, so it keeps the city safer and clean.
In Sydney, everyone seems to have a water view. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. There are steep hills and rolling valleys filled with multi-level homes and apartments that all have these amazing views of the water. Everyone seems to be connected by the water.
The water around Sydney is mostly salt based, with dozens of coves and bays carved out of the cliffs that cut the coast in jags off the main harbor, and lead to the Tasman Sea. The bays are stunning. Each beach has its own unique personality, along with some crazy fun stories that go back hundreds of years.
Sydney was apparently England’s outlaw headquarters in the 1700’s. Thousands of scoundrels were banished from England and sent to Australia as punishment. They descended by slow ship upon the scattered beaches. Some of them violently scooped up the land land from the Aborigines and made the city their new home. A lot of Sydney’s founders and partners weren’t really scoundrels though. In fact, many were guilty of petty crimes, like stealing a loaf of bread, or a handkerchief. But still, they created some outrageous and scandalous stories as the great city’s buildings and neighborhoods took shape.
Nature is key in Sydney, as is the beach. Everyone seems to have a favorite beach, or two. It all comes down to the day, your mood, where you live, and the weather. Most people like my sister like the beaches within walking or biking distance of their home. Surfers probably pick their home based on their favorite beach to surf at. But the funny thing about surfing in Sydney is that the waves can vary dramatically from beach to beach. This is a good thing, though, because if there are no waves on one beach, surfers can easily load up their board and drive to the next beach, or a string of different beaches, until they find the best waves. All the beaches are fairly close to each other, and beach hopping is pretty common.
Despite how close all the beaches are to the city, every one I saw kept its natural beauty. Many are u-shaped and are surrounded by cliffs of different heights. The water is clear blue and the sand is golden beige. A bunch have swimming pools carved out of stone and fed by the sea. I think these pools allow people to swim safely during the stinger season when jellyfish are everywhere.
Here’s a run-down of a couple of my days in Sydney. I had ice-cream in Coogee beach, lunch in Freshwater beach, brunch in Shelley beach and post-yoga veggie juice in Manly beach. I had Vietnamese Pho in Chinatown and Korean Bibimbap in the Japanese village Chatswood. I had no issues avoiding gluten and found great tasting and reasonably priced Thai lunches ($8 specials, yum!) several times while hiking my sister’s neighborhood in Cremorne and Neutral Bay.
I love Sydney. And Queensland, the northern part of Australia that I visited. To be fair, these are the only two areas in Australia I’ve been to so far. I’m looking forward to planning a trip back, and want to see Sydney again. Next time I want to shoot for Melbourne, Adelaide, the Gold Coast and some wineries (like the Chook! Yummmm) too.