Sunday, 8 January 2012

A tale of two cities: My truth about Sydney.

''Don't stay here, it's dangerous '' tells me a random guy who decided he would stay with me , here by the xmas tree, until my friend comes to pick me up.

Dangerous... It's kind of a vague concept for an Aussie. Deadly spiders , scorpions , sharks , snakes, they 're all FINE. But Sydney Central station, full of drunk idiots on New Years eve is DANGEROUS. My bodyguard was not even from here '' Are you f*** crazy , I'd never live here. I'm from the bush, mate''.

That was my first taste of Sydney

A couple of hours later I turned into a DANGER myself ( mixed french wine and whisky) watching the firework in the distance with friends. I remember crying saying ''no other f*** city can beat that, man'' . Yeah I was as stupid as an aussie tourist weeping in front of the Eiffel tower. Travelling does that to you mate.

At that stage I thought that my decision was made.Sydney Firework was the most spectacular thing I had ever seen while drinking french wine.

Next thing I know I wake up next to a man... from Melbourne.

And the game was on again ....

After a hard core Sydney hung over I decided to go explore the city . My challenge was to stay in George Street ( the VERY city centre) for 3 hours. Lunch time, Monday. Time of arrival 11.30 am. Time of freak out 11.45am .
Never say to a friend '' I'l meet you in Starbucks on George street . Because there are about 200 of them. Don't even try Mac Cafes.It's packed. ( but you can still stand in front of it to pick up free wifi)
You can also go to the Apple shop to check your emails for free if you want to queue for an hour and have the spirit of Steve Job following you for the next 2 hours.

Shops even sell winter stuff. It's 28 degrees. Who would buy boots just because it's Winter in Paris. Many people I guess. No, I did not.

The only thing that reminds you where you are, are the '' I love Sydney Tee shirts'' .You sort of remember when you are because there is still a HUGE xmas tree on Martin's place. Other than that , you could be anywhere else in the world. That's the sort of pictures you have to label because 10 years from now you ll struggle to remember where you've taken them .

'' Hong Kong! Hang on, no... was it Paris?''

So.... Where the f***do I go?

That's how I ended up in the library. I always end up in the library. But this one was special. It gives you 20 minutes of free internet AND free wifi. Compliments from New South Wales State Library

I spent my last hour eating chips in Coles. I NEVER eat chips. When my friend offered to walk home I gave her THE look. We took the bus.

Oh transportation in Sydney.... It's really easy.When you know where you are going. Like most tourists, I did not. Unless you already KNOW that the train to North Sydney is on platform 16 you need to read 15 other signs before you get to the right one. Sweet. But you will NOT forget the ride , mate. Unless you live in Sydney and it will just be another day on the bloody train back home.

Indeed, the train to North Sydney goes through the bridge. yes, THE bridge. There I was , my camera in one hand and a hanky in the other . I am on SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE. I could not believe it. Another awesome moment made in Sydney shared with.... no one who could understand.

Other aussies were playing with their Iphone looking up only to check if I was crying for a valid reason. Just another tourist mate, all good. Go Back to facebook. I felt like the first time I raved about an Ibis on the street in Murwillumbah and someone told me that it was the equivalent of taking photos of pigeons in Europe.Or even worse : squirrels in England D'oh.

You also have the bus in Sydney. Ask for a 2 dollar ticket. They'll ask you for 2 dollar 10. Julia's decision from 01st Jan 2012 , they'll say. Tickets are pre paid. Meaning if you show up in the bus with no ticket between 7am and 7pm you can get legally kicked out, even if you have the money. Obviously I did it. My rebel french side I guess. And also the fact that most places that sell tickets close at 6pm.Yes, in Sydney , between 6pm and 7pm you just WALK.
I get in the bus with my 2 dollars 10 and my best french accent
'' Can I pay for zee ticket wizz you pleazzzz'' ( I love my thick french accent)
'' No''
'' You can have a free ride baby'' he says , not looking at me in the eye but a little '' down under''
I LOVE Sydney bus drivers.

'' What do you pay all these tickets for? '' says my new friend from Holland.
There was a PASS. 20 dollars pass that does ferry / train/ bus for a whole week. That, if you are a student or italian ( and are prone to cheating and PRETEND you're a student) If you're a normal person It's 40 dollars.

'' You can get it from the machine there. No one asks you for student id ''

That's when I became a 32 year old ( italian) student.
Sydney is awesome.
2 hours later I lost the pass and went back to paying every single ride. Imagine the lucky fake student who found it!

Back to my post George street traumatic experience. So what do Sydney people do the relieve The Stress?
I found a meditation group on couch
Unblocking your chakras with a cool aussie dude , overlooking Harbour Brigde for free? Just awesome. Every Wednesday night. Check out couch activities in Sydney. Thanks Robbie. Good luck to inner peace in the city.

What else?
They go to the beach, mate. A couple of years back I went to Bondi Beach. Full of expectations.What did I find there? A beach. Yes, man, a beach. And ''I love Bondi Beach'' tee shirts.

This time me and my couch surfing friends decided to go to Manly. Manly and Bondi are like Melbourne and Sydney. You're either a Bondi dude or a Manley person.
I'm a Manley person. How much character to these little beaches. Waterfalls , natural shades for Pommie tourists , all I needed to chill out.

Sydney people also have a beer to chill out. So I decided to have a beer.

All these Years of Foster's in England and I come here and the trend this year in Sydney is to drink ITALIAN BEER? Seriously......
'' Foster's shit mate , it's just for Pommie commercials''

After a couple of beers you can also go to the museum. What? 12 dollars?

'' In Melbourne museums are free'' says my Melbourne man , proudly.

In Sydney even zen has a price. 6 dollars is the entrance to the Chinese garden of frienship. And you'd better hire a car and go to the bush to see wild animals. It's be cheaper than going to the zoo here : 50 dollars.

So I hang out with Europeans, people from Melbourne but.... I don't seem to find anyone FROM Sydney. I write to a couple of people on The answers are usually
'' Sorry I'm from Perth actually. I live here for work''
'' I'm from Brisbane, and away in Melbourne for the week end , sorry''

Saturday night was the start of the Sydney Music Festival that takes place every year after New Year's. And guess what?It's FREE!
That's how I ended up dancing barefoot in the grass in January ( still weird for me) with groups of people singing in french ( and who had NO IDEA what they were singing!) . A favorite band of mine was just on and I never had the chance to see them in my own country.
Sydney, you ROCK.

Going back home I accidently got lost and ended up in KINGS CROSS. Yes, I knew about Kings cross. The only tricky thing was telling those who were doing it for free from the ones who charged for it. Tough competition, mate. Yeah guys, it is the Red Light District. Any straight man would pick Sydney over anywhere else at this very point of my night.

And you had me in my jeans skirt , baggy tee shirt and converses stinking of banana ( I accidently sat on my dinner ooops) swimming through an ocean of top models with tiny little dresses and high heels .It's like all the hottest and classiest english girls had been selected and shipped to Oz ( book your next ship now girls)

A girl was handing flyers from a posh local club. She looks at me. And gives it the girl just beside me.
Sydney. Or how to boost your self esteem.

The word BODY seems to have a huge importance here. So I decided to go deeper into it ( for work) . All those hours looking at men with hot bodies jogging half naked in the botanic gardens were painful. Because there was hot women too. Everywhere. Running.Exercising. All the time.
It makes you want to eat fish and green beans for the rest of your Life. But you eat chocolate. Because it's exhausting, just to look at them.

I forgot all about it when I changed my facebook location to ''Opera House Sydney'' a bit later that day. Proud. Impressed. I love Sydney.

'' The ideal would be Melbourne with Sydney's weather'' says my Melbourne man later that evening as we were having beer and Vegemite chips ( I love them by the way. Sometimes it just takes a man from Melbourne...) on the roof of the flat we were staying in.

'' What?'' I asked , wrapped in my Winter jacket from England. . Except for 3 months in England I spent the last year in half tropical weather in North New South Wales and the 2 Winter months in Thailand. I was freezing , here in Sydney. Images of snow and hail storms crossed my mind.I pictured me wearing ''I love Melbourne gloves'' next week.

'' You never know until you've been there '' tells me someone .


I've been to Sydney , Australia. It's something you can never forget. Bucket list material. Spectacular that is. Breathtaking views and experiences.
It's just missing that little something, that thing called '' sense of '' the Sydney atmosphere'' .

That sense of belonging....

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