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krisek Sydney - A travel report by Krys
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Sydney,  Australia - flag Australia -  New South Wales
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krisek's travel reports

Could Sydney be the friendliest city in the world?

  11 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Sydney is perhaps the city closest to perfection. It is logically planned, has mild climate year round, captivating architecture, incredible beaches and wonderful night scene. Its main quality, however are the people.

Segments of the mandarin, that inspired the architect of this Opera House
Segments of the mandarin, that inspired the architect of this Opera House
I am now officially in love with Sydney. It is a perfect city. The downtown is clean and extremely well organised with hyper-modern transport system, which other large metropolises can only strive to achieve, elegant architecture and beaches. I can also spend several pages praising the climate!

I went to Sydney in the winter and it was warm enough for laying and playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean. In the evening, it was getting a little chilly, but with right preparation and sensible thinking it was not a problem at all. A long sleeve shirt with t-shirt underneath or a light jacket did the trick.

The people, however were the best! It was easy to realise how genuinely friendly they were - just two seconds after greeting, by simply shaking hands. Nowhere in Europe or the Americas, or Asia had I felt a genuine handshake that truly meant that I was really welcome. Only in Africa did I experience that before. Anyway, (although a pretty important indication) of course not everything is in the first handshake. In the space of a longer weekend (during my first visit to Sydney) and then over the period of five days (on my last visit) I met a good number of random people, some of whom were my friend's friends or colleagues from the office, and all of them made me welcome as if I had been their friend for long time! It was the attitude, the smiles, the inclusion and the way conversations flowed with such ease.

By walking the streets of Sydney, I overheard a couple of Americans, who stated that Sydney was just an American city with an accent. Hmm... interesting thought. If I were to make a comparison, I would probably select San Diego, as the closest 'relative' to Sydney. If there was a quicker way to travel between Europe and Australia, I would probably make all effort to move to Sydney for good! That is why the terribly slow progress of the civil aviation industry to give us a nice and efficient supersonic aircraft makes me so angry.

Favourite spots:
Manly, passage
Manly, passage
Manly, where I was staying, was a pleasant place with many bars and restaurants and wonderful beach fringed with shade giving trees. Some of the bars, right on the beachfront street had terraces, which were splendid for people watching and contemplating the beach life. I must say, although I might have been influenced by my friend, with whom I was staying on my first visit to Sydney, that Manly had a specific character, which made me long for Sydney and possibly want to move there.

Bondi Beach in a completely different part of Sydney, and a rival of Manly's, was more of an open area beach, curved in a shape of a croissant. There were no trees there and the bars were far from the sand disallowing for a good beach viewing. The road between the beach was also much busier that the one in Manly. The scenery however was slightly better due to the vicinity of picturesque cliffs. Nevertheless, I liked it less. I can be biased but I just want to comply with the rule - you can only like one.

What's really great:
Sydney travelogue picture
As I said, there was a specific element I loved about Sydney the most – it was the people. I have to say that for a large city like that, I was astonished with the number of very friendly people. One cannot say the same about Paris and definitely not about London or New York, where the vast majority of the population seem to be selfish and backstabbing. I do not want to say, which one is worse, but from the first impression London appears reservedly polite yet dismissive, Paris seems simply rude and New York - aggressive. In Sydney, it is somehow clear that visitors are genuinely welcome. Perhaps to recognise their effort to come from afar.

When I arrived, it was so easy to speak to strangers in the streets, on the beaches, in the bars, and clubs. Surely, I am basing this on the first, and perhaps second, impression as I spend in Sydney relatively short time. Australians do have to answer to what they did to the Aborigines, but the new generation is making all the right moves already!

The Harbour Bridge
The Harbour Bridge
I wanted to climb the Harbour Bridge, but I didn't realise that it must be booked well in advance. There was no room for me. Instead, I went on a walk across the bridge and on the way back I picked up a ferry to the Circular Quay.

Circular Quay was hosting an open-air painting workshop. Many artists from around country and abroad came with their palettes and canvases to compete on a subject of the day. Some of the work was really good and revolutionary, particularly those that didn't rigidly stick to the subject.

The sun was going down and the street lanterns and restaurants’ windows kept reflecting the majestic shape of the Sydney Opera House. Its roof was changing colour as the sunrays kept hitting it at a different angle as the evening progressed.

On my second visit to the city, I did climb the bridge. It could hardly be called a climb, though. It was an easy walk. I booked it 2 weeks in advance for sunset time. The views were great and it was a real fun to do it.

Sydney travelogue picture
First time I came to Sydney, I stayed at my friend's in Manly. The second time, when I came on business, I was lucky to discover the Hilton hotel downtown. It was a fine hotel with splendid service and comfortable rooms, and its location, in the heart of the centre, was great. Hilton has a problem, however. Many of its hotels, particularly those in the United Kingdom, are rather shabby and require a lot of investment to bring them to the standard of world class hotel chain like Marriott or Sheraton. This lack of consistency makes it a tricky business to decide whether to stay there or not. Fortunately Hilton properties in Australia are good enough - I mean good for the value for money.

I liked the Hilton in Sydney, although it was pretty standard for a business hotel, there was nothing unique about it. I prefer staying in smaller hotels, where guests receive more personal attention...

Sydney travelogue picture
I partied exclusively in Manly. It was a great place with enough choice to wander in the middle of the night from one place to another, trying to decide where to end up next. I was with my friend, and her friends and it was such a good crowd.

The first one we went in was almost directly on the beach. It was packed with very funny people but disappointingly it closed at midnight. I could not believe that something would actually close so early on a Saturday night in Sydney. I was thwarted but my newly made friends said not to worry because there were loads of other places we could and rather should go to. We stood in a queue to one of the clubs but quickly got impatient and went to check some other place. It was a large club with a few bars and a decent size dance floor. It was immensely packed and the music was simply great. It stayed open until the morning, and I think it was 5 a.m. when I went to bed. I cannot tell how many people I spoke to in the club, but everyone was so great.

Sydney travelogue picture
There were three parks in central Sydney that I loved. The Hyde Park, Royal Botanic Gardens, and Tumbalong Park that offered the alternative to cafes, bars and refurbished harbours

The rectangular Hyde Park on the eastern side of Sydney's downtown was originally introduced to the city as its first race course. The parks prominent feature is the majestic Archibald Fountain, which was open in 1932 as a mark of tribute to the Australians who lost their lives fighting in the Great War in France.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, extending to the harbour with great views over the city skyline, the largest of the three botanical gardens in Sydney, were founded Governor Macquarie in 1816. It is meticulously maintained.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship (Tumbalong) is a gift from Sydney's sister city of Guangzhou in China on the occasion of Australia's bicentenary celebrations. The park is peaceful and it was designed entirely in China to ensure it fits well with Chinatown of Sydney in its vicinity.

Sydney travelogue picture
By the Rocks, at 106 George Street, there was this magical Thai restaurant. It was reasonably priced and massively popular! It was split in two different environments - the upstairs canteen and the downstairs restaurant. The latter had function rooms, too. Its name was Sailors Thai Restaurant. I went to the canteen. It was packed with very happy diners, who sat at long zinc tables, one next to another, or one opposite another. The environment felt definitely more Asian than Australian, which worked for me. But the food was superb. I think the canteen menu was different from the restaurant menu, but all the classic dishes were available, and the staff were flexible to order something special, provided it was authentic Thai, which the chef would be happy to prepare. As for a canteen, the service was very efficient.

I ate at a few other restaurants, mainly at Lime Street, Darling Harbour, including Casa di Nico, Kingsleys Steakhouse, The Malays and La Cita. All were great.

Other recommendations:
Sydney travelogue picture
My friend and I were hoping to see kangaroo hopping in a park. They are known to show themselves in the area quite frequently. I did not have much luck though and I could not see any. That was the National Park of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase, some 15 kilometres north of Sydney. The park gives great views towards the Palm Beach and Broken Bay residential areas. It also boasts great walking trails in the bushland, some of which led to several sites of Aboriginal Rock Engravings.

Palm Beach is an area of luxurious housing, occupied by celebrities and obscenely rich people. Broken Bay would provide excellent swimming but it in fact it does not, due to man-eating sharks.

On the way to the park and back I learnt several rules of Sydney. One of them is to hate either Manly or Bondi. If you live in Manly, you do not go to Bondi and vice versa. This is a golden rule and there is currently no need to seek origins of it. You are just expected to comply. That’s it!

Published on Sunday May 24th, 2009

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Thu, Apr 22 2010 - 04:36 PM rating by unravelau

Hi Krys, I was born and bred in Sydney and it is my second most favourite place in Oz. Thank you for your wonderful report and helpful information for travellers.

Mon, May 25 2009 - 02:17 AM rating by jacko1

Another top notch report Krys, I agree with your comments on cities, London, Paris,etc this place ticks all the right boxes for me except maybe the club scene, I might be a bit geriactric for that:-).

Sun, May 24 2009 - 10:12 AM rating by mistybleu

Great report; I take your explanation of people from various cities, stereo types but very funny.

Sun, May 24 2009 - 05:36 AM rating by orlen

Another five star report! Manly vs Bondi, hmmmm...... sounds like Calgary and Edmonton in Canada.

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