Sydney was epic.
I don’t say this lightly, but it is probably my new favourite city in the world.
We had 10 days here and it still wasn’t enough. It’s just perfect. From the glorious weather, to the geographically stunning harbour, to the beautiful classic and modern architecture surrounding it – the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, the lush green parks, the easy to navigate grid-set streets, the historically fascinating Rocks area, the art galleries, the buzzing nightlife and, of course, the beaches.
The beaches! Manly. Bondi. Coogee. And all the others we didn’t get to see. All the beaches on the walk between Bondi and Coogee. It’s all stunning.
And it made us suspicious.
“It’s too perfect. I love it…but, it can’t actually be this good….can it?”
We had just walked into the Coogee Pavilion half way through our Sydney experience and falling in love with classy super stylish healthy food places was happening almost three times a day.
“You’re right” I replied to Emma. “It’s just not quite real. I feel like we are in the Truman show”.
To give some context, the Coogee Pavilion is a two-story, Art Deco style food hall, right on Coogee Beach. It has an extensive menu of naughty and healthy food (think gourmet fish and chips and a kale salad), press pressed juices, cocktails, pizza bar, gelateria, coffee barista etc. Except it also has fresh cut flowers to buy, an extensive old-fashioned kids play area with wooden games, a beautiful sweeping shaded balcony with views of the beach and just a stunning interior design. It was 32 degrees, the day after we went to the best party in town- a Hot Dub Time Machine gig in the park, and we were loving life.
So we asked around.
“What is the worst thing about living here…tell me, I NEED to know!” – loosely translated as: ‘Why have I wasted my early adult years in a drizzly UK and not having this quality of life?!’
Responses were mixed: “When it rains it’s a bit boring…I guess.”
Well, you could say the same anywhere. Point is, it doesn’t rain as much here as back home, so Sydney is still winning. Sky-high rent? Terrible commutes?! Nope. On the whole, it is cheaper than London or on par with, on both counts.
And then we found it. The negative. It is pretty obvious: distance.
Living here is like staying in a sunny dream world where it is a bit like the UK, but not. Anyway, things crop up all the time to remind you of the home…but they are just reminders – Blighty is a crazy +24 hour flight away.
We saw, stayed and met up with, about 20 people who had moved here from the UK (and some natives too!) and they all agreed – it is beautiful, but distance and time are the price you pay (literally for a plane home).
“If I could transport all my friends and family and drop them in Sydney – then, it would be perfect. Being able to enjoy all this with them.” And “if it was 6 hours away, even 10 hours – then I could stay forever.” Were the conclusions from the expats.
You can be in paradise, or close enough, but we are sociable creatures and want people to share it with. As in most expat communities living in foreign cities, locals seem to rarely mix in, on a meaningful level anyway. They have their school friends already and know that in a year or two the British expats will likely leave. So the expat world appears to be a continually floating British bubble, with new people joining when someone else moves back as their visa expires.
For Sydneysiders, the biggest problem seems to be the government making all the bars in the CBD close sometime just after midnight to stop drunken behaviour spilling onto the streets late at night. So, I guess you can’t have everything. But Sydney comes pretty close.
Would I live here? I can’t deny I’m very tempted. Would it be permanent – I couldn’t commit to the distance forever…but I have an eye on you Sydney…and hope to see you again soon.
Sydney Opera House. My first ever opera – Puccini’s ‘La Boheme’ and it was amazing. Tickets were $75 (approx £40) and we were in the front row, almost sat on the orchestra! The costume, sets, music and performances were breathtaking and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone, a really special night.
Coogee to Bondi walk. A footpath snakes around the coast taking around 1.5- 2hours to complete. The views are stunning, as are the beaches you see along the way and ultimately start from and end up in. Pack water, sunscreen and do it!
Manly Beach. Firstly it is a highlight for the great ferry ride over and the views from the boat. Secondly, because the beach is fantastic. We ate at The Boathouse – just a short walk to the right of Manly beach, at Shelly beach. Great shopping, good surf, fantastic food – what more do you want?!
Hunter Valley Wine Tour. Two hours from Sydney is more vineyards than you could shake a (vine) stick at! The tour is the only way to do it – everyone can enjoy it (no designated driver lottery draw needed) portions are plentiful – we tried at least 25 different wines, steak lunch was included, as was cheese and chocolate matching sessions. We had some spontaneous tipsy bus karaoke on the way home to top it off. A great day out.
Rugby league game – the first game of the season and the Allianz stadium was packed. We were watching the Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs. I love watching sport in foreign countries and Sydney is very proud of its rugby league heritage. Cider, the sunshine and a fast paced, heavy tackling game on a Sunday afternoon. What more could you want?!
The whole city was a highlight, but I would also recommend the botanic gardens, opera bar and walking the harbour bridge for the views. A more personal highlight was getting to stay with different sets of friends in different areas of the city and seeing people we hadn’t seen for years – thanks for putting us up guys!