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Andy’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 09 May 2006

Location: Sydney, Australia


Sydney, city of brides! As the saying goes - “When in rome…”, so I’ve been walking the streets of this fair haven in a white embroidered dress and a veil. Well, not quite. Similar though.

Back to reality. Arrived in Sydney after an 11 hour train journey from its traditional rival Melbourne (Lonely Planet likens the relationship to Athens vs Sparta, Springfield vs Shelbyville and i would like to add…Grafty Green and Lenham - the annual cheese-rolling competition can get particularly ugly).

During the journey i had to contend with a member of the church of satan (seriously, you meet some interesting characters on your travels) and a toddler whose mother insisted on letting her child run down the aisle fully naked. But i managed to get a few hours kip before i arrived bleary eyed at 7 o clock in the morning (a time i haven’t been witness to unless i’ve had a big night out).

Approaching Sydney it became clear this city was different to Melbourne (architectually at least). The skylines of the two are quite contrasting. Melbourne has tall, glass, modern skyscrapers, sydney seemed to me to have more concrete. It looked a little less modern, like it had skipped the nineties and noughties. Melbourne always appeared closer to European cities; Sydney is more openly New World. Sydney is more brash than Melbourne, not uncultured exactly, it’s just a little hidden, less refined, but still immensely enjoyable.

Booked into a hostel called Wake Up! Just like Base in Melbourne this hostel is a recent addition to the community, flash, modern, with all the mod cons. These seem to be a new phenomenon on the backpacker trail catering for a emerging breed of travellers termed the flashpacker. (Don’t mistake the term for those backpackers that insist on strolling around a 12 bed dorm in the nude). Flashpackers are less unwashed, pasta and tomato sauce eating entities, and more latte supping, laptop carrying fashionistas that have never even seen a cockroach let alone dithered about stamping on one because they may have heard the little buggers release all their babies if you do! (not to even think about what mushed cockroach would do to a pair of jimmy choo’s or patrick cox’s).

At the moment, before i head to Asia i have been staying in some quite nice hostels. This one was the most flashpackery, but also the most impersonal and least fun. So i quickly moved to another hostel just up the road. Rotten food in the communal kitchen. A pool table which was barely good enought to sit on and last but not least toilets with no locks on the doors. Always makes for good first impressions and introductions i always say.

After settling in i spent the first few days with a friend called Tash who i randomly met in the street and who i knew from Perth. Decided to head down to Circular Quay where Sydney as a city really distinguishes itself with its most famous image - the Opera House. First site of this iconic building is really spectacular. It’s one of the most famous buildings/images in the world and to suddenly be confronted with it is very strange because its so familiar, and yet at the same time seeing it in the flesh confirms what one has to be constantly reminded of…I’m far far away from home!

Interesting fact - the opera house, though it may bear a striking similarity to the sails of the harbour's ships, was not designed with this symbolism in mind, despite what most of the tourists guides and literature say.

Just to the left of the opera house is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Controversial i know, but this grand, imposing monument to the industrial revolution attracted my attention far more than the opera house. Not a bad life when you can have a few beers and enjoy the sunset over such a view…and on a weekday.