So it probably doesn’t come as too much as a surprise to you that I am a very proud Sydney Sider, but what did come as a surprise to me is that only 9% of my readers are from this wonderful city I call home. Google analytics is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Anyhoo, it got me thinking that maybe I should do my bit for Destination NSW and do a little bragging on here about all the things that make Sydney so fabulous. Thinking of visiting Sydney? I’ll help you avoid the tourist traps and see Sydney like a local. Read on for all the details …
Let’s Get Social!
Let people get off the train before boarding. We are not as pedantic as Singapore and Malaysia who paint lines on the platform indicating which areas are to be left free, but it is the expected norm that you will not stand in front of the doors and let everyone alight before attempting to board. This is particularly true on the busy city circle line. This is critical at peak hour. Central Station has actually employed people to stand on the platform policing this. Yes seriously. This is what it has come to. Sadly shrill shouts of ‘stand clear of the doors’ is a regular part of my morning routine.
Do not make a sound in the quiet carriage. No I mean seriously, not a single sound. The narkiest people in the city sit in these carriages, mostly hoping someone will slip up and do something outrageous, you know like sneeze, so that they can very loudly tell them to be quiet because it is a quiet carriage. Anyone else see the irony in this? Best just to avoid them like I do. They are usually either the first or last carriage and are marked.
Finally and this is a biggie …
Don’t bother ME. Yes I mean ME personally. I realise this is public transport and I have no reasonable right to expect not to have to deal with fellow commuters but honestly, why do I always run into the most selfish society has to offer? I swear, on any given day, each and every one of my buttons are pushed by people like the person who stops to drop their kid/dad/lover off but no one else can get around them. There is a kiss and drop zone for a reason. Use it! Or the woman who puts her bag on the seat so that no one sits next to her. I don’t care if it is Chanel lady, move it or lose it! Or the incessant talker. I have my own problems! And what about the great unwashed. I mean that literally by the way; you know the guy, he hasn’t showered for a month and is skimping on deodorant? He is going to sit next to me every day of the week and twice on Sundays. And don’t even get me started on the nutters. For all these people, I reserve a very special look of scorn that is so icy it would freeze off a witches warts. Don’t make me throw it your way! In case you want to avoid me, I’m on the green line daily.
If you are going to be catching a fair bit of public transport you are going to want to get yourself an Opal Card. You can order online before you leave home or buy one from a retailer when in Sydney. With an Opal card you will never pay more than $60 a week in fares. Sundays are the day to explore on the cheap because you can take unlimited trips on public transport in Sydney and surrounds (up to and including Nowra and the Blue Mountains) for only $2.50 so make the most of it. More information here. I’m not a fan of the buses so avoid them if you can, but some areas simply cannot be accessed any other way.
What You Need To Know
Sydney is huge. It’s bigger in size than the two most populous cities on the planet (Tokyo 37 million and Delhi 22 million) and similar geographically to Los Angeles but with around a fifth of the population (circa 5 million vs 17 million). Sydney sprawls from the harbour in the East, to the Central Coast in the North, Wollongong in the South and the Blue Mountains in the West. I have lived here all my life (45 years) and still haven’t seen it all. Be selective about what you want to see.
Sydney is in the top ten most multicultural cities in the world with around 40% of residents born overseas.
Aussie’s use the metric system e.g, Celsius, Kilometers, Metres, Kilograms, and Litres.
We use 240 volts. Make sure you have an adapter if you appliances are 110v – 125v unless you want to fry them.
We drive on the right side of the road. And by that I mean the left. To assist tourists who are not familiar, we have helpfully written “Look Right” on most CBD streets. It’s not that we don’t trust you to figure it out yourself, it’s just that we would hate to see you skittled by a crazy cabbie! We are not patient drivers. Road rage is alive and well in the streets of Sydney. I swear, no one has a second to lose and everyone’s time is clearly more valuable than yours. Hold someone up at your own peril. You have been warned. We also can’t drive in the wet. Three drops of rain hits the windscreen and I guarantee there is an accident somewhere. God helps us if it snowed in Sydney! We would have to shut the city down and hibernate for three months of the year. Actually that doesn’t sound completely awful …
We like a “U” e.g. colour, harbour, neighbour, favourite, behaviour etc …
We switch our “R’s” e.g. centre, litre, metre, etc
Virtually every word is improved with the addition of an “O” e.g. servo, bottlo, wino, boyo, arvo etc
Our bacon, bread and chocolate is better than yours. Damn right, it’s better than yours! (channeling Kelis!) I’m looking at you USA. Seriously, what do you do with the top bit of the bacon? And how can you like Hershey’s? And what is up with your bread? Do yourself a flavour (not a typo!) and try short cut bacon, Baker’s Delight and Cadbury’s while you’re here. You’ll never go back. OK, in a completely unbiased moment, I will admit Belgian chocolate is not too shabby 🙂
Our internet is slower than Latvia and The Czech Reublic. We rank 44th in the world (not happy!) and are still waiting on NBN in most parts … *sigh*
Our sun is dangerous. The hole in the ozone layer is not a myth and we live under it. I know you will be tempted to get a tan while you are here but know this: Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, three times higher than the US and the UK, with one in every two men and three women falling victim. Even those who ‘never burn’ risk damage if they are not careful, so slip, slop and slap while you are here. If you want to go home with a tan, fake it, don’t bake it!
Our surf is dangerous. About 25,000 surf rescues are completed every year and 90% are rip related. You are no match for mother nature and the power of the ocean, so if you can’t swim and don’t know how to read the conditions stay out of the water or at the very least swim between the flags and stay in the shallows.
Our critters are dangerous. Salt water crocodiles, red back spiders, box jelly fish, funnel web spiders, Irakanji, stone fish and inland Taipans. We have them all and they can be lethal. Just don’t touch them and you’ll be fine.
Australia has some of the best produce in the world and food options range from a budget burger to a degustation feast and everything in between. Our multicultural nature means you will be spoiled for choice with fantastic Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Indian, Japanese, Turkish, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese to name just a few. Got money to burn and what a hat or two? Check out Quay, Aria, Spice Temple or Tetsuya’s. Cafe Sydney is one of my very favourite restaurants. It’s just a little bit posh but won’t break the bank, they even give you a blanket when you dine outside in the winter. Try the goats cheese and spinach naan and the beef tenderloin (pictured).
My Top 10 Sydney Like A Local Things To Do
6. Taste Local Delicacies – Vegemite (spread it thinly!), Kangaroo, Barramundi, Sydney Rock Oysters, Yabbi’s, Balmain Bugs, Tim Tam’s and Fairy Bread. Try them all!