Not just a pretty face. Sydney, Australia

May 24, 2010 at 3:25 am Leave a comment

It has been so long since I last felt like this. All these feelings of excitement and intoxication that come with the first few days. Feeling warmth radiate from my belly at every thought and lust at every glance. Knowing what I want to be looking at as the sun sets every evening and spending every second in between walking on clouds. Trying to savour every wave of happiness while suppressing that tiny, persistent voice inside me that claws away, spreading anxiety like cancer. As much as I want this to last forever I know that it is destined to be short-lived. Eventually we must part.

The sweetest thing about all of this emotional turmoil is sharing it with Gary. I love knowing that he feels the same way, that he too wants to shout it from the rooftops. He too wants every man, woman and child to know that we are utterly, mind-numbingly, embarassingly head over heels in love… But not with each other. Today our hearts beat to Sydney’s drum. Or should that be Sydney’s didgeridoo? 

 

Defining Sydney’s sound is almost as difficult as explaining why it holds so much appeal. Down by the harbour it could be the sound of boat horns blaring over pre-recorded aboriginal-meets-trance music while a few metres away in The Botanical Gardens the soundtrack is one of raucous cockatoos, screeching bats and sighing lovers. Around Hyde Park traffic hums, trams tinkle and the great bells of St Paul’s Cathedral clatter over the noise of a passing horse and cart. Weekdays at Bondi are somewhat calmer with the rythmic sound of joggers panting alongside lapping waves while Saturday sees the hazy fog of tranquility pierced by the joyful screams of children.

 

Then there’s Sydney’s lullaby – a symphony of cackling queens, slurring backpackers, gruff bouncers and querelous drunks. Open doors in karaoke bars filling the air with off-key ballads while mellow notes stretch out of basement jazz bars.

Maybe it is the contrasts that make Sydney such an intoxicating place to be. As my Dad says, everyone who goes to Sydney seems to like it. And why shouldn’t they? There’s something here for everyone. There’s even, shock horror, a slice of history that stretches back further than 50 years. In Sydney, unlike most of Oz, history is a part of the landscape. It offers up contrasts such as that of the dazzling white Sydney Opera House rubbing shoulders with the redbrick old convicts neighbourhood The Rocks – one the pinnicle of modern architecture, luxury and high-brow entertainment and the other the city’s first European settlement, initially designed to house a labrinth of cramped lodgings, open sewers and spewing factory chimneys (rampant disease and rowdy brawls are of course a distant memory in The Rocks today where original facades have been polished and preened and interiors ripped out to make room for chic Italian restaurants).

Even more appealling is the Queen Victoria Building whose stained glass windows shoppers peer through on their way up the escalator and whose elaborate old clocks inhouse designer stores use to time their opening and closing. Just around the corner from this Georgian redbrick gem is Darling Harbour – a sea of polished glass, clinking espresso mugs and synchronised water features.  

With so much character and contrast on offer, there is plenty of Sydney to go around and more than enough nooks and crannies for every visitor to find a secret place of their own. Our Sydney, for example was the search for the perfect hot chocolate and the perfect sunset vista – two elements that came magically together when one frosty evening we discovered Guylian in the harbour and Mrs Macquaries Point.

 

Conversely our Sydney was also a much less classy affair. Our Sydney was a messy night out with Joe, Simon and Dave – old friends we have been pining for every week since saying our goodbyes in Vietnam. A night that started out promisingly with high-priced drinks in a high-class establishment and descended into chaos some time around 4am when Gary grabbed the microphone and song book in a tiny karaoke room and Joe mounted the couch. The next day our Sydney looked a little more hazy, a little more bloodshot and a lot more sandy as we devoured breakfast at a seaside café and napped on Bondi Beach. Sadly it became a little more tearfilled when we had to say goodbye to the boys for real this time amid promises to tackle Africa together someday in a 4×4 with a shotgun tucked under the seat.

And so after a week of getting to know each other – a week that felt so short in ways but so long in others – we had to open the top buttons of our jeans (there is, afterall, only so much of Sydney you can eat before it catches up on you) and bid our adieus to the city that reignited our passion for travel. As Governor Arnie himself would say, I’ll be back.

There are more pictures from Sydney available in the gallery

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Thanks for coming to visit us – stay tuned to watch us argue, punch, kick, pinch and scream our way around some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

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