Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sydney extended

As my last post may have suggested, Sydney has been treating me quite well. The weather has been gorgeous. My free afternoon was put to good (and busy) use. The conference itself has also been enjoyable, in a work-related way, although Friday and today were rather full days.

I do enjoy the camaraderie of conferences though, and the refreshed feeling I take away with me, full of ideas for new things to try and ready to return to work.

If I'm honest, conferences are also aided by hotel accommodation paid for by someone else. In this instance, at the Crowne Plaza, Coogee Beach.

This has also been my first 'adult' experience of Sydney, and brief as it has been, it's been nice to form some semi-coherent ideas of the city. I can hardly presume to know it well after such a short visit, but my memories from our family holiday when I was 15 were definitely faded - and my ideas of the city mostly stereotypical.

In truth, I have tended to define Sydney by how it differs (in my mind) to Melbourne, which I am more familiar with. Melbourne makes me think of cafes in lane ways, culture, parks and trees, a friendly city centre, terrace houses, good coffee, and cool weather (something I like). In contrast, I associate Sydney with a fast-paced life, a busy city centre, beaches and sunshine, heat (which I don't like), apartments, and beautiful people who work in business-y jobs or the entertainment industry.

I told you I was stereotypical :P

Some of those Sydney associations may be realistic, and having the conference based at Coogee Beach (not far from the more famous Bondi Beach) has certainly cemented the beach associations.

The view from across the hotel looks like this...

My visit to the city also lent some support to the fast-paced idea, with an atmosphere of action that felt different to even the larger cities I've visited (London, New York). I'm not sure what it is. Unexpectedly, the acclaimed Westfield shopping centre in the city centre also proved surprisingly scary. Prada, Chanel, marble floors, black walls, sparkly lights...I felt like I was in Dubai.

Please excuse the poor photo quality. 
The atmosphere at Sydney City Westfield also made me think I might just get arrested for taking photos.

I'm all for shopping, but know when I'm out of my league!

This visit has shown me, though, that there is more to Sydney than those qualities (and indeed, those who actually live in Sydney may tell me I'm wrong about those too).

As yesterday's photos go some way towards showing, it is a beautiful city. The waterfront is gorgeous, especially in sunshine, and you don't have to be a beach person to enjoy it. The botanical gardens are right in the city centre, and the city itself might be busy, but it has a lot to offer - and older shopping arcades as well as the new, flashy stores.

Being able to walk and run along here in the morning is quite nice too.

The Coogee Beach area, around where I'm staying, has also turned up a few pleasant surprises, particularly of the food variety.

Good coffee...

A delicious rice paper roll with pumpkin and coriander...

And Maloneys Grocer, which provided a delightful local store, with fresh fruit and vegetables, packaged salads and pre-made meals, exciting frozen yoghurt and coconut ice cream varieties (sadly, not to be tried by me on this trip), and rather a lot of appealing snack and chocolate options.

I was very excited by the dark chocolate coated dried banana pieces, and couldn't resist buying a pack to take home, despite the rather extravagant price.

As most of my meals have been conference based, or with work colleagues, they have been fairly standard fare and gone unphotographed. I did have perfectly grilled barramundi last night, and was grateful to still eat fish, given the lack of vegetarian options at the restaurant we went to. Given that it was a seafood and grill restaurant, I think that was probably understandable though - and the fish was good enough to make me glad I chose it.

So all in all, a good few days, a lovely visit, and a lovely city. As this goes up I should be flying back (I hope!) to Perth, and whilst I'll be glad to return home and to Mr Bite, I'm pleased to have seen a snippet of what Sydney has to offer.

Have you had your stereotypes of a city challenged? Or have any additional insights into Sydney to share?


  1. I've recently come to realise, after trips to various cities, that I prefer places with a clearly defined 'city centre'. Even though there is often cool stuff outside of the central space, there is a general organisation to cities like Melbourne, Auckland, and Brisbane. For me, Sydney is too sprawly -- the 'city centre' goes from Darling Harbour and Circular Quay all the way up to Central. Too much! Too uncontained!

    That said, I luuurved spending a week in Newtown, and Sydney's beaches are pretty much amazing.

  2. Girl, you were in my 'hood :-)
    Got on a playdate on that beach tomorrow.

  3. Wawho, looks like your having THA BEST TIME. I love Sydney, and Coogee is defo one of the cool places to hit. Did you cruise around to the bar on the cliff? It's amazing, gorgeous sunsets over the ocean. Dang, your so close to us here in the Berra. Next time you'll have to come visit. :)

  4. Oh, I used to buy those Wasabi Edamame packets every week when I lived in America!! I need to see if I can find them in Canberra. I also love your shot of the view from your hotel, because it reminds me that Spring is just around the corner :) :) :)

    Glad the conference was enjoyable, too!

  5. I agree with your comments about sydney and melbourne - I have always thought sydney is a more impressive place to arrive in and take in the views as a tourist but melbourne is much nicer to mooch about it - which may stem from my experience of living in Melbourne and visiting sydney

  6. My best friend lived in Coogee for a couple of years, just up the road from Maloneys Grocer. It is a lovely part of town. But for years every holiday was spent in Sydney traipsing from one relative to another with everyone annoyed you weren't spending enough time with them, so I think I've got a bit of Sydney baggage. It is nice to see it through some fresh eyes.

  7. Hi there :-)

    I visited Sydney (from Melb) for the first time as an adult not long ago, and like you I was pleasantly surprised. Although I found accomm to be outrageously expensive - so lucky you didn't have to pay for it!

  8. @Theresa
    That is exactly it! I think that's precisely why I struggle with Sydney, but feel comfortable in larger cities such as London - even central London is defined and clearly laid out. I suppose it you live in Sydney you'd get used to it.

  9. @cityhippyfarmgirl
    I love that I can now picture where you live (or nearly) :) Enjoy your play date - certainly a gorgeous spot for it!

  10. @Anna Johnston
    I missed the bar on the cliff! But was pretty dazzled nonetheless. And yes, once you're on that side of the country, everything is so much closer!

  11. @Hannah
    I was very impressed with the edamame - I'm going to see if they can be found in Perth.

    Spring is definitely here, I think! On this side of the country at least :)

  12. @Johanna GGG
    I'm glad I'm not the only one :) I think having family in Melbourne may have lent the familiarity to me, but I'm sure it does have a more relaxed vibe to it.

  13. @Lisa
    I think I'd spend way too much money if I lived near that Grocer :P

    Your experiences with relatives made me think just how personal our views of a place have to be...I have no family in Sydney and I think that's part of what makes it seem Big.

  14. @Lisa (bakebikeblog)
    I do with I could have brought those back with me :)

  15. @Brooke
    Hello! And welcome :) I was very lucky on the accommodation front - I was surprised at just how consistently expensive things were. Nice places, but expensive!

  16. Since you asked for my stereotypes, I have to admit -I've always lumped Australian cities together. But now I feel all educated - at least on the differences between Melbourne and Sydney!

  17. Growing up in Queensland (and now living in Sydney) I've got to say I love the 'beachy' aspect of Sydney that you don't get in many other big cities. I see what you're saying about Melbourne too. Glad your views have changed and you're enjoying yourself!

  18. @Megan (Best of Fates)
    I suspect you're not alone :P Glad to have provided some extra insights!

  19. @Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi
    Thanks :) Going from Queensland to Melbourne would probably seem a bit beach-less, I have to say.


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