The Life of a Sculptor
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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(Warning: this entry contains authentic pommie whinging!)
Before I even got to Sydney I hated it. I hadn't even got in and already I'd rode the freeway twice, the harbour bridge THREE times and paid almost 20 dollars in road tolls for the privilege. When I eventually rolled in to Kings Cross I was seething. Be it known that if you cross the harbour bridge from north to south and filter out of the toll booth towards a particular lane towards the city, carry straight ahead without making any left or right turns, you will eventually end up right back on the bridge again heading straight out of the city in the opposite direction. Without any kind of notice whatsoever. Well kiss my arse. Really. Stupidity doesn't even come close. Just make sure you've got plenty of spare change in your pocket.
Of course, things improved dramatically once I'd made it to Kings Cross and I found myself soaking up the warm hospitality and lively company of one Terry Culver, a like-minded wanderer who had got in touch through the Lonely Planet website some time ago after stumbling upon this very travelogue. We hit the streets, sampled the night life, took a walk through the Botanical Gardens and down to Circular Quay. I was stunned when I saw the Opera House. Absolutely stunned. I must have built up such a grand image in my head prior to 'the big moment' that it was all a bit of a let down.
Seeing the Opera House in the flesh was like looking at a caricature-inspired scale model. Even the incredibly spectacular harbour bridge - an image I'd seen so many times on photographs and postcards - was nothing as spectacular as they make it out to be. Hate to sound negative like this but it really was all a bit of a 'Oh is that it? Ok, where next?' And then there was the city itself, with its bland lifeless CBD (compare that to Melbourne and Adelaide, or even Perth with its hustle and bustle of bars and restaurants and an air filled with all the associated aromas that can't really fail to lift spirits.) Maybe I've been spoiled by Melbourne, maybe it's just that I'm not really a city boy at heart, but with all the fuss that the Aussies kick up over the whole 'Sydney or Melbourne' thing I can't help but say that there simply isn't any comparison. Of course, Sydney has the harbour and the opera house to welcome you in (along with all the confusion of actually getting in) but where's the character? The life? The hum?
That said we did check out a few of the local burbs. A relaxing boat ride over the harbour took us to Manly Beach where finally, we found life and smiles. For the first time in a long time I actually felt like a tourist, and was more than happy to be one. I even had an ice cream. I EVEN considered buying souvenirs.
Manly wasn't bad at all. Much was the same for Bronte Beach (another surfy kind of beach), 'Glamour-ama' Beach (for the rich and beautiful), and 'The Gap' (a popular suicide spot) - all nice enough places but completely out of proportion with the fuss and build up that's associated with them. Then there was Bondi. This was the most staggering of all. In all my time in Australia and New Zealand I haven't heard so much blah blah bullshit as I've heard about Bondi Beach. I can't see it. I can't see what all the fuss is about. All I saw was a small over-invaded stretch of beach with a bit of surf, nothing like the magnificent spectacle you come to expect over time.
I've just re-read all this. I don't hate Sydney. I'm just sort of... over it. Already. Automatically. I think it was all the build up. Too much build up.
The silver lining in all of this has been spending a few quality days with Terry, a thoroughly interesting individual with a huge story and a passion for real living. I couldn't go wrong really, but then it generally is the people that make an experience. We've discussed those rare moments of magic you find on the road, in life, and in coffee shops. We've pored over his pending Kilimanjaro climb, pissed ourselves at classic Eddie Izzard, and shared a few deep and meaningfuls. In three days I feel I've known him years. He's been the cake AND the icing to my time here in Sydney. Sydney itself has been the leftover crumbs. What's more is he introduced me to the delights and intricacies of 'The Trops', something I can only be eternally grateful for. Top bloke..
Where I stayed
Terry's place, Kings Cross