We came to Sydney after the whole day of sightseeing in Canberra and were absolutely knackered. We shed our backpacks, chugged a beer and went straight to bed. It was a nice small hotel in CBD, nothing special, except one thing – the bed mattress. We even took a picture of its label hoping to buy one for ourselves – it was that comfortable. (Couldn’t find it anywhere though – it was produced by an overseas wholesale hotel supplier.) We are both quite picky when it comes to sleeping conditions, which not only rises costs of all our travels but can have quite an influence on the whole following day if, God forbid, any of us wakes up with a neck/back/shoulder pain. It’s already this stage of life I suppose when we need to realize that those times when it felt totally cozy to take a nap on anything from a doormat to a park bench are simply over.
Anyway, next day we woke up fresh, happy and ready to explore. We had another mystery to solve in this city: is it ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than Melbourne? Living in Australia for the last two years I have been dragged into a conversation about the Melbourne/Sydney preference at least several dozen of times and not less than 10 times in my first two months of residence. The whole thing has its beginnings back in 1901 when the cities were competing over the capital status. As I mentioned in my previous post, this unsolvable rivalry led to the establishment of today’s capital, Canberra. Sydney was older but smaller than Melbourne at the time, and Melbourne was the one, which was chosen to serve as the capital city of the country while Canberra was being built. That took 26 years and became official with the opening of the Parliament House in 1927. But it took 79 years to finally move the High Court of Australia from Melbourne to Canberra, so I guess it all kind of gave the residents this realistic impression of dominance over the rival. Sydney, on the other hand, had its turn to burgeon after the banking in Victoria collapsed due to the end of the gold rush. Today Sydney is Australia’s biggest metropolis but the history shows the roles can be unpredictably swapped any time and Melbourne doesn’t even think of staying behind. The competition goes far, I observe it in every single aspect of life, in all possible situations when those two cities are being likened together. People always have a strong opinion on which one has better architecture, entertainment offer, events, food, transport system, weather, beaches, sports teams, which one is cheaper, safer, healthier, friendlier, more fashionable, who hosted the Olympics better, where can you drink tastier coffee, which one is a better place to live and so on. There are even Facebook fun pages called “Sydney is better than Melbourne!” and “Melbourne is so much better than Sydney in every way”.
I’m sure it’s now clearly understandable why I couldn’t wait to check it, thus, Sydney was one of my first travels in Australia in 2011. I went for a weekend, took a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, circled the city and visited Blue Mountains on a following day. Apart from all that, one of the highlights, which I just have to mention, was seeing Rel Hunt in Kings Cross. He played Ryan in a TV show in the 90’s called “Heartbreak High”, where I believe my idea of going to Australia has its roots. I watched it, loved it, wanted to be friends with these mutinous teenagers and speak their language with this peculiar accent. Of course being 16 I could only fantasize about this kind of distant travel, but I’m sure these dreams together with other life circumstances led to what I am doing right now. That is why it was a sensational feeling to see Rel and if I didn’t have my bags with me, I would probably chase him. (Correction: I mean chase him further, because I did a little bit, but he was just incredibly fast!…). Even more bizarre thing is that I actually met him again, 1,5 year after when he was eating pizza next to my partner and I in Melbourne, St Kilda. I took the plunge and talked to him, told him about the influence of the series on my life, but he didn’t seem to believe me. Maybe he meets a lot of weirdoes like me and is fed up with this kind of fan stories…
Following a previously tested way of sightseeing Sydney, we used the Hop-On-Hop-Off service and took both, blue and red rout within two days ticking off everything we wanted to see. That included inter alia: Darling Harbour, King Street Wharf, Circular Quay, Town Hall, Kings Cross, Hyde Park, Parliament House, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Royal Botanic Gardens, Chinatown and Bondi Beach. We finished the visit with The Sydney Tower Eye where we observed the beautiful city panorama changing its colours with the sunset. It feels right at this point to compare this experience with Melbourne’s Eureka Tower but I must say, it’s not possible for me to pick the winner. I just love the idea of seeing the city from this perspective even though I am a bit scared of height and both, Eureka and the Tower Eye do not disappoint.
I already had my opinion on ‘which city is better’ issue, but it was my partner whose reflections I was curious about. He’d always been the biggest fan of Melbourne I knew and declared Sydney was never going to be his thing. After this trip he actually came up with exactly the same impression I had. We both think these two places are impossible to be compared. They differ in the most crucial aspect and that is: the ambient. This is something I find difficult to explain, but it will have to suffice. I love them both like you love your parents and I would never pick one over the other 🙂
*Please, enjoy my little gallery above and take a look at other photos from this trip by clicking at: New South Wales Photography