Half a world away – Sydney at stage 1

Since moving to Australia two months ago I have been asked what I find different to the UK countless times. A fellow Brit summed it up pretty well when they said the reason they had stayed for over 8 years was the warmth. To be honest, it depends on how you sum up differences – in my mind the resemblance to London, and many cities, lies in numerous different neighbourhoods, language and overall culture. You’re so far from home yet so close in the way Sydney feels – many things have new names but are actually the same as things we know and love – a jaffle isn’t, as I’d hoped, a glorious mix of jaffa cake and waffle….it’s a cheese toasty. Case in point.

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What I have found is Jetstar are more unreliable than Easyjet and Ryanair, I know, it’s possible. Vivid festival is more impressive than any light installation I’ve seen back home. The coffee culture in London is way better than the Aussies give it credit for although the almond milk commonality on the menu here highlights I can be a bit wanky, but brings me a lot of joy. The beaches are all they have cracked up to be, and I’m sure I haven’t seen the best yet.

I have been reminded once again to not let preconceptions guide me, Bondi is pretentious but it also promotes health and exercise in a way rarely seen in England. The mentality that exercise everyday is normal refreshing – not one that I always want when ben and jerry call my name but aspirational all the same. Anyway, enough of the babble, first thoughts on top spots to hit/ things of joy below. More to come…

  • The Bondi to Coogee walk is all it’s cracked up to be. If you arrive into Bondi at lunchtime getting a poke bowl to fuel you at Fishbowl and then an ice cream/ gelato at Messina if you’re being Aussie (hall st in Bondi, the specials are where it’s at) you’ll be set up well for the walk. Coogee pavilion at the end serves up excellent cocktails and snacks with a revamped interior of dreams, read a light up whale and a Shoreditch vibe.

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  • Icebergs at bondi is also as pretty as all the Instagram snaps suggest – booking yoga here is the perfect stress free morning stretch. You also get entry into Icebergs pool after so be sure to take your trucks/ cossie. The café is also great.

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  • The CBD – O bar in the centre of town is numerous floors up and slowly rotates ensuring you get a good view of all the good stuff – couple the classy edge with underground pizza at Frankies down the road to make in and rounded evening. Pizza by the slice or whole and a side of shabby chic with a hidden cocktail bar.
  • Urban list and Time Out are your friends for seasonal goings on/ heads up. They’ll give you too many ideas rather than too little….follow on facebook before you head out and you’ll probably want to unfollow asap once leaving to ensure withdrawal symptoms are limited.
  • The fast ferry over to manly has a bar on it, the other ferry does not. The fact that this wasn’t my first point is merely as such as I don’t want to paint the Brits as obsessed with alcohol. But I do think it’s a v. important consideration.
  • Blue mountains – I personally don’t think the guided tours are worth it, head to Katoomba on the train and you can easily grab a public bus (269) to the three sisters and beyond from there.

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Second to Stockholm.

Back in September I headed to Gothenburg, to some Stockholm’s lesser sister city. We mainly headed there in the quest to tick another country off the list for one of my friends aiming to get to 30 countries before turning 30, but it didn’t disappoint. I’d heard mixed things about both Gothenburg and Stockholm, either way IKEA style meatballs factored in the lure of Sweden. In the end we decided Gothenburg was something a bit different.

IMG-20160910-WA0039It’s quite a low key city in many respects and one where you need to want to seek out places to go and probably not one for a lone trip – food and drink will power you round alongside good chatter, not plentiful new backpacker friends.

It was a great little escape and we trooped through the chill to;

  • Eat great meatballs – We found Smakka to perfectly satisfy our need for an elevated IKEA delight – IKEA won’t taste the same again and there was definitely no horse meat at Smakka.
  • The boat tour – for those of you who have been to Liverpool this brought back fond memories of the Duck tour…without the sinking. It was a great way to take advantage of the sunshine and the sights and history surrounding Feskekôrka, Liseberg and the floating museum of Maritiman
  • The delightful district of Haga provided a great cafe and beer combination, great for a little jaunt that had a more local feel

Overall it’s a cool uprising city with a more local feel – Forbes had it down as a one of its 15 most innovative cities in 2015, it’s probably true that it just has a ‘feel’ about it, it’s one of those great places that isn’t as much about what you see but being there and experiencing a new place. A cliche but sometimes places just remind you why travel is great.