First Days in Sydney, Part 2 (Food, Festivals, Driving)

In part one, I covered the beaches & wildlife, and ended the post by saying Nick and I were off to dinner at a local restaurant, which brings me nicely to my next favorite thing about Sydney…

FOOD!

Everywhere we have been here, the food has been fantastic. Sydney has a worldwide reputation for great food and great coffee, and boy have they earned it. Even when we visited the most hole-in-the-wall pub, with sticky floors and tables and a surly bartender, the burger we ordered was cooked to perfect medium, juicy and clearly homemade, with a gorgeous salad and fresh hot chips.

Example of a typical pub meal - nicely presented and absolutely delicious.
Example of a typical pub meal – nicely presented and absolutely delicious.

We are looking forward to our first fine-dining experience in Sydney, at Momofuku Seiobo, for our fifth dating anniversary in a few weeks. Our minds will surely be blown.

Oh yes…and the grocery store has some interesting things in the meat section…

2014-10-28 20.28.34

FESTIVALS

There always seems to be something going on in Sydney. Since we arrived on 17 October, we’ve been to the night noodle markets in Hyde Park, where a bunch of vendors set up booths selling amazing Asian foods…

2014-10-25 19.36.35

Noodle markets

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…after the noodle markets closed, there was the Santa Festival prior to Christmas (free concerts, fireworks, a Santa Run, and a bunch of Santas in Darling Harbour you could paddleboat to & around)…

Santas!
Santas!

…after the Santa festival was Christmas, and of course New Year’s Eve in Sydney is spectacular (though we were in Ottawa over Christmas so missed it this year), and then in January was the Sydney Festival with concerts and food galore, capped off on 26 January with Australia Day (Australia’s “Canada Day”) and some boat ballets and spectacular fireworks…

2015-01-26 12.27.52 2015-01-24 21.04.47

…and now that Sydney Festival is done, it’s on to the Lunar New Year! See what I mean? The celebrating never stops around here! Sydney certainly knows how to keep summer rolling. Being slightly Type-A, I’m a little overwhelmed by everything that’s available – you could never see and do everything – but it certainly is nice to have so many options!

DRIVING

Driving here has been something else. Not only because we’re driving on the left side of the road, which takes some getting used to, and not necessarily in the ways that you expect:

  • Several times we have briefly thought there was either no one driving a car, or a dog driving (actually the dog or empty seat was the passenger side)
  • Reaching over the incorrect shoulder to put your seatbelt on because you’re used to it being over your left shoulder when you’re the driver, and vice versa
  • Using the windshield wipers when you intended to use the turn signal
  • Checking your blind spot when turning right across traffic, even though there is surely no one coming from behind you
  • Going around to the wrong side of the car (e.g. driver will walk around to passenger side)
  • I find myself habitually looking up for the rear view mirror to check my makeup when I am the one sitting in the passenger seat
  • Often looking the wrong way first when crossing the street…I now just err on the side of caution and always look both ways
  • Getting out of the wrong side of a taxi…you should get out on the curb side, but I am so used to that being the other side…
  • The unshakeable feeling that cars turning right at a light are going to turn into your lane and hit you straight on…
  • And not to mention cycling on the left…remembering to keep left, not right, and my balance is all off now because I need to signal turns and stops with my right hand, not my left…

There are also some different rules here that took some getting used to:

  • Speeding of any kind is not tolerated and there are hidden speed cameras everywhere which tolerate max 4km/h over the limit
  • No left turns on red (same as right on red in Canada and the US) and there are red light cameras which will catch you if you try
  • The bus lanes are strictly for buses (and bikes) and there are cameras which will catch you…

We’ve seen a few interesting road signs…

uh, ok.
uh, ok.
Kanga crossing
Kanga crossing
Bike lane...on the side of a 100km/h highway
Bike lane…on the side of a 100km/h highway

And finally, navigation and parking in Sydney city is nearly impossible for a newcomer…in fact, after we arrived at our temporary living, we mainly just left our rental car parked and didn’t use it, and finally we returned it ahead of schedule because it was just sitting there gathering dust due to the hassle of driving:

  • There are so many one-way streets, we would often end up crossing the Harbour Bridge before we realized what was happening
  • Oh and by the way, there is about a $6 toll every time you cross…one way…so a mistake which costs you $12 each time.
  • Parking spots and parking garages are absolutely tiny with many tight corners, and also extremely expensive – the one at my work is $23 per day!

Which is a nice segue into part 3, coming soon…a special post on cost of living here in Sydney…one of the best…and most expensive cities in the world.

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