Sydney

5 Things I Hate About Sydney

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If you want to know how beautiful and wonderful Sydney is, I am pretty sure you will find plenty of resources on the internet. Sydney is a great place to live after all. But, although Sydney always ranks as one of the top livable cities in the world, there are lot of things I hate about the place. And I am actually pleased to find out that I am not the only one who thinks like that!

There are many articles on the internet externalizing feelings of hate for the city. Many of them are written by Australians who are – or were – living overseas. I must admit that I didn’t find many complaints coming from foreigners living in Sydney, but it didn’t surprise me. It is so much easier to criticize the place where you are from instead of the place you chose to be your home, isn’t it? The grass isn’t always green on the other side.

Tired of all the same flattery about Australia everywhere, and after reading some quotes about what people hate the most in Sydney (and agreeing with many of the things from the list), I have decided to share my own top 5 things I really dislike about the city. Sydney is awesome, yes, but we have to admit that there is no perfect place in the world.

1.       Wind

It is always windy. It doesn’t matter the season. In the country, with so poor natural ozone protection, the wind is so strong that it is impossible to use big umbrellas on the beach.

I had a sore throat for one month when I first arrived in Australia just because of the wind!

I also don’t know why I bother to straight my hair to go to a party. It is particularly difficult to take pictures outdoors.

Ah, and good luck hanging your laundry outside on a windy day.

Trying taking a pic but the wind didn't really helped
Don’t bother straighten your hair if you have an outdoors’ party. Phote: Clarisse Kent
Wind in Sydney
It is a beautiful view. Just a shame we could not stay out for longer because of the wind. Photo: Clarisse Kent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.       Traffic lights

It goes together with the first point. In winter, the wind is not only strong but also extremely cold. Since the traffic lights always take forever to change for pedestrians, it is very painful to wait to cross the road when it is cold. Do I need to mention the hair again?

3.       Too many tourists in summer

I have a love/hate relationship with Sydney in summer. I love it because… well, it is summer!

I hate the fact that everything gets so packed. It is impossible to walk quickly in the city, and it is even worse to go to or come back from the beach. I lived in Bondi once, and believe me Bondi can be pretty stressful in summer. Need to take public transport to or from the beach? Be ready to wait in long and messy queues. Are you driving? Good luck with traffic and finding parking spots. Buses to Bondi are always full in summer. It doesn’t matter if it is 3pm or 3 am.

traffic of big umbrelas in Brazil
Just for the comparison: Guaruja beach in Sao Paulo in summer is as packed as Bondi. But they can at least use the umbrellas for sun protection.
packed Bondi Beach
Bondi beach perfectly packed in summer. Photo: Sydney Morning Herald.

4.       Everything closes very early

I find the new Westpac commercial “Australia doesn’t close at 5 anymore” very funny. Everyone finishes work at 5 or 5:30 pm, but the shops close at 5 as well. So, if you work until a bit later and need to do some shopping after work, forget it. The only day the shops are open late (9:30 pm) is Thursday.

5.       Taxi drivers

This is perhaps what I hate the most in Sydney. Of course there are exceptions but generally taxi drivers in Sydney are rude, don’t put any effort to communicate properly with you, always get lost, and never arrive on time when you book it in advance. They always try to rip you off by taking the longest drive home, making sure they go via every single tol in the city. Even worse: THEY DON’T OPEN THE DOOR FOR YOU IF YOU ARE NOT GOING FOR A LONG DRIVE. Getting a taxi after a party has become my worst nightmare. Even if I manage to stop a taxi (which can take several minutes), the fact that I live only 20 minutes away from the city is enough to make many of them to refuse to take me home.

Although I hate a few things in Sydney, the truth is, overall, I don’t really hate it here. There are many more reasons why I, and thousands of other immigrants, have decided to live in this city. And who would blame me for that? It is not difficult to love this city when you can work from home on a balcony with this view every day.

Sydney: how not to love it?
How not to love it?

Rottnest Island: a Day Trip to Paradise

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The decision to go to Rottnest Island was made kind of last minute. We knew we wanted to go there this last time we were in Perth, but only decided to plan the trip while we were already there. Because of the Christmas holidays, the city was completely packed. And – so was the island. With no accommodation available, the only option for us was to make it a day trip.

The island receives 450,000 to 500,000 visitors per day in summer and offers simple accommodation to only 5,500 people, which means that 70% of its visitors go to the island for the day only. We did and it was completely worth it.

beautiful blue in Rottenest Island
The best blue water

The ferry tickets available for the day gave us a late start and we arrived on the island at 11 am, after the 30 min ferry ride from the Fremantle wharf.

Rotto, how the island is called by Australians, is 11 km long and although there is a bus available on the island, bikes are the best form of transportation available. We started our tour cycling from Thompson’s Bay towards the lighthouse.

Beautiful bays, outstanding blue waters (the ones that only Australia can offer), scenic paths, and wildlife are just some of the features you will find on Rotto. The cycling can be tempered to individual fitness levels and is accessible to everyone.

The island is home to a kind of giant rat referred to as  a  quokka, and you can find them pretty much everywhere around. Quokkas and humans live in complete harmony in this part of the world.

Quokkas in Rottnest island
Interacting with Quokkas around Rottnest Island.

After visiting the lighthouse, Cape Vlamingh (the western point in the island), and stopping for many pictures; we decided to stop at Parakeep Bay for some swimming, silly magazines reading, and water activities.

Although the island was packed, it didn’t feel anything like being at any of the popular beaches, like Bondi or Coogee in Sydney for summer. The bay was completely empty and we could enjoy that piece of paradise all to ourselves. Next to it was George Bay, the closest place for food available, so we headed over there for lunch at the only cafe around that area.

After lunch, it was time to join the rest of the crowd. The Basin is the most popular spot on the island and a great place for snorkelling. Despite the fact that the ocean around  Australia is very cold and I always struggle to hit the water, the color was so blue and the weather so hot, that even I ventured in for a swim. The snorkeling was beautiful and I could see several schools of fish and sea life. I did leave the water with a sore knee and a cut on my left-hand finger after bumping into the rocks on my way back to the shore, but it was totally worth it!

Around 5:30 pm, already hungry again after a whole day of activities, we headed to the only pub on the island for some food and drinks. The Rottness Hotel is a great place to finish the day and it is very family friendly. The house features some bands and DJs from time to time, to entertain the crowd. The music generally goes from 7 pm to 11 pm. Since the last ferry was at 8:15 pm, we had time to enjoy the music for an hour before leaving the paradise.

Kids and adults were going crazy dancing in this very scenic environment, while watching the sunset. With so much to do, it’s no wonder they call Rotto an island playground.

Enjoy the sunset over the music
The Dj at Rottnest Hotel. Beautiful views from the dance floor.

Sunburned, full of bruises, very tired, and trying to protect ourselves from the cold wind that hit the island at the end of the day, we took the last ferry back to Fremantle satisfied with the great summer day we had. 

Disability Access:

The island is equipped with many disability ramps, including an ocean access into the water at Thompson’s Bay.

Practical tips:

Return ferry price from Fremantle: AU $60

Sunscreen is absolutely a must and it is never enough.

Plan in advance for a chance to get accommodation and stay on the island for a few days

Bikes: you can rent it there, or take your own for an extra AU $15. Helmets are mandatory at all times.

Snorkeling gear:  I recommend taking your own equipment if you are planning to visit the island during the busy seasons. Snorkeling gear is easily available for rental on the island on less busy days.

Water: Take your own when exploring the island. There is no drinking water or shops available in certain points. Keep yourself hydrated.

Disability ramp with access into the ocean.
Disability ramp with access into the ocean.

 

Christmas away from home: 3 Things I Have Learned about Christmas after Years Without Having One.

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Since I arrived in Australia, it became necessary for me to travel for Christmas every year. Not because I like paying double (sometimes even triple) on air fare to go anywhere I want, but because it is the only time of the year I actually have off. My last 5 Christmas holidays were spent in non-Christians countries, and with non-Christians friends, which means “not a big deal” in terms of celebration.

Christmas in India
Christmas in India
Christmas in Singapore
Last minute Christmas feast in Singapore

This year, although I am still not spending time with my Brazilian family, it will be my first traditional (if I can call it like that) Christmas at “home” in 5 years.I have to confess that spending a “real” Christmas in Australia, and not backpacking somewhere around the world, is making me feel a bit weird. This is why:

1. There is huge pressure to “be happy and have fun” at Christmas.

It seems like you HAVE to eat a lot, drink a lot, and spend all your money on useless things – for yourself and for others. You are basically forced to have a blast. This is a big pressure when you are away from home and your loved ones. Especially when all your friends are travelling and you are not. Why can’t I just have a quiet celebration for once, without people feeling sorry for me?

2. It is the holiday that makes you broke.

Christmas just became another capitalist holiday.

I actually struggle to find a reason for the tradition of giving presents. Of course, I love getting presents. I just don’t see the purpose of doing it when everything is so much more expensive, for no other reason, than it being Christmas.

It is the pressure from society that makes us pay more to have gifts ready to be distributed on the 25th,even knowing that everything will be heaps cheaper ONE DAY AFTER.

I found a very interesting article called “Why I Hate Christmas” that expresses a bit of this pressure in this quote: “The only reason the tradition of giving gifts for Hanukkah exists is because it helps Jewish kids feel less left out when all their Christian friends are getting loads of them.”

Again, it is all about capitalism!

The pressure of having fun for Christmas comes with a bill: decorations, dinner, new clothes for the parties, Christmas cards, secret Santa, postage to send the presents overseas, etc. This list can go on and on.

I read on the news the other day that Australians will spend 3Bn over the weekend. After 5 years, I forgot how annoying it is to go shopping during this season. The streets in Sydney are packed, hot, noisy, – big chaos! I did try to do my shopping, but in the end, I just gave up and left empty-handed. Wine and chocolates will have to do the job this year.

3. Happy Holidays instead of Happy Christmas

Christmas is a religious holiday that has lost its true significance for many people over the years. Many celebrate Christmas as just a holiday to spend money and reunite the family for dinner. In my opinion, the fact that part of society doesn’t recognize Christmas as a religious holiday doesn’t justify the idea of changing the holiday’s meaning.

I have friends from many different religions and it is very common for me to receive cards of Happy Hanukah, Happy Ramadan, or happy any other religious holidays you can name. It is an important date to them and I respect that. However, I also want to be able to send Merry Christmas cards to non-Christian friends without being criticized for that. At the end of the day, Christmas has a meaning that is not only holidays for me.

I do wish a Merry Christmas to all my readers! Especially to my friends around the world who have spent Christmas with me, like a family, in my past 5 years away from home. Thank you for sharing those moments with me!

To all my friends, there it goes: My very own Santa dance! Wishing you the best Christmas ever! 🙂

http://www.funpunch.com/ecards/recipient/d00ca15f-c004-4ac6-955c-52c752280d6f?sid=875061

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Pontos e passeios imperdíveis em Sydney, na Austrália

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Meu primeiro post em Português foi retirado da minha contribuição para o blog da Marina Andrade “Na Bagagem” do jornal AN de Joinvile.

Nada melhor do que começar falando sobre uma das cidades que eu mais conheço e amo da Australia. Tem tanta coisa pra fazer em Sydney que um post so não da conta. Esse é só o primeiro. Espero que gostem! 🙂

08 de outubro de 2013

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O Sol nascendo no primeiro dia do ano de 2009 em frente ao Opera House
Foi por acaso que a Ana Gusso foi morar em Sydney, na Austrália, há cinco anos, onde hoje trabalha com marketing educacional. Tanto tempo no país, e ainda por cima trabalhando com intercambista, faz com que ela seja uma ótima fonte para dicas sobre o lugar. – Cheguei em Sydney em setembro, mas não recomendo vir nesta época por causa do vento. Em setembro começa a esquentas, mas trazer casaquinhos, jaquetas e blusas mais finas de manga comprida devem estar na mala neste mês. Ana destaca que outra coisa que não pode faltar na bagagem são sapatos confortáveis, pois se anda muito por lá. – A melhor época para vir é no verão. Em outubro e novembro já faz calor, clima que dura até fevereiro. Sydney é uma cidade de praia então isso faz toda a diferença. O australiano também tem a cultura do churrasco (BBQ) e as praias ficam lotadas de pessoas comendo na parte de grama reservada pra isso. Mas o pessoal não costuma levar guarda-sol por causa do vento, então o protetor solar é indispensável.

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A praia de Bondi – a mais famosa da Australia

É CARO, MAS TEM ALTERNATIVA

Ana dá uma dica: vá com o bolso preparado, pois é um país caro. Mas ainda assim é possível fazer uma série de passeios gratuitos. – A caminhada mais famosa de Sydney é entre as praias de Bondi até Coogee. De outubro a novembro acontece o “Sculpture by the Sea” onde artistas exibem esculturas e pecas de arte ao longo dessa caminhada. O passeio eh gratuito e leva em torno de 40 minutos do começo ao fim. Eh um passeio cultural, diferente e com paisagens belíssimas.

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Aprendendo a surfar

NA ONDA

O surf é uma das paixões por aqui. Quem nunca praticou o esporte, pode fazer uma aula na praia de Bondi. É diversão na certa. Mas cuidado com os tubarões. Quando há perigo na água, soa uma sirene alta e todo mundo precisa ir pra areia, mas isso não acontece com frequência nesta área da Austrália.

SÍMBOLO

O Opera House é um dos símbolos mais importantes da Austrália. Há tours por dentro do local que custam 35 dólares australianos (cerca de R$ 70). Mas para mim, a melhor forma de dar uma espiadinha por dentro do Opera House seria assistir a uma das apresentações que estão sempre em cartaz. A orquestra sinfônica é uma boa pedida para quem gosta deste tipo de musica, mas há vários outros tipos de atrações acontecendo periodicamente e por um preço razoável.

Ponte – Outro ícone da Austrália eh a Harbour Bridge. É a ponte que liga as partes Sul e Norte de Sydney. Uma experiência inesquecível em Sydney é escalar esta ponte. O custo vai de 198 a 308 dólares australianos dependendo do pacote escolhido e do horário. Há várias formas de escalar a ponte mas, independentemente de qual você escolher, a vista lá de cima certamente vai valer a pena. Esse programa exige um pouco de coragem, mas quem fizer não vai se arrepender. Mais informações podem ser encontradas no site: bridgeclimb.com.

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EM MEIO AOS BICHOS

O Taronga Zoo é o maior zoológico de Sydney. Cerca de 80% dos animais australianos só existem por aqui. Neste lugar, você poderá alimentar cangurus, abraçar coalas, além de ver ornitorrincos e outros animais do país como wallaby e o diabo da tasmânia (o Taz da Lonely Toones). O ingresso custa 44 dólares australianos – crianças e famílias têm desconto. Um dia já é um espetáculo e te permite ver o Opera House de uma outra perspectiva. O ferry custa 12 dólares australianos, mas sempre tem descontos para quem vai ao zoológico.

Não vá sem levar!

  •  Protetor solar sempre.
  •  Sapatos confortáveis também.
  •  Leve casaquinhos para se proteger do vento.
  •  Coma fish’n’chips no “The Doyles”, em Watsons Bay, e visite o “The Gap” no local.
  •  Faça um passeio pelo porto de Darling Harbour.
  •  Se estiver com tempo mas sem muito dinheiro, uma opção é ir seria para os países vizinhos no Sudeste da Ásia. Tailândia, Bali, Malásia, Indonésia, ficam bem pertinho da Austrália e são destinos muito baratos. Uma viagem da Austrália para a a Tailândia custa mais barato do que qualquer viagem dentro da própria Austrália.

How to have an international experience when you are short of money or cannot find the time off?

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If you are a travel addict like I am but sometimes struggle to find time or money for a trip, these simple tips will assist you to get that feeling of being overseas without necessarily having to travel.

Going to an international festival, trying  new and traditional dishes or simply interacting with people from different nationalities has shown me efficient ways of satisfying my craving for traveling while staying in my own home city, even when I am short of money or I cannot get the time off.

Because Australia is a country of immigrants and at least 1/3 of Sydney’s population is from overseas (according to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, almost half of Australia’s population were either born overseas or had a migrant parent) there are plenty of options of cool cultural stuff to do around the city.

 If your city is not as international as you would like it to be, try to adapt the following tips to your reality and hopefully you will be able to find what you are looking for. You can always search for international movies on the internet or try to follow a new drink or food recipe yourself.

 1.       CHECK THE FESTIVAL CALENDAR OF YOUR CITY

Migrants always bring a bit of their culture to the new country. Therefore, where there are migrants there are festivals and events to celebrate customs and special occasions.

Check the festival calendar in the city where you live for a chance to catch a taste of cultural celebrations happening close to where you are.

Since China and India are the 3rd and 4th main birth places of the Australian immigrants – only behind UK and New Zealand – there is a blend of cultures among these countries in Australia. If you are in Sydney, have a look at the Chinese New Year or Moon festival celebrations happening every year in China town or some of the Indian religions festivals occurring around Parramatta and other Sydney neighbourhoods.

Culture lovers from: Brazil, China, India, Turkey, Australia and Italy at the Indian Navrati night in Liverpool, one of Sydney’s neighborhoods.
Culture lovers from: Brazil, China, India, Turkey, Australia an Italy at the Indian Navrati night in Liverpool, one of Sydney’s neighbourhoods.
learning Indian dance
Learning Indian dance with the best

You can also learn about certain regions by attending to film or music festivals. The Latin America film festival and the Ritmo Brazilian Day are two examples of this kind in Sydney.

Although the Latin America Festival is all about films, the Brazilian Day is a big cultural celebration which happens every September in the city. In this festival you can find typical food, dance and lots of fun in a huge space located in Darling Harbor, one of the most beautiful spots in Sydney.

Brazilian Samba presentation at the Latin America Festival 2013 - Opening night in Sydney.
Brazilian Samba presentation at the Latin America Festival 2013 – Opening night in Sydney.
 
Different cities have different events and immigrants influence. Check what your city has to offer and have fun exploring different cultures.
 
2.  GET INVOLVED WITH INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES AND VISIT INTERNATIONAL TOWNS OR SITES
Sydney has now established a few international locations like Thai and Korean town apart from the popular China town, which can be found basically in every big city.

If you have an international town located in your city it might be a good idea to go for a wonder around and check the different shops, restaurants and markets available. Some of them are so authentic that it will give you the sensation of being overseas.

In Sydney, the Chinese Garden is one of my favourite spots where I can relax and enjoy peaceful views. It really takes me to China without leaving Sydney. For great and authentic Chinese food, nothing better than the well know China towns.

Chinese Garden - Sydney
Chinese Garden – Sydney

3. JOIN THE “MEET UP” OR INTERNATIONAL GROUPS AND MAKE INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS 

 If you have an interest in meeting people from different nationalities, try to attend some of the numerous meet up groups available all around the world. Meet Up is the world’s largest network of local groups and it is present in 196 countries There are plenty of groups where you can learn a different language, how to cook international food with natives or only share information about your passion.

And it is all free!

Meet up is a great opportunity for you to make friends from other nationalities and maybe get invited to traditional celebrations that you might not even be aware of.

4.       VISIT INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT AND TRY NEW FOODS.

As creatures of habits we tend to always do the same things every time. If we like something we stick to it. It is easy to go to the same restaurant and order “the usual” but, in times of travel cravings, try to be experimental and hit the traditional international restaurants available in your area.

There is always a type of food that you haven’t tried yet.

I got surprised when I went to Washington and found out that the city has the second largest Ethiopian population outside of the country itself. I have never thought about going to Ethiopia but going to that restaurant gave me a better understanding of the country.

You can learn a lot about a country by its food.

Going to a traditional restaurant will give you the feeling of experiencing something new for the first time and maybe, if you enjoy the experience, you can even think about visiting the actual country in the future.

I had some food in a Jamaican restaurant at Kensington market in Toronto once and now I have a plan to go to visit the country! You never know what a food experience can lead you to.

Ethiopian food experience in Washington DC
Ethiopian food experience in Washington DC

If you need some inspiration to choose your next holiday destination, these tips will give you plenty of insights of things to do.

Found a place you would like to visit after readying this post?

Got creative and found different ways of experiencing new cultures in your “not- that-international” city?

Share your experience with us. Every new idea is welcome!