Sunday, December 5, 2010

Retrospective: Sydney + Surrounds

The central reason I even came to Sydney = above. Karen - my darling friend you may remember from Colombia. Karen is wearing a puppy umbrella, a penny-farthing t-shirt and a real Greek fisherman's hat she just found in a vintage store. AMAZING.

After an all-night train journey and a morning at the most amazing market (more below), Karen bundled me into a car with lovely Lydia (below) and we drove to coastal NSW on an ill-planned, mis-informed and riotous road trip.

On the first night we stayed at Karen's mother and grandmother's house in Ulladulla and, despite us turning up with about 40 minutes notice, they were some of the kindest and most hospitable hosts I've ever had the pleasure of being hosted by. It was also fascinating to see where Karen gets many of her traits from, both physical and psychological. See the three generations below.

Karen's mum Judith is going to NYC for Christmas this year, and plans to wear her vintage fur coat (passed on through generations) - "Well when else am I going to wear it?! In Ulladulla?! I don't think so."

After a much-needed sleep, we drove to a beach famous for it's wild Eastern grey kangaroos - here is one of the cutest ones. They were everywhere and quite used to humans gawking at them. I amused the Australians by being constantly blown away by the whole event = "oh my GOD. oh my. I can't believe there is a kangaroo just literally standing right there. I mean, I knew they had kangaroos in Australia, but not just everywhere like this, not just like hanging out."

While in Melbourne and prancing around the gardens, Telford made this statement: "This is just like, so nice, I mean, where are the homeless people?! If I was homeless, I would come to the park to hang out." I've never been to a city as consistently rich and secure seeming as Melbourne - this is not to say there is no poverty (I am not an idiot), but that the poverty is not visible to a casual observer, in the main areas of the city.

In Sydney, this is not the case. Sydney has a much more visible and arresting 'under-belly', and the wealth there, maybe by consequence, doesn't feel quite as cushy and definite.

Above are the old carriage works - a fantastic red-brick industrial space now used as a huge open air farmers market - i.e. a farmers market which can still function comfortably in the rain; genius. I had a savoury crepe there with spinach, mushroom and cheese and it ruled my morning. Across the street, there are the old workers' homes which are now, of course, highly desired and trendy places to live.

I really liked Sydney, quite a lot more than people had led me to believe I would. It has more of a harsh edge than Melbourne and is certainly busier, more competitive and more corporate, and I can see why that puts people off, but it is also an exceptionally pretty city with really interesting history and wildly varied neighbhourhoods. I think I'd have to be feeling very secure (and wealthy) to want to live there though.

No comments: