“It’s so laid-back, it reminds me of San Diego!” I exclaim as we hike along the coast of Sydney, barren cliffs and crashing sea to our right and mid-century modern architecture to our left.
“Oh, but these buildings!” I shout above the city noise as we walk down George Street and the aged green rooftop of the Queen Victoria Building joins the skyscrapers and towers that create the Sydney skyline. “It makes me think I’m back in New York!”
“But these gardens, these gardens can only remind me of London,” I concede as I amble through the huge green space full of towering trees, squawking birds and, at the end, the majestic Opera House.
Everywhere I go here, I try to fit this place into another’s box: the gardens are from London, the vibes are like San Diego, the cosmopolitan downtown screams New York, the quirky architecture is reminiscent of San Francisco.
And the people oblige me:
“Sydney is expensive and sophisticated – exactly like New York!”
“Sydney is exciting and stunning – exactly like San Francisco!”
“Sydney is elegant and sprawling – exactly like London!”
…But nobody would say what Sydney was exactly, without referencing another city to explain it.
So let me try:
Sydney is walkable.
Sydney is not walkable.
Sydney does not know what iced coffee should look like.
Sydney does know what an iced mocha should look like.
(Hint: it’s like a milkshake. Which is amazing.)
Sydney is striking.
Sydney is puzzling,
Sydney is like any other big city you’ve ever been to.
Sydney is unlike any other big city you’ve ever been to.
Sydney is big and small, unique and similar, hot and cold, coastal and cosmopolitan, artistic and rigid.
Like any other city and like no other city, Sydney is, well, Sydney.
Everything that everybody told me about it before I came was true and not true, all at the same time. Because, though it’s true that it is like New York and San Diego and San Francisco and London, it is also true that it is like none of those, really.
Sydney is Sydney, I really can’t explain it.
(So come and see it for yourself).