Day #184 The Australian rivalry: Sydney vs. Melbourne
To end our Australian adventure we decided to visit the two major cities of the South East Coast: Sydney and Melbourne. I had been to both but, again, I was excited to visit them with Antonio and see what his take was on the long-time friendly rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne was. I lived in Melbourne for 7 months and had the time of my life there but I had also fallen in love with Sydney in the few times I had come and visit it!
When we arrived to Sydney we found ourselves a reasonably priced hostel, which was of course a little bit off hand from the city centre. Nevertheless, the city is well connected and we could easily get to the centre and its surroundings. We had 5 days there and kicked it off with something that I had always wanted to do: going to the Sydney Opera House to watch an Opera show. The intensity of emotions that is transmitted through the singing at the opera is indescribable; it gave me chills and in some moments it almost made me cry. Walking out of the Opera House into a warm sunny evening was proof that you can really have a great life quality in Sydney. Everything looks clean, perfect, the weather is good and most importantly, they have the sea just around the “corner”. We had a drink next to the river with a view to the Sydney Opera House and the Bridge while we listened to a band playing open air.
During those days, we also hit the main attractions in the city centre such as the Botanical Garden and the Rocks market. Another thing we did was to finally go to the Human Bodies exhibition, which I had been wanting to go back and show Antonio for a while now. This shows how much is happening in this city in terms of Arts and Entertainment. Nevertheless, we quickly figured out that the best of Sydney is actually not the city centre itself but the surrounding neighborhoods such as Bondi & Manly and its famous coastal walks. In fact, the city centre looks mostly empty during the weekends as most people live outside of the business centre. Therefore, we spent one day at Bondi and one day in Manly in which we started off by enjoying the beach and finished by doing the coastal walk. If we weren’t convinced yet that people in Sydney had an incredible life quality we were now!! Both beaches are less than 30 minutes away from the center and are stunning considering that they belong to one of the largest cities in the world!! We are talking about real sand, real waves and real sea in comparison to the many beaches next to the cities that are small, rocky and dirty. There was lots of people but the beaches are quite spacious and they are still surprisingly comfortable considering they are just in the outskirts of the City centre.
Nevertheless, the coastal walk is what won me over: not only does it contribute for exercise being a regular part of people’s routine there but it also contributes to a wider appreciation of nature’s beauty. You see many people enjoying this incredible feature of Sydney and connecting with its nature. It is so inviting that we decided to stop to meditate on a special cliff We did the coastal walk from Bondi to Congee and from Manly to Spit Bridge. They both were beautiful but doing the costal walk from Manly at sundown really blew my mind. There are beautiful houses by the coast, it is very well preserved and there are plenty of lost beaches. It was so peaceful that I felt I wanted to stay there forever. The coastal walks is something that I had not experienced before when I came to Sydney and it really made me fall a little more in love with the city.
We left Sydney with a great impression of the city, knowing that if it weren’t so far from every other country in the globe it definitely surpasses Lisbon in terms of life quality in many ways. Antonio felt it would be hard to like Melbourne more but I knew the city had a more international environment, the best food and a lot of life and culture! Also, I made him do all the things I used to during my time there! I took him to my Uni, to the cafes I used to go, made sure I had the salmon sushi rolls at the sushi place next to my house and mango tea with strawberry pops at the University Bubba Tea Shop. We even went to the local supermarket and visited the house where I used to live. It was awesome! I was so excited to finally share this important piece of my life with someone that Antonio must have been “infected” by my enthusiasm. I took him to the Melbourne Zoo, which I remembered I had loved because they managed to create natural and authentic habitats for the different animals and it almost feels like they are out in the wild. There was a butterfly garden with thousands of butterflies of every size and colour. It was magnificent. We stayed inside for at least an hour admiring them and falling in love with their beauty as they would make a quick stop in our hands, heads or other parts of our body. Funnily, I had one that decided to stay on my shoulder for the whole time we were there. I felt she was meant to be there and that somehow she could be my mom’s spirit.
We also went to the Victoria market while we were in Melbourne, walked a lot around the city, did some shopping, met with old friends from there and went to the beach. Overall, the time we spent there was more as locals and doing the things I used to. So, it gave a very different feeling from Sydney. Antonio liked it more for its cool vibe, culture and because it is just full of life but he couldn’t deny the incredible lifestyle you can have in Sydney especially because of its close contact with nature. And I agree :) !
We are heading to New Zealand next, an even further destination from everywhere we know and to which we have high expectations in terms of natural wonders!