Jess Over’s Exciting Adventures in Sydney

I am so excited to introduce the first guest blog! My wonderful friend and fellow Exeter graduate Jess Over has embarked on a wonderful journey far far away from the small island and gone all the way down under. She explains her impressions of the dynamic city of Sydney, Australia and has included many recommendations.

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Jess and I together in Exeter, England

So, without further ado here it is: Being a local tourist…in Sydney Australia

My lovely friend Saxony is currently living life large in Cape Town and asked me to write a guest blog piece for her blog about being a local tourist. Someone who lives in a city and learns and grows to understand the city but is still, at the same time, a tourist there.

This is the exact position I am in currently with my life living in Sydney. I am currently working as a receptionist at Hays Recruitment Company in the central business district, known as CBD, of Sydney.  This is a temporary role and not something I want to do for the rest of my life but the perfect job to be able to live and work and play in Sydney. So… what is it like living in Sydney? My first impressions were positive. Arriving in March the weather was still very warm and everything was buzzing. In contrast to New Zealand Sydney was a welcome change and I embraced it all. The heat, the beaches, the sun and the coffee!

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Jess absolutely loving life in Sydney

Sydney is perhaps one of the most liveable cities due to its size. It’s not too big but at the same time still quite small. It is situated around the harbour which is one of the most gorgeous active pieces of water – ferries, yachts, motor boats, fishing boats – you name it , you will probably see it in the harbour racing around. For me living by the sea is perfect. It appeals to me and my love of the sea. Just living within reasonable distance of the sea and the beach is pretty cool. But it’s not just the sea and the beaches which appeal to me. I am a little bit obsessed with the Opera House. I love it! I take photos of it every time I got near it. Whether I’m on the ferry to Manly or just taking a stroll around the Botanical gardens I take a picture of it. I have near on 50 now! I can’t get enough. And tied with the Opera House you have the Harbour bridge which is equally spectacular in my opinion. I think the first time I went over it on a bus I let out a squeal of excitement which caused people to turn and stare. The tourist in me didn’t care. The local in me was mortified! With iconic architecture, stunning surfer beaches, compact, diverse city landscape Sydney has it all combined with great coffee and places to eat and drink.

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One of Jess’s many photos at the Sydney Opera House

Which takes us onto lifestyle…why is over half my office English? Perhaps because winter weather doesn’t get below 10° and only lasts 3 months if that. So the weather is great. Summer can be a bit scorching but if you like the heat then it’s ok and everywhere has air conditioning so ‘no worries’. But it’s more than just the weather that Sydney has to offer. I have never been to so many above average coffee cafes and brunch spots. The city is littered with them and each one has its own identity, coffee barista expert, and spot on menu of delicious brunch options. So I did a lot of discovering! The coffee tourist/snob came out and so did the coffee guide and off I went, with the help of friends of course!  Just for the record- a few of my favourites are FourAteFive in Surry Hills, Clipper Cafe in Glebe, Forbes & Burton in Darlinghurst and many many more. In fact just getting a good coffee is a treat. Just the fact that I am not in a Costa, Nero’s, Starbucks is a revelation and one big difference from here and the UK is that they still have their high streets. Sydney’s suburbs have character, individuality and independent shops. The UK has lost that and it’s been replaced with chain stores selling the same old stuff with Topshop look-a-likes posing around. In Sydney each suburb has its ‘thing’. It’s the hipster part, the business part, red light, grunge & alternative, beach, high end retail and so the list goes on.

Which makes going out for a drink slightly challenging: where to go? What to drink? There are plenty of places to drink. It’s something that Australians are good at. And it’s fun and social in a new city to explore via new bars and pubs. Exeter was small and limiting in terms of places to drink, home has one venue, the local pub , Sydney has too many to count. But what has impressed me about Sydney is the attention to detail.  Me and some friends got hooked on a bar called ‘No Name Bar’ because it hosted a live art battle every Thursday which saw two artists battling it out over one and half hours.  Another bar is called Grandma’s bar which is the tiny basement bar that has rocking chairs, knitting, Werther’s Originals and great cocktails. 5 Boroughs is a favourite because we are now friends with the barman and he experiments new cocktails on us and gives us a discount! And so it goes on. Rooftop bars and pools, $10 steak dinners, champagne at the Opera Bar- life is pretty good!

As much as eating and drinking has been a recurrent theme in this blog if there is one word to sum up Sydney it’s: active. People go to boot camp at 6am before work to get their exercise in for the day. The walk from Coogee to Bondi is overcrowded with runners on a sunny day. People are off sailing, surfing, running at weekends. Always on the go. It is slightly addicted even I have started going for a swim after work to wind down but also to keep fit. Then again who wouldn’t want to in an heated outdoor 50m pool?  So it’s not surprising that Australians are equally sports mad. I recently got introduced to Aussies Rules Football. Which when you first watch it is one of the most bizarre games on this planet. A lot of men, in very short shorts running around a cricket ground kicking a rugby shaped ball through 4 posts. It doesn’t make sense, it is hilarious and addictive and I love it!

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One of the many gorgeous beaches that Sydney has to offer

Culturally there are not so many differences with the UK. The outdoor lifestyle that exists here is impossible in the UK but for me, what I have noticed is that everyone is friendly, open, courteous, welcoming. Everyone is your ‘mate’! It takes some getting used to when your manager called you mate and there are ‘no worries’ and everything is ‘too easy’. But it’s a pretty sweet life dude!