We loved Sydney. There were, of course, some plusses and minuses but overall, Sydney is a great city. There are about 3million people in the metropolitan area so it's big but not that big. It kind of reminded me of the newer version of New York in that it's clean and modern. But, admittedly, the people are a bit nicer and it's somewhat cleaner than the big apple, though the Apple has made some improvements in this area in the last decade or so. Sydney is smaller than NYC but it's plenty big enough, at least for visiting.
We had a great time walking through the Botanical Gardens, which were immaculate and fairly central. We saw lots of locals enjoying the greenery, as well as the harbors and wharfs. Unfortunately, we didn't spend too much time on the beach because it was pretty cloudy and rainy most days. This could've been a blessing in disguise for our respective pale skins because the ozone layer over Australia is nearly non-existent and we could feel the difference in the strength of the sun. When the sun did shine through, it almost felt like the sun was scratching us; it was that strong.
Other than the intensely strong sun, there were a few downsides to Sydney. Putting aside from how ungodly expensive it is, it also lacked diversity in a big way. Just from walking around the different neighborhoods, it seemed like for every 100 white people, there were about 20 asians (half of those were probably tourists, as per their cameras), about 10 indians, and about 5 black people. The city was basically a lot of white people walking around doing there thing.....not that there's anything wrong with that.... But it was a bit bland, though the food/restuarant selection was very diverse, moreso than the people eating at them for sure. The city also lacked a hip-hop culture. It was mostly hard-rock and electronic music for the younger crowd. In fact, we tried to go see some live music and as Laurie and I prefer to see Jazz or Blues music live, we tried to find a place. That proved to be impossible, except for Joss Stone who was playing at a large venue for $80/each, so we looked up some smaller spots to see what was on that night. Nada. Only hard rock and DJ's playing electronic music. We asked someone who knew of some jazz clubs; they had been closed recently. The city is fairly homogenous except for a clear minority crowd which doesn't seem to be able to express itself very much.
And in case you're wondering, No, the toilets don't flush the other way. But they do flush differently and it's not quite as circular as ours back home. BUT there are a few things that are on the opposite side. For instance, they do walk to the left, while we veer to the right. To give an example, going up stairs in a line of several people, we tend to walk up and down on the right side of the stairs (check it out at rush hour, especially in the subways, it's like a line of ants sort of), but in Sydney, they gravitate to the left side. And doors on appliances, like refrigerators or the sliding doors at supermarkets or gas stations, sometimes open from the other side as well. I only noticed this because i continually was reaching for the side we are used to but was continually wrong and had to open from the other side. It's not something you notice because we are so used to it....until you notice you are reaching for the wrong side, time and time again.
All in all, Sydney was a great city that is very green conscious. They try to conserve/recycle what they can as well as keep themselves safe from the sun with a strong ad campaign for people to wear sunscreen, even when it's cloudy outside. It's a very clean city with plenty to do and see and great restaurants to eat in with lots of friendly, laid-back people all over. We had a great time but are looking forward to Thailand to give our wallet a rest.