Or: It’s not a tumor! GET TO DA CHOPPAAAA! You’re a funny guy Sully, I like you, that’s why I’m going to kill you last.
I spent a total of 5 weeks exactly in Sydney. Two of those, I was miserable and constantly questioning my decision to become a world-traveled adventurer (the idea was that I’d find a fedora and/or dual pistols along the way and stumble upon hidden ancient treasure). But three of those, I met some great people, had way too much to drink and got sunburned one too many times (hello skin cancer). I did wanna leave Sydney, and I didn’t, but most of all I had to, for the simple reason that most backpackers AND non-backpackers venture out to Sydney for New Years for seeing the supposedly amazing fireworks from Harbour Bridge, celebrate in the „first major city to begin the new year“, and the hostels taking massive advantage of it. Raggedy rooms that used to cost 20 bucks a night are now up to 60. That’s IF you can still find a bed, anyway. So, if I have any advice for future working holiday makers, plan that time of the year well in advance. But don’t plan anything else. Things will always end up differently than what you thought.
Sydney’s equivalent to pigeons.
In Germany, I used to sleep the days away. Nothing to do, no one to see. It feels like since coming to Australia, I have slept a total of 20 hours all together. You wake up early, do some crazy shit like hiking in the Blue Mountains all day – and the ‘all day’ part isn’t even done purposely because, well, you walk down some very steep 900 steps and at some point decide that there has to be another way back up so you’re wandering through the forest at the bottom of the mountains, hoping for an elevator to appear in the mists (in hindsight, one of the most awesome experiences ever) – just to get back to the hostel where someone is always waiting with a box of goon, ready to party like it’s ’99. And that’s on a tuesday. Backpackers have the amazing ability to drink all night and still be at work in suit and tie at 8 AM. Might have something to do with the whole ozon thing.
Yes, after those two first weeks that I felt horrible, it finally all began to make sense. The cheap wine. The massive bats and cockroaches. The weird jobs that you do. I thought people actually wearing signs was a myth invented by Hollywood movies, like 555 phone numbers. Not only did I get to wear a big sign, but also a glittery blue cowboy hat, which was very popular especially with little Asian girls and skaters.
This is Down Under! Even the locks on public restrooms turn the other way! Crazy Australia is all over the place! Like, when you’re sitting in Hyde Park and feel like you’re in an 80s movie because, apparently skateboarding is kool again. That’s kool with a k, yo. Gettin’ jiggy with it. He was a skaterboy….. hmm, song has been stuck in my head for days. Wait, no! I don’t want your Schnitzel! It’s not genuine!! .. Sorry about that, got a little carried away there. Phew.
In Sydney, I learned about coffee culture. All thanks to the Slovakian legend Thomas, who cringed when I told him about my daily $1 Latte at Hungry Jack’s. I reckoned it was good value. He took me to his café Coco Noir inside fancy Westfield Mall where he was assistant manager and introduced me to all his barista friends (which I first thought was just a sophisticated Australian word for bartender), who, in turn, gave me free coffee with funny milk animals in it after hearing the sad story I just told you, and I love free stuff anyway so who am I to pass that up?! I have to admit: I’m sorry, Hungry Jack, but your coffee tastes like baby dhiarrea in comparison.
Yes, Thomas was a bit rough, as you would expect someone from Eastern Europe to be, but he had a good heart. The free sandwich he got me to make up for, after telling him about my depression, calling me an ugly lesbian with small boobs, is prove of that. You have to understand that to Slovakians, that’s the only reason anyone would ever be sad.
I also wanna take a quick moment to talk about the Indian guy, one of the people with whom I shared a 16 bed dorm for 3 weeks. I still can’t remember his name, even though I have asked him so many times that by the time I moved out, he couldn’t be happier that annoying little forgetful drunk German was finally gone. No, it wasn’t Raj, racist motherfucker! I remember it started with a B.
I suppose this was the first time I encountered an „authentic“ Indian person, complete with Bindi and the shrine in his locker that he would pray to every night – one prayer for each God, and I don’t know how many he had up in there, but it always tooks him precisely 23 minutes.
I never found out why he ate curry without a fork at all, why in the middle of the night, and why it had to be so noisy during and after (nice picture there). It was interesting and gross at the same time. I try to keep an open mind, though.
Most backpackers that I encountered in Sydney were French or Korean, both of which are very hard to communicate with, as their English is usually below average (lo siento, mates. Yes, my French isn’t really any better). On top of that, Koreans also sleep a lot. They have to, as they secretly run the city.
Everything happens faster here. Maybe that’s the traveler’s lifestyle. It would have to, since you’re moving on so quickly. Back home, developing a friendship or any kind of relationship takes time. Get to know one another until you feel comfortable to be yourself (or is that just me), spend time, bond. It’s a process, for introverts like me usually slower, for some faster, but it always takes time. Over here, imagine that process being filmed with a really high speed camera. „G’day, nice to meet you, wanna go for a drink? A splendid, we’re best friends now, that was really fun you crazy son of a bitch, well ok gotta go, add me on facebook, see ya!“ And you probably never hear from them again.
I’d wish to be able to keep in touch with all the people I meet. But it just doesn’t always work out that way. Backpackers never get attached.. I am different in that aspect, but it isn’t always up to me. There are more adventures out there that want to be adventured, I guess. Gotta learn to stop looking back.
Well, what I wanna say is this: Sydney is amazing if you give it a chance (apparently, lots of people don’t like it when they first arrive, so I wasn’t at all alone in this). The people make the city. And there are some truly awesome and interesting people to be met.
Some last thoughts: You’re not a real backpacker in Sydney unless you’ve slept one night in Hyde Park. Only newbies don’t j-walk. Coles has $3 mince meat. You don’t have to buy anything at Hungry Jacks to use the free wifi. The road will tell you which way to look for cars if you wanna cross, for confused Europeans. Saturday nights in the city are crazy. Go and find out why (you might get a cookie. Hint: there is more than once correct answer). And finally, the tap water might taste funny but you will get used to it quickly when you see the prices for bottled water.
I’ve been told: Sydney is like the model girlfriend who treats you like shit but is so beautiful that you always keep coming back to her. I think that hits the nail on the head.