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Sydney heading to Melbourne

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 30 April 2013 | Views [1112]

There is something about Sydney that makes me want to draw a parallel to a show home. Picture perfect, squeaky clean, enviably functional and clearly successful.

With any number of books and leaflets detailing the ‘must see’ guide to Sydney, it seems pointless for me to regurgitate the list for you. What I can add, is to say how simple it is to find your way around. The streets are pretty much set out in a grid and on mainland Sydney if you go north you can only go as far as the harbour. There are plenty of landmarks, the tallest of which are conveniently clustered together in the CBD (central business district), from which to take your bearings. Pretty much anywhere in the central area makes for a pleasant walk.

There are a multitude of small cafes and take-away shops almost everywhere you go. With the generous number of parks and botanical gardens, purchasing a take away meal and then enjoying it whilst watching the sunset behind the city is a very pleasant way to spend a balmy autumn evening.

If asked, most people here would tell you that Sydney is the best place in the world to live and certainly it’s not hard to see why they are so proud of their city. The streets are carefully maintained, well laid out and safe. The bus service is efficient and easy to use. It seems to me that there is a general feeling of optimism and enjoyment of life here. I can see no trace of the economic downturn that has troubled pretty much the rest of the world. It is by no means cheap! Eating out can easily set you back around £30 if you add in a glass of wine. Being a wine producing country, one would expect to find well priced wine on sale. Alcohol is sold from a bottle store, costs at least £5 for the very cheapest bottle and will usually be put in a brown paper bag for you. It is quite common to see areas where alcohol is strictly forbidden.

Without doubt the backpacking industry is geared for the young traveller. Some hostels do not accept backpackers over 30 years old whilst others will only offer you the option of an over-priced private room. Further investigation required! When researching your accommodation, it is worth seeing what extras are included. Wifi, for example, can range from being free of charge anywhere up to $10 per day. The savvy backpacker quickly learns that a coffee bought in a café offering free Wifi is a sound investment.

On my previous trip to Australia I managed only a snapshot view of Melbourne and so have decided to spend some time there and also to visit Adelaide. With Tiger Air I managed to get a return flight for around £110 which is slightly cheaper than taking The Greyhound. From Melbourne I’m hoping that the bus take the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide which, aside from saving a huge amount compared with taking a tour, will cover both eventualities. There is no getting away from it, getting around Australia is an expensive business! Sadly I am told that this is not the case and a separate tour will be necessary.

Arrived at the Base Hostel in Melbourne. The top floor, called The Sanctuary are female-only dorms each with its own bathroom. Free champagne between 8-9pm for those staying there every night. Sounded ideal. The first warning bell sounded (quite literally) with repeated adverts coming over the intercom for adult Bingo this evening. Followed by a knock on the door with more of the same - it’s all happening and everyone needs to be there, hi de hi campers, rah, rah, rah, etc. Fortunately one of my roomies felt the same as I did about the prospect of such an evening and we instead headed out for some food. Really it’s ok - if you’re 18 and looking for the Australian equivalent of an Ibiza style holiday!

Tags: backpacking, base hostel, coffee shop wifi, melbourne, sydney, tiger air, travellers

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