The people – Thus far on our holiday, the vast majority of people we have encountered (both local and travelling) have been nothing but splendid. This could in part be due to my girlfriend promptly ensuring people when we meet them that we are in fact Canadian and not American, which is usually met with laughter and responses of “I like you better already”. We’ve been fortunate enough to make lots of friends and contacts within our first week of travelling in Australia and share a very fond outlook on the Australian people as a whole.
Scenery – Being confined to the NSW area thus far I have really grown to appreciate the amount of greenery within and around the city. Coming from the gorgeous landscape of Vancouver Island I wasn’t quite sure how Australia would measure up. I wouldn’t necessarily say that NSW is nicer however their ability to include all sorts of trees, parks, sculptures and varieties of architecture within the city and urban confines is much more pleasing to the eye than many of the Canadian cities I’ve been to. In terms of scenery away from the more urban areas there is still far too much exploring to be done to even begin a task of such immense difficulty.
Shopping – Not going to spend much time on this but from having visited a few markets, outlets and malls I will revert to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Once you factor in the augmented minimum wage here in Australia everything is about the same.
Casual dining and drinks – Both my girlfriend and I being massive advocates of good food, coffee, beer and wine we’ve dined out at a variety of locations in NSW thus far. Firstly, I will begin with the fact that in Australia taxes are included in all prices meaning the price you see is the price you pay (how bow dah?). Second, tipping is not common is Australia because servers are paid a much better hourly rate than in Canada which I personally think is a good thing. In terms of price I would say pubs and restaurants are pretty much on par with Canada if not slightly more expensive with portions being a little bigger. When you factor in that most people earn around 20$/hour in Australia and you can order a Chicken Parm for around 14$ I become a little jealous and my tummy starts to cry. The coffee in Australia is absolutely fabulous as I have become infatuated with Flat Whites. What if a Flat White you ask? It is essentially espresso with hot steamed milk (less froth than a cappucino). Espresso is quite commonly drank and being an avid drinker of Americanos I have really come to love going for coffee in Australia. In addition, Ice Coffee features a scoop or two of ice cream in it. If that isn’t amazing I really don’t know what is. As for price, coffee is a tad bit more expensive here 1$ on average per drink. Now, here is where I start to get a little sad inside. At the pubs, pints range anywhere from 7.50 (being very cheap) 10$ being average and some places going up around 12-13 per pint. In the liquor stores 6 pack of beer runs about 17-20$ while you can get a 4L box of wine (or goon as some so eloquently call it) for 12$. Cocktails at the pub tend to be very expensive with your standard mojito or similar drink being between 15-20$ per 1.5 oz.
Transportation – Transportation in Sydney is marvellous and reasonably priced. They use a system where you purchase an Opal card that you load money onto and tap it each time you go to get on the bus or train and then tap again when you leave. Additionally, the most any sort/amount of travelling on the transit system will cost you on a Sunday is 2.50$.