It’s hard to get to know a city when you have just a few days. I believe that you get more of a feel for a place if you walk it – get out of the taxi or the tour bus and put foot to pavement. I start with a walk around my hotel to get oriented then I walk a wider and wider radius. The city will start to feel familiar and manageable. Also, if you’re like me, you haven’t kept up any sort of exercise regimen. Walking is the easiest exercise to get! It also helps to leave the main city and explore a community. Take a train or a bus, or walk if you’re up to it, at least five miles away from all the tourist shops and “Hop on, Hop off” bus stops. See how the locals live.
I’ve been in Sydney for the past week but not in the city. I’ve been in Bankstown – an hour outside of downtown Sydney by train. It is primarily a Vietnamese community. In less than an hour you can walk the entire town center but there is plenty to see and explore. There are many specialty markets – fish, produce, meats, bread and cake – lots of cake and bread stores – each smelling better than the next. There are juice bars, coffee bars and chocolate fondue bars. Because of the strong ethnic influence, it feels a bit like being in an Asian country but you can read all the signs and understand (most of the time) what people are saying.
Some of the meat markets offer unusual selections –
I’ve had Bahn Mi sandwiches, bowls of noodle soup and other yummy foods that were part of a “family style” meal so I have no idea what they were except they were delicious. I also have had, sorry to admit, Subway sandwiches. Just like back in the states but no Oil and Vinegar dressing or Pepper Jack Cheese.
I took a train into the city yesterday. The trains look brand new and have a very nifty design element. The seat backs swing – a row of seats facing one direction can convert to facing in the opposite direction with just a touch. For anyone like myself who can’t ride facing backwards, it’s fabulous! There are two seating areas – upper and lower. From the upper deck I had a great view of the communities we were passing through. A few, Marrickeville in particular, looked to be in pretty bad shape – run down homes, vacant and decaying storefronts. But then the best is never located adjacent to the railway tracks so I probably shouldn’t judged based on what I saw.
I connected at Central Station from the main train line to the Light Rail that runs into the city. The rule of thumb for Sydney, I was told, is no busses, taxis or driving unless there is no alternative. Walking is easy. The trip planner I used estimated a 20 minute walk to Darling Harbour – it took me 10 and I could have done it in less but I kept stopping to consult my map. The map scale was not the same as I’m used to. Everything was closer than I expected.
In addition to the largest IMAX screen in the world you can see what has to be the largest inflatable turtle.
These photos are just off my iPhone. I had planned to document the trip but I left my camera in my room. If the weather improves later today, I’ll try to get more/better images. At the moment it is pouring rain – not the best for pretty pictures.
It’s later in the day and the rain stopped so I ventured out to grab some shots – these are just the sights around Bankstown:
Tomorrow I’m headed for Lima, Peru and then on to Machu Picchu! Very excited!