Sydney is okay sometimes (maybe).

Sydney is okay sometimes (maybe).

ZanziBar
A pleasant afternoon on the ZanziBar rooftop.

I’ve always stood firmly on one side of the Melbourne vs. Sydney debate, to the point where I once wrote an essay arguing Melbourne’s superiority for a high school English assignment.  And I experienced nothing to dispel this belief on Friday night.  In Sydney for a quick 48 hour visit (the main purpose of which was to see my sister perform in an amateur theatre production of West Side Story – a tale for another time), I thought I’d wander down to Circular Quay to take a look at the Vivid Festival light installations after checking into my hotel room.

Walking down Pitt Street at approximately 8pm, wearing jeans and a button-down coat (not that my appearance should matter), I was catcalled, followed, and – at one point – accosted by an intoxicated man who was being chased out of a gentlemen’s club by a pair of bouncers.  Vivid was pretty, but the crowds were dense and my mood was sour.  Sydney had made no effort to win me over.

Saturday morning, I fought through masses of people, trying to do a spot of shopping (country life has done no favours to my wardrobe).  Frustrated by the sheer volume of people (and the lack of affordable patterned blouses), and my inability to successfully navigate the confusing Westfield, I eventually gave up and headed to the Sydney Writers Festival.

There, my weekend began to improve.  I found a seat People of Letters, which was great – but would you expect anything less of a literary salon created in Melbourne?  Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb got things off to a hilarious start, but the absolute highlight would have to be the letter from Zoe Coombs Marr and Kate Jinx, to their better half, Xena: Warrior Princess.

Meeting up with a Melbourne writing buddy (Ricardo) on Sunday, we traversed the streets of Newtown.  After eating delicious burgers, and wheeling my little leopard-print suitcase in and out of an assortment of quirky shops, the two of us ended up drinking Newtown Ale at ZanziBar, an eclectic venue with a very Melbourne-like rooftop.  And I’ve got to admit, I didn’t hate it.  I could almost say that despite being in Sydney, I was enjoying myself.

There’s still no denying that Melbourne is the best city in Australia.  But maybe Shitney Sydney’s not so bad, after all.  It is possible to have fun there; you just need to find a little bit of Melbourne.

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