Just had an odd thought: how would I describe Sydney to someone who's never been? Here are some bullet points, somewhere there should be some cohesive threads. Or maybe not.
First, Sydney looks like a North American city.
Topographically, it's most reminiscent of Seattle, or perhaps Vancouver. Not San Francisco; while Sydney sits on a harbor like SF it doesn't have the huge inclines that San Francisco has--it has more moderate hills, and none of them are very large like Twin Peaks, or offer the sweeping views you often get in San Francisco. The many inlets of the harbor remind me of the many coves and bays of Lakes Union and Washington in Seattle, and the huge freeways they put up along the waterfront are also very Seattle.
As far as buildings go, well, it looks like a west coast city; many buildings have awnings and cornices that you can't put up in colder climates that get snow (and which look boxy to me). Many of the buildings have a late 1980's to late 1990's look to them, and look ever so slightly faded. At street level, it very much passes for downtown San Diego or Los Angeles or any generic big US city (it worked well in The Matrix, didn't it?).
The 'driving on the other side of the road' thing isn't that noticeable as there are many one-way streets in central Sydney.
Sydney definitely has a milder climate than even San Diego; some of the subtropical plantings here wouldn't survive any California winter. It often rains in the summer here, too.
Sydney drivers are more aggressive than California drivers. If there's a spot to squeeze by you, they will. They don't zipper together when stopped traffic has to merge, they jostle. We've seen perhaps four accidents in our week here.
Sydney is easy to walk around. Nothing is more than a fifteen to twenty minute walk. Haven't needed to take many trains because of this. It's also fairly green; with many street trees and parks and squares.
There are a lot of flashy cars in Sydney, like M-class Mercedes and big-ass Landcruisers and Lexus. Even saw a Ferrari.
People here dress like they do in California summers: shorts and flip-flops/thongs/sandals, often with T-shirts. Men tend to wear white athletic socks with their shorts. Oakley Iridium sunglasses are popular among the trendy.
While many 20-somethings are sleek and svelte, many 30 year old men have bellies (Russel calls this the land of pregnant men). Sydney has many different people on the streets, there are quite a lot of Asians--much like any west coast North American city.
I've come to think of Sydney as odd colony maybe 300 miles south of the US/Mexico border on the Pacific Ocean. There isn't much difference in how it looks at all...
Or for that matter, what they watch on TV, or the movies or music or news they get. They're very in tune with American news, and international celebrity gossip. But all that's another entry.
"First, Sydney looks like a North American city."
Most "new" cities look like North American cities. What do I mean by "new"? Any city that has built itself up over the past 100 to 150 as opposed to those that have been established way before. This would include most of North America, Australia, New Zealand and quite possibly any country that was rebuilt due to World War II.
Frankfurt am Main could have been anywhere in North America. Most of the city was rebuilt after World War II. The only twist were the areas that were not affected by the bombing raids of WWII. Despite this, Frankfurt still retains a unique German feel.
It'll be interesting to see what you have to say about the other state capitals. In particular, I'm interested in hearing about Perth, Melbourne, and seeing Brisbane for myself. :)
Some intereting insights.
Maybe. But to me, Toronto looked more different (i.e., felt more like a foreign country) than Sydney does. And it will be interesting to see what the other large cities are like. I've heard a fair number of folks here say that Sydney is more concerned with what's happening in Los Angeles and New York than what's happening in Melbourne or Brisbane. I suspect Melbourne will feel more relaxed yet more proper. But we'll see.
the thing about the pregnant men ... it is odd, isn't it? it's not like there's many big men ... just lots of small-to-average sized men ... with big bellies.