We all think our city is great for a variety of reasons, and we all like to boast/defend our city to the death. How many backpacker conversations have gone sour when someone says “oh I have been to (insert your home town) and I didn’t like it very much…” When I lived in
Canberra (which if you know anything about Australia you will know that a) it’s the capital city and b) it’s not renowned for its “entertainment”) I would rave about all of the amazing things you could do there if you just knew a local who could show you around (bushwalking, Tidbinbilla, the space tracking station, lake walks – just to mention a few). Now I spend most of my year in Sydney which many argue IS the greatest city in the world. It’s famous for its stunning beaches, relaxed life attitude, beer gardens, seafood and of course the harbour. But, I would question how many Sydney Siders really KNOW Sydney. Sure they know that Cabramatta is the best place to get Vietnamese, or if you want a great surf beach away from the crowds you need to head to Marobra not Bondi and every local knows that underground bars dot the city if you know where to look. But have the locals walked the harbour bridge, surfed Bondi, gone up Sydney Tower or eaten a Balmain bug on the balcony of the Fish Markets? Sometimes its easy to miss the amazing things that make your city so famous to the rest of the world – so here are five tips on how to get to know your city a little better.
1. Pub Crawl – we all have our favourite bars or pubs, for whatever reason we prefer a select few above all of the rest – but they are usually far away from those that are considered tourist hot spots. Spend a lazy Saturday afternoon doing a pub crawl through your more touristy areas. If you are able to look past the tourist prices and the tourists themselves you will see why those pubs are so popular. Maybe it’s the view, the micro beers, the great cover band or even the mismatched group of tourists who are so friendly that you are instantly their best friend for the afternoon.
2. Picnic – when you are travelling you often end up grabbing a quick takeaway sandwich or salad and sitting next to the famous tourist attraction just taking it all in. Why not pack yourself a picnic, grab a blanket and head to that great-place-with-a-view for a relaxing lunch. Don’t be afraid to do it on your own, take a book and soak up the feel of the place.
3. Get a little lost – When we live in a place we rush from point A to Point B as quickly as possible, we know all the short cuts and have passed each of the stores so many times that we don’t even notice them. Give yourself a mission – head into the centre of town, pick a direction, start walking and go in search of a new bookshop/dumplings/whisky bar/clam chowder/vintage clothing – the only rule – DON’T USE GOOGLE!
4. Tourist Attractions – Every city has a top 10 tourist attractions, just type it into Google and I am sure TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet will be able to tell. Run your eye over the list and make sure that you have been to all of the items on there. I have yet to go into the Sydney Opera House and I live in Sydney (shock/gasp). Spend a weekend ticking every single one off the list.
5.Eat – Your city has specialties, things that it thinks it does better than anywhere else in the world! If you’re in Sydney head to the Fish Markets and delight in fresh oysters, if you are in San Francisco head to the piers and warm up with some chowder, If you are in Ho Chi Minh head to Pho 2000 to eat where President Clinton did! They are specialties for a reason, I guarantee their reputation is well-earned!
So this weekend – instead of heading to your local or your favourite beach, read the lonely planet for your city and head out on the town with camera in hand and get to know it a little better!