If you like something and have a blog, at least you can give a shout out, right? Since I failed to tip people twice now, at least there is some link juice to be, uhm, spread around. Sounds strange saying that. Anyway, here’s to the places I liked on my stay in Sydney:
In the Macquarie Centre. “Remember, with your hair, when you’re Australia, never go to a hairdresser, always go to a barber shop”. That’s what I thought beforehand, too, but now I can whole-heartedly agree.
One caveat: Foreigners should check any misunderstandings beforehand. The crewcut they offer is just one length everywhere, which is a bit different from the US (where it is shorter on the sides and back longer on top and faded in between) and it would be sad to figure that out only afterwards.
But after a short, slightly confusing debate with hearing-impaired old me, I got a great haircut for an excellent price. I will also stand corrected: I thought the only guys who could talk seriously about “using product” where played by Al Pacino and hold a gun while doing so. But now I got a lot of “product” in my hair and I look awesome. Slightly Al Pacino’ish, though.
In the Macquarie Centre. Sushi and Korean foodstuff. Neat bentos. Made my lunch very enjoyable as I ate there nearly every day. Great maki rolls: I have not seen hand rolls (temaki) in Australia yet, instead huge, uncut maki rolls seem to be a popular snack. Totoro’s have just the right amount of filling. Ideal price-quality relationship.
A hat shop located in the picturesque Strand Arcade in Sydney’s Central Business District. The guys are set up to steam and block your hat, which is a good sign in itself. But when I came in and said “I’m looking for a straw hat. Ideally something like the Akubra Hampton over there, just in straw”, I was handed exactly the right hat in exactly the right size (a skill I’ve otherwise only seen on military quartermasters) at once. Hats off to that.
I’d say there’s two kinds of hipster shops, the ones that use terms like “craft” to increase prices and those that are just the right amount of obsessive to be really, really good. Strand Hatters surely are the latter.
The other kind of hipster shop. “Handcrafted” and “artisanal” donuts. Let’s face it: No donut is worth 6 AUD, especially if you come from the home of the Berliner. But they are still exceptionally tasty. They’d just taste a bit better without the pretense of artsiness and the guilt of spending so much.
On the plus side, you get to research some of their wordplay titles and catch up on Australian pop culture, like figuring out why the “Cate Blanchett” has a TimTam on top. Might seem obsessive to you, but you’re talking to a guy who learned about American pop culture mainly from the Bloodhound Gang.
A pub in the middle of the CBD. Calls itself a “Sydney icon”, but can actually live by its merits, not just its reputation. Good beer (particularly the Little creatures pale ale), great burgers (cheese and bacon), good seating. Polite security, which is a big thing for me. I paid about AUD 80 for 6 pints of beer and a burger, which seems par for the city.
They also have a toilet that, after 2200, reminded me of a particular scene in Trainspotting. Some benevolent designer put a carpet in front of the bathrooms as some kind of extended doormat, as long as they replace that regularly, all is fine. *sigh* Usually an indicator of an overly successful venue, I guess.