What's the definition of envy? Sydney Come to think of it, a few other deadly sins might equally apply. Is it sinful to be greedy? Not here. If you lust after one of the most desirable environments or fancy consuming fine wine and diverse foods, this is your town. After such gluttonous, ravenous and lustful behavior, does lazing on a beach, a boat, a bench or a hotel balcony equate to sloth? Never. Sydneysiders call that 'balance'. And the only wrath you'll likely experience is that of family and friends jealous as hell for not having joined you living it up in Sydney.
Is it any wonder Sydney is often referred to as 'Sin City'? So come prepared. It's such a physical place too. From craggy sandstone cliffs and golden surf beaches, to hidden harbor bay, verdant green gardens and wild national parkland hugging the foreshore, few cities demand as much active, outdoor immersion.
Take a dip in North Sydney pool in the shadows of the Harbor Bridge, watch whales frolic in a secluded inlet, hop on a ferry to Manly, then finish with a surf in the Pacific just in time for lunch. Iconic landmarks - that levitating bridge, that beach, that Opera House with its wings spread like a giant white swan taking flight - make you feel like you've arrived in the most exciting city on earth.
But it's hard to escape that harbor. Why would you want to? Even many of the museums and art galleries have water views. As one of the deepest, largest urban expanses of water in the world, the interlocking fingers of land and sea are the cultural, historical and spiritual heart of the city. This slinky, sinuous, yacht-flecked waterway somehow never seems far away. "It's beautiful, of course it's beautiful - the harbor," said Mark Twain. "But that isn't all of it, only half of it. Sydney [the physical city] is the other half, and it takes both of them together to ring the supremacy bell. God made the harbor, and that's all right, but Satan made Sydney."
Elsewhere, Sydney looks and feels like an open air museum: the city's complex multicultural history, whether indigenous, colonial or migrant, is evident everywhere: in the sandstone alleyways of The Rocks or facades of stately Victorian buildings, in the Aboriginal rock carvings near Bondi and Manly, in the Vietnamese or Italian restaurants not far from Lakemba mosque.
The wild summer storms that come thundering in from the south generate only some of the city's spark and verve. The fireworks extravaganza of New Year's Eve is hard to equal - anywhere. There is a flourishing arts scene. Hot on the fiery heels of New Year's Eve is the Sydney Festival, a month long cultural feast culminating on Australia Day, 26th January. There are music festivals, short and feature film festivals, the biggest Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in the world, plus a writers' festival. And it's not yet the end of May. With winter comes an avalanche of football codes and other sports. But Sydney doesn't really 'do' winter, at least not in the northern hemisphere sense. July, the coldest month, averages 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before long, spring blooms, daylight saving looms, bodies begin to tan, the water warms, light brightens and that brash Sydney persona is back. Call it pretentious, call it brazen, some call it vain; that air of confidence the city exudes. Call it what you like; locals might call it pride. Spend a bit of time here and you'll understand why. What was that definition of envy, again?
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