Not the only tourist in the village
A RECENT weekend stay in Sydney’s inner east has forced me to appraise the city from a different perspective. My apartment is almost in the CBD and rarely would I venture outside my comfort zone for earlymorning walks, shopping or cafe lounging. They say big cities such as Sydney are made up of a series of villages, and that probably is true. So there I was weekending in chic and leafy Woollahra rather than the edgy laneways of Surry Hills. It felt like an exotic holiday.
It is a good thing to play tourist in your city, although please don’t call it a staycation, which has to be one of the worst of recent travel neologisms. Holidaying (almost) at home is a matter of exploring with new eyes and walking is the key to this kind of make-believe or, don’t laugh, a hop-on-and-off tour on an open-topped bus. How often do we really look up at a city skyline, when we are all so heads-down commuting or racing about? Atop a double-decker is a majestic position from which to survey proceeedings and when you are a tourist, there are no issues with parking. What an unaccustomed breeze it is to pause at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair overlooking the harbour and not worry about where to put the car, jockeying for position, paying too much for the privilege.
Most city hotels have cheaper rates on weekends and usually package up extras such as late check-out; if there happens to be a blockbuster exhibition, musical or play, sometimes there are deals with entry tickets included.
It feels naughty somehow — not so much a dirty weekend but something vaguely illicit, knowing that at home is laundry, piled-high ironing, stuff to do.
Before I lived in the city, I used to treat myself to a Christmas shopping weekend each year. The Swissotel Sydney on Market Street was my usual choice; Myer is next door, David Jones looms nearby, and the heritage arcades of the QVB across the way. When carry-bag lag would strike, I’d dump the festive loot with the concierge.
MyWoollahra stay was not about shopping but strolling and observing, and wandering down Oxford Street to boutiques, bookstores and the Matt Blatt furniture shop to drool over a Noguchi coffee-table (a reproduction, but so affordable . . .). Then back to my Queen Street digs to find a cafe. ‘‘Eastern Suburbs tossers,’’ yelled a merry carload of Newcastle Knights supporters as they tootled past. If I’d had it with me, I’d have fished out my South Sydney Rabbitohs scarf and waved it high.
Sydney revolves around its tribal villages, after all.
HOME AND AWAY STAYS IN WOOLLAHRA P10