Twelve really useful things to know before visiting Sydney
When we first landed in Sydney, we didn't know much more than where to get cheap buckets of alcohol and where the best hostels were - both courtesy of Matt's first visit back when he was nineteen!
Turns out there's a lot more useful things to know about Sydney, so here's 12 that we hope will help you organise your trip to this beautiful city.
Nº 1 - The Opal card is the way to get around
London has Oyster, Sydney has Opal. This card covers all trains and buses, including the Blue Mountains and Central Coast, all ferries and the light rail. There's various daily and weekly caps, and you can travel as much as you like for $2.50 on Sundays. After eight paid journeys, your remaining travel for the week will be half-price. You can get one of these cards online or from one of the hundreds of Opal retailers across the city. Find out more here.
Nº 2 - Alcohol is sold in bottle shops, not supermarkets
There's gambling machines and sports betting in pubs, but no alcohol is sold in supermarkets. Hmm. No matter, as most of these bottleshops are attached to the corresponding store (Coles = Liquorland, Woolworths = BWS) so you're never far from a bottle of excellent Australian wine or a case of local beer!
Nº 3 - The internet can be slow and expensive
We weren't quite prepared for the sluggish Wifi speeds and the number of areas not covered by even 3G. Paying for Wifi in cafes is an overpriced option so best avoided unless entirely necessary, as there is plenty of free Wifi across the city.
Nº 4 - Tips are not customary or expected
In London, we frequently requested that the 12.5% service charge be removed from our bill so we could leave our own tip, or not, depending on our experience. In Sydney, no such service charge graces the bill and whilst tips are welcome, they aren't expected.
Nº 5 - There's a $13.40 'access fee' to get to the airport
So you're flying out of Sydney and you're using your Opal card to take the tube to the airport. Don't be alarmed when your $25 vanishes before your eyes, as there's a $13.40 charge to get into the airport on top of however much your fare is to get there. The entire journey is capped at $25.
Nº 6 - You can get fined for jaywalking
It can be tempting to cross the road when there are no cars around, even with the 'red man' looming above you. Police can fine jaywalkers around $70, though, so it's best to wait.
Nº 7 - Timtams are delicious
Similar to Penguin bars in the UK, TimTams come in all sorts of flavours (white chocolate is divine) and are our chocolate-y snack of choice.
Nº 8 - Groceries are more expensive than in London...
As a rule, we've learnt that our standard weekly basket of groceries is 20% more expensive than what it cost in London.
Nº 9 - ...but you can get epic deals on fruit and vegetables
Matt is still pleasantly flabbergasted at how cheap a punnet of strawberries can be in comparison to England, though!
Nº 10 - Sydney is not on CityMapper
For those used to taking advantage of this handy navigation app, we're sorry to disappoint you! Google Maps it is.
Nº 11 - Use digital city guides, like broadsheet & Time out
Nº 12 - Public transport is not as frequent or well-connected as London's tube
Can you imagine arriving at Bank station in Central London and waiting more than fifteen minutes for a train? No, us neither! But that's the case in Sydney, so make sure to check the train times if can't be late!