From Bill Bonner, in Sydney Australia:
We don’t know which city we like better – Melbourne or Sydney. Melbourne is a little reserved; Sydney has a free spirit. Melbourne reminds us of Vancouver…without the mountains or the ocean; Sydney reminds us of San Diego.
We went over to Manley Beach yesterday. It is a marvelous old part of town, with an open beach on one side and a harbor – with remarkably clear water – on the other. For $5 (U.S.) we took the ferry from Manley Beach over to the downtown area. Around the bay…and on the oceanfront too, for that matter…we saw houses built on the hillsides. Some old. Some new. With semi-tropical vegetation around them. The views must be spectacular. There are also plenty of restaurants…with quiet, small town conveniences in the neighborhoods that surround the downtown area. It seemed like a very pleasant place to live.
Australians tend to be informal and polite. This morning, we got in an elevator and a man said:
“Got a big dye ahid of you, maiht?”
It took a while to realize that he was talking to us. In Paris, no one speaks, except to say ‘Bonjour Monsieur,’ without smiling. But here was a man not only speaking to us…but when we finally figured out what he was saying, we realized he was inquiring into our work schedule.
We didn’t know how to answer. “Well, at 9AM I have a meeting with…” We were just about to give him a full report when the elevator got to the ground floor.
“G’dye,” he said…and he was off.
Yesterday, we took time off from our work to visit with our daughter, Maria, who just happened to be in Sydney with a school friend.
“Oh daddy, it’s so much fun. Everybody is so relaxed. And this is a double holiday season here. It’s Christmas season…but it’s also their summer vacation. So there are a lot of parties and socializing. We’ve got a big weekend coming up.”
Maria went into the post office at Manley Beach to buy stamps. There was a long line. We couldn’t wait, because we were going to catch the ferry, so she entered a small, deserted nearby shop…and found an exception to the friendly Australian stereotype.
“Excuse me, but do you sell stamps,” she asked.
A disagreeable woman was sitting behind the counter eating a candy bar. She chewed for a moment, and then replied sourly:
“Do you think there would be such a long line at the Post Office if I sold stamps?”
Tired, jet-lagged…we couldn’t resist: “Well, if you’d bothered to buy some stamps this morning, maybe you’d have some customers.”