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As a lawyer in Sydney, if you’re not stuck in the office working on a “big deal,” there are plenty of things to do around this Olympic city. In the spirit of the “work hard, play hard” motto, Friday night usually involves having one or five drinks at work, and then moving on to the bar of choice for another one or five. After this, the more adventurous may head to the nightclubs in Oxford Street or in Potts Point — and the super-adventurous can party on to raunchy Kings Cross. If you get the chance, there are heaps of places to visit on the weekend. It just doesn’t get better than fish and chips and a beer on a sunny day at Australia’s oldest seafood restaurant at Watson’s Bay. Another great escape is a picnic with the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop at Blues Point. Or just take a half-hour ferry ride on the Harbour from Circular Quay to the beach and restaurants of Manly. SYDNEY ORIENTATION Sydney sits on a picturesque harbor. The harbor’s convoluted map of points and promontories reach out into the water like so many fingers. Sydney’s best-known landmarks — the enormous arch of the Harbour Bridge and the impressively quirky Opera House — are highly visible from most vantage points on the central Harbour, reminders of the Harbour’s historical, cultural and geographic importance. The Harbour is central to the Sydney psyche, and it’s a huge status symbol to live near it. A lot of Sydneysiders spend their recreation hours on the Harbour in boats or in surrounding parks. The Harbour is also a convenient way to travel — one of the joys of living nearby is catching a ferry to work everyday. Sydney is much leafier than one would expect of a big city, and has a vibrant architectural pattern of turn-of-the-century, neo-Gothic sandstone buildings, juxtaposed against soaring modern towers of glass and steel. It’s not surprising that it’s home to almost 4 million people – not including Olympic tourists. EVERYDAY LIFE When you meet people in Sydney, one of their first questions will undoubtedly be “Where do you live?” This is not an entirely superficial question. Many areas of Sydney have distinctive lifestyle advantages and housing types, so the answer allows the asker to glean a great deal of social detail. For instance, what kind of things you’re likely to do on the weekend, what kind of accommodation you live in (apartment, terrace house or house), and your social background (old or nouveau riche). On Saturdays, most people tend to stay local — which is why it’s important to choose where you live carefully. The main reason for this is quite simply that Sydney traffic is bad, and it takes ages to drive anywhere. Most lawyers live fairly close to the city. East of the city are the edgy Darlinghurst, the stylish Victorian townhouses of Paddington, the trendy Rose Bay, and the wealthy art deco apartments of Bellevue Hill. Further east are the beachside suburbs of Bondi and Coogee. The “Inner West” contains the urban, hip Newtown where you’ll find great Asian food, and the artsy Glebe and Balmain. Nearby is Leichardt — the Italian hub of Sydney – where you can order 50 different types of pizza and throw back a “real” espresso. The “North Shore” refers to the suburbs on the north shore of the Harbour. The area contains the “old money” families and is generally seen as being a little “safer” than the hipper southern suburbs. ESCAPES If you want to get out of the rat race for a couple of days, there are some great places you can reach in less than two hours. Hunt for hidden gems at the country antique stores in the Southern Highlands, in historic Australian towns like Berrima. Or stand on the edge of a cliff and take in amazing mountain views at Leura in the Blue Mountains. Or maybe just put your feet up — or paddle your board out — at beachside hideaways like Pearl Beach. You might even be lucky enough to spot a whale or a dolphin. Sure, it reads like a tourist brochure, but even the toughest cynic would be impressed by this stuff. Sydneysiders like to do things outdoors, and two popular options are going to a game of sport or a barbecue. Sydney puts on a sporting feast throughout the entire year. The favored sports are rugby (both union and league codes), Australian-rules football, and cricket. A recent rugby union international in Sydney between Australia and New Zealand (called the “Bledisloe Cup”) attracted almost 110,000 people to Stadium Australia – the venue of the Olympics. This is a traditional grudge match between the two nations, which goes back to 1931. For the uninitiated: rugby union is the one where they run forward but must pass backward and the play keeps going when a player gets tackled. The aim is to get a try — which is like a touchdown. Rugby league is the same, but the play stops when a player gets tackled. In Australian rules, you can run anywhere you want, and the aim is to kick the football through the middle two of four vertical posts. You’re not allowed to throw the ball. You are allowed to tackle — provided you only tackle between the shoulders and the knees — and the players don’t wear padding. It’s traditional when you go to a game to have a meat pie and sauce, and — if you’re over 18 — a beer. On a sunny day, it’s a great Australian tradition to buy some sausages and steak, pack up some salad and fire up a barbecue (or a “barbie,” as Aussies like to call it). The gourmet delicatessen is well-established in Sydney, and it’s common to see gourmet sausages, kebabs and marinated chicken gracing the humble Aussie barbie. Although it may not be known for its cuisine, Australia has some fine restaurants, and many of them are in Sydney. One of the benefits of the mix of cultures in the city is the unique styles of cuisine that are developing. “Fusion” cuisine is popular in Sydney — best described as an “east-meets-west” combination of all of the good stuff from both hemispheres. Here’s a few to try if you’re in Sydney for the Olympics — or any time! Fez Caf� — North African Food; 247 Victoria St, Darlinghurst (02) 9360-9581. Starters $8-14; main course $14-25. Specialties include sheep’s milk yogurt with banana, honey and nuts or merguez sausages with chakchouka, couscous and mint yogurt. For lunch and dinner choose the salad of cos lettuce hearts, lemon and olive oil, couscous royale or a lamb burger with tomato and pepper relish. Blackbird Caf� — Fusion; Cockle Bay Wharf, 201 Sussex St., Sydney (02) 9283-7385. Favorites are the tandoori warm chicken salad with yogurt and poppadums, gourmet pizzas. Starters $6-10; main courses $10-18. Marigold Restaurant — Yum Cha, 299 Sussex St, Sydney (02) 9264-6744; Levels 4 & 5, 683 George St, Haymarket (02) 9281-3388. Marigold’s has some of the best yum-cha in Sydney, and is a very good value at around $10 per head (not including drinks). - R&Aah – Fusion; 117 Blues Point Rd, North Sydney, (02) 9922 5240. Main course $12-28. Favorites are the Morton Bay Bugs (crustaceans) and Barramundi, or the Scotch Fillet Steak with gourmet potato mash and spring vegetables. - Machiavelli Ristorante — Fine Italian Cuisine; 123 Clarence St, Sydney (02) 9299-3748. Antipasta $10-22; Pasta $16-24; Secondi and Pesce $25-28. Machiavelli is the place to eat for local politicians, and the journalists who write about them. The Fusilli Crab is the pick of the pastas. - Tamana’s North Indian Diner — Indian Cuisine. A well regarded franchise with a number of locations, 236 King St., Newtown, (02) 9550 5587; 292 Bondi Rd, Bondi, (02) 9365 7615; 4/409 Westfield Shoppingtown, Chatswood; 131 Oxford St, Darlinghurst (02) 9904 6940. Main course $6-10. Best dishes are the mango chicken, butter chicken, rogan josh, naan bread, and mango lassi. - Tim Jones is a 28-year-old 4th year lawyer working at Sydney technology and telecommunications law firm, Gilbert & Tobin. Like a surfer in search of the big waves, he came to Sydney a year ago from sleepy Perth, Western Australia — in search of the “Big Clients” and the “Big Deals,” and maybe to squeeze in some sightseeing as well.

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