Perfect weather and a guided tour of the iconic sights of Sydney, including the Harbour Bridge, Blues Point, Opera House, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, and views over the most famous beach in the world from Bondi Icebergs. That’s what awaited our visitors from all corners of the globe as we hit the road on the biggest sidecar entourage ever to hit the Harbour City.
Marc and his crew from Shelby’s invited me to join his fleet of four Ural sidecars and drivers, so everyone of the 30-strong group could have the most unique experience in Sydney for visitors. Of course, I jumped at the chance.
My first riders were the father and son duo from Uzbekistan, via Bremen, Germany. Big football fans and the second time they had been to Sydney. I will find it very hard to forgive them for not being familiar with 1988 Olympic Pole Vault Silver Medallist Radion Gataullin, the most famous sportsman to come out of Tashkent (well according to my lofty athletics-biased standards).
They were particularly impressed with the real estate prices and seemed to think the $71 million that Scott Farquhar, co-founder of Atlassian, paid for Elaine at Point Piper was reasonable. Yowsa!
Attila from Budapest and Doyle from “The Carolinas” were my midday crew. Attila was worn out from organising a trip with his mother in New Zealand, so was in Australia to kick back and relax. Doyle was itching to have a meal at the famous Watsons Bay restaurant, he shares his name with. I did say that the fish and chips option on the wharf is the better of the two though.
The most fun I had all day was with Italians, Federica from Firenze and Fabrizio from Milano. Having spent nearly three years in Varese in northern Italy myself, we had lots to talk about and I got to practice la lingua italiana.
These guys were very interested in the dichotomy of housing in Sydney where it is not uncommon to have government housing right across the road from multimillion dollar mansions and apartment. Think Sirius at The Rocks, the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Sydney has a proud tradition of fighting developers keen to erect another fabricated monstrosity in place of dwellings of cultural and community significance.
One of the very Australian phenomena (and normal by our standard) that I like to point out to Italians in particular, are our free beaches and that they won't see a banana lounge in sight. When you tell them that there’s no entrance fee, it’s all “mama mia” with some incredulous hand gestures.
Gotta love Australia!
For everyone in the riding crew, it was their longest tour ever on the sidecars. And what a great bunch of riders to spend the day with... multi-linguist Boris, Alex the cafe owner, Antony the Cuban Music Festival organiser, and of course Marc, the owner of Shelby's, who loves giving tourists a unique taste of Sydney.