Shari Onley's Youtube Channel

Loading...

Monday, 13 October 2014

Chicago vs Sydney - A Tale of Two Beautiful Cities

 



I'm finally back in Sydney after being caught up in the fascination of Chicago. What a sublime city, I love so many things about the spectacular town and it's charming people. I'm still not sure whether it's like the brand new shiny toy that you love to bits until one day the excitement wears off. WARNING; this blog will make a hell of lot of generalizations so don't get your titties tangled. It's purely my experience. I'm sure I've only seen a fraction of what Chicago has to offer. 

Before I relocated to the Windy City my head coach at the Bliss said you're going to love this city so much you'll never want to leave. I already knew I would love it, every yank I'd met was awesome, dry sarcastic humour, loud and obnoxious, larger than normal humans and liked to swear... a lot. I'm an intelligent, classy, well educated woman who was perhaps a wharfie in a past life so I knew I'd fit right in.

Once I got to Chitown I realised, not only is the city visually stunning, rich in history and character, the mid west folk are friendly. My coach said 'well you're a pretty girl with a nice accent, of course they're going to like you.' Man they froth over the accent. Some team mates wanted Aussie lessons it was so popular (you can start by pronouncing it Ozzie). I was even told together with my eyes it's an aphrodisiac, decent line right, we'll get to the boys in a bit.


Chitown by night
Pic courtesy of Friedman Archives 
I was born and raised in Sydney, know it well. Whilst visiting 90% of Americans told me Australia is on top of their bucket list.  I am grateful to live 5 minutes from this breathtaking harbour. Now you yanks have someone to come and visit, me!


Sydney Harbour by night, ain't no place like home toto
Pic courtesy of Layover Guide

Here goes....

COFFEE

Lets break this one into nations. The standard in US is drip brewed or filtered coffee, like you get on a plane. They pour water over roasted ground coffee beans in a filter, water seeps through coffee and passes through the bottom of the filter. Here they add "cream" (which is more like part cream/part milk) and sugar. While I could get my latte at Starbucks it was always burnt.

I did have the pleasure of sipping Costa Rican coffee fresh off the plantation while in Central America. A blissful, tranquil experience. Those beans were magic, the location may have contributed slightly. 

A typical Australian coffee is generally a latte or flat white. Coffee espresso shot filled with heated frothed milk add sugar. I fell in love with Malt Supper Club when last visiting Perth, the venue took me to an era I'm drawn to, through it's music and the other wordly interior. I'd been up since 5am doing radio interviews, media and promos in the harsh sun. I was beat. I walked up to the bar wondering if they would have a coffee machine. I was greeted at the bar, 'ciao bella' a gorgeous Italian man dressed in a crisp white shirt, bow tie and braces. He took my hand over the bar and asked what I would like. If I wasn't playing the Legends Cup the following day (have I mentioned we won?) my answer would have been your finest scotch whisky sir. Not only did he have a coffee machine he proceeded to make me an amazing latte, within a few minutes he had another 10 orders from my team mates. 

Winner: OZ When baristas make lattes all day long they get damn good at them. Anyone serious about coffee may find it difficult to get a decent cup in US.

Tally: Oz- 1 USA- 0


GYM 

I was a passport member at Xsport Fitness, I could visit any franchise across Chicago for $35 a month. The staff at my local Pipers Alley were super friendly and welcoming. The location had a lot to offer (albeit jammed into a small space) it was open 24hrs and came complete with a pool, indoor basketball, rock climbing, spa, sauna, beauty & tanning salons, yoga and crèche.

I also frequented Lifetime Fitness which was the absolute mecca everything Xsport had and more, a freaking creche for adults - lounges and plasmas everywhere, water slides, the works. Huge well kept facilities, everything you need to get distracted from what you should be there to do... hard work.



Interior of a David Barton Gym


David Barton Gym was an absolute standout. These facilities are opulent, Dubai nightclub luxurious. No expense spared on the fit out, décor and sound system. Bathroom products so quality we may have taken some home. A completely unique gym experience. Lighting so low it was a safety issue around free weights.




When I enquired at Lifetime about an olympic lifting platform or somewhere I could drop a bar from the overhead position he said I could anywhere. Dude Stop. At all Chicago gyms I visited the plates were jagged, they land unevenly and could jump out and seriously injure myself or those near me, not to mention the racket it would create without suitable flooring. Deadlifting for example; the bar touches on a jagged edge rather than flat edge on one of the plates, you're twisted out of position on each rep. Resetting your foot position each rep is kinda fucking annoying.

I did have a great throw down with the cool cats at Crossfit New Lennox where the plates were round, unfortunately once I moved downtown the location was too difficult to get to.




In Sydney the plates are round everywhere, newsflash they don't roll away from you. You can find gyms that aren't crossfit with olympic lifting stations or bumper plates relatively easily. Although Sydney has 24 hour gyms they are the typically the fast food of the fitness world. As a side note you have to bring your own towel which you don't in Chicago.

Winner: It's a tie, I loved the luxury of spending my days training, recovering and relaxing at one facility before going off to practice at night. But Chicago you drastically loose points for those retched plates. 

Tally: Oz - 2 USA - 1


HOSPITALITY
 
You can be drunk in Chicago and still order drinks, you can be drunk, stumble into a bar and be welcomed by the security, you can be rowdy with your friends inside the club and not be warned/ thrown out. This is all via observation of course, I'm always on my best behaviour. You can do none of these things in Sydney. How is it Chicago is so much more laxidazy and I didn't see one fight break out?


A special mention to Underground Chicago. Every club owner should take note of what these guys are doing. Every night of the week this place PUMPS. Different themes but one thing remains, the party is always on point. They call is the sexiest place in the world. Don't know about sexiest, they lost that title when they let me in wearing gum boots after a festival but all the cool kids wear Hunters boots. The GM Scott is particularly personable. Always immaculately dressed in a three piece suit and oh so hospitable, the security guys are my favourite. I could go on but it would begin to sound like adoration.


Underground standard night



Rooftop bars are scattered all over the city, plenty of places are buzzing by lunch time with sky scraping views of Lake Michigan. Pubs, restaurants and bars are bustling on a weeknight, there is always something happening. 

Upon my return to Sydney I paid a visit to Kings Cross on a Saturday night, clubs were empty and I could easily get a cab at 3am. Whats doing? Lock out laws have ruined you. There's no denying it.

As a side note to this topic customer service in Chicago is tops, retail stores, restaurants, bars, train drivers you name it. I actually felt like they genuinely cared about assisting me! They won't monotonely tick a box and greet you with their nose in the air, unlike Sydney, they are heartfelt and attentive. 

Winner: Chitown lapped Sydney on this one. RIP Kings Cross nightlife, we'll always have the memories

Tally: Sydney -  2  Chicago - 2 



THE MALE SPECIES

Overall American men are much more confident than Australians. They have to be to keep up with the women who are loud and outspoken, some self righteous even. Men seem happy to say exactly what’s on their mind at that point in time. No game playing just direct and upfront with their feelings. There’s an attractiveness about a man who can communicate so freely without regard for 'how keen' he comes across. So pleasant, charming and well mannered. It was easier to get to know people, I felt like the wall was removed and people were so personable. Ironic coming from me, a woman of many walls but trust me, there's an element of it that's rubbed off on me and I love it.
 
Let's compare a bar in Sydney, you can make eye contact with someone. Half an hour later after he’s skulled enough tinnies to work up the courage he might trot over. In Chicago you've barely fluttered eye contact and he's either over introducing himself or he's sent the bartender to fetch your drink. I know what you're thinking, hot blooded males with perhaps one thing in mind, but more times than not they'd shake your hand, pleasure to meet and off they went. 

Even the whipper snappers had game.  Got chatting to a (6ft mature looking) 18yr old in a hideous Hawaiian shirt on the train. I was studying my playbook, he peaked over my shoulder and striked up a convo about football. Even he was smooth enough to ask for my number. I had to laugh and say 'get outta here kid' they sure can talk the talk!
 
I am pleased to say chivalry is not dead, it is far more alive in US. Men open doors, get the bill before you've had the chance to offer not once but consistently every time. Men will make sure a woman is well looked after. Strangers in the street, men of all ages will open a door for a woman, offer to help with bags and expect nothing in return. They are organizers, happy to lead booking restaurants, planning a day with you, making you know they appreciate and value every hour they spend with you. They listen to you, are very inquisitive and well in tune with women's Venus tongue. Okay they're still on Mars but are located on the side facing earth.... Aussie guys are chilling over the Jupiter facing side of Mars. 


Admittedly if I plucked an American species and popped him on a Sydney street, with his smooth talking ways and forwardness he would come across creepy. But in his natural habitat he hunts awfully well with his species. 
 
US men openly appreciate women of all different shapes and sizes. They actually want their woman to have curves especially a butt. Women are tall, short, stumpy, obese, voluptuous, hippy, curvaceous but one thing in common, they are all confident. Australia is catching on slowly but a woman with curves is still the minority.

Winner: Chicago no question, for me a confident strong woman I'm well suited to a straight shooter. Aussie guys I'm sure would be a hit with the American girls, but more often than not the girls may scare the absolute shit outta Aussie blokes with how forward they are. 

Tally: Oz - 2  USA - 3


WEATHER 

The weather is opposite, when it's winter in Chicago it's Summer in Sydney. Lets take a look at the difference in temperatures.


Chicago weather is bipolar, one day it's snowing the next sunny skies. When I first arrived it was minus most days, the nasty snow was coming to an end to conclude the worst winter they'd experienced in 130 years! I will never complain about Sydney being cold again. I would literally look down on the street at outfits to get an idea of which pill the weather took overnight. It's crazy.


Cars abandoned on famous Lake Shore Drive Chicago during a snow storm. The snowfall from the blizzard was 20.2 inches
Image & article via http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-snow2lsd20110202071217-photo.html

I tried to improvise with outdoor training equipment at my coaches place when I first arrived. In between each set I'd have to run inside and thaw my fingers over the heating just enough to grip the bar for the next round in between my nose bleeding. I like going on little adventures so tried running after the sun went down. The tiny part of my face that was exposed burnt like a chemical peel. Icicles run from your nose, speech slows to a drunken slur.




However the central heating is on point, every building, home or apartment block was superbly heated. Once the weather finally started to warm up it was like the population in Chicago quadrupled, people on the streets, seated at sidewalk eateries, out socialising - they were like caged animals over the winter!



Typical winters day downtown, still magic



Sydney summer is ace, we get a solid 2 months of it sometimes more. Beginning of Autumn is balmy. You can still get outside in Winter without your motor skills ceasing to function properly.

Winner: Sydney, the snow is picturesque but it affects your day to day activities too much.

Tally: Oz - 3  USA - 3



LFL 
 
The LFL competition in US is fiercer than Australia. It should be, it's their national game, they've been watching/ playing it longer than Aussies. The average American is physically bigger than the average Aussie. In a nutshell the game was faster, the hits were harder and the girls were more physical in America. I loved every minute of it, I didn't travel there to play patty cake, I went to become a better athlete and break new ground in my career, like rupturing my ACL. Mission accomplished. 


Defence chilling in between plays


 
Winner: Chicago, that's a no brainer.

Tally: Oz - 3  USA - 4 



ANIMALS
 
Sure we have kangaroos, snakes, spiders, crocodiles & sharks but so does USA (or gators) in particular regions. Let's get one thing straight. If you visit the outback in Oz you are more likely to come across creatures that would kill you in the night, same as a night in the rocky mountain ranges could prove dangerous. Sydney is a city and it's highly unlikely you will see any of the above mentioned animals unless you're visiting Taronga Zoo. I've never seen a shark in my life, I grew up in the water, living in a beachy suburb, surf life saving- I'm yet to even hear a shark alarm go off.
 

Australia is ranked the 2nd highest to the US in terms of global shark attacks with 704 unprovoked attacks. Where we rank first is the number of fatalities, our sharks mean business with 202 of the attacks proving deadly. 

 


  1. Region
Total
Attacks
Fatal
Attacks
Last
Fatality
United States
(Excluding Hawaii)
1055362012
Australia7042022014
Africa339932013
Asia129482000
 
 
Winner: Oz wins we're all thrill seekers, danger is interesting, nobody wants to live the safe life, really, do they?
 
Tally: Oz - 4   USA - 4
 
 

SPORT 

Everyone supports the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs or Sox there is a sense of patriotism and togetherness in this town which is magic. The people of Chicago are one giant mass, they're not individuals, the city of Chicago is for the people.
They don't just support their teams they are overtly passionate, loud and proud, wearing merchandise even on non game days. Tailgating at football games playing sport, everywhere, on weekends parks are jammed with adult softball and flag football competitions.

I got to several MLB games; White Sox at Comiskey Park and Cubs at Wrigley Field. It's more a social event, fans go for the atmosphere rather than the game.



In Sydney we struggle to find a venue with a few TV's that will show our LFL games on a Saturday night. I don't recall walking into a pub/ bar in Chicago without a TV screen. We struggle to fill stadiums for AFL and NRL games, it's expensive and inconvenient, people would rather watch from their couch.

The Bliss home games in Chicago drew around 2000 people, decent crowd considering our stadium was 1 hours drive from the city. What an amazing crowd, they would fire up with one word ..... let's go 'CHICAGO!!' We were undefeated at home thanks to their support.

Winner: Chicago, it's more than just a sporting game it's a total experience, the atmosphere is electric even in between plays. 

Tally: Oz - 4  USA - 5



FOOD

I entered US with some visible abs, maybe 4, I left with one. I love my food, that's no secret. I'd be the size of a house if I lived in Chicago the food is soooo delicious.

Severely hung


Notable mentions;

Garretts popcorn get in me!

When purchasing raw meat I had to be rather careful. Frozen chicken breast for example isn't always 100% chicken it's hormones and additives, some pumped full of chemicals, water and even pig skin. This isn't just happening in US but I've never noticed it in Australia before. Grass fed beef in US is almost like a delicacy, I had to go to an organic store to source it.


Winner: Oz, you can't beat Aussie beef.

Tally: Oz - 5  USA - 5

 
 
OTHER MENTIONS 
 
WI FI - Chicago has wifi almost everywhere, every store, stadium and bar. Nobody pays per data usage or download and they can't believe when I tell them we do in Australia. Winner: US 
 
PUBLIC TRANSPORT - Between the CTA and the Metra trains, they arrive regularly and are reliable and safe. Sydney can't say the same. Winner: Chicago
 
BEACHES - With the amount of majestic coastlines this one is easy. Winner: Sydney
 
I'm allocating an additional half a point each for the notable mentions section


 
FINAL SCORE
Oz - 5.5  USA 6
 
Says it all really, ain't no place like home, but Chicago just pipped Sydney. I'll be back for more one day Chitown, thank you for being so kind to the Aussie. X

 
Post a Comment