Big city life definitely does have its negatives. They can be impersonal, congested and seemingly superficial. It can be hard to find your groove or even a place to be still in. But one of the big positives of having so many people from all walks of life living in such close proximity to each other is that there's bound to be something on for every taste on any given day of the week. A corollary of this is that a short drive or trip on public transport can take you to a place that's worlds away from where you were last.
After a morning in suburbia doing ordinary suburban things, Preschooler SSG and I took a bus and two trains to First Fleet Park near Circular Quay.
We were there to visit Cadbury's winter wonderland themed take over of the park as part of their Joy Deliveries Christmas campaign.
For one day only, visitors to the park were able to run around giant Christmas trees and snowmen or even have their photo taken under a puff of snow in an inflatable igloo.
There were chocolate advent calendars for all
and a blink and you'll miss them superhero sighting on the concourse of the MCA.
With the afternoon still young and the energy levels in our preschoolers still high, we decided to head into the shopping district to get an early look at what David Jones and Myer are doing for Christmas this year. For anyone who was disappointed at the slightly abstract adult colouring book themed windows that DJs did last year, you'll be deeply relieved to know that they've gone back to tradition with some amazing toy factory themed windows this year.
Preschooler SSG spent ages peering through the 'under the floorboards' windows of the display waiting for the model train to pass through. He was part of a dedicated group of three who ran from window to window yelling 'train' at the top of their voices.
My favourite window featured the polar bears fishing for gifts
and sipping cups of tea on their break.
Our next stop was the Giftorium located on the sixth floor of Myer. This was the first year I'd visited it and I was very impressed with the range of toys and gifts on offer. Personalized Nutella jars, a massive range of Thomas toys, collectors edition super hero toys and unique limited edition prints... no wonder it was already so busy this far out from Christmas.
Preschooler SSG and his friend were lucky enough to get a ride on the free Santa Express train.
They were issued with golden train tickets and once the gate opened, they walked across the special train crossing and found their seat on a beautifully detailed miniature steam train replica.
An official photographer was on hand to take individual photos of each child (the ride is for children only) and single prints cost $17.50. It was a very special way to end a big afternoon of 'Christmas' for Preschooler SSG and in hindsight, it worked out well that we managed to see everything so early this year. I can imagine that the crowds are only going to get bigger as school holidays begin and the countdown to Christmas day begins in earnest.
Don't you just love it when the 'hood is thoughtful enough to start their annual French Soiree just at the time you get off the bus from the train station?
There were mime artists performing on stage, can can dancers mingling with the crowd and more than one patron was dressed to theme with a jaunty beret perched on their heads here or a bit of Breton stripe happening in their outfits over there.
It was a street party that had my name written all over it. Well not my name exactly but you know what I mean. In addition to champagne there were stalls were selling crepes, pate and little plates of other French favourites.
I think grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon should always look like this.
Do the stores near you put on something special for Christmas?
Are there any events in your local area that celebrate French culture and food?