Sydney felt like an intense energy/slap in the face in the beginning, when I started flying back and forth for work (having scored a mainstream media gig) from April 2012. People felt quite tough, yet funnily enough, Sydney was welcoming to a once Melburnian. It only took me two weeks to grab onto Sydney's charms, and living with family (in the beginning) also helped. Yet Sydney is great, so kind to me, I can't fault this city. Funnily enough, someone from Melbourne brought up that our ticketing system is weird, yet funnily enough, I think Melbourne's ticketing system is weird, having used it. Sydney is intense, and is not the city for everyone to live in.
Tourists are usually surprised that the streets of Sydney are not that Aussie. Americans complain that there are too many American things and Asians wonder if they didn't accidentally exit the plane in Singapore.
Sydney is loud and busy. In most countries people stick to a side of the path to walk on, but not in Sydney, people go everywhere. No one queues, especially at bus stops. This is a bit of a shock to people from other parts of Australia as well as people who come from the politer parts of the world.
Sydney is also a place of contradiction. Some shops close early and others stay open late, even on a Friday and Saturday night. So people head to Newton to eat, drink and browse bookstores. There are also some 24 hour supermarkets, it can be pretty inconsistent though.
Sydney is a late night city, with most restaurants staying open until 11 pm or later.
Tourists pretty much get into the swing of things in Sydney pretty quickly.