Opera House, Cricket Grounds, and Darling Harbour

Trip Start Jul 09, 2013
Trip End Jul 28, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, July 26, 2013

What a picture perfect day to enjoy Sydney!

Today we finally had the chance to get an up-close and personal tour of the Sydney Opera House. Because we are staying in the heart of the city, we were given the luxury of sleeping in and having breakfast later than ever before. We were on the coach at 9:30, and arrive in plenty of time for our 10:30 tour of the Opera House.

With not a cloud in the sky, we exited the motor coach and couldn't contain our excitement as we approached the Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge just off in the distance. After snapping our obligatory first photos/selfies, we began our tour.

We learned about the history of the Opera House and how the city came to select the ultimate design of the building. The Opera House is such an iconic part of the Sydney Harbour skyline, it's hard to imagine the fact that the current structure was so close to not being made real. It was already among the pile that was rejected, when one late arriving judge was determined to look at EVERY SINGLE ENTRY. Thank goodness he did, because had it not been for him, the innovative design of the Sydney Opera House could have turned out to be just another boring building.

Even the construction of the Opera House was innovative. A building of this style had never been done before, and the challenge was trying to figure out how to keep the "sails" of the Opera House up. They ended up creating LONG concrete slabs and assembling them together like Legos.

The tiles, while they look white from afar, are actually various shades of white, cream, and grey. The light from the sun catches on the tiles and reflects a brilliant white finish. And what's even more amazing is that the tile have never had to have been cleaned! So cool!

So once we left the Sydney Opera House, we were off to Darling Harbour for lunch at a place called Blackbird Cafe. Once we were done eating, we were given some free time to go across the Harbour to the little mall and do some souvenir shopping. You would think everyone was out of money, but no... SHOP they did!

We hopped back on the motor coach and headed to our next stop - the Sydney Cricket Grounds where we learned about the age old sport of Cricket. Our guide took us into the indoor practice arena, and a couple of local boys were there to teach us how to play cricket. We first learned how to "bowl" (pitch) the ball, which was quite awkward for most of us because we were all so used to bending our elbows to pitch. It seemed quite unnatural to fling our arms around on the shoulder socket to throw the ball overhead. Then we learned how to bat. The "batsman" (batter) is supposed to hold the bat low to the ground, not up in the air like we do in baseball/softball. So hence, another unnatural stance for us. The last thing we learned was how to catch the ball. Thank goodness we were working with tennis balls rather than true cricket balls! They used a pitching machine to lob the balls in our direction, and one at a time, we had the chance to try our hand in catching the ball the way they do in cricket... without a MITT!

After our feeble attempt at cricket, our guide took us to the Members Pavilion and Home Team Locker Room where the Aussie Cricket Greats prepared for their games. Then we got the opportunity to walk onto the Oval and get a players' view of the field and stands. He showed us how they had two separate pavilions (Members and Ladies) because up until the 1970s, women were not allowed to be members. After selfies and group photos were taken, we visited their Cricket Museum to see some early memorabilia (which was just behind the Ladies Pavilion) then headed back to the entrance were a few stopped in the gift shop and purchased things like rugby balls and shirts.

Next it was back to Darling Harbour for some more shopping time back at the same mall we were at earlier in the day before it was time for dinner at Cyren 6:30. We had a visitor join us for dinner - Beccah's boss, and my good friend Sara met up with us while we were shopping at the mall and joined our table at dinner time.

Sara started her time with P2P as a DM about 7 years ago and is now the manager of our Australian Worldwide Partner, responsible for hiring, training, and managing the Delegation Managers as well as scheduling all the aspects of our Australian P2P programs. I met her a couple of years ago when she came to LA to attend our Information Meetings, and we have been friends (from across the pond) ever since. It was great to see Sara (and my DM from last year, Anthony) while I was here. It's always fun to have a chance to reunite with old friends!

We gave Brett, our coach driver, the evening off, so after dinner, since it was such a lovely evening, we walked back to our hotel. Being a Friday night, there were lots of people out having dinner at the little cafes along the way. More than once, we were welcomed and greeted by locals who quickly recognized us as Americans. So friendly! I'd love to be able to come back here on my own and have the freedom to explore more of Sydney one day!

Once back at the hotel, we had some free time to socialize with each other before bed checks.
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