Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Oz TV stardom

Trip Start Dec 31, 2006
Trip End Nov 2007

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

We got up very early some would say at sunrise ;-) for our next important mission in Sydney.  This was to get ourselves on aussie breakfast telly, we had been watching their version of GMTV with Koche & Mel (bless them) for 3 months solid whilst working in Melbourne and had become quite attached to them.  Anyway you can always see people walk behind them whilst they are on telly and you can stand behind them when they are doing outside broadcasts so naturally after our failure to get on telly in England failed with Countdown we were determined not to let this happen in Oz.  We managed to get there bang on time when 4 of them came out Koche & Nat (Mel was on holiday) and the two dudes that do their version of This Morning afterwards.  Naturally me and Sarah plonked ourselves right behind them, Sarah waved but I was 2 scared and just stood their looking embrassed.  As soon as they had finished they disappeared inside much to our disappointment but they did have work to do.  We rang Louise our only aussie relative that we knew would be watching to see if she seen us.  She had but told me off for not waving, Sarah was more brave than me.  We watched them through the window for a bit and managed to get ourselves seen as we were behind them when they were discussing what wine to drink with ones meal, this was achieved by Louise being on the other end instructing us which way to move in order to be seen, luckily I managed to position myself near a rather tall man in a leather coat.  Soon they were out again for the closing segment of the show, they chatted and laughed with us for a minute before they had to do their bit.  Sarah was in a better position this time and managed to mouth hello to Louise and I even braved a wave, luckily Louise was a star and taped it for us (thanks Louise) so we can show you all when we get home.  Once they finished they signed autographs for us and we had our pictures taken with them, they were lovely and we had achieved fame at last even if it was just Louise, Mary and Pat that had seen us.  Once all the excitement was over we did a bit of admin and closed our aussie bank accounts, then it was back to sightseeing and up the Sydney tower we went.  At the top of the tower there was a 3D ride which took us around Oz as our seat shook it was wicked, then we went up the tower itself for great views over Sydney.  Then one had ones lunch in the sunshine opposite the Opera House and also went to look for a cache by it but alas failed.  We then took the ferry to Manly which is the cheapest way to cruise Sydney harbour and get great pictures of the bridge and opera house.  In Manly we walked to the beach where we enjoyed an ice cream before catching the ferry back to Sydney harbour.  Back at the hostel we got ready to check out the hostel bar where we joined by our American roomate ?, our canadian roommate ? who was after some guy and our swedish room mate Katie and it was soon a dorm outing. A few other random geezers turned up including a german guy who was very drunk we thought the canadian girl was after him but then she was with anbother one so we were proved wrong.  It was underwear on the outside night but no amount of beer could pursuede us tp put on their dodgy knickers over our trousers (the floor in the bar was sticky it was that classy).

After a slight lie in the next day and another parcel deposited with Australia's postal system we got on a hop off hop on bus to enjoy Sydney in a lazy tourist sort of way with a bus driver with a very bizarre high pitched voice.  We got on the bondi explorer bus to go and check out the famous bondi beach, the driver was very nice and stopped at some great view points on the way.  We had a look at the beach which was empty as it was cold and windy that day, we had seen the beach many times on aussie programme 'Surf Patrol' so we knew what to expect.  There were a couple of brave soles attempting to surf but they kept falling off so we gave up and went for a cup of tea in Maccas where we were delightfully joined by Bondis pigeon population, which was nice.  We then hit Bondi Junction's extremely large shopping cente (thanks for the tip Janey) where I could lose Sarah for a bit to get a few bits and bobs for her birthday (Which is always useful, I (Sarah) spent the time in the library known as Borders reading OK mag & about Canada). Back on the bus it was off to Mrs Macquaries Chair in the Botanical Gardens - which basically is where everyone goes for their photo took as you can have the Opera house and Bridge in the background. Sadly, dusk was upon us by the time we got there, but we took plenty of photos (not sure when anyone will see any) just incase.

Saturday was the day I (Sarah) had been waiting for since I opened my Christmas pressie from Grandma B and it contained a gift certificate for the Sydney Bridge climb (Thank you Grandma!). We were climbing the bridge after lunch, so we distracted ourselves in the morning by shopping at Paddy's Market (tacky souvenirs are us) & The Rocks Market (v trendy and expensive). After a few failed geocaches (as we were worried about the time), we had lunch in a little cafe in The Rocks (which is where the first Sydenysiders and therefore Aussies lived. We checked in and made our last ladies stop for the next 3 hours. After a little wait watching a video of what we were to expect, we were ushered into a darkend room, signed our lives away and was breathalysed (we had not drunk the day before just incase). Then we were looked up and down by an Aussie bird (which is ok if you're male) and then given the sexiest grey jump suit ever!! (we have photo evidence, don't worry fans). Then for the metal detector, which Aimee passed of course and I set the alarm off (lasers going everywhere).Luckily for me most of us set it off, so then it was for the handheld detector after about three goes she agreed that I didn't have a knife down my trousers and that I could go. Then we were introduced to our tour guide (got rid of the aussie bird) and then we were all given our umbilical cord that would attach us to the bridge (at all times). The ball at the end (which is a British design - we cheered when he told us) weighed about 5kg! Then, we were given parachutes (!), luckily he was kidding and they were actually fleeces in a bag, hankies (with elastic band to tie to wrist), ties for sunglasses, baseball hat (cos we are just that cool) & ties for baseball hat, radio (attached to the utility belt which has the umbilical cord on) and headset (that you could here him through the bones in your head not through the ears) - just what you need when climbing the biggest single arched bridge in the world! We then had a practice climbing the ladders & walkways that we would face on the bridge (they were alot easier than the acutal ones) Then for the worst part of our climb, we had to walk outside - into the public- to gain access to the bridge. Luckily this was not far down the road, then we were up some stairs and on to the gangway (attaching our umbicial cord first, don't worry Grandma) below the motorway heading towards the first pylon. We were not scared at this point, which worried us. I then won the prize for the biggiest bridge geek, for knowing that the two stone pylons where built as an after thought and PR stunt cos Syndeysiders thought it did not look safe and they peform no function to the bridge in any way, shape or form! (they also cost more than the bridge!). Next the ladders, these were 4 ladders (very steep) that brought you up between two lanes of traffic (eek) and you had to step across at the top to move to the next one. This was the scariest moment for me, as the traffic really make me nervous as all the cars were flying by. Once at the top, it was onto the arch itself. This was easy as they were small steps with handrails on both sides and we stopped about 4 times on the way up to admire the view and have our pictures taken. We had our group shot at the top, shouting themed words (Sydney - for example) and resisted the urge to chuck the English-now-Australian-family over the edge. Whilst waiting for the descent, we had the joy of watching a bloke propose to his now fiancee (as she said yes) and everyone cheered (we may have muttered other words). Apparently they were the third that day, three more men down! We walked down the other side of the bridge and the guide pointed out the builing that was used in the Matrix when Trinity smashes into a building and makes ripples & used in one of the Mission Impossible films (can't remember which). The ladders on the way down were quite tricky and this time we were coming down between two train lines - we were told we would have to be very unlucky to have a train whizzing past you as you went down the ladder - hmm they had never met us before and it went right next to Aimee! As we were approaching the end of the walkway he told us that if we wanted we could jump off the bridge (!) - suddenly wishing i had a parachute. Of course what he meant was jumping the 1cm from the metal bridge to the stone pylon, which we did of course! Then for the hard bit, walking in public with the suit on, hmmm. Then we all secured our Oscars by faining injuries and crying to the next lot heading out. After unattaching all our stuff, we were handed back to blonde bird and de-jump-suited and ran to the ladies. We collected our certificate (woo!) and purchased many items from the giftshop. As we had seen a very enterprising advert on the top of a pub we walked passed on the bridge, we popped in for a pint before the long (long) walk back. That evening we went out on the town with our American & Canadian roomates, as they had been living in Sydney for a while. We ended up chatting to a lovley Aussie couple and played pool. Handily, they had relatives in Peru so we could chat about our forthcoming travels. We finished the night in Scruffy Murphys which never shuts, they never stop wahing the floor and the floor never stops being sticky. After a drink and boogie, we headed back as it was way past our bedtime.

We had a little lie in, then it was back on the hop-on-off bus. First stop Botanical Gardens. Someone must have been mean to the gardener as they had planted flowers which spelt 'Sex & Death' - not sure why. We walked towards the water and back to Mrs Macquaries chair to take daylight photos. Next stop Hard Rock Cafe, which is in the most bizarrest place in Sydney and is tiny, but we battled through the crowds of tour buses to buy our purchases. Back on the bus next stop was Woolloomooloo (show me another word with eight O's!) and Harry's Cafe de Wheels (thankyou for the recommendation Janey!) to have one of his famous pies (Mr Haigh we were thinking of you as we ate). After a brief jog (!) after our bus, we decided that we would like more exercise (after doing our Peter Kay impression that we never wanted the bus in the first place) so we walked to St Mary's Cathedral. We visited the ladies and they have to be up there with the Opera House toilets and everything was church-like arched. We had a look around inside and learnt that the Pope will be visiting in just over a year for World Youth Day. We popped across the road to Hyde Park to admire the Archibald fountain and of course they happened to be a geocache nearby. As I was walking in lots of straight lines with GPSr (as you do) I heard the giggling of what can only be described as French geocachers. So hop footed it away, trying to watch if they had found it. Sadly, i fear neither of us found it as we gave up and went to look at their Anzac memorial at the other end of the park. Next stop Darling Harbour (we walked rather than pretend to run for the bus that went past) via Cold Rock for our last Aussie ice cream. We read lots of menus to choose where to spend our last meal in Australia and picked out boats from the boat show (in case we ever win the lottery). On the bridge over the harbour we tried for our last Aussie geocache, again after nearly giving up due to impending darkness we found it - hoorah! Back to the hostel for fractic packing and moving all our thermals to the top ready for New Zealand (and trying to work out where in the world my parents were). We went out to our posh fish restaurant and early to bed, as we were up at stupid o'clock to get to the airport for our early flight. We didn't think that Qantas would let us leave without reminding us why they are not the spirit of Australia when a stupid desk woman made Aimee put her rucksack in a plastic bag even though the straps were in a cover. Next stop New Zealand . . . . .
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