Splendid Sydney!

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
Trip End Apr 18, 2012

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Where I stayed
Darling Harbour Ibis

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Saturday, November 19, 2011

What a fab city!  It's harbour, city and and environs are possibly the most beautiful we have ever seen. Fantastic place to live but wow, is it expensive!!  The exchange rate doesn't help at $1.39 to the pound, we get very poor value for money.
We arrived to blue skies and sunshine at the weekend - then we saw 5 days rain!  At least it wasn't cold rain, but rain none the less.  We were lucky that there was a respite from the rain whilst we did our bridge climb, which was exhilerating, magnificent views.  In fact, the view you get from a post card doesn't do the harbour justice because it is much bigger than it looks, you can't really see it in one picture.  The most popular view of the harbour bridge and Opera House facing each other is at Circular Quays where all the ferries work from and where the cruise ships dock.  Only one liner at a time can dock in that particular part of the harbour because the liners are so huge and that part of the harbour is small. There are many bays and inlets that make up Sydney Harbour - it has 240km of shoreline. Sydney Harbour ferries can be seen plying the waterway all day and most of the night!  It's a very busy harbour with all kinds of shipping and a very interesting place to just sit and watch the world go by.

We climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge on 22.11.11 which felt like a very significant date.  It was a great experience and expertly arranged and guided.  There were frequent stops on the way whilst different landmarks were pointed out and other useful information given, but I think it was just to give you a rest on the way up so you never got out of breath.  WE were attached to the bridge at all times so the scope for accident was greatly reduced! Felt like a geat achievement and fab views from the top!

We bought a travel ticket allowing us to use ferry, bus and train anywhere for $57 for the week.  This turned out to be great value for money as we went just about everywhere that the ferry would take you, and up to the Blue Mountains on the train, and used the bus occasionly too.

Had a tour round the Opera House which was fascinating!  The Danish Architect, Jan Utzon, won the design competition in 1957 and the 'House' opened in 1973.  It wasn't a straighforward project at all as his design won on it's looks without having all the detailed drawings in place.  At times it was nearly abandoned as it was thought impossible to actually builld.  It's original budget was $3 million to be completed in 5.years.  It actually cost $107 and took 16 years!!  Someone's estimating was a bit out!!!  In 1965 the relationship between the architect and the newly elected premier of NSW, Robert Ashwin, and his minister of public works, Hughes, began to break down. It is said that Hughes had no interest in architecture or aesthetics and considered the whole thing a waste of public money. Sadly Uzton resigned from the project in 1966 after Hughes refused to pay any more fees.  Uzton moved his company back to Denmark and never returned to Australia.  Other architects were appointed who worked with his original design and the House was completed in 1973.  In 1999 Jan Uzton was appointed as a design consultant for future works and his sons returned to Australia to work on the building too, but he never actually saw the building 'in the flesh'.  It was designated as a UNESCO world heritage sight in 2007.  It contains the world's largest mechanical tracker organ with over 10,000 pipes.  Although it looks like it is a completely white building it is in fact covered with over 1 million glossy white and matt cream tiles, so that one is not dazzled by the light at close quarters. 

During our tour of the house we went into the Ballet theatre (the House actually has 5 theatres) and saw the Australian Ballet Company rehearsing their up and coming presentation of Romeo and Juliet.  We saw them rehearsing the scene where Romeo finds Juliet and thinks she is dead - it was excellent. They are already completely sold out and it doesn't start until December. We were so taken with what we saw we bought tickets to see them perform The Merry Widow the same night.  It was delightful, even Richard enjoyed the experience if not the actual ballet.  We had a  drink during the intermission on the Plaza deck which overlooks the harbour.  The bridge and all the city was illuminated, the harbour was still busy with ferries and other craft with their lights on, and there was a cruise liner in harbour, gloriously ablaze with thousands on twinkling lights - it was like being on a film set! 

We really enjoyed Sydney and we were very pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the place, the friendliness of the people, the superb transport organisation, bus, ferry and train, in fact we were disappointed only by the exchange rate!!

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