Monday, 27 March 2017

Climbing Sydney bridge, a stroll around the Botanical gardens and Carmina Burana in the Opera house

PHIL: 27 Mar/Day 41

Allie returns from her morning run through the Botanical Gardens bewitched by Sydney and titillated by having seen a couple having sex on their balcony at the waterside Hyatt.
On the famous bridge overlooking Sydney
We debate doing the Bridge Climb but, at $160 without being able to take your camera (for safety reasons) and the likelihood of my vertigo freezing me half-way over, decide to walk the normal walkway and climb just the concrete pylon. 

It is well worth it an light conditions are exceptional. Helicopters, seaplanes and boats mill around everywhere with gawping tourists like us.

We call at the Opera House box office on the off-chance of returned tickets for the evening performance. 
spectacular views to the harbour

To our delight they have ‘standing’ seats which turn out to be rather better (and much cheaper) than most of the allocated seating. 

A thoroughly 20th-century programme of  Bernstein, Barber and Orff follows in the impressive main concert hall which, on all my previous visits to Sydney, I have not been inside before. Hickox is as dominating as I remember him and considerably more corpulent.

Another clash of wills with Allie. Her universal habit, bred of claustrophobia (or is it actually agoraphilia ?) ,of brinkmanship at airports, train stations and now , opera performances results in us nearly missing Carmina Burana. 

Her statutory loo visit at the end of the interval leaves me agitatedly waiting outside the ‘ladies’ whilst urgent recall bells become increasingly insistent. She saunters out to find me alone in the vast mezzanine whilst attendants prepare to refuse further entry to the auditorium. 

I suppress my annoyance but perhaps insufficiently. She claims never yet to have missed a time-critical event by trying to maximise her time in the open air, but I don’t want to be there the first time she does.

ALLIE: DAY 41: Tuesday, 27th of March

Exploring Sydney, a walk across the bridge and a concert in the opera house

A morning jog is always a wonderful way to explore a city. I run around the botanical gardens and hear this most amazing noisy sound like a thousand birds. 

But it turns out they are ‘flying foxes’ or fruit bats (pteropus poliocephalus) returning form their wild nights out to hang themselves upside down in the trees of the gardens to rest for the day. 

But what a smell, noisy and battle! Sydney seems to be a very fit city since I am definitely not alone on my run. Young, old, fat, slim – everybody is trotting and jogging around the bay.

After a delicious breakfast at our cosy B & B we set out to explore the downtown area on foot. Phil has worked here for BA 30years ago, and so we try to find his old office in Pitt Street, but its no longer there. 

What we find though is “Phillip Street”! The old central post office for the whole of the country has been turned into a variety of exclusive shops and restaurants. It used to be one of the largest and most elaborate buildings of the town, but now in the time of email and mobile phone the post office is squeezed into a tiny corner.

Our long walk takes us back through the botanical gardens and along the bay, then up to the opera house to check a last time for tickets. And we fortunate: we leave with two standing tickets for Carmina Burana tonight!

At lunch time we meet with Phils ballooning friend Rick Gillespie and his wife Heather. 

The weather now is sunny and warm and it’s great to sit near the harbour and watch the world passing by.

with Rick and Heather Gillespie

We start a discussion about the particularities of the Australians compared to the Brits. Two topics come to our observation. One being that the Aussis seem to be proud of everything. 

You see labels announcing that this beer was ‘proudly produced in Australia’ or that the ferry company is ‘proud’ to take you across to the zoo where you can watch our ‘proudly in the Sydney zoo raised koalas’. 
The Brits would scorn this attitude as being too arrogant. 

The other being the fact that the Australians make quite a big fuss about their ANZAC (Australian New Zealand Armoured Corps) day. 

That is a memorial day in honour to all the casualties and soldiers that fought in all the wars and battles that Australia and New Zealand have been involved in. It would be quite impossible especially in Germany (or even in the UK as Phil tells me) to celebrate such a thing. 

A bite to eat and a pint (or two in the boys case!) at the “Australian Hotel” and then I get ‘ants in my pants’ and want to move on to walk across the famous harbour bridge. The bridge was built in 1932 and had just celebrated its 75th anniversary. What a view!

Standing on top of one of the pylons we enjoy stunning views over the many bays of Sydney, the skyline, the ferry boats … 

We watch the bridge climbers that have paid an expensive 200 Dollars just to walk across the bridge being bound together on ropes and wearing fancy suits and caps. 

The light couldn’t be better and the only thing that would have made my husband even happier was if he could have flown in one of the seaplanes that we see cruising over the bay.

We want to hire a car, but it takes us ages to cross the city first by taxi to get to Avis and even longer to drive back through the evening rush hour. Parking is a nightmare in this city and the traffic lights seem to be forever red. 

it is undoubtedly a stunning building!
Not much time for a quick bite to eat, then we rush off for our great concert at the opera house. 

It’s Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and  Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 conducted by Richard Hickox. 

The concert hall is packed, we have to stand. But the musical and cultural experience is absolutely worth it. 

Half dead we drop to bed at 23.00 knowing that there are a mere 4hours left until we have to get up again!

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