March 22th 2014
P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney. … P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney. As I sat sleepily on the bus toward Sydney, I felt like Dory after she’s stung by the Jellyfish and slowly waking up repeating to herself the directions to Nemo. I was in an odd state of wonder, anticipation, exhaustion, nerves and disbelief as I watched the Australia countryside pass by and the sun greeting us over the horizon.
Bountiful Beauty – The sunrise. I’ve always liked the morning and found the change from still darknes to dim awakening to good morning birds to be amazing, but here, if possible, it’s even more wonderful. I couldn’t hear the birds from inside the bus, but I could see the sheep moving about, the kangaroos hopping to and fro, the sun peeking over the mountains and the fog settled just above the grassy fields. I sighed, assured it’d be a good day.
Commentary and Confusion – Also on the bus, Ryan, who’s excitement was equivalent to that of a middle school girl getting to meet One Direction, commentated the entire bus ride. He didn’t miss a single rock, animal, tree, waterfall, bridge or cloud. I couldn’t help but smile at his child like excitement about literally everything around us. I’ll admit I joined in for a little geography nerding out about the igneous intrusions and rock stratification) Upon arriving in Sydney we were greeted but a very different change of scenery and an even different city smell. The business of the city was unreal and the hustle and bustle was so different than good ol’ Canberra. We weren’t sure where to go and ended up going up and down quite a few sets of stairs in the train station before finding out where we were supposed to go. Confusion. There are about a million and half things to do in Sydney and another half a million ways to spend your money doing so. The tourist guru guy behind the desk was patient and helpful in getting us a great deal. Sarah, Ryan, Cansis and I opted for the Venture pass; flat rate purchase that allowed us to choose three touristy things to do from a provided list. Was it the best choice, we weren’t sure yet but as the day unfolded we were sure to find out.
Sunscreen and Saltwater – From there our group jumped aboard the double decker tour bus that might as well of had a neon sign screaming “WE ARE TOURISTS” above it, but hey, that’s the truth. We definitely fit the part snapping pictures, sunscreening up, pointing, shouting and smiling. The bus allowed us to get on and off at any point we’d like. We got off near the Sydney Harbor and asked someone where we’d find our first touristy thing to do. Jetboating. On any other day I would’ve walked by the stand and scowled at the absurd price. But today was a day for touring and that’s just what we’d do. We reserved our spot aboard the 2:00pm trip and then set out to fill our growling bellies. Sandwiches were our solution, which seems plain enough, right? No way Jose, these sandwiches blew every sandwich I’ve ever had so far away they don’t ever stand a chance and winning the favorite sandwich spot in my tummy. MMmmm, SO GOOD! 2pm rolled around and we headed back to the dock to load the boat. A very tan, very cute Aussie fellow greeted us with instructions to put all our belongings in a secure bin and then put on a curve less, sans-flattering, red poncho, assuring us we’d want it.
The boat driver called for brave friends to take the front row and with a quick glance at each other and an excited grin Sarah, Matt and I raised our hands eager to get on the water. Daryl, the driver, clued us into a few important cues then smiled mischievously as he told us we were about to be soaked. Pumped beyond words we set out on the harbor. The view was surreal, you could see the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the iconic Sydney Opera House, people everywhere, open water and blue skies. Perfect. I don’t even know if I can do this ride justice using just words. Brilliant, phenomenal, … nope still no. Imagine this: breathtaking views of the Opera House while coasting under the bridge as we turn the corner into the main part of the harbor Daryl signals that we’re going to spin and we flip around so fast atop a massive wave that we’ve refreshingly soaked from head to toe. Delighted by the thrill of the turn we’re not even phased by unpleasant reminder that this isn’t the Great Lakes as we gulpped a mouth full of salt water. Recovering from that spin we steer toward the mouth of the harbor and just as I wipe the water from my eyes a literally breath taking view of hundreds of colorful sail boats paint the rocky sea speckled against a perfectly blue sky. You know that moment in Cars when Sally’s chasing Lightening McQueen and he glances back to see Sally in slow motion emerge from the waterfall. That’s the only image I can recall that describes this ‘slow-motion-is-this-real-life?’ moment I had as we crused through the harbor. Quite a few more spins and countless more salt water baths we were back at the dock and stoked that we spent our money this way. Attraction 1 of 3, success!
Chickens and Cellos– Riding the adrenaline from the Jet Boat Tour we set out to find a bathroom, and bubbler (water fountain). We couldn’t stop talking about how cool it was!! I am so, SO glad we decided to go on that, not to mention it was the most expensive thing on our list of choices. Boom, most bang for our buck! The second stop was the Sydney Opera House. Standing before it and walking the step was surreal. We soon learned that it is the second most easily recognizable icon in the world only next to the McDonald’s arches. This brilliant work of architecture so wildly known and we were standing before it. Wow! Again another tour I would’ve opted out of if we hadn’t bout the Venture pass, we got our tickets for the opera house tour. They had a cool set up where we wore headphones that connected right to our tour guide microphone so no matter where we were standing we could hear her very clearly. Not only did we get exclusive views and behind the scenes looks at the opera house but I also learned a ton of things I never would have known if we hadn’t gotten a sweet tour guide and gone on the tour. For instance, did you know that when Sydney decided that they wanted an Opera House they opened a worldwide contest for a design and the design that won was originally set in the ‘no’ pile until an American architect drew attention to it? We got to go inside the two largest halls and experience the incredible acoustics that you can’t fully gain appreciation for unless you’re inside. Each hall is uniquely designed for the type of performance it houses and everything from the type of wood in the steps to the curvature of the chairs to the ripples on the roof are formulated to produce the best sound for audience members and performers alike. They also told us a funny story of why there is a net over the pit orchestra in the main opera hall. Many years back there were live chickens as part of a show and one was rather poorly behaved. Half way through the show it jumped into the pit and landed in a cellists lap. The cellist stopped playing screamed, grabbed the chicken and threw it over their head and backwards up onto the stage. The chicken displeased with the course of action, jumped again down into the pit and latched onto a baritone’s back. The baritone shocked and disgusted screamed, kicked the chicken and ran off to his dressing room so dramatically that the show was ruined, stopped and the audience was refunded. Directly following that performance the conductor wrote a letter to the stage manager requesting a screen for over the pit. A screen was installed within a few days and the rest is history. Fascinating. Call me a nerd, but I just love learning. Our tour guide rocked and I have a new appreciation for architecture, especially of the acoustic variety. Attraction 2 of 3. Success.
Funk House, Funky People – At this point we had decided to use our last attraction for dinner at the Eye restaurant above the city. However, we first decided to go drop our bags and freshen up at our previously booked hostel, Funk House Backpackers. We got off at a kind of shady spot and could have flipped a coin at the direction we should be talking. Ryan, who we’d endearingly nicknamed Dad, lead us in the right direction and we came upon the potentially dangerous Funk House. [Mama, don’t freak out just yet 🙂 ] The man at the desk was SO reassuring and very helpful. We were assigned to the “Phantom” room on the first floor where we’d find the restroom behind Superman and Wonderwoman. What is this place!?! We got to our room and it wasn’t that bad. We had clean sheets, pillowcase and a pretty clean room. Score diamond in the rough. I was still thankful that Ryan was with us though.
High Tower, High Prices – We headed off to make the mile plus walk to the Eye tower that is way above the city and shows off all that Sydney contains. We were tired but looking fine. The eye was our 3rd attraction and probably the least cool of the three. The skyline was nice, and we had intended to stay up there at the restaurant for dinner. That was a great plan till we saw that dinner started at $75 a plate!! Common man! We’re still in college. By this time it was 8pm and we were hungry and tired.
We waited way to long for another part of our group and our hanger (hungry+anger) grew near to unhealthy levels. I’ll spare the details but we ended up at a nice restaurant near our hostel with great food and a cool atmosphere. It was SO nice to sit down, catch up with our friends. It was even nicer though to lay down that night and really rest. Never mind the buzzing city noise and open window. We were out and down for the count. I woke up at 3am to use the bathroom and it was a tad bit scary to walk down the hall and visit the bathroom behind the Wonder Woman door… but I’m safe and alive to tell the tale!