Friday, October 31, 2008

Sydney days forever (Thur-30Oct - Day 37)

(where I am now: The Sydney Australia P&G office!)What time is it: 10:00am - What am I listening to: office background noise)

Weather not being as great the first day – I still remain convinced that this is one of the greatest cities in the world to live in

Weather optional, fun unavoidable …

Crap weather – the party didn’t last. As of Tuesday morning the wonderful blue sky and brilliant sunshine were covered by nasty grey clouds – city transformed itself and partly of my mood as the only thing that I wanted to do was go to the beach. I had Annick taking off a day on Wednesday – the original plan was to visit the northern beaches and the zoo (yeah kiddies!) but we only managed a drive through the wonderful beaches that exist up north. Sydney is amazing in that aspect: 30 minutes away from wonderful sandy beaches, a dream for any person that likes the sea.

Ribbon-like coastline, small little coves and bays, allow so many people (that can afford it) to be close to the water element. We stopped at Avalon, and had some lunch, cozy little place (that even had a fireplace…) and headed back home. DVD time and I know that might not be what you should be doing when you only have a few days in Sydney but still, mood, weather and Annick’s lovely apartment made this a really good choice. Have you seen Holiday? Well I hadn’t and it was pretty entertaining, although the snowy scenery made it just awkward with me being in Sydney. Jack Black rocks by the way.We drove around 19:00 to Bondi beach and Annick’s favorite restaurant – Bondi Italian food – pigged out and by 23:00 we were back home. Quiet day in the suburbs.

Another day – another ferry ride – another dish of fish (anyone complaining?)

Who can complain!? Thursday was another cloudy day and I started feeling quite annoyed with the whole thing – thinking that Japan should have come first on my trip – at least I would be in Australia a few weeks later with (probably) better weather.

It was a big day – Katerina (that’s K) had planned to go with me on the Sydney Harbor bridge climb in the afternoon and frankly, I didn’t really want to do it given the weather. We met near Circular Quay, the main terminal where you take ferries around 10am and took a ferry to Watson’s Bay, one of the lovely ports near Sydney, a really nice residential area. I say it again and again, it’s amazing how people in this city live so close to the water, commute over it to go to work, it’s part of their daily lives. I couldn’t help but think that this is a perfect place for anyone that loves the water and a big city – Adrianna, pack your backs…

Fish was on the menu of course and this is a restaurant that has turned now into a chain and is still managed 4 generations later by the same family. Try some local fish she recommended so we got two fab dishes (Snapper and Barrumundi - to share, the one being SLIGHLTY spicy for Katerina...

Sitting, 10 meters from the seaside, sandy beach and small boats anchored in the cove, seagulls flying around, you could almost think it was Greece - that is until you just looked up towards the horizon and there you saw the magnificent skyline of Sydney… What an amazing place I thought again to myself.

We made it back nicely on time and headed to the Bridge for our climb.

Climb a bridge – the universe will conspire to get what you really want.
I told you I don’t like touristy things – especially if they involve a very high premium. Katerina had booked the climb before I arrived to Sydney and I admit I was curious to see it but very skeptical especially when I found out just how expensive it is. We were a bit too early and the person at the office asked if we wanted to take an earlier climb. My mom always said, “never leave for tomorrow what you can do today” and as usual she was right. Try and understand this please: yesterday’s weather was overcast all around (with a slight chance of rain) and maybe some sunshine in the afternoon. The only time the sun was actually out was during our bridge climb – not the time we had planned but the time we eventually decided to go. Enough about the weather, enough about karma. Time to tell you about the bridge climb and the bridge itself.

Getting to the place you have to “check in”, name, details etc and the move to the area where they suit you up with a special uniform, a harness and a radio set where you can listen to the guy that climbs with you and is responsible for the tour. No watches, jewelry or cameras (boo hoo) are allowed on the bridge because you are actually walking +50 meters above real Sydney traffic – I have a good story later to tell you. After some really good training on how to walk around the bridge you make your way into the structure, a complex maze of pathways and ladders that lead you up to the top. You take small breaks along the way while you guide explains to you facts about the bridge and the city.

It was wonderful! +120 meters above the sea, roaring traffic below and magnificent views of the city and coast simply validated my original impression that this is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. Frank our guide (I think that was his name) made a big difference, nicely telling us the facts but adding in his own stories and experiences on the bridge. As I slowly made my way up, water all around and the Sydney skyline ahead, you just can’t help but marvel at the beauty of the city, admire the structure of the bridge and just try to imagine what it was like to actually build this bridge and have it until around 30 years ago as the tallest structure in the city. See all the cool facts I learned during my climb below...

Sun slightly hiding in the clouds near the end of our tour, I took one final look at the Opera house from above and smiled as we all made our way down to the base of the bridge, so thankful for this…

We made it to the base, thrilled with the experience and thinking about it, just realizing that a wonderful sunset was coming over Sydney…

Sydney bridge facts from the internet (further down facts from Kostas):
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge may not be the longest steel-arch Bridge in the world, but it is the largest and widest. At 48.8 metres (151.3 feet) wide, the Guinness Book of Records lists it as the widest long span Bridge in the world and until 1967, it was Sydney’s tallest structure.

  • Sydney locals refer to it affectionately as “the Coathanger” .

  • The Bridge carries 8 lanes of traffic, a footpath, a cycleway and 2 train lines. The Bridge’s arch spans 503 metres (1,650 feet).

  • The arch's summit is 134 metres (440 feet) above mean sea level.- that’s where we were!
  • The weight of the steel arch is 39,000 tons.

  • Dorman Long and Co also built The Tyne Bridge in Newcastle, England. (George, looks familiar?!?!)

Kostas facts:

  • The Granite structure (rock) has absolutely no usage and it for decoration purposes – it does not hold the bridge, it was more to give the people of Sydney the impression that it is solid (what!?)
  • There have been more that 1000 “Will you marry me” propositions on the bride the past 10 years

  • It has over 6 milion rivets on it

  • Until Sep11 it was pretty easy to access it – students used to go up for drinks there…

  • It weighs only 1/3 of the weight of the Opera house

  • Painting maintenance has started 5 years ago and to be completed needs another 25 (!) years – now that’s a good contract

  • The color of the Bridge is "Sydney bridge Gray" and you can actually ask it like that at a hardware store.

You want to propose – do it right (part I)

The coolest story I got from the guide was the one below on wedding proposals. I see the merit of asking the girl of your dreams to be with you at that place – it’s wonderful, romantic and actually you are tied up with a harness so I guess there’s nowhere to go.

So the first time a guy tried to propose, he got the ring out, fell on his knees but because he was so nervous he dropped the engagement ring before managing to put it on the girl’s hand right into the busy traffic, never to be found again. So now they’ve standardized it. They have the ERD (Engagement Ring Device – I am not kidding) where the ring remains attached to the guy until it is on the girl’s finger and then is secured… Yep, welcome to Austalia

You want to propose – do it right (part II)

I don’t know if it is funny but story number two actually happened to our guide. So Frank is taking up about 12 people on one of the tours and one guy has already informed him that he’s planning on proposing. So he’s made sure that the couple is left as the last on the line to have “some privacy” and is also ready to take a photo of them (only the guide can carry a camera, that’s always attached to him). As the guy falls to his knees and proposes, the girls starts crying and screaming “No!” to him - the rest of the people 15 meters away looking over the whole thing...Did I tell you we are all attached on the same line? That must have been a very long (and embarrassing) way down to the base of the camp. Now you try to make that group laugh with your jokes (and not with the guy)

Talk soon! Have a great weekend!

More Sydney photos!

Watson Bay lighthouse
It's so small & I love it, i want to put it in my pocket

Kostas and Sydney sunset :-)

Sydney Girl & sunset

Kostas posing with the rich and famous that have climbed the bridge

Bridge photos (not mine)

Meet the Sydney Greeks!!! (but that is another story!)

1 comment:

George "Teriax" T. said...

Bloody bridge ! It is EXACTLY the same as Newcastle by the way...


You have to see the house, i will try and post some internet yet though...

Weather is getting better and then suddenly hotter again (Nov 1st with 26 c !!!)