Thursday, 30 April 2015

Sydney … and the Opera

After last year's amazing experience with the Opera on the Sydney Harbour I wanted to do it again in 2015 and take as many friends with me as I could! 

  … so here we are … one year later and my friends turned out to be Annukka (Pablo's mother visiting from Spain) my Mother, my sister and Judith my Mother's friend.  My friend Julie from Canberra met us in Sydney and I would be their "tour guide"!   I found cheap airfares for Annukka and myself but by the time Mum and Jen decided to come no more cheap seats so I used my points - except the only seats left on points were for business class (i.e. the first two rows and a full free breakfast ) - but that's OKI had enough points and figured it would be a nice treat for mum and Jen ...
Day 1
So cheap flights = early flights (6.30 a.m.). I decided to fly pill-less because a. Sydney is a (relatively) short flight and b. I wanted to be on my best "tour-guide" behaviour after landing - so Annukka enjoyed herself watching me survive the flight and we decided not to eat the "muffin"  and we were very jealous of mum and Jen up the front having their full free breakfast! ... But of course they didn't have the full free breakfast ... because … well …  they already ate something at home (at 5.00 a.m.!!)   Well now I know that because there is hardly any security at domestic airports here (i.e. if you don't check luggage they don't check ID at any point) they have NO idea who is actually sitting in which seat, so I could have switched the seats and we (Annukkka and I) could have eaten the full free breakfast!!!  urgh … next time!

In my role of "tour guide" I was responsible for herding all five of us through the airport,  to the train and then the fiasco of trying to find the right bus (why not take a taxi you ask? Well - I asked myself the same question!) … and it didn't take long to realize that I'm not a very good "tour guide" !!  Regardless, we made it to the hotel that was a bus ride up a hill from Circular Quay - in an old building but in a nice area (Potts Point) .  Exhausted by now - the tour guide decided we wouldn't do much in the afternoon - just get ready for the Opera. 

The opera is outside  - on the harbour!!  
Last year it was a balmy, still, beautiful evening and pre "daylight saving change" and quite the most wonderful experience.  This year it was in between some of the most brutal weather Sydney has experienced in years and even though this day was mostly sunny it was definitely going to be cool at night especially if the breeze didn't die down. Being the thoughtful tour guide that I am, I did as we did last year and herded all six of them onto the bus and down the hill - over to the Opera early so we could sample the food and soak in the atmosphere. 

Well this year it was POST "daylight saving change" so it was quickly dark and with no sun it was quickly cooler (cold) and with the breeze actually picking up it was … well … it was miserable. 
They tried hard to look as though they were enjoying it!
After trying the food and having soaked in enough of the atmosphere we climbed up (up) to our (cheap) seats (I had no idea my mother would be with us when I bought the seats) to wait an hour or so before the start of Aida.  So up here at the top the view was spectacular and we could see forever … and ... we could also catch all of the breeze (wind) that was coming straight off the harbour.  
Nice and high up and we're nice and early - before the crowds! 
To help block the wind Mum, Jen and Judith put the cheap rain ponchos (we took in case of rain) UNDER their coats and wrapped scarves over their heads.  I loaned Julie my cardy and scarf and she wrapped my poncho around her feet . Annukka - the only really sensible one - was toasty warm in her down jacket (well she is Finnish!).  
Here's Julie wearing MY scarf and MY cardigan with MY poncho on her feet!
Me, having given Julie anything remotely warm I had and with my favourite coat that folds up into nothing and looks wonderful but only blocks out so much wind, was, by half time in the throws of hyperthermia.  
Left to right … Mum, Judith, Jen - really enjoying themselves!!

Now if I was cold - I figured the rest must be frozen - so Jen took mum back to the hotel and the rest of us lined up for all of the 30-minute break to buy a hot chocolate that turned out to be a life saver and we stuck it out until the end.  The opera was the amazing spectacle it should be and the setting so unique … but it just wasn't the experience I thought it would be. 

Day 2  
The tour guide decided that after  breakfast just like a million other tourists - we would catch the ferry to Watson's Bay for fish & chips - because this little ritual has become de rigeur on the tourism circuit of Sydney. So, all six of us piled into the bus for another ride down the hill.  The ferry ride gives you a wonderful view of the Opera house as you pull out of Circular Quay and a taste of the harbour with it's bays and expensive houses perched on the hills. Doyle's have been serving fish and chips for a million years at Watson's Bay 

Tourists flock for this!

and you can walk up the back to The Gap and you're almost at the head of the harbour with a view out to sea.   
At The Gap with Pacific Ocean at our back.
Back at Circular Quay and it's bye bye to Mum, Jen and Judith - Jen will herd them out to the airport because they're flying home - Julie, Annukka and I are staying for day 3. 

But day 2 isn't over and the now excellent tour guide has something special planned … 

Five years ago Annukka missed out on Cassia & Pablo's wedding lunch because Juan (Pablo's father) was too ill.   Pablo's brother and wife were there but not Annukka - but now here she was… so the three of us caught the bus back up the hill to the hotel and fancied ourselves up a bit and then caught the bus back down the hill and caught the ferry under the Sydney Harbour Bridge over to Sails and we had just the most wonderful meal.  

A little hard to tell how yummy it was!
With that amazing night-time view looking across the harbour at the Opera house there just under the bridge and the teeny tiny fireworks display that we knew was coming as part of the opera … and that Annukka could be here when she couldn't before
 … well … 
it was very special!
The view from Sails 
Day 3
Due to some not very-clever tour guiding we ended up checking out of the hotel and dragging our suitcases along the streets of Potts Point, through Darlinghurst 
(to show Annukka where C&P used to live) 

and over the freeway all the way to the train station (approx 4 kms) so we could leave our cases there in a locker while we caught the bus back through Darlinghurst and Potts Point and out to Bondi!! 

Bondi is a pretty nice beach but alas! there were no hunky surf life savers today and no hunky surfers (well just two twits but we couldn't really see them) so we did the walk up along the coast around the corner to the next beach 

but it was so windy…

 so we headed back to Iceburgs for a bite to eat 

… but the snack was sadly lacking and there were no movie stars where we were sitting so we caught the bus back to the train station and the train out to the airport  - four hours before our flight - and there we sat …  'cos when you buy the cheap seats you have no choice!

(Mostly) a good trip … 

When we arrived home Katrina had arrived for a visit 
- so we had raclette of course -
with a view of the Port instead of Sydney Harbour

No comments:

Post a Comment