Stunning Sydney!

 

IMG_0234Short version:  The reason Sydney is a long way from the U. S.  might well be that it’s a suburb of heaven.  This is an amazing place!  The city has natural and architectural beauty, the climate is fabulous, the people are friendly, there’s heaps going on culturally, it’s easy to get around, it’s an English-speaking country, and it’s safe.  We’ve loved our time here, and are sorry to be leaving.

While it’s still “winter” in Sydney, the weather here was gorgeous — crystal clear blue skies, and in the 20′s Centigrade (or 70′s Fahrenheit).  We stayed at the Park Hyatt, right on Harbour Quay.  It’s a smallish but very nice hotel, with outstanding views of the harbor, and an easy walk or ferry ride to most of what we wanted to see here.   

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The signature building in Sydney is its Opera House, which we could see from our room.  Up through the 1950′s, Sydney was something of a backwater city, second to Melbourne (which was awarded the 1956 summer Olympics).  To their credit, Sydney officials decided to build a world class performing arts center, and went with the architectural plans of an unknown Danish architect, Joern Utzon (who to this day has never seen the completed building, although he’s still alive and in his 90′s!).  The original project was budgeted at $7 million, and came in at $102 million — but worth every penny.  It actually encloses six different performing halls, and is stunning inside and out.

Highlights of our time in Sydney included the Aquarium, the Zoo, the Australian Museum, attending the opera “The Barber of Seville” and a tour of the Opera House, numerous walks, a visit to the Olympic Stadium, and a day trip to the Blue Mountains.  Much of our transportation was by ferry, since the city surrounds a big harbour, and the ferry is essential for travel. 

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One thing in Sydney we weren’t able to do was the bridge climb.  Children must be at least ten years old, so we didn’t make the cut.  It takes three hours, involves some pre-training, but you can then hike up the arch of the bridge to its apex, cut across, and return.  We saw lots of people doing it, and it looked really fun.  Next trip!

IMG_0228 While we didn’t expect Sydney to be a wildlife mecca, we saw lots of great animals.  Going to a zoo in Sydney to see giraffes when we’ll see them in the wild later this trip seems a bit odd, but we had a blast, and the backdrop of Sydney’s skyline was breath-taking.  Australia has incredible wildlife, including the koala, kangaroo, playypus, wombat, and on and on. 

Speaking of “on and on,” it’s clear I could talk forever about Sydney’s many virtues.  But we’re now off to Tasmania, and that will be the subject of our next blog.

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A kangaroo we spotted in the wild in the Blue Mountains.

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The four of us outside our hotel along the harbour.

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Our close friend the koala (not a bear, believe it or not).

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