I set the alarm for sunrise, and it rose splendidly! Scurrying to Sydney Harbor, there were ferries starting morning runs, joggers doing the same, and one madman taking over 100 photos. By the time the sun crested the peaks of the Opera House, my camera decided enough was enough at this hour, and the LCD viewer screen plaintively explained, “Battery Exhausted.”
After breakfast we were met by, John, our tour guide for the day. Five hours later he delivered us back to the hotel, having shared many of the city sights beyond the (perhaps) over-photographed Opera House. He had a great understanding of the city, was never stumped by our questions, and made excellent recommendations for the days to come in Sydney.
We would easily endorse the “Wild Escapes” Sydney tour by car. It stretched from the center of the city through the eastern suburbs, bring us face to face with the Pacific Ocean, which on this day was exceedingly calm. We found that Sydney has hills in every direction, leading to the greatest number of water-view dwellings amassed in any one location … at least by estimate of this tourist.
These hills become sheer cliffs where the waters of the harbor meet the waters of the ocean, quite in contrast to the interface of land and sea within North Carolina. In a few places along the Pacific, the cliffs give way to beaches, the names of which have sometimes become known worldwide, such as Manly and Bondi.
Rarely do the waters of at least some part of the harbor disappear from sight when travelling around Sydney’s communities. Lunch was included in our tour, and the setting was a private club of sailboats in the suburb of Darling Point. We dined on the docks of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia after being admitted as “Temporary Members” for the time we were in residence, not simply “guests.” Later on our tour we could see fifty or more sailing vessels from the Club in the harbor waters for their Wednesday afternoon contests.
We learned some history of Sydney, ranging from the earliest settlers in the 1700s to the fights for property rights occurring today. Residents and landlords are at odds in prime but aging areas near the city center where the real estate could command huge prices if the tenants were relocated and the landlord could sell the property to new developers. This gets interesting when one learns that the landlord is the government and the residents are in subsidized public housing. The state government of New South Wales, aka “landlord,” has proposed to take this action, and many are fighting like Don Quixote to tilt public opinion toward stopping it.
After our tour, we had time to refresh at the hotel and ready for a night at the Opera (House). This evening’s offering was named Manon and performed by The Australian Ballet. We knew this would achieve our goal of witnessing the grand edifice delivering its intended purpose, but we only learned upon arrival that this was a night of special significance.
Not only was this the last night for the run of this show, but it was also the last night on stage for the Prima Ballerina of the company, set to retire after twenty three years of ballet for Australia’s flagship. The crowd buzzed with anticipation, cheering her first appearance and each subsequent dance. What did our reviewers have to say?
- Betsy: “This was the best ballet I have ever seen. Not only were the performers excellent and the lead dancer unparalleled, but the story was brought to life with passion and feeling that showed the full range of emotions for the characters. This was truly outstanding.”
- Doug: “Mimes in tights.”
The walk back to our hotel was a little “chilly,” one might say, but our first full day in Sydney had been a success.
Photos from the day: