Sydney: Saturday, July 23, 2011
We had an amazing day in Sydney today touring the city, including Bondi Beach, visiting the opal factory, taking a harbor cruise, touring the Opera House and having dinner at the Blackbird Cafe.
Sydney is full of interesting history with the British, the convicts, and the aborigines. we hopped in and out of the coach between rain showers this morning, some heavy at times and other times simply annoying. But we remained hopeful that it would clear up and it did!
The Opera House is the identifying face of Sydney Harbor. It sits out on a peninsula of land, Bennelong Point, surrounded on three sides by the harbor dominating the shape of the skyline despite its diminutive size compared to the taller buildings in the city. This icon was designed by Jorn Utzon and opened in 1973, after 16 years of construction and controversy with a 1,400 percent cost overrun. It is Australia's most popular tourist attraction with over 7 million visitors a year. It really is a breathtaking structure with its shell-like outline and glass curtain walls. The shell ribs add dimension and depth to the interior and each performance hall is created to be acoustically perfect. Simply grand!
For all you Barbie fans: They had a collector Barbie designed to represent the opera house, as well! There was actually a pretty big campaign advertising her with posters and doll displays. Here is a visual in case you want to get one!
Part of the history of the harbor area is that some of it is reclaimed land. They have placed markers in the walkway that runs along the water to delineate the borders of the land as it stood in 1788. Beyond that point is the reclaimed land.
The opal factory was our next stop. We skipped the introductory film and little chat with the staff and got right down to business! So much to choose from and so little...money! There were opals of every grade and type ranging from doublets and triplets to the coveted black and fire opals. There were necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches, and free from opals for the choosing! All beautiful! Everyone managed to find an opal that suited them, some more than others, and we all walked away happy, if not a bit less financially secure! :)
We also went to Bondi Beach, the famous playground of surfers and bikinis. In fact, in 2007, the Guinness World Record confirmed that the largest swimsuit photo shoot was set at Bondi Beach with 1,010 women wearing bikinis! We did not see any though since it was raining off and on at this point and...oh, yeah...it was winter there! FYI: In Aborigine, "Bondi" means "water hitting rocks" of "place where the flight of nullas took place". Boy, was it ever hitting the rocks and living up to its name today!
We stopped at an outcropping during our tour that has, apparently, been a location for a number of desperate actions taken by despondent people. We were told that the man across the street has had a hand in talking many people down off of the rocks before it was too late. He is known for returning hope to the lives of these people and hence - the sign.
Our dinner was at the Blackbird Cafe in the harbor area. Delicious food and good friends - wonderful way to start our stay in Sydney!
The weather was off and on all day but finally cleared up and it looks like we are going to have a perfectly clear day here in Sydney for Sunday.