From you jump on a train at Sydney International Airport till you’re standing at Circular Quay looking at the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge it only takes 15 minutes. 15 minutes? I still don’t get how that is possible! But I loved finally being there – on the other side of the world.
Sydney might be one of the cities with the most height differences (and yes, I do remember San Francisco!). All roads seem to be at different levels which means that there are so many stairs connecting those roads. Case in point: my iPhone tells me that during my two full days in the city I walked 132 flights of stairs and 42.6 km! And that is not even including the Bridgeclimb.
All those height differences also makes it easy to get lost. And for once my best travel friend (Google Maps) didn’t really help me much, it was usually just as confused about where I was as I was myself. And while all those stairs could just be considered exercise, dragging a way too heavy suitcase up and down stairs while trying to locate my hostel when I arrived was maybe overdoing the exercise a bit, Sydney!
On the first morning I woke up early and grabbed a delicious breakfast at a lovely small café before jumping on a bus to Coogee Beach. I arrived at 9 o’clock (on a Sunday morning) and was quite surprised to find so many people out and about. People were out swimming, running, surfing, playing sports and just strolling around with a coffee or shake in hand.
From Coogee Beach there is a popular coastal walk to Bondi Beach and that was exactly my reason for heading out there. It was a really nice walk although a bit crowded at times and the perfect way to really wake up.
From Bondi Beach I caught a bus to Watsons Bay so I could try one of the city ferries and enjoy the city skyline. And what an amazing approach to Circular Quay sliding right past the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge! Totally worth freezing my ass off in the wind on the boat.
Several times during the early afternoon I had spotted teeny tiny humans making their way to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge knowing that it would be me later on. And I know that I’d signed up for it myself (and paid a shitload of money!) but it didn’t make it less terrifying.
Anyways I turned up at the Bridgeclimb at 15.45 for one of the four sunset tours (each tour takes a maximum of 14 people). We were nine people in my group and after a short briefing we were guided through the most well-planned and efficient setup I’ve ever seen. First we had to leave everything behind so that we could not drop anything on the climb (I even had to take out my earrings!), and then it was on to donning our suits and attaching sunglasses, headsets and rain shells firmly to the suit. And obviously putting on the safety harness before doing a short test climb up and down a ladder!
We were introduced to our guide for the day: Max. I obviously don’t know if all their guides are just as good at telling jokes while providing information on the history of the bridge and the surrounding neighborhood (yeah I know it’s without a doubt the same jokes he tells everyday but they were new to me), but I’m so glad that he was our guide! All the information and chit-chat definitely helped me to think less about how high up we were.
We started out walking on a catwalk (a narrow walkway where you can see through the “floor”) below the road-deck (but still at 50 metres above the ground!) until we reached the pylon. Once there we climbed four long, narrow, very steep ladders which was without a doubt the worst part about the entire journey. Or actually it was even worse on the return but we’ll get to that. The ladders end at the start of the upper arch and from there we walked on top of the arch to the summit at 134 metres. The arch is quite wide and theres a handrail on both sides of the steps so it wasn’t really that scary at all.
So let’s just back up a little – why did I even decide to climb the bridge when I know how afraid of heights I am? Well, I’m actually not completely sure. It’s just such an iconic tourist attraction and I figured that the view from up there would be amazing. As soon as I started thinking about doing the climb I knew I’d regret not at least giving it a try. And of all the bridges in the world that you can climb I can’t imagine a better one!
The view from the top was just as stunning as I’d imagined! We got to spend quite a long time on the top enjoying the view and waiting for the sun to set behind the Blue Mountains. We started out descend on the other arch but due to an ongoing painting project part of that arch is closed at the moment, so at a height of 100 metres we had to cross back to the eastern arch on a catwalk. Walking so far up with the cars driving beneath us and just a steel grid in between – that was, uh, interesting should we say?
At the bottom of the arch we obviously had to climb down the four ladders again, this time it was dark and you can’t really see where you’re going on the way down so that was my-legs-are-shaking-terrifying. But I made it down (kind of had to with all the adventures waiting for me..) and I’m so happy that I did the climb!
And that was a wrap on day one, stay tuned for my adventures on day two.