Monday morning started out with a drop in at Crossfit Athletic City for a quick workout including three rounds of running around the block in between lots of people dressed in suits heading to work.
After a quick shower and some well-deserved breakfast I made my way to the Pylon Lookout on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Although the height is “only” 89 metres the view is still quite spectacular and this time I could bring my own camera.
Somehow I had no background knowledge about the Sydney Opera House (besides knowing that Jørn Utzon was the architect – don’t worry I’m not THAT stupid!) before turning up for a one hour guided tour. Lyn was our tour guide and there was no doubt that she really loves the Opera House and Jørn Utzon. She provided a lot of information, interesting anecdotes and her own funny comments on the history.
So for those of you who knows just as little as I did beforehand I’ll just give a quick summary. Utzon won the design competition in 1957 without having actually consulted any engineers regarding the structures and the government pushed for the construction work to start early so the first of three stages in building the Opera House started already in March 1959 before Utzon had even finalized the design. Obviously that lead to significant delays, the budget being seriously exceeded and lots of tension between Utzon and the Sydney Opera House Executive Committee which in the end meant that Utzon was forced to leave the project in 1966. Therefore he had no influence on a great part of the interior of the Opera House which was finally opened in 1973.
Although being reconciled with the Sydney Opera House Trust in 1999 Utzon never returned to Australia and therefore never saw the Opera House after it was finished.
Seeing the inside of the Opera House was so interesting. We got to see two foyers (one of which was recently renovated after Utzon’s design ideas), a rehearsal room and three of the venues: Playhouse, The Studio and Concert Hall.
Concert Hall is one of the two major venues and is located in the western group of shells, the other one is the Joan Sutherland Theatre in the eastern group but that one is under renovation at the moment. All the smaller venues are located in the podium underneath those famous sails. I really really wish I could show you photos from within the Concert Hall ’cause that was impressive and magnificent but unfortunately photos weren’t allowed so you’ll have to go and see for yourself (what a shame, huh?)!
The last thing on the agenda for the day was a walk down to Town Hall, continuing through the Darling Harbour area and then on to Observatory Hill for yet another view over the city before returning home – completely full of impressions and memories.
If it hasn’t been obvious so far I’ll just make it very clear: I absolutely loved Sydney! There was just something incredible about the ambience and how noone seemed rushed or angry like they do in so many other great cities around the world. And I really liked the presence of the water everywhere – Sorry Copenhagen Harbour, while you ARE pretty it’s nothing compared to Sydney!
Despite only having two days there I managed to cover most of what I wanted but I could easily have spent more time on some of the things (e.g. Royal Botanic Gardens and the Darling Harbour area, both of which I only got to take short walks in)! However with all the amazing experiences that awaits up the coast I would not have prioritized any different. So I guess I’ll just have to see these couple of days as a sneak peek of Sydney and return some day for more exploration. To be honest I also think that my camera might have been happy to leave Sydney, it did look like it was gonna puke if I took any more photos of the Opera House or the bridge!
On a funny sidenote: I stayed at a hostel in the Rocks (the oldest area of Sydney which was once a convict settlement) that is built on slash around an archeological site.
And to be honest I’m usually not a fan of hostels but in this case I preferred location over privacy (don’t even want to think about how much it would’ve cost me to stay at a hotel in the same area!) and I was NOT disappointed. It was the cleanest and nicest place I’ve been in a long time (like much cleaner than many hotels) and the view from the rooftop terrace – wow! The two photos below were taken from the hostel, not kidding!
After Sydney it was on to the Blue Mountains but we’ll get to that when I find a combination of both time and internet – a rare combination these days!