“whatever good things we build end up building us…”
and so it goes with the grand city that is sydney, nsw. i only spent a week there…i’ll be back, just likely not until next year…and i fell in love with the city. taking the train everywhere, navigating my way around with a strong coffee in hand, i felt like i could conquer each day with the sydney streets awaiting me. although free wifi was “included” in my hostel stay, i was only able to connect to it on my final morning there…convenient? so some of my days were spent in the beautiful state library enjoying free internet, much appreciated quiet, air conditioning which was survival and some photography exhibits (conveniently free) and fabulous for my art seeking eyes. i may be considered a nerd for saying this, but i care not…i love libraries. they have always been a safe haven for me to be alone in my nook and read or enjoy some cool history and architecture. sydney is full of breathtaking structures and the library was one of them for me. it also ended up being the meeting place for my first australian spider encounter (just a little guy, thank goodness)…the first of many to come i’m sure.
i adored walking around the corner from my hostel to the ithaca cafe each morning to enjoy a cappuccino (after my milk shake inspired aussie version of an “iced coffee” they became my morning poison) and catch up with the shop owner who remembered me every time. the days adventure would await me with bated breath i’m sure and off i would go to enjoy another aspect of the city that launched my journey in oz. dorothy (and toto) are reminding me constantly that although similarities are prevalent here, i am indeed not in my emerald city anymore. if it’s not the meat pies on the menu, it’s the different ways of making coffee, the accents, slang, plethora of foreigners (so far mostly germans) and the way that these aussies just seem to tell it exactly like it is. the bathrooms are labeled “toilets”…why? because that’s what they are. they don’t have seat covers for said toilets…why? because really? why do we even need those economically unfriendly things? American paranoia, that’s why. practice your squats ladies and gents…get some exercise while doing your business! they ask “how are you going?” instead of “how are you doing?” and please stop to think about it a minute…do we “do” our day? do we “do” about it? or do we “go” about it?! it makes more sense the way they ask it here!!! bloody hell, even pacifiers are called something different here…dummies…why? because that’s what they areeeeee, a fake nipple! i’m learning that americans are more uptight and create unnecessary words and drama over things than i ever thought before and the lifestyle here whether in the city or up in the country, is “no worries, mate”!
i am taking many concepts with me as i experience each place and i’ll be bringing them home with me.
eager to leave the cross and my hostel existence, i booked a home stay up in the country starting last tuesday so naturally, i needed to cram as much as possible into my last day in syd for a bit. it seemed only fitting to head to the opera house and spend the day circuling circular quay and enjoy some history, photo ops, food, music and day and night time light around the iconic structure. as i walked out of the train station on a blustery, but sunny city day, i was assured this was the right place for me to come for the day. bustling with people, the waterfront reminded me a lot of seattle with its local performers, ferry terminals, food offerings and tourists. making my way across the wharf to the opera house to book my tour, i was welcomed by some jelly fish, just floating on the waters surface…dancing for their contribution to the street acts above.
after taking on the jellies, i stopped dead in my tracks once i turned the corner to see the sails of the opera house welcoming me on board. there is something about an incredible piece of architecture that makes the camera scream for more. one artist indulging in another’s masterpiece, i trekked on and took several photos before entering to buy my ticket.
october marks 40 years since queen elizabeth ll officially opened the world famous landmark and since it opened…the opera house has played host to over 70,000 performances and over 65 million people have been in to visit. contributing to that number, i decided, was worth the ticket price…which I negotiated down from $35 to $28 for the hostel rate. learning of the history of how the sydney opera house came to be was fascinating. i won’t educate you too much as i encourage anyone and everyone to go see the space and learn the stories for themselves, but it would have been cool to be around at the time the design that would be recognized forever around the world was chosen. 233 entries were made for the 1955 architectural competition, representing 32 different countries. the winner, a danish architect named jorn utzen, was announced in 1957 and construction finally began in 1959. yeah, i took some notes…
i have a newfound respect for my dad and the line of business he’s in…turns out, project management is indeed an art form…mostly of patience it would seem. what was meant to be a 3 year project with costs totaling $7 million ended up taking 13 years to bring to fruition and cost a total of $102 million…which is more like a billion dollars in today’s world. after some arguments and alterations to utzen’s original design, over 1 million tiles line the roof that capture the sun and the moon gracefully. after my hour education, seeing some of the performance halls and even hearing a music practice in the acoustic theatre…i decided i couldn’t miss the opportunity to experience a show for myself. so i took myself back to the ticket booth and paid for my date with romeo and juliet later that night.
a waterfront dinner, some gelato and several photos later, i experienced an incredible rendition of one of my favorite plays of all time. modern music (alt-j, one of my current favorites was a major feature) and dress, but the same classic shakespeare i know by heart and love. pricey day at the opera house for this frugal backpacker, but i will treasure it always.
sometimes, you go on a trip to a new place and you see buildings…and sometimes, they end up being really important pieces in the adventure you’re building for yourself…