Photo of the Week – A Piece of Great Architecture

“You may normally see me in bathrooms but here I am among friends in this spectacular piece of architecture with a slightly different coating than my bathroom brethren.  I hear the blogger will be re-issuing some writeups about our site, our host town and the neighboring area.  You will see me and my buddies in all our glory!  Stay tuned!”

– Tile

Close-up of the Sydney Opera House's architecture


(Picture taken with Canon EOS Rebel)

The Trip to Sydney and My First Day of Exploring

View of the Opera House and the Central Business District from the Harbor Bridge

My visit to Sydney started well – after a long trip from my home in Atlanta.

Modern travel delivers

Modern travel is something amazing.  Maybe as people will say 50 years from now.   To think that I traveled all the way around the world in about 24 hours when in ages past this trip would have taken months…  Just getting to LAX from Atlanta by car would have taken as long or more.  Fortunately, it was around 4 hrs for me by plane.  The beginning leg of 3 legs I was to complete.  A long layover in LAX (which was pretty bad as there is really not much to do in Terminal 2) and then the longest leg – the flight to Auckland which took about 12.5 hrs.

Flying Air New Zealand (as opposed, say, to United) was definitely a very good experience.  The 747, workhorse of long haul flights for the last few decades, flew and you could barely tell there were engines on (yes, this could feel concerning to some).  The food was actually quite good.  Really.  And the service, impeccable.  For instance, flight attendants would walk up and down the aisles all throughout the flight with pitchers of water and cups not just during drink and meal services and not just once.  Now that is service.  American airlines (all of them) have a lot to learn from this airline.  It seems airlines from this part of the world have figured out how to best treat their customers…

I slept about 6 hrs on the flight.  I read.  I got to watch movies like Pink Panther 2 (not top on my list but funny; “amburger”), The Reader (fantastic!) and another that escapes memory right now.  The flight actually did not seem as long as it was.  Oh, and was it a smooth flight!  Loved it.

In Auckland, the connection was pretty short by comparison (1.5 hrs).  The airport was very manageable and efficient.  We had to fill out a form stating we didn’t have cold/flu symptoms and even put down the seat we used and our contact info in case there is a need to contact passengers should someone develop H1N1 symptoms.  Australia did the same thing when we landed.  The flight was on a 767-300 that seemed sparkling new.  The non-upholstery part of the seats was black which made the cabin feel pretty slick (still on Air New Zealand for this leg).  Once again, great flight, great service.

From Sydney airport to my friends’ place

Finally, I landed in Sydney!  As my friend told me, you had to declare even medications you were bringing into the country.  But the whole process of immigration and customs was smooth and fast (not the slow lines experienced at other airports that I have traveled to).  Once done with that, I proceeded to get a local SIM card and a recharge card so I could use the phone locally and not pay outrageous fees for calls or texts.  Just as my friend said, it was a very simple transaction.

Then I took the airport train line to the city center and switched trains to the North Shore Line which would take me to North Sydney, where my friends live.  I followed the very good instructions my friend gave me to walk through a mall and then a couple of streets to get to their building.  Mind you, I am carrying a large backpacker backpack and a small carry-on backpack.  I was exhausted by the time I made it to their apartment!!

And, finally, I get to explore Sydney

Sydney Harbor Bridge from the north shore's Luna Park

Sydney Harbor Bridge from the north shore’s Luna Park

So, after a shower and a quick lunch, I had to explore!  I made my way to Luna Park which has some of the best views of the Opera House, the Central Business District (CBD), and is right under the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  I then walked across the bridge which provided great views of the harbor area.  Tons of runners out jogging as it was around lunch time.

I decided to go see the Opera House after walking past Circular Quay.  I took the one hour tour which allowed us to see the interior of the two largest halls for $35 Australian (about $28 US).  It is not always guaranteed you can see the halls because there could be a show going on or a rehearsal.  Luckily for us, one of the halls did have a rehearsal but it was for lights so we were allowed to sneak in and see the hall.  The main hall itself was being used by someone rehearsing in the main organ (which is one of the largest in the world).  The tour guide told us we were very lucky as the main organ is not used frequently (he said he has seen it in use 10 times over the last 4 yrs).  It was very much a treat to see the hall with music actually playing.  I took off one side of my headset (through which you hear the tour guide) so I could take in the music playing…

A tourist in the midst… (Sydney Opera House)

Outside the main hall at the Opera House

In the evening, we went to watch a key rugby league game (Queensland vs. New South Wales; I missed the “league” in the original posting and was called on it; this is serious stuff!  🙂 ) at a local place.  It was a good local experience for sure, I got to understand the game better (I have to say, more fun than sports back home), and it kept me up until 10:30PM, which considering the jet lag I had and no nap, made for a wonderful night sleep…

I have not decided where I am going today.  That is the next step for me after posting this.  Cheers from Sydney!

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