An Opera House Tour + Manly Adventure

Touring the Sydney Opera House was tops on our list, and we’d purchased tickets for the hour-long tour online. We had selected the 10 a.m. timeslot, so we set out shortly after 9:00 to complete the 45-minute walk to get there on time.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s an astounding piece of design, architecture and acoustics. Brilliant. Read all about it HERE.

The tour guide gave us a brief overview of the design competition in 1955, won by Danish architect Jorn Utzon with just some simple sketches of his “sail” concept. The venue was completed almost 20 years and over $100 million later – 14 times the cost and 10 years overdue. Utzon was booted from the job midway through and never returned to see his finished masterpiece in person.

Here are the things that had the biggest impression on me:
1. I didn’t know the roof is ceramic tile, and the tiles are a mix of matte and gloss finish. There are about 1 million of them.

2. When you look at the structure from the water (like you normally see in pictures), it’s as if you’re standing at the back of each hall. The stages are on the other end. The benefit of this placement is that there’s a large social space that almost hangs over the water, where you can have a drink before the performance and take in the views.

3. The common area behind the stage has a really interesting wood ceiling. This is the place where most people enter the venue, emerging from a dark underground tunnel. This was deliberate in the design, adding drama to the first steps one takes into the foyer.

4. The people watching outside is phenomenal.

After the tour we walked to the neighborhood called “The Rocks” at the head of the Harbor Bridge. I’d equate this to the original colonial neighborhoods in Boston, with lots of old red brick buildings and cobblestone streets.

There were a couple of restaurants recommended in our guidebook, and we chose the wrong one – the food was marginal, and the pigeons were all over us once we were done (we were sitting on the back patio).

From there we jumped on a ferry to our second major destination of the day: the suburb of Manly, which is on the ocean. We’d been on the water going to the zoo the day before, but this longer ride was big on Dad’s agenda. It took almost an hour. And we were greeted by a cute seaside town like you’d see on Cape Cod.

It was pretty windy that day and not all that hot, but we enjoyed sitting on the edge of the beach watching people and commenting on the large waves.

We took a little walk through town before returning back to the ferry.

Back in Sydney, we decided to stroll through the Botanical Gardens on our way back o the condo, which is where we encountered a (flock? swarm? herd?) of fox eared bats hanging in the trees! They looked like big black cocoons.


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