Australia, Sydney, Vacations

Sydney: There’s No Way I’m Climbing That Bridge (Day Two)

The top tourist attraction is the bridge climb in Sydney. It’s where they strap you in a safety harness and connect you to cables so you don’t die if you fall. It’s where you walk up a narrow walkway and go up about a gazillion stairs to get to the top. It’s where it’s super windy because you are very, very high and on a bridge, dinkus. It’s where you can’t even take your own camera, because if you drop it you’ll probably kill the people below you. Or something. A few of our friends told us it was a “must do!”. These friends obviously don’t understand how afraid of heights I am. The fact that it costs $200 USD to do it is just the icing on top of a horrible cake. I’m afraid of heights, and I like my life, so no bueno. I don’t need to pee my pants in front of total strangers. Or have a heart attack. You can, however, walk the bridge at the pedestrian/car level and still have great views. And it’s free! So we decided to do that instead.

We woke up to a sunny day after our 9.5 hours of sleep. We still woke up when it was dark, because we went to bed at 7:30 p.m. like centenarians. We found a little French cafe near the hotel for breakfast and it was the first time I’d ever had a chocolate croissants right out of the oven. Game changer. Apparently the chef had started baking later than normal, so I was the benefactor. Very lucky because it was oh so good. We finished eating and went to pay and the woman asked us what our plans were for the day. Like I said before: these people are genuinely friendly. She said if we return to the restaurant she wanted to hear what our favorite things were that we did. So she was friendly AND smart, luring us back into her establishment for a chat about Sydney’s best attractions. Madam, you already had a guaranteed repeat customer at ‘warm chocolate croissant’. We headed out and made it maybe four blocks before stopping for more caffeine (for the walk) and a snack. Hey, we still weren’t working at 100%, so…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

We stopped at a little park on the way, as I kept spilling my tea trying to walk and drink at the same time. No comments on that one, please. Anyway, at the park look who showed up:

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bin chickens

I tried to shoo him away, but he noticed I was eating. Then I made the brilliant decision to give him a tiny bit of my treat. Real smart. And by ‘real smart’ I mean ‘real dumb’. He started following me. Did I mention these guys aren’t exactly tiny, and they are aesthetically challenged? I started high-tailing it out of there (pun intended). Sal helpfully laughed and took a pic.

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(Nic you would hate these creepy birds. They even scare me a bit.)

As you can probably guess, we left after this incident. We made our way to the stairs to get to the pedestrian walkway for the bridge.

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stairs, stairs & more stairs

We made our way up several flights and began the walk. It was only semi-busy for a Saturday, but the nice thing about this bridge is they have one side open for bicyclists and the other side open for walkers/joggers. In San Francisco everyone uses the same side and it gets very congested.

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img_20180623_1107414711174672701085813.jpgThe fencing is all around, but there is a gap to take pics. I actually don’t mind the fencing as earlier this year we went to San Francisco and I walked the Golden Gate Bridge and on the way back there was a jumper. Thank goodness he didn’t jump, but that was a very tense hour. The way the Harbour bridge is set up it couldn’t happen here unless someone climbed over the barbed wire, I think.

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I’ll call this, “Handsome Man Reading Sign”

We got about 1/3-1/2 way over, and saw that we could spend $15 AUD pp and climb to the top of the pylon for even better views. I told Sal I’d wait for him (see earlier comments re: being afraid of heights.). Sal encouraged me to go, too. Writing this blog I figured out some sort of psychological mind trick Sal uses on me when I’m afraid to do something and he knows I can do it: he acts interested, but then doesn’t want to do it unless I do. Of course I don’t want him to miss out, so I eventually give in. I’m right, aren’t I, Sal? You sneaky little bugger!

Anyway, back to the story. So after playing this trick on me, I agreed to do it. The sign said there were 200 steps up and we were trying to figure out how many flights that was. The good news is that they had little benches to rest, or let people pass you, even in these narrow stairwells.

img_20180623_1141148558143458423869064.jpgThe first thing I noticed is they had the ‘bad’ sort of stairs. The ‘bad’ sort of stairs for me and my fear of heights are the ones that have the gaps between the steps where you can see directly down if you look at your feet, which you must do so you don’t stumble and fall to your death. OK, I might be a little dramatic, but you get my point. You gotta look at your feet occasionally, and when you do you see the distance below. I did OK the first couple of flights, but the higher we got, the more difficult it was. After about four flights, when I had significantly slowed down, Sal said we could turn around and go back. “Not after all this work!”, I responded. I figured at that point we were about 1/2 way, but I was wrong. We climbed up about three more flights and got to an area I thought was the top. It wasn’t. There was a museum there and the woman working the desk suggested we continue going to the top and then stop back at the museum on the way down. I asked how many steps there were to go and she responded, “130”. I was outraged and said, “We only did 70?!?”. Poor young woman having to break to the news to the old American lady.

The next stairs were much wider as people were using them to go both up and down. For some reason that made me more uncomfortable. I was scared. I was using two hands, one on the rail, and one on the gate connected to the railing, to pull myself up the stairs. I eventually did it. Shew. It was worth it for the views, though.

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You can see the suckers walking up the bridge to the right of the second horizontal beam. No way.
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And here they are toward the top.

img_20180623_1118516256780055641912659.jpgAfter taking some pics and enjoying the views, we made our way back to the museum.

No problems going down the stairs as you can’t see through to the bottom. Thank goodness. We then walked the remaining flights down and continued our walk across.

img_20180623_1151518059504341385263029.jpgWe got across and there was a Saturday market going on. No shopping for us. We needed to save our luggage room for gifts later in the trip.

img_20180623_1200391982742044791440002.jpgWe had decided to check out a park, but on the way we needed to stop for water. I know. I’m shocked, too, that more caffeine wasn’t involved. Poor Sal had to wait quite a long time just to buy a bottle of water. Apparently a class had let out and overwhelmed the cafe. A patron of the cafe told Sal he would have just taken the water and left. This is where I remind you that Australia started with convicts and this is where Sal tells me it has nothing to do with the people here now. Haha! At least I had a nice view while waiting for Sal.

img_20180623_121155550445600434938386.jpgWe just wandered around for a bit, climbing down some stairs to get to the water level, where we walked along enjoying the views and the nice day. Along the walkway we admired the boats and the comic walk.

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Took this pic for Fabian.

img_20180623_1232178584013477797107181.jpgimg_20180623_1231062157733517721789098.jpgThey have an amusement park here, Luna Park, which seems a bit like Coney Island.

00000img_00000_burst20180623124237_cover4603489285661538735.jpgWe decided to take the ferry back to Darling Harbour. The nice thing about the transportation system here is that one card (Opal) works for trains, ferries, and buses. There is also a daily limit and once you reach it you can keep using public transportation for free for the rest of the 24 hour period. Very nice. And Sunday the daily limit is lower.

We boarded the ferry and watched carefully to see how people were paying. We didn’t see anywhere to tap our cards, and everyone else was just boarding, so we just boarded and sat down. We discussed how nobody seemingly had paid and what we should do. We pondered if the ferry was free on the weekends. Clearly our brains were still mush. It was a quick trip back to the other side of the water, and on the way we saw a sky writer.

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Free Tommy. It took forever to write out Tommy, and we played the guessing game of what the message about about. Free Tomatoes? Free Tomorrows?

Exiting the boat again, nobody was tapping. We walked along the pier and at the end, lo and behold, there was the machine to tap your card. Oops. Somehow we missed it on the first pier! Yikes!! Thankfully nobody noticed. That would have been embarrassing and costly. After that trauma we stopped for a healthy BBQ lunch, near the water. Wink wink.

We eventually meandered our way back to the hotel after a few more flights of stairs (of course!). Sal took a nap. I couldn’t sleep because there was a really loud noise coming from inside our room and Sal’s mouth.

After a couple of hours we got up and showered and changed for a nice dinner at the eye-watering time of 6:30 p.m. We had no choice. We actually had concert tickets that night. But first, our meal at Aria restaurant.

The food was good, but there was several hiccups during the meal that really took away from everything. I’m not going to go into it as I already reviewed it elsewhere,and spoke to our waitress while at the restaurant. If they could fix the little things this truly would have been a five star experience.

The show we were going to see was at the Opera House, just a short distance from the restaurant. Patti Lupone was singing Broadway songs. I love musicals, so this was right up my alley. Sal loves me, so we was long for the ride. Once we walked up several flights of stairs we found out we went the wrong way and had to to go back down a few flights. Good grief this city and their stairs.

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the real entrance

img_20180623_2012373558427587704531156.jpgWe finally made it to the right spot and saw the sign above on the way to the seats. Our seats were in the first row of the mezzanine, in the center. We weren’t allowed to take pics during the show, but this was the inside of the main theater:

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It wasn’t sold out, but you wouldn’t have known that from the crowd’s noise level!

The concert was good. Patti still has it. Mostly. There were a few songs she forgot some of the words. To be fair, some of those songs have a lot of words. This was the first concert I’ve gone to where someone has gotten a standing ovation before even singing a note. These people absolutely loved Patti! I think Sal and I were still too jet lagged to get into it as much as everyone else. It was still enjoyable, though. During the second half of the show she had a local music school accompany her in a few songs.

The concert ended at a yawning 10:15 p.m. and by the time we figured out how to get an Uber and actually get back to the hotel and asleep, it was almost midnight. Oh my. Of course we woke up super early the next day only getting a miserable 5-ish hours of sleep. Waking up tired is the pits. After writing this all this out, though, I understand why we were so tired. We did a lot!

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