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Standing Ovation from the Land Down Under - New Zealand 11 Nights Feb. 2, 2020


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Day -2 continued...

My hotel for this stay in the Holiday Inn.

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At least I booked the Holiday Inn.  My confirmation email says the Holiday Inn.  However at 55 George Street one will find the Rydges hotel.  Fortunately they had a reservation for me.  My room wasn't ready at 9am which I already knew it most likely would not be but they offered to store my luggage.  

The Rydges is very convenient to the Overseas Passenger Terminal and the entire Circular Quay area.  Located in "The Rocks" area it's very convenient to a lot.

With a cruise ship in port I took the opportunity to look around so I could plan my luggage drop off and arrival for my cruise. Around 9am there were debarking guests still coming out of the terminal.

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The Overseas Passenger Terminal entrance.

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The other end of the terminal has a restaurant/bar.

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Campbells Cove and the Circular Quay area has some historical interest.

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This is where the first colonist arrived in Australia. The area has recently been transformed and is very pleasant to walk around.

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The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a dominant landmark in the area.  I'll be climbing it in the morning.

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Some more pictures as I walked around with my backpack loaded with camera stuff and my valuables while I waited for my hotel room to be ready.

Did I mention it's hot here and with the sun rising higher in the sky it was getting hotter before noon when many of these pictures were taken.

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I had a 4:35am bridge climb booked so I wanted to find the meeting place in the daylight today.

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I had also learned you can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge so I then set off to find that path.

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Looking back and down to the Campbells Cove area I walked around before.

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Great views of the Sydney Opera House from here.

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If you look through the mesh of the fence you will some bridge climbers getting ready for their ascent.   I'm not sure I'd want to do the bridge climb in the heat of the day so make sure you plan your booking times carefully if you are thinking about doing this in the summer.

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Constant ferry traffic into and out of Circular Quay.

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Just as I was coming off the bridge the hotel called to let me know my room was ready.  The Rydges is an older hotel but that's understandable being that I am in Old Sydney.   The hotel has worked out fine and it has blessed air conditioning.   It's been well used on these 1,000° days with 10,000% humidity.  And to think I thought Cuba in July was hot.  

King deluxe room:

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What a relief getting my albatross (camera equipment and backpack ) off my neck.  

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Friendly reminder, please don't quote photos and repeat them.  Thank you!

With just my camera around my neck it felt great walking around.  With a fresh batch of sunscreen on I wandered back down to the cruise terminal to see how it was going.

2:18pm:

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A few guests still arriving but it appears the majority are already on board.

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Photographers note - the sun has come around from this morning.  Earlier the sun was on the Opera House side of Circular Quay but in the afternoon it is on the bridge side of the Quay.

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I had visions of watching Voyager sail away from the bridge but I could feel the time zones starting to weigh on me so I decided this park would suffice.

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I spotted some bridge climbers beginning their ascent.  Good lord people, could you pick a hotter time of the day to climb the bridge?

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My stomach knew what time it was so I went back to James Squires right beside the ship.

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Fish and Chips:

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From my air conditioned and beer laden bar seat I noted the group had made it to the summit. 

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Voyager was supposed to sail at 4:30pm so I went back to the park near the base of the bridge and waited.  And waited.  Maybe if I just rest my eyes for a minute.  Maybe falling asleep in a public park with my camera wasn't a great idea.  Half hour overdue I gave up and wandered back to my hotel.  

The Rocks area was decorated for the Lunar Festival.

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Street vendors along the back side of my hotel.

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From my hotel Campbells Cove is just down that road to the right about 100m.

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The hotel has a rooftop pool so I thought I'd check it out while I was sticky and hot from walking around.

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With that a long cold shower was in order and time for a nap.  I later learned that Voyager didn't leave until after 7pm.  She's on a cruise to nowhere I think.  Absent of the PVSA they can do those cruises down under.  I suspect that's why she took her time departing.   I'm glad I didn't hang around the park for her departure.

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Day -1

Early start but with my body split between time zones it wasn't a problem.  This morning would be the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb.  

I chose a 4:35am reservation in hopes of clear weather and a nice sunrise.  I also wanted to avoid the heat of the day so getting this done early checked that box as well.

It takes about an hour to go through orientation, suiting up and a test climb on a small rig within the event facility.  They supply everything and everything gets clipped onto the jump suit they supply so nothing can fall off and land on the cars driving below. 

No cameras allowed.  No anything allowed really.  Just eyewear if you need them including sunglasses and they use special straps to secure them in place.

Emerging onto the bridge lower structure around 5:15am I could see a faint hint of building red sky.  By the time we reached the upper arch of the bridge to begin the climb up the steepest part the sunrise was in full effect. 

In this picture you can see a ship coming around a point in the distance.  Based on the folks across the aisle from me on the plane I guessed that was the HAL ship they were embarking today.

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We climbed and stopped for individual pictures that I'm not including here.  With each passing moment the sunrise was getting better and better.

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By the time we reached the summit and did another round of photos including a group photo the Noordam was getting ready to dock.  At this point we were right under the flags at the top of the bridge.

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It was a pretty incredible experience and the perfect weather day.  The sunrise was pretty spectacular and we took a lot of breaks to take it all in.  

We crossed over to the west side of the bridge at the summit and began our descent, down more ladders and across the lower span back to our starting point.  

We were provided headsets and our guide would occasionally provide commentary about the area and the bridge itself.

We were also given tickets for the Pylon climb that we could later or on another day by ourselves.  It's a little pricey but I am very glad I did it and will forever remember seeing the bridge up close everytime I see Sydney NYE fireworks year after year.

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My climb excursion ended around 8am.  I had a tour of the Sydney Opera House reserved at 10am.  That left two hours to fill so I stopped by Pancakes on the Rocks for breakfast.  It's a 24 hour eatery that specializes in pancakes but has other food.  It's 3 minute walk from my hotel. 

I didn't have my camera with me since I couldn't take it on the bridge climb but I stopped here again so pictures will be coming up soon.

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43 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

@twangster, I note you said there were ladder climbs involved with the bridge. Would it be safe to say that for someone with mobility issues like me it's a flat-out no-can-do?

What was the wind like as you climbed? Were you all clipped into safety lines?

There are two nearly vertical ladder sections.  The steps are flat metal planks around 4" deep and 24" wide.  These ladders occur in two areas to transition from the lower support beams to the upper arches, one of the way up and again on the way down.   The man behind had just celebrated his 80th birthday.  So it's not something that requires participants be in perfect shape but it's hard for me to predict at what level a mobility issue would be a problem.

Check out this YouTube promotional video that shows the safety attachment and the vertical ladder section briefly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-418JocVhhQ

Perhaps you can contact them to help determine if you think it's something that is right for you.  The other walks available may not use the vertical ladder sections but I'm not sure about that.

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2 hours ago, twangster said:

There are two nearly vertical ladder sections.  The steps are flat metal planks around 4" deep and 24" wide.  These ladders occur in two areas to transition from the lower support beams to the upper arches, one of the way up and again on the way down.   The man behind had just celebrated his 80th birthday.  So it's not something that requires participants be in perfect shape but it's hard for me to predict at what level a mobility issue would be a problem.

Looked at the video, the ladders look like you can put your foot through so it's not the ball of the foot on each rung, but can go to the ankle if needed. Was that your experience? If yes, then I could do it because it would let me use my currently fused foot / ankle without major strain on the ankle area. If you had to climb using the front / ball of the foot, then no good as it would put far too much strain on that fused joint, not to mention the other "good" foot that hasn't been fused yet but still has arthritis in the heel and ankle.

For reference, my basement stairs are 9" depth and my heel still hangs off the edge if I don't angle the foot while climbing. Just standing there to measure real quick, it hurt a bit to keep the fused foot straight while leaning down the little bit to use my tape measure; I was fine once I stood back up and angled it again so the whole foot was on the step.

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5 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Looked at the video, the ladders look like you can put your foot through so it's not the ball of the foot on each rung, but can go to the ankle if needed.

I'm not sure they are deep enough for that.  I used the forward part of my foot but it never occured to me try using the rear part so I'm not sure how that would work out.

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After stopping at my hotel to retrieve my good camera from the safe I walked over to the Sydney Opera House for my 10am tour.

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With such an iconic landmark within walking distance I had to check it out even though I am not an opera person.  

I booked the tour on their website and chose an earlier time thinking it might not be as hot at 10am.   It was pretty hot at 10am.

Next to the water and down one level are some bars and restaurants available to the public.

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After picking up my ticket at the welcome center we met our guide who gave out wireless headphones so we could listen to his commentary.  

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Everything about the Opera House is striking in its form.  These long concrete beams are massive and supported internally by a cable system that wraps around underground and back up to form a loop.  The use of lighting creates an artistic effect that is more than just concrete holding stuff up.

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The Opera House contains a number of venues that can be utilized depending on the nature of the performance and size of the audience.  We were led into one of the theaters where photography is not permitted so no pictures.  There a video was played that explained the history and construction of Opera House.  Our guide answered some questions and we moved on.

There is a story involving the architect Jørn Utzon from Denmark.  That's best explored on your own but they had a room dedicated to his memory.  

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Despite the hard concrete surfaces this room is acoustically tuned to minimize reverb and is ideal for small live performances where sound quality is important.

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The views aren't bad either.

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While this looks like a painting it is a woolen wall hanging that is very heavy and one of the primary features that deadens the reverb so it's highly functional as well as decorative.  

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Our next stop was the main opera theater.  On our way we were able to see the inside of the iconic shapes we have all seen on the outside.

Our first glimpse up the stairs.

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Originally called simply the Opera Theater in 2012 it was renamed after a famous Australian opera singer and is now called the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

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Looking up...

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The stage was being prepared for an event so no photography of the stage area.

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