Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Love is Lifting Me Higher

After our first free Ibis breakfast, we took a turn into World Square, only to realise this was our second visit.  We had been looking for something large like Tiannamen or Red Square, not the centre of a shopping precinct.  We had cut through this yesterday at some point.  It was also a short cut to our Hop On bus.

Today we took the bus as far as Dawes Point.  From here we could climb up the 200 steps of the North Pylon.  We had decdided against the 200 dollar plus climb up the actual Harbour Bridge for two reasons.  It was rather expensive and, the real killer, you could not take your own cameras with you.  Hubby loves his David Bailey moments, so I could not deprive him of those.

We, along with another English couple, were having difficulty locating the entrance.  It seemed we were at the wrong pylon.  Once we did reach the correct entrance, Hubby was in a dream.  He wandered past the ticket seller.  'Sir! Excuse me , sir!  You need to pay!!'  I told her not to mind him as it was his age.  Then she said,'That will be two seniors - 17 dollars.'  I took the insult with a smile and pocketed the two dollars fifty I had saved.  

If you ever visit Sydney, you must promise to visit this viewpoint.  It might be 200 steps to climb, but we had chance to recover as we read the interesting information boards at the top.  We learned so much about how to build a bridge.  There was a reasonable gift shop to browse around too.  

As for the view.  It was fantastic.  We walked around the tower feeling quite safe.  No wobbly legs or vertigo.  The high wall was topped by see-through Perspex so even the smaller ones in the world had good vision.  If you are height-challenged, like me, you can stand on a safe metal ledge to take photos.  

It was strange looking down and seeing the walkers at various stages of their Bridge Walk.  We took so many photos, not just for ourselves but for other visitors too.  One lady said that she wished her partner had come up but she was too frightened.  Hold that thought please.

 Perhaps some people thought we were staff.  Not one offered to return the favour.  We had to resort to the reverse camera technique.  Not a great look but better than nothing.

Just before we left, we went into a room set up like a cinema.  A lady sat on the stairs looking forlorn.  She told me she had been too afraid to go up the stairs. I brightly replied, 'Oh, you will see the view with your partner.  We took her photo!'  I thought she looked perplexed.  The film started to roll.  The lady stood up, walked down to greet a gentleman and left holding his arm in a tight grip.  Wrong partner then.

It was an excellent, little film.  Using a short modern day film, followed by original photos, there was no commentary, just well-chosen music.  Those pictures spoke more than a thousand words.  The workers had no modern, safety equipment.  Suspended on high wires or walking along gantries, usually with a half-smoked cigarette dangling from their mouths, they did not wear hard hats nor rope harnesses.  They worked hard and some lost their lives.  But, what an achievement!  A beautiful, well-designed bridge that is an icon of Sydney.

We were so impressed, we had to walk across it, not once, but twice.  Our cameras clicked and whirred at the ever-changing vista.  What a time to be there as tall ships and warships were leaving the harbour.  Sailors lined up along the deck in uniform to bid farewell to the city that had welcomed them so warmly.  

From the Bridge, we walked to the area known as the Rocks.  We spent some time admiring the gourmet delights and artisan crafts on display here.  

We checked out the exact location of our evening cruise on Circular Quay.  A man was here playing his didgeridoo, at least I think that's what it was.  I would love to play that man's didgeridoo but I expect it would be hard.  Oh, I just reread that sentence.  It sounds rude but you know what I mean.  

On the way back to the hotel, I was distracted by an ice-cream shop.  So much choice.  Autism nightmare.  I eventually narrowed it down to two flavours and enjoyed every last lick.

Back at the hotel, Hubby had a rest, in preparation for the busy night ahead.  And what a night it turned out to be!  Circular Quay was only a thirty minute stroll from our hotel.  In our 'smart to casual' outfits (as requested by Captain Cook) we made our way down Pitt Street.  It was a people watcher's paradise.  All nationalities, colours and creeds mingled there, looking happy and relaxed.  

On the harbour front, I was quite surprised to see a Buddhist monk.  Was he following us??  Various street artists and artistes performed along the wharf.  A young Japanese man created delightful pictures with chalks; a Charlie Chaplin statue freaked out a passerby when he sprang into life, twirling his cane; a young guitarist belted out his own compositions; and, my favourite, a soulful singer, with a deep, cheese-grater voice sang love songs.  The strangest, though, was a woman of my age, wearing a cheerleader skirt and a sailor hat.  She had a small hula hoop which she kept twirling with her hands, as though driving a car.  I just didn't get it.  Can someone explain??!!

Nor did I get our tickets.  I wrongly assumed that we waited with our voucher to board the ship.  We sat chatting to Vincent and his wife until the cruiser pulled in.  How did I know his name?  All will be revealed later.  First I had to fetch the tickets, otherwise we would be left ashore.  Aye aye cap'n!  I was sent packing in a kindly way, accompanied by a handsome young man in a white uniform and cap.  Wobbly knee time!!

Tickets retrieved, we were shown to our table and a welcome glass of champagne was poured out.  We perused the menu (no iPod, I want perused not perished!!). Smoked Trout, Fillet Steak (rare please) followed by a Chocolate Tower.  Just the job.  

We were sipping our champagne when Vincent's wife sailed alongside, the epitome of an Australian Hyacinth Bouquet.  She invited us aloft, where she proceeded to show and tell all the famous sights of Sydney as though to the poor English peasants.  Not to be outdone, I let slip our past Royal connections.  Well, I had been introduced to the Queen when she opened Lea Green.  Oh, she almost swooned (the lady on the boat, not the Queen). That was it.  We were 'in'.  Actually we were 'out'.  Outside on the deck and I was hungry.

Making polite excuses, we went below (please note my nautical knowledge is improving.  Below not downstairs). Our starters were waiting.  I had learned from Vincent's wife that the window tables were more expensive.  If any were still vacant after the final pick up, you could request a move.  I had a word with our waitress who had a word with her supervisor.  As sure as eggs is eggs or smoked trout is smoked trout, we were whisked away, lock, stock and champagne glasses to a window setting.  

It was relaxing and romantic going round and round the harbour.  Lights twinkled along the coast, the band played and the singer crooned.  Her dress was something else.  Bright red, it was styled on the outfit worn by the Sea Witch in 'My Little Mermaid.'  Quite unusual.  I just hoped she would not strike out with Neptune's trident!!

The waitress approached with two plates - one steak, one chicken.  Just what we'd ordered.  We watched in horror as the boat lurched, and one plate full of food hit the deck.  I was reminded of a ferry journey from Jersey in. Force 8 gale.  A plucky, young woman collected her meal from the counter.  Carrying her tray, she bravely staggered back to her seat.  Three steps one way, two the other, one step back.  The relief was palpable as she sat down.  She picked up her knife and fork.  The ferry rocked.  Her breakfast tray was propelled across the table and the meal landed on the floor.  Just like mine had tonight.  

Unlike the unlucky, plucky lass, we did get our meals a short time later.  We savoured every mouthful.  Soon after, I saw the waitresses approaching with a large bouquet of red roses and a champagne bucket.  My heart began to race.  This was an early celebration for our Silver Wedding Anniversary.  He loves me ..........and the waitresses walked by to the next table.  The young man there had arranged a romantic proposal and she said 'Yes!'  Oh, it was so exciting.  They let me take their photo too.  They took to the floor for a celebratory dance.  Everyone clapped.  Another couple announced their engagement.  We all clapped again.  

I persuaded Hubby to have a smooch.  He didn't mind too much as no one knew him here (and I did have his arm up his back in a tight lock).  In fact, we stayed for another dance, this time joined by lots of couples bopping away.  Love was in the air.

Oh.  There was one more cause for celebration.  We were all invited to singalong to wish 'Vincent' a 'Happy Birthday'.  That's how I knew his name.  I never knew what his wife was called.  I bet it was Hyacinth.  We all gave a rousing chorus for old Vincent.  He deserved it, poor hen-pecked fellow.

Wondering if we could take some night shots, we went aloft ( but not as high as the crow's nest).  We couldn't quite make out what was floating in the air, caught in the lights above the Harbour Bridge.  At first we thought they were bubbles.  Closer inspection showed them to be hundreds of birds.  That was spectacular.

Suddenly a loud explosion made us turn round and a dream came true.  We had often said we would like to see the Sydney New Year fireworks.  Tonight a special display was put on, just for us we thought.  It was one of those magical moments that we have been lucky enough to share over the years.  Things just seem to happen when we turn up.  Tonight's display will go in my memory box as an extra super special time.  Thank you whoever organised it and goodnight young ( and old ) lovers everywhere  x x

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