Wednesday, April 16, 2014

an adventure Down Under (part 2)

Wednesday morning we woke up to more gray skies. We ventured out to Darling Harbor where we ate a delicious chocolate breakfast at Guylian’s Café (yum!) and then ran through a downpour to get the ferry to Circular Quay (pronounced “Key” just fyi, I had no idea.) We got our first glimpses of the iconic opera house but decided to do our tour later in the afternoon and took advantage of the sudden break in the weather to wander through the nearby Botanic Gardens. Then we visited the art museum, the library, Parliament building, wished on the hospital’s replica of Il Porcino and then made our way back to tour the opera house.

What a cool building! I hadn’t realized that there was such controversy and difficulty surrounding the construction. I’d heard that the design was revolutionary and there were people who didn’t like it, but that was just the beginning. Jorn Utzon, a Danish architect, won a competition for the design but there were many aspects of the engineering that hadn’t been completely thought through. Consequently, it took sixteen years to complete, ran into countless complications throughout construction, faced government blockades, was subjected to various design changes along the way, ran well over budget (nearly 90 million over!) and resulted in Utzon leaving Australia never seeing the completed building in person, though his son has continued to act in his stead. It has since won world-wide acclaim on many counts including architectural awards and World Heritage status. In my humble opinion (which, let’s be honest, means absolutely nothing) it was worthy of all the hype.

Later that evening, after some necessary snacking and souvenir shopping, we went back to the Opera House for a rousing performance of The Magic Flute. Directed by Julie Taymor (of Lion King fame) it was full of puppetry and incredible sets. It was great to experience some live art again after so many months, and in such a fabulous venue! It buoyed us up for a long ferry wait and then a long walk back to our hotel in the rain.

Thursday we had hoped to spend a day at the beach, but those ever-present rain clouds put a damper on those plans quite literally. Rather than donning bathing suits we layered on some rain coats and took a stroll across the Harbor Bridge and wandered around the neighborhood area known as The Rocks where I enjoyed a delicious scone and clotted cream and we waited out the worst of the downpour in a market. Then we took a ferry ride across the harbor to Manly which had a lovely spot of beach, pier and waterfront that we explored in the drizzle. We headed back just before dark and then spent the rest of the evening exploring the Queen Victoria Building and the surrounding city.

always a good reminder!
Suspended Stone Circle by Ken Unsworth

Manly waterfront
there are some blue fairy penguins on Manly as well, though all we saw were the signs
one of the beaches on Manly

inside the Queen Victoria Building (shopping center)
more QVB

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