Sydney during the Olympics!
Australia decided to throw a party and the world has shown up! Sydney is alive with excitement. The Olympics started 5 days ago and it seems the whole world is here to see the games. Downtown is all dressed up with flags and fun. Street mimes and entertainment go on all day and half the night. It’s not even necessary to buy tickets to a venue, there’s so much else to do, including watching the event live on big screen TV’s on the streets!
We were having such a good time, enjoying the sites of Sydney, we didn’t get in line for Olympic tickets until after 2. When we got to the ticket center, the line was so long and a man with a trash can was standing at the end of it telling people the line was 4 1/2 hours long, they would be closed before we could get through. He directed us to another line in a different part of town. He told us to check the board to be sure we could get tickets for what we wanted to see.
We did. There was nothing left that either of us cared to pay money (and lot’s of it) to see. As I was walking away a gentleman offered me tickets to see the Gymnastics finals at $285 each! (that was the list price, how or why would he do that?) Ouch! I was not interested in paying that kind of money for something I could see better on TV. Besides, I was a little apprehensive about purchasing counterfeit tickets. The risk was too great. We passed on that opportunity too.
Olympics or not, I want to see Sydney, I’ve never been here before and my favorite thing to do is people watch, so why not just do that without paying the fee?
We did do something rather unique and exciting. On Friday night we did Sydney’s most popular tourist action tour and climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It was an interesting thing to do, we had to don technical gear and be led by a guide. We traversed the catwalk, then climbed the arch of the bridge to the summit. We did it at night, on purpose because we wanted to see this magnificent city all lit up. It was worth it.
The scariest part for me was during the training when they were talking about what we were going to do. The whole process was so involved. We were required to schedule a time to go and show up 1/2 hour prior to that time. Our group gathered in a TV room where a video talked about what we were going to do. Then a young lady came out to speak to us and take us into an interior room where we all had a breathalyzer test done. (My first!) Next we traveled to another room and were given jump suits that zipped up the back. They had no pockets or any hanging parts that might cause us to get tangled up in something. Larry was wearing sandals, the young lady asked what size shoe he wore and then brought him a pair of Nikes to wear as sandals were a no-no. Then we were required to remove all jewelry, coins and anything else that was not part of our bodies, putting all of this into personal lockers.
For the next stage we were introduced to our Climb Leader, who proceeded to show us how to get into the climbing belt and attach ourselves to the guy wire that would keep us from diving into the deep blue harbor. Once we hooked up, we went for a practice climb in the studio, just to see how we did, climbing up a ladder and onto a ramp, that was rather wobbly. Our Climb Leader asked us if we could feel the ramp swaying, we did. He said the bridge didn’t sway that much, so if we could stand this, we would be OK on the bridge.
From the ramp, we went to another room to be fitted with headsets, so we could hear the Climb Leaders commands and tour comments while in the wind. They also provided us with a headlamp, stocking cap, handkerchief and fleece. With all this preparation, I was beginning to feel a little apprehensive. I hadn’t signed up to climb Everest, I just wanted to talk a little walk over the arch of a bridge! I felt maybe I had signed up for something more than I imagined.
Larry could see I was not exactly comfortable. His words were comforting, if not convincing at the moment. I don’t mind heights, but I do HATE grates on heights. When I’m showing Lodo Lofts, in Denver, there is one property that has 8 x 10 foot patios that are made of that nasty grate material. I stepped out on one once and got spooked. Now I make sure I avoid them. So I asked myself, “why are you going out on a grated catwalk?” Ok, so I decided the best way to handle this is to not look down.
Just the same, my stomach was full of butterflies when we started the ascent to the bridge. As first we walked under it, then up onto it via the catwalks used by the builders and/or painters. Once on the bridge we had to climb up a ladder section that was 4 lengths high. This section was the only time I was completely alone. We were not allowed to have more than one person on a section at a time, therefore we were spread out. It was scary at first, then I began to enjoy the solitude of climbing. The cars were speeding by below me and a train even passed, shaking the entire structure with it’s weight and speed. I hesitated, waiting for the train below me to pass. It was a cool feeling, knowing I was up there where most people never get to be. I loved it.
Sydney is a huge city, the view at night is nothing short of spectacular, . The harbor is exceptionally busy with the Olympics, there were dozens of cruise ships in the harbor being used as floating hotels for the Olympic committee and guests. Larry and I enjoyed watching the changing colors of the Opera House, they ranged from white to blue, purple, green, yellow and pink.
We were surprised to learn the flame in the Olympic caldron was visible, even though it was many miles away. Our Climb Leader gave us an excellent tour of the city and took digital photos of us with the city lights in the background. When we finished the climb, we were treated to our photos, label pins and even a certificate to hang on the wall. It was quite a professional production, they thought of everything. It gave us another memory to store in our heads.