Archive for the ‘Bondi gelato cafe’ Category

On the Beach & Inside the Opera House

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

There has never been a Lapointe family vacation that did not involve a beach or large body of water in some way. Even though it is winter in Australia right now, Mom was determined to not let this stop her from getting to the beach while in Sydney.  Her one request for our last full day by ourselves was that we go to a beach so she could put her feet in the Pacific Ocean. So after getting up this morning and spending a few minutes at USyd using the Internet to skype, we caught the bus to Central Station and then the train to Bondi Junction, and then another bus to Bondi Beach. Once there we had a light lunch and a pastry at my favorite café in Bondi- The Gelato Café. Unlike last week when I did the cliff walk with Kaela and her mother, today was a beautiful bright warm sunny day, and the beach was buzzing with surfers and families enjoying the weather.

Mom puts her feet in the Pacific Ocean at Bondi

Graffiti art at Bondi Beach

Surfer standing on his head for reasons unknown

A beautiful day at Bondi

So many surfers

Local wildlife

After spending a few minutes on the sand we started the cliff walk which goes is a roughly 5 km walk, but we only did the first leg of it which ends at Bronte Beach. We got off a Bronte and then took the bus back to the train station where we caught the train to Circular Quay.

On the cliff walk

We walked from Bondi to Bronte beach- thats Bronte in the background

While I have taken many people to see the Opera House when they have come to visit me this semester and I have walked around the exterior many times, I had not taken the official Opera House tour, but I definitely wanted to. Mom and I had attempted to do this on Monday but most of the performance spaces had been closed then do to rehearsals taking place, so we had agreed to revisit on Wednesday. So upon arriving in circular quay we went straight to the tour center and purchased tickets for the 4:00pm guided one-hour tour.

After meeting our tour guide, Daniel, everyone in our tour group of about thirty was issued a head set, and the tour guide had a microphone that he spoke through which we could hear in our headsets. Mom and I both remarked on what a brilliant way to conduct a tour this was since the guide never had to shout and you could always hear him no matter how close to him you were. One of the rules for the tour is that you were not allowed to take pictures inside of any of the performance spaces. This is because many of them have sets built inside of them that are under copyright, and the stage hands and musicians that work inside these spaces have signed privacy contracts that do not allow them to be photographed while they are working. Therefore, all my pictures are of the exterior hallways and lobby spaces of the opera house.

The first space we were taken into was the smallest one, which is a square theatre that has seating all the way around and chairs that can be brought out to fill the floor, or the floor can be left empty. This space can be used for intimate concerts, children’s shows, or any theatre performances that are done in the round. The second space we went through was the concert hall, which is acoustically designed so that no microphones ever have to be used and the sound evenly distributes throughout the entire room. The opera hall is similarly designed, so that the performers never have to use microphones, and a person sitting in the front row will receive the same quality of sound as a person sitting in the back row. In total the Opera House consists of seven spaces:

The Concert Hall, with 2,679 seats, is the home of the Sydney Symphony and used by a large number of other concert presenters. It contains the grand organ, the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world, with over 10,000 pipes.

The Opera Theatre, a proscenium theatre  with 1,507 seats, is the Sydney home of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet.

The Drama Theatre, a proscenium theatre with 544 seats, is used by the Sydney Theatre Company and other dance and theatrical presenters.

The Playhouse, an end-stage theatre with 398 seats.

The Studio, a flexible space with a maximum capacity of 400 people, depending on configuration.

The Utzon Room, a small multi-purpose venue, seating up to 210.

The Forecourt, a flexible open-air venue with a wide range of configuration options, including the possibility of utilising the Monumental Steps as audience seating, used for a range of community events and major outdoor performances. The Forecourt will be closed to visitors and performances 2011–2014 to construct a new entrance tunnel to a rebuilt loading dock for the Opera Theatre.

When the city of Sydney first decided to put an opera house on Bennelong Point, there was a contest held for architects everywhere to see who would get to design it. Hundreds of designs were submitted and discarded by the selection committee, but it was an American judge who arrived late to the judging process who asked to see the discarded designs that selected the design by Jorn Utzon, a Swedish architect, which had been placed in the discard pile initially but ended up being the winning design. The initial drawings done by Utzon were very crude and were more sketches than blue prints. He had no idea how he was going to construct the sails of the opera hose, and so work commenced on the base while Utzon and a team of mathematicians and architects worked on how they were to build the rest. This caused significant delays in the building process as the technology to be able to construct the building had to be invented.

The design work on the shells involved one of the earliest uses of computers in structural analysis, in order to understand the complex forces to which the shells would be subjected. In mid-1961, the design team found a solution to the problem: the shells all being created as sections from a sphere. This solution allows arches of varying length to be cast in a common mould, and a number of arch segments of common length to be placed adjacent to one another, to form a spherical section.

The tile pattern on the outside of the shells is the design it is because Utzon saw the same pattern on a woman’s bathing suit one day and he was quoted as saying ” I liked the way it flattered her curves” and hoped that the same pattern would flatter the curves of his design. The tiles themselves were triple glossed ceramic tiles so they would shine in the sun, but would not have reflective properties. Also- due to the triple glossing, even if they get dirty any amount of rain water rinses them off so they never need to be cleaned.

In the middle of construction on the project the governor of Sydney changed, and the new governor was not as patient or forgiving of Utzon and his expensive and time consuming project as the previous one had been. Tensions arose and got so bad that Utzon abandoned the project, returned to Sweden and a new group of architects were brought in to finish it. Utzon never returned to Sydney to see his completed masterpiece, although he was re-commissioned by the opera house board in 1993 to refurbish one of the interior spaces and draw up plans for several of the opera house spaces for the future. He died a decorated and famous architect, and now his son works with the opera house board to continue his fathers work and the refurbishing and updating of many of the interior spaces.

Tile detail

Inside the opera house- The famous opera singer Liberace hated this carpet and refused to have his picture taken in this area according to our tour guide

Harbor views from inside the Opera House

More internal opera house views

This glass was made in France, and it is special glass that expands and contracts with cold and heat. It is attached to the beams on elbow joints to allow for this movement. The opera house is called a "living sculpture" and not a building by its architect Jorn Utzon

The original cost estimate given in 1957 when work began on the Opera House was $7 million. The original completion date set by the government was 26 January 1963 . The project was not completed until 1973, ten years late, and it ended up costing $120 million, so it went over-budget by more than fourteen times.

The worst place to be in bad weather as the wind gets tunneled through here, and since the building has no rain gutters all the rain slides off and into this space.

on the inside

After finishing our tour the sun was setting, so mom and I found a bus back to Glebe. On our way back to our hostel we stopped and got some Thai food to go, and then did laundry at the hostel while we ate. When we wake up in the morning we will check out of our hostel and take a bus downtown to check into the Menzies Hotel near Circular Quay, where Dad and Julie will meet us assuming they made both their flights. So as of tomorrow all of the Lapointes will be in Sydney (hopefully). Here’s Hoping!

I never get tired of this view

A Final Farewell

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

For Kaela and her mothers last day in Sydney they wanted to do the beach cliff walk that starts at Bondi Beach. We woke up around 10 am and took the bus from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating with our beach walking plans, because just as we got off the bus the wind picked up and rain started to fall. We walked across the street to the beach anyway, but after less than 30 seconds we decided that this could wait. Earlier I had suggested that if we were going to be in Bondi we needed to check out this amazing little gelato cafe that Yaella had once taken me to that had the best pastries and cakes. We had initially planned on doing that after the beach walk, but the rain drove us inside the cafe early.

Even though Kaela and her mom are both on weight watchers I insisted that they have at least one sweet thing being that this was their last day in Sydney and the sweets at this cafe were too incredible to pass up. I ordered an apple apricot fruit slice and Kaela and her mom split a chocolate almond pastry roll with a dollop of ice cream, which is quite decadent by weight watchers standards. We chatted and enjoyed our sweet indulgences as we waited for the storm to pass. By the time we were done eating the clouds had parted and the sun had appeared, so we headed back out towards the beach.

Even though it was still a bit cloudy out, the rain had stopped and the sun was peaking out every so often, so we began our walk. One of the first big sites on the path is the Bondi Icebergs Winter Swimming Club. This club started in 1929 by a group of dedicated local lifesavers who wanted to maintain physical fitness and swimming skills during the winter months, ( and had clearly never heard of the indoor pool). They formed the club and ever since have occupied a prime location on the edge of Bondi Beach where they have two outdoor lap pools, one being olympic sized, and a large club house that has a bar, poker machines, and several large meeting spaces. While it is certainly impressive that people would voluntarily swim outside in 50-60 degree weather, to call it the ‘iceberg’ club is a bit of a stretch I think. It rarely gets colder than 48 or so degrees in Sydney. Now if this outdoor swim club was in say, Boston, MA, then yes, by all means call yourself the iceberg club, or better yet, the hypothermia at risk club.

Bondi Icebergs Swim Club

Cliff walkway

I'm the little mermaid, obviously.

The last remaining apt 18 ladies

The water is such a marvelous shade of blue here

The walk took us from Bondi Beach to Tamarama beach where we caught a bus back to Bondi Junction. Once there we went up to the apartment gathered up their luggage and went back downstairs to catch a cab so they could make it to the car rental place and begin their drive up the coast. Once we had flagged down a cab we had quick hugs and goodbyes and off they went. And then there was one. Now I’m really all by myself.

Southern ladies in the southern hemisphere

I will be living in my swanky 18th floor serviced apartment until July 2nd when I will move to a hostel in Glebe to await the arrival of my mother who will join me for a few days before the rest of my family arrives. Now that I am completely on my own in the land of Oz I am finding that it shimmers a little less. While I do love this country and I have been so grateful to have had this experience, it just isn’t the same without my study abroad family, who are now all back in the states. The days I have left before my actual family arrives will be quiet and quite possibly lonely. What can I say? I miss my Glebe family. Australia is hardly the same without them.

These are my people