Archive for the ‘Darling Harbor’ Category

Dinner in Darling

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Getting off my international flight in February I was wide eyed and ready to explore every inch of Sydney I could get my hands on. For the first few weeks/months I made good on this goal. Yaella and I did walking tours of neighboring suburbs, I explored the beaches, islands and attractions, but over time got into a routine and stopped venturing too far out of my way. I guess you could say I found myself in a rut. Yes I was still in this amazing international city and yes there were still pieces of it I had yet to see, but with classes and my internship I just got bogged down in work and spent my evenings sitting in my apt rather than being out on the town.

Once Justin flew in I found myself looking at the city with a fresh set of eyes. He wanted to explore things I had yet to see and since he only had two weeks here there was no sense in doing anything more than once. I have been to Darling Harbor many times this semester for various reasons, but I hadn’t been back in a while. On Justin’s to do list was to see the Maritime museum which is in Darling Harbor. So one day after my morning classes we met up and walked to the harbor to spend a few hours in the museum.

Darling Harbor

The maritime museum was alright, I think Justin enjoyed it more than I did, but it was free so I have no real complaints. At one point we were watching a video reel of major Australian battleships and Justin said

“Doesn’t that just give you chills?”

Me: “Does what give me chills?”

Justin: “Those huge battleships, all that firepower, don’t you just think its incredible?”

Me: “I mean I guess, but I’ve seen battleships before, its kinda whatever”

It could be that since my Aunt lives close to Norfolk, one of the largest deep water ports in the US, I have become jaded to such displays of naval prowess, or maybe I am just not a boy who is in the military and therefore the whole ‘military might’ thing is lost on me. Or perhaps I have just watched a few too many episodes of Modern Marvels with my dad, but regardless, Justin enjoyed the museum far more than I did.

We had purchased tickets to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at the IMAX theatre. Darling Harbor is home to the largest IMAX screen in the world, and the film was being screened in 3D which meant that even if the movie wasn’t so great we were guaranteed a great viewing experience. The museum closed at 5 and the movie started at 8:45 so we had some time to goof around in the harbor.

Getting my feet wet in the spiral fountain in the harbor

Happy in the harbor

We caught a happy hour at a bar called Home Bar and ended up hanging out there for a few hours since the drinks were half price and there was a live band that was quite good. Even after a few rounds of drinks we still had an hour and a half to kill till our movie started so I suggested that we go to Pancakes on the Rocks, an amazing pancake restaurant that is named for its location, with the flagship restaurant being located in an area of Sydney called “The Rocks” but oddly enough they have another restaurant in Darling Harbor. So we ate at Pancakes on the Rocks, which was really Pancakes in Darling Harbor. Justin wasn’t as excited about this as I was, but I think our experience may have effectively converted him into a pancake lover. I got the Blueberry heaven pancakes and he got the strawberry patch pancakes and we ended up sharing and eating off of eachothers plates. It was divine.

We lingered at the restaurant chatting and then strolled over to the IMAX theatre around 8:30.

The tagline for this movie should just be "Mooooo" because it is just Disney milking the cash cow

The movie was alright, very low on plot and heavy on action sequences and sword fighting. The screenwriters seem to really like to watch Johnny Depp swing from things. Instead of Jack Sparrow they should rename him Jack Sparrow of the Jungle. Not having gone into the film with very high expectations we weren’t disappointed, and the whole IMAX/3D thing really made the experience.

I have walked by the IMAX theatre every time I have been to Darling Harbor but never found a reason to check it out until Justin was here, this has been true of a lot of things. Having Justin here really helped me to reopen my eyes to the city and get back into exploring. While I won’t be able to do too much venturing around in the next week or so with finals on the horizon I am very excited to share this city with the rest of the Lapointe family in July!

Matching outfits were completely unintentional

Over and Under the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Tuesday was another early morning that I had no trouble getting up for (I don’t think I will ever get used to that). Today we were scheduled to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. This is a very pricey activity that we had the good fortune of being able to do on the cheap because we bought group tickets for a group of 80+. Normally I think it costs $180 a climb, and ours was less than half of that.

After waking and meeting in the lobby of the hotel we all boarded a bus and were taken to the Sydney bridge climb headquarters, which is located at the base of the bridge.

We were in groups of 14 and went into the processing area at 15 minute intervals. The first step is to get breath tested. If you blow a BAC of over .02 you are not allowed to climb. This is the legal limit for judgement impairment in Australia, and obviously if your judgement is impaired you have no business climbing a bridge at 9 in the morning. Our orientation leader told us that every year somebody failed this, and this year was no exception. Some frat boy bro from Maryland (there are an OBNOXIOUS amount of people from maryland here, and they all seem to belong in frats and be idiots. One girl said ” I only brought shorts and tank tops to this trip, I didn’t realize it got COLD HERE” I mean, did she do any research into this country other than to find out she would be legal to drink and the boys had accents?? I have never had a reason to dislike maryland but some of the people here are providing me with one.) failed the test. He was escorted back down to the lobby area where he had to wait a good 4+ hours for everyone to finish their climbs.

While waiting in line to go into the processing area we were all given lovely blue Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb hats with special clips on the back of them that would attach to our jumpsuits for the climb

Very sexy hat.

Once you passed the breath test and filled out a form declaring any medical issues everyone was given a gray jumpsuit to wear over our clothes. The jumpsuit is  very specific color of gray as to match with the bridge and not detract from tourists taking pictures of the bridge. Whoever came up with the color to paint the bridge certaintly did not work for crayola as his most creative idea was “sydney harbor bridge gray.” Who hires these people? WHere can I get a stupid easy job like that? It would be like working at a kitchen appliance naming institue. You just say what the thing does and add er. WHat does this do? that toasts, o well then thats a toaster. What does this do? that refrigerates, o well then thats a refrigerator. I’m going on break!

You were only supposed to wear a shirt and underwear under them so we were sent to a bank of changing rooms to do this and then assigned lockers to store our personal belongings. Next we were given harness belts that had a clip on them that would connect us to the railings as we climbed. There is never a point on the climb where you aren’t fenced in, but this is a precaution as it can get quite slippery and windy up there.

Next we were given two bags to clip onto our belts, one containing a rain jacket and one with a polar fleece. These came in handy. Next you are given a radio with a headset so you can hear the climb leader when you are out on the bridge since you walk in a single file line and its very windy. Once everything was clipped and secured to our person including hats and sunglasses it was time to climb! The whole process from check in to return takes about 3 hours, most of that is the climb, which isn’t scary at all. You are very secured and there are railings everywhere. Meanwhile, as you walk the tour guide provides information about the creation, maintenance, and history of the bridge.

I learned that when the bridge was built in the 1930s nuts and bolts were thought to be to expensive so the bridge is constructed with 6 million steel rivets. The Eifel tower by comparison only has 3 million. It is the worlds largest long span bridge and it is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, measuring 134 metres (440 ft) from top to water level. The granite pylons at either end of the bridge are purley cosmetic, and hold no structural importance to the bridge itself. During its construction only 6 people died, which considering there was no use of safety harness or safety nets of any kind is hella impressive. The total cost of building the bridge was 10 million dollars and this was not paid off until 1988 when construction officially began in 1923.

The way the climb works is that you go up one side, across the summit and then come down the other side. Since you are not allowed to take any loose articles with you nobody had cameras. You do get a picture taken of your whole group at the summit but since I am without a scanner I can’t provide that here. Instead here are some other peoples pictures that I am shamelessly lifting from various places on the internet. Enjoy.

Lovely gray suits that everyone is given. These guys make them look far more attractive than they actually are.

The climb is very steep at the beginning and at the end but in the middle things even out and its more level. The views were spectacular even though it started to rain once my group got to the summit.

Despite the fact that it was overcast and rainy for a majority of the climb I somehow managed to get a very mild sunburn on my face. After the long climb we were taken back to the hotel for free time (read: NAPTIME)

At 4:30 we walked down to Darling Harbor for a harbor dinner cruise which would mark the end of our orientation. We cruised for 3 hours and watched the sunset over the harbor. Again, spectacular views and an amazing day. If I keep having days like this I may never come back to the US. 

Getting Oriented: Turning Right Side Up In the Land Down Under

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Getting Oriented Via Orientation

After being picked up from the airport we were taken to a hotel conference room at the Vibe Hotel in downtown Sydney. We were given the chance to pick up pre purchased cell phones or buy one ourselves and then were given an overview of what would happen for the next few days.

Then we were given our hotel room assignments and our roommates and walked over to the hotel we were actually staying at which was a block or two down the road. While everyone else struggled to cross streets and get into elevators with their luggage, this was not an obstacle for me seeing as I was still without mine.

Our hotel accommodations for orientation are at the Meriton World Towers, which is GORGEOUS. It is one of the highest buildings in Sydney and no one in our orientation group is on a floor below 68. The rooms are more like apartements, each one consisting of a full kitchen, three bedrooms, a common room with couches, tv, and dining area, two full bathrooms with steam showers and Jacuzzi tubs and a washer and dryer. And all of this is set on a backdrop of the whole city. The views from every window of our room are spectacular. From my bedroom window I have a sweeping view of the whole city clear to the ocean. I can even see the Olympic stadium. At night it is even more stunning.

We were given a few hours to shower and change before we had to be back downstairs for dinner. Not having any clean clothes to change into I washed the ones I had on and then put them back on after I had showered. Once back downstairs we were led downtown to Darling Harbor where we had our first meal at the Yellow Bird Café which faces the water.

We were encouraged to order Kangaroo off of the menu. Apparently there is a national movement to eat more kangaroo meat since it has only 2% fat and a much higher protein content than traditional beef. Kangaroos are also not farmed or raised commercially; they are just so plentiful that they can be caught out of the wild. I didn’t order it, but almost all the boys did and the consensus seemed to be that it tasted a lot like steak, but since the fat content of it is so low it can’t be cooked for very long, so it is served fairly rare.

While I passed on the kangaroo I did not pass up an opportunity to get my first legal cocktail. I felt so dangerous ordering one. But here in Australia where the drinking age is 18 I am legal and apparently they are not nearly as uptight about carding as they are in the US. I ordered a drink called a “greek date” which had mango liquor in it along with lime, lemon, peach and something else. It was quite tasty, and the view we had of the ocean only made it that much better.

It is an odd thing that happens when you put a large group of people together who do not know eachother, but they tend to typically separate by gender. It’s like kindergarden all over again, they boys sit with the boys and the girls sit with the girls. At dinner our group of 80 or so were given four very long tables to sit at. There were three tables of mostly girls and one table of mostly guys. There were a few exceptions but generally speaking you would think we were afraid of cooties or something.

After dinner we were given the rest of the night to do as we pleased. While a few people wanted to go out and explore the nightlife, I knew that jet lag was soon to catch up with me and deliver a swift kick to the arse, so I headed back to the hotel and checked on the status of my luggage. The front desk informed me that it would arrive that night between 7-10 pm, and since it was close to 9pm at the time I figured I could stay awake till 10. Wrong. I attempted to watch television for about 4 minutes before beginning to nod off and then I finally gave in and crawled into bed. Seconds after my head hit the pillow I was fast asleep….