Archive for the ‘SYdney opera house’ 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

Mom Arrives!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Mom’s flight was supposed to land in Sydney at 6:30 am on July 3rd, but as nothing can ever be simple in my family this of course did not happen. As she was nearing the 15th hour of her trans-Pacific flight the captain came over the intercom to tell the passengers that the Sydney airport was shrouded in fog, and therefore they could not land there. Instead they would be making a slight detour trip to Brisbane (453 miles north of Sydney) to sit on the airplane on the runway there until they could be cleared for a landing in Sydney. By the time Mom actually made it to Sydney it was close to 11 o’clock which means that she had been traveling for over almost 30 consecutive hours. Luckily she had arranged to get a shuttle from the airport to our hostel and I didn’t need to meet her anywhere, otherwise I would have been waiting for quite a while. Not having slept  hardly at all on the flight she arrived at the hostel and we had our hugs and hellos before she demanded to know where the shower was located.

After a shower and a quick change she was feeling more human (and certainly smelling better) and I thought she would want to take a nap to sleep off some of the jet lag as almost everyone else who come to visit has wanted this. Not my mother. She was not going to let the flight beat her, so we set out in search of lunch and then got to walking. She wanted a picture in front of something quintessentially Australian to put up on the internet so that she could prove to friends and family that she had survived the flight and had arrived safely. So of course after lunch I steered us towards the opera house.

She has arrived!

Me, Mom, and the most photographed building in the Southern Hemisphere

We walked from Glebe to Darling Harbor and then along the water to Sydney Harbor. We stopped in Darling Harbor for an hour or two to take in some street performers and soak up the sunshine and the lovely 70 degree winter weather. We even enjoyed our first official alcoholic beverages together as we sat at a table on the water chatting. We must have walked a good three miles over the course of the day, but mom kept on trucking. We walked around the craft markets at the Rocks and popped into a few opal jewelry stores to have a look. By 5 pm the jet lag had finally caught up to her and we found our way back to Glebe and enjoyed a light dinner at an outdoor Spanish wine and tappas bar before heading back to the hostel. We were in bed by 7pm, which in the world of me is utterly absurd. I was tired though for not having slept but a few hours the night before due to restlessness. We were both sleeping quite soundly until about 2:30 am when mom’s blackberry started ringing. We both started grumbling and through our grunts had this conversation:

Mom: Valerie…Valerie! What is that?! Turn it off!

Me: Mom, I think thats you’re blackberry, its ringing

Mom: Who in the world could be calling me?! Someone better have died.

I stumbled across the room to pick up her blackberry, and by the time I found it we had missed the call. On the call log it said that Home had called and Mom started assuming the worst. We thought it was Dad that had called us so we decided to call back. To our surprise it was not Dad, but Julie who answered the phone. That conversation went something like this:

Julie: Hello?

Me: Julie! Did you just call us?

Julie: Yeah, why?

Me: It’s 2:30 in the morning here!

Julie: ….o…I forgot about the time thing

Me: You just FORGOT that its a whole different day on the other side of the world?!

Julie: Yes. Look, can I just talk to mom?

I handed the phone off to my mom. As it turned out nobody had died, Julie just had some menial question that did not merit us being woken up at such an ungodly hour. After we hung up with her neither of us could get back to sleep and we ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning when we finally fell asleep for a few hours. We woke up the next day with a list of Sydney Sights to see. First we walked up Glebe Point Rd and had a light breakfast at a local cafe and then continued up the street so I could take Mom around USyd.

Mom at the University of Sydney!

Not only did I attend Hogwarts this semester, but I was a Gryffindor Lion too!

So excited to be at USyd!

After walking around and showing her where I had interned and where all my classes had been we sat in Fisher Library for a few hours so we could skype with Julie and Dad and listen to them panic about their impending solo travel mission. We walked Julie through what to pack and how to navigate the airport, even though mom had left a large packet of information behind for her and dad that contained all their travel documents, vouchers, important phone numbers and directions to everywhere they needed to be, all neatly numbered, collated, and color coordinated of course. Despite all this, we were both painfully aware that we had left the more inept half of the Lapointe family behind, so we were willing to field their panicked questions for a while. After leaving USyd, we hopped on a bus down to Circular Quay to check into an opera house tour, which wasn’t available that day due to rehearsals taking place, but we were still able to walk around the inside of the lobby and the outside of it. After leaving the opera house we made our way through the botanic gardens before grabbing a small salad to tide us over till dinner.

Botanic Gardens

As the sun was setting and the temperature beginning to drop we hopped on the bus back towards Glebe where had dinner at my favorite Australian mexican restaurant, The Flying Fajita Sisters, and then turned in for another early night.

A beautiful day

A Winter’s Surf

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

On Monday, since neither of us had classes, Yaella and I set out to make good on my goal to explore more of Sydney. Yaella had a discount card for a surf board rental place in Bondi Beach and wanted to get in one last surf before heading back to the states. I had never been to Bondi before, and even though I had no intention of surfing I agreed to sit on the beach with a book and snap pictures of her while she caught waves. It was a sunny winter day with the high temperature being about 65 degrees, but this is perfectly acceptable surf weather in Australia. The hardcore surfies known no appropriate surf season.

So Yaella and I made our way to Bondi via train and then a bus, rented a board and wetsuit and headed out onto the beach. It felt odd to be walking on the beach fully clothed, but I kicked off my shoes, spread out my towel and plopped down to watch Yaella. She paddled out into the 63 degree water, dove under and started chasing after waves. Meanwhile I was sitting on the beach, dry, wearing a sweatshirt and a jacket and shivering when the wind blew at me. Yaella is clearly stronger than I. While she was out in the water I was observing the odd winter beach behavior of the Bondi residents. Some people were on the beach bundled up like me either reading or listening to music, but there was also a daring group of individuals who were in only bathing suits and were playing in the surf. 63 degree water is not water I would want to go into without a wetsuit. Yaella even had a heating pack in her wetsuit and while she did adapt to the water temperature there was no denying that it was quite chilly. I also observed a woman in a very skimpy bikini jogging down the beach listening to her ipod, and jogging right past the people who were all bundled up in fleece jackets. Beaches in the winter are odd places.

Yaella trying to catch some waves

Still trying

Yaella had rented the board and wetsuit for three hours but after an hour of getting thrashed by the waves she had begun to get frustrated. Surf conditions were somewhat odd on this particular day given that the waves were breaking about 80 feet out from the shore, and then were breaking right on the shore, but in between was a giant dead zone where they just fizzled out. There were a bunch of other surfers out and nobody seemed to be able to take any waves in past the dead zone. As she was rounding out her first hour the sun which had been shining quite brightly moved behind a big clump of clouds and the temperature dropped a few degrees. This combined with the shoddy surf conditions led us to decide that our time might be better spent sipping something warm in a cafe. Yaella and I walked her board back to the rental shop where the owner was nice enough to give her a voucher for 2 hours of board and wetsuit rental since she hadn’t used all of her three hours.


Bondi Beach, in addition to being the biggest and most popular beach in Sydney is also the jewish area of town, so over the course of the semester Yaella has spent her weekends there attending synagogue services and sharing shabbat meals with various jewish families.  Wanting to get out of the wind to dry off for a bit she suggested we pop into this small cafe she knew of that had amazing fruit pies and tarts for a hot drink and something sweet to eat. I got an apple apricot crumble and she got a cherry crumble and we split a pot of Earl Grey Tea. The deserts were absolutely delicious and we lingered over our tea, soaking up its warmth, glad to be indoors for a while. By the time we were ready to leave it was close to 3pm and Andy had texted us asking if we wanted to check out the Vivid Sydney Festival in Sydney Harbor that evening with him. We agreed, but this meant that going all the way back to Glebe would be a waste of time. Instead we filled up the next three hours popping in and out of various shops and bookstores in Bondi beach before catching the bus over to Sydney Harbor to meet up with Andy.

The bus ride from the Bondi Junction bus station to Circular Quay is about a thirty five minute ride and Yaella and I were chatting and listening to music watching the city zip past us when the bus stopped and this elderly woman got on. She had dingy brown and gray hair that was swept back in a bun and she was wearing a long skirt and unfortunate looking clunky black tennis shoes and a sweater. She sat down across from us and about ten minutes after boarding leaned over and asked

“Are you guys from a Pantene Pro-V commercial? You both just have the most beautiful hair, and the one of you has the dark curly hair and the other has the blonde straight hair, you should totally just work for Pantene.”

We both laughed this comment off, but once she had started talking to us she didn’t appear to want to stop. She spoke to us for the rest of our ride and told us about how she was a neurosurgeon who had studied at John Hopkins and had worked with Doctors without Borders. She talked about how she had traveled to dozens of countries, but also had studied at Juliard and worked as a professional singer for a while, and now she was a music promoter and went on and on about this band she was currently working with and how perfect the members of the band would be for us. Somewhere in the middle of all this she turned to Yaella and said “Are you Jewish? Because I am getting that Kosher vibe from you” Yaella of course told her than she was, and then she turned to me and said “But you’re not jewish are you?” Gee, I wonder what gave me away? Could it have been my bright blonde hair? Maybe my blue eyes? Could it be that I look like the poster child for the Aryan race? I guess I just don’t give off that “kosher vibe.”

This woman seemed quite evident on getting us some music from this band she was promoting, and she asked for Yaella’s phone number, which she gave her. WHen I asked her about this she said “I am leaving Australia in two weeks, she can call me all she wants.” Yaella and I couldn’t decide what to make of this encounter. Either this woman is truly incredible or she is the most fantastic and pathological of liars. We looked up the band she is promoting and they do exist, so the jury is still out on all the other claims she made.

Once we arrived at Circular Quay we found Andy and made our way to the inner rim of the harbor to see the festival sights.Vivid Sydney is an artistic festival of sorts that happens every year in the Harbor. The website for the festival describes it thusly:

“Sydney will once again be transformed into a spectacular canvas of light, music and ideas when Vivid Sydney takes over the city after dark from 27 May -13 June 2011.

Vivid Sydney will colour the city with creativity and inspiration, featuring breathtaking immersive light projections on the iconic Sydney Opera House sails, performances from local and international musicians as part of Vivid LIVE and a free outdoor exhibition of interactive light sculptures.

In 2011 the festival will also include a range of artistic collaborations, public talks and debates from leading creative thinkers from Australia and around the world, celebrating Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific”

Some of the sights are just for viewing, but many of them are interactive.

Cool moving 3D lighting effects on the Customs House in Circular Quay

Melting polar bear ice sculpture

Playing the light harp

Andy and I sitting on a chair of light

car sculpture

Making a lit sculpture friend, Yaella disapproves

Light up! Everyone is doing it!

Giant light up jellyfish and the illuminated opera house in the background

One of the many designs and colors we saw on the opera house

More colors

I got this image online, there were so many designs I couldn't capture them all

More Customs House colors

Cool interactive light show on the side of the art museum. You stand at the base of it and throw your hands up at it, and light projects onto the wall when you move. It resets every minute or so.

We walked around the Harbor for a little over an hour before Yaella and I began to drag and decided it was time to head back to Glebe. Even though the surfing hadn’t been all that great we had a great day out, and although we were tired, we were throughly pleased with our day.

Vivid Sydney!

Breaking Bread with Feathered Friends

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

The first time I took Justin to the botanical gardens he was amazed to see the hundreds of cockatoos that inhabit the grounds. They can be seen all over Sydney, but there is a heavy concentration of them in the botanical gardens, and I suspect this is because people feed them there. So that first day we observed two girls feeding (read: getting mauled by) some cockatoos and while Justin tried it that day, not having anything better to offer than some seeds he picked up under a tree the birds didn’t take any particular interest in him. He made me promise we would return with bread. So one day after we had been doing some shopping and walking around downtown we headed to the botanical gardens once more, this time with bread in hand.

We walked around the park for a good 15 minutes before we could find a group of birds on the ground. When we eventually did find some they were already being fed by a couple sitting on a park bench. Justin attempted to lure them away and while it was slow at first, eventually word got out that there was food to be had.

Cockatoo feeding gets off to a slow start, but we have a taker

Justin makes some more friends

And they're up!

And then there were three

And the birds come marching in

Getting his head scratched

I am not quite the bird whisperer that Justin is

Getting the hang of it

At ease


I don't know who is freaking out more here, me or the cockatoo I am trying to shake off of me.

I made peace

Once all the bread had been expended the birds tried to feed on the next obvious food source, Justin's shoe

I had far more fun watching Justin with the birds than I did having them on me. They have very sharp claws and I was very afraid of having one of the birds go all Mike Tyson on me and end up loosing a bit of my ear. Justin seemed not to have these fears and was giggly and geeking out the whole time. After we had used up all our bread we spent a little bit of time strolling along the waters edge and letting our minds wander out into the harbor. It was a beautiful autumn day as the sun shone warm on our faces and a cool breeze moved through the trees every few minutes.  It was a perfect way to end the day, and to think I would not have made it out there had Justin not been here. Having someone to share Sydney with has really given me a second wind and swept me right out of my routine. While I do love Sydney and Australia will always hold a special place in my heart and my memories, I think I will soon be ready to be stateside once more. After all, there’s no place like home right?

One of my favorite spots in Sydney

Good Friday on the Rocks

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

As the weather has cooled down a bit the lower state of New South Wales has entered into a period of gloriously sunny and temperate weather. While this week me and my roommates had been very busy turning in assignments and trying to prepare for our upcoming spring (technically fall) break travels, today we all woke up to a beautiful day and nothing to do. Kaela and Jill proposed that we head down to this small park near Sydney Harbour, and invited me to come along, and of course I agreed.

After a slow meandering morning we caught a bus from Glebe Point Road around noon to head downtown. We arrived at Circular Quay-West, an area better known as The Rocks. This area was established shortly after the first colony in Australia was set up in 1788. The original buildings were made mostly of local sandstone, from which the area derives its name. Originally it was a rough and tumble area, the bad part of town. It was a slum type area that was frequented by sailors and prostitutes.

In the decades that followed through the 20th century plans were drawn up many times to have the area and its crumbling structures demolished. Large world events like the break out of the bubonic plauge, WWI and WWII stalled these plans every time they arose and doing anything about the area was put off until 1968 when the state government gave control of The Rocks to the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority with the intention of demolishing all the original buildings and re-developing them as high-density apartment buildings.

This plan was opposed by a group of local residents who didn’t want to see their rents raised and the history of the area destroyed. They requested a Green Ban from the Builders Labourers Federation to halt the demolition from happening, and in 1973 it was implemented. This ban remained in place until 1975 when instead of demolishing the area renovations began which transformed the area into the commercial and touristy precinct that it is today.

Self explanatory

Walking around it reminded me a lot of the inner harbor in Baltimore or downtown Alexandria, as it is a beautiful bustling downtown area with swanky stores and fancy restaurants. The three of us spent a good two or three hours just walking around, people watching, taking goofy touristy pictures of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and of the Opera House. It was such a wonderfully pleasant day we lingered outside with no real goal or destination in mind. We saw street performers and lots of tourists and families. Australia takes its holidays very seriously apparently, because most stores were either closed today, or closing early for Good Friday, and most restaurants had signs out front saying that they would not be serving alcohol that evening.

Me and Jill and the most photographed building in the southern hemisphere

The "Mary Cait and Ashley" pose as Jill calls it

I'm in Australia! Every so often this dawns on me, because sometimes I forget.


Apt 18 ladies!

Baw. Cute

Harbor skyline

Under the Opera House

Getting up close and personal with the opera house


After a few hours of wandering around we started to get hungry, and Kaela had been saying for the past week how she was really craving pancakes, in particular pancakes from a restaurant called “Pancakes on The Rocks.” Jill and Kaela had been before but I had not, and they both insisted I was in for a treat. The menu read more like an ice cream shop than a pancake house. I swear there was nothing on there that wasn’t sprinkled with powder sugar, stuffed with creme, dipped in chocolate, or drizzled with syrup. Among pancake variations with names like devil’s delight, strawberry jam, jaffa orange, hot n troppo, macadamia madness, strawberry patch, bavarian apple, and banannarama I landed on the simplest variation I could find- blueberry heaven. And it was that. It was two of the thickest buttermilk pancakes I have ever had with blueberries in sauce served with cream and vanilla ice cream. Ihop this was not. These pancakes blew Ihop into the next universe.

Blueberry heaven. mmmmm

After we had eaten our fill we wandered back towards the bus station to catch the bus that would take us back to Glebe. Then Kaela, Courtney who joined us later, and I all settled in for an evening of packing and preparing for our trip to Thailand!

The Ferry to Manly

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The weather here has begun to cool down as the southern hemisphere summer I have been so enjoying slowly fades into my first fall season where the trees wont change colors or lose their leaves. I have been watching the temperatures go from 90′s to 80′s and recently dip as low as the 70′s. While this makes my 30 minute shlep to school far less sweaty, it also means that the window of time for going to the beach will soon close for the season. The beginning of this week was cooler but jam packed. I had two big assignments due on monday and was on campus from 9am till 8pm on Tuesday. So when Wednesday rolled around I found myself already exhausted and looking at the weather forecast to find that it was going to be a beautifully sunny 85 degree day.

I have heard it said that:

“There is no fun in having nothing to do. The fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”

Well on this particular Wednesday I decided to embrace this philosophy with open arms. The two lectures I had on Wednesday were for classes I had spent all weekend doing homework for, and turned assignments in for on Monday, so I sent Lyndsay a facebook message that said

“OK so tomorrow is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL. Like 80 degrees and sunny and amazing. What say you to skipping class and hitting the beach for one last day of surf and sunshine before the fall really sets in?”.

Her reply: “sooooo down! where do we sign up?!”

So it was on facebook so shall it be done

Before going to bed on Tuesday night we made plans to head out to Manly beach the next day, which is located  a half hour ferry ride from the city directly adjacent to the Sydney Harbour National Park. We agreed we would get up around 9 so we could make the most out of the day. I have not exactly been reliable about getting up for social things since I have been here (surprised? anyone?) and of course today was no exception. My alarm went off around 9, and when I woke up there was a text from Lyndsay saying that she wanted to sleep in till about 10 and we could leave then. I was more than happy to oblige this request, so I fell back down into my pillow, but forgot to reset my alarm. So I jolt awake around 10:15 to three missed phone calls from Lyndsay. I call her back and she says that she has already left and is already on her way. I freak out, but she insists that she will not wait and I will have to just meet up with her. (I had flaked on her a few times prior due to oversleeping so I can hardly blame her for this)Seth and Andy were supposed to come with us as well, and she said they hadn’t left yet and that I should just leave with them.  I get dressed, get breakfast and go down to the boys room. Seth answers the door and says that they aren’t leaving until after 1 when Andy gets out of class. If I’m skipping class I’ll be damned if I’m not getting the whole day out of it. I decide to try and find Manly on my own.

I set out with no idea where I was going, I just started walking towards the bus station. Lyndsay had told me what station I needed to end up at, Circular Quay, and that I needed to get the ferry from there, but that was all I knew. Luckily the bus station information booth was well staffed and the lady there told me where to catch the bus and what number bus I needed. Since it was still early in the morning the busses were coming fairly often and I didn’t even have to wait five minutes for one to arrive. Once on the bus, it was less than a 30 minute ride to the ferry station, and getting off the bus I asked the driver where the ferry ticket office was and he pointed me in the right direction. The ferrys leave Sydney on the half hour, but they stop boarding five minutes before they head out. I arrived at the ticket office at 11:22, got my ticket and got on the ferry in the nick of time. As luck would have it, even though Lyndsay had a 30 min head start on me, she had missed the 11:00 ferry by mere minutes, and had been waiting in the warf for the 11:30 one, so when I got on the boat I called her to tell her that I was sorry for not waking up and that I was now on the ferry and she told me she was too! We found each other and after I apologized profusely and she forgave me we laughed it off and ended up really enjoying the ferry ride out to Manly.

Touristy picture on the ferry

Cute touristy picture


Once the ferry let us off at Manly we found the info center and got directions to the beach, which turned out to be only a five minute walk away to the other side of the peninsula, to the ocean side. Once there we set up shop with towels, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Lyndsay even brought out some homework to do while we were there.

From where the ferries drop off on the sound side to the ocean side was less than a five minute walk. it was awesome

SHe is a far better student than I. I refuse to let something like schoolwork taint my beach day.

Still starkly pale.



winning combination

So lovely

After a few hours and at least two liberal applications of sunscreen, the boys showed up and joined us on the beach. We hung out there for a while, but soon clouds began to move in from behind us. The lifeguards informed us that a torrential downpour was headed for the beach in a matter of minutes so we packed up our stuff and headed for drier and higher ground. We found a bar on the beach and sat down for a beer while the summer storm rolled in and the rain poured down. Thankfully the storm was short and passed in only a few minutes. With and hour and a half left before we needed to get back on the ferry to Sydney we decided to do the 40 minute cliff walk around the northern edge of the peninsula that provides beautiful cliff views of the ocean.

So lovely.

rocky coastline

cool rock sculpture

This thing stopped me dead in my tracks, it was SO BIG. Lots of Australians stopped to take pictures of it after I noticed it. Apparently there are huge fines for anyone who hurts them. We didn't believe it was real until it moved. It was so cool!

Evergreen the Australia...this was weird on so many levels

So pretty!

view as we were leaving on the ferry

We got back to the ferry station right in time to miss the ferry that had just left. We found a guy who was selling 8 dollar ferry tickets for the express ferry, which is smaller and faster and was leaving sooner than the next regular ferry, but we had purchased round trip tickets for the regular ferry. We debated for a good five minutes what to do about this, wether or not it would be advantageous to spend more money and loose the round trip ticket we had already purchased. Well, really Lyndsay and I debated it while Seth seemed unconcerned, and Andy’s only concern was wether or not he would have time to get McDonalds. The express ferry guy was observing all this and getting quite a good chuckle out of my panicked reasoning clashing with Andy’s intense longing for a McDonalds cheeseburger.

Lyndsay and I had tickets to see Spring Awakening at 8pm and we were trying to get back in time to shower and change before we had to go to the show, and the ferry was a 35 min ride, and then we had to either get a bus from the warf back to Glebe or walk. If all went according to plan we would be get back around 7:15, which would mean 15 minutes for a quick shower and change and then another 20 to walk up to the Seymour Center. Luckily we had already purchased our tickets, good life decision there.

We calculated we could still manage to get to our show on time even if we took the later one, so we opted just to wait. The next boat departed at 5:45 and we made sure we were on that one.

Seth and Lyndsay

Me and Andy

All the sailboats coming out to play in the Sydney Harbour

Postcard perfection. Except I actually took this picture.

The opera house from the angle it is least often viewed. Our orientation director told us that the Sydney opera house is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. I am not sure how one would determine such a thing, but I believe it.

Touristy posed picture.

In case you missed the previous 8 pictures, This is the Sydney Harbor Bridge!

I have watched Grey’s Anatomy for years now and listened to Derek (McDreamy) go on and on about how he loved ferry boats and I never understood what the big deal was. Its a big boat that doesn’t even go very fast, I just didn’t see the appeal. Well, NOW I GET IT. Most forms of transportation offer street views that you would see normally, and the destination is whats important, not really how you get there. But with a ferry boat, the journey is also a destination. Getting to ferry through Sydney Harbor Bay was gorgeous and so relaxing. Sitting on the ocean for the 35 minute trip out and back was just as fun as the actual events of the day. So now me and Derek Shepherd have something in common, a mutual love of Ferry Boats. Maybe while I am here I will also come to understand why elevators are so great, because Grey’s Anatomy writers certainly seem to be obsessed with them. Stay posted for progress on that, the elevator in my apt building is now working again for the first time since I have been here. Who knows what magic awaits me between floors one and two!

We got back to Sydney and the boys took the train back because they had already purchased tickets, but Lyndsay and I decided we would just walk in back to save some money. After a few wrong turns and guidance from friendly Australians we found Glebe just fine, and got back around 7:10, which gave us enough time to shower, change, and walk up to the Seymour Center without needing to sprint. When I was getting dressed for the play I noticed that I had a bit of a sunburn. When I woke up the next day I found that definitely had a sunburn. When a rough morning follows a long night of drinking many people will say things like ” I will never drink again!” this is how I feel the morning after a sunburn.

The use of the color green for this opening scene I took real issue with, as green is a color associated with illness and swampy things in terms of color theory, really this show should be done in blues whites and purples, but I won't get into the technical short comings of this production, because I could easily write another 1000 words on that

The show was well done. The actors were all played their parts with depth and conviction and sang extremely well. That being said, the sound mixing was way off, but it was a tricky situation since the Orchestra was seated above the stage, which makes mixing difficult because normally you have them sitting off stage or have an orchestra pitt to swallow some of the sound, thus making the sound easier to control with microphones. Also- the choreography was SO AWKWARD. This show should really be done with very minimalist choreography and more just staged movement and free form stuff. Like I said, I could write another 1,000 words EASILY on this, but I won’t as this post has already gotten to 2,000.

Yaella, Alana, Lyndsay, Me, Megan and Amanda. No body had seen it before but me, and everybody liked it!

I sat next to Lyndsay who got a bit peeved at me because I was singing every word. During intermission she said

“Valerie I paid to hear them sing not you!”

Everyone liked the show and I sang all the way home from it. A bunch of the girls even cried during the final scenes where things really get intense. It was like my mom was there in spirit to cringe at the sex scenes and cry during the sad parts. It was a great ending to a great day. I never get sick of Spring Awakening.

A Evening for Partying, An Hour for the Earth

Monday, March 28th, 2011

After another saturday morning of sleeping in luxuriously late I awoke to a missed call from Lyndsay, and a voicemail asking if I wanted to head over to the Seymour Center box office to pick up Spring Awakening tickets for this weeks performance. I called her back, showered, dressed and we headed out. On our way out we ran into the lovely ladies form Apt 23 and when they asked us what we were doing we were more than happy to share our plans with them. As luck would have it Glebe is populated with more theatre geeks than I originally thought, and they were not only excited and knowledgeable about Spring Awakening, but asked if they could go to the show with us on Wednesday night. So our party of two became a party of five.

SKETCHY advertisement that we saw walking back from the box office. It totally sounds like this guy is trying to set up some sort of ametur porn studio. "Furnitured"? O yeah, this guy sounds legit. Even I can spell better than that

We walked up to the Seymour Center, with the air thick with the threat of rain. We purchased our student discounted tickets and as we walked back, the apt 23 ladies told us of their plans to have a candlelit dinner that night in honor of Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is an event that was started in 2007 by The World Wide Fund for Nature in conjunction with The Sydney Morning Herald. It is held on the last saturday of March every year, and during this hour it is asked that households and businesses turn off all non-essential lights and appliances for one hour to help raise awareness for climate change and the global energy crisis. The first year it was held 2.2 million Sydney residents participated, and in 2008 other world cities began to take notice and participate as well. While I had never heard of this before coming to Australia its a fairly big deal here. The Australian government even pitches in by shutting off the lights on the opera house and the Sydney Harbor Bridge during this hour. (When I watched the news the following day the newscaster said that due to the participation during this one hour electricity in Sydney had been cut by 12% for the day.)

The ladies of Apt 23 (Alana, Megan and Amanda) invited Lyndsay and I to partake in their earth day feast. Knowing my manners, I refused to accept the invitation without promising to bring something. They had said they were making a pasta dish for dinner, so I decided I would make a tomato bruschetta to go with it, and Lyndsay purchased a box mix cheesecake mix, and together we went in on a bottle of wine to contribute. (We actually caught an estate sale special on wine and we got four bottles for 15 dollars, three white and one red)

Once we got back to the apt Lyndsay and I got to baking and then headed across the hallway to apt 23. Once we arrived we heard that word of our small candlelit pot luck dinner had gotten out, and members of both the boys rooms had gotten in on the action as well. Someone decided that we should all dress up since a candlelight apparently cannot be properly enjoyed without wearing nice clothes. I thought for sure only the girls would be doing this, but much to my surprise the boys were great sports about it and showed up in collared shirts and dress pants.

Box mix cheesecake by Lyndsay, strawberry decoration by me.

She was so proud she had baked something.

Some of the Earth Hour Banquet spread. My very pretty tomato Bruschetta

Alana, Megan, Amanda, little Jordan and Lyndsay

Glebian Ladies! Looking o so pretty. From the left, Lyndsay, me, Yaella, Amanda, Alana, Megan and Rebecca.


After a dinner of mostly carbs and a small salad (provided by me of course) we broke into the heavy liquor and dug into the cheesecake. We sat around chatting and eventually decided that we wanted to go out for the evening.

We actually were eating by candlelight, although the camera flash ruins this effect, but without it, pictures come out blurry like this.

Drinking and dining in the dark

Getting ready to cut the cheesecake!

The whole group

After we had dispersed from dinner Yaella Lyndsay and I decided we wanted to go out, as the night was young and there was dancing to be done. We wanted to go back to retro bar, as our previous attempt at going there had failed and it was supposed to be a pretty happening place. According to the website it had three floors, each featuring music from a different decade. 90′s music on the top floor, 60′s and 70′s on the second floor, and house music on the bottom floor. Alana, Seth and Jordan decided to join us in our pursuit of nighttime entertainments. Before we left we looked it up on the web to make sure it was open, to avoid a repeat of our previous failure and we discovered that they were running a promotion that night where if you wore green you got free admission. Obviously this called for a quick change. Outfitted in our green outfits we flagged a cab, arrived at the club and breezed through the entrance without having to pay the $20 cover charge.

As we were walking into the club some guy yelled at us that St.Patricks day was last week.

Cool chalk wall on the 60's/70's floor. Also- Yaella is doing the YMCA.

Jordan bustin a move

Retro bar specializes in "hen parties" aka bachelorette parties. To distinguish themselves from the rest of the club all the members of the differnet hens parties going on wear matching head bands. We saw antennae, bunny ears, princess crowns and all sorts of random stuff.

Yaella carrying Lindsay back to the apt on her back because Lyndsays feet were killing her from her heels. This is true friendship.

After we had danced ourselves silly we walked back to the apt and collapsed into our respective beds. Another evening in Sydney well spent.