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Published: February 9th 2020
After an abbreviated day the day of arrival in Sydney, we were ready to tackle a somewhat more ambitious agenda, although admittedly with some reservation of energy for attendance at the opera in the Sydney Opera House this evening. Opera is not particularly strenuous, nor was the journey to the SOH, but we were mindful of the fact that our home town is 8 hours ahead of us (actually, technically 16 hours behind us), and that would make staying alert until later at night somewhat more problematic.
Just a short walk across a peninsula from Circular Quay is Darling Harbour, but with poor train connections and a need for exercise, we walked there in about 30 minutes from our hotel. One the city side is the Sydney Aquarium, and across a pedestrian bridge over the harbor there are shops and restaurants. I am always fascinated with aquaria. While there are things they have in common, they also always have important distinctions, usually related to reflections of local water life. Here, they include penguins and at least one dugong (like a manatee). It is always fun for me to watch kids in venues such as this, because there is the constant
risk of a sudden Wow Moment.
As expected, this aquarium features local sea life as well as specimens from the nearby Coral Sea. At multiple places, you walk through tunnels of glass with sharks and rays and other fish swimming beside and over you. They also have the now-mandatory jellyfish swimming in reduced light. We watched the penguins being fed, and one particular feeder was hilariously being turned down, and then the penguin would take the same fish from someone else.
We rested in the afternoon and then took the train to Circular Quay (just one stop away from our hotel) and then the short walk from the Quay to the SOH.
The Sydney Opera House is now one of the most instantly recognizable landmarks in the world, like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. But like those icons, it did not come about without controversy.Although first proposed in the late 1940's, the design competition was not completed until the award was given to a Danish architect named Jørn Utzon. His audacious proposal consisted of a series of ceramic-clad concrete "sails" to pay homage to the harbor. Unfortunately, the original design did not actually have
details about the exact shape of the sails, and it took some time to come up with a plan that was workable. There were cost overruns and delays, and during the construction the architect became disgusted and quit and left Australia. It eventually was completed in 1973 (ten years late) and at a cost that was about 1400% over budget. But the result is magical. The edifice dominates the Sydney harbor front and is now one of the most recognizable national symbols in the world. The concrete "sails" are covered with ceramic tiles, and it is now possible to project images onto them, as was recently done as a testimonial to the hard work of firefighters nationwide.
The first time Jennie and I came here, we were fortunate enough to see La Traviata. This time it was La Boheme. By the time we reached the stunning aria Che Gelida Manina, I was already transported.
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