Thursday, July 25, 2013

All About My Sister

Seeing as it took my mother and sister over 4 years to visit me after I moved to Seattle, I thought surely it would take at least a decade before either of them set foot on Aussie soil.  After all, Seattle is just less than 3,000 miles away from South Florida, but Sydney is nearly 10,000 miles away.  But, my little sister was on a mission to prove me wrong (aren’t little sisters always annoying like that?)  Just under 3.5 years after my arrival in Australia, my little sister landed on Aussie ground.  For two weeks, The Peacock – as I’ve called her for some unknown reason since we were kids – roamed around Australia.

My sister came bearing a bounty of “gifts”.  I use the quotes because I paid of most of them online and had them shipped to her for transport.  Many of them were functional – winter clothes, camera accessories, etc.  But some were just simply indulgent – like a tonne of Theo Chocolate and a few boxes of Cheez-Its.

One of my favourite things was the actual luggage she brought them in – my new REI travel pack that I’ll use on my big overseas trip later this year.

As I’ve done with many visitors before, I took my little sister around to see all of the key sites, like the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and some views of the skyline:

And of course the Bondi to Coogee Walk:

I’ve always done something new with my guests – but the longer I’m here, the more things I check off the list, and the harder it is for me to find something new in Sydney.  Luckily, there was one thing that I’d been saving for a special occasion:  The BridgeClimb.

For an outrageous sum of money, you and a group of roughly 14 other tourists can walk to the top of the Harbour Bridge – far above the pedestrians, bicycles, cars, trains, and the water below.  It’s one of the Sydney’s biggest tourist attractions and for a very good reason:  the views are fantastic.  High up on the bridge and totally unobstructed by downtown skyscrapers, the view from the Bridge spans from the ocean to the far inland suburbs.  The bridge itself was/is a feat of engineering.  Never before in history had such a bridge been built, and to this day, no bridge can truly rival its size and load-bearing capacity.

From start to finish, the tour takes about 3.5 hours, but much of that in the beginning is the safety briefing and the time it takes to get suited up.  For safety, you are required to wear a special suit and you aren’t allowed to bring cameras or any other items with you.  While it’s annoying that you can’t take any pictures, it’s probably better that you not risk dropping your camera on some poor motorist below.  Luckily, the guide has a camera (tethered to him/her) and photos are available for sale afterward (at prices that are even more exorbitant than the tickets themselves).  But, the pictures turned out fairly good and the views were great.  They stopped to snap a few shots along the way.  From a lower level just above the road:

To the beginning of the arch:

To the highest point of the Harbour Bridge:

The guide was armed with an arsenal of bridge trivia and stories as well.  Overall, the excursion was well worth the cost… but probably just one time and one time only!

A short two weeks later, we ended my sister’s trip with breakfast at my favourite cafĂ© on Bondi Beach.

But that wasn’t before I dragged her up to a region of Australia that I had yet to explore:  Far North Queensland.  Additional posts to follow…

p.s.  I made her try Vegemite.  She didn't like it.  I wasn't surprised. 

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