34,224 – that’s how many steps I took yesterday (Friday, AU time)! This blog will cover 2 days since we got home too late last night for me to do a proper entry!
The sun has been shining since we arrived Thursday morning and we are hoping for one more day.
So, what did we do to get over 34,000 steps? After a hearty breakfast at our B & B, we covered a lot of ground in the Botanical Gardens with frequent stops to photograph interesting trees or boats going by in the harbor. We included a walk to Mrs. Macquaries Point on the harbor for spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and “our” bridge, the Sydney Harbor Bridge right next to each other! We have way too many photos of the bridge, from all different vantage points. If you look carefully on some of the photos, you can see some people climbing the bridge on the upper arch!
We decided to take the one-hour tour of the Opera House and were able to get on the 10 AM tour. We learned about the incredible engineering challenges that the building of the Opera House presented as well as the wide variety of programs that are offered. At the conclusion of the tour we decided to see if tickets were available for that evening’s opera performance. We were able to get 2 of the last few tickets to see an opera we knew nothing about!
From the Opera House tour we walked to the ferry terminal where we bought tickets to Manly Beach. The 30 minute ferry ride gave us a good feel for the size of the Sydney Harbor with all its bays and coves.There was a nice amount of boat traffic in the harbor on this sunny day, from the large ferries like we were on to tiny sailboats and windsurfers.
Once we arrived at the Manly wharf, we made the short walk down Main Street to the ocean side of Manly, where we walked along the famous Manly Beach promenade. There were lots of surfers and families playing in the water and the sand. We had a delightful walk along the shoreline to the next beach and back again.
Ferries are a huge part of the public transportation system in Sydney and they run most hours of the day, to all corners of the harbor. Our bridge tour guide and one of the local guys on our bridge climb both told us they ride the ferries to get to work.
We took one more walk along the pedestrian lane of the Sydney Harbor bridge upon our return from Manly. We then walked home to get ready for our night at the Opera.
We saw Verdi’s The Force of Destiny, a very dark production, where all the main characters are dead at a the end! We were mesmerized. We have seen very little opera and this world-class production gripped us from the haunting first notes of the overture. Above the stage was a digital display of the translation of the Italian lyrics, so we were able to follow the story. There were times I was so caught up in drama, emotion and music, that I forgot to look for the translation. The show went for almost 4 hours, with 2 short intermissions and we were never wondering when it would end. What a great experience we had! There are scenes from the opera that will stay with me forever.
Our day today started way too early, but we needed to pick up a rental car for our trip to the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are part of the Great Dividing Range that runs along most of the east coast of AU. They are called the Blue Mountains because of a blue hue that the eucalyptus trees give the mountains. We had a drive of about 1.5 hours to get to our hiking car park. Our planned hike was the Grand Canyon Loop and it was spectacular. We started the hike on top of the canyon at an elevation of about 1000 meters and hiked down about half of that elevation to the creek bed at the bottom of the canyon. We walked through narrow slot canyons, with the trail chiseled into the canyon walls. Small waterfalls fell from the top of the canyon walls and it was cool and shady most of the way. As impressive as the canyons were, the actual trail was a masterpiece. The trail clung to the canyon walls with sandstone steps in the wet areas. It is rather mind-boggling to imagine this place after a heavy rain, when the various creeks were flooding! It was a great hike.
From the Grand Canyon hike we drove to the town of Katoomba, which sits on a huge ridge line in the Blue Mountains. The views for this town were stunning and the number of tourists in town proved its popularity. We walked along the ridge, enjoying the views of the Three Sisters massive rock formations.
We drove back to Sydney as the sun was setting after a good day of hiking (23,739 steps). Dinner was at a local bistro.
Tomorrow we are going on a tour of the Hawksbury River before flying home at night.
Here are a collection of photos for the past two days. Cheers!