Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sydney

I think we both passed out last night from sheer exhaustion and slept in this morning. We have a whole wall of floor to ceiling windows and even the light didn’t bother us. Since we had gone to the store yesterday we were able to enjoy breakfast in our suite. This morning the weather was very cloudy and cool with a little light drizzle. Mom opted to stay in today due to the weather and her still being sick. For some reason she just can’t get over this cold which is very frustrating to us both. I decided to venture out late morning and go to the botanical gardens that are just across the street. It is strange to me to see such a large park right here in Sydney – I guess it feels a little similar to Central Park in NYC. While I walked through I enjoyed seeing the many types of plants, trees, birds, etc.
I was started to see a bat flying above and then noticed a tree full of them sleeping. Turns out they are called Flying Foxes, a type of bat, that has actually caused problems for the garden since they have been making their nests there.
 
My goal was to go to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I did finally have to get a map since the gardens were so expansive and I think I was a little lost. Eventually I did make it to the Gallery where I was able to see “The First Emperor” exhibit including the terracotta warriors. There was a pretty long queue for tickets, but it was well worth it. There were so many artifacts from the period including tiles from buildings and a lot of bronze items including different types of beverage containers and even tea kettles that resemble what we have today, just more ornate.
 
The highlight of course were the terracotta warriors. They are fantastic. According to what I read, each soldier took approximately 150 days to create, and no two are alike. There are several different types of figures including infantryman, cavalryman, horses and charioteers. The general is one of only 9 that has been recovered so far and each has been next to a chariot. They are more imposing that I had thought – the general stands at almost 7 feet while the others slightly smaller. After this exhibit I did look around at some of the other pieces of art, but it was now mid-afternoon and I was ready for lunch. I arrived back to find Mom reading and enjoying the scenery. We had a wonderful lunch from our bread, cheese, fruit, etc. I had to run out and go up to the shopping area to get something to get a pashmina. The weather has been so much cooler than anticipated. I was also able to get a glimpse of St. Mary's Cathedral.
We did have to start getting ready early for this evening’s Opera – Carmen. We had dinner reservations at Guillame at Bennelong, which is the restaurant that is in a sail of the Opera House. We were dining with a couple we had met on the ship that were from Maryland. It was great to see two familiar faces and to have such great dinner companions. Ironically we saw the Silver Spirit as it was leaving Sydney Harbour.
 
They do a pre-theater 3-course dinner. I started with oysters while Mom had the scallops. We both had filet for our main course, but I had the chocolate dessert while Mom opted for lemon. Dinner ran a little long, so we arrived in the theater only minutes before the start. The inside of the theater is actually not as large as I had anticipated, but the acoustics were wonderful. 
The opera lasted about 3 hours including intermission. The costuming and staging were fantastic and of course we loved the music. It was an evening we will never forget. I think we both loved the fact that the horse, yes a real live horse, was in the production and even did a curtsy at the end when everyone was taking a bow. In fact I dare say the horse may have gotten the most applause! 
We took our time getting out and walking back and just enjoyed the sights of the Harbour. It really was the perfect end to a most memorable evening. 

This is a little late, but I had wanted to upload a bit of the didgeridoo player from Melbourne and this has been my first chance. Click below to listen (it was very dark so it's hard to see much on the video).
video

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