Alright. Back again. You know, it's exhausting when you have excursions planned every day. But it's been great. I've gotten to see things that I have always wanted to see.

So day nine was all about Sydney Harbor. First, the bridge climb. Or rather "The Bridge Climb". Whatevs. Showed up for my 10:25 appointment and I really hadn't realized what a big operation this was but it's pretty impressive. Seems they have people going up every 15 minutes or so. All the Australians that I have told about my plans to do the bridge climb have been encouraging, but it's really a touristy thing to do. Which is a coincidence, because I'm totally a tourist. Anyway, weather in Sydney has been questionable. And although it was cloudy when I showed up for the climb, there was no rain (well, until about an hour after I got off the bridge).

So when you go for the climb, you spend about the first hour preparing. you put on a suit (it looks like a parachute suit, but jumping is not allowed. And you pretty much have to take off anything loose. No hair clips, no loose jewelry, no cameras. They have pretty much anything you would need. So you get the suit on, walk through a metal detector (safety first) and then you attach the thing that hooks you to the bridge (not a carribeaner but a ball that locks on to the cable). You get 2 packs clipped to your belt that hang over your bum, one is a fleece jacket and the other a rain jacket, just in case. I needed neither. Then you can clip on a baseball hat and beanie (which I totally did because out in the humid air, I can get huge crazy hair going on). They teach you how to work the thing that connects you to the cable. You connect on one end and then stay connected until you get back down on the other side of the bridge, but you do stairs and ladders and suck and have to be able to maneuver this contraption around corners. So your guide takes pictures (mine are on disc and I'll share them when I get home) and answers questions (you have a radio and headset on). It's hard to explain the view, but it's pretty stunning. Despite the cloudy weather, you could see all that you wanted to. Beautiful view of the opera house. Anyway, it was windy up there, not at all physically challenging and I only felt queasy once on the way up and had shaky legs on the way down. So glad I did this. I had thought twice about it but decided that some fears have to be overcome!

So after the bridge climb, I walked around Circle Quay. The Opera House is on the other side of the Quay. So I stopped off at a café and had some pizza (pretty unsatisfying, but who cares, the view is amazing) and a glass of wine (to get rid of the shakes) and did a little people-watching and reading. I can go almost anywhere if I have a book. I finally finished A Whole New Mind (highly recommended; an easy read) and re-started The Emperors Children which I am totally enjoying. So I wasted some time at the café and then walked over to the Opera House. I took some pictures.

Here is the Sydney Harbor Bridge from the Opera House:

 

OK, here's a closer shot. See those little ants on the bridge? Those are climbers. I was there!

 

And here's me with the bridge in the background. Man, I look tired. That climb took it out of me!

The hair is the best that could have been expected under the circumstances. I know I said I would try not to care, but it's hard to un-do a lifetime of hair angst. I'm just saying.

Then I did the tour of the Opera House. It's an architectural wonder. Pictures up close don't do it justice (and they don't allow photos in the concert hall and the opera house....not sure I go the names right,...the 2 main venues). The tour was educational. you learn about the Danish architect, Jorn Utzon and the history of the construction. Really interesting; one of those things in life you just have to see for yourself.

After the tour, I walk around The Rocks a bit and then decide to work off some of the adrenaline by walking up George Street back to the hotel. So this reminds me of how much I miss city walking. You know, the business crowd. Makes me miss Chicago a little bit. And as much as I hated dressing up for work, I have to appreciate good-looking Australian men in nice suits. I know that is probably a little crass to say but good gawd. And the accent? Mmm hmm. I'm human. I totally appreciated the walk back to the hotel. I probably shouldn't have said that :)

Once I get back, I freshen up and head down to Glass, a restaurant in the hotel. The chef is well known and we spent some time here during the conference. I thought a good place to have some wine, a light dinner and do some reading. And that is exactly what I did. I branched out and tried some Pinot Gris, which was fortunately rather dry. And for dinner, I had a fig tart with caramelized onions and blue cheese. Yum!  And I get some reading done; three wine glasses worth. Probably one more than I should have had given that the next day is the tour of the wineries.

And again, insomnia. It's been at least 6 weeks since I have slept through the night. Clearly, the equator has nothing to do with my lack of sleep because it works the same in the north and south hemispheres. Looking forward to the weekend in the future when I catch up on my sleep deficit.