Monday, February 27, 2006

Australia~Back in Sydney

Tuesday morning Loren drove Stephanie, Yvette and I to the depot just in time to catch the train to the airport. Quick goodbyes. Yvette was going up to Wollongong to see her parents (Loren would be coming up later) and was even on our same flight. When Steph and I got into downtown Sydney, we walked to a Youth Hostel where had reservations. It was very hot, and we were carrying our full can imagine our feelings when we arrived at their doorstep and were told to come back in a few hours. While it is normal for Hostels to close mid-day, we had specifically asked if we could come by to drop of our bags before going into town for our Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. So we had a bite to eat and did a little reading. At 4:00 we got checked into our room (3 flights up), and left for the harbour. We had 5:15 pm reservations to climb the Harbour Bridge, and did not want to be late. LOOK CLOSELY AT PIC...SEE THE PEOPLE ? The Bridgee climb starts in The Rocks district, Sydney's oldest and most historically intact. Narrow cobblestone alleyways and old stone buildings are nestled on a small hill looking down on the harbour and up at the bridge. We checked in for our climb, signed waivers, took the requisite breathalyzer test (we passed!) and suited up. After donning the snappy jumpsuits, we walked through a metal detector, to insure no foriegn objects that could be dropped were brought along (no cameras allowed). We then put on our climbing harnesses and radios. Lastly a quick practice climb on a simulator to check the gear and we're off. The walk was great, with some behind the scene looks at the bridge and its construction (for example did you know the large concrete pillars under the bridge are just for looks? the steel span is completely self-supporting) As we are standing 400 feet above the water below, our guide Simon starts telling us about how many construction workers died...(only 16, and 6 of those were not actually ON the bridge when they died) or the story about the one worker who fell 150 feet into the water and lived. By making himself as small as possible and landing feet first he survived. But the impact burst both his eardrums and the soles of his boots had to be surgically removed from his feet. They gave him a gold watch. We got down the regular way and recieved nice certificates and a great picture. By the time we got down it was dark, and we were hungry. Luckily we found The Orient, Sydney's oldest pub. Great food and plenty of old world charm. The perfect way to end our last night in Australia.

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