May 9th, 2016 - Day 1 - Sydney, Australia

We have arrived in Sydney and left the ship at 7:50 AM.  Goodbye Insignia!

Our van we had booked was supposed to arrive at 8:15 AM.  At 8:45 AM we were still waiting but he never showed up.  We had to get some help with our luggage and we went up to the next level to catch a taxi.  We could see our hotel from the port.  The taxi got us to the hotel in 5 minutes for an $8 cab fare.  We thought that was a bargain with all our luggage.

We arrived at the Four Seasons Sydney Hotel and checked in but we were early so the room wasn't quite ready.  We waited in the Club Room and had coffee/tea and pastries.  Originally they said it would be about a 1/2 hour wait but after an hour Pat said let's go outside and walk around so we did.  What a lovely area and lots of shops to walk in.  We were able to find an Australian Koala Bear that Kent had told us Thatcher said that was what we were bringing him back from Australia.  So we had to make sure we had one.

We got back from shopping at 11:30 AM and our room was ready.  We have a beautiful Harbor View Suite  #3308 on the 33rd floor of a 34 story building.  The view is magnificent.    We have a view of our cruise ship as well as they are spending the night in Sydney.  We can also see the bridge and the Opera House.

We unpacked and Jim rested up for our Bridge Walk.  We are to meet at 1:30 PM at the Bridge Walk Station so we left here about 12:45 PM to give us plenty of time in case we got lost.  We got there at 1:00 PM.  We were able to get on a 1:05 PM tour time and it turned out to be just us so that was fantastic.  They said it was like a VIP tour just for us.

They suit you up in specially designed outdoor gear.  We just wore a t-shirt and our underwear under the suit because he said you might get to hot.  We also wore black rain pants over the suit as it had been raining a little.  We were given a safety harness belt where they attach a handkerchief, headset, jacket, and raincoat to your belt. We did a test run up a ladder section to see how we did and explained the safety measures.  We had to fill out a medical form and sign it.  Nothing could be taken up with us on the walk. We also had to go through a metal detector.

This walk was a big deal for Jim to do as he is afraid of heights.

Michael was our guide and gave us facts about the bridge and the history of building the bridge as we walked.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge construction started in 1924 and took 1,400 men eight years to build at a cost of 4.2 million. Six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction.  It now carries eight traffic lanes and two rail lines, one in each direction, but at the time of its construction the two eastern lanes were tram tracks. They were converted to road traffic when Sydney closed down its tram system in the 1950s.  Only 16 men lost their lives building the bridge.

We latched onto the steel cable in the Climb Base below the Bradfield Highway, where we walked on catwalks below the road-deck until we reached the South-East Pylon.  Here we ascended 4 ladders to the start of the upper arch, surrounded by the hum and buzz of Sydney’s traffic.  With the summit in our sight, we continued along the Bridge’s outer arch on the Opera House side until we hit the top.  We had a summit celebration looking at the 360 degree panorama view of Sydney.  The winds were blowing about 50 miles per hour.  Michael said it was rare that we were the only ones at the top and he said that doesn't happen often.

This was a big deal for Jim and I was so proud of him for accomplishing this.  He told me that I was like a bird just moving so easily.

Helicopters were just a little higher than we were.  We walked under the trains that were under us and over us.

We then crossed the spine of the Bridge to the Darling Harbour side and made our descent back  to the Climb Base.

We could see the Blue Mountains in the distance. Michael said we came on a good day because yesterday and the day before there had been a fire and you could barely see the Opera House.  He said the rained cleared it out today.

Sydney Bridge Facts: 

3 1/2 hour climb

Height: 134m

Length: 1,149m

Stairs: 1,390 steps

Steel: 52,899t

Rivets: 6 million

View: 360 degrees

AND WE CLIMBED IT!

It was 4:30 PM when we got back.  Jim said it was the most frightening thing he has ever done but also one of his top highlights!  I loved seeing the inner workings of the bridge and walking along the cat walks.  The views were spectacular.  It was a great experience and one we will remember for the rest of our lives!

Afterwards we decided to walk to the Opera House Bar for a beer.  On the walk there was a beautiful sunset that lit up the sky pink and blue and with all the buildings around glistening  it was magical.  We went inside and ordered a local beer that is made only for the Opera House and took it outside and sat and looked at the harbor where our ship was, the bridge, an amusement area and the Opera House.  The view was amazing!

We walked back to our hotel and ate on the Club Floor.  They had cheese and meats, hors d'oeuvres, fresh bread and rolls and desserts.  Pat made a open face sandwich and it was really good.

Now back in our room enjoying our view!

Goodnight from Sydney!