How are you supposed to react to one of the most cherished and photographed buildings in the world, architecture that inhabits almost all outwards projections of the Australian image? An outline that could be sketched blindfolded, seen by millions around the globe. I am, as are most, hugely familiar with the Sydney Opera House, it has always been on my ‘bucket list’ and leaving Australia without seeing it would have been unimaginable to me.
Arriving much earlier than I initially anticipated, I left Sydney Airport in the direction of my hotel which was located in Kings Cross right under the giant Coke sign. They had no trouble fixing me up with a room despite my early arrival. A quick turnover, snack and a short walk back to the train station put me smack bang in the center of Sydney.
It wasn’t too much to ask of my feet to walk up to the Opera House in Circular Quay although at first I was very happy sitting down to sip coffee and survey my new surroundings. Happily, I found myself at the Portobello Café with a brilliant view of the Opera House on my right, and the Sydney Harbor bridge to the left.
While I sat having my lunch and drinking my flat white, I reclined back into my chair in quiet contentment. Of all the places I had wanted to visit in my lifetime, Sydney was right up there, and now found myself looking at one of the most recognizable scenes in the world. With every sip of coffee the sun lifted the shadows from the Opera House turning it from concrete grey into the more familiar pearly white, all of the 1,056,006 tiles glistening brilliantly. I was also watching the hundreds of tourists scurrying about Bennelong Point, photographing this most famous collection of sails.
Eating and drinking much slower than normal, I was now feeling very relaxed. This was the Australia I had come to see and I wanted to enjoy every minute of it.
The building of one of the worlds most iconic structures wasn’t easy. In fact it was a very turbulent upbringing with construction finishing 10 years late and hugely over budget. As with the finished product many of the problems faced were unique to the site, and had to be ironed out in-situ. Political shifts and personal differences even led to architect Jorn Utzon resigning, never returning to Sydney to see his completed masterpiece, even when, years later, he, and the Opera house, was awarded the highest honor in architecture. Recent years have seen a renaissance in public feeling towards Utzon with recent refurbishments being completed to his specifications and a room dedicated to the late architects memory.
Unfortunately, coffee cup empty, the time had come for me to leave my seat and join the crowds, taking my turn as a photographer adding to the infinite number of images (hoping to avoid the clichés). I took a slow walk around the base, passed by runners using the path as a track, and meandered over to the Royal Botanic Gardens and towards Government house, glancing back to catch a last glimpse of the Opera House partially obscured by trees.
I am not sure another city will ever have the same initial impact on me as Sydney managed with its most beautiful of buildings.
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