Yesterday I wrote about my frustrations traveling, but underneath it all, I knew that my dear Uncle Bob was probably going to pass away, and he did at 1:37 am. Both Garrett and I are feeling sad and grieving his loss. He was a well-known and well-respected businessman in North Idaho and is in Idaho’s Hall of Fame. He was also known for his generosity with others, and he, like my Dad, had a deep and abiding love for God, his country, and his family. We are unfortunately not at home to comfort my Dad at this time or to be with our Aunt Mary and the rest of the family. For those of you reading my blog who knew Bob or want to read more about his rich life, here is the link to his obituary in the Spokesman Review.
Robin Roberts shared some words about the death of her mother that I had to remember today. “You have a choice. You can have sad sorrow or happy sorrow. I’m going to follow your advice [Mom] and choose the latter.”
I am in Sydney, Australia, today one of the truly beautiful cities in the world, and I was about to see an architectural wonder, the Sydney Opera House. I just had to choose some happy sorrow and move into the day.
The Opera House is beautiful. When Jørn Utzon’s design was chosen in an international design competition in 1957, no one exactly knew how it could be built. It took another 20 years and a lot of money to complete it. There were many critics and ultimately Utzon resigned, but it is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world and brings in artists across the globe. And today, Judy, Gary, Garrett, Carol, and I were among the nearly 8 million visitors that come each year.
The building is made up of precast concrete shells covered with white and cream tiles made by a Swedish company. As we learned today, these tiles are self cleaning! We saw the Joan Sutherland Theatre in the eastern group of shells and the Concert Hall in the western group. We also had the luck of hearing the Sydney Symphony Orchestra rehearsing.
When we got into the elevator to go upstairs, our guide asked us if we knew why the elevator had no roof. No one knew the answer. As it turns out, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means that any improvements made to the Opera House can only be made as part of the original design. So, since the original plans for the Opera House had no ceiling on the elevator, one cannot be added now.
I included some photos of the Women’s restroom (loo in Australia) as Utzon’s design is evident even to this detail.
I lament not having thought to book an evening performance there.
After the Opera House, we had a little free time to walk around the circular quay before boarding Captain Cook’s Harbor Cruise. Brent got us a front row seat on the boat, and then we cruised the harbor while eating a delicious lunch. Sydney has one of the biggest natural harbors in the world.
Interestingly, Carol’s son Reid told his parents about his trip to Sydney as a flight engineer for Boeing some years ago. He told his mother and dad about going on the Harbor Bridge, but today, we were nearly aghast when we realized that he had paid a fair sum to actually climb to the top of the bridge. Carol hadn’t realized what a dangerous thing he had done until today.
Finally, we got to see some of the other areas of Sydney on a city tour. One fascinating detail from The Rocks area was a window painted on the wall next to a real window. In the past, windows were taxed, so owners would board up real windows to avoid taxes, and then paint a fake window where the real window used to be.
We also visited the very popular Bondi Beach and ate some gelato. We got back to the hotel about 5:30. Sydney was initially built by convicts, but now Sydney with its 5 million residents is first rate, world class.
Tomorrow we have an early wake-up again as we are heading out into the country At 7:30 am for two days. Tomorrow we will visit a horse ranch in Tamworth and the day after we will see a cattle station in Mudgee. I’m not sure about the Internet in these places, but we’ll return to Sydney on our Saturday and your Friday.
Not a Mosquito, but a Carol Update: She is doing everything with us and still taking ibuprofen and Tylenol. She has a bit of a cold though. As I say, she is a real trooper.