Bondi, Bridge Climb and Sydney Aquarium
Jetlag is a strange thing. I thought I'd got away with it. The fact that it was 4am and I was awake suggested otherwise. Only one thing for it - get up!
We decided that sunrise over Bondi was a camera moment. Trouble is, in the effort to reduce the suitcase weight to something less than 10 years' worth of Neighbours scripts (actually, would that weigh all that much?), the camera tripod had been ousted in favour of a portable tripod which really wasn't man enough for the job of supporting, say - a camera, and certainly not one with a zoom lens. Somehow, though, I managed to catch a few passable shots as the sun rose over the North-Easterly head of the beach.
Manda and I walked along the beach, rudely disturbing all the seagulls who were catching a spot of shut-eye before the serious business of snaffling tourists' food could begin. It amazed us how many people were up early in the pursuit of fitness and well-being. The Australians, or at least these Australians, were a healthy bunch. Everywhere we looked were small groups of people running, walking their dogs and one guy doing his Tai Chi on the shore as the waves crashed ever in. And the sun was still not even a major player in the day's proceedings.
When we got back to the flat, Andy (my bruv) was up and showing the whole world what a good night's sleep can do to a well-grown head of hair. He was also our lift to the first 'must-do' event in Sydney - climb the bridge. Bridge Climb does exactly what it says on the tin - you pay your money, you climb the bridge. And what a view.
Climbing the bridge
The Bridge Climb itself takes a couple of hours up and down, but there is a good lot of procedure to go through first. You are harnessed, have to remove all loose items, cannot take any cameras - even hankies are not allowed (you are provided one on a piece of elastic which goes around your wrist). Oh and there are those lovely grey overalls too! The idea is that you blend in with the bridge, and cannot possibly cause any distraction or danger to the cars, trains, pedestrians and cyclists below. All in, it takes about three hours, but it really is a must for visitors to the city, and locals too - a couple of people who climbed with us were local but had not done it before. So, why do it now? "Because it's there," came the response.
As we left the Bridge Climb, we had a nasty shock - rain. OK, it had been overcast on the climb, but we were hoping to avoid this. To get away from this we headed off to Darling Harbour and took in the sights of Sydney Aquarium (one of the best I've seen), but once outside again, the wind whipped up and the rain felt just that little bit more nasty.
The rest of the day was spent trawling the various souvenir shops - of which there were many - that lined George Street. It was interesting to be in a city hosting the Olympic Games, not least because it gives you an insight into the way the cunning marketing mind works. Sydney 2000 merchandise was everywhere and encompassed everything. This was good. It made gift-buying easy. But, joking aside, the merchandise was all good, reasonably priced and there was something to suit everyone. Likewise, there was a healthy stack of knockdown imitations! So where the Sydney 2000 logo was a trademark, the words Sydney 2000 were not, and a cap bearing the same words but a different logo was a lot cheaper (both in price and quality). The Poundland shops in the UK had their counterparts in Sydney selling every conceivable piece of merchandise. As long as it didn't have the Sydney 2000 logo on it!