A Night at the Opera…Mixed reviews from this couple…

Luna Park at night.

What can I say?  Tom didn’t love it. But, of course, I didn’t expect him to. Although, in the past, I’d noticed him listening intently when a few opera singers performed on various episodes of “America’s Got Talent.”

Last night, he didn’t express a glimmer of enthusiasm over the performance at the Sydney Opera House other than his pleasure at seeing how much I was enjoying it. That’s worth something.

Cloudy night at the opera house.

He didn’t grumble or have a scowl on his face, nor did he dose off.  It lasted less than two hours, during which I was totally engaged and enthralled. I’ve always loved opera after being introduced to it by my Harvard-educated, musical genius, doctor uncle who could sit at his baby grand piano and play any aria from memory. He left quite an impression.

When it ended, we made our way to Wharf 3 to catch the next Manly Ferry, which takes off every 30 minutes. Little did we know the treat we were about to receive in taking the photos we’ve included today, too many for one post.

Tourists chose the upper deck to take photos as we did.

As we entered the ferry terminal in Circular Quay, Sydney, I suggested we climb the steps to the outdoor upper deck to sit outside to cool off on a humid night. It was a great plan when we found suitable seating and views that literally left our mouths agape.

Sure, we knew Sydney had a lot to offer. We’d reveled in it on six past occasions when our cruise ships sailed from the exquisite harbor. Over the past week, on four occasions, we visited Sydney, three by taking the ferry.

But, nothing we’d seen earlier could match the perspective from the top of the ferry, even on a dark cloudy night after seven cloudy days and nights in a row since our arrival one week ago today. Thus, we share today’s photos with excitement over this amazing city, in many ways, the most beautiful city we’ve seen so far in our world journey.

The interior of the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera House. 

As for the remainder of the evening’s photos, we took several from the interior and the grounds of the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House, which we’ll continue to share in posts to come. 

Having ordered the tickets almost a year ago, we had perfect seats, four rows from the stage, dead set in the middle. See our photo below taken from our seats.

Our seats were only four rows from the stage and dead center in the theatre, seating for 1507. There are two large theatres and several smaller theatres in the complex. The cost for these two excellent seats was AU 190.15, US $146.50.

No doubt, the theatre is beautiful and interesting. However, there are many steps to navigate to get inside the theatre. For those who may have difficulty with stairs, there are elevators and a few escalators. For the full experience, we did the many flights of steps, making our way through tourists who were sitting on the steps, as shown in yesterday’s post.

As for the remainder of the day, we’d left the house at 1:30 pm to catch the bus arriving at 1:59 pm. We made it to Manly in time for the 2:15 pm ferry. With the recent inclement weather, about 10 minutes of the 25-minute ferry ride was particularly rough, but we didn’t give it a thought.

The building of the Sydney Opera House has an interesting story. Click here for details.

Arriving in Circular Quay, we walked through crowds and commotion to make our way back, the second day in a row after our flub showing for the opera one day early. We’d decided to dine early, before the show, since we hadn’t eaten earlier in the day. 

With a 3:00 pm meal, we’d be set until returning “home” when the evening ended, and if hungry, we could have a snack of homemade coconut bread with butter with a small bowl of organic Greek yogurt on the side for me. (I’ve been taking “big guns” probiotics and eating yogurt twice a day since my recent two-week round of antibiotics).

The Sydney Harbour Bridge after dark.

We’d considered the same restaurant as the prior day since they were able to accommodate my diet.  But, we tried to branch out and try something different. Shortly, we were seated in a high-end Asian fusion restaurant only to discover there wasn’t a single item on the menu that would work for me, except plain steamed veg and chicken, which held little appeal.

We thanked the waiter but decided to leave. I wasn’t sure the pans they’d use would be “gluten, starch, and sugar-free.” Why take a risk? We meandered back down the boulevard checking menus along the way, only to discover the only restaurant that would be suitable was the same where we dined the prior day, Searock Grill.

I ordered the same grilled chicken salad, and Tom had a steak and chips instead of the prior day’s fish and chips. The steak was perfectly cooked medium rare and was thick and juicy. We didn’t order beverages.

The Sydney Opera House at night.

What surprised us was the fact that the prices were higher on Sunday than they’d been on Saturday, plus a 10% weekend service fee was added. But then, we recalled a mention on the news of increased prices on Sundays due to many workers receiving higher wages on Sundays.

Our bill was AU 41.80, US $32.20, still not too bad for the high-end area, which surely would have been considerably more in the evening. The food was good and fresh, although yesterday’s service was sketchy. 

With tips not necessarily rendered in Australia due to higher wages than in the US and many countries, we didn’t hesitate to leave the restaurant with nary a token tip left on the table. While in Australia, we followed suit as per the locals, tipping only for exceptional service. 

View of a small portion of Sydney’s skyline at night.

Once back in the US, we’ll be tipping in the typical US manner, from 15% to 20% of any restaurant bill. Add state and city taxes, and a meal may be as much as 25% to 30% more than the cost of the meal and beverages. I guess we’ll be heading to Costco for pre-made meals to bring back to our hotel when not out dining with family and friends. 

At the end of the ferry ride back to Manly, we crossed the busy street to a taxi stand and grabbed a ride back to our holiday home at the cost of AU 7.40, US $5.70. Then, we maneuvered our way up the long steep, winding walkway to the house in the dark. Luckily, Tom had his LED flashlight attached to his RFID wallet, lighting the way for the uneven walk up the hill.

View to Circular Quay from an upper deck on the Manly Ferry.

Amid our immigration worries, overall, it was a good weekend and first week in Manly. Unusual for us, we dined out four times, once with Bob in Manly, another in the Rocks area of Sydney with friends Linda and Ken, and twice in Circular Quay near the Sydney Opera House.

Today, we’re making a favorite dish and staying put planning this week’s menu. We’re trying to figure out what we need to purchase to last only through next Sunday night, just if we have to leave the country for good, as of next Monday’s immigration office meeting. We shall see.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, March 20, 2016:

One year ago, we got a kick out of watching cattle wander back and forth through the barren vineyards Okurukuru Winery in New Zealand. For more photos of the winery, please click here.

Oh, oh, we screwed up again!….Photos from the Sydney Opera House…

There are many interesting dining spots with exquisite views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House walk.

After all these years of meticulously planning our travels, we’ve screwed up once again, once for our current dreadful immigration status in Australia and again, my error only, on the night we’d booked tickets for the Sydney Opera House…I failed in carefully reading our ticket confirmation to discover it was on Sunday night, not Saturday.

This was Tom before he knew we’d arrived at the opera on the wrong date. The ship in the background is the Emerald Princess, a line we’ve never experienced.

I’d booked the tickets last April, receiving an online confirmation which I’d copied and pasted into my online calendar, placing it under Saturday, not Sunday. If I’d reviewed it carefully lately, as I should have, it would have been easy to determine the tickets were for Sunday night (tonight), not last night.

The Opera Quay building along the walk.

Off we went with Bob dropping us at the Manly Ferry in the pouring rain with umbrellas and parkas keeping us relatively dry. We waited for 15 minutes for the ferry and boarded for the 30-minute ride in rough waters due to the stormy conditions.

As we approached the Sydney Opera House, we noticed almost everyone had a camera or phone in hand.

Upon arrival at Circular Quay in Sydney, the sun had peeked out, and we walked for 20 minutes on the esplanade along the bay to the opera house. Then, climbing the zillions of steps to the entrance, we found our way to the ticket office, where our tickets were awaiting us.

There’s no doubt that after dark, these tables will be filled with diners.

Alas, we were informed that the opera for which we’d purchased tickets didn’t occur until today. So we were one day early. Oh, my. Mr. Overly Grumpy reared his ugly head for about 10 minutes while I racked my brain as to how I could make such an error. 

Bennelong Lawn, Royal Botanic Gardens is located next to the Sydney Opera House.

I could have made all the excuses in the world, such as not feeling quite well yet, the immigration thing, the missing package from the US, and my sister’s recent possibility of recurring cancer (a scare, after all) that kept my brain flooded with worries during the recent cruise and since our arrival one week ago.

I was dressed too warm for the humid weather.

But excuses always fail me. I tend to leave them in the dust instead of simply admitting my mistake and cheerfully, in my usual “overly bubbly” manner, move on. But, unfortunately, Mr. Grumpy was having none of that. For 10 minutes, he was rather annoying. 

Visitors sitting on the steps of the Sydney Opera House enjoying the view.

Suddenly, I suggested we make it fun that we were already in Sydney and enjoy the amazing area and views of the bay, Circular Quay, the Opera House, and the people watching. “How about if we go to dinner, have a drink, smile, and have a good time?” I asked. He was game.

Moments later, we were seated in a lovely restaurant, Searock Grill, with mouth-watering smells wafting through the air, ordering a beer for Tom and a wine for me, while the mood became uplifting and cheerful. After all, this was no big deal in the realm of things.

Grilled chicken salad with tomatoes, radishes, and sprouts with a side of garlic aioli.

I apologized for my error. Tom apologized for being “overly grumpy,” and we ended up having a great time.  Today, we’ll return to the Manly Ferry to give it another try. This time, we’ll take the local bus to the ferry since Bob isn’t available. 

Tom’s double filet fish and chips. He ordered ketchup on the side for the chips.

We plan to dine early again, before the 5 pm opera, since it’s less crowded in the restaurants. Lately, with my condition, dining earlier rather than later seems to serve me well with less discomfort into the evening. 

Tom’s beer, Great Northern Brewing Co., was named the same as one of the predecessor railroads he worked for many moons ago.

Oddly enough, we’d like to return to the same restaurant today after we’d read menus for every restaurant along the esplanade. Yesterday’s restaurant was easily able to accommodate my diet with a delicious grilled chicken salad along with a satisfying plate of fish and chips for Tom, photos of which are included here today.

Ferry arriving at the wharf.  There’s a constant flow of ferries heading to and fro many areas around the bay.

Based on the early arrival time, we were allowed the benefit of the lunch menu pricing, and our total bill with one glass of beer, one glass of wine, and our two meals totaled AU 50.60, US $38.92!  The same items were priced about 40% higher after 5:00 pm. That works for us!

This is the pier where we boarded our past six cruises with hopefully, one more to go with the immigration situation hopefully resolved.

After dinner, we enjoyed the leisurely walk back to Wharf #3 with only a short wait for the next ferry. Back at our cozy house in Fairlight, we settled in for the remainder of the evening, watched a few shows, and dozed off by 11:00 pm.

Happy face back on…

We’ll be back tomorrow with the results of our second foray to the Sydney Opera House, hopefully getting it right this time!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2016:

The beach in Opunake, New Zealand, one year ago. We’ve experienced plenty of rainy weather in our world travels. But, we try to take it in stride and make the best of it. As indicated in today’s post, bad weather prevents us from planning activities, although we may not venture out if our plans are open.  For more details, please click here.