Phase I. Facts & History of the Opera House

There are several ‘phases’ of my visit to the iconic Sydney Opera House. My first few days in Sydney were rainy and overcast, which I learned had been the norm all season, an unseasonably wet summer. I was a little bit disappointed, for I wanted to see the contrast of the rooftop “sails” against the blue sky. I later learned from Cheryl's neighbor, Sally, that the rooftop of the Opera House can actually be blinding as it reflects the sunlight, hiding the intricate details of the roof ‘sails’ with its tiles.


Architect Jorn Utzon was rejected by 3 judges for his design for the Sydney Opera House, but a fourth judge (Finnish-American Architect, Eero Saaniren) pulled it out and proclaimed it as masterful and should be declared the winner. He ended up beating 232 other architects.

The Tiles

Let me tell you about those tiles -- very interesting stuff -- there are over 2,100 tiles distributed over the Opera House roof to make up all the sails. Those tiles are actually self-cleaning, so no one needs to be hired to do serious power-washing to maintain the beauty of the white tile. The rain cleans it off, and the dirt runs off with the water.


The Roof -- "Sails"

All of the tiles that add up to make one sail weighs 15 tons. To put it into perspective, the average car weighs 2 tons.

The tallest point on “sail” is the equivalent of a 22-story-tall building.


Delayed & Over Budget (Yikes)

The architect actually never saw it completed, for the Australians were bitter over the cost and time that it took to complete the Opera House, for the designs had never been consulted by an engineer. It was budgeted to cost $7 Million Australian Dollars and take 4 years to build. In the end, it took 14 years with a whooping cost of $104 Million -- that’s 14.5 times the budget! Yikes. I later learned that by the time the architect and Australians came to terms with the tension and put it to rest, he was medically unable to travel. His son now has a leadership position with the Opera House, so there is some reprieve for that once-tenuous relationship!

Phase II: A Sunny Day!

Later on my last day in Sydney, it was a beautiful, sunny day with some clouds. I had heard of the walk up the Plyons as a good view of the Harbor, so I made my way there following the outing at Bondi Beach. At that point, according to my Apple Watch, I’d already walked 17,500 steps, so I was feeling tired and considered just getting an espresso and settle in with nice view of the Harbor from The Rocks and admire the Opera House from afar.

Dammit, I thought to myself, go!”

Suck it Up.

So I sucked it up and decided to keep walking, the Plyons seeming further away than previously thought but once I got on the Harbor Bridge walk path, I was immediately rewarded with a nice vista and the sun was coming behind the cloud cover to shine on the Harbor. I was already pleased with my decision to keep walking.

I found Plyon entrance, befuddled with why the entry door seemed overly difficult to open. I saw someone try to open it, too -- and he said, reading from the posted sign that I’d overlooked:

“Closes at 5 PM, so last entry 4:45 PM,” he said with a shrug.

It was 4:50, I had just missed it, but I stated,

“It’s not 5 yet!? I can be fast! I can sprint up and be back down by 5!?”

In retrospect, not sure why I told him that, as if a fellow tourist would have the authority to let me go up!

The Sprint

Seeing that there was an exit staircase, open and no one “manning” it, I figured I could see how far I can get and just beg forgiveness. I raced up the first flight, seeing that it was unattended, jumped over the turnstile, and kept skipping stairs until someone stopped me. Well, that never happened as I made it to the top within a couple of minutes, thanks to CrossFit!

Oh the view! So. Worth it. I was ecstatic and had the biggest smile on my face as I took in the late Friday afternoon activity of the Harbor. I felt like I’d gotten away with the biggest rule-breaking incident yet, evading all the checkpoints to make it to the top for such an indescribable view of Sydney Harbor and the Opera House. Here’s a favorite:


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