03/19/2020 Checkpoint Kathy, Sydney, Australia

Yesterday we travelled to downtown Sydney, Australia to visit the iconic Sydney Opera House. The trip started with a walk to the metro station, a quick ride downtown, and then a walk down to the harbor. We strolled to the opera house, wandered up and down some stairs, tried to see the “Fawlty Tours” dinner theatre (Canceled due to virus), and then decided upon lunch. As you can imagine, we had a busy morning. By lunchtime, we had already walked 10,000 steps and managed to accomplish the “heart point” goals on our exercise apps. Time for lunch! An outdoor café at the harbor had a lunch special of a sandwich and a drink, and that was just the ticket! Kathy decided upon a chicken panini and champagne. She is, after all, not working, and alcohol is allowed during daytime for unemployed people – and even sometimes those that are employed. It was wonderful as you can see by the pictures.

Next on the agenda was a climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We paid our fees and set about getting ready for the climb. Prior to the climb, we were required to fill out health information and submit to some tests. As you can imagine, climbing the bridge is strenuous, requires agility, and is hundreds of feet above the road and the water below. There were a few medical questions. One of the questions asked if you had high blood pressure. Kathy checked that box even though her BP is well controlled with a tiny dose of medication. They also administered a simplistic breath test where we had to count to five near a machine that was used to detect alcohol. Next thing we knew, Kathy (and no one else) was called to go to another room. Assuming it was about her BP, she was about to discover it had nothing to do with her health. Instead, she had to submit to a handheld breathalyzer, similar to what police officers use in the states. Required to blow into the tube, her breath was measured to see what her blood alcohol content was. Luckily, the sparkling wine she had at lunch did not make her too tipsy to walk up the steps. She was, however, tipsy enough to settle her nerves about being so high off the ground.

Next was a walk atop the beams and girders high above the cars and trains racing below us. What amazing views! We wish we could have taken some pictures, but they made us take our wallets, cameras, phones, and even our clothes and put them in a locker. We had to wear their outfit and walk through a metal detector prior to heading up the mountainous supports. Quite serious were they about no photos. Of course, they were happy to take photos of each of us to be offered for sale afterwards (that cost an arm and a leg.) The walk was astounding, and we were glad we took the leap of faith and climbed up the stairs, up and over and under the girders. Amazing views of Sydney and the surrounding harbor. Having now walked and walked, we, of course, decided more walking was in the cards. We visited the Royal Botanical Gardens and wandered among the trees and birds like cockatoos and ibises.

Heading home, we walked to the train station and rode the metro back to Pymble. We were a bit more efficient, though, on the return, as we are learning how to use the local apps for trains and walking. As we neared our Airbnb, we observed hundreds of flying things overhead about the size of hawks. Dave remarked that they looked like bats, but Kathy thought they were too large. Some helpful Aussies confirmed that Dave was right – they were fruit bats, by the hundreds! Kathy gratefully came home and sank onto the bed in relief while Dave the Magnificent walked to the store and bought Kathy some strawberry milk.

Tomorrow, we are thinking of heading for the hills. The Blue Mountain National Park is nearby and Dave would like to see how the vast wildfires affected them over the summer.

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