As our Virgin Atlantic flight circles Sydney, Australia, the 8-year-old boy in front of me and I press our foreheads against our respective windows to catch a glimpse of the city. It is a sunny day, and the scalloped roof of the Sydney Opera House gleams, as does the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The boy and I, who are strangers, bond over our mutual excitement as we touch down on the runway. He is there with his parents to visit family, while I have traveled across the Pacific Ocean for a work conference.
A week later, after the conference is done, my American colleague Rackets and I leave our hotel in Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney with many international restaurants and huge flying foxes (bats). It is cool and lightly raining when we board the ferry that will take us down the Parramatta River to Sydney Harbour. We stand outside on the boat’s bow, rain pelting our faces, as we pass under the 1,149-meter-long bridge. A line of people who look like ants are climbing the arch.
Upon docking, we disembark and meet other colleagues and their wives at a pub. They must have been sitting there a while as the table is full of empty and half-empty beer bottles and drink glasses.
“How are you going?” Whiskey Man asks me. “Have you had a meat pie yet? You should try a meat pie.”
I didn’t come to Oz for the meat pie. I excuse myself, and my Canon Rebel and I walk to my destination in a downpour.
Sydney Opera House
I have dreamed of photographing the opera house, one of the world’s most renown landmarks. There it is, under gray skies, rain cascading down its roof. Its normally gleaming “sails” are now a dreary shade of meh.
With a wet camera and subdued spirit, I walk the perimeter of the building, which is 183 meters long and 120 meters wide at its widest point. According to Wikipedia, “The facility features a modern expressionist design, with a series of large precast concrete ‘shells,’ each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres radius, forming the roofs of the structure, set on a monumental podium.”
What strikes me most is the fact that the roofs are not solid white as shown in pictures. They contain more than 1 million tiles in a chevron pattern. The eye is led in a different direction with each step.
It reminds me that while things may appear one way from a distance, they can contain interesting and surprising details up close, proving that one can never know a thing until it is seen or experienced first-hand. This can be said of people too. The Sydney Opera House, which opened in 1973, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Read more about its story here.