Sydney is full of ways for tourists to pay to see the city, but a pleasant and inexpensive way is by taking a ferry ride. There are many different routes, some just for tourists like the ferry to Taronga and some are for transport, and although the ferry is a lot slower than the train to get from the suburbs to the centre, it is very picturesque. It was a cloudy morning when we took the ferry down Parramatta River. It`s far enough to travel to the centre, and the view went from countryside vegetation to expensive villas set along the coast and finally to expansive views of Sydney Harbour and its major landmarks. It`s quite something to sail beneath the Harbour Bridge and come to berth by the Opera House. As we were coming under the Bridge we could see people climbing it.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb was a little out of my budget, but my holiday wasn`t without a spectacular birds-eye view of the city, as for Christmas Catriona gave Damien and me tickets to do the Sky Walk on Sydney Tower. Sydney Tower is perched on top of a Westfields shopping centre in the middle of Sydney, and has the distinction of being the second tallest free-standing structure in Australia, and the second tallest observational tower in the Southern Hemisphere. Despite its relegation to second place outside of Sydney, it has the highest vantage point in Sydney, and at 268m, the outdoor viewing platform is exactly twice the height of the Harbour Bridge.
We were the only people with VIP tickets which was embarassing at the beginning because we were skipped to the front of people queuing. Our visit began with a 4D cinema experience which had gimmicks such as a bubbles and a vibrating floor, but despite that it was cool to see a 3D view of Sydney from different perspectives. From the top floor of Westfields we took a narrow elevator up the stem of the tower, the speed of which made our ears pop a few times. We got out at the tower eye where most people look out through the glass windows at the 360 degree view of Sydney, but our real experience was just starting. Our blood alcohol levels were tested with a breathaliser and we were given blue overalls and harnesses. Along with about six other people, we went into the core of the tower and linked ourselves to a metal rail that went along the inner wall, up the stairs to the outdoor walkway and around the water tank.
We walked around in single file dragging our leashes behind us while our guide pointed out notable landmarks around us. There were two narrow glass-floored platforms which extended from the walkway at the push of a button, and our guide assured us of their safety by having us jump up and down in unison. I have no fear of heights above a certain level because everything looks unreal when it`s so far below you. I would feel more acrophobic if I were standing on a ladder a couple of meters off the ground. I wonder if I would ever have the guts to do skydiving or bungee jumping, because while the reality of freefalling hundreds of meters is terrifying, there is something about being at that height that triggers my lemming impulse and makes me want to climb railings and jump off like in a dream.
Like in almost all Sydney tourist attractions, the guide took our photos against the backdrop of the city but we didn`t bother buying them and I took pictures from the Tower Eye below. It was an amazing experience to be that high up in the city and see the skyscrapers below and feel the wind that moves the clouds. I could see Botany Bay where the airport is to the south, the harbour widening into the Pacific in the east and even the faint haze of the Blue Mountains in the west.