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Sydney Tower: An Exercise in Patience

On my recent trip to Sydney, I had one free day and a few vague ideas on what I wanted to do with it. Only one thing was set in stone — a visit to Adriano Zumbo’s new dessert train near Darling Harbour. I figured I’d just play the rest of the day by the seat of my pants.

Golden Sunlight in Darling Harbour

A late afternoon stroll on the bridge across Cockle Bay.

This is how I ended up standing on the bridge over Cockle Bay, with a box full of macarons in one hand and a camera in the other, staring at Sydney Tower. Everything around me looked just a bit more golden in the late afternoon sunlight, and I wondered how the entire city would look bathed in that golden sun. While I have climbed the Harbour Bridge, that was seven years ago and I figured it was time to see Sydney again from above.

Since it was already past 4pm and I didn’t want to miss sunset completely, I made a beeline for the Tower. Navigating through the maze of a Westfield shopping centre below it, I finally managed to find the ticket counters, which had surprisingly few people around them.

As I bought my $25 ticket, I asked the man behind the counter whether I would be able to make it up the tower before the sun set. He assured me that I would, so I continued on my merry way through the requisite room with walls emblazoned with facts about Sydney until I found the line for the lift.

The line at Sydney Tower

The scene that greeted me just around the corner from the ticket counter.

It was massive. The people in line hardly seemed to be moving, and it seemed that even when they did move, they were being shuttled into a room showing a “4D” movie made especially for visitors of the tower (hence the brilliantly pink glasses they’d handed me with my ticket).

I’m not really sure what the fourth dimension was — perhaps the time that you spend watching it? — because I talked to the person in charge of moving people in and out of the theatre and she showed me an emergency exit that would bypass the cinema entirely. I snuck through it…and a lot of people followed me.

Of course another line awaited us on the other side, but it moved much more quickly than the previous one and I was soon in a lift being whisked to the top of the tower.

Sydney Harbour from Above

The Sydney Harbour Bridge from above.

As soon as I got to the top, I knew that it was worth it. The entire city was enveloped in a coat of orange as the sun disappeared into clouds in the west. Wandering around the deck, peeking between groups already clustered around the windows, I could see all the landmarks — the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Luna Park, Hyde Park, and even the ferry at faraway Manly. The P&O cruise ship that I had walked past at Darling Harbour was slowly making its way out of the harbour, escorted by boats with little yellow flashing lights.

Eventually, I managed to sneak between a few groups of people and grab an ideal spot overlooking the harbour. I sat there, resting my tired feet and watching the sprawling city light up. Sydney as a whole looked like a miniature town, with little fake cars crawling down George Street and tiny wakes following toy ferries across the harbour.

Sydney Lights Up

Sydney's lights turn on.

Even with the hubbub surrounding me, it was easy to sit there and tune out the world. Thoughts racing around in my head from Blogopolis the day before slowed; the stress of thinking I wouldn’t make it in time melted away.

Too soon, I had to start thinking about leaving so I could catch my (unbeknownst to me, quite delayed) flight back to Brisbane. I tuned back in to the world and realised that the line for the lifts snaked halfway around the deck. I have no idea how so many people fit into such small lifts in such a short period of time, but the whole process seemed much more efficient than the trip up.

Looking Out

Visitors to Sydney Tower watch as the city's lights turn on. I thought it was interesting how the different finishes on the windows appear here.

So all in all, was it worth the frustration I felt at the start? I would say so. Sure, it wasn’t as adventurous as climbing the Harbour Bridge, but I could have added a Skywalk if I wanted my visit to get a bit of adrenalin pumping (and if I’d had more time).

Just make sure you have plenty of time to visit — it’s not a place you’ll get in and out of in a hurry!

Where have you been that initially frustrated you but ended up being worth it?

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4 Responses to Sydney Tower: An Exercise in Patience

  1. Deborah September 7, 2012 at 6:47 am Reply

    The night shots are gorgeous… But must confess I’m WAY too impatient to wait or queue for long periods of time!

    Deb

    • Kristin September 15, 2012 at 7:21 am Reply

      Thanks Deb! I definitely understand that…patience is far from being one of my strong suits, but I seem to get significantly more patient when it has to do with photography (for instance, never in a million years did I think that I’d wait 45 minutes to take one star trails photo)!

  2. Erik September 11, 2012 at 9:57 am Reply

    I’m way impatient, too. It annoys my wife that I will almost never await at a restaurant if there’s a wait.

    I usually beat this on my travels by showing up at the sights I expect to be most crowded first thing in the morning. That almost always works. If I can’t, for whatever reason, I weigh the annoyance of waiting versus my desire to do it. I usually do wait for the best stuff, but I’m ashamed to admit how many times I’ve walked away from something I really wanted to see.

    • Kristin December 4, 2012 at 10:12 pm Reply

      Ack, sorry Erik — my reply to this comment seems to have fallen through the cracks while I was in Europe. Better late than never, right?

      I agree that it’s a very good idea to get to sights really early in the morning. I always seem to be a lot better at getting up early on vacation anyway, so why not take advantage of that? It seems like you’re very good at getting up early too, judging from the number of beautiful sunrise shots I’ve seen from your NZ trip!

      I’ve had a few moments where I’ve walked away from something I was looking forward to because of the line as well, so now I tend to stick it out even if I’m frustrated. Having a Kindle or a smartphone on hand helps too since I can bury myself in that — unless I’m very antsy as was the case at Sydney Tower!

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