Sydney Travel Guide
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After a short hunt like a mouse looking for cheese, we eventually worked out the signage and rode a virtually unmarked elevator to the second floor. A flash of our Business Class boarding pass and we were in. On first impression, the space looked quite tired and nothing like our
Today's travel snapshot comes to you from a land down under, where kangaroos roam and koalas are not exactly bears. The locals call it Oz and if you have ever been lucky enough to land in this "Lucky Country," you could understand why the nickname exists. Australia, the only country-continent on Earth is just about the size of America, so it has about the same amount of things to visit.
More specifically, we come to you from the nation's largest city, Sydney. The city plays host to iconic Aussie symbols such as the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach. Naturally there's much more to this city then just three things, such as fine dining, local designer boutique shopping and museums for all tastes.
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Is that someone sleeping on the Opera House?
Paris might be shaking in their boots with the newest installation art project that has Sydney lighting up like a Christmas tree. Currently artists are testing their light manipulating skills with projects all around the city as part of Vivid Sydney, as the city once again proves itself a playground for experimental art.
Using various buildings around the city, creatives will shine lights to morph the building into a museum gallery. The show is in its 4th year, with attendance and visitors increasing exponentially. The iconic Sydney Opera House is of course a major focus of the installation, as light and artwork are projected onto the famous architectural sails. Each night at 6pm, the Opera House and other buildings will flip the switch to shine. There are even purpose built structures like igloos made from gas cans lit from the inside.
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We all remember back in early November of 2010 when Qantas flight 32 was climbing out of Singapore's Changi Airport and, due to an oil leak, blew an A380 engine. The engine explosion pierced fuel tanks, created a hole in the wing and damaged wiring. Parts of the engine even rained down on a small Indonesian island as the pilot called for an emergency landing back in Singapore.
The resulting blame game was intense, between the engine manufacturer, the maintenance crews and the plane design itself.
Fast forward over 1.5 years later and the plane is still stuck in Singapore undergoing much needed repairs and a full investigation. An airplane, especially a massive A380, grounded for that long costs beaucoup bucks no airline wants to fork over, but no airline wants to risk an accident. We get it.
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Around this time of year, most talk of Mardi Gras parties primarily in The Big Easy. If you are lucky enough to travel a bit further south and take part in Carnival celebrations in Brazil, we will happily admit our envy. Either way, you're pretty much assured to have experiences of a lifetime...plus brags all over Facebook.
On the other hand. Let's just say you have some frequent flyer miles to burn and desire to celebrate Mardi Gras in an English-speaking country. Australia is the answer to your travel conundrum. More specifically, Sydney. The city plays host to a full month-long schedule of events culminating in a colorful parade and high energy dance parties.
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The never-ending saga of Qantas and the rebuilding of a reputation continues and today the process got a boost. While Barack Obama was touring Oz, John Travolta made a surprise appearance on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne. He wasn't a passenger but he was in the business class cabin of the B767.
We know that the Saturday Night Fever star is a world ambassador for the flying kangaroo and actually has a retired Boeing 707 parked in his driveway. We also know that he has been featured as a captain in the in-flight safety announcement. Now, he turns up to present the most frequent flyers with Qantas' top status, Platinum One. Unfortunately, this was a one-off presentation; he was just in town for a 91st birthday bash Qantas decided to throw for the elite status flyers.
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Last time we were at Sydney Airport, we took you inside the Qantas First Lounge, with its living plant wall, Neil Perry restaurant, and Payot spa. You didn’t think it was the only Qantas lounge at the airport, though, did you? Oh nothe airline seems to love its airport lounges almost as much as we love visiting them. That’s why, when we were passing through recently, we dropped by Qantas’ Business Class Lounge to spend a few hours working, wine-tasting and washing up before our big hop across the Pacific.
If you thought commercial airlines were bad, try flying with Katy Perry. The pop singer kept her entourage and band waiting on the tarmac in Sydney for more than an hour yesterday before she finally showed up, still in her pajamas.
The crew was heading to Brisbane via private plane where Katy played a concert for a sold out crowd at the Queensland city's Entertainment Centre, after which she tweeted, "YO BRISBANE! You were HELLA fresh tahnight! See you in a week, trick!" During a gig in Sydney earlier this week, Perry admitted she didn't like one of Australia's most beloved snacks, Vegemite spread. She even revealed that she once threw up after eating it.
Katy's 117-date world tour ends in Dublin in November. You can find date and ticket information at Ticketmaster.com.
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So, do all the stories about Oprah's adventures in Australia make you want to book a trip Down Under yet? We're betting that answer is "nope," but obviously the Aussies are betting that it's "ohh yeahhh" instead. Thanks to Winfrey's galavanting aroundfrom helicoptering out to see the Twelve Apostles in Victoria to hosting her show at Sydney's Opera House, she's really aiming to give those who watch her final season a good look at Australia's greatest sites.
Tour operators are gearing up to offer Oprah-centric packages in January, when the Aussie episodes air. Surely her most recent escapade (and world record) will be included: Oprah took 249 of her audience member trip buddies up onto the walk of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with her, creating a record and some photo ops in unflattering grey jumpsuits. It looks scary and thrilling, but it's kinda like a walk through Times Squarewe don't know anyone who's ever been to the city who hasn't done it, whether they wanted to or not.
Oprah has left the building. In fact, Oprah is finally down under in Australia, after announcing to her audience back in September that they'd all get to go the other side of the world to celebrate The Oprah Show's final season. So how are things going? Well, aside from the fact that the Travolta jet was cancelled on account of his child being born, Oprah isn't wasting any time. She's got 300 people with jet lag, and they're out helicoptering around.
According to Australia's International Business Times (who are bothering with Oprah why?), Winfrey and the gang are traveling in style: "nine helicopters have left Essendon Airport this morning to pick up Oprah and her lucky audience from Melbourne to be flown to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. They will be touring Twelve Apostles which is only accessible by air."
Sydney already has plenty of sun and sand, but apparently there’s a need for some fun in the water outside of the area’s famous beaches. As a result, Wet ‘N Wild is spending $80 million to bring slides, tubes, and wave pools to the citizens of New South Wales. This isn’t going to just be some minor attraction either, as they’re promising that this place is going to be one of the top 10 largest water parks in the world.
The park will be located on the western side of the city, and will sit on about 60 acres of land. Builders have signed a 50-year lease for the land, so they’re really committed on this thing being a hit. Let’s just hope that if they build it, they will come.
Unfortunately, things are still a ways off before we’ll be plopping ourselves in the lazy river. The new park probably won’t be ready until the summer of 2013-2014. The place will probably be a hit with the locals, but if we head down under, we’ll probably be skipping the water slides.
[Photo of another down under water park: Jon... In 3D]
[Photo of another down under water park: Jon... In 3D]
One of the most sought-after tourist experiences in Sydney, and one that almost every visitor seems to do while in town, is climbing the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb. But it’s not just international travelers that come to admire the breathtaking views from the top of the “Coat Hanger’s” arch. Thirty-five percent of the over 2.5 million climbers who've scaled the structure since BridgeClimb began in 1998 have been Australians. Yeah, they seem pretty proud of it.
However, during a recent visit to Sydney, we were hesitant about booking a climb ourselves since the two traditional experiences—the classic Bridge Climb and the engineering fantasist’s Exploration Climb—last a whopping 3.5 hours. That’s a pretty daunting prospect for the small of bladder and the short of time. So imagine our excitement when we learned that the newest climbing experience at BridgeClimb, the Express Climb, takes only two hours.