By Larry and Joan Dolinski
Continued from update #42
Also in the Melbourne area we got to spend some quality time with two couples whom we met some years ago while on a tour of Italy. These wonderful Australians are of European extraction and have had to overcome some very poignant and sobering experiences earlier in their lives. All four of them left Hitler's Europe to begin new lives in Australia. Rachel, a talented artist, came from Brussels; her husband Jo, a runner up for a wrestling slot in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, came from Paris. Boris escaped from Ukraine after his father was sent to Auschwitz. Those three all made their way to Australia by way of refugee camps after the end of WW II. Sadie, the wife of Boris was born in Australia, of parents who fled Poland in the 1930' before hostilities broke out in Europe. The four of them have made productive lives for themselves in their "adopted" country, and have raised families. They all possess those wonderfully generous, unsophisticated, genuine, friendly, and helpful traits that so characterizes all the Australians we have had the pleasure to encounter.
To get from Melbourne to Sydney and the Olympics took three separate feats of magic...as there was no flight availability, no accommodations, and no tickets through any official channel to the Olympic venue that interested us most (the U.S. vs. Cuba baseball game).
With persistence and sequences of post midnight telephone calls we were able to arrange for a suitable flight (someone else's cancellation), a B&B accommodation by a string of leads (from one B&B to another to another, etc.). The Olympic ticket, however, had to wait for the date of the event; with some leads through unofficial channels and luck we succeeded.
Sydney was a wonderful place to be, both because of and in spite of the Olympics. The city, handsome in its own right, was enhanced by the extraordinary pageant atmosphere resulting from the Olympics. We cannot imagine a friendlier or more well organized operation. Yellow-jacketed volunteers were everywhere; they were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
Sydney Harbor is world admired. Its signature pieces are the Sydney Opera House, with its five separate theatres and stunning architecture situated on a peninsula, and the Sydney Bridge which spans the harbor entrance. We toured the opera house complex whose five venues include a concert hall, an opera hall, a drama theatre, a playhouse theatre, and a studio facility. In the aggregate, the seating can accommodate over 5,000 patrons.
The project was begun by a 32 year old Danish architect. He was selected from 233 competing bids. It was completed by another architect (in 1973) due to cost and schedule conflicts. The acoustics are possibly the worlds finest, with technical qualities considered optimal by experts (e.g., 2.1 second reverberation time for classical music, and 1.4 second reverberation time for opera). The nightly electricity usage is claimed to be equivalent to the amount which would be consumed in one night by a community of 20,000 people. From the Opera House one can gaze across the harbor and get a great view of the magnificent Sydney Bridge. Now and then one can see groups of people being conducted by tour guides, walking the bridge girders high above the bridge surface. One pays a premium to do this and, although it is thought to be perfectly safe (everyone is tethered securely), it doesn't appear to be an activity for the timid. We decided to forego the opportunity.
At many locations throughout Sydney huge TV screens were erected in order to continuously broadcast the ongoing Olympics. The city was abuzz in a very appealing way.
Continued on Update #44
Please send corrections, additions, comments and praise to
© 1997-2002 CRW, Inc. All rights reserved. Revised: