Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's Eve at Sydney harbour

I've watched the Sydney harbour fireworks on New Year's Eve on television and each time I am amazed at how spectacular the event is. Someday, I told myself, I would be there to witness it firsthand. That day finally came for me this past New Year's Eve 2011; I timed my visit so that I would be in Sydney on that day. The weather cooperated; though it had been cold and rainy for several days, when I landed in Sydney in the early hours of December 29th, it seemed like it was going to be a nice day. Though it was quite cool early in the day, the temperature became pleasantly warmer as the day progressed. The next days were perfect, sunny but with a cool breeze.

People were giving tips on how best to see the event. Apparently you had to be at your chosen spot several hours ahead of time; some have been known to camp-out at the site the night before. My husband and I were at the Circular Quay around 3 pm and what a sight! Hundreds? thousands? of people were already there, blankets spread out, umbrellas open for shade, picnic baskets loaded with food and drinks to last them until midnight. Mind you, it was very sunny and hot that day but people were out under the sun for hours and hours.

We edged our way towards the Opera House, staying close to the shops that were still open but which would close earlier than usual (except for the restaurants that offered New Year's Eve dinner for a very steep price and the ice cream shop that did brisk business until midnight). No one could actually go all the way to the Opera House; the area was closed off. We chose a spot in front of a jewelry shop; there was a big post that provided shade for some time but as the sun's angle changed, we also got some sun. But all in all, it was a nice spot. We spread out the shawl that I had brought, sat down, and waited . . .

What do you do while waiting? People watching was quite entertaining; you can also catch up on some reading. Eat, drink, even take a short nap. You have to get up to stretch your legs every so often. Then you would have to go to the toilet too. My husband and I took turns going because one had to remain behind to reserve our space. There were groups of portalets strategically located all around but there was always a queue. There were also live bands playing and occasionally an airplane would write something in the air. At one point it wrote "R U OK?" and the people cheered. Somehow we kept ourselves entertained. The hours creeped on . . .

There were actually two scheduled fireworks displays, one at 9 pm and the bigger one at midnight. As 9 pm approached people still kept coming and there was palpable excitement in the air. Then the fireworks began; everyone got on their feet, necks were craned, arms were raised above the heads of the crowd trying to capture photos. Then it was over for the time being; some people, many with young children, started leaving. But the crowd hardly eased, more people were pouring in. There were police officers for crowd control; they tried to discourage the people from getting closer "Too many people, no more room" but more and more kept coming . . .

It was around 1130 pm and the place was just bursting at the seams. We've been waiting almost 9 hours; only a few minutes more . . . Excitement was building up again . . . Countdown . . . 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! The sky exploded with light!!! You did not know where to look!!! It was truly spectacular!

After the fireworks display, the crowd seemed to move as one body towards the exits. Everyone had to go on foot because no vehicles had been allowed to come close to the area. Bus stops were some distance away. It was really awesome, people moving en masse through the streets; it was like a big, big, happy rally. New Year's revelers greeting each other, blowing horns, making noise . . . There were policemen on horses patrolling the streets, there were fire trucks and ambulances. It looked like one big street party!

New Year's Eve at Sydney Harbour! Truly a once in a lifetime experience for me. Yup once is enough :)

No comments:

Post a Comment