Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ringing in the New Year, Now With More Trees!

New Year’s Eve is supposedly one of the defining events of the city, so we decided that we would head down to the Harbour to watch the fireworks and ring in the New Year. Since millions of other people have the same idea (literally – Sydney boasted 1.5 million spectators), we had to head down to the Royal Botanical Gardens at 2 p.m. and have an all day picnic.

When we got there, the line was the longest I’d ever seen. It wound around and around the playing fields like a giant sea serpent. Thousands of bikini bearing, flip-flop wearing spectators were dragging coolers, camping chairs, and umbrellas through the 90 degree heat. I thought, this is going to be awful. Surprisingly, it wasn’t. The line constantly moved, and although it was about an hour long, it was much more pleasant than a similar length line for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyworld. We showed up, had our bags checked (no BYO alcohol, no glass) and proceeded to look for a spot.

Best seat in the house -- next to the garbage bins, with 5,000 of your closest buddies.
Unfortunately, the best places to see the fireworks were already taken by 6000 other people (again, literally).
So we found a place with a view of the bridge and sat down to chill, or roast, as the case may be. I have to say, that was the hottest New Years Eve of my entire life, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
We passed the time playing games, crowd watching, and enjoying the sky writing until it was time for the fireworks. 

Smile!  The sun is setting! It's no longer 8000000 degrees!
The Harbour Bridge!  And trees!

First came the 9 o’clock show, followed by ships on parade. It was then that we figured out that we really hadn’t picked a very good spot. Although we could see about half of the Harbour Bridge, we couldn’t see any of the big fireworks. Realistically, the Harbour Bridge is what’s special, because I’ve seen the big exploding balls of light before (not to downplay it—these were huge and really cool). At that point we were pretty much committed though, because wasn’t any place to move.

Ok, the city was pretty cool too.
So we watched New Year’s Eve arrive in a shower of sparks, as seen through two separate but inconveniently located large trees, surrounded by drunk foreigners who insisted on counting down repeatedly, right up until 12:20. (Seriously, where do these people get their money? At $8 a canned beer, I wasn’t about to try to get drunk). 

Then came the long trek home. With the road closures and the amounts of people, I was seriously dreading this and expecting a 3:00 a.m. arrival to an unhappy doggie. Surprisingly, again, it was super easy. The buses came every 5 minutes, so we rocked up and got on almost right away (nice how I put that Aussie slang in there, huh?). We were home by 1:30. It was awesome.

In summary, I hate to say this, but I was a little disappointed. Not because the fireworks sucked (they didn’t) or the crowds were a nightmare (they weren’t) but because we made a poor seating decision and ended up not seeing much. Sydney knows how to handle big crowds, and the fireworks were awesome from what I could see. But there’s not much available real estate unless you want to get there at the crack of dawn. Next year, I might pay an exorbitant fee to go someplace where I can arrive at 7:30 and have an excellent view. Or hang out at a friend’s house and watch them on t.v. But it was worth doing once and I’m glad I rang in 2011 in Sydney, Australia.

Happy New Year 2011!


Anonymous said...

Interesting! Like going to the Mall on July 4 - everone needs to do it once.

FW (D)

craftosaurus said...

I thought of you when I was at the gym in afternoon on New Year's Eve, watching CNN's coverage of the Sydney fireworks. Impressive!

L said...

It was pretty neat -- although next year, we'll try to maximize the experience a little more.