I stepped off the train at Circular Quay and gasped at the iconic structure ahead of me. The Sydney Opera House was brilliant, stunning white against blue, glimmering in the sun.
And then the clouds moved in and it practically vanished against the backdrop of gray.
As travelers we often pour over magazine and online pictures, travel guides and tourist brochures, listing landmarks on a to-do list and building expectations.
Sometimes the expectations are met, as they were at the Great Wall of China. Sometimes they aren’t.
I expected the Opera House to be more impressive and, like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, or the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, covered in shiny metal panels that curved in whimsical swathes.
No such luck.
The Sydney Opera House was covered in tiles. Kitchen tiles. Alternating beige and white ones.
When the sun’s out, the building radiates white. When it isn’t, the whole thing slumps to drab.
Regardless, I came to visit the Opera House every few days I was in Sydney. The whole bay drew me as a public space. The nearby botanical garden, the Harbor Bridge, the museums and restaurants along the quay, the ferry boats coming and going, it was a lovely scene overall.
And the shapes the Opera House makes when you get close up make up for its occasional lack of showmanship.