Saturday, November 23, 2013

At Last....Sydney!! (Part One of Three)

I think that anybody who watches the television broadcasts of the various "New Years Celebrations" from around the world is familiar with the sights and sound of the mammoth fireworks spectacular at Sydney Harbor. We had finally arrived in Sydney. This was the "reason" for the trip (although, as I have often said ...if you have nothing in mind but the "destination", you have missed the point of the "journey".) The blessings of being here "on the other side of the world" have been countless...but having the ability to travel and see as many places we have since we arrived in India in 2010 is just priceless. The great author of "Brave New World" and disciple of Swami Vivekananda, Aldous Huxley, once said that "To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries." Amen to that!!

We got a cool ride to our hotel from a limo driver who had a right-hand-drive conversion Cadillac Escalade... he said that the conversion cost $10,000.00 USD... he has to get a lot of airport runs to make that investment pay off! He dropped us off at our hotel...the Shangri La Sydney (make sure to click on this link and you will see what an amazing view this place has!) We had scrimped on some other things along the way on this trip... but the HARBOR VIEW room was not on of them. Looking out our window...the Sydney Harbor Bridge was to the left, the harbor right below us...and the iconic Sydney Opera House was off to the right. It was simply the most spectacular view you can imagine. I think the only better view in the entire city might be from the top of the bridge, and that was something Amy got to see on New Year's Day (that's the photo above left!)

We pretty much had some wine, some dinner and we were done. I checked the Internet to see about getting tickets to see the Australian Cricket professional league game (Called The Big Bash) on Sunday night, December 30th  ... both the Sydney Thunder and the Sydney Sixers were in town to play each other...and we had been invited to look up our basketball-playing friends (The Minnesota Twins) that we met on Kangaroo Island. I found tickets...but I also found out that the stadium was about as unreachable as anything in the city...possibly an hour by taxi and at least that long by train. We never did catch up with our BFF's. We needed to be up before dawn...so we snuggled up in the big comfy bed for the night.

In the EARLY morning of the following day ... we grabbed a taxi to take us to the Sydney Opera House for a very cool backstage-tour of the inside of this wonderful building. Taking a taxi was overkill...it was really a short walk and we did it a number of times afterwards! Seeing the outside of the opera house is pretty special. But seeing the inside? Really amazing stuff. Our guide was just a trip!! An extremely knowledgeable young man who worked the sound systems at the Opera House... and - he was a dwarf. Made for an interesting morning to be sure...followed by a great breakfast. Our guide was nice enough to also escort us over to the boat-launce where we would catch a water-taxi to the wonderful Taronga Zoo on the other side of Sydney Harbor.

Here are our photos from our first Sydney album on Facebook:

We Made It To Sydney!!

Next was a full day at the aforementioned Taronga Zoo. Now...I'm not much for zoos usually...I prefer to see my animals in the wild as we did on our African Safari. But I have to say that this one was one of the nicest I have ever been to... It was going to be another warm day... and there was going to be a ton of walking. The staff could not have been more helpful (even when we were not sue how our tickets worked ... they came as a package-deal with the Opera House Tour and it was a little confusing...but they got us sorted out. We had a great guide, too... a very cool and friendly young Aussie woman... kind of like "Crocodile Dorthy".  The highlights, as usual, were the petting zoo....and going into the "kitchen" where all of the various foods were prepared for the animals. Although I did think we might lose poor Amy Suzanne when she saw the frozen baby chicken and all of the frozen baby mice that the snakes liked so much...

Here's a couple of snapshots of THAT event!

Snake food - - frozen baby chicken

Oh my God!!! 



Here are the rest of the photos from our day at the zoo.... afterwards we took the much bigger ferry-boat  back to the other shore - walked around the Opera House again, got a cup of Starbucks...and called it a day. Tomorrow we would take a full-day double-decker bus tour of the whole city!

The Taronga Zoo in Sydney

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