Sydney Travel Blog› entry 9 of 34 › view all entries
Wednesday, August 12
We started the day by meeting up with Jeff's uncle David. He's from Florida but in Sydney for a few days before heading to a work assignment in Canberra for 6 weeks. He just landed this morning, so he was looking pretty bleary-eyed but decided to join us for the day.
We decided to do a city tour by a hop-on/hop-off buses. They have these in most major cities and it's a good way to get a general orientation to the city and get a feeling for the major attractions. Ours was a double-decker and we snagged the up front seats on the top level. It was a beautiful sunny clear day, perfect for a light jacket.
The commentary was helpful, though not as pithy as we'd hoped. We toured city streets, being introduced to the major attractions, and generally enjoying ourselves. After one full circuit, we decided we'd liek to try one of the tapas bars mentioned in one area. If you read our Spain and Italy blog, you'll remember how much we enjoyed tapas in Spain. Jeff and I were the only ones who'd really tried it before, so we were the tour leaders.
We wandered into a friendly-looking tapas bar and gave our companions the low-down on tapas dining. Start with a pitcher of sangria, of course. And it was a lovely pitcher! Sweet and fruity and reeeeeally easy-drinking. Jeff suggested I might want to slow down, in fact, so everyone else could have some! :)
We ordered several rounds.
After lunch, we decided to head to the Maritime Museum and the Aquarium. We jumped back on the bus.....only to realize that it would have been faster to just walk from the restaurant. But we were already on the bus and got to re-experience half the tour before we got back to the appropriate museums.
The boys headed to the maritime museum and Kitty and I headed to the aquarium. When we bought our tickets, they pointed out that we could get a pass that would cover the aquarium, the Sydney Tour and a "wild kingdom" exhibit next door.
Oh my gosh! It was so wonderful! It started with a butterfly atrium. At the entrance level, you were watching dozens and dozens of butterflies through a glass. But later you ended up on a walkway in the atrium and the butterflies swooping all around you! It was mesmerizing and delightful! So beautiful. Difficult to photograph but beautiful.
There is a similar exhibit in DC that I've heard of but haven't made it to. It's in the Natural History museum. People I've talked to who've been to it rave about it and now I understand why.
The told us it would take us about 1.5 hours to go through. We were there for 2.5 hours! It was really wonderful. Here are some highlights:
The birds. There was another aviary for the birds that you could see through the glass at the lower level and then from a walkway above it. There were quite a few brightly colored parrots and they are cheekly little bastards. They would walk right up to you on the handrail and then look at you disgustedly if you didn't have treats or something. They would gather on an overhead ledge and when they had critixal mass, they would swoop down on you -- close enough to make you jump but far enough above you to miss you. And you knew it was on purpose!
Little pissers. Kitty got a pic of two of them, ah, having marital relations. I'll post that one later maybe. :)
They had a number of display areas for noctural animals. They were lit by blacklight so they animals would come out but you could still see in.
We screamed and jumped back against the far wall. It turned out to be something that closely resembled .... an overgrown bunny rabbit. In our intense search for the lizards, we'd never even noticed this thing. We lauged our asses off, checked to see that no one else had seen us do that, and headed quickly for the next display.
I had to warn Kitty away from any displays of cockroaches (and there were some big honkers in there!). She had to hold my hand while I kept my eyes squeezed shut in the "hall o' snakes" and walk me through it. I seriously don't like snakes.
The kangaroos were in an open-air space, only separated from the visitors by a low wooden railing.
Even though I've seen kangaroos jump plenty of times on TV, it's still something to see in person. They have such powerful haunches.
Wallabies are cute.
Wombats are not. They are a cross between a small bear and a pig and they don't get the best of both worlds.
The koalas were pretty much all asleep and looked like they had been for a while.
We were thrilled and tired when we exited at 5:30. However, the aquarium is open till 10. We called the guys to let them know we were going to stay. They were fine with that but pointed out that the hop-on/hop-off bus quit running at 6 and the last bus for us would be arriving in.
Woops! Time to scoot. Problem was, we couldn't remember where the bus stop was. We scurried all over the quay area, finally spotting it down the road. We made...well, I would say we made like track stars but hae you ever actually seen Kitty or I run? "Track star" is not what would come to mind.
Nonetheless, we made it to the bus (much to the amusement of the guys) and rode home. Dave elected to head back to his hotel. Jeff, Rich, Kitty, and I headed upstairs for the evening nosh. We actually managed to stay awake till the desserts were served at 7:30 and then went promptly to bed. Lights out by 8 but, hey, that was later than the night before!