Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Bit More on Sydney

Sorry about that last rant; could you tell I wasn't feeling too great? I forgot to relate a funny story about getting here to Sydney: while waiting at the airport, a rather large Fijian lady sat nearby, wearing WAY too much perfume; I could smell her before she even got close. I had to sit several rows further away; meawhile, her kids are running around in circles, with only a mumbled word of protest from the Fijian Mary Kay. Then on the plane, I was in the very back row (at last a window seat with a view!), I had an empty seat next to me, which is always nice, and noticed that the whole middle section across the aisle was emtpy too (known as a "bench" in travelspeak). Cool, if I got tired, I could lie down for once-- I've never been able to do that on a plane, ever-- someone always beats me to it. But just before they close the doors, a Fiji family sat there, with-- you guessed it-- Ms. Perfume sitting right next to the aisle! So much for my one chance at the bench.
Anyway, I liked Sydney; it's a nice, clean city with lots to do, great harborfronts, and a nicely restored old section the "Rocks", saved from demolition recently by some forward-thinking Sydnians and beautifully refurbished into quaint cafes & shops, where I spent the second day having a nice, easy walk around and a stop for lunch. I had planned to go across the harbor to the Taronga Zoo, but I just needed to rest that day instead, and got too late a start. I also had a long walk through the Botanic Gardens, which Mom & Chuck would love. Well, Mom may not have liked the flying foxes (essentially giant bats) hanging around in the trees!

And the last day I had time to visit the Aquarium (not bad, but not like Baltimore's or Boston's) and the Wildlife Encounter, an indoor zoo that I had doubts about, but actually it wasn't bad-- the habitats were open-air and quite large. I especially liked the butterfly habitat. But they were both a little touristy and not really worth the A$42 for a combined ticket. Oh, did I mention, everything's expensive here?

All over NZ and australia there are also these unusual ooking birds around (I've been told by Ange they are ibises); they wander around along with the pigeons and gulls. This one (pictured right) is not in a zoo, it was just hanging out by the harborside.
Speaking of birds, there have been a few more memorable ones I've fed, including a duck whose top beak was half-missing, and a pigeon with a broken leg that had somehow managed to heal bent backwards. Both birds looked amazingly healthy, and fought right in there with the others for the crumbs I gave them (turns out they like cheese, too).

There was also a great exhibit in the Australian Museum featuring closeup photos of faces of apes who have been orphaned by poachers and rescued. It was very touching-- but I'm sure I don't have to go into my views on that!

There are also some great old shopping halls (below right) like The Strand and the Queen Victoria Building, made in the old English arcade style. These are the prototypes of the modern shopping mall. Jen, you would love it here!
Then I made it to the Central Station with my bags, and found the train to Canberra, on which I had a nice 4-hour rest, saw some of the countryside (no kangaroos, darn it), and got to my hotel, the Forrest Inn (named after some famous Australian of old) around 10:30pm, but was worried when I saw the office was closed. Oddly, there was a phone hanging on the outside of the office, labeled "Pick up for Service". A voice told me my room number and said my key would be at the bottom of the door. And sure enough it was.

A hotel room never looked so sweet.

Next: Canberra: New Capital

1 comment:

ang said...

the bird is the white australian ibis. they are very common around the city. the one you've pictured is quite clean, probably due to the fact that it gets fed by tourists. they are usually quite dirty and are not afraid to come right up to you and steal your lunch. they have managed to get to plague proportions in some urban areas due their adapted skills of scavenging and feeding at rubbish tips...they eat anything!