If writing a personal blog could be considered an activity for the self-absorbed, then thinking that readers will be interested in your vacation photos is probably certifiably narcissistic. Mental diagnoses aside, I have had several questions about my trip and even requests for pictures. Maybe they were “How are you?” kind of inquiries, hoping for the vacation-photo equivalent of “Fine;” after all, I remember my sister being positively put out when I tried to foist my three packets of Washington D.C. photos on her attention. “They’re boring,” she resisted. That was 20 years ago, but I’ve been wary about sharing ever since.
Oh well. Here are some highlights from Sydney:
The morning we got off the plane in Sydney, we had the whole day and half of the next to ourselves. That first morning, after finding our (totally cool) hotel (thanks, HP!), we walked across the Royal Botanical Gardens en route to Circular Quay. The flying foxes (which are actually bats) were thick in the trees like fruit:
At Circular Quay we got on a hop-on/hop-off ferry that took us to various sites around Sydney Harbor. We went past our hotel on Finger Wharf–it used to be a textiles shipping and processing wharf, but has been kitted out into a posh hotel, expensive restaurants, spas, shops, and private apartments. The penthouse end that you see here, with all the windows, was recently bought by Russell Crowe for about $20 million. Oi:
We got off at the zoo, and spent about two hours wandering around. It was one of the best zoos I have ever visited, all on sloping ground facing Sydney Harbor. Alas, I didn’t get a picture of the Koalas cuddling branches as they slept, but I do kinda like this shot:
We could have easily spent more time there, but we didn’t want to miss the last ferry stops, so we headed to Darling Harbor to the Aquarium. Again, amazingly well-done–I especially liked the three huge aquariums that had glassed-in tunnels through them so you could see the Great Whites without the bother of getting wet or eaten. No pics of that, but across the Harbor was the Australian National Maritime Museum, where we toured the destroyer HMAS Vampire, and submarine Onslow. Very kewl, and helped me know for sure I would NOT like being in the Navy, most particularly underwater in a sub. The bunks were like sideways coffins, stacked three and four high. Ugh. And now I have an even deeper respect for what military folks go through in obeying their country’s call. A pic from outside:
Other than our early-morning walks around the city in search of fresh pastries, or our fancy-schmancy dinners with HP people, I spent the next four days alone, visiting as many places in my Lonely Planet Sydney book as I could. I didn’t take cabs or busses or the monorail, just walked and walked. In fact, I walked my right big toenail right off. Weird. One day, I booked a minibus tour to see the Blue Mountains west of Sydney–only $60 for about 8 hours and several stops. My compatriots were four Germans, two Japanese, two Western Australians, and three women from L.A. Our first stop (after morning tea) was at this awesome lookout:
A large percentage of the trees are eucolyptus–93 different varieties!
Next we stopped to hike down to see Bridal Veil Waterfall. The guide assured us that in non-drought years, it is much more spectacular:
Everywhere we went, folks were talking about the several-years’ drought Australia has been suffering. One couple from a town in Victoria said that their town’s drinking water was only viable for 220 more days without rain. Water restrictions don’t allow them to water their lawns more than once a week. My pal Quimby, who lives in a particularly stricken area of Oz, goes to drastic water-saving measures, like standing in a dishpan while she showers to reuse the water for laundry, reuse it again to flush, etc. Australians have proposed desalination plants, gray-water filtering, new rain collectors–all with huge price tags. In fact, our last stop on the tour was to Sydney Olympic Park, where the very buildings are designed as giant rainwater collectors (cool swoopy roofs, etc.) and they have a reclamation system that supplies the majority of the water needed for that area. As tourists, John and I did what we could as far as showering quickly, reusing towels and sheets, flushing *ahem* as needed, etc.
After lunch, we went to visit some Aboriginal carvings, then to a wildlife reserve where you can picnic and even camp with kangaroos grazing and hopping about:
While there, we also saw kukuburra (kukuburras?):
Well, whether you wanted it or not, there ya go. Well, there WE went. It wasn’t nearly long enough, but fabulous nonetheless. I’ll post some New Zealand pics and stories next.