After starting our journey on Saturday morning, then completing a six, then a fifteen hour long flight, we finally touched down down under on Monday afternoon. Our kind friend waited for us at the airport and we could not have been more grateful for this pick up, because we did not have too much boogie in our legs to start looking for taxi or public transportation options. Especially not in the pouring rain that reflected our grey mood. I was extremely happy not to complete this journey on economy class because the good onboard sleep was the only thing that helped us speaking in complex sentences at the end of this journey.
But no magic or science can neutralize the jet lag, so despite the relative freshness, we felt dizzy the day after. But it did not stop us walking across the Harbour Bridge North to South, then visit the exhibition and viewpoint in/on the South East abutment. There you can get to know that the huge concrete "towers" above the bridge-deck are purpose less, other than decoration. In return for a significant amount of fee, you may climb up to the very top of the metal structure, dressed as a ghost buster, but due to the heavy wind we opted out. I felt it a bit pointless, like going up to the top of the Empire State Building in NY: when you are on it, you cannot see it.
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Then we were proceeding towards the docks where the ferry and the cruise ship terminal is situated. On the go we stopped for a lunch at a bistro where the owner's parrot were also eating sunflower seeds. I am not sure what about you, but I was not aware of the wide range of parrots living in Australia. They are sitting on the trees and at sunset they have a very loud chatting for a good fifteen minutes. I guess they wish good night for each other one-by-one.
Having our lunch finished, we walked to the other side of the port to see the opera house and touch its rather-beige-than-white tiles. There is a footpath all around and you can see it inside by joining a guided tour. East from the opera house there is peninsula stretching into the harbour that hosts the Government House, the Royal Botanic Garden, an open-air cinema and many more. It is worth having a glance to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from the peak of the peninsula, it is an excellent photo scene with both in one image. After wandering around for a while we crossed the park and walked back to the city centre. After a nice coffee we headed home.
Though we prepared well for the sunny weather, hence the UV radiation, the strength of the Sun still surprised. Our visit was in European spring (which is autumn there) therefore the temperature was moderate (it means less than 35 C°). Sun protection is crucial there due to the short of ozone protection above them despite they not being fully responsible for it. The UV radiation is recorded in a 1-20 scale, the highest is around 8 in the UK. There it can climb up to 14, giving a painful reminder to those who forget this.
The day after we caught a bus (relatively) early to get to the Taronga zoo, situated on the North hillside of the harbour. The main entrance is on the top and it is accessible via buses and cars, the back entrance is in the bottom, close to the ferry terminal. Between the two entrances there is a free chairlift service. Since it was early in the morning and there was no queue, we opted in a full round from the top just for fun. Then we discovered the zoo downhill as suggested. The background is pretty nice, there are several spots from where you can take a look at the harbour. The size of the park is humongous, I am not sure you can visit every part on a family tour.
Animals from all around the world live here, from huge praying mantises to wombats and elephants. We obviously opted out the European part because we did not feel the temptation to pet goats and sheep. We visited the walabi and kangaroo exhibit where leaving the path was forbidden and the inhabitants knew this and chilled in a safe distance from the path.
We wanted to check out the Quokkas, the said to be the happiest animals on Earth so badly, but they were having a rest that they did not interrupt despite walking up and down in front of their enclosure. So we gave up the selfie attempt and walked away. We checked the elephants, zebras, a pack of twitchy meerkats, seals and a tasman devil.
We had the chance, if you can call it like that, to see a shy Platypus in its aquarium. It was surprisingly small, though I have never thought about its size before. It was hiding behind the scenery objects and when came out it performed a speed swim to another object. Taking photos was impossible because it was semi-darkness. We also saw a fatty spider, unfortunately not in its enclosure but sitting in the middle of its net above the footpath. It was a nice reminder that actually I estimated 50% survival chance to me prior to the journey.
Australia is not the friendliest continent, the first settlers must have had painful and scary encounter with the local flora and fauna. Almost everything wants to kill you: snakes with various cocktails that cause you minimum a painful experience after the encounter; spiders on a scale of unpleasant to deadly; crocodiles in both sea and freshwater; sharks that taste surfers regularly and jellyfish that are responsible for hospital treatment of 50-100 people per year. ON top of these, even the kangaroos can behave hostile when they get off the bed on the wrong side.
Luckily the Australian emergency services are prepared to these situations and most unit is equipped with general anti-venom and the whole service is organized so that you are get to a specialist hospital within 20 minutes. It is remarkable when you are out in the desert somewhere, within towns it is even quicker.
In city centres is it unlikely to happen, but in the outskirts you are advised to stay vigilant. And in the countryside you clearly have to play by the rules: always watch your steps; avoid dense shrubs; never hike alone; do not touch places you cannot see or have not checked before; do not leave your shoes outside and shake it before putting on. (Photo: courtesy of knowyourmeme.com)
After completing the tour in the zoo we caught the ferry to take us to the city centre to discover it. We had a great burger with mint coleslaw in a place we found online. In the afternoon we walked to the Central Station in front of which is the end station of the only tram line. It took us to the Asian market where we refreshed our memories of the market in Bangkok we visited the year before. Then we visited the Naval Museum by a smaller bay of the harbour bay. The bay has no name or at least I am not aware of it.
Just before sunset we get to the north pillar of the bridge to capture the city view. The bridge is imposing from underneath, though I was surprised what a huge "gap" is between the abutment and the steel structure. Usually it is not noticed because either the photos not show the bridge directly from the side or simply the observer does not take a look at this bit. But once noticed, it cannot be unseen.
The next couple of days we spent the time with sunbathing around Sydney, accompanied by our friend during the weekend. There are several beaches that get crowdy in the weekend, but barely visited on weekdays. Of course wherever it is worth trying to ride the waves, the surfers are out there. One of the famous beaches is Manly Beach to where you can go by bus or ferry. A nice mall leads to the seaside from the terminals. Also known, but less established one is the Curl Curl Beach that has a rock pool carved/built at the north end. And last but not least, Bronte Beach, the famous family destination with also a rock pool.
One day we jumped into the car and visited the spectacular site of the Blue Mountains. Vertical cliffs and high waterfalls make this place an ideal destination of the lovers of nature. Since it is farther from the city, less tourists and more locals visit the place. After walking around the place we shifted to the Three Sisters that got its name from three rock peaks. The scenery was similar to the Grand Canyon in the US, but much more lively with greenery.
Our time in Sydney has come to an end and we proceeded to Brisbane, which will be in the next chapter.