Friday, December 7, 2012

Here today, Dugong Tomorrow.

Friday Flashback: Sydney

Since I still want to talk about what’s going on currently and I don’t want to do a Mega Post with everything I’ve done since the end of September, I’m going to start doing these Friday Flashbacks.   Problem solved.

Shawn’s parents (el in-laws Casa de Sponheim) wanted to see something other than Melbourne while they where here, so we decided to take a quick weekend trip up to Sydney.  Everyone seems to get the impression that they haven’t seen Australia at all until they’ve been to either Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef, so the take away from this is the city of Melbourne needs a better marketing department.  Question for those of you in the US, would you feel weird if you had visitors and they only wanted to see NYC or LA?  I’ve gotten really protective about Melbourne, BUT I do completely understand wanting to see as much as possible here, as this really is a once and a lifetime trip.    

We left on Friday night after work, and took Tiger Airways.  Currently several Aussies are groaning at this.  You know how in the states we use Southwest when we want to go somewhere on the cheap?  It’s not like that.  It’s like….”Joe’s Discount Airplanes/Tacorria”.  But in all honesty, Tiger wasn’t that bad.  I mean yeah, it’s a sketchy little airline and no, we didn’t exactly know if being over .2kgs would ban our bags from the plane, but we DID get to Sydney on time.  Thanks to pro-tips from my co-workers, we didn’t take the train into the city, but instead took a cab, which ended up being cheaper.  I don’t know what it is about airports, but seriously, there needs to be some AFFORDABLE way to get there.  Stop charging 5 million dollars to get there. 

The very first thing we did was check in the hotel.  The thing is, I am usually picking hotels based on price and not on…quality when I’m on vacation.  This proves to be a bit of a problem when you are traveling with others who you don't know what their hotel preference is.  So I while I was thinking of the Morgan’s Boutique hotel ending up something like this: 

(why does that cat have an eye patch?) It actually ended up being nice and livable.  I also will relish the day when I’m staying in a nice hotel instead of just staying somewhere because I am being cheap.

After that we jetted down to the Quay* to go to the Aquarium.  We were pleasantly surprised to learn that we were staying right by a train station.  Since I was feeling rushed and flustered, I accidentally thought we were supposed to be at the Melbourne Aquarium.  I actually started telling the guy at the desk that we were at the wrong aquarium and then STUPIDLY realized I am an idiot.  Whoops. 

The Aquarium was okay.  Well it was just okay until we got to the part about the Dugong.  Oh the gentle dugong.  Much like Mungo the Manta Ray, I thought maybe I could get the Dugong into my tub.  First off, dugongs are like, the coooooolest thing.  They are so cute!  They are like manatees with pointed tails instead of rounded ones.

Battle of the Sea Cows:  FIGHT!
I like their cute faces, and how they eat romaine lettuce to keep that sexy dugong figure. 

Nom, Nom, lettuce.
I also liked that when looking up these majestic creatures on the internets, I learned they are named PIG AND WURU!  <3  There are also only 5 captive ones in the world!  So I'm pretty jazzed I got to see them. 

While shawn dragged me away exploring the rest of the aquarium, I saw there is a place called this:

What the…?  WHY DIDN’T WE MOVE HERE?  It’s pretty much my dream to go live with the dugongs now.  Let’s see how that pans out.

The rest of the aquarium was okay, I saw some nemo and dori fish.  And they had a neat exhibit where you walked over an aquarium.  Shawns’ mom was not a fan.

My feet over (troubled) water.
Size of a White Tip Reef Shark
I'm Smooth. A Smooth Dogfish.  ZING!

After the aquarium, we headed to the mall for a late night dinner at the food court.  The best part of that being, I found DANISH ice cream.  I immediately knew I must consume this for nothing more than to embrace my Scandinavian heritage.  (can’t you see it?  I’m tall and blonde…seriously where were those genes?)  I decided on Baileys and Burnt Almond.  And yeah, that’s as delicious as it sounds.

Dugongs have lettuce, I have Danish Ice Cream.
The weather was supposed to be kind of gross that whole weekend, so we decided just to go to the zoo since it was most likely going to rain both days.  Because Australia is the best, we had to take a ferry to get to the zoo.  For anyone who’s read anything on my blog, we all know I’m struggling with buses here.  So please imagine what it was like for me to get on a ferry.  I envy anyone who doesn’t get motion sick.

Fine and Dandy
Yo Quiero A Vomitar, por favor.


Once we got to the other side of the bay, shawn and I took the sky ride up to the zoo, while his parents took the shuttle bus. I also took this opportunity to buy a sweet poncho.  In retrospect, I could have saved 5 dollars and bought the child sized, because adult means ‘giant’ here in Australia/the world. 

Side note, a Sun Bear could also wear this poncho.
When we were purchasing said poncho, we saw that you could have an owl experience after the bird show for the low, low price of $25!  Of course, I was immediately game.  I loooooooooove owls.  I have always wanted to hold one! 

We walked around the zoo a bit, I played with my zoom lens and then we went to the bird show.  It was pretty neat.  But the whole time, I just was very excited for my owl.  They brought her out and gave me a glove.  The woman told me ALLLLLLL about her and I don’t remember a darn thing.  I was really just so thrilled to be holding this lovely creature.  She had been an injury, so she only had one wing.  At one point, she started making these weird cooing/gurggly noises.  I asked the keeper what they meant and she said, oh, she’s really excited to be out here, that’s her happy noise, like a cats purring.

I am making gurgly noises too.
It was really over too soon, and although I couldn’t give her any pats, it was really neat having her on my arm.  And now, my second new dream is while living on dugong island, to become a falconer. 

After that, we wandered a bit more.  They had several talks but the one that intrigued me most was…the Spider Talk.  Okay.  I know.  I mean, I knoooowwww.  They’re totally creepy, right?  But I was hoping that if I went, I’d be less scared or maybe I’d learn some fact that might make me not want to run in terror while dry heaving whenever I see one.  I will give the Spider Talk a bit of credit.  It did not, in fact, make me less scared.  But the guy giving the talk was SO great that I felt okay.  Even though I cowered in terror when they brought around the huntsman that was running around its container.   Once the guy saw the look of abject terror on my face, he said “wait, are you scared of spiders.”  When I answered with the obvious “oh yes.”, he said “hey, good on ya for coming!” 

I will pause a moment here to reflect that this was my first “good on ya” in Australia.  MILESTONE!

He was very impressed that I managed not to run screaming and shawn asked him some questions.  Some take aways from this experience:  When a huntsman falls on you in the middle of the night in your bed, he’s not trying to murder you.  He’s just a dumb clumsy spider and he probably feels pretty stupid about it. Even the fastest spider in the world cannot keep up with you, soooo, if by chance you are being chased by a spider, you can pretty much just walk away.  Also the last person to die from a funnel web spider bite was in 1981.  So if no one’s died in 31 years, I guess I can be okay.

My compliments to the Taronga Zoo for its wonderful spider program.  And even if I’m still pretty creeped out by them, I’m happy that I was able to laugh a little about it. 

Rest of the zoo was really cool, and I can’t wait to go back.

American Alligator
Genius Meercat

Tree Kangaroo

Devon Sized Sun Bear
View from the Bird Show: This would be pretty without the drizzle.

The next day we had planned to go see the Opera House.  Since it was an all indoor activity day, it was naturally gorgeous outside.  The day started off with an extremely aggravating experience with public transport.  The trains were down at our station, so we had to take replacement buses.  This was all well and good until you tried to get back on the bus, and weren’t allowed to.  Why?  WHO KNOWS.  I don’t understand a city where my ticket isn’t good on all forms of transport.  And it’s grossly expensive.  If going to Sydney did one thing, it made me appreciate public transport in Melbourne.  

With the Harbour Bridge
We got to the Opera House and were on the next tour.  It seemed like the tour meeting place was easy enough to find, but in all honesty, it was pretty well hidden.  And the people who worked there couldn’t even tell us how to get there.  There was tons of construction, and they don’t believe in signs apparently.  Anyway, when we got to the tour it was JUST about to leave, so we made it just in time.
Presenting the Opera House!

I think besides awesome animal learnin’ and owl snugglin', I really really enjoyed the Opera House tour.  I learned that it is the second most recognizable thing in the world, second only to Mickey Mouse.  AND the seats in the Opera House are made of a special kind of wood that mimics the acoustics of the human body so that even if the house isn’t full, the sound still sounds exactly the same. (THAT IS COMPLETELY COOL!) And of course, it’s lovely inside.   

With the largest pipe organ!
There are these cool rotating stages, and then it made me sad not to be on the stage anymore.  Naturally, I should take it back up and start off with starring on stage at the Opera House.  That sounds logical.

After we got out of the Opera House, we walked around and found a little museum that talked about Sydney’s beginnings.  We went to a market and I got a neat steampunk necklace-y thing made out of a watch from the 1940’s.  I also had real pink lemonade and popcorn for lunch.  If you know anything about me, you realize this is the best lunch ever.  After that, we headed back to the hotel, had dinner at a local pub and that was that!

Sydney was pretty good, and I know that other people will want to go so I’ll most likely be headed back.  Besides, at some point, I know I’m going to have to do the Bridge Walk…..

*it’s pronounced “Key”.  But, I don’t suppose you can expect much pronunciation sense from a country that says Adidas like “Add-did-dus”.

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