A lot has happened in a little over a week, so let me catch you up:
On May 19 (Wednesday), I started my journey to Australia. Two flights in, I left at 10:30 from LA, Sydney-bound on a 15 hour flight! The time change and long flight meant we arrived in Sydney at about 6:30 am (their time) Friday. (Yes, you read that right; I traveled from Wednesday to Friday.) I completely lost Thursday, which means I will never get to experience May 21st 2010!
It was a pretty easy flight, we made it to our hotel, and luckily they let us check in early so we could get a much-awaited shower. (After an entire day of travel, a shower seems to be just what you need!) Our hotel was perfectly located right on Darling Harbor, which is right around the water from the opera house. You couldn’t quite see it (or Sydney Harbor Bridge) from our view, but we were right in the center of some pretty neat things, including the National Maritime Museum, the aquarium, and Wild Life World. Both are slightly open air and I could almost see into the shark tank from our window. (It was the perfect hotel for a biologist!)
We went to explore and, while in the maritime museum, a monsoon started. (Well – not literally a monsoon – but it was a LOT of rain!) I swear two inches of water came down in 5-10 minutes! Luckily it was a brief storm and cleared up by the time we were ready to leave. It even started to get sunny again and we were able to walk more around the harbor.
My brother works in Australia for the US Department of State and, anticipating his arrival, we headed back to the hotel feeling a tiny bit jet lagged. (There may have been a brief nap – I can’t say!) My brother arrived around 5:00 and had no idea I was coming. (He expected only my parents.) So when I opened the hotel door, I think both he and my sister-in-law had to pick their jaws up off the ground. (I love surprises!)
That night was a lot of catching up and some dinner, which we ate right on the harbor. The best part of the night was the fireworks over the harbor, which were shot off in honor of our arrival. (Well, maybe it was for the jazz festival, but what could be better then fireworks over Sydney Harbor to welcome you to Australia?)
The next day we woke up to a kind of rainy dreary day, but it was the perfect day for the aquarium! I must say that I have been to a lot of aquariums and this one is up there on the top of the list. Most importantly I got to check off one of the requirements of visiting Australia: I saw a platypus (even though he was trying to hide).
(I know what you’re thinking and the answer is, yes, they are as weird in real life as you think they would be.)
The aquarium was packed full of creatures, including a dugong (relative of the manatee) tank, and shark tank – both with underwater tunnels! It was great to see all of these creatures you don’t get to in the States! I even saw things I never heard of – which is kind of difficult after spending so much time studying marine life during my time at Albion.
Bottom line: If you find yourself in Sydney, make it to the aquarium!
Many more tales from Australia to come, including the rest of our time in Sydney. Then we’re off to Canberra. No pony sightings yet, but I’m having a great time so far!