Friday, November 19, 2010

The Aussie Diary, Day 5

Its zoo day! As well as our last full day in Sydney. This fact begins to stir emotions in me I wasn't aware were present. The harbor and the city they've built around it are simply beautiful. I've never seen anything like it. I'm not a real "big city" guy, so, it may be that I'm easily impressed, but everything about this city has stood out to me. A few examples: I had never before seen a two story subway system. You go below ground to catch a train, but there are also trains below those trains! If that weren't enough train for you, the trains are double-deckers! You go in one of them and you'll find you can go upstairs or downstairs to find a seat. Second thing, they actually give pedestrians help to which way to look when crossing the street. I suppose having a lot of visitors to their left-handed country causes lots of confusion when trying to navigate the streets, so, instead of having mass-fatalities at their intersections, they give you a hint. Por ejemplo:

Seeing this made me feel as if every city I had visited previously cared not for my well being, but Sydney cares. A third thing, another help for the meandering masses, when you're at a cross walk, the button you press that tells the system you want to cross is attached to a speaker box that makes a noise when its time to cross. It sounds like a radar gun from a bad sci-fi movie, but its helpful if you happen to be daydreaming or otherwise not looking at the crossing light. Our friend Doug, resident of Sydney, hypothesized that it was an aid to the visually impaired. Again, Sydney cares for her people. You can also see in the picture above that there is a monorail line that circles the city, and when you include the bus service and the ferries to the huge subway line, you have an impressive mass transit system. For a person from Jacksonville who lives 20 miles from the nearest bus stop, this is a sight to behold.

OK, so its zoo day. We plan on catching the ferry to the zoo, it docks at the zoo its self, no parking, no finding my way around? I like it. We have to get to the port at Circular Quay (pronounced: key), the girl at our Roach Motel says the fastest way to get there is to take the bus. We want to catch the first ferry of the day, so we take her advice instead of using the train which we have more familiarity with at this point. So we get our bus passes and get to the stop, its supposed to come every 20 minutes. When we get there there is a group of 8-10 people waiting so I figure it should be by soon. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes later and we're starting to despair. The woman next to us the stop has already called her office twice to tell them she has no idea when she'll be at work. This doesn't inspire confidence. It finally does come, but not until we've missed the ferry we were trying to catch. No worries, we get there and on the way we get to enjoy a spectacular view of the harbor by boat.

This zoo is huge. They have a cable car that takes you to the top of the park, its advised to start there and work your way back down. Yeah, that big. I won't bore you with zoo descriptions, we've all been to a zoo. A few highlights were the Kangaroos and Wallabys, they have them in an open pen where you can walk right up to them. The Koalas were quite cute as well, we plan on going to Steve Irwin's zoo when we get to Brisbane and doing the "hold and cuddle with a koala" experience there. We saw a seal show, they were well trained and entertaining. I bought a burger and they put a beet on it. Yeah. No idea why they would do such a thing either, but they did.

We plan on leaving on the 2nd to last ferry of the day at 345 since that will enable us to get back to the hotel with enough time to prepare for our show at the Opera House tonight. We buy an ice cream and get to the ferry stop at 340. This is where things get fuzzy for me. I'm not sure how, it may have been exhaustion after walking all day for 5 straight days, but I managed to not see a huge ferry as it pulled up next to me. I know. Absurd. The wharf had jostled violently and everyone jumped up, and I assumed that was because they were startled, so I quickly took the seat of one of the passengers before she could realize there was nothing to fear and tried to reclaim it. I later learn that there was a boat there and they were standing to board it. The confusing thing is that there are a few companies that use this dock and so, not everyone got up, this gave me a sense that I wasn't being left, but I was. Also, in my rush to sit, I sat with my back to the loading area, if I hadn't then I would have seen them all boarding our ferry. Steph asks me "why is everyone getting up?" I say "because they're sheep". And as I was saying that I think "hmm, that was an arrogant thing to say, wouldn't it be funny if you were the one who was in the wrong?". But I quickly discard that thought and relax into my seat. I then hear a motor rev up and turn my head just in time to see out boat leaving. "Thats strange", I think to myself. It turns out that Steph had seen it and assumed that I had too, so, when I sat, she assumed I knew something that she didn't and followed my lead. As the reality of our situation sets in, my sheep comment comes back to mind: who's the sheep now? Shut-up, brain! The next ferry doesn't come until 515pm. The thought of sitting here for the next 90 minutes doesn't sit well with either of us and we're both feeling responsible for the error. Fortunately for us, a water taxi shows up and agrees to take us back for $20. Deal. So, in the end, my arrogance only cost us $20 and 20 minutes, I'll take it. I've had lessons that came with a much higher price tag than that.

We make it back to the hotel fine. We relax for a while, clean up and head to the Opera House for the show. The harbor at night is a sight to behold. As I look at the bridge and the harbor I wonder when will be the next time I get to be here, if ever. It feels nice to be in a suit with my bride and going to a nice show in one of the greatest venues in the world. The show doesn't disappointed either. It was a theater production called The Grenade. It is a comedy that comments on the role fear plays in our lives. Vey funny. I got several good, genuine belly laughs out of it. I recommended it highly if it ever plays near you. After the show I walk away reflecting on the good fortune I've enjoyed so far in my young life. Not many people I know can check "Show at the Sydney Opera House" off of their list of accomplishments, but I can. I'm not sure why I was chosen to be here now, but I'm not ungrateful.

We walk away from the harbor for the last time on this trip. Hopefully I'll return one day.

Tomorrow, Cairns.

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