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Two Love Birds Head Out To Spoil Their Wedding With An Early Honeymoon

Seeing the 3rd Most Recognizable Shape in the World

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 1 March 2011 | Views [540]

Any guesses? It's the Sydney Opera House. Who knew! The first two are the Nike Swoosh and the big yellow arches of McDonalds according to our guide Richard who took us up the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Our feeling was that if it was good enough for Oprah, it was good enough for us! We spent three hours getting ready and climbing the bridge and boy was the view worth the hike. Victoria was a bit worried about her fear of heights but there were only a few times when she thought she was going to die. All and all, not too bad.

The bridge is a World Heritage site and was in the process, a 12 year process, of being restored both visually and structurally. They were removing all the lead based paint that had been used when it was originally built (1923-1932) and were also adding structural support that would help add over 100 years to the life of the iron bearing all the weight. Pretty cool.  As we walked over this iron,we felt very grateful knowing that the bridge wasn't falling apart as the scaffolding made it look. We learned on our tour that of the 6 million rivets that were hand made, a mere 42 have been replaced from the original. Pretty good record. It truly was a work of art and one that we both appreciated more and more as our guide told us of the workers that fell to their death because they were up there day after day in wind, cold, and rain without anything to strap them in. Amazing! Since it was constructed during the depression, these folks felt lucky to have had jobs at all. I am sure they would be happy to know that people tramp all over their work of art every day and pay good money to do so!

This bridge walk of ours was the kick-off to Travis's 26th birthday celebration. Having worked up quite an appetite we grabbed a bite to eat on a nearby rooftop bar and watched one of the enormous cruise ships depart from the harbour. It was quite a site; news crew helicopters were dotting the sky and a fire boat lead the way spraying a wall of water to add to the festivities. And all for Travis's birthday! Not really, but we liked to think so.

We hopped on our favorite mode of transport in Sydney, the ferry, and cruised our way over to the other side of the harbour to go to the zoo. We had been hoping to see a platypus in the wild but had to resort to the zoo instead. They were well worth the price of admission as were the other cute little critters we saw. The platypus are unique in many ways, but to add to their uniqueness is that the males have a claw that is poisonous. So they are a land/water creature that lays eggs, and have a poisonous claw! Pretty sweet. And they are tiny tiny. We were both picturing something the size of a beaver and nearly missed the little guy when he swam by us. It certainly made our day as did seeing the world's smallest penguins. And because we were on the other side of the harbour, we had a great view of the city when yet another cruise ship departed. These were not just any ordinary cruise ships, these were the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary II. They were a pretty big deal in town. We actually saw their arrive on the news our second morning in town and went down to the waterfront and there they were! HUGE and blocking our great views, but there nonetheless.

We ended the day at a great seafood restaurant on the water celebrating Travis's first and maybe last birthday in the southern hemisphere...at least for a while. All in a days work. Not too bad.

Our week in Sydney was filled with ferry boat rides (we became experts on the ferry system) and lots of walking. We rode the ferry to Olympic Park and walked the empty streets of the sports venue complex that for two weeks in its lifetime was packed with people and is now essentially empty with minimal purpose aside from tourists like us visiting. We took a ferry out to Bondi Beach where you find the open ocean and can walk along the coast past beach after beach of surfers. It's quite a thing in Australia but after having read Bill Bryson's book we were both scared to death of all the things in the water that could kill us or at least make us really hurt. We instead opted for the safety of land and whatever it had to offer us.

At "the other" beach in Sydney, Manley, we found (and by this I mean sought after) Victoria's favorite thing in the whole wide world. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream! Yes, they have a few scoop shops in Oz so of course we had to find one. We split the most expensive cone of our life, but it was worth it. Not having had B&J's in 4 months was quite a struggle, so we had to jump at every opportunity we could find in Oz before it disappears again for another 2 months. Yum!

We ended up staying three extra days in Sydney since Christchurch was not suitable for visiting and that was our next stop. There is so much to see and do in Sydney it is hard to tackle in five days or even one week as we were now to do. And it is so BIG. The neighbourhoods are all so different and full of live from the beach towns of Bondi and Manley to the business district we were staying in to the waterfront, Botanic Gardens, and Opera house to the wild and crazy parts of town. It was all there, and just a bus, walk or ferry ride away. We spent our evenings walking along the piers and the waterfront taking in the sight of the Opera House all lit up. It is one that you never grow used to no matter how much you see it face to face.

Trav had the lucky experience of seeing it all from the air on one of the beautiful blue sky days that we had. His birthday surprise from his parents was a sea plane flight over Sydney Harbour. By some random stroke of luck, his fellow passengers on the flight never made it so it was just Travis and the Pilot. Once Travis told the Pilot that he too was a pilot, he got all excited and let him take the reins once they were up in the air. They buzzed the Harbour Bridge and flew over the Opera House on their loop around the harbour. We will share pictures some time soon, we promise! 


We would both go back to Oz in a heartbeat but will probably wait for the US dollar to get a bit stronger. We have never met nicer people in our lives and are sure that people visiting the US don't have this same experience. Everyone was so friendly, chatty, and eager to help us have a great time which we did without a problem!

Now onto NZ where we are told the Kiwis are even nicer, but we won't believe it till we see it! That's all for now.

T&V

 

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