Sydney

Boy, did we need some civilization, after spending a month without it - especially from the electronics standpoint.  We arrived Sat. evening and got settled into our Central Business District (CBD) Airbnb.  Sunday morning, we were out early to find an open coffee and sandwich shop before heading to the local Officeworks to replenish our electronics cache.  As you may remember, Steve fried my computer with a glass of wine to the keyboard on the first week of the trip; I had left my Kindle in the Southwest seat back; and then on our last night in PNG, our power strip started popping, smoking and sending out sparks (waking us up!).  Fortified with our purchases, we plugged everything in to charge and headed out to sight see.

I ended up taking (too?) many pictures of the Opera House - in various light and from lots of different angles.

Sunday afternoon - showing how busy it can be

Sunday afternoon - showing how busy it can be

We happened in to the last tour of the day, at 4:30 pm, and learned lots of tidbits about the history and the construction of this beautiful building.  The architect of the St. Louis Arch, Eero Saarinen, was on the selection panel responsible for naming the best design.  He arrived late to Australia, after the panel had omitted the present design from the competition.  After Saarinen's arrival and reconsideration, however, the design was allowed to proceed and eventually was unanimously named as the winning effort.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was silhouetted nicely by the sunset:

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The next morning we took one of the many ferries that cross the Harbour continuously, to Manly (a suburb with a pretty beach) and walked a bit, but it was a brisk 60 degrees (in the sun), so we didn't venture in the water.  It was quite a difference in temperature, compared to the humid 85 degrees we had become accustomed to in the Solomons and PNG.

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We attempted numerous selfies with the Opera House - most were quite laughable - including this one from the ferry:

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We spent the rest of the day walking throughout the Royal Botanic Garden and admiring all the different plants, as well as getting yet more views of my favorite building.

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Interesting observations about "down under":

- you walk on the left side of the sidewalk when you pass others going the opposite way (mirroring their driving side), and turnstile doors rotate to the left (visualize that difference from the US)

- elevators are "lifts", but they aren't nearly as prevalent as in the US.  There are stairs everywhere throughout the buildings downtown, and the large majority of people we saw were quite fit.

- Sydney was surprisingly quite hilly.  I was reminded of San Francisco (another port city) but on a smaller scale both in size, and pitch of the inclines.

- A woman behind us in line at a chocolate shop (where else would I be?) commented that US money is "all the same color", and was very hard to use when she visited the US recently.  This caused us to recognize that in all the countries we've visited so far, each bill was a different color for the different denominations.

Our next day of walking gave us new perspectives on the bridge and the Opera House:

Roughly same latitude as San Diego (a Mediterranean climate)

Roughly same latitude as San Diego (a Mediterranean climate)

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On our last day, we took advantage of a baggage transfer service, to send our bags on to the airport, so we could explore the city's Taronga Zoo unencumbered.  The grounds were built on a fairly steep hillside, offering nice views of the city from across the harbour.  It was quite a unique layout, and a great use of space (shout out to my sister, for that comment, as well as the recommendation to tour it).

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Sorry - this was the best picture of the "obligate" koala I could get, since I didn't want to pay a lot extra for a "Koala Experience" to have your picture taken near a koala (thankfully, no more holding of the poor beasts).  The Australia section of the zoo was pretty cool, and we saw kangaroos, wallabies, ring-tailed lemurs, emus and even platypuses (only to be seen in an Australian zoo).

What're  you  lookin' at, mate??

What're you lookin' at, mate??