two views of Sydney, mine & Taronga’s…

Tuesday, April 3

I wasn’t sure my alarm would go off, so I kept waking up to check on it. Sure enough, it didn’t go off at 7am, like it was supposed to. Otherwise, I might’ve been late to meet my friend Laura, at Central Station. As it happened, I didn’t have any trouble with the buses, now that I know what the bus station looks like. The night I arrived, I got on the bus at a different spot, you see.

With forty-five minutes to kill, I was able to have a leisurely breakfast at Bruno Rossi, after wandering around Central for a bit. Bruno Rossi was right next to Hungry Jack’s and Krispy Kreme, but I find those doughnuts to be quite expensive over here, so I stayed away.

While finishing off my coffee, I watched the pigeons chase after crumbs, and took note of the really lovely wooden carvings all around the walls. I wonder how many people even notice them, when they come in?

Instead of catching a train to Circular Quay, Laura and I walked there, stopping to look at any number of interesting buildings, on the way. For example, the Three Monkeys Pub (see bottom right, in the above photo), which used to be a bank. My friend told me I didn’t want to go in there for a drink, because I’d probably get stabbed. Now, if that’s not a reason to stay away, I’ve never heard of one.

In case anyone wants to know, I occasionally mess around with filters and color changes on my photos, but all I use is Picasa. Their latest version, Picasa 3, has some marvelous effects that you can use on your pics. I’ve been using that program for a while now, to crop or otherwise edit my photos, but I try to leave most of them as-is.

I thought it was interesting how the Ikea advertisement for mattresses blended in with the design of the Victoria Buildings. Look closely, can you see where the ad ends and the building begins (two photos above)?

After stopping to take a look at the Queen Victoria statue, I noticed a wishing well that had some history with the Queen, as well, but it looked like it was attached to an ancient elevator… but I couldn’t find an entrance, even though I circled around. The puppy statue, above the wishing well, was cute, too.

The design of the Victoria Buildings is really quite lovely, from the tiled floors to the amazing castle clock hanging from the ceiling. When Laura pointed out the design of the ceiling, in the very center of the building, I was hard put to get it on film. I ended up placing my camera on the floor, right in the center of the floor design, and taking the picture from there. Yes, that’s looking straight up at the roof. Doesn’t look like it, does it?

We walked down the street, taking a look in at The Strand, one of the oldest shopping centers in Sydney, where we stopped in for candy at The Nut Shop. I didn’t get any, though the chocolate ducks were adorable and deliciously tempting. They reminded me of the chocolate animals that my brother and I got for Easter, when we were little.

With a few more stops to look at buildings, and some interesting inscriptions on the ground, we finally reached Circular Quay, where we planned to take the ferry to Taronga Zoo. You see, Taronga is across the bay, placed up-and-down a hill, with some fabulous views of Sydney.

After getting off at the Zoo Wharf, we rode the bus up to the top of the hill, entered the Zoo, and began working our way down. There were quite a few more animals that I have pictured, but all the photos weren’t wonderful. But wherever we looked, we seemed to find the Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Skyline in the background. I really wondered if the elephants and giraffes appreciate their view.

Which reminds me, Laura told me that the city’s debating whether to move the zoo, and use that spot for prime real estate. Too bad, because it makes it such a unique place to go and see the animals, possibly drawing in more visitors than it would elsewhere. Especially with several other wildlife places nearby, including the Dubbo Zoo and WILDLIFE Sydney.

The koalas were very funny in their positions in the trees, some of them seeming to use their heads to brace themselves, rather than their limbs. The snake house wasn’t exactly cute, if you know what I mean, but some of the statues alongside the cages were creepier than the inhabitants. See the giant snake statue outside of a snake cage? That was like meeting Nagini, frozen into stone. But I found that most of indoor displays had some beautiful sculptures of the animals to look at, when the other visitors were blocking your view of the actual exhibit occupants.

I wish we’d been able to get some pictures of the platypus. They were adorable! And quite a lot smaller than I’d expected. But even when they’re displayed in a dark room, with barely enough light to see anything, they still hide in the darkest of corners.

But though some people hadn’t been aware of it until they read the wall displays, I already knew that they have venomous spurs, so if you ever managed to come across one in the dark, you still don’t mess with them, because they know how to protect themselves. Despite being American, I remember learning all about Australian animals, when I was in school. We learned all about marsupials, though I’m not sure if they taught us that egg-laying mammals are called monotremes.

I would guess that this chapter of school was so memorable to us because the marsupials and monotremes are completely different from the animals that American children are used to. On the other hand, my Aussie friends have sometimes turned out very interested in animals that I think are normal, like raccoons, squirrels, and chipmunks, because those are the unfamiliar animals, for them.

Another example of the monotreme is the echidna, which looks a bit like a long-nosed porcupine. Also very rare to see in the wild, I was only able to see a glimpse of one in the zoo. He was hiding behind a bush, and I couldn’t get a closer peek. However, I’ve seen many examples of them in various statues around Sydney.

Taronga is known for being one of two zoos in Australia that have managed to breed platypuses. Also, they’ve had several elephant births, so Laura was telling me about the recent ones, when they thought the baby elephant had died. But miraculously, he was still alive. They were fun to watch play, though the elephant area is the most “fragrant” of them all.

I still think that giraffe hide looks fake, like it’s been printed on by a machine. Yes, I know it’s real, but it’s so funny-looking, up close, because of that! And they’re so wrinkly. God makes such amazingly beautiful and interesting creatures, don’t you think?

We took the Sky Safari Cable Car down the hill, when we were leaving, enjoying the view, and taking as many pictures as we could manage, on the way down. Then, we hopped out, took a few more, and then headed down the steps to the Ferry. And then, I stopped in my tracks, realizing I was missing my sunglasses. Now, since my travel pass hadn’t included the Sky Safari, we hadn’t taken it up the hill, when we arrived. But it’s included in the Zoo admission price, so then you can ride it all you want. Which is a good thing, because we got back on the Sky Safari, to go back and get my sunnies. I was slightly embarrassed, you understand, as it really looked like the two of us just couldn’t get enough of the cable cars.

But really, it worked out for the Zoo, because my friend bought something else, when we got back to the gift shop. I had already done my duty, resisting all the books and adorable stuffed animals, but I bought some sweet necklaces for my girls. Bea’s has a penguin on hers, Kit’s has a giraffe, Emmie gets one with a really funny pewter hippo, and Sadie has a panda.

So, in the end, we all got what we wanted, and Laura and I were agreed that we were NOT walking back up or down that hill, no matter what. Besides, we also found out that the gift shop lady had run after us, thinking we’d gone to the upper gate, but not checking the Sky Ride. Oh well.

Finally, back down the hill we went, and we paid very little attention to the view, at this point. I was getting tired, so it was nice to sit on a bench in the cool Wharf for a while. Then we got on a Fast Ferry back to the Quay, and had a lovely view from the back.

Upon arriving back at the Quay, we decided to take things a little easier, walking through the city, wandering through some gifts shops, and then Laura took me to Dymocks. Three stories of book store, and very reminiscent of the biggest Barnes & Noble stores I’ve been in… perhaps like the one in Boston Harbor?

Stopping to use the restroom, I found that this giant store only had one public bathroom, for guys and girls, and the kid that was using it was apparently reading in there. At least, that’s what the conversation sounded like, as his parents tried to convince him to hurry up, talking through the door. He kept wanting to know why he should hurry up? As the conversation continued, I had a hard time not smiling at the kid’s comments, because he wasn’t being obnoxious, it just sounded like he was genuinely confused over why he should come out early.

After the book store, we went back to The Strand, and I was able to admire the gorgeous tile, the colored glass in the windows, and the ancient elevator, though we walked up the stairs instead of using the lift. The second story had some seriously snazzy stores, with labels that I couldn’t dream of affording, or even fitting into. And I thought of a certain set of Attwood girls, when I went into Alannah Hill, which makes new, vintage-looking clothes. I felt very out of place, but wished some of my friends could have seen it.

Continuing to walk through the city, I happened to glance down an alleyway, and found a collection of bird cages hanging from wires. If there was an artistic reason for it, I didn’t see a sign anywhere. But it was still beautiful.

Going to the Myer food court, I got a coffee from Gloria Jean’s (very necessary), while my friend got a very healthy juice made out of beetroot, spinach, and I don’t remember what else. I kept telling her she didn’t have to drink it, while she made faces over it.

But then, I decided to get a baked potato with seafood and cheese topping, though not the first time I’ve had something similar. But this turned out to have smoked salmon, some strange looking mussels, and white things that looked like eggs, but weren’t. I tried the salmon, which was okay, but didn’t keep eating it. Then the cheese tasted weird, so I ate as much of the cheese and potato as I could, but finally didn’t finish it, because I was afraid my stomach would have a fit. I did take pictures, but when I looked at them later, I thought it looked pretty disgusting. So, I won’t put you through looking at pics of what I ate, but I thought Laura and I were about even with our interesting choices of food… except I at least got to have a white chocolate mocha, too.

I won’t go so far as to say that I’ve mastered the bus and train system, but I went back to Central with my friend, by train, and then found my way (with no trouble) upstairs, without getting lost in the tunnels, for once. Then, I made my way out of the building, and towards the bus station, and got onto the correct bus to take me back to my stop on King’s Street.

How delightful to arrive back at my abode, with the sky still a bit light! Of course, then Rachael asked me what I did for the day… and I drew a complete blank. I was a little tired, you see. It took me a few minutes to remember that we went to Taronga Zoo.

And now you know about it, too! So, tomorrow, the plan is to go to Paddy’s Markets, and then to Darling Harbour. I’m still debating over whether to visit the Museum of Sydney or to make my way to the Harbour Bridge Pylon, before making an early evening of it. We’ll see what tomorrow holds!

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