Saturday, September 29, 2012

Australia/New Zealand trip... Truly, our trip of a lifetime :

Day 1:
After arriving in Sydney @ 7am after a long ten hour flight from Korea, we were ready to start our day exploring the city.  Our first impression of Australia was an overwhelmingly positive one.  The people are friendly and helpful, and seem to say "no worries" in place of "you're welcome" in conversations, which makes for a very carefree, laid back atmosphere. The accents are so thick and fun, and people really do greet us by saying G'day mate!!! I was exited to find that people really do say that here and that it isn't just a stereotype in America.  

When walking around Sydney, some of the buildings & especially cathedrals had an older European feeling to them.  The cobblestone streets around the Darling Harbour made the area feel very much like colonial-America. Our first views of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge were simply breath-taking.  Before pulling our cameras out to snap away, we both just took a moment to  breathe it all in. We still can't believe we are finally here. This trip is something that we've wanted to do since we first got married over five years ago.  

Our first evening in Sydney was spent sipping a glass of wine and listening to a brass concert  at the Sydney Opera House. The architecture of the opera house is magnificent -- both inside and out.  The concert was entertaining; the musicians were both talented and comical, which made for a fun evening. 

Day 2:
Day two began with a train ride to the Featherdale Wildlife Preserve.  Here, we were able to see the animals native to Australia. We were also about to hold a snake (ahh...I still can't believe Kyle talked me into doing this), pet koalas (sooooo soft & CUTE!!!!), and pet & feed kangaroos.  Some of the kangaroos even had their joeys in their pouches -- very cool to see! We were also able to see emus, dingos, wombats, wallabys, and other Australian animals.

After the wildlife preserve, we jumped back onto the train and rode it to the Blue Mountains. Here we were able to stop at the scenic lookout point, overlooking the beautiful views of the Three Sisters; those are three side-by-side peaks. 

After stopping here, we made our way to the beginning of a hiking trail, but unfortunately it was almost sunset by time we got to the beginning of it. We decided to venture out on the hike anyway, though, because we knew we wouldn't have another opportunity to do it. Kyle had flashlight and a headlamp in his backpack so we figured we'd be fine. The hike was to the Empress Falls, which is a tall, beautiful waterfall...but we ended up literally running down the trail to be able to get a glimpse of it just before nightfall completely took over.  As we were leaving the falls, it was completely dark. I was thankful that Kyle had packed two lights so that we both had one to carry on the hike back. Creepy critters and bugs come out at night, though, and we came across several of them, including a funnel spider. We ran into a conservationist at the very end of our hike, who was there for a wildlife conservation meeting, and after talking with him for a bit, Kyle showed him the picture of the large black spider we came cross on our hike.  He told us that it was a funnel spider and that it "never retreats & is quite fatal." He followed this up by saying, "don't worry, though,  if you get bitten we have anti-venom." Ahh! Good to know. 

After our hike, we made our way to a local pub where we ate pub food and watched cricket on TV with the locals. They couldn't believe we didn't know anything about the game, and they happily tried to explain it to us. They are so friendly here!!!

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