Hello from Down Under!
June 11th finally came and we’re ready to head to the other side of the world. Well, we were until we hit a snag at the BHM airport. Yes, BHM is our home airport! For Australia, you need a visa to enter the country and somehow we had messed up our son’s name on the visa. Rookie mistake! Luckily you can do an eVisa now so we redid his visa and were back in business. Nothing like a hiccup before you even leave your hometown! After that we had three smooth flights to ATL – LAX – SYD. The best part for my daughter is that she was upgraded to sit in first class with her daddy on the long flight…lucky! We called it the “nicest date she’ll ever go on!” Cory said he wants to set the bar high for any future suiters.
Upon landing in Sydney, my son, Teddy said “eek, we’re here!” We’re all really excited to be here! We are staying at the same hotel we have on previous visits so that makes it easier to get around as we already have our barrings. This time in Sydney we have friends who live here. Kyle and Brittany Prins moved here a year ago from Tennessee and it was so great to see them! Being with “locals” always give you the upper hand to see things you might not have known about otherwise. Our first night was no exception getting to view Vivid Sydney. It was an awesome light festival all over Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, etc. We saw lights on the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, buildings, train station and sea turtle sculpture. So cool to see!
The next morning, Cory headed off to work while the kids and I went exploring. After our delicious breakfast in the Sydney Harbour Marriott lounge, we bought our Opal cards to hop on the train for Tumbalong Park. Brittany suggested we do this and she didn’t steer us wrong. It was an awesome park with an extensive playground (slide, spider climb, zip line, etc). Plus we hit the right day with the kids participating in a yoga class by YogaBudz while we watched from adirondack chairs in the sun. Perfect! Our next stop of the day was probably my daughter’s favorite as it included dressing up. Chinese Garden of Friendship is an unexpected, serene garden in the middle of the city that has Chinese costumes you can rent while you walk around. They also had a scavenger hunt for the kids to search for the different Chinese year animals. It was a great place that we all enjoyed!
As the kids have gotten older, our naps have wained; however, they are still necessary sometimes especially trying to push through jet lag. After a short nap (which is always hard to get up from…such a catch 22), we joined Daddy and the Prins’ by their apartment (or compartment as the kids have been calling it) for a delicious supper at Kirribilli Woodfire Grill.
Now it’s the weekend, whoo hoo! Today we were going whale watching to see humpback whales on their northern migration. We didn’t have to go out more than about a mile from the harbour to see a handful of whales. How awesome is that! I have only seen whales once before (also off the Australian coast) and it still blows my mind to see creatures so large and beautiful. We decided to get off the boat at Darling Harbour to have lunch at Din Tai Fung for amazing chicken and pork dumplings, fried rice with beef, etc! Kids loved it too! I love that they’re so adventurous to try new foods when we travel. The afternoon took us on a stroll through Hyde Park, past St Mary’s Cathedral where we saw a very fancy wedding in progress (Bea loves to see international weddings) and on through the Royal Botanic Gardens. What a relaxing afternoon! Teddy even spotted a Kookaburra in a tree which he named Flyer. After a full day, we did baths and ate supper in the lounge at the hotel. Sweet Teddy fell asleep at the table, mid-sentence at 6pm. Bea wasn’t far behind at 6:50pm. Jet lag is real!
Happy Father’s Day to Cory! Thankfully I came prepared with cards as they don’t celebrate Father’s Day in Australia until September. We sure are blessed to have the best one out there! And we love getting to “go with daddy!” During the first few days upon arriving on a trip, especially when there’s a 15 hour difference, we take it easy. This Sunday morning we did just that then ventured out with our friends for lunch and the National Maritime Museum. It’s also free to walk through the main exhibit hall! The Maritime currently has a really cool 3-D, bird documentary about the migration of birds. It totally kept the kids’ attention! The Maritime museum sits on Darling Harbour so we sat by the water to enjoy dessert and a few rounds of Uno.
All good weekends must come to an end; however, it doesn’t mean the three of us cannot keep exploring. Today’s adventure was a train ride to the Powerhouse Museum as it’s supposed to rain. Powerhouse was full of interactive experiences for the kids. We saw all kinds of transportation through the years including locomotives, cars, motorcycles and inside of a space craft. There was lots to touch which is always fun for a kid! They also enjoyed The Wiggles exhibit. The Wiggles are an Australian group whose members have changed over years but kids still love it! Remember how I said it was going to rain? Well, while we were grabbing a meat pie for lunch, the bottom fell out. It was a counter service restaurant but luckily we were standing under an awning! We did get quite wet walking to the train but we didn’t melt. Our train departed from Central Station which is a huge station where you can even travel to other cities. It took me a minute to find which platform to go to out of 25 options! We made it back to the hotel to dry out part of the way but then head to the indoor pool to get some wiggles (no pun intended) before showers and supper in our hotel. Another 7pm bedtime, this time parents included, is getting us on the right time zone.
Thankfully for our adventures today the rain stopped by the time we left on a ferry. Brittany met us there to go to the Taronga Zoo. We have been to the this zoo before but never have we seen so much in one day. Brittany was the best tour guide knowing when all the shows where and where we we should go to maximize our time. Again, it’s so fun to travel to a destination where you have friends! Our first stop of the day was to see koalas, of course. I don’t think it would ever get old even if I got to see them daily. Reptile house was next before the seal show; and, boy, did they put on a show! We saw a new fur seal being trained, veteran seals do flips and make a lot of noise; it was awesome! Next off to see a momma and baby elephant being bathed. The zoo has a few babies as the tiger family has three tigers cubs. That’s always Bea’s favorite is seeing the baby animals. On to the Australian animals…kangaroos, wallabies, emus, cassowary, platypus and wombat. We also saw the best view of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge from the spider talk we sat in on. I learned a lot about Australian spiders and there are definitely ones that you shouldn’t mess with like the red back spider (similar to our black widows in the states), funnel-web spider (most venomous spider in Australia) and the infamous huntsman (who is huge but actually quite harmless). Teddy ate this talk up hearing about all the spiders! We saw a binturong and little penguins before we needed to catch the last ferry back across the harbour. Cory and Kyle (he is also a colleague of Cory’s which makes it even more fun as we came to Sydney for the guys to work on a project together) met us for dinner in The Rocks for a relaxing evening of dining al fresco at Caminetto.
On all long trips, laundry is inevitable so this is how I spent hump day. Having friends in town, they let us do laundry at their house which makes for a much more pleasant experience than sitting in a laundromat entertaining children. Tonight we flew out to Perth but not before we entered the airport through the VIP lounge which means the security line is virtually nothing. Traveling with my husband sure spoils us! SYD to PER is a five hour flight so we settled in and all slept the whole way.
Now for more adventuring in Western Australia!
Funnel-web spider at Taronga Zoo