22 August 2009


Tuesday, 18 August, 2009

This was a special morning – not only had Shelley promised us a real bacon and egg brekky, Aussie-style, but we were going to have our first taste of Vegemite!  Thoroughly prepared not to like it, I was pleasantly surprised.  All of my American friends have told me how hideous it is, and how it must be an acquired taste that only Aussies could love, but I found it to be a salty spread on good toast – nothing more, nothing less.  So, sorry to disappoint all of you who wanted to see the picture of my face after I tasted it (remember last year's Moxie soda??), but I am smiling in that shot!  And if that wasn't enough to make me smile, brekky was!  Australian bacon is the bomb!!  It's almost like eating a big slice of ham that tastes like bacon.  So good!  And we had happy eggs (no lie, they had happy faces on their brown shells) which had the yellowest, almost orange, yolks I've ever seen.  Delish!   Oh, and Keith made us fresh-squeezed OJ.  Will y'all come home with me??

We had another fine and busy day planned, courtesy of our hostess with the mostest, Shelley!  The big event for the day was a trip to the zoo, where Claire was meeting us, and then for the evening we were going to see a comedy show at the Opera House.  We caught a bus to Circular Quay and bought our combo ferry and zoo tickets.  With a little time to spare, we took a lift up to the street above the quay and just watched all the comings and goings of the morning.  The Opera House looked sparkling white in the morning sun, and already there were climbers on the bridge.  Soon our ferry was ready to board, so we sat outside on the starboard side and enjoyed the ride across the harbour.  In no time, we were hopping off at Taronga Zoo and getting on the skyrail that would take us to the top of the hill.

On our way up, we got a glimpse at the newest zoo attraction, a baby African elephant.  Its mom was lying down (Yikes – how to they get up??) and the baby was hovering nearby, probably pestering her to get up like children everywhere!  We got off, met Claire, and went directly to the koala exhibit, and we were shocked to see that both koalas were wide awake and putting on quite the show!  Since koalas sleep for about 20 hours a day, this was a rare and fortunate occurrence, just for us!  These Sidneysiders really know how to roll out the red carpet, as we had another perfect day of weather, too!  After taking probably 100 photos of these cutie patooties, we thought perhaps we should give the other animals a chance to cavort for us, too.

Here's a rundown of some of the animals we saw – look for photos on facebook and/or my phanfare.com site.  If you need an invitation to see the phanfare slideshow, just comment on this blog or send me an email or message and I will fix you up!  We saw a walking stick kind of insect, lots of birds, a giant iguana, two humongous tortoises, the bird show (excellent!), the elephants, including the darling baby, more birds, a binturong, which oddly enough, smells like popcorn.  That made me hungry, so we decided to have our picnic lunch.  While I was uploading photos and checking emails this morning, Shelley and Keith were hard at work cleaning up the brekky dishes and making sandwiches, so now we had a good meal waiting for us.  Y'all are the best!  Our picnic spot included a fabulous view of Sydney Harbour – the bridge, the Opera House, and everything in between.  Could it be any better?  We had chicken and avocado and smoked salmon and cream cheese on hearty wheat bread – none of that white Bunny bread here!

Now fortified, we had the energy to see Andean condors (with wingspans of about ten feet!), the big cats – two proud lions, two bored lionesses and a frenetically pacing Siberian tiger, the big-eared Fennec fox and the funny colony of Meerkats, an x-rated pygmy hippopotamus, a frisky red panda, the boring mountain goats, an iridescent peacock, a huge, sleepy Kodiak bear, the very humanoid gorillas, including a sweet little baby and a break-dancing (no lie!) toddler, the odd looking Cassowary (think a wild turkey with a blue neck), the almost human chimps, including one real comedian and another precious baby, the stately giraffes (Bonus – their exhibit was under construction and they were sequestered indoors, but we saw them anyway.  It's hard to hide four giraffes!), lots more very fine-feathered and very colorful tropical birds, the spider monkeys, and lots of strange nocturnal animals.  What did we miss?  The platypus, the penguins, the kangaroos, and maybe a few others, but not because we didn't try to see them!

In fact, we tried so hard that we had to RUN (really, we all four were running, thankfully downhill) to catch the ferry that would get us back to the Opera House in time for a backstage tour.  We were so parched when we got off the ferry that we had to have gelato.  True to form, I branched out to try Belgian chocolate (90% fat free!), Rex had fudgy brownie, Shelley had something healthy – maybe mango sorbet, and Keith had a double – I don't remember the flavors because neither was chocolate… Alas, even though we caught the ferry, the Opera House tour was full.  The young woman who had to give us the bad news was so nice that she brought us a pack of postcards and a some Opera House pins – who could be upset about that?  Now we had plenty of time for a nice dinner before the Umbilical Brothers show!  Oh, and another bonus – on the steps of the Opera House (there are a LOT of steps!) was the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band, who Keith says is the brass band that all others want to be!

We wandered around the quay for a while, and then decided to dine at the Oyster Bar (where Shelley and I ate on Sunday).  Tonight, we ate in threes – three of us had Pigs Fly beer (Rex had wine), three of us had grilled oysters (Keith had the goats curd and shared it), three of us had barramundi (Shelley had snapper), and we shared two desserts – one was a warm rhubarb and something and one had honeycomb, ricotta, and figs.  No one would have guessed we had just had gelato!  Off to the show we went, pleasantly stuffed.  And probably 2 kilos heavier!

The Umbilical Brothers are a uniquely Australian comedy duo, and we loved them!  One of them makes these amazing noises while the other one acts in concert with the noises.  I'm not doing them justice – google them or look for them on YouTube or something!  They were really funny!  After the show, we caught a bus home, where Shelley and I stayed up to look at photos and Rex crashed.  Another fine day Down Under!

Wild and wooly,


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