Anyway, we arrived in Sydney at 6:30am, cleared customs, and got to our hotel/hostel by 8:30. Not bad for some rookies in the land down under. After dropping our bags we headed out to explore the city of Sydney. No sense in sleeping in and being up in the middle of the night! What better way to fight jet lag than walking around! After some brief instructions from our hostel front desk, we made our way thru the subway to the center of town. As we were making our way to the Visitor's Information Bureau at Sydney Harbour, we passed Parliament House and decided to go in and see.
We joined a group of school children on a field trip for part of the tour during which we watch the Lower House in session. We had our political lesson for the day.
We continued our walk passed the Botanical Gardens to Sydney Harbour proper where we intended to join a "Free Tour" of the downtown portion of the city. I have joined such tour in other cities and have found the to be a great way to be introduced to a city. This was a new experience for Mom but I think she enjoyed it (although it was a lot of walking for her especially after such a long flight). We were introduced to both aboriginal and "european" history of Sydney and Australia. Our first stop was the spot where the British planted the Union Jack and claimed the and for the King. From there, we explored the neighborhood the "The Rocks"
with it's charming shops and old buildings which included the sight of the first execution in Sydney and Australia. We crossed into the very busy shopping district and ended up at Hyde Park for a quick lunch. The city is very green and everyone seems to enjoy the parks at all times of day. At luck time, there are people jogging, reading a book on the lawn, school children on field trips taking a break, older citizens playing a giant game of chests. Life seems quite healthy in Sydney. On the edge do Hyde Park is St. Mary's Cathedral
which looks grandiose and old when in fact it was completed in the year 2000 after being started some 100 years ago (the final money did not come until then)!!! Oh well, such is life!
This time, we entered the Botanical Gardens and although we walked thru quite rapidly, we made a stop to observe the thousands of bats hanging from the trees. They were extremely loud and this was in broad daylight. I cannot imagine how loud they would be at night when they fly away to feed. These bats are fruit bats are apparently are not light sensitive as one would expect all bats to be since they live out in the open in broad daylight. Anyway, that was quite interesting and maybe I will have to come back and witness them flying around at dusk if I get the chance. I am sure it is quite a spectacle. We ended our tour at the end of the gardens overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The tour disbanded there and Mom and I walked down to get our first close-up glimpse of the world famous icon of Sydney: the Opera House.
The Sydney Opera House is in fact three distinct buildings, a simple yet complex construction at the same time. We were not able to enter the venues themselves as a concert was taking place at the time (we tried our usual trick of just looking lost but we were stopped this time). Oh well, we have several more days in the city, so we will try again. The exterior is quick "ornate" although it is simply tiles arranged on the roof, it gives the hole a "textured" feeling of sorts. It had been a very long day with a lot of walking so we decided to head back to the hotel for a break although it was still quite early (3:30 or 4:00pm) and once back, we both ended taking a short nap!! We don't have as much energy as we used to I guess!! We went grocery shopping and came back to cook dinner. During dinner we met a young man staying at the hostel from England who had been in Australia for 7 months working and sightseeing. He had spent several months around Asia before coming to Australia. Once he was "done" in the part of the world he was hoping to go and explore South & Central America. What a life! I wish I could have done that at his age, I think it would have been a wonderful and life changing experience.
That's it folks for our first day in the Land Down Under!