Thursday, December 1, 2011

Australia day 9

Day 9
First, last night, after returning to Sydney, we ate at a Belgium brewery. Their specialty is mussels. Yummy. They also suggest no silverware while eating the mussels. You can use a fork for the first one, but after that they want you to use the shell as a pincher to get the next mussel out of its shell. The flavor I chose was blue cheese. Yummy J. DH got some kind of marinara sauce. As you can tell, we had fun.

Today, however, was our excursion to the Blue Mountains. We stopped at Featherdale wildlife resort first for about an hour and got to pet a koala (some how that means “cuddle”) and feed the kangaroo and wallabies. The Tasmanian Devils were not cooperating; apparently they only come out at feeding time - which was 4pm. But we had fun anyway. And Emu's are very curious birds.

We stopped at Echo Park (yes! I know! But it’s not a paper company! Lol!) which is outside of Blue Mountains. There we had photo ops with pics of the Three Sisters – a sacred site for the Aborigines. There was an Aborigine playing that pipe thing (forgot what it’s called) and he took a break to pose for photos with the tourists. 

Aborigines are looked down upon in Australia. They are typically disgusting and smelly. Very few of them integrate themselves into Australian society. People are warned to be careful before going deep into the Outback because some Aborigines are still very hostile for the same reasons why Native Americans are in America; the government took their land. There are a few excursions and camping trips to the Outback, but they are either on the edge and/or under protection of guides.

The driver took us to the entrance to Blue Mountains and we jumped out - as did a few others who were on the Triple Pass. That meant we got to take the sky cable across. The scenery was amazing! When we got to the other side, we did not have much time to tour the place – which was a disappointment. We missed lunch (pre-paid for the lunch voucher) and all I can say is, good thing I had extra water and granola bars in my backpack! We walked around on the upper level but by the time we did that it was time to wait in line for train ride back up.



 The train ride was another adventure. It went straight down (and up). And they played the Indian Jones music every time they ran the train. It was either the train or spend an hour climbing 1000 stairs using a rope for help (that steep). Look at how steep it was!

It was like being in a rain forest. There is even vine, like the kind Tarzan swings from, and ivy that covers the tree tops, all over the place. And very different trees and foliage. I think this palm was called either a fan palm or fern palm. It looks like a fern plant on top of a palm tree.

 Trees growing into each other with vines around it. 

DH and I decided on a future visit we’re going to sign up for the day trip to Blue Mountain - exclusively - so we can have more time there and explore the lower floor area (more stair climbing but not as steep) and actually eat lunch. The bus driver wanted us back on the bus by 2:15, and we were a little late (we waited an hour in line for the train!), but the guides at Blue Mountain assured us the driver won’t take off without everyone on the bus. Part of the reason why we waited so long on the trains is one of the cable cars was down for maintenance. So they had only one cable car, instead of 2, and the train, to get back to the top.

Anyway, more than half the bus was missing when we got on the bus! DH and I were upset because the two young women in front of use had take out boxes from the restaurant. Now we were kicking ourselves for not going to the restaurant to see if they could box up something for us. We had lunch vouchers after all.

Next we stopped at this quaint little town called Leura. MORE SHOPPING! WOO HOO! And we found something to eat there. Take out Chinese basically. And they had the most yummy breaded chicken kabobs! I had to fight DH for the last bite.

The driver was supposed to take us to Olympic park so we could see the stadium from the Olympics when Sydney hosted it in 2000. But the transmission got messed up so he took us to the ferry instead (coincidentally in Olympic Park – but we could see the stadium). It was either that, or wait 2 hours for another bus. We also didn’t get re-enter Sydney via the Anzac Bridge as promised. But the trip was mostly over and everyone got off the bus to take the ferry (really, it was Captain Cook Cruise line) to Circular Quay.

Although we missed out on a couple of things that were promised to us on that tour, we were reimbursed for the cost of the ferry ride and we will get a discount on our next excursion the next time we visit Australia. We also decided that on the next trip (DH’s employer is in Australia, he’s the US liaison) that we can take the ferry to Olympic Park, as well as Cockatoo Island – which we learned about on the ferry ride back to Circular Quay.

We also stopped at the Ugg store. Let me tell you something about Uggs. Ugg is a generic name used to describe sheepskin boots. So a lot of boot makers can use the term. It doesn’t matter if they’re made in Australia or not. The name is not trademarked as the maker of the authentic Ugg boots tried and I believe he’s been in a trademark battle over the name Ugg. If you want authentic Ugg boots, they must have the green triangle tag on them (it has a kangaroo on it) that says “Made in Australia”. If your Ugg boots do not have that tag, they are not REAL Uggs and were probably made in China; they ALL (real and knock offs) have the tag on the back of the shoe but only the real ones have the green triangle tag shown below. Also, the knock offs might have synthetic wool and sheepskin which will become smelly after wearing them for some time. REAL Uggs do not smell over time because real wool absorbs moisture. In fact, you’re not supposed to wear socks with them. That concludes your Ugg lesson. 

That night we ate at a café that served American food, but mainly because the dessert cart looked so yummy. The hamburgers (my first one in almost 2 weeks!) were yummy too.

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