Our flight from Bangkok was on Quantas. We all laughed when they told us they had upgraded us to "Premium Economy." We weren't laughing for long though as our big seats and the accompanying perks turned out to be super nice. Quantas rocks!
1 week was far too short a time in Sydney. Even with it pouring rain most days, it was a sorely needed boost to our moral. We had a lovely little apartment with the most amazing view of the harbor, bridge and the famous opera house. It was a short 10 minute ferry ride to the city center. Coming from Los Angeles that is really special!
All the pictures in this next section were taken from our window.
Just returning to an English speaking country was a big relief. Conversely though we found the food prices shocking. Breakfast for one of bacon and eggs was $20. As a consequence we mostly self catered and enjoyed that too as it had been a while. We've discovered our idea of home cooked comfort food is Mexican - and Sydney had the most wonderful ripe Haas avocados - heaven.
The number one thing Peyton was looking forward to of the entire trip was a chance to jump out of an airplane. Australia allows kids as young as 14 the opportunity to pay $285 for this privilege, whereas in the US it costs more and you must wait until you are 18. The jump site was Wallangong, a beach community almost two hours south of Sydney. We ended up making the journey twice as we were rained out the first day, but in the end the kids were thrilled with their jump, proclaiming it less scary and more fun than the South African bungee jump. Peyton is already asking to go again.
The highlight of my week was a date with Mark to see Olivia Newton John perform with the Sydney orchestra at the Opera House. It was a total time machine and a really fun iconic experience, all at the same time.
During our week, we also managed to go to church and to the American embassy to get some papers notarized. We also got out to see famous Bondi beach on our one sunny day.
On our last day we went to the Australian Wildlife Center with the express purpose of seeing Koalas, Kangaroos and all animals Australian. We arrived late in the afternoon and were uncertain whether or not to fork over the $100 plus dollars to get us all in, especially when we learned they had no Tasmanian Devils in residence (apparently they are endangered and rare now even in captivity.) We decided to risk it though and ended up thinking the subsequent 2 hours were worth every penny. We had the place almost to ourselves, and the staff in each area were happy to stand around and talk to us as long as we wanted. Plus unlike in most traditional zoos, we got to see all of the animals up super close, and often with no glass separating us. Koalas have to be one of the world’s most adorable creatures. We were lucky to see three 8-month old babies that had only recently made their debut.
The kangaroos were less cute. They are very muscle-y, kind of like big, buff and scary rabbits. Their eyes though looked intelligent and gentle.
There were also all kinds of other native Australian animals, rodents, snakes etc. to look at and learn about, but our favorite was Rex. Rex is a very large crocodile that floated within inches of our faces in his large pond enclosure. Rex is very cool looking but apparently not so cool acting as he keeps killing his mates.
When I was planning our trip I was disappointed to have to take Tahiti off our itinerary because of flight constraints. On the strength on an online recommendation I substituted Lord Howe, a little known island off the coast of Southern Australia. For some reason I can't remember now, when selecting the flights I decided we should be there for 2 weeks. It was quite a shock when I got around to planning for this faze of our trip to find that Lord Howe is a very elite destination with no budget accommodations at all. The cheapest option for 4 people was close to $600 per night. Since my flights weren't changeable, I had no idea what on earth we were going to do. Yet again, a kind stranger came to our rescue and offered us a $200 per night spot staying where he houses staff for his hotel and restaurant. I was so grateful that I asked few questions and have no idea what to expect. Lord Howe Island, here we come.