Walked out of the airport at 6:45 to see the full moon setting in the glow of the sunrise. What a way to start the trip. The weather was beautiful today. A perfect So Cal winter day, about 70, dry, and fantastic.
The flight was fine. I slept for a good while, had an empty see net to me that was good, and finished up the book I was working on. Also good. Was watching Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as we landed. :)
Got to hotel at 7am. Was told I could not check in until 1pm. sigh. that's a long time when one is so jet lagged. It turned out fine. I was able to drop off bags, change, and head out. I took a train half way to the harbor, and walked the rest of the way.
The first bird I saw, was a rainbow lorekeet (spelling?)! They are everywhere! Then there was a black billed ibis - those are big birds.
The Sydney Opera house is even better in person. It's profile is nothing, compared to wandering around it, looking at the white tile work, and seeing the angles play off the the clear blue sky. It is really something. I totally get it now. Will take a tour with Anne-Maree on Sunday.
After I drooled over the Opera House I decided to go back and take a free tour of the Botanical Gardens. Their entrance sign says, "Please walk on the grass, hug the trees..." How wonderful. And yes, it's full of people. People running, people sitting, people sleeping on the grass, and tons of tourists. And it is amazing how much of the vegetation is the same as in So Cal. The palm trees we have in our front garden are here. But there are also camellias everywhere, orange trees, gum trees, eucalyptus, the funny berry tree we used to have in our back yard, similar pine trees, another bush that used to grow outside my bedroom window. Amazing. But... no pomegranate trees. And our guide told us that there weren't any that he knew of growing around here. After two hours of be amazed at the native plants (there were plenty of new ones), I was beat! I chit chatted with a couple of people from the tour, nice people, and then I bought a sandwich, cookie and water and sat in front of a lake and looked at the bats. The botanical garden hosts a ton of fruit bats. They hang in the trees and occasionally fly away. They are soOo cool. They look like cocoons when they are hanging with their wings all wrapped up. Oh! and the gardens were full of yellow crested cockatoos! FULL! There are great big flocks of them! They are the size of a duck and not shy. I'm sure to the Australians this is every day, but to us tourists - wow, what a sight.
So I had my sandwich and took some pain killers because my feet were killing me. This helped get me going a bit longer. I walked back through the gardens to the New South Wales Nation Library (I think that's what it was).
First off the reading room is just as good as the one at the Central Library in New York it's beautiful! Then they have an exhibition space that is fantastic. They had very nice reproductions of panoramas of Sydney from the early 20th century. But they weren't for me. What was for me was the special collections show. They had 8 - 10 vitrines showing off some of their best special collections, which included the papers of the author of Mary Poppins! They have several copies of books and some of the correspondence between she and Walt Disney out. Then there were records of the English recording the native language of the Aborigines of Sydney. Pretty neat stuff. They have an artist book collection - would like to see that! and then they have the draft of the book, Schindler's list, Cartographers drawings, and a collection of maps relating to the mapping of Antarctica. Very very cool. I inquired about meeting the preservation staff and possibly making an appointment for seeing their artist book collection. We'll see if I manage that.
On my way out I found the preservation room. It's in the basement - what a surprise and you can actually see into some of the windows. Ohhh I'd love to see what they are doing.
I made my way home, knowing my brain power was waning. I did run across a German bakery, it's one that is a chain in Germany, and I bought a pretzel (yum)! Happy me.
Sorry there are no pictures. I took tons, but they will have to wait for when I can upload images from my camera. It may just be a post of pictures. But I'm sure you won't mind. I'll try to post a lot.
So far, Australia is amazing. The people are wonderful! So kind and friendly - no one has exhibited "philly charm" yet. It must be that they also have nice weather in the winter.
PS: oh, I spell check, but sorry, my eyelids are drooping and I have to call Julie still. I'm not proof reading.