So on Monday I got halfway through a blog post and then fell asleep. Was busy all day Tuesday and now that I'm in Brisbane, this hostel doesn't have free wifi so I can't post that one. But, I paid $5 for an hour of internet on their computers so I'll see how far I can get with this update.
I did the free Sydney walking tour which was fabulous. It was about 3 hours starting at Town Hall and went all over the place finishing at Circular quay. The tour guide did a really great job and I would definitely recommend it if you're heading that way. I got to learn some of the history if Sydney as well as see things I never would have found. Then, I went exploring around The Rocks which was the original convict settlement area and is now a really cute neighborhood. I visited The Rocks Discovery Museum and had lunch at a cute little Italian cafe that had an outdoor seating area. After lunch I walked around The Rocks some more and then walked over to the Harbour Bridge. One of the pylons on the south (I think) side of the river is a little museum and for $11 you can climb to the top and have a beautiful view of the harbor. Since it was thunderstorming during my bridge climb, I wanted some nice pictures of the opera house from afar in the sun. The museum was also really cool because they had replicas of people building the bridge and a video showing it. Then, I went back to Circular Quay to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art which is free. There were some cool exhibits in there, but I got there at 4 and it closed at 5 so I had to speed through the museum. I hung out around Circular Quay for an hour and then at 6 went on the free Rocks walking tour. We went through a bunch of little lanes and passages and learned about the convict history of the rocks and saw some of the historical construction. It was also a really well done tour. After the tour ended, I made my way back to Circular Quay so I could finally see the Bridge and the Opera House lit up at night. I had dinner at the little temporary bar they have set up for the Sydney Festival and took about a billion pictures of the bridge at sunset. Then when it was dark, I walked around to the other side of the Quay and took a bunch of pictures of the opera house all lit up. Then I headed home for the night.
Tuesday was my Sydney beach day. After asking a few different people whether I should go to Manly or Bondi Beach, the overwhelming response was Manly Beach so that's where I went. I got up earlyish and headed to Circular Quay to catch a ferry to the beach. I was on the 9am ferry and it was a pretty trip up that took about a half hour. When I got off the ferry, I stopped at the tourist information center and got a map. I walked across the Manly Corso which had tons of surf shops and other random stores and made it to the beach. I walked along the water and saw these kids from the Manly Surf Club doing drills. It was cute - these kids were like 11 years old, maybe younger and they had to paddle out to a spot and back as fast as they could and switch with their partners. I walked along the water until the beach stopped and it turned into rocks. Then I walked around the path. The next beach over was on Shelley Cove which is a protected area because it has some sort of rare sea lettuce or something. I walked along the path to the beach and found a nice spot in the shade. It started out quiet - at this point it was only about 10:30, but it got more crowded. There were tons of people snorkeling and playing in the water. The water was really cold though and I was really happy with my kindle so I didn't go in. By about 1 I started to get hungry so I headed back to the Corso to get some lunch. I got the $10 Tuesday special at a burger joint. I wandered around the shops for a bit and then got on the 2:45 ferry back to Sydney. I walked home from the Quay and showered to get ready for the opera. It turned out that one of the girls staying in the hostel also had a ticket to see La Boheme so we got dinner together and took a bus to the opera house. We sat at the opera bar for drinks before the show and then we headed inside to our seats. The opera was beautiful and I'm really glad I got to see a show there. Seeing it made me really want to watch Rent. We took a bus back to the hostel and went to bed.
I woke up and finished packing. The airport shuttle picked me up at 8:45 and I got to the airport at about 9:30 for a 10:55 flight. The queue was INSANE! It wrapped around a few times outside of the roped area. I got in line at 9:38 and I didn't actually get checked in until 10:20. I don't think I've ever had that crazy of a line at an airport before. It was a dumb system, you had to check yourself in at a kiosk and it printed your luggage tag for you to put on your bag and then you had to go up to a counter and check it in and they ripped off the luggage tag and reprinted it. I get having to go up to a station because they have to weigh your bag, but why did I put the luggage tag on if they were just going to rip it off? The flight took off about 20 minutes late and I slept for the whole thing so I'm pretty sure it was uneventful. I landed in Brisbane and took a cab to the hostel. This one is much bigger although I'm in a 6 bedroom dorm. There's a pool, tennis court and a bar. There's also a mini-mart inside and 12 computers since there's no wifi. Once I got my stuff settled, I grabbed a map and headed out to explore. I made it to the river and came upon a ferris wheel. I decided to ride it and it turned out that there was a voice over pointing out all of the sights in Brisbane so it helped me get a sense of where things were. I walked along the parklands on both sides of the river and meandered back to the hostel. I sat by the pool for an hour or two to finish my book. When I got to my room, one of my roommates was there. Her name is Rose and she's from England. We went down to the bar and enjoyed the $5 Bulmers Cider Wednesday night special for a few hours. Then it was bedtime.
Today was great! I left the hostel around 9am and made my way towards the river where I'd be picking up my cruise to the Koala Sanctuary. The boat showed up at 9:30 and was off at 10am. For the hour cruise there was a recorded tour pointing things out along the river and giving some history. Brisbane has been prone to some really bad floods, in 1974 and again in 2011. After about an hour, we made it to Lone Pine. I wandered a bit and found the reptiles and then the Kangaroo Pen. I bought a $2 bag of food and spent about 45 minutes taking pictures of and feeding kangaroos. I got to see a Joey pop out of its mother's pouch which was so cute! These Roos were super tame and were more than happy to eat out of my hand and it was a lot of fun. Then, I went to the koala presentation and got to pet the koala that they brought out for the demo. Then, the piece de resistance was actually holding and cuddling the koala. They're much heavier than you expect. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the park and taking pictures of sleeping koalas in trees.
There's two minutes of internet left on my timer so I'm going to leave it off here but tomorrow I'm heading to Moreton Island to go sandboarding and snorkeling which should be tons of fun!