It is our last day in Sydney today and we started it off with a trip to the Zoo! We took a ferry from Circular Quay across the water and landed at Taronga Zoo. I almost don't know where to begin - there were so many exhibits, interesting animals, and a huge area to cover by foot.
We started off with the giraffes. They are so majestic and lean, and had a great view of the city from their penned in area (lucky them!).
We also saw a squawking peacock, chimpanzees playfully swinging from ropes and munching their breakfast, ostriches grabbing food off the ground, goats perched high up on the rocks, and pelicans with big long beaks.
My favourite of all were the elephants. The Zoo has a breeding program for Indian elephants, since they\'re in danger of becoming extinct, and we watched the mom elephants and a few little ones as they had their morning meal. I love elephants and I can't recall ever seeing one in real before. They look so wise and yet funny at the same time, using their trunks to lift food into their mouths for chomping on. I could have watched them all day.
We wandered by the aquarium and watched the mini penguins, native to Australia, dive through the water, and then on to the seals and sea lions, floating and showing off for the spectators through the glass. We spent quite a bit of time watching the gorillas as well, as they pulled branches off a bush for lunch, with one gorilla stealing another guy's leaves and then climbing out of reach to enjoy his snack. There was also an older, darker gorilla sitting in the corner, watching almost distastefully, like he wanted no part in the shenanigans of his younger companions.
The next area was lions, tigers and bears! We saw a big brown bear, then a golden lion, just laying around like he knew everyone was oohing and awwing over how gorgeous he was, and a pacing tiger. There was also a dozing snow leopard, and a pond area with 2 pygmy hippopotamuses (and their orange and yellow duck friends). Also in this section was an enclosure with a bunch of meerkats running around and then pausing to stand at attention - very, very cute.
One thing about the zoo that really surprised us is that they had a few areas where you basically walked right into the animals habitat. No glass, no bars or wire - you just open the door and walk along the path, checking out the birds, when a wallaby darts across your path! There was a "Wild Australia" section that we walked into with kangaroos and wallabies, emus, ducks, and they weren't bothered at all by people strolling through. It was amazing!
After checking out the rest of the animals (a farm area with pigs, chickens and sheep, a huge bird enclosure, and then reptiles, turtles, and even white spotted deer), we went into the koala area and we were really lucky to see a koala actually wake up, climb down his tree, and hop onto another one! There were a couple of others dozing, and that\'s how they are more commonly seen when you spot them, sleeping (they sleep about 20 hours a day) or maybe gnawing on some leaves. Very cute little fellow.
We took the ferry back to the wharf and then decided to take a walk to the Royal Botanical Gardens. It's a nice area off the Quay, and even though the flowers aren't probably at their best right now, in the winter, there were still some nice ones blooming and the trees were incredible. I always knew that Australia had a huge variety of unusual creatures, but they have just as many diverse plants and trees.
There were also sandstone sculptures littered throughout the gardens as well as birds and ducks everywhere. Next I wanted to take a look up close at my new favourite building of all time - the Opera House! We walked up and checked it out from all angles, even the stain-resistant tiles on the white sails.
We had a dinner of gourmet pizza under a heat lamp outside right on the wharf, watching the sky darken over the Harbour bridge. Once it was totally dark we watched the light show on the Opera House again (much quieter on a Monday night) and checked out a few of the light installations for the Vivid Sydney: Lights, Music, and Ideas Festival, including a staircase that lit up as you took a step, a bunch of ghostly figures with inspirational quotes at their feet, trees with hoops that lit up when people below pedaled the bikes hooked up to them, a room full of blue and green images of the moon taken at different days of the year, and some jelly fish changing colors.
To finish off the night, we headed to a place we'd seen near our hotel in the Rocks, called Lowenbrau that served beer in 1 liter mugs. I chose a sparkling mango wine to sip on, and Tyler enjoyed his very large beer.
Cheers to our amazing trip in this unbelievable country. We visited a great mix of smaller towns and bigger cities, saw lots of sights, ate lots of food, and have tons of good and funny memories. I'd come back here in a heartbeat!