Touristy Activities

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
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Trip End Nov 31, 2005


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005

After New Years we took the train back down to Sydney on the second of January to stay for a week with a friend of Donny's, Alan, who is housesitting in Cremorne, a suburb in north Sydney. The house is nestled in a long row of white-front, red tile roofed places that overlook a green valley and are cut off from the rest of the suburb by a steep stair to the street above. The family has a cat and a bunny rabbit and the house reminds me a lot of home, with wooden floors and a deck out in the backyard.

We've been indulging in the gamut of touristy activities in Sydney since we arrived. On the first day we met up with my Aunt Karen and Uncle Paul, who had just flown into Australia that morning. They took us down to Darling Harbour for lunch, which is a tourist's paradise, filled with expensive restaurants, overhyped activities and buskers performing wild feats of magic and daring.

Yesterday we overcame the steep prices at the Sydney Aquarium at John's pleading behest. I was somewhat unimpressed with most of the exhibits, although the Great Barrier Reef tanks had a good mix of sharks, glowing colourful fish, and strange fluorescent corals. The other thing that tickled my fancy was seeing a platypus in the flesh; I was surprised to learn that while I had believed them to be about the size of a golden retriever, they are actually only about the length of my forearm. This makes them seem much cuter and cuddlier---but be warned! "Dangerous Animals of Australia," a book we read in the back of the CVA car, informed us that the male platypus keeps poison in the hollow claws on his back flippers.

Today we went to the Powerhouse Museum, called the "hippest museum in Sydney" by the Lonely Planet; we shelled out the extra dollars for the current touring exhibition: "The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Exhibition," which was well worth the $6. All of the characters had original costumes and weaponry on display; the actual one ring was displayed in a darkened vault, suspended in a glass tube. Various miniatures that were used in the film, like the ones for Orthanc, Bard-dur, and the ruins of Hobbiton from Frodo's flash-forward at Galadriel's mirror, were all on display, serving to highlight the intensity of detail that went into the film. A replica of Boromir dead in his funeral boat was displayed right before the end, and the model of the man was so lifelike that Donny joked that the museum had simply paid a homeless man to come in off the street and lie still in the boat for three months.

The rest of the museum (or what we managed to see of its gigantic spaces before it closed) was, indeed, quite hip, and all the boys' grousing in the morning that I had picked a "boring old museum" as my destination choice was shut up by the interactive bits and ingenuity-focussed exhibits. In fact, I think it almost suited them better than it did me; it was very much a boys' museum, if one wanted to stereotype museums that way. At 5:00 the staff forced us reluctantly to the exits.
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