14 April 2008

More Taronga

Hi all,

Back again! And it's only been a couple of days! :-) I found a whole lot more photos from Taronga which I didn't put in the last post. And then there's the adventure that happened when we got back to Circular Quay......

This is a Monstera Deliciosa (split-leaf philodendron) in flower. I just did a Google search on the plant and have found that you can eat the fruit (the long cucumber-like thing in the centre of the flower). Apparently the fruit is also called Mexican Breadfruit or Swiss Cheece Plant. Google rocks! :-)

This is the entrance-way to Taronga Zoo

Just inside the entrance - I'm looking intently at the map - in my true anal-retentive style - trying to figure out the best plan of action!

This little section of the Zoo has a beautiful view of the harbour and has picnic tables and little splash pools for the kids. If you look just to the right of centre, you'll notice a plume of "steam". The layout is sort of pre-historic-ish and I think it's supposed to be a geyser - whatever it is, the kids love it! Shrieks of delight everytime it "erupts"!

Going down towards the Koala enclosure. Here we met a family from ZA. They were here for some big Jewish wedding. She's an Aussie and he was a bit of a Jhb snob! But even though she's an Aussie, she's spent far too much time in Africa.... There was a toilet with a baby changing room about 20m away but she changed her snotty-nosed, screeching kid's nappy right outside the entrance to the Koala enclosure! That's when I walked away....

This is the area where we sat and listened to the guy with the shades & the snake draped over his arm give a talk on ...... wait for it....... SPIDERS! Oh, and snakes. He sent around a jar with a Sydney Funnel Web Spider - this is THE most poisonous spider in the WORLD!!! And it was right under my nose & I didn't run away screaming! Actually, I think I was just paralysed!!! Then there was a Red Back and a Huntsman......

This is what the female Sydney Funnel Web looks like in attack mode! This isn't a small spider - probably about a metre long! Okay, in my arachniphobic haze it completely filled my vision but it was probably closer to 8cm long.

This is the Huntsman on a man's hand..... My brother, Doug, lives up on the Gold Coast and says that he gets these critters in his house. I'd move!!!

Scott had an incident at work yesterday with one of these - walked around his hand and over his tool bag..... May the bastard burn in hell!!! The Redback - not Scott!

Me on the Sky Safari

Me walking down to the exit

The road back down to the ferry wharf

Ferry coming into Taronga wharf

Scott on on the ferry as we pass the Opera House

The Opera House from the ferry. While on our way back from Taronga, we decided that this would be our next destination for the day. Believe it or not, we'd only seen it from afar - we hadn't actually got up close 'n personal with one of Sydney's most famous icons yet!

Some boats in the harbour - the small blue & yellow speed boat is one of the many "Jet Boats" that operate in the harbour. You get strapped in and hurtle around the harbour at ridiculous speeds, doing donuts and other spectacular splashy turns! Looks like brilliant fun & something I'm sure we'll get around to doing as soon as it warms up again.

This is one of 2 or 3 Sydney Showboats. It's built like one of those old steam paddle boats. Your ticket includes a meal and cabaret show onboard while cruising around the harbour. Also something we'll have to do one of these fine days.

Coming into Circular Quay

Scott has been after a hat like this for YEARS! But never bought one because he swore that he would ONLY buy it when we eventually got to Australia. Well, Easter Sunday 2008 was finally the day when he found his hat!
Damn, it's a FINE hat!

Scott posing in his hat with the Opera House in the background.
That REALLY is a fine hat!

And there's me in front of the Opera House

This is one of those floating restaurant thingies - VERY posh from the looks of it. This is at a little wharf on the right of the Opera House (if you're looking at the steps). Across the little bay are the Royal Botanical Gardens. There was a wedding onboard and the guests were busy arriving while we watched. Maybe this was the swish Jewish wedding....? The party eventually launched and headed off to the garden's wharf opposite where I assume they took the photo's. Most of the guest were doing the tux thing & the women were dressed to the nines! More about this wedding party later.....

The above to pics were just to show a bit of the Opera House roof & a close-up of the tiles used for anyone who's interested

A photo of the designer of the Opera House, Jørn Utzon, demonstrating his design of the roof. Based on a spherical design, each segment is actually refered to as a "shell". Most tourist books get this all wrong by calling them sails and saying that the design was representative of the sailing/maritime nature of Sydney harbour.... So now you know. :-)

A water taxi coming from Luna Park - viewed from the Opera House terrace

The Opera House Terrace

Me on the terrace between the shells

About to walk up the steps

Scott on the terrace. WOW! Great hat!

Me on the terrace

Another one of me on the terrace...

One of the foyers of the Concert Hall

Me on the phone outside the box office.

We had passed several signs around the Opera House advertising what was currently on. Amongst them were Edward Scissorhands (the musical!) and Don McLean in concert. Wow! We wouldn't mind singing along to a little Bye bye Miss American Pie and Starry Starry Night!!! We decided to take a chance and pop into the box office to find out if there were any tickets left. Now let me just say here that this is one of the times we can truly appreciate the freedom that not having kids or pets allows us. To be able to spend a whole day out (planned) and then be able to do something for the rest of the evening on the spur of the moment without having to worry about baby-sitters, bath-time, feeding time, bed time, etc, etc, etc.
So we went up to the box office and found out that the Don McLean tickets were between $90 and $120. Hrm..... a little expensive for Don McLean. I can't honestly say that I'm THAT much of a fan. So the guy at the box office could see we were more than a little hesitant and told us that there were a couple of late release tickets for Harry Connick Jr's show for $130 each. WHAT??????? You're kidding right????? There's no signage up for Harry Connick!!! (I've got goosies just thinking back to this experience!) Now THIS man is worth $130 a pop to see! Especially considering that the tickets were for the 4th row!!!! We grabbed them!!! (I love my credit card!) I was completely beside myself - I could NOT believe that I had tickets to see Harry Connick Jr at the Sydney Opera House's Concert Hall - in the 4th row!!!! It was just too HUGE to believe!!! I just wish my mom had been in town for this one - she LOVES Harry Connick! Mom - you can take it that I watched it for BOTH of us! :-)
[Note added: For anyone who doesn't know who Harry Connick Jr is, he sang "It Had To Be You" on the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack. He also appears on Will & Grace as Grace's doctor husband. He's also been in loads of movies - Little Man Tate, Memphis Belle and more recently PS I Love You.]

We weren't exactly dressed for the occasion but we certainly didn't have time to go home to change and the only shops around were tourist shops. I felt like I should be putting on an evening dress with heels & even make up! But there's no dress-code at the Opera House. So we'd be okay in what we were wearing. So now we had to quickly forage for food before the show (we had about an hour). All the bars/restaurants around the Opera House were really busy so we popped back to Circular Quay where there are a few take-away places. We ended up getting MacDonalds and sitting in front of Custom's House while we wolfed them down - still trying to believe that we were actually going to go back to the Opera House to see Harry Connick Jr.

So take-away heartburn busy digesting, we headed back to see the show. We had to check our backpack and couldn't take our camera inside - not even up into the foyer. This was VERY disappointing. We'd love to have taken some pics of the inside of the Opera House and Concert Hall but that just wasn't possible. Scott and I got ourselves a drink and went walking around all goggle-eyed and gaping jaws!!! The Opera House is something which HAS to be seen to be believed. The inside is a mixture of industrial raw concrete, wooden panelling and glass. An odd combination, granted, but it just works. I'm not sure whether that's just through sheer audacity or just due to the scale of the structure - everything's enormous. Not just the structure itself, but the cavernous spaces the structure creates. Truly awesome.

Then it was time to go in. The usher had to chivvy us along 'cos we just stood rooted to the spot as we entered. The Concert Hall is magnificent!!!! All wood panelling and the largest organ pipes I've ever seen covering the back wall the stage.
Our seats ended up being right in front of Harry's piano. And the seats are so well positioned in that if you have a tall person in front of you, you can still see. The entire place was chocka-block full. The lights eventually dimmed. The Band walked out on stage and started warming up and jamming away. Harry came on stage and the following 2 and half hours are a blurr of song, fabulous New Orleans music, comedy and wild applause. His latest CD is a compilation of songs from his childhood and early years as a musician in New Orleans. It was like going on a trip down memory lane with him. What a phenominal show!!!
As we were walking out, we noticed that there was a merchanise table set out so we headed over thinking we may go and get a t-shirt. There had been a guest on stage with Harry - Lucien Barbarin - a trombone player. Well, he was selling some of his CDs and signing them so we got that. Unfortunately Harry wasn't doing any signing after the show - that REALLY would've topped off a hugely exciting day. Through the window across at the Theatre, Don McLean was signing CDs and programs. It had been raining outside so when we heard a series of loud bangs, we thought it was thunder. Nope! Fireworks in the harbour! We stood outside watching this SPECTACULAR display which was arranged by the wedding party we'd seen earlier. Talk about going big for your wedding!!!
We were on such a high after the show & fireworks as you'll see from the look the dazed look in the pic below. What a long, extremely full and exciting day!

The Tickets!!!
Customs House - we ate our Micky-D's just to the right of the picture.

This is the foyer we were standing having our drink in - just gaping!

The Concert Hall. X marks the spot where the piano was and the circled blue line is where our seats were.

This is pretty close to what the stage setup looked like - exept the organ pipes made up the background.

This is Harry at one of his other concerts with one of The Band's sax players.

This exactly the view we had of Harry at his piano.

Waiting for the train to head home after our exciting day!
On the train, on the way home. NICE HAT!!!

A new double-decker train
An old double-decker train
There's absolutely no reason I ended off with these two train pictures. I was at a total loss as to how to end off this episode, so I just chucked 'em in for interest sake!
Until next time.....


Uta said...

What a HAT!

Carol Markusse said...

Oh wow!! What a nice surprise getting to that concert. Nice hat by the way LOL!! Oh, and I really LOL at the spider chirp.