We got seats up top, which meant we had great views of the Opera House and Bridge as we rode to the zoo. Once we arrived, we took the gondola to the top of the hill and started our way down. The zoo has all your regular zoo animals--giraffes, elephants (who put on a show for us!), and exotic birds, but they also have a whole section devoted to native Australian animals! Kangaroos, koalas (more on this later), and seals!
This is Slou wearing her zebra shirt with her new zebra friends. It only rained for a few minutes, but we were still able to enjoy the experience. By the time we got home and had dinner, we were exhausted. We were in bed by about 10pm. #We'reOld
The next day, we took a tour of the Blue Mountains! The Blue Mounatins are a national park located about two hours outside Sydney, and you get there from the nearby towns of Leura and Katoomba. They get their name due to a natural phenomena called Rayleigh Scattering (the same reason the sky is blue: the moisture from the eucalyptus filter the sunlight, allowing only blue to seep through).
Dave, our bus driver and tour guide extrordinaire, saved us the two front seats, so we had excellent views the whole day! Our first stop was Featherdale Wildlife Park, where we got to cuddle a koala.
Let me repeat that: WE GOT TO CUDDLE A KOALA!!!!
This was truely one of the best experiences of my life. Ronnie the Koala was so fuzzy! Like a wooly plush toy you just want to squeeze and squeeze! They let you come right up and pet his rump while he chews some eucalyptus and your heart explodes. Seriously. Dear God, thanks for inventing koalas. Love, all mankind.
(Slou thought they smelled like old cheese. And that Ronnie was going to eat her face. This is not the last of Slou's rediculousness. Ironically enough, Slou was Ronnie's last straw and he demanded to be taken back to his dressing room--I mean, enclosure--after this pic was taken. #CelebrityProblems)
For a couple dollars, we bought some kangaroo food and let Kangas eat out of our hand. They too are fuzzy and adorable and also really interested in bypassing the kangaroo food and trying to grab the sugar cone out of your hand. They know what's up.
There was also this guy. He was real--I saw him blink. Let's hope I don't run into any of his friends.
After a stop to view the Three Sisters landmark, the focal point of the Blue Mountains, we hit up a country club for a pretty bad lunch where I decided the ketchup tastes weird. So far, all the food on this side of the world is fairly normal, but just kinda weird.
We leave lunch and make one more stop to see the Jamison Valley, the most famous of the valleys within the Blue Mountains, before the first "ride." I say "ride" because the term is used quite loosely. The first ride is a skylink car that glides between the valley ridges. There's a beautiful waterfall on one side and what looks like a rainforest made out of broccoli below. Dave secretly told us to stand in the middle, elevated section of the car. During the glide, the floor melts away so you're standing on clear glass looking straight down into the rainforest!
The next ride is the cable car which takes us down into the forest itself. We get more splended views of the valley, and a nice Asian tourist took this pic of us. Thanks for getting the background, sir!
Dave then leads us through the rainforest on a twenty-minute walk. Slou and I fall back and enjoy the nature a bit on our own. The trees are richly green and the vines hanging down suggest that Tarzan will be swinging by any moment.
There are leftover pieces of mining equipment hiding in the forest, which we're sure Dave is droning on about with the group. We catch up with them in time to make this moment happen outside an old mining vent.
The last ride is the most famous of all. The miners had built a train to haul coal out of the forest way back in the day, and now it's used for deporting tourists from the rainforest. The seats are tilted backward, because the train will climb at a 52 degree incline-the steepest train incline in the world! We knew this ahead of time, but were clearly not prepared. Thanks, Dave, for capturing this moment of pure gold.
Tomorrow will be beach day, so for now, it's time for bed! (Is it really only 10pm again?)