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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Australia - 3/29/08

Our Saturday started off bright and early at the Sydney temple, which was in a little town called Carlingford, about a 30 minute train ride from downtown. Unfortunately we only got a couple of photos of the temple before our batteries died. It was beautiful, though! And, just a little crazy sidenote, it's across the street from a Target. I fully expected to see McDonald's in Australia, but not Target.

Later that afternoon we took a 30 minute ferry ride from Sydney Harbour across to Manly Beach. As you can see, we had a perfect view of the Opera House as we passed by.

We got the most beautiful sunset for our final night in Australia... photos can't even begin to capture how amazing it was.

This is Australia's version of Cold Stone. Cold Rock... Cold Stone... they make it pretty obvious.

My totally amazing missionary parents... who made this whole trip so incredible and memorable!

All of these photos, especially from our last day, bring so many emotions to the surface. I'm so glad we came home with so many photos because they really did capture so much of what we experienced and enjoyed.

By this point in our trip I was trying so hard to avoid any thoughts about having to say good-bye... it was killing me, though. This is one vacation that I will cherish and remember for my entire life. Thanks so much, Mom and Dad, for EVERYTHING! We had such an absolutely wonderful time!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Australia - 3/28/08 Part Two

Here are a couple of videos of us petting a koala bear. They weren't out hopping around with the kangaroos, but the park employees would bring out a koala bear every once in a while and supervise his time out with the public. Their fur is so soft... I was using every restraint in me to refrain from picking the little guy up and cuddling him. Such cute little animals!

And, here is the Tasmanian Devil!

This bottom photo may look quite fierce... but the little devil was just yawning. He was really cute as he ran laps around his little enclosure.

It was really quite amazing to see so many animals that we've only ever seen in photos or read about in books.

Friday evening we had dinner at a little Mexican Restaurant. The ambience of this place was like a bar for young single people looking for a date... it was loud and dark, but the food was pretty good and being together with family was so much fun!! I think, in hindsight, it would have been nice to order our food to go and then found a spot in Hyde Park to sit and enjoy our food and conversation with a little less distraction. Every moment we had with my parents I just wanted to soak up and enjoy it to its fullest.

After dinner, we stopped at another gelateria around the corner. It wasn't nearly as good as the other place. For future note: don't trust a gelateria with a sign for "gelati". It's like having a ice cream store that sells ice creams. Yeah, I should have known by its sign that it wouldn't be authentic.

Australia - 3/28/08 Part One

Most of Friday was spent at an Australian Wildlife Park. It was really amazing to walk into the place and just see kangaroos hopping around all over the place. No cages for them. So, we got to pet and feed some kangaroos. It was fun to check out all the different animals that are unique to Australia.

I was so drawn to the koala bears. They were so cute! I could've watched them all day and not gotten bored.

The kangaroos and wallabies were really fun to watch, too.

We saw a ton of different exotic birds:

Here is a kookoobura:

And, the dingos:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Australia - 3/27/08

Thursday morning we took things at a little bit of a slower pace. We went on a little walk through downtown and stopped at a few stores. We ended up finding a kangaroo roast at the grocery store, so we decided we had to try it out.

This is the kangaroo roast in the crock pot, and Marc doing a little imitation:

Thursday evening was our night at the Opera House. We arrived down there pretty early, so we could take some photos and grab a gelato at this gelateria. Seriously, outside of Italy I have never had gelato that tasted this good! It was delicious!! We had actually stopped here with Nik on Tuesday night, before going to dinner. So, this was our second time getting gelato here.

As we were walking down the harbour, towards the Opera House, with the Harbour Bridge off to the left, I was overwhelmed with the awe of the moment. The sun was setting, the air was warm, I was eating this glorious gelato, anticipating a performance at the Opera House... and enjoying this most incredible moment with my husband and my parents... it was just one of those moments that couldn't have been any more perfect than it already was. It was such a beautiful night!

Here are a few photos of inside the Opera House. Apparently there were no cameras allowed, but I missed that sign I guess. I had taken these four when an usher approached and asked me to put the camera away. She was very kind about it and I felt like an idiot for not knowing about the rule. But, I'm glad a got a couple at least... and thankful she didn't make me delete them!

The performance we saw was The Pilgrim's Progress. It was so incredible! It's hard to even find words to describe what this experience was like. Our seats were so perfect! We were up above the orchestra and the choir. The orchestra was obviously to our left and the choir was seated to our right, but we were literally five feet away. When they would stand and sing, it was thrilling and literally breath-taking. We're hoping to find some recording of the music we enjoyed that night, so we can always remember how awesome it was. And, to experience it at THE Opera House... really a dream come true!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Australia - 3/26/08

We were up again really early Wednesday morning, with a day planned in Wollongong. The train ride took us about two hours south of Sydney, along the coastline. The views were incredible. Here we are on the train:

When we first got to Wollongong, my parents wanted to take us with them to see a really well-known Chinese Buddhist Temple just outside of town. The grounds were really manicured and beautiful.

Here are my parents:

After we got back to Wollongong, we made the trek from the train station to the beach. We stopped along the way at a little bakery and bought a few little tasty mini pizzas and a sausage roll. It was perfect!

And, here is the beach. The sun was so bright and the wind was warm and calm. It was such a beautiful day to be at the beach. We all got wet, whether we were planning on it or not. The water was so inviting and warm, especially compared to our Northern California beaches. I was actually the only one who purposefully got in the water, doing some body surfing. It was great! There were all kinds of seashells that we gathered up throughout the day. It was just a beautiful day!

When we got back to my parents' flat that evening, there was the most amazing sunset from their balcony: