August 12th, 2016

First day of school

Another merry day in Oz, brought to you by Mom.

Oprah Didn't Think This One Through
From our tour guide on today's walking tour: The iconic Sydney Bridge, which spans the North Shore Central Business District and Port Jackson, is 440 feet high and 3,700 feet long. Its span supports 5 lanes of traffic, 2 railroad tracks, 1 pedestrian walkway, and 1 cycle walkway. Trust me, people, this is one honking high and long bridge. For free, people can walk across the bridge on the pedestrian walkway. For $238 to $373, idiots can climb across the soaring TOP of the bridge. Oprah was one such idiot.

It took her so long to climb part way, however, that her private helicopter, flying overhead to swoop in and save her, ran out of fuel and had to make an emergency landing. The guide didn't know how Oprah finally got down, as she didn't finish the climb. We didn't see her on top of the bridge (though 62 year old Jackie Chan or his body double was still on top of the Opera House), so we can only assume that she was finally rescued or she's still up there and just decided to sit down and take a load off.

Poor William Blight Just Can't Cut a Break
From The Rocks Museum, the Rocks being the section the convicts lived in when they were brought to Australia: fifteen years after the Mutiny on the Bounty, Blight was appointed governor of New South Wales with orders to clean up the corrupt rum trade of the New South Wales corporation. Poor fella, as his actions against the trade resulted in the so-called Rum Rebellion, in which Blight was (again) arrested and relieved of command.

A Mint at the Mint
The Mint Museum has bowls of Mentos for visitors. This amused me. And impressed me, which the Mint, decommissioned in 1926, did not--except for its collection of lovingly displayed old garden ornaments, including cement gnomes, eerily lifelike stone pigeons,and sturdy concrete mushrooms. How these are connected to a Mint is up to finer minds than mine to solve.

A Day Late,
as the gorgeous Great Synagogue, erected in 1878, only gives tours Tuesday and Thursday,and it appears that today is Friday. We were able to see through the ornate green iron gates, and the temple is magnificent.

Rubbing the Boar's Nose
A large brass boar, one of many around the world, sits in front of the hospital. Rub its snout, drop some money in the slots around its feet, and make a wish. It's all for charity, and charming. Much nicer than rubbing the testicles of the Wall Street bull.

Why is this Place Called Australia?
Apparently because Matthew Flinders, while unjustly imprisoned by the French, gave it that name in the book he wrote about the continent. The word, which means Southern Lands, stuck. In addition to this accomplishment, Flinders is best remembered for his attachment to his cat, which rated its own statue. Who am I to judge?

What Do You Do With a Problem Like Willie Sutton?
Well, if you're Great Britain and you've just lost the feisty American colonies, you ship Willie and his fellow felons to Australia to clear forests, build roads and houses, and do all the other grunt work no one else wants to do. And when things get a bit boisterous at night, as the convicts are not jailed or restrained in any way, you offer them an evening of housing at the government's expense to give them time to sober up.

Chronological run down of the day:
The Mint
The Synagogue
The Sydney Tower Eye Observation Deck in the Westfield Tower (where we had a lovely hot chocolate but decided against taking out a home equity loan for the privilege of going out on the deck to get vertigo)
The (not so) Free Tour (highlights included Museum of Sydney, Custom House, the Rocks.)
The ferry to to Taronga Zoo (where a turkey buzzard invaded my personal space) and ferry back
Mexican dinner, very yummy

Final thoughts
1. Could not possibly have asked for better weather. It is simply gorgeous here, with brilliant blue skies and crisp, clean air.
2. The Aussies are obsessed with the aboriginals.
3. This country has great gelato. Lot to be said for that.

Sorry for the length, but we were out from 8:00 to 7:00, and even though evert street is uphill both ways, we covered so much territory that I refused to look at Sammi's fitbit.