Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Australia - Part 2, Brisbane

After staying 3 days in Sydney, the Rocket Scientist had a speaking engagement at a conference in Brisbane, Australia in Queensland.  He would be busy at the conference for 3 days, so I had time to roam around this city and take a bus tour to see some of the local sites.  I just wish we had more time here to enjoy everything this beautiful place has to offer!
The first day, we thought we would have a quick flight from Sydney to Brisbane with the entire afternoon and evening to take in the sites, but that wasn't the case.  The Prime Minister was speaking just a few yards away from our hotel, which caused many delays in our flight schedule and even getting to our hotel once we landed.  It literally took 3 hours, longer than the flight, to get to our hotel from the airport!  We were not happy...so by the time we got to the hotel, it was dinner time and we were starved!  We made our way down the South Bank and I said let's just eat at the first place we see, which was Ahmet's Turkish Restaurant...and I am SO glad we did! We had a wonderful meal with Turkish Bread and dips, a vegetarian appetizer platter, and lamb, chicken and beef kabobs, all on platters and ready to share!  I brought home the leftovers for lunch the next day...I have got to learn how to make that bread, it was SO good!  Our waiter I asked if he was Turkish and he said no, he was from Slovakia!  I thought it was funny when I asked for a "to go" box, a nearby young waitress had to go ask someone else what I was talking about.  There, it is called "take away"!  Too funny!

Right outside our hotel room on the river's South Bank, there was a beautiful arbour walk and a gondola ride where you could see the city from up high.  There were many shops and restaurants around this area, so I made my way around in the morning to do a little sight seeing and did some shopping in the afternoon.
The Arbour Walk along the South Bank
Streets Beach - an actual swimming area along the north side of the river, where you can swim and sun!
A yummy pastry called a Caramel Slice that was REALLY good!
A short walk over Victoria Bridge takes you to Queen Street, which boasts to have over 700 shops, and boy they were not kidding!  No cars can go up and down this area.  It is all stores!  I bought many of my gifts here and even met some soccer players from the Brisbane Rush soccer team that were signing posters and giving them out.  I picked up one for the College Boy since he is SO into soccer!  He loved it!  It was a little warmer in Brisbane compared to Sydney, and slowly the shops were getting in the Spring fashion line and putting their Winter items on sale, which was good for me since we are just going into fall/winter here.  I noticed the fashion trend was boots or flats with leggings or black tights, layered under skirts, tunics or shorts with large black purses (similar to the girl in the photo up above).  Spring looked like alot of lacey items and stripes!  I asked a girl working in one of the shops if she thought the trend was ahead or behind the states, and she thought their style was behind.  I guess we will see!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Australia - Part 1, Sydney

The Rocket Scientist had a business conference to speak at in Brisbane, Australia a couple of weeks ago, so seeing it was our 25th wedding anniversary, I went along with him and we combined it with a business and pleasure trip.  And boy, am I SO glad I went!!  Such a beautiful place to go and so much to do!
Our hotel was right on Circular Quay on the Sydney Harbour.  Everything was within walking distance, and since they drive on the other side of the road over there, we were ok with that!  Most restaurants and pubs are in an area called The Rocks.  This area is wonderful, old and full of history.  It is where the settlers first landed with Captain Cook when the city was born.  The steps, buildings, roads...just wonderful!  We had a few meals in this area that were wonderful, like Lamb Shanks, Kangaroo Loin and Guiness Beef with Mash and Mushy Peas!
Our first day there, we walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
There were so many beautiful views of this Opera House.  I never tired of seeing it.  Such a beautiful place!
Here is a beautiful view of the Harbour Bridge at sunset.  We walked across the lower walkway of the bridge, but you can climb up and over the top of the bridge as well.  We passed on that.  :-)
We then took a tour of the Sydney Opera House.  You can't take pictures inside the building, but we did get to sit in on a rehearsal.  Sometimes they can have up to 5 venues playing at the same time, not only operas.  The Opera House needs a 1 billion dollar makeover.  When it was first built, they thought it would cost 3 million to build it, but it ended up costing 15 million.  The money they used to pay off the loan was made from gambling, and it took just 18 months to pay it off.  That  is quick!
The next day we took a Harbour Coffee Cruise.  We looked at all of the many spots around the harbour, many expensive homes, and beautiful beaches.
The pillars you see in the water are where they put up a shark net so swimmers can safely swim.  I diver just two years ago lost his leg and part of his arm to a shark in this same area.  Yikes!

Halfway through the cruise, they served coffee, tea, filled scones, biscuits (cookies) and these lovelies!  Lamingtons - which were white cake squares dipped in chocolate, then rolled in finely shredded coconut!
We also took a bus trip out to Bondi Beach.
One of the highlights of the trip was going Whale Watching.  The boat went out to the pacific ocean just two miles off shore, and they found 3 humpback whales!  I have always wanted to see whales in the wild, in their natural habitat.  This was so thrilling to see!

Such a beautiful sight, and they were so close to our boat!

After the whale watching we walked around the Botanical Gardens that backs up to the Opera House.
Sitting on Mrs. MacQuarie's chair.
Happy 25th Anniversary!

Monday, August 9, 2010

First Day of School

Today was Sweet Girl's first day of Middle School! No more Elementary school.  Now she will go from class to class on her own, find old friends and meet new ones.  During registration we walked upstairs and downstairs, reading her schedule and following the map going from her first class to her last, just to make sure she knew where they all were.  She is pretty confident of where she is going, and was all excited and ready to start the day.  I didn't even have to wake her up!  Wow!  This school has two floors, but it is all outside.  Instead of riding the bus, I took her in and got a few pictures of her in front of the school.

Here she is in front of the Media Center. "Hurry up mom! You are the only one here with a camera!!"
She had so many school supplies, I had to drive her in.  She will take the bus home. 
Little Man will be starting Kindergarten this year!  He went for his visit with the teacher today, to see where he is academically, and she told me he tested so high that they will probably be moving him up to the TK-1 program.  I am OK with that.  He is almost 6 and learned SO MUCH in his VPK class last year, I think he would do just fine!  Of course I had to give him McDonald's for lunch after a job well done.  His favorite lunch!
He actually starts school this Thursday, but since Rick and I will be gone (AUSTRALIA!) one of the teachers asked if she could take a picture of the both of us.  I said yes!  Now I can say I didn't miss his FIRST day!  ;-)
3 kids, 3 different schools:  Danny will be starting his senior year at FSU in a couple of weeks, Alivia in middle school and Ryan in elementary school!!  Whew!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My New Toy

As if a trip to Australia wasn't enough as a gift for our 25th wedding anniversary, my sweet husband surprised me with THIS coming yesterday by FedEx!

Just what I NEEDED (wanted) for our international trip in 8 days!!  We have all been playing with it.  I can't wait to upload movies in HD which you can RENT for the long flight, and even TV Shows (can you say GLEE?).  I already have 2 books, and want to get some more!  Whee!!  What fun!!