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I only had five days for a trip to Australia.  I know, crazy right? But it’s all the vacation time I had stored up at work. Plus, it makes me sound so spontaneous, which I’m totally not.

After recovering from my stupidity in not knowing one needed a travel visa to get to Australia, and watching all sorts of Australia-related movies on my flight over (including Cry in the Dark a.k.a THE DINGO ATE MY BAAHHBEE!) I met my mother at the Sydney airport where we caught our taxi to our hotel in The Rocks neighborhood in Sydney.

Day 1: Hanging out at The Rocks

Surprisingly, the Holiday Inn at The Rocks is a fantastic find. You get these views from the rooftop:

Sydney Harbor Bridge as seen from the rooftop of the Holiday Inn.

Sydney Harbour Bridge as seen from the rooftop of the Holiday Inn.

Sydney Opera House gives crazy poses in the morning from the Holiday Inn rooftop.

Sydney Opera House gives crazy poses in the morning from the Holiday Inn rooftop.

The hotel is also nearby this great aptly-named restaurant, which we visited more than once:

The Rocks Cafe in The Rocks 'hood in Sydney.

The Rocks Cafe in The Rocks ‘hood in Sydney.

But it was mostly so we could eat this chocolate merengue thing. (Confession: on more than one night.)

This chocolate merengue torte from The Rocks Cafe has some sort of addicted substance in it, I'm certain.

This chocolate merengue torte from The Rocks Cafe has some sort of addicted substance in it, I’m certain.

From our pad in The Rocks we also could spot people who were actually climbing on top of the Harbour Bridge. Mom and I tossed around the idea of doing the Harbour Bridge walk/climb thing and it boiled down to the fact that the idea of it freaked out both of us. It was less dangerous to go back the The Rocks Cafe and eat more of that chocolate merengue thing. Totally safe.

Walking on the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Really? Walking over the bridge? Who does that?

 

Day 2: Don’t judge me

Now before you get all judgey about Double Decker busses let me remind you that the best travel advice anyone has ever given me (which, of course, does not include that valuable piece of information about getting a travel visa to Australia), has been to take the Double Decker bus when visiting a city. Your tickets are generally good for 48 hours and you can get on and off at your leisure. Mostly, though, it gives you a good overview of the city, which is terrific news to me because I suck at reading a map.

Yes. I have no pride. I'm aboard the Double Decker bus in Sydney.

Yes. I have no pride. I’m aboard the Double Decker bus in Sydney.

Had we not taken the Double Decker bus we wouldn’t have stumbled upon the most gorgeous shopping mall on the planet: The Queen Victoria Building, a.k.a. QVB. (Why? Because clearly I hadn’t read my travel guide before I went and would have missed it altogether.) So here we hopped off the bus.

Besides the idea of shopping, I was drooling over the Victorian Romanesque style and all the stained glass windows and the light, bright interior. Didn’t buy anything, though. I mean, look at me in the picture above. I didn’t look so approachable. I looked more like I was getting ready to go camping, so I kept a low profile. Everyone else seemed much more fancy than I, which is generally the case when I travel. I’m not a fancy traveler.

The beautiful glass dome at the Queen Victoria Building. I think I hurt my neck because I was looking up at it so much.

The beautiful glass dome at the Queen Victoria Building. I think I hurt my neck because I was looking up at it so much.

The QVB otally looks like a museum and not a shopping mall.

The QVB totally looks like a museum and not a shopping mall.

Shops at the QVB. See, kinda fancy.

Shops at the QVB. See, kinda fancy.

I also noticed the signs around Sydney. Some had a certain poetic wit about them…

I love rhymes.

I love rhymes.

While others seemed just a bit judgey…

What did heels and stilettos ever do to them?

What did heels and stilettos ever do to them?

 

Day 3: Manly and Darling

Since I was reading my guide as we go I noticed there were several mentions of Manly Beach, so we took the ferry, which was so convenient since the ferries were only a short walk from where we were staying. (See? Our lodging location at The Rocks was totally the best place to stay.)

I loved Manly Beach. Having grown up in Oregon my family always took trips to the beach and I fell in love with the constant rhythm of the waves coming in. So here I was in the Southern Hemisphere and the waves were doing the same thing. There were also new birds for me to see and I knew husband, Steve, would be envious.

Yeah, I could totally do that. Show off.

Yeah, I could totally do that. Show off.

Mom totally chilling at Manly Beach.

Mom totally chilling at Manly Beach.

After our jaunt to Manly Beach we headed over to Darling Harbour and watched the Hubble movie in 3D on the IMAX screen, wandered around the shops, loaded up on chocolates at the Lindt chocolate store (natch) and had a very nice dinner at a lovely restaurant called Ice Cube, though they brought the shrimp out with eyes and everything. New country, new experiences, no?

Now I know why it's nice to have your shrimp all prepped for you before they bring it out to your table. It was a teaching moment.

Now I know why it’s nice to have your shrimp all prepped for you before they bring it out to your table. It was a teaching moment.

Trying to darling.

Trying to look darling. (Oh yeah, and see that bag of Lindt chocolates? Not sure how many actually made it home.)

 Day 4: Field trip

Any number of tour companies will offer you a day trip to the Blue Mountains. We chose basically by looking at brochures to see which one didn’t make us get up too crazy early and would get us back in time so we could visit The Rocks Cafe and stuff more of the chocolate merengue torte into our mouths.

On the way to the mountains we stopped at a zoo and saw Australian wildlife, including this cute fella:

Koala Bear

Awfully cute, but I think those claws of his are kind of scary.

And then we stopped at some random park where a fella attempted to teach us how to throw a boomerang, but neither my mom nor I could do it. It’s actually harder than you think, and since neither of us are very athletic we completely failed at it. There was a nine-year-old who did it, though. Show off.

Aww, a rainbow at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains.

Aww, a rainbow at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains.

 

Day 5: Zoo

Last day and we actually had no idea what to do. Yeah, really. We’re in Sydney and mom isn’t really much of a museum person and I wasn’t really wanting to make this a shopping vacation, so we got on a ferry and headed over to the Taronga Zoo.

Aww, how cute! Giraffes with Sydney skyline in the background.

Aww, how cute! Giraffes with Sydney skyline in the background. (Yeah, I know. Giraffes aren’t Australian.)

There's nothing Australian here. Just a couple of cute Meerkats.

There’s nothing Australian here. Just a couple of cute Meerkats.

The best view of the Sydney skyline is from Taronga Zoo. Totally.

The best view of the Sydney skyline is from Taronga Zoo. Totally.

And then when we got back to The Rocks neighborhood that evening we had some more of that chocolate merengue torte. Duh.

Don't judge.

Chocolate merengue crack.