March 25, 2011

A Day in the Blue Mountains

One of our favorite days we spent while in Australia was a wonderful tour through the Blue Mountains. Since I was there primarily for work, my husband and I wanted to plan our free days very carefully as to not miss out on anything. Many people had told us that a visit to the Blue Mountains was a definite must when visiting Sydney and it turns out they were right!
We chose the "Blue Diamond Tours" tour company because of its high rating on tripadvisor and we were so glad we did. We could tell that our guides and the owners of the company, Alena and Roberto, have worked very hard to create a truly unique and fun experience for everybody who takes their tour. And since it's so fun to relive trips like this, I am going to take you with me on a little photo tour and give you a taste of our fantastic day.

We were picked up from the front of our hotel (a wonderful perk) in a nice, 
comfortable and very clean Mercedes 12 passenger van.

We then picked up a couple remaining tour customers and headed out of the city. Along the way different points of interest were pointed out and we sat back, relaxed and watch the scenery go by on our way up to the Blue Mountains.
    Our first stop was at a cute little cafe for Morning Tea. To the delight of our stomachs, the tea, scones and pretzels were on the tables waiting for us when we arrived.  I wish I could hand samples out to all of you so you could really understand the amazing tastes we got to experience. But since taste-o-vision hasn't been invented yet, you will have to settle for this picture.
 Yes, it was as good as it looks. In fact, we can't stop thinking about this place.  I wonder if they could Fedex some of their tasty treats to Los Angeles. 

       After our great meal, we headed to Scenic world, which I would describe as nature's amusement park.

As part of the tour day, we were given the chance to ride a few fun rides.  It was only 25 dollars extra to take the rides and it was well worth the price. Most people on the tour took the rides if they weren't afraid of heights. Our first ride was on the scenic skyway.

The views from the skyway were amazing.
 My handsome hubby taking in the views from the skyway

 Our next ride was on the world's steepest railway called the "Mountain Devil." 
It has an incline of 52 degrees and it's quite a thrill!

This is us before the train started

 Our view as we went down the hill

Next, we had an opportunity to hike through a temperate rain forest. 
We had the choice of three different hikes of differing lengths and it was very peaceful and beautiful.

At the end of the trail we reached the scenic cableway which brought us back out of the valley.
When we reached the top, we walked through the gift shop and headed out to the van. Next, we headed to the Katoomba Falls reserve, and after a little hike down some stairs, we got to see this gorgeous view. 

 After that we drove to the Three Sisters Rock formation viewing point called Echo Point. This was really the only place where we ran into some small crowds.  The Blue Mountain Tours day starts early in the morning and is planned in such a way that we arrived at scenic world and all the other stops before all the huge buses did. It was such a treat to be able to enjoy everything throughout the day with our little group of 12 instead of 12 thousand.

The Three Sisters

Alena used our cameras to take pictures of us at every stop. 
This is another great perk of traveling in such a small group

Can you believe all we've gotten to do so far and it's only lunchtime?  The tour took us next to the town of Leura where we had a delicious lunch.  We ordered what we wanted in the morning so we didn't have to waste any time waiting for it when we arrived.  After lunch we got to do some shopping in town. Our favorite shop was Leura Fine Woodwork Gallery. We purchased some wooden spoons and some beautiful coasters.

After our shopping we boarded the van and drove to the Featherdale Wildlife Park
I was so excited about this stop because I knew we were going to have a chance to feed some wallabies and pet some koalas. In my opinion I really couldn't leave Australia without getting the chance to meet some  adorable marsupials.

My husband made fast friends with this little guy

 We got to see a great variety of interesting birds too. This is Alena showing us one of her bird friends, who just happened to look at the camera at the perfect time. :)

Since Koalas are endangered it is a rare occasion to see them in the wild. 
The Koalas have a great and safe life at this cute Koala Sanctuary.

 I think Koalas are my new favorite animal.

It was very warm at the Wildlife park so our group left a little bit earlier than we were supposed to. We opted to go get some nice cold gelato before heading to the ferry which would take us back to Circular Quay.  We also got to take a quick drive through the area where Sydney held the Olympics in 2000.

Alena and Roberto then took us to our last stop, the Cabarita ferry stop, and waited there with us until the ferry arrived.  Everybody expressed their gratitude to them for a wonderful day and they were very glad to hear that we had so much fun.

I held the ferry ticket for the whole group very tightly in my hand 
as we took in the scenery during our ferry ride.

 We reached Circular Quay and said our goodbyes to our tour-mates.  
We decided to finish our perfect day with a drink and a snack at the Opera Bar next to The Opera House.  

Do you feel like you've gotten a taste of the fun we had?
If you haven't already noticed, I would highly recommend this tour to anybody who visits Sydney. 

March 17, 2011

Our Trip to Sydney, Australia

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Sydney, Australia.  We had always wanted to visit Australia but as you probably already know, it's very very far from Los Angeles. :)
      I was given the amazing opportunity to go on a work trip to Sydney in the beginning of March and we decided to take advantage of it.  My husband came along and got to play for a few days while I was working, and then we stayed an extra 5 days for sightseeing and fun.  I am currently in a semi jet-lagged stupor, but wanted to give you a quick taste of what we saw. This will be followed up by a more involved blog post when I feel that my ability to construct sentences returns.
    Sydney is an incredibly picturesque city. So picturesque that I took 850 pictures while we were there. Isn't digital photography great? I can't imagine how much that would have cost in film and developing fees about 15 years ago.

I took an immense amount of pictures of the Opera House. 

Pictures during the day...

pictures at night...

...and pictures while sitting on the steps

I also took pictures of beautiful churches...

beautiful scenery...

...and beautiful and delicious food.

Pictures on boats...

pictures on beaches...

and pictures in parks. 

I can't wait to tell you more about our trip and the great tour we took to the Blue Mountains.   It was a 10 hour tour so you can imagine how many pictures I took that day.  :) I'll be back to share more soon.