Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring has officially arrived!!

It is official, spring is finally here! Say goodbye to the cold and windy days of winter and trade your warm coats for shorts and flip flops.......its time to bask in the sun. Wild flowers are blooming everywhere do yourself a favor and get out to see them, it'll put a big smile on your face. I guarantee it :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

NSW: Sydney Fish Market, Royal Botanic Gardens & McQuaries Point

As you can see it has been a while since my last post, the inevitable business of the California life has set in and i have had very little time. Still i want to continue with this journey and hope that you will join me along the way. So it may take a while but i will eventually get through our Australia trip, i do have some other posts that i will do that will break up the continuity of the blog as i am working on a little personal project......but more on that later. Also a big thank you to my wife as she was a huge help to me in figuring out what the heck we did on day two. She kept a journal of our trip and it was absolutely invaluable as my memories are complete mush now and i can't remember what happened from day to day. Ok! So day 2.........We got up early, despite our exhaustion from the previous night we were up and ready to face the day. Early mornings were becoming the trend of the trip and they had to be if we were going to be able to do anything and keep to our schedule. If any of you know me well you probably know that i am not what you would call a morning person, and unless you have a big cup of coffee in hand to bring as an offering it is generally advised that you do not disturb my slumber. Strangely enough though i found it fairly easy to get up in the morning while in Australia. Getting up was a bit disorienting the first week and a half or so, i would wake up thinking that i would see my bed and my dogs and when i didn't i had that feeling of "where the heck am i?" Slowly i got used to the fact that we were living in a camper van and that no i wasn't kidnapped by terrorists. So after catching my bearings we made some coffee and ate a quick breakfast of yogurt and fruit and off we were! Begin our hike to the train station, arrive at train station.........still deserted and creepy, be on the lookout for zombies, train arrives and all is well. After our last venture into the city and our trusty iPhones plus a map we were somewhat familiar with the layout and knew what we wanted to do. Todays mission should we choose to accept it (and we did) was to check out the Sydney Fish market and scope out a site from where to watch New Years Eve Fireworks. We got off at our stop and picked our route to see some of the city on our way to the fish market.........but wait.....whats that?! is that an asian tea place i spy with my little eye?! Indeed it is! So we went there 1st, it was a place called Chatime, they had all sorts of Asian drinks like bolba tea (which jen likes for some unknown reason) and for the more normal various green teas mixed with fruit flavors......ummmm yes please! Got our drinks........OMG! DELICIOUS!!! Yeah we would be visiting that place several times again. Off we went to the market and a long the way we check out the harbor area wich had all sorts of fountains and play areas for kids. It was really cool, there were families everywhere, hanging out on the grass, playing at the playground with their kids and little kids swimming in the huge fountains. The cities all seemed to have big central places where people could all get together to hang out, it was really neat to see and really makes me wish that San Diego county had areas like that. i don't know why but we seem to be so antisocial here in the states it really makes for a lonely existence and its depressing to realize this every time we leave california. So we hung out here for a little while and were back on our way, we walked and walked and walked for what seemed like an eternity. I was sore and my backpack weighs a ton with all my gear, it was not really pleasant and on top of that we were hungry but we pushed trough it. Our destination was close, we had read some things here and there about the fish market but didn't really know what to expect. The only thing that we had in our minds was that it was like Pike's Market in Washington but for fish, we were somewhat correct. We were finally there and we saw a lot of seafood restaurants the closer we got to the entrance, there were trucks everywhere taking fish to who knows where and of course tons of birds waiting to get their beaks on some scraps. The crowd became much more dense as we walked towards the entrance, unlike Pike's which has big open areas and parts are outdoors this was all an indoor market. Which makes sense as if you had it outdoors you would be getting attacked from above from all the birds. Finally inside and i could not believe at how many people were there!! They were everywhere that i could barely move a few feet without running into someone. It was complete and utter craziness in there, and everywhere there was people trying to order food yelling at each other because it was so loud in there. It was a complete frenzy of activity everywhere you looked, food orders being called out over microphones, people yelling to get their orders in, employees throwing ice on fish..........i was on overload. The place was big for a fish market but not that big, slowly we moved forward and made our way to see that different places to get food. Despite my introverted nature that made me want to go cower in a dark corner because of the people overload i managed to push through it and get some photos. Once the camera was out i was all business and had a lot of fun shooting, this was the 1st time that i was glad that i had the D700 with me for many technical reasons that i won't get into here but suffice it to say that it allowed me to shoot and get photos that would otherwise not have been as good with my D300. The immense amount of fish and the diversity of it was absolutely amazing. It is unbelievable the incredible amount of diversity that exists in our oceans and that so much of its wildlife provides food for us. Eventually we were able to get some food, we ate some fresh sashimi ahi which was very delicious but not very filling, so we went and ordered a relatively small seafood platter which turned out to be huge and it came with with fish and chips, oysters, shrimp, scallops, octopus and several other things that were all delicious. Full we headed back into the city via train and headed to the botanic gardens, we walked through more of the city exploring different parks and admiring some old buildings. We arrived at the gardens and explored for a little bit stopping to photograph various flowers and plants here and there.......but the real treat was to be what dwelled in the skies. As we moved deeper into the gardens i heard this absolutely terrible sound coming from everywhere, it was an unbelievably annoying squawking sound and i could not figure out what it was or where it was coming from. Then i looked up in the trees and saw that there were cockatoos everywhere! i think i was the only one there that was in the least excited about this because everyone kept looking at me like i was some crazy person being so excited to photograph these birds. Now I've seen cockatoos before in zoos or as pets but to see any kind of animal in the wild is a real treat! As beautiful as these birds are though they have by far the most annoying vocalization on the face of the planet, it is absolutely terrible and they sound like someone is pulling them apart piece by piece. i loved them though and had a great time seeing them interact, my favorite thing though is their feathers on top of their heads. They are so expressive with them and anytime something caught their attention these yellow feathers would stand up......made me smile every time. Alas the one bummer was that i really needed something longer than a 200mm lens......oh well. After all this excitement we continued on and headed to McQuaries point to finish off the the day and catch sunset. McQuaries point was a beautiful area with great views of the harbor and we decided that we would watch the fireworks from here, little did we know what a fiasco that day would be.......but more on that later. For now we just enjoyed the setting sun and the endless beauty of this place and looked forward to another day of adventures. The sunset was beautiful and as the skies darkened the lights of the city came to life and everything took on a completely different energy........cold and hungry we made our way back to the opera house and enjoyed a relaxing dinner. After that we gathered whatever energy we had left and headed back home, again we reached our van and just collapsed happy and satisfied looking forward to another day :)