Thanksgiving Down Under

Today was our last day on the Millennium. It was bittersweet; on the one hand it’s never easy to disembark a cruise ship on the last day, you always just want more time to escape and relax. On the other hand, we have another 12 days left on our trip, and half a continent to explore, so leaving the ship was a bit easier.

After leaving the ship, we took a cab to our hotel in North Ryde. We settled into the hotel for about an hour, taking advantage of a free, fast and reliable internet connection for the first time in three weeks. Note: it still took over 90 minutes to finally produce, and upload one of these posts on the ship, with 45-60 minutes of time spent just trying to get online! We left the hotel around midday and made our way to Darling Harbour.

Fountain at Darling Harbour

After a quick lunch at the American Embassy (aka, McDonalds) our first stop was the Sydney Aquarium. We spent a couple hours exploring the museum which mostly focused around Australian marine life. It was the first time we had seen many of those species of fishes. The highlights of the aquarium included giant lobsters and crabs, who we nicknamed “butter” and “old bay”, dugong and sharks.

No nervous system, but it can still sting.
We found Nemo!

Dugong are the indian-pacific cousin to the manatee. Neither of us knew of their existence before today. We saw two dugongs today. They were each in a giant tank which included underwater transparent tunnels. This allowed us to see them eating at the bottom of the habitat up close.

Ryan and a dugong greet each other.

A similar tank showed a shark habitat, also with transparent tunnels. We saw some neat sharks, but the lighting wasn’t very good for pictures.

Shark

After the aquarium, we went over to the Australian National Maritime Musuem. Unfortunatly, they were about to close so we didn’t get to go into the museum  Ryan bought some Captain Cook memorabilia in the gift shop. Ryan is an admirer of Captain Cook and his three voyages of discovery. In the back of the museum is a seaworthy scale replica of the HM Bark Endeavour, the ship Cook commanded on his first voyage. We weren’t able to get aboard the ship for a tour, but we were able to get close to it on the dock. Ryan was very excited. We know what we’re doing first the next time we come back to Sydney!

Ryan beside a replica of the Captain Cook’s Endeavour

The harbour also featured the world largest movie screen, with IMAX and 3D capabilities. Tonight they were showing the new Bond movie, but we decided that Au$31 was way too expensive and passed. However they were already selling tickets for the new Hobbit movie which is released in a few weeks. Had we been here when the Hobbit was out, we would have paid the Au$31.

If only we were here a few weeks later. We could see the Hobbit, in 3D and IMAX, on the world largest screen!

We decided to eat Thanksgiving dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Sydney. For the third year in a row, we have eschewed a traditional family Thanksgiving dinner for exotic locales. Last year Ryan was working the launch of Mars Science Laboratory at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the year before was a birthday cruise for Rachel’s mother. We hope to host thanksgiving dinner at our place next year.

On the train ride back to the hotel, we saw the Millennium leaving port.  It was a fitting end to the day.

Tomorrow we explore the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney and visit a wildlife park and see some exotic Austronesian animals. It’s another o’dark thrity departure time, but its worth it!

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