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13 Places to Visit in Sydney, Australia

Thursday Thirteen

We recently spent the weekend in Sydney. It’s a fun place to visit with lots to do. Here are thirteen suggestions of places to see while visiting Sydney.

1. The Sydney Opera House – do a tour or go and see a show.

Sydney Opera House

2. The Sydney Harbor bridge – walk over it, climb on top of it or climb the pylons for an excellent view.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

3. Catch the ferry over to Manly and Manly beach.

4. Catch the ferry to the zoo. The giraffes have the best view in town!

Zoo

5. Visit Bondi Beach – world renowned surf beach.

Bondi Beach

6. Go to Darling Harbor, have a meal at one of the many restaurants and people watch.

7. Take a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens, 30 hectares of peaceful gardens and areas to walk.

8. Visit the Rocks area with its convict history.

9. Walk around the harbor promenade. People watch, stop to listen to the Aboriginal music and stop and have a coffee or a drink.

10. Catch a ferry up the Parramatta River to historical Parramatta.

Parramatta River

11. Visit Cockatoo Island, the largest island in the harbor. It was an Aboriginal fishing spot and later a prison to house convicts from Norfolk Island.

12. Visit Luna Park, a 1930s amusement park.

13. Hit the museums and art galleries and learn about the First Fleet, the sea history and the Aboriginal art.

Which place would you like to visit first?

Wandering the Agora

Athens_Agora Tortoise

When we were wandering around the Agora (the old marketplace and civic center) in Athens, not far from the Acropolis, we came across this tortoise. He was meandering between the ruins, calmly ignoring the tourists. He obviously thought the dandelions were more interesting!

The Old Marketplace: Agora

Athens_Agora

This is one of the buildings/ruins in the Agora, the old marketplace and civic center  in Athens. It’s a huge area, and after walking all morning and looking at many ruins, my feet were getting tired. The half-hearted smile, or grimace if you want truth, was an indication that I needed to sit down, preferably with a cold drink!

Dining at the Plaka, Athens

Athens_Dining

The Plaka is the neighborhood below the base of the Acropolis. It’s full of houses, shops and restaurants and is a fun place to wander and explore. We’ve dined in this restaurant before – it’s a family run restaurant and they come out with a tray of different seasonal dishes. You pick the ones you want then enjoy the meal. The food was delicious, and we sat on the deck above the Plaka watching everyone who walked past. It was the perfect way to rest after our morning of sightseeing.

Here is the link to my last visit and for a tzatziki recipe.

They’re Changing the Guard

Athens_Soldiers

Hubby and I caught the train from the Olympic Stadium to the huge square (Syntagma Square). This is where the changing of the presidential guard takes place. Evidently, the guards are chosen for their height, good physical condition and character and there is lots of training before soldiers can join this unit of guards.

It was fascinating watching them parade backwards and forwards. The soldiers guard for an hour and must stand still. When it is time to change position they move in slow motion with these high steps. I’ve read that the slow motion is to protect their blood circulation.

The day we were there, there was another man inspecting them and critiquing their change. One of the soldiers went slightly off-course and the inspector wandered over to get him to straighten.

It was a fun ceremony to watch, the pom-poms on their shoes are very cute, but it was very hot. I was glad I wasn’t the one standing motionless then high-stepping!

A Marble Stadium

Athens_Olympic Stadium

Still in Athens, Greece. This is the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic games took place in 1896. This is the only stadium in the world that is made entirely of marble. This stadium is still used. During the 2004 Olympic games, it was used for archery and was also the finishing line for the marathon.

On the day we visited, the place was full of tourists, although you wouldn’t know it from this photo. It was cool seeing the stadium used over one hundred years ago, and I liked the marble but it wouldn’t be comfortable to sit on. I’d be taking my cushion with me!

Home of the Cult of Zeus

Olympieion, Athens

Hubby took this photo of the Temple of Zeus from the Acropolis, and as I mentioned in my photo post of the Parthenon, the day although fine was hazy. These stone columns—the ruins of the temple—are immense. You can just make out the people dots to get a prospective of the size. This is the largest temple in Greece and dates back to the 6th century BC. It took over 700 years to complete due to financial problems (yes, they had money shortages way back then too!) Hadrian completed the work in AD 131.

The temple is very impressive both from the Acropolis and from ground level. I almost wish I could time travel back to its heyday in order to see it complete. It would have been a sight.

Note: For those who are traveling to Athens, the admission fee for this temple complex was included in the price of the Acropolis ticket.

A Trip to Alaska

Thursday Thirteen

Last month hubby and I spent a fortnight in Alaska. Alaska is one place in the world, which is still a real wilderness. It is beautiful.

Thirteen Things About Alaska and Our Holiday

1. Alaska is the largest state of the USA, but is sparsely populated.

2. We visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier National Park and Whittier, all places with limited connection by road. During the summer though, tourists flock to these towns via ferry and cruise ships.

3. Ketchikan is known for its rain but during our two visits (we cruised up from Vancouver to Whittier and back down to Vancouver) we had sunshine. It’s also called the salmon capital of the world, although Mr. Munro would dispute that fact since his fishing trip was a bust.

4. In Ketchikan, we wandered along Creek Street, the previous red-light district of the town and checked out the salmon returning to spawn. Lots of the salmon had died already and seagulls picked over their carcasses.

Ketchikan

5. From Ketchikan, we did a float plane flight to Neets Bay. There is a salmon hatchery there and it’s a favored place for the black bears to fish.

Beer at Neets Bay 

6. Our next stop was Juneau and the excursion I was looking forward to most. Here we did a helicopter ride to the top of Mendenhall Glacier and went dog-sledding. We had so much fun and now I’m obsessed by all-things dog-sledding.

Dog Sledding

7. Skagway is another frontier town and it has its roots in the Klondike goldrush. The boardwalks and wide streets were full of tourists. During the summer, the locals must become tired of wandering tourists who stop in the middle of the street, right in front of vehicles.

8. Glacier National Park is 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, rain forest, fjords and wild coast line. It’s pristine and beautiful. We saw a glacier calving, sea otters and seals. Breathed in lots of fresh air!

Glacier

9. Whittier was the turnaround point for the cruise where some passengers left and others joined. Whittier is a city but the population as at 2014 was a mere 217.

10. From Whittier, we went on a bus tour. A tunnel (the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel) connects Whittier with the Portage Glacier Highway. The tunnel is 2.5 miles long and is used by both rail and road vehicles. Access to the one-way tunnel is run by a strict schedule on the hour from Whittier and the half-hour from Bear Valley.

11. We visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This 200-acre center provides refuge for orphaned, injured and ill animals—ones that are unable to survive in the wild. They also release animals such as elk and bison back into the wild. We saw bears, porcupine (the cutest things), elk, wood bison, a wolf, an eagle and musk-ox. I really enjoyed our visit here.

12. On our return to Skagway, we hired a car and drove up to the Yukon. The fall colors were starting to show, and once we drove above the mist and clouds that covered the mountains, we had gorgeous weather. This is a shot taken not far from Carcross.

Yukon

13. One of the highlights for me was seeing all the different animals. Whales and otters, seals and salmon, black bears and brown bears, eagles and the husky dogs. A part of me would love to visit during the winter, just to see how cold it really gets. If you haven’t had a chance to visit Alaska, do put it on your bucket list. As the biggest state, there is heaps to explore and they have good local beer.

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Athens

Many years ago, well over twenty, hubby and I visited Athens and the Acropolis. We’ve visited Athens since, and during our visit this year, we decided to check out the Acropolis as part of our “culture rule”. Actually, it’s my culture rule. I drag hubby to visit some sort of historical building or site and then he’s allowed to try out the food and drinks in the local markets, pubs and restaurants. That way, we are both happy.

We were on a Mediterranean cruise and caught the local bus from the port to the center of Athens as early as we could. A wise decision, as it happens, since we beat all the groups of tourists doing the tour thing. Our photos of the Parthenon, as you can see, are people free, although I did pick up a local tour guide!

We found the Acropolis and the Parthenon much the same as we remembered them. The view over the city is stunning, although very hazy on the day we visited. Experts are doing restoration, hence the scaffolding you can see in the rear.

We purchased a combined ticket, which gave us admission to the Acropolis and several of the surrounding historical sites. It was a fun day, but I was very glad of my comfy shoes since we did lots of walking.

Note: If you’re visiting Athens and the Acropolis, don’t miss the Acropolis Museum at the base of the hilltop citadel. It’s well worth the visit.

Ancient Libraries: Library of Celsus

As a booklover, I adore libraries, and I spend many happy hours working and researching in my local library.

Libraries have been around since ancient times, and today I thought I’d highlight the Library of Celsus at Ephesus in Turkey. This is one of the best preserved ancient libraries, and it was built to commemorate Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus.

Over the centuries the library was damaged by earthquakes and locals plundered the materials to build their homes and other buildings. While some of the facade has been rebuilt, the Library is still very impressive. The first glimpse a visitor receives is down a long avenue.

Ephesus, Turkey 

This is the avenue leading down to the Library of Celsus. This is a very popular tourist attraction and it’s very busy with people year around.

Library of Celsus

Library of Celsus

Close up views of the Library of Celsus. (Click on photos to see a larger view) The facade is decorated with reliefs – the same fashions in use in Rome at the time. The building was both a library and a mausoleum for Celsus who is buried in a stone sarcophagus below the library.

A bit different from my local library but definitely fascinating.