Week 2: Australia Effortlessly Stealing My Heart

This week, I kept it local with a rugby game, touched a shark egg, took a picture with Heath Ledger (well, his wax replica), saw my first real koala, touched a wallaby, throw in a snake show with some beautiful and very poison snakes, and that makes it a successful 20160812_092408.jpgweek. I then get to add that I met Super Bowl XLVIII Champion and my personal hero, Marshawn Lynch, and that is where the pendulum goes past successful and into just… Well, when do I have to wake up from this dream?? Apparently it is real, and I am so blessed to be on this adventure!

20161129_144025.jpgAnybody that knows me, knows how much I love animals… the stray cat gets a couple pets, a wild bird definitely would like some sort of snack, and that doesn’t even get me started on the treatment I give my own personal animals. So, the aquarium and wildlife park… Well, the word excited doesn’t do my emotional state justice… I maybe slightly pushed a little kid out of the way to pet a wallaby, completely lost all forms of adulthood upon my first sighting of a kangaroo, and absolutely stood in front and listened intently during the “koala walk” (which was a trainer speaking about the koalas while the 4 or 5 slept within arm’s reach from the fence) Did you know koalas sleep nearly 20 hours a day?! Thanks to that fact, they do not allow you to actually pet the koalas. Needing that much sleep, you can imagine it would be pretty obnoxious waking 20161129_143930.jpgthem up all of the time for unrequested touching-especially from someone like me. They do allow you to get close and take photos, which I absolutely did, and it was hilarious to see how undisturbed they were with people swarming around snapping hundreds of photos. There were even a couple baby koalas all snuggled up with their mommas. I also didn’t realize that these little guys are NOT bears. They have a pouch, thus throwing them in the marsupial family with my equally adored kangaroo. As you plan your trip to Australia-which I am sure you are doing now- read up on the drop bear, don’t let the locals trick you!! 😉
The aquarium didn’t have quite the interaction as the wildlife park, but it was still equally amazing. Th20160830_234429.jpgey had tiny 40 gallon tanks with small coral arrangements and a few fish, all the way up to two huge tanks with sting rays and sharks that had to be close to 10 feet long.  These larger tanks had clear tubes through th20160902_005424.jpge middle, creating a walkway with these huge fish swimming on the other side of the glass. We were even lucky enough to be there during the feeding of one of the large tanks. Dory… well, she was a piglet! While I did get some of my favorite pictures from the aquarium, I feel like you need to go to my Australia album and just look through the pictures to see everything they had.

It has been called the most physically demanding team sport. They say only the strongest men can really do it. Being a passionate Seahawks fanatic, my brother made sure I saw rugby first hand. Hearing the first slap as one beast of a man throws another equally huge man to the ground I realize, yes Australia, you may just have this one right… Monday night I was able to watch my first rugby game, and even better, this game wasn’t on TV! I traveled to the stadium and watched the game first hand! Sharks VS Rabbitohs (which is Australian slang for, you guessed it, rabbit). Yes, the ball looks just like a football-well, from a distance- and they do have goal posts, but outside of that, you really need to throw out those rules when watching this battle. The only way I can briefly explain it is like soccer set up with American football aggression. My understanding is that these men wear a mouth guard, maybe a small excuse for a shoulder pad, and every so often a helmet that resembles Xavier’s headpiece in X-M20161129_143226.jpgen. Then it is an under-armor type shirt and shorts. Don’t let that lack of padding make you think these guys hold back. This sport is like soccer and football had a baby, and it inherited all of footballs aggression. I saw multiple tackles that I was sure they guy was done, but he would jump up, shake it off, and go back at it with no reserve. Despite everything that Mother Nature has taught me, the Rabbitohs beat the Sharks, and unfortunately we walked out hyped from the adventure, but still losers that day. L Stinking bunnies!!

The forecast said it would rain for the next week, so I didn’t make any tourist plans and decided to spend the time indoors. I was a little peeved when I woke up the third morning to a beautiful sun coming up. I love the sun, but I had scheduled no plans. Social media came through for me. Marshawn Lynch, my runningback, had been in Sydney for quite a while (he apparently did some trainings with the Rabbitohs, which is clearly why they beat the Sharks earlier that week), and was going to be supporting his brand Beast Mode at a sports store in the area. Well… A little over an hour train ride, but that’s close enough for me! Instantly, after finding out this news, I dug out my Seahawks 2014 conference champs shirt, and started my trek to Bondi. I gave myself a couple extra hours, which ended up bei20160825_212703.jpgng pretty smart, 20160825_195448.jpgbecause this store was located in a 4 story mall that also ran several blocks. Even using the directory, it took me a little while to find the actual store. A female lost in a mall… That was slightly embarrassing.

I walked through the doors about an hour before he was supposed to be there, and already a line wrapped halfway around the store. I couldn’t help but giggle as I saw “fans” walking around, wearing everything from Kaepernick jersey to even a Favre jersey. I found out the next morning someone even had him sign a Patriots shirt… He used this opportunity to exercise his freedom of speech, and in a few words he wrote how he felt about the Patriots… Moving up even higher in my book! Despite the large number of people, the line moved quite quickly, and in no time I was next in line to meet my football hero! I was maybe completely normal, probably a little closer to a blu20160830_234002.jpgbbering mess, but I did my best. While he signed my shirt (yup, he touched me!!), he noticed my accent (being American) and we were able to have a quick discussion about the odds of me running into a famous American football player-even more specific, one of my favorites- on the other side of the world, something about ‘go Cal’ and like that, I was ushered
off and the next person stepped up. It was a grand total of about 90 seconds, but I am so excited and blessed it even happened. This city has been packed with wonderful surprises!!

My time in Australia is quickly drawing to an end. It still feels like I am just arriving, and there is so much more to do. About
10 more days remain… Next week, I have to make it back to downtown Sydney, cross the harbour to Manly, maybe see some whales, quick trip to the capital, AND of course, make it to another rugby game (this time, Marshawn Lynch can’t sabotage my Sharkies… right?). I have a busy schedule, but I still make sure to slow down, inhale the eucalyptus, and appreciate the people that make this county so special! I promise I won’t make you wait this long for another post… Sorry all!