0600 Sydney Time – I called down to the front desk to inquire about having the complementary breakfast delivered (like they do in Washington D.C. for a nominal delivery charge), and was surprised to find that they only offered it in the dining room.  We had a 0900 tour scheduled for the opera house so we set out for breakfast just after 0700.  The breakfast was nice, and I was surprised to find a buffet option.  The eggs were (literally) soupy… I mean, I’ve seen wet eggs put out on a buffet to keep them from getting dried out, but these folks literally had raw eggs.  >_<

The bacon was British style (no surprise), but I managed to find a somewhat-more-cooked piece and had that with some croissant-berry bread pudding (yum!) before we made our way to the Marriott to pick up Mary and Sylvia.

We had a 0900 tour time to see the Sydney Opera house.  Fortunately, it was a quick walk from the Marriott down the pier to the Opera house.

The tour was nice.  I think the factoid that stuck out the most was that the fact that Jøm Utzon never saw the completed opera house.  The design concept was so out there, that engineers at the time had no idea how to actually make it work when they started construction.  The project was originally estimated to take three years and seven million dollars to complete, but in fact ended up taking 13 years and more than 100 million dollars before it was complete.  Not surprisingly, Jøm Utzon was essentially forced to resign from the project before its completion due to the magnitude for which it was over budget and schedule.

The best part of the opera house, in my opinion, was the concert hall.  The entire hall is finished with different types of wood (floor to and including ceiling) to enhance the acoustics.  The organ is one of, if not the, largest mechanical organs in the world; and it’s simply breathtaking.  Ironically, the opera hall is much smaller and much more simple in design.

After the tour, we poked around at some of the shops between the opera house and the ferry terminal.  I got an authentic Aussie hat!

We had a light lunch at Stoneleigh Quay, which is actually run by a winery out of New Zealand.  I had their Pinot Noir and was very impressed.  We also ordered the herbed nuts, which came out piping hot (very nice) and their charcuterie plate and Mary and Silvia split a grilled chicken caesar salad.

Australia-New Zealand 2013 Day 2 (Opera House & Zoo Tours) - 071

1220 Sydney time – We boarded the ferry and made our way towards the zoo for our 1315 tour.  We were greeted by a four very knowledgeable zoo staff who took us through the back ends of the zoo not normally available to the public.  It was a very intimate tour with just the four of us and one other person (Patty) a single traveler who happened to also be going on the cruise with us to New Zealand.

We got to see the feeding kitchen, which was pretty cool, as well as the nocturnal room where they turn the lights out during the day and on at night so that the nocturnal animals are out and about when the zoo is open.  We got an exclusive look at a cute couple of koalas and got to take our picture with them.

Of course, we had a good look at the kangaroos and wallabies.  Wallabies are like kangaroos, except they can actually sit on their tails allowing them to sit back in a corner, whereas kangaroos have tails that are much too thick to do this.  After the tour we made our way by ferry back to the hotel to relax a bit before dinner.

We enjoyed our Hyatt diamond amenity; they gave us a bottle of sparkling wine with a fruit plate, and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon; both Australian wines, both were very nice.

Australia-New Zealand 2013 Day 2 (Opera House & Zoo Tours) - 410 Australia-New Zealand 2013 Day 2 (Opera House & Zoo Tours) - 409

The rain really kicked in by the time we got back to the hotel and didn’t really let up much by the time we were ready for dinner.  We took a short cab over to the Marriott to meet Mary and Silvia and then walked around the corner to a nice local Italian restaurant called Alfredo’s.