4 Wildlife Parks in Sydney Every Nature Lover Will Appreciate

Sydney is home to breathtaking scenery, great-tasting food and wine, glorious beaches, as well as awe-inspiring tourist attractions. Most travellers would love to set foot and explore this dream city. It is actually one of the ideal destinations to spend your vacation and have the best time of your life with family or friends.

 

Unknown to many, Sydney is also an animal lover’s paradise. More than those impressive tourist spots it offers to all its visitors, this vibrant city also has numerous wildlife attractions that you will definitely love. Nothing really beats the Australian wildlife, which visitors from across the globe swoon.

 

Because of the vastness of parks in Sydney, it’s counter-intuitive to travel by public transport. A pro-tip advice is to find a car rental in Sydney airport once your plane lands. Renting cars are pretty common among tourists because it saves them money and time.

 

Ready to explore the wildlife parks of Sydney? Here are some astonishing spots that you should visit:

 

Taronga Zoo

One of the ultimate destinations for animal lovers is the Taronga Zoo. Apparently, it is Sydney’s most popular zoo, which is situated on the shores of Sydney Harbour. It is a non-profit organization that fully supports wildlife conservation. Moreover, it houses 4,000 animals from more than 350 species; some are world’s most beautiful creatures. If this won’t excite the animal-loving heart of yours, we’re not sure what would?

Taronga Zoo entrance

Taronga Zoo entrance

 

Wild Life Sydney Zoo

Formerly known as Sydney Wildlife World, Wild Life Sydney Zoo is Australia’s one-of-a-kind wildlife park that features entertaining everyday shows, interactive displays, guided tours, and feeding sessions. It is conveniently situated at the heart of the city on Darling Harbour. Each visitor will surely have an amazing animal adventure inside this zoo. Additionally, tons of species are only found in here, which makes it really unique.

 

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Located in Doonside, Sydney, Featherdale Wildlife Park is a privately owned Australian zoo that specializes in native wildlife and birds. It started out as a poultry farm and now has evolved into one of the greatest wildlife parks in Australia. Featherdale is committed to both environmental and animal education. In addition, this zoo runs free encounters with kangaroos and koalas for its visitors.

A cutie!

A cutie!

 

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

If you love the underwater world, then Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is the perfect wildlife destination for you. This wildlife attraction is one of the best in Australia, for it contains a wide range of aquatic life. In fact, it displays over 13,000 individual fish and other sea creatures from more than 700 species. Certainly, you will enjoy your visit here as you marvel the underwater realm. Its numerous aquariums and zones, including its oceanarium, will take your sea world experience to the next level.

 

Australian wildlife is something to look forward to when you are in Sydney. You may visit the incredible wildlife parks mentioned above once you get to spend your holiday in this diverse city. Animal lovers should definitely have Sydney in their travel bucket list!

 

As for people who are not really fond of petting and seeing animals? There are still plenty of activities the parks can offer for you. The thrilling wildlife experience these parks are also one for the books, so grab the opportunity to visit these destinations now and have a memorable experience with animals of all kinds.

The heart of a nomad-where to go next?

It´s a year to the day that I have moved into my little place in Torrevieja on Spain´s Costa Blanca. Small but cozy, the ideal writer´s den, just steps from the beach. I can contemplate the sea from my balcony, enjoy warm weather year around and have made many new friends, Spanish and otherwise.

Beach in Torrevieja

Beach in Torrevieja

Considering, that I am on the right side of 70 but only just and am still laboring with the aftereffects of a cracked spine, my sensible angel who lives on my right shoulder, tells me, that it´s time to grow roots, to stop looking for greener pastures and to be happy where I am now.

The promenade

The promenade

BUT, there is the little travel devil which sits on my left shoulder. That one wears boots and always carries a small suitcase on wheels. The world is big, he whispers. There is so much yet to do and see, new cultures to explore, nature to marvel over, museums to visit. You aren´t an old age pensioner who is happy to just sit on a bench in the sun, you aren´t in a wheelchair and restlessness starts rising to the surface.
I have to acknowledge that I am a nomad at heart and after a year or so, feel the urge to move on. I am fighting an eternal battle between wanting to settle down and being compelled to move on. That urge isn´t satisfied by just traveling, I need to live in a new country, to become local.
I have done that all my life. So far I have lived in Switzerland, the UK, Miami, Turkey, Beirut and now, for the second time, Spain. My stays covered a period of anything between six months and 5 years and I loved every day as much as I love the prospect of going somewhere else.

London

London

In Beirut

In Beirut

Fasnacht in Basle Switzerland

Fasnacht in Basle Switzerland

View from my window in Miami

View from my window in Miami

Cappadocia/Turkey

Cappadocia/Turkey

The downside is that I don´t feel comfortable in rented accommodation which would be much more suitable to a nomadic lifestyle. I need a place of my own, just in case the sensible angel wins out in the end. So there is the hassle of selling, followed by the pleasure of house hunting. You see, there is always a balance. I also don´t accumulate possessions, they are only an encumbrance when the time comes to move on.
The question is: where next? Decisions, decisions. Right now I am inclined towards Italy. As a preliminary step, I have started to learn Italian, one never knows and another language always come in handy. But for once, I think I´ll be sensible and make forays into different parts of Italy over the next year, still keeping my base in Spain. Is that a sign of advancing old age, I wonder?
Whatever, the battle is raging on, but deep down I know who is, sooner or later, going to win.
I´m sure there are other nomads at heart around and I´d love to hear their stories and feelings.

Oman – my next destination

In 10 days time, I’m finally off to my often postponed trip to Oman. I guess, every traveler has a favorite part of the world which they will visit again and again. For me, it’s the Middle East. I like the heat, I like the desert, I like the many, many ancient sites, I like the culture, I like the food, I even like the sound of the Arabic language, although my mastery of it extends to about 5 words. I can read the alphabet but it doesn’t do me much good if I don’t have a clue what the words mean. No problem, I sail through smoothly with English and/or French.

So far, I have been to the Lebanon, Jordan, Sharjah and Dubai. I had made plans to visit Syria which, sadly,  is no-go as are my other dream destinations: Libya and Mali. Although it’s not the Middle East, I’m an avid visitor to Morocco  too. I have lost count of the times I visited, particularly when I was living in the South of Spain and hopping across to Casablanca all the time. Or to Ceuta for a  whiff of the exotic.

Pidgeon Rock/ Beirut

 

Petra/Jordan

 

Soukhs/ Sharja

 

Sunset in Dubai

Now it’s Oman with a short stop over in Bahrain. Apart from taking me back to my favorite part of the world, this trip is also a rarity for me, because, for once, I’m not traveling on my own. My dear friend Wendy is coming with me. Like me she will do anything,  go anywhere, try any food and poke her nose into every secret corner. We had a smashing time together in Morocco, the only other occasion when I was traveling in company.

Wendy cooling off in Marrakesh

Wendy has a little foible though which makes me laugh: being British she just LOVES animals. In Morocco she couldn’t pass any stray cat, dog or donkey without talking to it, stroking it or throwing it a morsel. She even fed a Polo mint to a donkey in Marrakesh. What did the ungrateful animal do? Spit it out, it didn’t want to have fresh breath!!

The donkey which didn’t like fresh breath

This habit however makes for very slow progress when you go exploring on foot. This time she is only allowed to pay attention to every third donkey and leave the dogs and cats alone. Do they have donkeys in Oman? Maybe I get lucky and they don’t. They do have fabulous horses though.

Nobody in their right mind goes to Oman in August because it’s the hottest months. Temperatures are well into the 100s and it doesn’t cool down much at night. But, like me, Wendy thrives on heat. When it’s cold, we just want to shrivel up and hibernate until the warm weather rolls around again. Inside there is plenty of AC, so we will be fine. And, of course, there is the big advantage of low prices. My  return flight from Istanbul costs all of $400. We have parked ourselves in the fabulous 5 star Crowne Plaza Hotel with private beach and all other luxuries for approx. $130 per night per person.

Crowne Plaza Hotel Muscat

You may think that this is rather stiff, but in full season it would cost twice as much. I have  also often found that people are under the misapprehension that Middle East equals cheap. Not so. You can eat cheaply if you are not afraid to venture into holes in the walls (we both just love to do that), get around by taxi if you bargain fiercely in advance, but otherwise it’s not what you would call a budget destination. We could have saved a few bucks by sharing a room, but some off time and privacy makes for a much more enjoyable trip if you travel in company. So, it’s well worth the additional money.

Oman is a much more traditional country than say Dubai and on top of it, it’s Ramadan. So, we are faced with a fashion challenge because, outside, we have to cover our arms, legs and head. Instead of seeing it as an inconvenience, I love the idea of putting light but cover all outfits together. And so does Wendy.

It is another misapprehension which I have encountered often: people think they will stay cooler if they wear as little clothes as possible. Again, not so: Wide, long sleeves and trousers, flowing long dresses or skirts allow what little air there is to circulate and prevent the sun from burning your skin. On top of it, you always look good and elegant, whereas halter tops and short  shorts don’t do anything for anyone over 25.

I haven’t told you much about Oman itself,  that is reserved for my upcoming stories once we are in situ. Our base is the capital Muscat with many excursions planned from there, among them to fly to Salalah in the south and to visit Sohar and Nizwa a bit closer to Muscat. The sound of the names alone makes me already dream.

Nizwa Castle/Oman

 

 

 

 

Istanbul – Madonna, Orhan Pamuk and my friends

Tomorrow, I’m off to yet another trip to Istanbul. I don’t know how many times I have visited the city and still I feel that I have only scratched the surface.  This upcoming visit however is special for several reasons.

First, there is the Madonna concert on the 7th. It’s bound to be a riot. What makes it even better is the fact that three of my very best girlfriends from Beirut are coming too. Together with 250 Lebanese women, all fans. Can you imagine what that’s going to be like?

Two of my girlfriends

I’ll be the private tour guide for my friends because it’s their first visit to Istanbul and I’m working out what best to show them and in which order so that we are not trapped in too long queues  because  Istanbul is bound to be crowded.

And then I have planned to visit the latest attraction: Orhan  Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence, based on his novel of the same name. The museum only opened on April 29th and is one of a kind. 83 show cases, each dedicated to one chapter of his book document the plot, the characters and the nostalgia of a bygone time just as melancholy and nostalgia pervade every work of the 2006 Nobel prize winner. It’ll make a nice addition to my Museum Blog.

Located in a four story town house in Cukurcuma Street, I’m looking forward to revisiting one of the most colorful areas of Istanbul, full of bric-a-brac shops, art galleries, street art, street performers and outrageous characters.

Cukurcuma Street

Bric a brac

It’ll be an exhausting three days, but full  of joy, new impressions, fun and entertainment not to mention the reunion with my friend which I value above all else.

 

 

Beirut through the eyes of an enthusiast!

There are cities in this world which simply cast a spell over you. The sound of the name alone makes you want to pack your bag and just go. An inexplicable longing to either visit for the first time or to relive memories from previous sojourns takes hold and won’t go away until you follow the siren call. Lyrical thoughts, maybe, but nevertheless true  as I can testify from my own experience. The name of my temptress is Beirut. Even as I write this, I see the elegant curve of the Corniche, the formation of Pigeon Rock and the glitz and glitter of the soukhs beckoning before my inner eye. And I know, it’s time to go back soon, meet three of my dearest friends and, together with them, revisit the places I like best in Beirut.

Pigeon Rock is probably the most famous landmark of Beirut. The rock formation, often compared to Capri, rises out of the water and is an unforgettable sight at dusk, when the sun sinks over the sea and the last rays pour through the opening.

Close to Pigeon Rock is the Beach Club, a Beirut institution. My friends tell me, that several of the members have come here to relax, swim, sunbath, eat,  socialize  and play back gammon  for decades, each and every day, even during the war. Its peeling paint and faded charm are not attractive enough for the average tourist who is not to be found here, it’s the true Beirutis and their  friends and guests who come here and make you feel instantly welcome because you are a friend of a friend. The ladder leading down into the sea is a bit rusty, the chair and lounger covers are a bit worn and torn, the chairs and tables in the restaurant are a bit rickety, no matter, it’s the atmosphere which counts, not to mention sea food of the finest quality.

Corniche Beirut

At the Beach Club /Beirut

 

The Lebanese are people who love company. Nothing better than to sit for hours in cafes, meet up with friends, gossip, sip coffee, smoke narguiles , eat (a lot) or play back gammon. Then move on to the next, until it’s time to party the night away.

My favorite Café is the Café Hamra in Hamra Street which has opened just over a year ago. What was once a town house has been demolished and the modern café has been built in its place, but the magnificent garden and courtyard has been kept and is now converted into the open air part of the café and restaurant which serves traditional as well as French cuisine.

In the garden of Cafe Hamra

Another insider restaurant with a fascinating history is Al Falamanki in the downtown Ashrafieh district. Several rooms as well as a leafy terrace invite to dine and socialize. Admire the many photographs, depicting the history of the founder who became a close friend of Hollywood stars and other celebrities of the 50s and 60s.

Entrance to Al Falamanki/Beirut

One of the memorabilia

But it’s not all wining and dining. Museum fans like myself will enjoy the Mouawad Museum with an eclectic private collection of works of art which reflect the personal taste of one single collector. Wood carved ceilings from Syria, Greek and Roman statues, Italian mosaics, Persian carpets and stunning pieces of jewelery  belonging to the current owners, the renowned goldsmith and diamond merchant family Mouawad. All housed in a beautiful neo classical villa with wonderful gardens.

Angel in the garden

Mouawad private museum

As far as upscale shopping is concerned, no better place to go than the Beirut soukhs. The original soukhs were nearly totally destroyed during the war, but like Phoenix from the ashes, the new soukhs, sparkling  with glass, crystal and marble have arisen. No international fashion house which doesn’t have an outlet here, next to the fabulous Lebanese designers who are making a name for themselves world wide.

New soukh/Beirut

Opening of the LV shop

I didn’t have much of a chance to experience the nightlife on my last visits, that’s a treat reserved for my next trip. As is the stay in one of Beirut’s best 5 star hotels: The Four Seasons.

Orient Bar in Four Seasons Hotel

Yes, there is a darker side too. Yes, there are plenty of burned out buildings and ruins, bearing witness to 30 years of terrible civil war and several serious incidents since. Yes, there is uncertainty and a certain electricity in the air, because, as my friends always say: Everything can happen in the Lebanon. But, what prevails is the sense of defiance and sheer joie de vivre, today it’s fine, let’s enjoy today. Maybe it’s that spirit which draws me back again and again.