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Old 09-27-2012, 01:01 PM   #91
skier_pete
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Day 5 & 6 - "Sssyydddnnneeeee - Hey that's spells Sydney!"

Now, for those of you that are only here to hear about Disneyland – you are welcome to leave. For the rest, I’m now going to delve into the other 25 days of our trip. I will not be going into quite as much detail, but it still going to take a while to get through. So, stick around if you like.

I’m going to gloss over the next 20 hours or so of the trip. We took a shuttle to LAX from the Tropicana, changed clothes at the airport, and boarded our flight, which flight went very smoothly. While it was long – I didn’t think it was as bad as I thought it was going to be. We were all able to get some sleep – maybe 4-6 hours early in the flight, and then the in-seat TV was an effective entertainment tool for the remaining 10 – the nice thing being they give you a library of a few hundred movies and TV shows to watch. It was dark the whole flight, and as the sun rose we landed in Sydney – half a world away (OKAY – only about 7,600 miles from LA).

We had to go through customs twice, once without our bags and once with – so by the time we were through customs, it was around 9 AM. We wanted to go to our hotel and at least drop our bags. My original plan was to take the train for about $15 a person, but was concerned with dragging our bags through the streets. We asked at customs how much a taxi was, and they said “about $40” so I though “even he’s off a bit, that’s worth it”. Well, the toll charges were already $30 before we exited the airport proper, and a full $80 when we got to our hotel! Good thing we don’t have to add tip! The truth was, if we had taken the train, it would’ve been a tough walk with all our bags, but even taking a taxi from the train station would’ve been a lot less than $80.

Our hotel was the “Stafford Rendezvous”, which is situated in the “rocks” area of downtown, as shown on the map below. The orange highway extending off into the water is the Sydney harbor bridge, and you can also see where Circular Quay and the Opera House are on the map.



When we got there our room was not ready. Not really a surprise, but they were nice enough to let us use the pool locker area to change. (Realize that it’s been about 34 hours at this point – Tuesday morning - since we’ve really had access to a decent bathroom to clean up.) At this point we out for a little walk to get some lunch and cash some traveler’s checks. We walked down to St. George Street towards the business district, and got our first good view of the Opera House (As I DISer, should I call it the SOH?)



Our hope was to see a platypus in the wild. Does this one count?



First lesson of international travel…travelers checks are no longer the way to go. Basically, anywhere you want to cash them, you are going to get hit with the pretty hefty service fee of close to 10% of the value. This really sucked, so I was glad I had only gotten $1000 worth, and were planning on charging most of our purchases. We passed a couple of banks and found one with the best rates. Still had to pay a $35 service fee to cash $400!

Several DISers had recommended eating lunch in what is best described as small food courts in the lower floors of office buildings, and that’s what we ended up doing. It was only 11 AM, but we were pretty darn hungry. We chose a restaurant that made Chicken Schnitzel sandwhiches for us, and DD got a ham and cheese croissant and a (huge) bowl of wonton soup.





Needless to say she did not finish that meal. All told, lunch was a pretty cheap $30 for the three of us, including drinks.

At this point, we decided to “The Rocks” and take a little walk around, stopping at the Visitor Center. We spent probably an hour there sort of mapping out our plans for the next few days. (I will hold the details until they arrived.) After that, it was about 1 PM, so we figure we would see if we could check into the room.

When booking hotels for the trip, my target was to keep hotel room costs under $200 (US) whenever we could, and to try and stay around $150 if possible. I had originally booked a hotel in the Wynyard area, about 15 blocks away from the water but still in downtown Sydney. However, I came across the Rendezvous Stafford and decided to make an exception to my rule. It was $227 (US) a night, and for the extra $108 it was well worth it. The room was quite spacious, with a full kitchen and an decent shower.







Best of all, though really, was the location, right in the heart of the rocks. There was a large balcony/party, which DW lamented that we were never able to host a party on. Here are the views from the patio. To the right, the financial district:



To the left, showing the Rocks and Sydney Harbor Bridge (SHB):



…and if you stand in just the right spot…where DW and DD are standing in this photo…



…you can just make out this.


Yup, those two white triangles are the SOH!

So, we spent a little time in the room unpacking/decompressing and took showers. Oh, that felt so good. By the time we were done it was 3 PM, and we made the decision to press on for a little while longer. We decided to walk around the Rocks a little more. DD of course wanted to stay in the room, but we wanted to go out, so we convinced her to go to the Rocks Discovery Museum, which is a free cultural museum that advertises as very family friendly.



Well, the truth is, there really wasn’t much there for kids, there was an area with some paper and crayons, and a few interactive displays, but mostly it was pretty dry. DW and I enjoyed it though. It’s interesting, but I remember traveling to Europe when I was younger and meeting people that said they had no interest in visiting the US because nothing there was old enough to be worth looking at. I thought of that here, when the US was criticized for having nothing older than 400 years or so, the Rocks is the “birthplace” of settled Australia, and it amounts to being about 220 years old. Hard to be believe a mere 220 years ago there were no white settlers here, but actually a lot of America was still unexplored at that stage as well. Anyways, it was a bit interesting, but only took about an hour. We then walked around for a short time and took a few pictures:







This area of the city reminded me a little bit of Boston, but overall, the city more reminded me of Seattle / San Francisco in that it had a lot of very modern buildings and was rather hilly. A little bit of Toronto too, as it had that cleanliness that American cities never seem to have.

We also stopped and picked up some groceries. Now seems about as good a time to mention it as any. One thing that gets asked most frequently about the trip is “how are the prices in Australia”. My comment is generally that everything there is a little more expensive, with the exception being food, which is A LOT more expensive. This applied to but restaurants and grocery stores. I think restaurants were typically 50-75 % more expensive than those at home, and groceries were probably double the price. Of course, shopping for groceries in the Rocks is not going to get you the best prices anyways, but we spent a quick $45 on breakfast foods and a few snacks. We returned the food to our room, and then headed back out to an early dinner. We had spotted a German restaurant – Lowenbrau – within a stone’s throw of our hotel, and decided to give it a try. It was pretty good traditional German food. I didn’t take pictures as we were getting pretty tired at the time. I had a goulash that was quite tasty while DW had KaseSpatzel (homemade macaroni and cheese, a family favorite) and DD had chicken strips. All was pretty good. At $70, not inexpensive, but not bad either.

We went back to the hotel and DD really wanted to go for a swim. The pool and hot tub were both “heated” but the pool was pretty cold, and the hot tub wasn’t all that hot. I stayed in the hot tub while DD splashed in the pool. (Weatherwise, it had probably been in the low 60s F today, so now it was dark the temperatures started to drop from there.) We didn’t stay real long, and by the time we got up to the room, we were all ready for some sleep.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:55 PM   #92
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Oh so happy that you have finally landed in Aus!

Now you see why us Aussies like to holiday in the US - our $ goes so much further (once you get past the airfares) - especially now our exchange rate is so good.

Its funny when I was planning my WDW trip and on the boards everyone was complaining about Disney restaurant prices - and I thought they were quite reasonable. We are planning a trip to Japan which seems to have a reputation for being incredibly expensive - but I imagine it will be comparable to Sydney.

But you are right - buying groceries from a convenience store in the city is always going to attract premium prices.
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:45 AM   #93
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hello! I'm one of the readers who haven't commented! I'm loving your TR so far, and cannot wait for the rest of the Australian part. I've lived in Australia my whole life and never been to Sydney so you've seen more than I have

Interesting that 'our' food is much more expensive. I agree when we were in American we were mesmerised by how cheap everything was food wise - when we ate out it was maybe $60 with drinks for a family of 5, plus tip (would be $70+ here). The tax thing annoys me though, thank goodness it's included in our prices here! It also depends maybe on where you shopped; if it was a woolworths or coles it would have been cheaper than IGA or a 7/11 type place, but still it all adds up

Anyway cannot wait to read more!
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Old 09-28-2012, 04:46 AM   #94
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Your hotel room is fantastic and that's a great view you have.

Pity you got such a bum steer from the airport staff about the taxi price. Still, you didn't have to worry about dragging your bags around and having to deal with maps, trains and train stations when you were just newly arrived in Sssyydddnnneeeee (Hey that's spells Sydney!)



And dare I ask (again)......Where's Perry?


Looking forward to seeing Australia through your perspective.
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Old 09-28-2012, 08:33 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by battymum View Post
Oh so happy that you have finally landed in Aus!

Now you see why us Aussies like to holiday in the US - our $ goes so much further (once you get past the airfares) - especially now our exchange rate is so good.

Its funny when I was planning my WDW trip and on the boards everyone was complaining about Disney restaurant prices - and I thought they were quite reasonable. We are planning a trip to Japan which seems to have a reputation for being incredibly expensive - but I imagine it will be comparable to Sydney.

But you are right - buying groceries from a convenience store in the city is always going to attract premium prices.
I think that's a big part of why Disney can keep the prices they charge and still be growing so much, by expanding it's international destination. Its not just Australia, but Canada, Europe, Asia. If the US dollar ever strengthens back to turn-of-the-century levels, they could be in trouble.

However, though Disney is expensive, it is not really any more expensive than what food costs throughout entertainment venues in the US. The only difference is you have to pay that cost for a whole week versus if you go to a sporting event for the day.

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hello! I'm one of the readers who haven't commented! I'm loving your TR so far, and cannot wait for the rest of the Australian part. I've lived in Australia my whole life and never been to Sydney so you've seen more than I have

Interesting that 'our' food is much more expensive. I agree when we were in American we were mesmerised by how cheap everything was food wise - when we ate out it was maybe $60 with drinks for a family of 5, plus tip (would be $70+ here). The tax thing annoys me though, thank goodness it's included in our prices here! It also depends maybe on where you shopped; if it was a woolworths or coles it would have been cheaper than IGA or a 7/11 type place, but still it all adds up

Anyway cannot wait to read more!
Well, welcome and thanks for commenting. I appreciate feedback from readers! I would say that even when you add tax and tip here in the states, the cost of eating out in Australia runs about 50 % more versus at least here in Buffalo, NY. (New York City would be a different story.) While in the end, I had some issues with the restaurant experience in Australia (which I will get to later), I really like the way you include the taxes in with the cost of everything. I don't know if it's because every state here has a different tax structure, and even in some states the different counties have different tax (all sales tax is broken into state and county taxes), but they just don't do that here and I wish they would. I also wish we would get rid of the penny like you have, and get $1 and $2 coins as well. Every time they try to put in $1 coins, its a farce because they don't get rid of the paper dollar. Stupid US Govt!

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Your hotel room is fantastic and that's a great view you have.

Pity you got such a bum steer from the airport staff about the taxi price. Still, you didn't have to worry about dragging your bags around and having to deal with maps, trains and train stations when you were just newly arrived in Sssyydddnnneeeee (Hey that's spells Sydney!)



And dare I ask (again)......Where's Perry?


Looking forward to seeing Australia through your perspective.

Oh, I had it all mapped out how to get from the train station to the hotel, so I wouldn't have gotten lost. The problem was the 3 big bags we had, with only 2 adults to move them. I often had to drag two of the big ones, as they were too much for DD. It was hard enough to get her to move her two carry-ons. However, if I were to do it over, I still would've taken the train, but then taken a taxi from the train station to the hotel, which was only about 1/2 KM, and couldn't have cost more than $10.

No sign of Perry yet! Maybe tomorrow.

A-GENT P!


And for fun Dr. D doing the macarena!
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
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November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:26 PM   #96
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I'm glad you had a mostly successful DL portion of your trip! That travel time & time between showers sounds like my worst nightmare! I absolutely hate going more than 24 hours without a shower, but I guess when you are traveling so far to another country, certain sacrifices have to be made. That hotel room looks beautiful, and so cool that you could see the Opera House from your balcony! I bet seeing that in person was so amazing after only seeing it in pictures & Finding Nemo!

And who knew you could find good German food down under?


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I don't know WHAT my daughter likes. She is the most frustrating kid you can imagine. Very stubborn and when she gets in the right mood, she simply doesn't want to do ANYTHING. The entire day can be a fight. There were times during this trip where we were so fed up with her. Fortunately, it seems like DW and I manage to get frustrated by her at different times, so usually the other one is there to calm the frustrated one down. Typically the issue at Disney is she does not like to try new things. We've gotten to the point at WDW where she's done just about everything there, though. However, with DL being entirely "New", combined with the Mattehorn / Indiana Jones / Splash Mountain experience on the first day just really turned her off to new things, which was really everything.

I recently asked her doctor if she could be mildly autistic. I've read a lot of TRs from folks with Autistic children, and I see some of that in her, easy to frustrate, sensitivity to excess stimulation (loud noises, crowds, 3-D movies), there's a lot of clothes we buy her she won't wear because they are "too itchy" even though they are as innocuous as like fleece sweaters. The doctor insisted she isn't though, that some kids are just more sensative than others. Since there are many aspects of autism she does not have, I have to beleive he's right.

I also think she is rather immature for her age, at least based on the behavior of her friends that are the same age. In a way its nice, because so many of these 9-year olds are already into "teen" things, and she is not, but at times I think she has a hard time fitting in because of it.
Not a psychologist by any means, but this kind of sounds like some kind of Sensory Processing Disorder...not necessarily autistic, but sort of in the same vein. A friend recently mentioned their daughter having SPD which got me looking into it as I'd never heard of it before. Of course, I do not know your daughter, just something that occurred to me when reading this response.
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:47 PM   #97
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I'm glad you had a mostly successful DL portion of your trip! That travel time & time between showers sounds like my worst nightmare! I absolutely hate going more than 24 hours without a shower, but I guess when you are traveling so far to another country, certain sacrifices have to be made. That hotel room looks beautiful, and so cool that you could see the Opera House from your balcony! I bet seeing that in person was so amazing after only seeing it in pictures & Finding Nemo!

And who knew you could find good German food down under? .
Yeah, I'm the same way, I need a shower every morning to function. It was pretty rough, but I think flying at night after 3 days at Disney was still the right move. Sleeping on an airplane is never fun, but it allowed us to be tired enough to get a decent amount of sleep. The other thing is, we did wash up/change clothes at the hotel before leaving for the airport in LA, so it wasn't like we had our sweaty park clothes all day.

The opera house was absolutely amazing. I will get to more details of that in a few more updates.


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Not a psychologist by any means, but this kind of sounds like some kind of Sensory Processing Disorder...not necessarily autistic, but sort of in the same vein. A friend recently mentioned their daughter having SPD which got me looking into it as I'd never heard of it before. Of course, I do not know your daughter, just something that occurred to me when reading this response.
See, whenever I look at checklists of those type of things I go..."No she really doesn't have that to the degree described" Like she isn't real picky about her clothes, only certain sweaters she doesn't like for some reason. Same thing with the loud noises. She doesn't really mind crowds or parades or that, but just at Disney, as you know, some things are really, really loud. And dark. So I get where she's at with it, but I just feel like she's never gonna grow out of it. I want someone to ride the thrill rides with, Darnit!

SP
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:21 AM   #98
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You did well to keep going so long after the long flight! and I feel like apologising on behalf of the airport dude giving you such a bum steer on the cab-we would have been ropeable he "neglected" to mention the cost of tolls on top. Your hotel room looks nice. I am not overly impressed with the Rocks area now though our first visit 20 or so years ago we liked it so not sure if its just age, familiarity and expectations or its lost some of its "soul". It used to have lots of good unusual shops, buskers etc; our last visit it seemed very quiet and just souvie shops. I do like the weekend markets there if we are there at the right time and the Opera House around to the Botanical Gardens. We also really like the Darling Harbour area and exploring the parks and walks around the north shore and other areas around the bay. Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences. Keep up the good work.
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Old 10-01-2012, 01:26 AM   #99
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Did you check to see which way the toilet drained?
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:52 AM   #100
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You did well to keep going so long after the long flight! and I feel like apologising on behalf of the airport dude giving you such a bum steer on the cab-we would have been ropeable he "neglected" to mention the cost of tolls on top. Your hotel room looks nice. I am not overly impressed with the Rocks area now though our first visit 20 or so years ago we liked it so not sure if its just age, familiarity and expectations or its lost some of its "soul". It used to have lots of good unusual shops, buskers etc; our last visit it seemed very quiet and just souvie shops. I do like the weekend markets there if we are there at the right time and the Opera House around to the Botanical Gardens. We also really like the Darling Harbour area and exploring the parks and walks around the north shore and other areas around the bay. Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences. Keep up the good work.

We really liked the rocks. I would agree the shops weren't the greatest - actually I only noticed a lot of really high end suff, but am not much of a shopper and we had VERy little weight in our suitcases for purchases. But the weekend we were there they had the Aroma Festival, which was a cofee/food tasting festival and made it very bustling. There were also lots of different restaurants to choose from. The location was very convenient to the train/ferries, so for someone without a vehicle that was a major plus.

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Did you check to see which way the toilet drained?
You know, the toilets all are so powerful flushing I couldn't use them to spot the different direction. Even the sinks drained very quickly, so I had to stop up the sink and get some water in it. I have to say, while you can see it, it's not really a super noticable difference. The sun being in the northern portion of the sky took a lot longer to get used to, and probably only because "Cola" pointed it out to us!
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:35 PM   #101
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When we were in the USA we found it really difficult to walk on the right side of the pavement! We knew about driving on the right side - but forgot about the courtesy of keeping right when you are walking as well, it is so ingrained to keep left down here!
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:04 PM   #102
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When we were in the USA we found it really difficult to walk on the right side of the pavement! We knew about driving on the right side - but forgot about the courtesy of keeping right when you are walking as well, it is so ingrained to keep left down here!

yes! We noticed that too after a few days! At first it was like: "Holy Moly these streets sure are busy!" Then we were realizing we were walking into everyone. We had to really think to walk on the left.

I had less trouble with crossing the street and the traffic coming from the opposite direction. DW kept saying "Look left", but I just did a "Left-right-left-right-left-right-left-right" the whole time I was crossing.

There really were a lot of opposites! Day is Night! Right is Left! Winter is Summer! Hot is Cold! North is South!

And don't even get me started on those hook turns in Melbourne! Those are definitely not designed with foreigners in mind. All I could think of was Doc Hudson telling Lightnin McQueen "Turn Right to go Left"
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:45 AM   #103
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And don't even get me started on those hook turns in Melbourne! Those are definitely not designed with foreigners in mind. All I could think of was Doc Hudson telling Lightnin McQueen "Turn Right to go Left"
Those hook turns are scary when you're first learning to drive, even when you've lived here your whole life. Of course, they make so much sense from a traffic flow / tram perspective, but yes, take a lot of getting used to.

I'm another person who has been reading your TR but not commented yet . I loved hearing about the DisneyLand part as we're headed there next year, but am really curious to hear what you thought of Australia. Really enjoying reading it.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:20 AM   #104
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Those hook turns are scary when you're first learning to drive, even when you've lived here your whole life. Of course, they make so much sense from a traffic flow / tram perspective, but yes, take a lot of getting used to.

I'm another person who has been reading your TR but not commented yet . I loved hearing about the DisneyLand part as we're headed there next year, but am really curious to hear what you thought of Australia. Really enjoying reading it.
They do sort of make sense - fortunately I never was driving when we went into the city. But that's getting ahead of myself. Another post will be coming shortly.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:12 AM   #105
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I don't know WHAT my daughter likes. She is the most frustrating kid you can imagine. Very stubborn and when she gets in the right mood, she simply doesn't want to do ANYTHING. The entire day can be a fight. There were times during this trip where we were so fed up with her. Fortunately, it seems like DW and I manage to get frustrated by her at different times, so usually the other one is there to calm the frustrated one down. Typically the issue at Disney is she does not like to try new things. We've gotten to the point at WDW where she's done just about everything there, though. However, with DL being entirely "New", combined with the Mattehorn / Indiana Jones / Splash Mountain experience on the first day just really turned her off to new things, which was really everything.

I recently asked her doctor if she could be mildly autistic. I've read a lot of TRs from folks with Autistic children, and I see some of that in her, easy to frustrate, sensitivity to excess stimulation (loud noises, crowds, 3-D movies), there's a lot of clothes we buy her she won't wear because they are "too itchy" even though they are as innocuous as like fleece sweaters. The doctor insisted she isn't though, that some kids are just more sensative than others. Since there are many aspects of autism she does not have, I have to beleive he's right.

I also think she is rather immature for her age, at least based on the behavior of her friends that are the same age. In a way its nice, because so many of these 9-year olds are already into "teen" things, and she is not, but at times I think she has a hard time fitting in because of it.

OK - I have to stop - because I hate to sound like I am bashing my daughter. I just find her very frustrating to me. She's very loving with us, and really a pretty good kid, but makes me bang my head against a wall.
NEVER would anyone think your bashing your daughter. Ever.
with my one Son i ALWAYS thought he was either dyslexic, ADD, or something. Well the teacher was an ***, the doctor said he was fine. so i was getting no where until he finally did get a fab teacher and we worked together. I promised myself not to just throw him on drugs. The regular ped. without even asking him a question handed me a script. Hell no. I went to the university where they did extensive testing, without bogging him down (he actually thought it was fun)
afterwards i found out he has a learning disability and Language barrier. If you ever spoke to him you would never know.
But i knew as a parent..
Im not in ANY way stating there is something wrong. but if you feel there might be a slightest chance, you might want to seek a better opinion.

ENOUGH WITH THE HEAVY Lets get on with the HAPPY!!
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