"I choose to be Amused!"-An Epic Trip to DL with a side of Oz(3/17-4 NEW POSTS pg17)

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by skier_pete, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. battymum

    battymum DIS Veteran

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    So glad you enjoyed your day, cause that's a huge effort!
     
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  3. Aussie Wendy

    Aussie Wendy DIS Veteran

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    Glad you made it and got to tick something off your bucket list-sometimes hang the expense-its something you have to do. We're more of those who have never skied. Left it too late now, DH knee and back would never stand it. Know plenty of people from here who swear by the ski packages in Japan...the area where they have the cute snow monkeys in the pools too...unless you live in Melbourne/Canberra I think everyone else in Aus goes elsewhere to ski '*** of the expense...and yes, now you know why we all drool over the US food and prices so much! Though I still argue good food for (Ok not as good as US) prices can be found over here -its just not easy to find as a tourist (and that includes Aussie's travelling interstate too)...for example I had a superb Turkish meal Monday night with a group of work mates, generous serves for around $24 a main meal.
     
  4. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    Before I get to responses I should mention...yesterday we got our package of ski clothes that we shipped home back on August 5th. Those clothes must have had quite an adventure taking almost 80 days to get here...Phineas Fogg would've been proud! (Phineas and Ferb as well.)

    Next time we get together I'll be sure to break out my 3-D Specs. :cool2:

    I knew the skiing wasn't going to be great, but it's really about saying we did it more than than the quality. If I had to do it over again, I would do it somewhat differently. I would have travelled up the night before and then stayed in Mansfield overnight. Then you could get up and ski in the morning, get a full day in, and wrap up and get home in the evening. (Though honestly, the odds of their being a next time are extremely low - for skiing anyways.)

    The drive 3 hours each way and ski all day is not any different from what we used to do growing up in New England to drive up to Vermont. The difference is back then you could get a full day lift ticket for $35, not $100.


    That's sort of what happens though when you travel, isn't it? I'm sure most of the Aussies coming over to the US see a lot more than most of us Americans ever do. I mean, I've traveled extensively in the US, but a lot of Americans don't. They tend to stick very local.

    It was a pretty big effort. It kind of resulted in us killing some other plans, too, but I'll be getting to that.

    Skiing in Japan is my someday target for checking of Continent #4 - or more likely #5. (Argentina is probably #4.) There's a large portion of Asia that has very little interest for me in terms of travel, but I hope some day to go to Japan. (I have to live a while yet, though.) Seeing those hot-tubbing monkeys would be so cool too!

    As far as reasonable food prices, it seemed that Sydney and Melbourne it was possible to eat decent food at a reasonable price. It wasn't until the later legs up in Cairns/Airlie Beach that the food price/quality ratio got really bad. Overall, we only spend about $2,500 on food for the entire trip, though admittedly about 12 meals were covered with BFFs family. However, that does averagea to less than $100 a day, so really not too bad.
     
  5. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    I apologize for the delay between posts, but the last few weeks have been killer busy, but here we go.

    Today we had decided that BFF would take us into Melbourne again, this time to check out the Victoria Market and also tour around the town a little bit. In the evening, we had our dinner plans with “Princess In OZ”, so we had to be back home in time to get over to there. BFF’s MIL volunteered to keep DD home. She was wearing down a bit and was looking for a decompression day where she could just sit and play videogames. We knew we’d be doing quite a bit of walking and stuff that would be boring to her.

    So, again we got going about 10 AM into the city. It was about a 30 minute drive and we parked by the Victoria Market.

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    This is an indoor/outdoor market with a variety of food shops as well as knick-knacks and clothes. Of particular interest to us was the food!

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    I feel like “Princess in Oz” with all these food pictures!

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    We did some serious souvenir shopping here, it was a great location to get small knick knacks at a very low price. Certainly beat many of the tourist shops! However, I would wonder if a lot of tourists would know about these markets, so it sort of surprised me that there was as much here as there was. I don’t really take pictures of souvenirs, though, so no pix.
    We then stopped for lunch. DW got a meat pie and a pasty (To recap: Meat Pie, yum! Pasty, yuk!) while I got a sausage from a german market shop. This was very tasty and very filling.
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    Next up we headed down towards the river, touring some of the highlight buildings. DW was hoping to get some sort of souvenir that commemorated Queen Victoria 60th jubilee. Someone had recommended going to the old town hall, but there was no store there. So instead, we continued to walk down to the Yarra River.
    There is a wonderful network of public transportation in the city in their trolley service.

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    However, this also partly leads to one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen, a form of traffic control called the “Hook Turn”. From the Wikipedia page on Hook Turns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hook_turn
    The short version of the hook turn is that stay in the LEFT lane to make a RIGHT turn. Pulling into the middle of the intersection and waiting until the light turns red to do so. Suffice it to say I was extremely happy NOT to be driving in Melbourne, but instead to be walking. As we got to the water, we saw a few famous landmarks.

    Here’s where I play the game from that famous movie – “The Mel-Bourne Identity” :rotfl2:and try and identify what I took pictures of! (and yes, please correct me if I’m wrong here Melbournians!)

    First up – and I know this one is right – Flinders Street Station, which is really a beautiful old building that I think is the main transportation hub in the city.
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    Next up, St. Pauls Cathedral, which is kitty-corner to the above.
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    Then, Federation Square. My view on Federation Square is someone in the Melbourne City Council said – “Hey them boys in Sydney got that Opera House, we need a signature building too that really unique. I know, let’s do that with Federation Square.” Only it turned out kinda, well, ugly.
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    But the free trolley service drives right by it!
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    Past that is the bridge o
    ver the Yarra River @ Swanston Street – the main waterway through Melbourne. This is looking Southeast, toward I think is the cricket grounds.
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    This is looking West from the same bridge. I think the tall building is the Eureka Skydeck, which is the 2nd tallest building in Australia. (Again, thank you Wikipedia.)
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    Then, some weird people posing on the bridge for pictures:
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    Here’s the Melbourne Arts Center – which looks like an Arts Center or the broadcast location for Radio Free Melbourne.
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    Another view down the river to the west:
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    The back side of Flinders Street Station:
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    And a couple more views of St. Pauls:
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    We did a little more walking around and continued to look for the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee prize, but was never able to find anything. I tried to exchange money, but again found that everyone wanted to charge a huge penalty for travelers checks, so I decided to just try and exchange them all at once.

    By about 3 PM we were heading back out of the city back to BFF’s DMIL’s house, and getting ready to go to Princess In Oz’s house for dinner. I think we left about 5 PM.

    Well, I am about 3 months behind PIO’s posting of our DISmeet – and since she took all the pictures, I am going to refer to her report/blog post for those of you that want to see all the wonderful food we had.

    http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=45711714&postcount=72

    But, here’s the view of the evening from our point of view. We used the GPS combined with instructions and a map from BFF to get to “Princess’” house. We were invited to dinner with her, her DH and DS. DS was only a few years older than DD, and they had a shared love of videogames, though we had a bit of a struggle getting them to actually *play* together. (She still talks about having a link to him on here Nintendo 3DS.)

    We got there and got a tour of their beautiful house. It’s an older home, but one that they had re-done and an addition put on, and it’s just gorgeous, looking both old-fashoined and modern at the same time. We sat and chatted in the kitchen while “Princess” cooked. What’s funny is though we met through the DIS, we really didn’t even talk about Disney much at all for the first hour or so, really just talking about all different things. (Travel in general, their house, what we all do for a living, differences between America and Australia.) It’s really amazing how you make a bit of a friendship over the internet, but then still when you meet in person, it can still click pretty well.
    Over dinner we told them about our trip so far, including our impressions of Carsland. I had bought a set of magnets from Carsland as a “thank you” gift for her hospitality (also a bottle of wine) not knowing that she had a Fridge COVERED in souvenir magnets, so it was the perfect gift. I had waffled between the magnets and the coasters, and glad I went the way I did. She and her family are planning a trip for next fall to Disney World, but it’s a little too early in the season for us to co-ordinate. It’s right at the start of October, which is only a few weeks into the new school year, and our DD always seems to struggle with getting back into gear for school, so I really don’t dare pull her out that early. She did mention a possibility of coming up to NYC as well, though that may have changed. If they are within a few hours drive of us, we may have to get together again.

    We didn’t stay really late, probably until about 8:30 or 9 PM. We would’ve loved to stay longer, but it was a pretty long drive back across the city with yet another busy day ahead of us.

    Next up, Philip Island!
     
  6. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    Love the pictures from your Opera House tour! After seeing the iconic building from the outside for so long, I bet it was really interesting to see the inside. I didn't really have an idea of how it should look to begin with, but it still wasn't what I expected, if that makes sense! :lmao:

    That sounds AMAZING!!

    It's really cool that you were able to ski while you were there. :thumbsup2 I don't know, what other continents are good for skiing that you haven't tried yet? (I guess there's a trip to Antarctica somewhere in your future? ;)) Kinda sucks that they made you pay all that money just to go up there though!

    Very cool that you were able to have a DIS meet down under! :thumbsup2 And very kind of Princess to host you guys for the evening and cook you dinner. :goodvibes

    Sorry I was so behind, getting ready for & then going on a Disney trip and coming home to Halloween and work will do that to you!!!
     
  7. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    Yeah, I don't know what I expected the inside to look like, but it certainly wasn't that. It really was cool to see...has to be one of the top most recognizable buildings in the world. Maybe in America it would be #1 outside of America. (Perhaps Eiffel Tower or Big Ben would be ahead.)

    Understood - you've been busy yourself. You CAN actually ski on all 7 continents. The skiing in Africa is very limited, and while Antartica is covered with snow it's not really easy to access, which is why I've always targeted the other 5. Japan would count as Asia (remember they had a winter Olympics there a few years back) and actually South America has some very accesable skiing, particularly Argentina and Chile. http://www.welcomeargentina.com/ski/index_i.html (Remember the Andes are very high mountains and extend all the way down to the bottom of South America.) It's actually been almost 30 years since I skied in Europe though, so I want to get back there when DD is old enough to enjoy it, and before DW is too old to enjoy it.

    All the people we met in Australia were great and so nice and generous, there's no doubt there friendly reptuation is well deserved.
     
  8. michellekcm

    michellekcm Mouseketeer

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    Yay - glad to see you back. I'm really enjoying this trip report.
    The Vic Market is a pretty big tourist attraction - it's in all the guide books and most hotel concierges would recommend it, so it does get a lot of tourist traffic.

    We call them trams, not trolleys :)

    Yep, that's the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the left in the background, where we also play footy (also known as Australian Rules Football / Aussie Rules / AFL), soccer, held the 1956 Olympics there, and have big rock concerts there. It seats just over 100,000 people. On the right, the white building you cam just see behind the boat sheds is the tennis centre complex where the Australian Open is played.

    That last picture is the Town Hall, not St Paul's :)
     
  9. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    :wave:

    Glad to see that you're up to our DisMeet. Coincidentally, I had one today at the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio in SF with 3 Dis-sers from Sacramento. And your comments about meeting in 3D/real life are spot on.

    I'll be back home at the weekend; so I'll post that picture of the two families on your TR when I get back. :thumbsup2

    Glad you liked "my" market. I go shopping there every fortnight and those prawns/shrimp and the beef dish that I cooked....the ingredients were bought at that market. :thumbsup2
    The Vic Market is one of the major tourist attractions in Melbourne. Lots of tourists go there.....and even some locals (like me) go there to pick up gifts for overseas friends.
     
  10. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    You learn something new every day! Never would have guessed skiing would be so easy on continents associated with hotter climates. :thumbsup2
     
  11. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    That would explain all the cheapo souvenirs!

    Trolleys/Trams. You say Lorry, I say truck.

    I watched a bit of footy while there...my favorite of the 3 sports I watched (Rugby and Cricket being the other two).

    Oops on the Town Hall. I knew that one too, since that is where we looked for the Jubilee stuff. I just didn't look that close at the picture after I posted it. D'oh! :headache:

    Neat, your back here again. You go to California more than I do.

    I have the pictures from you of our families, I was just being lazy and didn't include them.

    The Vic Market was very nice. The prices for the food seemed much better than most of what we saw in Grocery stores, though admittedly many of the stores we went into were in tourist areas.

    I am not sure if I will get another post in this week, but will try to pick up the pace again next week.
     
  12. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    My original hope was to have three day trips out of Melbourne. One to Mt. Buller, a second to Phillip Island, and a third to see the Great Ocean Road. However, we knew coming in that doing all three would be pushing it. And, by the time we got to this Friday, we decided that it just wouldn’t be doable. There was too much on our plate and too little time to do it. So, we ended up dropping the Great Ocean Road. Another event for a future trip.

    Today we went to Philip Island. BFF and her DH were nice enough to take the day off and drive us there and back. It was probably about 2.5 hours from there house. What’s so interesting about Phillip Island, you ask? Well, these guys:

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    It is an area where the Little/Fairy Penguins nest, and every night at dusk there is a “Penguin Parade” where the penguins come out of the water to return to there nest. While it is not the ONLY place this happens, it is the most well known and there’s a whole area set up for people to watch. I suppose from the sound of it, Phillip Island is also a big weekend/vacation destination during the summertime, sort of like Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Being as we were there in winter, it wasn’t really busy.

    Our friends really wanted us to get down there early enough to also check out the Phillip Island Wild Animal Park. They’ve taken many friends here before, and it’s a place where many of the indigenous species are available to see and even feed. Considering that we really never saw any animals in the wild on this trip (a bit of a disappointment really) this was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with them.

    We stopped on the way at a Red Rooster, which is a Aussie fast-food chain specializing in chicken. It was pretty much what you’d expect from fast food. We got down to Phillip Island probably around 3 PM, and had about an hour to explore the Wild Animal Park.

    We got in and they gave us each a small paper bag of animal chow. The first ones we ran into were these guys:

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    This is neither a wallaby nor a kangaroo, but is in fact a whole different category called a Pademelon. They are smaller than their kangaroo and wallaby cousins, and so cute I just wanted to pack one up and take it home. Probably not allowed, though!

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    Then there was the enchidna’s. These are the OTHER Monotreme in the world, outside the platypus. (Means an egg-laying mammal.)

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    Saw some pheasants with their babies:

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    You weren’t allowed to feed or handle the Koala’s here, but that’s OK since they didn’t really do anything.

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    More Tasmanian Devils. This guy didn’t look all that happy.

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    Then we went to this big open area where a mob of kangaroos. (A mob, right?)

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    There were also a bunch of Emus around. They were really aggressive. They would snatch the back of food right out of your hand if you let them. However, if you fed them, their peck wasn’t too bad. They are what I would call beautiful/ugly birds. Pretty ugly, but so impressive in their own way that they are quite pretty. Very sharp intelligence in their eyes too.

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    The kangaroos not so much intelligence as docility. They ranged in size from probably a medium size dog to a very very large one. I am not sure I would want to run into a big one in the wild.

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    The was also a Kookaburra cage. We heard them calling from a ways away, but when we got over there they were quiet.

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    More Kangaroos out in another field:

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    This was the only example we saw of a Joey in a pouch – just a foot sticking out!

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    There were some birds of prey as well. A pair of hawk in an enclosure were fighting, and one ended up pinning the other down on its back! I’ve never seen this before!

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    To be continued
     
  13. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    The wombats were in a separate enclosure. You were allowed to feed them, but not out of your hand. There was a boardwalk that ran through – and this one wombat would put his mouth on the boardwalk to get some food.

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    There was one area with a Cassowary, which is a real prehistoric looking bird, and then another where they kept Cockatoo’s that were deserted by their owners. (Sad.) However, I didn’t get pictures of these apparently, only the DINGOs!

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    It was getting near dusk, so we headed out the penguins. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow ANY form of photography of the Penguins, so the one and only picture I took was this:

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    The experience was pretty amazing. You sit around waiting for it to get dark, while a ranger tells you about the lives of these penguins. It’s a little boring, but then it finally gets dark, and all these tiny penguins start popping out of the ocean and running up the beach/rocks to their nests. The Ranger aptly described the experience as a “reverse zoo” where we are confined to a boardwalk area, and the penguins are free to roam wherever they wish. They are so cute and you really get so close to them (within about 6 feet anyways) and there are so many of them (literally 100s of them). We paid for the “premium” seats, which weren’t as close to the beach so we didn’t see them pop out of the water, but they were hopping across a little stream and running up and down the sand in front of us. (They would come partway in and run back to gather their friends.) DD kept saying “They are SO CUTE!” Here’s a few pictures I pulled off the interwebs.

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    BFF and her DH did not pay to see the Penguins with us – I guess they had seen it enough times. So, they took us out to dinner afterwards in the local town. Again, we offered to buy dinner for them taking us around, but wouldn’t allow us. (VERY generous, they were!) We ended up eating at the Fat Seagull. I can’t tell you what we had for dinner, but we were very satisfied with the meal.

    So, here’s where I’m going to put my one rant about the trip. See, BFF and I got in a bit of debate about how restaurants work in Australia versus America. She was American, but she thought the low wage/tipping system in the US should be outlawed, and it should be done like in Australia where the wait-staff gets a decent wage and there isn’t any tipping. She particularly didn’t like the way a gratuity is added to parties of 6 or more, regardless of service. While I agreed with her on the last point, I wasn’t at the time arguing against the American system, but more arguing that it was a system that you really will never change, so don’t even bother getting worked up about it. Both countries are used to their systems, and they aren’t going to change.

    But as the trip wore on, I decided I did NOT like the Australian system, because I had some real consistent problems with it.

    (1) The food was generally rather expensive and not particularly good in most of the places we eat. I am certain that higher pay contributes to that price.
    (2) The bigger issue I had with was the service in general. A lot of restaurants we went to had the “counter” service where you went up and ordered your meal, and then it was delivered to your table. This resulted in pretty poor service, as if you wanted anything from the wait staff other than when they delivered your meal, you had to go up and get it. But even in the restaurants with wait-staff that came to your table, I found that the wait-staff kind of worked all across the restaurant. So you would have one person order your meal, another serve it, and if you had a problem, yet another one would be there to help. While I would guess at higher end restaurants this isn’t a problem, but at most of the places we went to it was.
    (3) My final issue was what really made me sick to death of eating out in Australia. The restaurants mostly had this habit of bringing out your food “as it was ready” as opposed to what they traditionally do here in the states, and serve everyone at once. The BIGGEST problem this caused was that DD was almost always served her meal well before we were. And, she has always been good in a restaurant while waiting for her meal, but once the meal is served and she is done eating, she is ready to go. So the general experience was that she would get her meal, finish eating it, and then our meal would come (not at the same time either) and we would get the pleasure of eating while she would continually ask “When can we leave?” There was a point late in the trip where we actually got all of our food at once, and it was such a relief!

    So anyways, if the service we generally saw is the results of paying wait-staff a “living wage”, and I think it is, I’m sorry, I prefer the tipping system, because by the end of our trip, I did not want to eat in another Australian restaurant. It was such a relief getting back to the states, eating at a Bubba Gump’s and getting actual attention from the waitress! Ugh, sorry friends, but you do a lot of things right in your country, but I was not fond of the restaurant experience!

    The nice thing about being at Phillip Island in the winter was the sun set at 6 PM, so we were done with the Penguins by 7 PM, and by the end of dinner it was still only about 9 PM. Fortunately I didn’t have to drive back as we were in there car, and though I stayed awake most of the ride back, it was quite a relief to get “home” and go to bed. (I feel the front seat passengers obligation is to help keep the driver awake – a rule we developed in college.)

    This really was probably one of my favorite days of the trip. We are all animal lovers and seeing the animals up close plus the penguins was just amazing. It was also great being able to spend some time with BFF and DH together. Overall, a great day.
     
  14. michellekcm

    michellekcm Mouseketeer

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    I'm so glad you enjoyed the penguins. I haven't been for years, but always enjoyed it.

    I'm sorry about your not-so-good restaurant experiences though.
     
  15. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    I don't want to sound too down on them, but outside of Sydney, the food was generally OK but not memorable, and the same with the service. I think things were worse once we got to Cairns, so maybe because it was a lot of tourist restaurants. Maybe we would've done better had we gone to the expensive restaurants, but we really could afford $100 per meal.

    Not bad experiences, just not anything memorable. The argument I had with BFF just highlighted it more for me. The costs of food didn't help either. The fact that I was paying 50-100 % more for mostly mediocre food was very disappointing.

    I also missed out on actually taking about THIS meal. IT was actually one of the better meal we had, except for the part about bringing everybody's meals out separately. Again, our daughter was done eating before our meals came out. Made eating feel very rushed and not enjoyable.
     
  16. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Nice pictures of the animals and it looks like you got your money's worth heading towards PI; if your intention was to see the animals.

    As to the restaurant service....I'll leave the pros and cons of the respective systems alone. :teeth:
    But I am sorry that you consistently struck restaurants that brought out meals at different times. I know it does happen but I also know of quite a few that bring out meals at the same time.
     
  17. battymum

    battymum DIS Veteran

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    Have to admit, Americans put us to shame when it comes to service! Still, the meals should always come out together, although we would always ask for children's meals to come with the appetisers .
    I am ok with tipping, Australians have a hard time understanding that it is not really optional.
     
  18. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    I feel sort of bad putting down anything in Australia on here, as all my Aussie friends here have been so nice. (And honestly, the Aussie people were nothing but wonderful when we there!) And I really liked the way you do some things there BETTER than we do in America - the money system for example, getting rid of the penny completely, and having $1 and $2 coins, as well as having tax included in all prices instead of adding it on. As I said, I'm sure there are good restaurants with fine service out there, and we did have a little of that, but when "Pancakes On The Rocks" is the only restaurant that I would go back to on a return trip, that doesn't speak well for the experience we had.
     
  19. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    That wild animal park looks pretty incredible. I'd love to be able to get up close to those kangaroos! The emus kind of freak me out though, I don't know if I'd be spending a lot of time around them. :rotfl: Looks like DD was enjoying feeding them. Seems right up her alley!

    Wow, the Penguin experience sounds AMAZING!!! Being so used to a zoo environment, it is such a rare thing to see animals like that truly in their own element doing what they know and being able to see it. Too bad you couldn't take pictures, but that definitely makes sense why it is prohibited.

    Frustrating about the meal service you experienced. Your food should really come out all together unless you had specifically asked for DD's food to come out first (we do this now with DS when we go out to eat, but he's a toddler, so different story). Did your two entrees generally come out at the same time at least? Nothing is worse than one person getting their entree and waiting for the other person to receive theirs.
     
  20. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    She was having a ball. The emus were free ranging along with the kangaroos, so it was a bit hard to avoid them. While they were agressive in terms of grabbing at the food, they were actually pretty easy to chase off. If you shoved them or moved at them, they would run away. (Shovin' Emus - one of my favorite '90s indie bands!)

    It was really awesome. You hear about things to see, and some live up to their reputation and others don't. This one clearly did. (Though I did hear depending on the time of year you can see a lot less penguins, which if you only had a few would make the experience much less.)

    Nope, even our meals didn't come out together. I remember at one of the restaurants late in the trip, our meals all came out together, and it was such a relief. I think I would've easily forgiven everything else. In hindsight I probably should have requested our meals come out at once, but it just wouldn't normally occur to me to worry about that.

    SP
     
  21. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    Messages:
    98,131
    Pete - that is NOT a good experience at all. :sad2:

    Next time, I'll take you out to some of my eateries....
    1. Value for money (by Aussie standards), mediocre service but at least the food comes out quickly.
    2. High end food, reasonable service (even compared to the US servers) and the food comes out all together.
     

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