Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cup Week

Cup week is a week of big horse races, and actually starts on a Saturday with the Victoria Derby, followed by the "big " Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, then Oaks Day (ladies' day) on Thursday, and finally Stakes Day (family day) on Saturday. Melbourne Cup day is a public holiday, so no school is held and no one goes to work. Many people don't go to work on Monday either, and some people don't go to work for the entire week! We spent Cup day at an Aussie BBQ, enjoying great company, food, and beverage. On the way home from our party we saw many race attendees dressed up in their fancy dresses, hats, and/or fascinators. It seems that everyone dresses up for races here, which is a bit different from the way people dress for Preakness in Baltimore! Hopefully we'll attend the Cup once while we are here so that I can enjoy picking out my "race day" outfit.

Friday night we headed out to dinner on Lygon Street with a big group of people from Victoria University. Lygon Street is filled with many fabulous restaurants and bars, so it's quite a lively place on a weekend night. We enjoyed our second Thai meal since arriving in Oz, though we stuffed ourselves full because there is a new restaurant rule in Melbourne about not being able to take home your leftovers! Apparently someone got sick after re-heating the rest of their meal and proceeded to sue, ruining leftovers for all of us. After dinner we went to a bar down the street to preserve the enjoyable night a bit longer.

The highlight of our weekend for me was a trip to the Melbourne Zoo. I have been dying to see a kangaroo since we arrived in Oz and since seeing one in the wild requires a car to get "out" of the city, we took our bikes and headed to the zoo. I was really impressed with the quality of the zoo and it was surprisingly not crowded for a nice, sunny, 85 degree day. The place where the 'roos are located is actually an "open" area, so they can roam around and could come up to you if they wanted to (emus were freely wandering close to us in the same area). However, it was so warm that the kangaroos wanted nothing more than to lie in the shade (though Erik says this is what they do most of the time anyway!), so no great interactions with the 'roos this time, but I was still excited to see them. :)

The Melbourne Zoo has an impressive display of African animals. One of the highlights was watching the elephants. We witnessed an elephant go to the bathroom and then proceeded to watch other elephants "clean up" the mess. Apparently the elephants only partially digest their food, so what comes out still has a lot of nutritional value in it. I could not believe the amount of liquid that came out of that elephant's bladder! 

We also watched a male elephant eat two entire watermelons in a span of about five minutes.
Reaching for it...
Got it!
Watermelon #2. These watermelons size-wise were larger than basketballs.
The orangutans were also fun to watch! Because it is Spring here quite a few animals had babies, and it was amazing to watch the mother orangutan swing around with her child attached to her.

Can you spot baby holding onto mom while she swings around?
Another orangutan was solving a difficult puzzle.
If you click on this picture to enlarge it I'm sure you will see the determination in this guy's eyes!
And I'll leave you with a few more of my favorite shots from the zoo. :)

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