xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' World Toddler: Bus Tours and Toddlers



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bus Tours and Toddlers

On our sixth day in Sydney, we booked a day trip to the Blue Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about two hours outside of the city. Our tour itinerary included walking under waterfalls, hiking mountain trails, and visiting an Aboriginal community.

On tour day-- our first group tour of our entire trip-- we were all dressed, fed, and waiting outside our apartment for pick-up by 7:10AM. A few minutes later, an Activity Tours Australia van pulled up in front of us. Mike, our friendly chauffeur and guide for the day, jumped out and invited us to choose any of the 20 empty seats. We spread ourselves out over three. Sydney concentrated on her stickers as we spent the next 45 minutes winding through the city, collecting other passengers.

At our last pick-up, an older group of Americans boarded. Friends from the cruise ship that had recently docked in Sydney harbor, the buddies filled all the remaining spots, one man specifically asking for our daughter’s seat so he could put up his bad-leg. Now one of three people stuffed into two small chairs, Syd started to moan. And then cry. And then scream at the top of her lungs.

Mike introduced himself over our baby’s screams. While he kindly tried to make Iight of the situation, one of the new arrivals looked back at us, grimaced, and whispered, loudly enough for us to hear, that the child was out of control. Not even fifteen minutes had passed before Nolan and I depleted our baby tool kit: stickers, a stuffed koala bear, a chocolate chip cookie, nothing would do.
One more sidelong glance from the increasingly angry passengers in front of us, and we decided to abort tour. If I had wanted to be judged by older Americans, I would have stayed home. Somewhere on the outskirts of the city, I wobbled to the front of the moving bus and asked Mike to drop us at the nearest train station.

In the rear view mirror, I watched the other passengers nod to each other. Mike begged me to stay on at least until we reached the first destination, a nature reserve, just a few more minutes away. From there, we could find a train home if we still wanted to leave the tour.

By the time we climbed down from the bus, I felt so betrayed by my compatriots that I was ready to cry right along with Sydney. Then a brown marsupial jumped in my path. It is impossible to feel indignant about anything when confronted with a wallabee.

A bumpy morning then turned into a perfect day. While the bus tour spent only 30 minutes at the animal reserve-- just enough time to snap photos with a koala-- we spent four hours petting kangaroos, feeding baby goats, and meeting Fairy Penguins.

Our failed tour taught us an important travel lesson: bus tours are not for toddlers. In retrospect, this should have been obvious from the get-go. Indeed, only a rookie-parent would put a young child in a confined space, to be quiet and still for hours on end. Mary Poppins couldn't make that work.

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