S: Semester in Australia
BC: Love, Aunt Missy
FC: Semester in Australia | Cairns Sydney | Mojo Surf Camp Melbourne | University of Wollongong | Fiji New Zealand
1: Countdown Until My Departure Today is July 1st which means that I only have 5 more days in the U.S.!! I am getting very excited to leave for Australia and am almost done packing. However I am not sure if I will be able to fit everything into my suitcases. haha When i first arrive I go to University of Wollongong (which is where I'm studying) and move in some of my things. The very next morning I go back to Sydney to catch my flight to Cairns! Once I arrive I began my week of orientation which includes scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, holding Koala bears, feeding Kangaroos, and going for some hikes. I can't wait!
2: Arrived In Australia July 8, 2011 I took off from newark and landed in LA to meet Janet who joined me for some ice cream and coffee before my flight to Sydney. After I went through customs I met a lot of students from the US that were going to Unis (short for universities in Australia) throughout Australia and I even met three people that are going to Wollongong! To make my flight even better I sat next to an older couple who was returning to Australia (Elizabeth and Robbie). We ended up talking a lot because their daughter was studying at Cortland in NY. I learned some interesting things about Australia like you don't tip anyone unless you are at a high class restaurant. We got to know each other really well and they told me I would be welcome to come visit them in Orange any time I pleased! (Orange is about 3 hours west of Wollongong) I am all settled in and my trip here was going great until I landed in Sydney. The airline lost both my bags along the way but I just heard from the airport and they will be arriving in Sydney tomorrow!
3: Upon my arrival there were mix-ups with my phone and internet so this is they very first time I am able to communicate with anyone home. Besides all of that, I was able to navigate to and from the mall in Wollongong and purchase bed materials (which Qantas paid for due to my missing luggage) but taking the bus back to Campus East I looked quite funny because I had a comforter and pillows with me. I am very excited to catch my flight to Cairns to explore the Great Barrier Reef and such not. -Abby
4: Adventures In Cairns July 15, 2011 I just arrived in Wollongong yesterday around 7PM. It is much colder here than in Cairns but I will never forget everything I got to experience in there. Our first day we just got to know everyone and had my first Australian dinner, fish and chips (French fries). Something I learned is that no matter where you go (besides fast food restaurants) French fries are called chips here. I met 8 other people that are going to Wollongong with me (Christine, Mel, Hannah, Brooke, Wendy, Caitlin, Daniel, and John). We all sat together at dinner and got to know each other. Christine, Wendy and Caitlin are all living in the same area as me! The food was delicious and I was in bed early because I was still jet lagged. The next morning we woke up at 7AM to get breakfast and have a session where we learned about Australian slang and the laws here. Our session leader, Shane, told us a story about a girl who fell on her butt and told him she hurt her fanny but fanny in Australia refers to a woman’s lower frontal area and he was very confused (haha). After our session we all loaded onto a bus to go to our rainforestation day. The very first thing my group did was pet and feed kangaroos. It was so much fun. They are quite calm and laid back animals. We also got to see bearded dragons and snakes. I was very hesitant at first but I decided to hold the snake because I’m only going to be in Australia once (from the pictures you can tell I was freaking out). We also got to see a GIGANTIC crocodile named “Jack the Ripper.” He got his name because he ate 9 of his wives. Throughout the day we got to paint aboriginal art, watch aboriginal dancing, learn how to throw a boomer rang, go on a rainforest tour and of course HOLD a koala bear. If you don’t know Aboriginals are the natives of AusAdventures In Cairns ut all of the different plants (there are a million different types of ferns). There is one plant that they call the gimpy gimpy tree and it has many little furs on its leaves that can sting you and put you in EXTREME amounts of pain. Gimpy means painful hence the name of the tree. Finally, at the very end of the day we got to hold the Koala Bear, who has long claws. When they gave me the Koala he tickled my stomach with his claws hence my face in the picture. I also learned that normally Koala Bears are very angry and hostile animals but humans raised the one we got to hold so it would be comfortable with us. Also if you look in the picture he only has one eye open and that is because Koala bears only get energy when they eat and they sleep most of the day and the Koala was quite tired.
5: I was very hesitant at first but I decided to hold the snake because I’m only going to be in Australia once (from the pictures you can tell I was freaking out). | . I also learned that normally Koala Bears are very angry and hostile animals but humans raised the one we got to hold so it would be comfortable with us.
6: After that long day being surrounded by animals and Australian Culture we were allowed to go into Cairns and get dinner by ourselves. My friends and I went to a diner (not the same as in the US) and ordered an array of food. Shortly after dinner I was fast asleep. The next day was our adventure day and I had chosen to go White Water Rafting down the Tully River. I had to be up and ready to go at 6:30AM, another early morning. It was about a two-hour drive to the river but completely worth it. The sections of the river that we did were category 4, which means waterfalls, making helmets a necessity. My raft had a guide in training so during the set of rapids that they called “Theatre” (because it included comedy, drama, horror, and tears) we ran into a debacle. We didn’t go into this one waterfall the right way and ended up being wedged up against a rock with our raft slowly getting lower and lower in the water. Another raft had to throw us a rope and one by one we jumped into the set of rapids and had to be pulled to the side so the guides could free our boat. That was probably the most exciting part of the trip. We stopped halfway for a BBQ with sausages and hamburgers. The rest of the trip was excellent and I wouldn’t have chosen any other activity for my adventure day!
7: So it was now Monday night and we had dinner at the hostel. I had a some type of stir-fry, it was pretty good. At dinner I met some more people who were going to Griffith University in Brisbane (Malayna and Gladi). We became very close over the rest of trip. Tuesday was community service day and we went up to Mission Beach to help clean up after the Cyclone. A cyclone is equivalent to a hurricane in the states, and they said it was just as bad as hurricane Katrina. We picked up lots of debris that the storm blew into the trees on the beach. It was sad to see how many trees had been ripped out of the ground. We were told that it would take up to 50 years for the rainforest to be back to where it was prior to the cyclone. Tuesday was a little more relaxing and we were on our own for dinner again. Malayna, Gladi, and few other girls and I decided to go back to Cock and Bull (the very first place we ate). We had heard that they had crocodile and kangaroo platters so we figured we would try some native food. Surprisingly both were very delicious! The crocodile was battered and fried and tasted like chicken but it was a little chewier and the kangaroo was like a nice lean steak. After dinner we played cards for a little and went to bed.
8: Wednesday was the day I was waiting for, the Great Barrier Reef day. We all loaded onto a boat at 8AM. I decided to scuba dive. It was the most amazing thing I have ever done. I thought I would be scared of some of the fish, being that they were fairly large but I wasn’t. I was amazed by everything that surrounded me. I did two dives and on my first dive I saw many bright fish in all different colors. I even got to see nemo! But the best part about my first dive was the reef shark we got to see. It was only about 4 feet in length and I wasn’t scared at all. The sharks are more afraid of us then we are of them, it swam away in a matter of seconds. | On my second dive the fish were at lot larger and before I dived the instructors were feeding the fish and there were these darker VERY large fish and being the gullible person I am when they told me they were baby great white sharks I believed them and began to question whether or not I wanted to jump into the water. (haha) But I jumped anyway and it ended up that they were just very large fish. My favorite thing about the second dive was the sting ray we were able to see. Overall, the entire day was amazing! I honestly couldn’t have imagined anything better. That night we had to pack our things up because the next morning I would be saying goodbye to all the people I met going to Griffith University and I would be on my way to Wollongong.
9: That week I was able to check many things off of my bucket list while in Australia. The experience and knowledge I gained in just a few days could not be replaced by anything. I am back in Wollongong and it is VERY cold here. I have my peacoat and wished I had brought gloves. But it is nice to be able to unpack and make myself at home. I am almost all the way settled in and Orientation week will start on Tuesday. | My next big adventure is Sunday, a bunch of us are signed up to hike up Mt. Kiera to have a sausage roast. Sorry for the long blog but I didn’t have any internet access in Cairns so I had to load everything into this one blog. I hope all is well at home and I miss everyone!
10: O-Week at UOW (especially Campus East) is crazy! The first night was a Disney themed party at Hostage which is a club. I dressed up as Cinderella and danced the night away! The second night was Cowboys and Indians pub crawl and we went to FOUR different bars/clubs. Campus East organizes party buses with disco lights and music for the rides to and from the bars and clubs. During O-Week everyone pretty much goes out every single night. I have been dancing a lot. Saturday is Decades party and I'm dressing up as someone from the 80s! I'm very excited but I must say my feet are starting to hurt from all of the dancing. I start classes on Monday and am excited to spend more time at Uni. The main campus (Uni) is like going to school in a jungle, its very pretty. Oh and here are some pictures from O-week! | O-Week Craziness | July 22, 2011
11: I finally have my schedule figured out and its not too bad. I'm taking Introduction to Indigenous Australia, Education 101, International Politics, and Behavioral Patterns (a philosophy class). I have only had my politics and philosophy class so far but I really enjoy both of them. My schedule is really nice and I am actually done with classes for the week because we don't have any tutorials (also known as "tuts") the first week of classes. Tuts are the Australian equivalent to a discussion class in the U.S. My two professors seem very enthusiastic about their subjects and are very friendly. I am most excited to go to my education class this coming week becuase I missed it due to schedule clashing this past Tuesday that I now have all figured out. I have at least one class every day except Thursday so it'll be a nice break. | O-Week ended on Saturday with a decades party at The Grand. At campus east (where I live) different areas are known by different names. I live in Trench Town but there are also the Slums, Alcatrez, Hospital, Yard, I-Block, etc. Each area was assigned a decade to dress-up as. Trench Town was the 50's but I couldn't find a good enough costume to scrap together for the 50's so I dressed up like the 80's which was Hospital's decade. I wore a sweatshirt, black leggings, lime green leg warmers (which I made), big hoop earrings, a side pony with a scrunchy, and crazy eye make-up. The previous night we went to Abbey's Club which was a lot of fun too! (How cool is it that there is a club named after me haha) O-Week was a lot of fun but definitely exhausting. I was glad to have break from the clubs and be able to start my classes. | End of O-Week and First Week of Classes | July 28, 2011
12: First Adventure into Sydney! On Saturday a bunch of my friends and I took the train into Sydney. It takes about an hour and a half by train to get into the city but only costs $3.90. Once we got in we took a bus to the harbor and let me tell you Sydney is A LOT cleaner than New York. We got to see some boats and the harbor bridge and opera house from a far. Everything time I looked somewhere else there was something interesting. It is very similar to other big cities but it's in AUSTRALIA. haha My friends from Australia were really nice and bared with us while we all took our cameras out and acted like extreme tourists. But to my surprise they knew just as much about Sydney as I did (the bridge, the opera house, etc). We got a little lost but it was all part of the fun. There are really nice restaurants that are right on the harbor so you can eat outside and have a beautiful view of Sydney. However, we didn't feel like spending a lot of money on lunch so we just grabbed a quick bite at hungry jacks.
13: After lunch we went to Luna Park which is similar to Coney Island to some extent. It opened in 1895 and has some rides and games to play. I learned that Australians call Cotton Candy "Fairy Floss." We met some funny characters in Luna Park and eventually made our way to the Harbor Bridge. It was still pretty early so we decided to walk across the bridge. It isn't nearly as long of a walk as you think it would be. I was disappointed when I found out that they have a fairly high fence that goes above the wall on the bridge, making it hard to enjoy the scenery. But I was able to stick my camera through holes in the fence to get some nice photos! After we made it across the bridge we went to the Australian Hotel and everyone got some beers before we got the train home. It was a nice ending to our day in Sydney and I can't wait to go back and explore more! August 1, 2011
14: After the day in Sydney things calmed down a bit and I finally had some school work to do. This past Tuesday I had my first paper due in my education class and to my surprise it ended up being more challenging than I thought it would be. It was only 500-750 words but finding resources on the topic took a bit more time. It was about Nature vs. Nurture and what impact it has on Physical Development of children and youths. Besides the paper the majority of my work has been my readings which hasn't been too bad. Besides school I go out usually Wednesdays and Sundays but it all depends on how I'm feeling. When I go out with my friends a party bus usually picks us up at Campus and the ride on the party bus is sometimes the best part of the night! On Wednesdays everyone goes to The Grand and we get free pizza when we are there and then we dance the rest of the night! On Sundays we typically go to Abbey's Nightclub which is also a lot of fun! I have made a really good group of friends here so going out is even more fun now. Last Saturday some of Mitch's (my best friend here) friends had come to visit him so we all went out together. That following Monday we had a bonfire on the beach with a ton of people. The 4-years (seniors) put it together and everyone just met on the beach. I got to meet a lot of new people. On Tuesday it was Pete's Birthday so Adam, Jordan and I baked him a cake and then we went to Taco/Tequilla Tuesday at Amigos, where there were $3 tacos and $3 tequilla shots. Let's just say it was an eventful night. Overall I have made some great friends here and I already know that it is going to be really hard to say goodbye to them. | Welcome to the Gong! | August 11, 2011
16: Although I've had a lot of fun these past few days, I have even more fun to look forward to! However, the weather has gotten chilly again. :( It is suppose to warm up early next week but we will see. However lucky for me, I'm going back up to Cairns next friday with Mike where the weather will be nice and warm. We are going scuba diving and doing a jungle tour where we get to explore old Spanish castles and go swimming in spring water holes with beautiful waterfalls. After two exciting days of exploring we have some down time to relax and then its back to the GONG! I'm really excited to be able to show Mike Uni and take him into Sydney. Towards the end of the month my parents finally make their way down to Sydney after exploring Australia to see their AMAZING daughter : ) haha. I'm really excited to meet them in Sydney and be able to go on a tour through the Opera house. But I'm really just excited to see my mom and dad!
17: Hike Up Mt. Kiera Right next to Uni there is a hiking trail to climb Mt. Kiera. They did two group hikes during O-Week but the weather wasn't that good so I didn't go but I promised myself that I would go before I left Australia. This morning my good friend Jordan called me and woke me up to tell me "It's nice outside, do you want to hike Mt. Kiera" Although still tired, I managed to wake up and make my way over to Jordan's to meet everyone before we left. We finally made it out around 10AM and started the Hike. It was A LOT harder than I thought it was going to be. After I climbed what seemed never ending stairs (railroad ties scattered up the mountain) I came to face a very steep wall of rocks that I had to climb next. I was exhausted at this point and couldn't imagine going any further but I did and I was glad I did so. | August 13, 2011
18: When we finally reached the top the view was spectacular and I could finally say I climbed Mt. Kiera! After taking pictures we ate lunch at a little cafe at the top of the mountain while sitting on the deck that overlooked all of Wollongong. After lunch we started to make our way down but to avoid the steep set of rocks we went a different way and got a bit lost. Luckily we found a map and made our way back to Uni to catch the bus back to campus. Although my legs are going to be extremely sore tomorrow I am very happy I made the climb but next time I may just drive up. : )
19: Hi Everyone! Sorry it’s been a while I’ve had visitors and lots of work to due so I haven’t had the time to update my blog. I’m going to split the past three weeks up into a few different blogs so its not one REALLY long one. I’ll start at the beginning with August 13th. My friends and I went to the Illawarra Dragons Rugby League game at WIN stadium in Wollongong. The Dragons are our local team so I am OFFICIALLY a Dragons fan! For those that know about rugby it is a little different than in the US. In Australia there are two different kinds of rugby, League and Union. In the US they typically play Union, which is where the play never stops unless there is a penalty or tri (like a touchdown). Whereas in League when there is a tackle the play stops and the team with possession takes the ball and rolls it behind them to another teammate and the game continues. My brother, Bobby, played rugby at University of New Hampshire and that is Rugby Union. Also, Rugby in Australia is often referred to as “Footy.” We all bought the lawn seats for $15 and got to watch two games the U20 (under 20) and the professionals. We had a lot of fun cheering the Dragons on, but unfortunately they lost. : ( But just like a Giants game it is still a lot of fun being with the crowd and rooting for your team. | Busy, Busy, Busy! August 31, 2011
20: Later that week on Wednesday I was planning on staying in so I would be rested for my parents’ and mike’s arrival but my friend from UCONN, Allie, messaged me on facebook telling me that her family was vacationing in Sydney for the week and that she was coming to Wollongong for the night. I had no choice but to go to The Grand to go see her! We had a really good time catching up on things and dancing. However I was smart and called it an early night because I still had a lot of packing to do. | YAY Visitors: Mike Arrives!!! August 31, 2011 Finally Friday Morning comes around and I board my plane at 6AM! I land in Cairns around 9AM and am waiting for Mike to arrive. The time seems to go by so slow but finally he lands! We get his bags and off to the hotel we go. Because he had been flying for over 24 hours I planned a nice relaxing day by the pool. We were able to catch up on a lot and I filled him in on all the activities we had ahead of us. The very next morning we woke up to go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. This time I chose to go on a different boat and the spots we went to were even better than my first time. Mike got to see a sea turtle surface but I was in the bathroom. : ( After snorkelling and scuba diving Mike said “You really can’t understand how amazing it is until you are here, the pictures don’t even compare to the real thing.” We both agreed that the Great Barrier Reef was like the NYC for fish. There were these really bright rainbow fish that ate the coral and would then poop it out and we learned that is what makes up a lot of the oceans’ sand. Again we were up early the next morning to go on our Rainforest Tour! This was probably my favorite part of my trip in Cairns. We started off by going to Lake Barrine, which used to be a Volcano. It has been inactive for 10,000 years and the center of it has filled with all rainwater and a rainforest has grown around it.
23: Mike and I finally get back to Campus East around 1AM. It was a very long day of travelling so we immediately went to sleep. The next day we woke up and I had Uni so mike came along. I introduced him to the wonderful (sarcastic) café food for a quick lunch before we headed off to uni. Because the class I had was a tutorial Mike could not join me so he walked around uni, I know very exciting. After Uni we came back and I introduced him to some of my friends and we all got dinner together. We decided to call it an early night because we were still pretty tired from travelling the day before. | Unfortunately when we woke up the next morning mike was not feeling well so he stayed back at Campus East while I went to Uni. When I got back from class he was feeling even worse so we decided to go to the doctor. His heart was beating fast so they sent us to the | hospital where we had to wait for FIVE hours. By the time we saw the doctor his heart was fine and they gave us antibiotics because he had a high fever and sore throat. The doc also said that his heart was beating fast due to the fever and that there were no worries. We made it back to campus east around 12AM. | The next morning mike was feeling better so I went to class and came back to show Mike around Wollongong. We went to the harbour area and explored. In the ocean they made natural pools with rocks and have used some cement, it was really cool! Mike said Wollongong was really pretty and that the beach was a lot nicer than in Cairns. That night we packed all of our stuff up to meet my parents in Sydney!
24: Mike and I had planned to get into Sydney early so we had time to explore and then we would meet up with my parents around 5pm when they landed. However, we had some confusion with the hotel and we finally got settled in just as they were arriving. A little before 5 we went to the hotel they were staying at and met them in the lobby! I was so excited to see them and fill them in on all the stories we had to share! | Once they dropped off their luggage we got some drinks and relaxed. After some time we went to go find a good sushi restaurant and that we did thanks to our friend at Rydges reception. We ended up at Jazzushi, which had delicious food and a great setting. We spent the whole night catching up on everything and just enjoying being together. After nice long and late dinner we went back to our hotels for a good sleep. | YAY Visitors: Mom and Dad Arrive!!! | September 1, 2011
25: The next day was Saturday and that night my parents were going on a dinner cruise around the harbour and Mike and I were going with all of Campus East! During the day we went to Darling harbour and had breakfast on the harbour but it was a little chaotic because that night my parents had found out Andy had appendicitis. But during breakfast we got a call from Andy when he got out of surgery and he was going great, which eased the rest of the day! We walked around the area and enjoyed everything that there was to see. We eventually made it to the aquarium, where we say HUGE manta ray and sharks! After the aquarium the Mike and Dad began their adventures of the “beer tasting tour,” while my mom and I went souvenir shopping. Mom and I were able to catch up on girl things while the boys explored more of the area and went on some boats.
26: We all met up for a quick goodbye at the end so we could get ready for the harbour cruise! The night was full of fun, dancing, and beautiful scenery. After the cruise mike and I went to a night club for a little with all of my friends and then we met up with my parents at a bar.
27: The next day we had A LOT planned. We first went to Circular Quay and had breakfast. After breakfast we made our way down to the Opera House for a tour, where we learned about the history of the architecture of the building. After the Opera House, we all caught a taxi to Bondi Beach (a world famous beach). We took our shoes off and made our way to the waves to find that the water was still pretty cold. We enjoyed the scenery and the great weather with some ice cream and we got picked up a few things at the shop. Later, Mike and I watched an extreme uni-cyclist do some crazy tricks on the boardwalk while mom and dad enjoyed some cocktails. After cocktails, we caught taxi back to downtown Sydney to the Center Point Tower. I had wanted to do the skywalk with my family so we upgraded our tickets and went all the way to the top. My parents and Mike didn’t really know what it was so when they were giving us royal blue jumpsuits and safety harnesses they began to worry. I tried telling them we were bungy jumping but I finally explained that we were just going to the way top and standing outside on the deck and all of that stuff was just safety precautions. Suddenly all of their faces relaxed. We went at 5pm so we got to see the sunset over all of Sydney, it was pretty remarkable. After a very hectic day in Sydney we went to famous Chinese Restaurant, which didn’t have the typical American Chinese menu. We were all STARVING because we skipped lunch so we ordered quickly and were just going to be surprised with what came. The food ended up being delicious and we had lots of laughs that night. After dinner we headed back to our rooms because the next day we were headed to Wollongong.
29: We all woke up early to catch the 9:27 train and like any other time catching a train with my dad always includes running. We rushed to central station in fear that we were going to miss it but we arrived with 10 minutes to spare! When we arrived in Wollongong my friend Jordan picked us up at the train station and I showed my parents my room and where I live. They now understand why it’s called trench town. We then walked down the to the beach for a much prettier setting. We decided to walk from Fairy Meadow up to the harbour along the beach. It was a gorgeous day out and we had beautiful scenery surrounding us. I had never done this so I was exploring new things along with everyone else. The water was crystal clear there were these really cool rocks everywhere. While Mike and dad were skipping rocks into the Ocean, Mom and I were chatting and taking pictures. When we made it to the harbour we went to grab some lunch at Harbour Lights. Our entire meal was delicious, making it my best meal in Australia! We sat by the window and enjoyed watching the pelicans and looking out at the harbour area.
30: After lunch we made our way over to the light houses and explored another part of the beach. Mom tried relaxing and taking a quick nap but too many people were chatting around her. Dad, Mike, and I explored the area to find all of these really cool crater holes in the rocks and more swimming pool areas. There were cliffs everywhere where the water just crashed against them! We all decided that the rocks must have come from a volcanic explosion and I found out that it’s TRUE! We got some really good pictures and got to see some crazy things. After our exploration was over we got on a bus and headed to Uni. | I showed my parents around and they were amazed by how pretty the campus was. I finally took pictures at Uni so you guys can see what its all about! People tend to feed the ducks a lot at Uni so Mike was holding a bag and this one duck thought that Mike had food and it tried to attack Mike. Let’s just say I haven’t heard him scream like that before. Haha | We made our way back to campus so everyone could gather their things and my parents took the train back to Sydney so Mike and I could have our last dinner together. It was really hard to say goodbye after such a wonderful weekend with them and it has made me a little homesick but I’m starting to get back in the swing of things. Mike and I woke up REALLY early the next morning so he could catch the train and meet my parents in the airport. Again, it was another hard goodbye but it was great seeing everyone. I had a wonderful time the entire week and a half and now I have to get excited for the rest of the adventures I have in front of me!
31: Another action packed weekend but this time in Jervis Bay! My friend Jordan lives in Nowra which is about 15 minutes away from Jervis Bay which is known for the whitest sand in the Guinness Book of World Records. Nanea, Amanda, Will, and I joined him during his weekend home. It was only an hours drive so we didn't leave until late friday night. When we arrived everyone had a few drinks and chatted with his Mom or Mum as they say it here. The next morning we woke up to the delicious smell of a home cooked meal! His mom, who teaches a cooking class, made us eggs, toast, bacon, and hash browns, it was DELICIOUS! Shortly after breakfast we headed out on our tour along the beaches. We first stopped at two beaches in Jervis Bay(a national park) and although I did get mocked out I took some of the white sand so I can bring it home. The water was crystal clear and it was bright and sunny. We couldn't have asked for a better day. | Weekend Extravaganza September 5, 2011
32: After an exillerating day on the beaches we grabbed some lunch in Huskies (a local town) and headed back to Jordan's. When we arrived his mom had set up chips and dip and crackers and cheese, just like home. We watched some footy and cricket and we later enjoyed a late dinner. His mom had made chicken and pasta bake and again it hit the spot. After dinner we all needed sometime to digest so we watched Ghost Busters. For dessert his mom had made Pavlova which is typically an Australian dessert and is like a mixture of a marshmallow and mouse, topped with fruit. It was delish! | Our next stop was at Booderee National Park. On our way down we saw Wallabis, which are basically a smaller version of a kangaroo. Nanea, Amanda, and I acted like tourists and took pictures, while Jordan and Will walked away in embarrassment. The first beach we went to in Booderee Park is called Cave Beach because what do you know there is a cave on the beach. Again the beach was picturesque. For the first time I got to see a Blue Bottled Jelly Fish. When they become dry you can pop them like a bag of potato chips. The next beach we went to was my favorite, Bhewerre Beach. It was just the five of us on this huge beach! Although the water was freezing I couldn't resist going for a swim, the water was just so clear and blue. After our swim we went exploring along the rocks. We were able to see even more the further we walked out and we also got some really good pictures.
33: We continued watching Ghost Busters, but I decided to call it an early night and fall asleep during it and as good friends do they took pictures of me passed out. The next morning we woke up to yet again a delicious breakfast and started our trek back to Wollongong. Jordan stopped at many different sight seeing spots and Kiama Blow-hole. He was an excellent tour guide! We made it back to Wollongong during the late afternoon. The entire weekend was amazing. I never thought Australia could get any prettier but it always seems to surprise me. However, the best part of the weekend might have been the home cooked food and just being in a house for a few days and out of our dorms. Jordan's mom was really nice and fun to chat with. I am definitely glad that I had the opportunity to go home with him and am very thankful for his mother's hospitality. It was a wonderful way to spend these past couple of days!
34: Two weekends ago (September 9th) I made a last minute decision to go to surf camp and let me tell you it was probably my best decision yet! I had so much fun. We left Friday afternoon to catch the Mojo Surf camp bus in Sydney thinking it was only going to be about a 20 minute drive. However, it ended up being SIX hours but that was a good thing because the weather was much nicer in Crescent head than in Sydney. We arrived late Friday night around 12am and met the surf crew. We all called it an early night so we would be rested up for our surf lessons on Saturday. | Yeewww! Surf Camp! September 21, 2011
35: We got a great wake-up call at 7:30 am and sluggishly made it to breakfast. After eating we got measured up for wetsuits and yes mine had rips on the butt, it was VERY attractive. We made our way to the beach to find that the surf was great. We got our basic paddling and water current lessons on the beach and then headed into the water. The rips were really strong so we were doing circuits, which is when you start at the beginning of the rip, let yourself move down shore and then come back into the beach and start all over again. Once I made it out into the ocean, Nat helped me position myself for the wave and I DID IT! I got up on my first try and officially surfed. Nat and Ant helped me on and off for the rest of the surf lesson but towards the end I tried catching some of my own waves. After many frustrating fails, I finally got up and the great photographer got it on camera! I was so excited and I was up long enough where I could think about doing something funny for the picture (you’ll know which photo I’m talking about). | Eventually we were all called in and headed back to the surf shack for some lunch! After some sandwiches and salad, I laid out in the sun and took a nap before the next lesson. For our next lesson, they tried taking us to a different beach to see if the gullies (deep patches in the water) weren’t as big. The beach was called racecourse beach and it proved to have the better waves. There was a swell on the shore so the waves were getting fairly large so Ant helped me more. I continued getting up but the hardest part was getting out into the ocean. I quickly realized that I had very little arm strength and can’t paddle very far. With that Ant even helped me paddle my surfboard out haha. But all the waves that smashed me in my face on the way out were worth it when I was able to stand up and catch a wave. Every time I would get just as excited as the first but this lesson I even began to turn! Eventually the end of the lesson rolled around and we again made it back to the surf shack. We all had some quick showers in order to get ready for dinner and the bonfire.
37: The dinner was a great way to give me some energy for the bonfire after an exhausting day. While at dinner we all watched the slideshow of photos and laughed at the wipe outs and got excited to see the pictures of us surfing. It was a fairly small group of us Sonya, Beth, Wendy, and John all came from Uni with me and the rest of the crew was from the US and England. In total we were only 13 so we really got to laugh with each other. During the bonfire we shared stories and talked about the day and surprisingly I was one of the last people awake. The next morning we had one more surf lesson and then after lunch it was back to the Gong. | Again we woke up but this time we had to pack our things as well. After a quick brekkie (breakfast) we headed to the beach again and this time I got a wetsuit without rips in the butt. During this lesson I tried my best to paddle and get up by myself but it was very frustrating. A HUGE wave came towards me so I dove through like I normally would but the only difference was that I had a giant surf board attached to my leg which dragged me through the water. It was a bit scary but I stood up and let the water drain out of my nose (haha) and got back out there. A few waves later I got my best ride! The whole surfing experience was amazing and the people and atmosphere were very relaxing. I felt like I was living the true surfer life, as of now it is my favorite thing that I’ve done since I’ve been in Australia and just as Mojo Surf Camp says, “I will never forget my first wave.”
38: I leave for Fiji tomorrow (with Cindy!!!!) and am very excited but I haven't updated the blog about Melbourne so expect big updates when I return! Sorry for the lateness I have been swamped with essays :( but I'm in Australia so I can't really complain. I can't wait to see everyone when I come home! | Being a good student I booked a late flight on Thursday so I would not miss any of my classes however, I didn’t arrive until 1 am. Luckily Sonya (my travelling buddy) met me at Southern Cross Station and we walked a few blocks back to our hostel. I immediately went to sleep and couldn’t wait for Friday. The next morning we leisurely woke up and ate some peanut butter and jelly for breakfast. After getting ready we started to explore Melbourne and I already could tell that it was a very different city from Sydney. Many of the buildings were more European styled and it wasn’t as much of a business city. We hopped on an old tram car(which I thought was very cool) and took it to the Queen Victoria Markets which is very similar to that of Paddy’s markets in Sydney but its more organized.I bought a few souvenirs and some strawberries from the fruit market. After spending nearly three hours in Queen Victoria’s Market we walked across the street to a nice park to have lunch and munch on our strawberries. After we continued exploring and saw all different kinds of buildings. I read in my Australia tourist book that the ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) bank was suppose to be really pretty. | Sorry for the delay in the blog... September 21, 2011 | And the traveling continues to MELBOURNE!
39: We made our way over and it was pretty magnificent and we decided to go inside. Not realizing we began to take pictures of the architecture on the ceiling but it looked like we were taking pictures of the bank and we almost got in trouble but they security officer realized we had no idea what we were doing. | We looked like to tourists in the middle of a bank, it was probably quite funny from his perspective. He then led us to another room where we were able to take more pictures, the ceilings and pillars had such detail and were very pretty.
40: We continued our walk and made our way to Flinder Street Station and St. Pauls cathedral, both very beautiful. After taking many pictures we walked around a little bit more. Right across from St. Pauls Cathedral were extremely modern buildings. It took a little to get used to the contrast between the different types of architecture. All of the modern buildings were located in what is known as federation square and there was also some modern art. | It was large tunnels that were suspended between two buildings but they were strictly made out of packing tape. It was crazy, there were even people in them. Shortly after exploring federation square, we were both very tired from travelling and decided to go to the supermarket to get groceries to make dinner. For cheap college students it was Mi gyurain (a chinese noodle, very similar to cup of noodles) and eggs. After dinner we watched some TV and called it a night. The next morning we had to wake up for our TWO day tour through Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island.
41: We packed our bags and headed to the front of the hostel to wait for the Wild Life tours to pick us up. There were only about 18 people on the tour so it was a small group. This time there were people from Saudi Arabia, Germany, Mexico, and the US. Part of being in Australia and travelling is that I get to meet people from SO many different places and share our different cultures. There is always something new to learn. Each day was packed with activities and we were able to see soo much! Our first stop was the twelve apostles, something I have been looking forward to for a long time and they were even more amazing in person. However, there are not 12 apostles and there never were. Originally there were 9 but the water eats at the rock and eventually they crash. Currently there are 8 but new ones form as the ocean also eats at the rocks that are not detached from the mainland. | After the 12 apostles we made our way to the Loch Ard Gorge where a shipwreck occurred and only one male and one female survived, story seems like its going to be happy ever after but once they are both rescued she doesn’t want to be with him anymore. After taking some fun jumping pictures in front of the gorge we go to the Gibson steps. It was a long flight of LARGE stairs that lead down to the beaches of the 12 apostles. Being down at the beach I was really able to understand how massive the apostles actually were.
43: Our next stop was Otway’s Rainforest. Very similar to the rainforests in Cairns but they had some different plants. We went on a bush walk through the rainforest and were able to get some really cool pictures. After that we had to make a quick pit stop for gas and see Apollo Bay. We then made our way to spot Koalas, parrots, and kookaburras in the wild! Sadly we were only able to find one koala bear with its baby but there were LOTS of birds everywhere! The sun began to set and we all boarded the bus and made our way to the Spring Creek Horse Ranch for an Aussie BBQ and finally a night of rest. Because we were the youngins of the group we went to the cabin in the back and slept there, a real ranch experience. The next morning I woke up early so I would be able to walk around and explore the ranch sadly I seem to have lost my pictures of the ranch and horse : ( but it was very pretty. After breakfast we made our way to Bells Beach were the Rip Curl surf competition is held every year! We then headed to the ferry to make our to Phillip Island.
44: After the ferry we made our way to the Wildlife park where I was able to pet and feed kangaroos again and see more Australian wildlife. But I must say seeing the animals actually in the wild is a lot more exciting then in a park. Because we were running late at the wildlife park (and it was my fault because I did a close encounter with a dingo at the last minute) we had a shortened time at the winery. The group was able to taste wines and enjoy the scenery and again we were back on the bus.
45: We visited yet another beach, SorrentThey were so cute, they are the world’s smallest penguins growing to a height of about a foot. After watching many of them march we walked back up the board walk and got to see many of them making their way to their nests.o, where the Roxy surf competition is. Finally we started making our way to the PENGUINS!!! Sadly, we were not able to take pictures of the penguins because the flashes would cause them to become blind but they were soo cute. At the beginning of the sunset we made our way to the beach to watch the penguins march from the ocean and to their nests in the dunes. I learned that the each penguin only knows one way to make it to their nest and if they go off track they go all the way back to the water and start all over again. After waiting and waiting we finally started to see some of them emerge and just as we thought they were going to begin their march they ran back into the water. The penguins continued this teasing for about 15 minutes and finally groups and groups of them started coming up. I want to say one group had probably around THIRTY penguins. | They were so cute, they are the world’s smallest penguins growing to a height of about a foot. After watching many of them march we walked back up the board walk and got to see many of them making their way to their nests. In the parking lot they had funny signs that said to check under your car for penguins before leaving and I originally thought it was a joke. But sure enough when we were making it back to the bus we saw some penguins in the parking lot. Eventually everyone boarded the bus and we headed back to our humbly abode, the hostel in Melbourne.
46: After an exhausting two days we grabbed a quick dinner and went to sleep. The next day we did a full garden tour throughout all of Melbourne, on the hottest day! We saw many different monuments and we went through their botanic gardens learning about all sorts of flowers and plants. Prior to the botanic gardens we went to the Shrine of Remembrance, which is a World War I memorial. After getting lost in gardens we finally made our way back to the hostel for a little rest. | Sonya, my travelling companion, has a friend who is studying abroad in Melbourne so we met up with her for dinner. I got my sushi fix and we chatted it up. After her friend had to go we headed to the Crown Casino, the largest Casino in the southern hemisphere or so they say. Because the legal age is 18 in Australia I was able to gamble!
47: I only spent 5 dollars and played the slots but in the middle of gambling an employee of Crown Casino came up to us asking if we wanted to join the rewards program. She said it was free and we got 5 dollars for gambling and with those 5 dollars and my own I won $10!!! Even though it wasn’t a big win it was very exciting for me because I doubled my actual money and had never gambled before. | No pictures are allowed in the actual casino so yes we took pictures in the bathroom (how cool are we? Haha) We explored the casino more until about 1am and we made it to the Southern Cross station and waited (tried to sleep) for our bus to pick us up at 3:55am to bring us to the airport. Let me tell you those three hours might have been the longest three hours of my entire life. Eventually the time did go by and we made it to the airport and off we were on our way back to Wollongong. And yes once arrived in Sydney we had to run for the train even as tired as I was but the second I returned I took a nice long nap thinking about everything I did!
48: Bula Family and Friends! (Hello family and friends) On Friday September 23rd Cindy and I met in the Fiji airport. After giving huge welcome hugs we hopped in a taxi (not your normal taxi) and headed to the Westin in Denarau Island for the night. We spent time catching up, Cindy telling me about her adventure in Sydney and me filling her in about Australia. We eventually made our way to dinner and continued our conversations. After having a filling meal we headed back to our room and went to sleep. The next morning we slept in and got taxi to Port Denarau to catch our ferry to Matamanoa Island. | BULA! BULA! BULA! October 4, 2011
49: Upon our arrival there was a welcome band and we were greeted with shell necklaces and a refreshing fruit punch smoothy like drink. After learning about all of the activities and spa Cindy and I got settles into our lovely beach bureau, named seasea. The next four days consisted of lots of relaxing, tanning, and reading on the lounge chairs that over looked the amazing blue waters of fiji. One day I went for a dive and the coral in the fiji is much more colourful and prettier than that in the great barrier reef. However, there were not as many pretty fish in Fiji. I also went for a snorkel trip costing me 7.50 fijian dollars(=3.50 US). While Cindy was lazy I took a kyack around the island and explored. It amazed me how clear the water was, I could see for meters. To wind down from my very exhausting trip, I also got a massage at the spa that overlooked the water from the top of the island. My life really could not get any better. Also every night there were new activities, we had a kava ceremony our first night. Fijians relate Kava to coffee but it tastes like dirty dish water but it is suppose to make you very relaxed.
50: The next few nights there was torch lighting and on Sunday night the choir from the church came to sing to us before dinner. There were also games after dinner but Cindy and I only made it to two of them because we went to bed early. One of the games was similar to that of musical chairs but with dancing and the other one was kareokee. And yes cindy and I sang not only one but THREE songs. We sang Greece lighting, a bon jovi song, and some song that cindy loved but I had no idea what it was. But we had many laughs and had a great time that night! After a good nights rest we began to pack our bags and say goodbye to Matamano Island and all of the friendly staff .
52: But the Westin in Denarau Island was no let down. The time it was a lot more tame. We spent everyday catching some rays and reading. Luckily when it got too hot we were able to cool off in the pool, I know a hard life. On one of the days we did a half day tour to visit a Fijian Village. I had never been to the third world country before so I was in a bit of culture shock when I saw where the people lived. A rich person’s home is typically a poorer home in the US. It astonished me to see the living conditions that the Fijians lived in. But they were all fairly happen even though it was pooring rain. Mary guided us through the village and we got to see a kitchen and the school.
53: Meeting all of the school children makes me want to volunteer in a poorer country and teach for maybe a few months. The children were all so well behaved and the teacher said it was because they are not exposed to life outside of the village so many of them don’t know their own rights. Although they learn them in school, the students still greatly respect the teacher. I was very glad that I was able to experience that. In addition to our village adventure, we went horse back riding on the beach on our last day. It was a lot of fun and my first time on a horse. Me and King (my horse) became great friends. Cindy’s horse loved to eat the grass and kept falling behind. After horse back riding we made it back to the hotel for some last minute shopping and got ready for dinner at the Port. We ended our wonderful vacation with an Italian dinner overlooking the harbour. Although it’s good to be back in Wollongong, I really miss the beautiful views and weather of Fiji and of course Cindy! I can’t wait to be home and see everyone!
54: I never thought in a million years that I would have the courage to jump out of plane, especially with my fear of heights BUT I did it! On October 21st one of my friends, Bailey, was turning 21 and she chose to celebrate by skydiving and I was invited. I thought about it and decided that I would probably never have a chance again to skydive over wollongong beach so why not!?!? We made our reservations a few days before and I was now committed, there was no backing out (especially with that hefty deposit). We arrived at 12:30 in Stuart Park to get debriefed and all geared up, oh and sign our lives away too. After filling out paper work and learning about all of the safety we finally got geared up. On top of the harness we were given this really fashionable pants, in what they call "skydive blue" to wear also. Finally we were all ready and now it was time to get paired with our instructor. Biggsy walked over and we introduced ourselves and then the video started and I knew there wasn't much time left before I would be pummeling (to my death) out of the plane. | We squeezed into the plane sitting nice and close to each other and since Biggsy was running behind a little we were second to last in the plane, which meant we were jumping second AHHH! As we took off my nerves started running, but I was more excited than scared. I don't get nervous flying so the plane ride didn't really affect me. However, I kept looking out the window and I thought we were almost at 14,000 ft and then they announced, "Alright we're at 4,000 ft only 10 more to go." That's when I realized how high 14,000 ft actually was and I started to get nervous. But I didn't get really scared until the plane slowed down and the door opened. Bailey went out first and within a few seconds we were shimmying towards the opening (this is when I started to freak out), I hooked my legs under the plane and OUT WE WENT! I had about 1/4 of a second to be scared before we were out of the plane and falling. | Skydiving over Wollongong Beach! October 22, 2011
56: It was crazy!! I could only feel myself falling for a few seconds and then I just took in the view while we did some tricks. After about 60 seconds the parachute was pulled and I really got to enjoy the scenery. It was one of the clearest days so we could see the whole coastal line and the whole city of wollongong. I couldn't believe I was skydiving. Biggsy even trusted me to steer the parachute. He showed me that if you pull down on one side really hard you spin really FAST. But I still liked free falling a lot better! Before I knew it we were preparing for landing and it was over. I lifted my legs and Biggsy slowed us down and I was on the ground. When I landed I could not believe I actually just skydived. The rest of the day I kept thinking back on it and surprised myself every time. I would go skydiving again in a heartbeat, it was absolutely AMAZING!
57: On Friday October 28th, I packed my bags and made it to the airport for my last adventure while abroad. My flight was delayed for an hour so we had some time to relax on campus before we had to catch the train to the airport. The final formal was that Friday, and I was a little bummed because I had to miss it to catch my flight. But I mean was going to NEW ZEALAND!! Due to the delay we didn’t land in Christchurch until 2 AM but luckily our hostel had 24 hour check in. I travelled with two of my girlfriends, Amelia and Augusta, and once we arrived to the Tranquil Lodge we went to sleep. The next morning we tried to get up early because we only had one day in Christchurch, which turned out to be plenty of time. About six months ago a really bad earthquake hit Christchurch, demolishing most of the city. As we were walking around trying to find a café we discovered that the whole city center was still shut down, leaving us little to do. We eventually found a café and I had my first bagel since I left for Australia but of course it didn’t compare to those at home. We heard that the prime minister of New Zealand was in Christchurch and that they were suppose to be opening part of a street in the city center so we thought we would go check it out. However, due to all of the reconstruction and detours we never quite found it. | Sweet As.... | November 8, 2011
58: The backdrops of mountains appeared and I was in awe. Immediately the camera came out and the pictures started, yes I took over 800 pictures this vacation. We ran into a few of my other friends from Uni and we all caught a cab together to downtown Queenstown. It was like a giant ski resort town. Before exploring the town, we went to go check into the Adventure Queenstown Hostel but we were a bit too early so we just stowed our luggage and began exploring! | Instead we discovered the botanical gardens, which were full of Azaleas. On our way to the gardens we passed a neat looking pub so we made our way back there for an early dinner/late lunch. We all got the seafood chowder but it did not live up to any of our expectations. After dinner we were all very tired after walking through the city, well at least what was left of it, so we made it back to our hostel around 7PM and called it an early night so we could catch our flight to Queenstown at 8AM the next morning. Just a few hours later, we were up and packing for the bus ride to the airport. This time our flight was on time and after the shortest flight I’ve ever been on, we landed just an hour later. When we exited the plane we finally knew we were in New Zealand.
59: After my walk through the garden, I made my way back to the hostel to check in and immediately I knew that this was the best hostel I will stay in during my travels in here. We were in a 6 person room with our own recently updated bathroom, something that usually doesn’t happen. And the best part was that it was only 20 Australia dollars a night. After settling in I made it over to the internet café to skype with my family for Grammy’s 80th Birthday!!! It was really nice being able to talk to all of my relatives and only made me more ready to come home in two weeks. (Can you believe it, I only have two weeks left in Australia!?!?) However, I was no where near ready to leave New Zealand. | There were cute little shops every other store, and the others were nice restaurants and quaint cafes. After doing a little shopping I made it down to the harbor area that over looked Lake Wakatipu, the 3rd largest lake in Australia running 82 km wide. Although it was spring, the mountains still had white tips, which made the views even more spectacular. I immediately fell in love with New Zealand and decided right then and there that I have to come back. After taking in the scenery I headed up a path that lead me to the Queenstown gardens, which ended up to be pretty little park full of flower beds.
60: After a nice skype home, I went back to the hostel for a quick snooze and then it was time for FERGBURGER. It only opened in 2000, but it was already famous for its big juicy burgers. After just one burger I was extremely full and satisfied. Since we had a long day of travelling we decided not to go out, and I had plans to go to Fox Glacier the next morning at 7 AM. Augusta and Amelia didn’t have an interest in going so I got myself ready the next morning and headed over. Luckily, there was another group of my friends in New Zealand at the same time but they were travelling in a campervan and they happened to be at Fox Glacier the same day. | After a six hour bus ride, I had finally arrived. Sadly it was raining, but I came to find out that it rains/snows at the glacier on average 200 days a year. After checking into my tour, I met up with Bailey, Brendan, and Jon. We said our hellos and then got geared up. We had rain pants, rain coats, heavy duty boots, gloves, and crampons that we attached to our boots. From the check in point we had to take about a 5 minute bus ride to the glacier and once again upon arriving the views were breath taking. There was this giant glacier with aqua blue, brown, and white colors mixing together to form this amazing view and once again there were backdrops of mountains. First we had to hike up a rocky trail for about 40 minutes before we reached the glacier.On our way to the glacier we learned that it could grow and recede huge amounts in just two years. If you look close enough at some of the pictures you can see were the tree line starts and just two years ago the glacier had extended all the way to edges.
61: Very nicely, Bailey, Brendan, and Jon offered to house me in their campervan for the night and hitch a ride back to Queenstown with them. The campervan that they were travelling in was called a spaceship and it looks like a minivan but there was a bed on the inside and kitchen facilities. On top of the van there was the “deluxe apartment” where Bailey and I stayed. It was more like a tent, there are pictures to explain. We sautéed some sausages, onions, and garlic for dinner and after we ate, we explored the camping area. We were about 50 meters away from a beach and it was the first beach I’ve been to with black sand. Although the weather wasn’t the best it was still fun walking along the very rocky, sandy beach.However, spring is the season for sun flies and boy did they like my ankles. Today I counted and I have 6 bites on my left ankle and 7 on my right. Besides the flies, the campervan experience was fun but not nearly as much fun as camping with my family in Vermont. | Interestingly, the warm waves from Australia are what control the majority of the weather at the glacier because the humidity causes it to rain or snow, thus causing the glacier to extend or recede. We finally made it to the edge of the glacier and strapped on our crampons and started the trek. The colors were beautiful and the water running on the parts of the glacier was delicious. Even better than the Vermont well water. It was ice cold (literally). Our guide was from Switzerland and had a really hard name to prenounce but he showed us the “bad a**” way to drink the water from the glacier, using the ice pick to hold yourself up while drinking from the stream. I took a ton of pictures and we discovered all sorts of caves and holes in the glacier. And the guides say that whatever the glacier takes, it eventually gives back. A few years back a man dropped his camera in one of the holes by accident and two years later a guide found it. The camera was destroyed but they were able to recover the memory card and they mailed it back to the man. However, if a person were to fall into one of the holes, they would not return in one piece. Underneath the glacier there is a slushy consistency constantly flowing they winds in and out of the caves and eventually to the bottom of the glacier, so it’s not an easy journey down. After taking tons of pictures we made our way back down and headed back to the check in point.
63: The next morning on November 1st, we tried waking up early because we had a long drive ahead of us. We didn’t do too bad and made it out of the campground around 9:30. Along the way to Queenstown we stopped for some pictures because the rain had cleared up and it was a gorgeous sunny day, leading to some amazing views. Around 2pm we made it back to Queenstown and had a very relaxed day. I checked back into the hostel and planned the rest of my days. I decided to not go bungy jumping because it was quite expensive and I chose to go kayaking on the lake instead. That night Bailey, Brendan, Jon, Amelia, Augusta and I, got a dinner together at Winnies. Winnies was a gourmet pizza like pub. They played the best music and we had delicious pizza, better than California Pizza Kitchen. And as a bonus our waitress ordered us the wrong pizza but we got the mix-up order for FREE! On top of the pizza Jon and I split a bowl of beer fries with the most delicious aioli and bbq sauce. The dinner was a great way to end a day full of driving. After dinner we scheduled our luge racing and gondola for 9:30 the next morning, another early start. If you haven’t noticed already this vacation was not a sleep in relaxing kind of one, it was the ADVENTURE vacation!
64: Around 8:30 the next morning we made our way to the gondola and luckily we were early so we could catch a breakfast at a café. The day started quite cloudy so I was a little upset because I was looking forward to the views at the top of the gondola. But by the time we got up there the skies had cleared a little and the clouds left actually made for some really neat pictures. After posing for pictures, we headed up the ski left to begin our luge racing. We first had to complete the scenic trail before we could move onto the advanced one. Bailey, Brendan, Jon, and I raced down three times and I came in 1st for the first race and 2nd for the second and third races. It was lot of fun and a lot of laughs as well. After we finished racing we took the gondola back down the mountain and grabbed a quick lunch before our kayaking adventure. Originally it was just I going but Jon and Brendan joined last minute. The day was clearing up so I was very excited to get up close to the spectacular views that you see from the harbor. The Remarkable Mts that sit in the background of Queenstown were filmed in quite a few scenes from Lord of the Rings as well as many other places in the South Island so it was neat getting to see them closer.
65: However as we made our way to the turning point it began to rain, first a drizzle but then a downpour. But the Keehns are used to kayaking in the rain so it wasn’t anything new to me. I still enjoyed the trip thoroughly and was definitely glad I did it. Our guide was also surprised that I was able to do the one-person kayak by myself the entire time even with the wind. (so thanks mom and dad for all that great kayaking experience) After kayaking we made it back to the hostel and I took an nice hot shower to warm my body up and then it was time to finish my souvenir shopping. I found everything I was looking for and that night we all signed up for the kiwi bar crawl. Oh I forgot to tell you that people who live in New Zealand are referred to as Kiwis because there is a Kiwi bird that lives all over both the North and South Island. I was quite tired so I didn’t plan on staying out late. In New Zealand they have Ice bars where everything in the bar including the glasses are made out of ice. Normally just to get in it costs $32 but with the bar crawl we got into 6 different bars including 5 below (the ice bar) and got discounts on food and drinks. Shortly after making it to 5 below I headed back to the hostel because I was pretty exhausted.
66: Thursday was my last full day in Queenstown and Amelia and I took advantage of it. While I was glacier hiking, Augusta and Amelia hung out with other people staying in our hostel and one of them was Greg. He lives in Portland, Maine, is in his mid fifties and has travelled all over the world. The previous night there was “family” dinner at the hostel so we all ate together and I was able to meet him. He was like a fatherly figure and offered to go to Milford Sound with Amelia and I so we could cut down on the cost of gas. And on Thursday morning at 6:30 we were on our way to Milford Sound with Greg and the sun was shining. Immediately we learned that he was in the Marines, worked as a fisherman in Maine for a while and has real estate, which gives him a steady income so he can do all of his travelings.
67: Dad, you would have really appreciated all of his stories about travelling throughout many of the national parks in the US. He also reminded us of Santa. He had a big bushy beard and white hair; the man could not have been any nicer. The nice part of driving and not taking a bus was that we were able to stop and take pictures whenever we wanted. The day started off wonderful but as Greg explained, red at night sailors delight, red in the morning sailors mourning. And of course the grey clouds came. It rained but as we got higher in the mountains I experienced my first snow of the year and yes it was spring in New Zealand. But the snow made me feel all giddy and child-like again. As we were driving I realized that I had left my raincoat in the hostel and became nervous because it was pouring out, but luckily Greg had a poncho that he let me borrow and I even got a compliment on it. After driving a bit longer we arrived at Milford Sound just in time to catch the 11am cruise. Although it rained on the cruise, there was indoor seating and free tea and coffee so we would go take pictures and then go back inside and warm up. But the sun did eventually come through and all of the fog gave the sound an eerie feeling. On the cruise we not only saw spectacular views but we also saw the “rarest penguins alive” and seals. After the cruise we stopped to get some lunch at the local café and then we headed back to Queenstown. When buying our tickets, the concierge warned us that they might have had to close the tunnel down later because of the snow so we didn’t want to get stranded. But after getting down the mountain and through the snow, the skies cleared up and it was really sunny but very WINDY. The drive back is along a very scenic road and due to the fog and clouds in the morning we missed a lot of the view but luckily on the way back we were able to stop for TONS of pictures. At around 6:30pm we made it back to Queenstown and yet again we were exhausted because of an action packed day. Amelia and I made dinner that night and went out to get a little something for dessert. When we got back we began to organize our stuff because on Friday we were heading back to Aussie land.
68: Although I was nowhere near ready to leave New Zealand, I knew returning to Australia meant I would be home soon which made it okay. I skyped with mom Friday morning and was going to try to make it over to Arrowtown, a gold mining town, but didn’t quite have enough time to go. Instead I went to a quaint little café and had some tea and delicious pancakes as I enjoyed watching the snow fall outside. Augusta had to leave on Thursday because she had a final on Saturday so it was just Amelia and I. We began to get nervous that our flight back to Christchurch would be cancelled but luckily the snow cleared up by 2pm and we took off on time. Because of the fresh snowfall, the view out of the plane window was gorgeous of all of the recently snow capped mountains. Just an hour later we landed in Christchurch and so began our campout in the airport. We didn’t want to pay for a hostel because our flight back to Australia was leaving at 6:30 am so there was no point of staying in a hostel for just a few hours. Now it is just a little before 6am and I should be boarding soon so I am going to wrap up this extremely long blog. In the past 15 hours I’ve studied, chatted, written this blog and got a little sleep. The time went by surprisingly fast but I am definitely excited to be back in Wollongong and get some rest! Over the next two weeks I plan on studying, getting some sun at the beach, and possibly going into Sydney a few more times. In just 14 (now 10 days) days I will be on my flight home and soon enough I will be reunited with everyone! I miss and love everyone and can’t wait to see everyone who will be at Thanksgiving and for the rest of you at Christmas!