Monday, August 23, 2010

Back In America

Well, I have now been home for 50 days. Coming home has been both refreshing and hard.

The American transition:

I kept walking on the left side of the side walk through the airports and thought to myself..”why are all of these people almost running into me” until I realized I should be on the right side. When I first started driving I kept reminding myself to stay on the right.

I kept tapping the top of the toilet to flush instead of the side, because that is where the flushers were in Australia.

There are not that many black people in Australia, so as I walked through LAX and a black lady greeted me with a big loud “Hey honey!” it made me smile. (I don’t mean this to be racist in any way, but it was just a reminder of another culture)

I had to get used to driving everywhere rather then walking or taking public transport.

It is refreshing to be able to run or bike on the country roads, without having to inhale exhaust and stop mid-workout for a traffic light.

My parents have been spoiling me by making my favorite foods—my mom even made me some blueberry banana bread because I kept talking about how I missed hoochie mama’s blueberry banana bread.

3 of my good friends were engaged when I got home…and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not long until more are. I’m so happy for them, but as for me…I’m enjoying FREEEEDOM! Everyone is truly growing up and I feel like I did too while I was abroad.

I had to face a lot of things I blocked out while I was abroad when I got home, relationships, my Grandpas death and his farm auction, and getting back to work.

I miss…

Meat pies, long blacks, pumpkin, and pretty much the whole hoochie mama’s menu!

Having friends living around me 24/7 like I did at Sydney University Village…always someone around to hang out with.

The constant life of adventure and excitement.

The amazing people I met in Australia.

Being able to walk outside of my apartment when I was bored and playing footy or Frisbee on the green.

The cheap airfare in Australia.

My café and markets routine every weekend.

Constantly meeting new people from all around the world.

In all honesty this list could go on for ever, but I don’t want to complain or all get the idea I MISS AUSTRALIA and I am homesick for Sydney!

What I am up to now…

The first week back was both full of excitement and facing reality… I got together with a lot of different friends, family, and went down to visit some people at OSU.

I have been swimming, biking, and running a lot and will probably be doing a triathlon at the end of September.

I practically live at Westfield Country Club where I taught swim lessons, am a pool supervisor, lifeguard, and waitress. And when I’m not working sometimes go to the pool so workout or lay out.

At the end of July I went down to Cincinnati to get together with my friend Gina from Ohio State and my friend Michelle who I met in Sydney. It was so nice to catch up with Gina and Michelle and her family gave me a grand tour of the city and I really needed some time with a friend from abroad!

This past weekend I went to Tennessee with my Aunt Marla and Mom where we visited my Great Aunt Vivian and Uncle Don. We went water skiing, tubing, and boating.

I am counting down the days until I move back down to Ohio State..and can’t wait for football season!

Next week the Reedy boys and I are going to see the Tom Petty concert for my Dad’s birthday.

So now I can say I went scuba diving in February, rope swinging and rode a mechanical bull in April, snorkeling, surfing, and skydiving in June, down hill skiing and snowboarding in July, and water skiing in August!

It’s been a wild ride! I would have to say that 2010 has been the best year of my life so far! Thank you so much to everyone who supported and followed me on this amazing adventure!

One thing is for sure, I will definitely return to Australia at some point in my life...hopefully soon, but there is a great big world out there and I still have lots to see! There is no doubt that I have caught the travel bug!

Until my next crazy excursion--- Cheers, Betsy xxx

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Zealand

Alright, my goal was to have this blog all caught up by here I am on 3 days away! I’m truly the queen of procrastination.
The Reedy Family South Island of New Zealand Experience:
Tuesday the 29th of June: We boarded the Tranzscenic Railway that would take us from Christchurch (the east coast) to Greymouth (west coast). The train passed through the Southern Alps, over crystal blue rivers/ glacial runoff, and past green fields. Truly beautiful scenery! We had breaky on the train and walked out to the observation deck to take in the views and mountainy fresh air. Once in Greymouth we picked up the rental car and headed for Franz Josef glacier. On the drive we passed over countless one lane bridges that were a bit scary—especially one of them that had a train track going down the middle as well. We made a few stops at beaches along the way and got to the glacier right before sunset. The glacier was wedged between two mountains and we probably should have listened to the do not trespass signs because when we got close for a picture we could hear parts of it breaking off.

Wednesday the 30th of June: We drove down the west coast, stopping at Fox Glacier, miscellaneous beaches, and taking in some more gorgeous mountain/river scenery that the winding road had to offer us. We would drive a bit and my family would say..”we could be in Alaska right now”..“we could be in Colorado right now..”, “we could be in Washington right now”, or various other spots in the U.S. and we decided New Zealand has the best of American scenery packed into one little Island. By the end of the day we made it to our destination, Queenstown—a really neat ski resort town and one of the South Islands biggest cities that is nestled in the middle of a mountain range on a big lake.

Thursday the 1st of July: We were originally scheduled to go on a small plane ride to Milford Sound, where we would board a ferry, but because of the weather conditions our tour was canceled. So instead..Billy and I decided to go sky diving! We had to wait until the afternoon, so to kill time we had lunch at the famous to Queenstown burger spot- “Fergburger”, and I can see why they’re famous..delicious! Then Dad and I hiked on the Queenstown walking trail to the top of town. When it was time to go sky diving, Billy and I were surprisingly calm. I was more excited then nervous! We got into a little air plane that only had enough passenger room for Me, Billy, two other skydivers, our instructors, and a camera guy. We jumped from 12,000 feet, we free felled for 45 seconds at 125 mph, and they pulled the shoots at 4000 ft. IT WAS AWESOME! My tandem guy and I did a barrel roll out of the plane and then the camera guy came over and made us spin around. Everything went smoothly and I landed on my feet. The scenery we fell over was beautiful..mountains and a crystal blue lake that I could see to the bottom of from 12000 ft above. The rest of the day Billy and I had a natural high from the adrenaline and I think Mom and Dad were just happy we made it out alive.

Friday the 2nd of July: Since the Milford Sound tour was cancelled for a second time we decided to hit the road early and drove out to Mt. Cook where we decided to take a scenic helicopter ride (my first helicopter ride!). The helicopter took us to the top of a mountain for a snow landing. From the top we could see a glacier and we played in the snow a bit (Larry our family vacation mascot—a little bear in an OSU sweatshirt, and I made snow angels) before re-boarding.
Saturday the 3rd of July: Our final day in New Zealand. We drove a grit switchback road to the top or Mt. Hut to a ski resort. Billy had been looking forward to this day all trip. Dad and I were a bit nervous having not skied for a while by the looks of the mountain, and Mom decided to spend the day by the fire reading her book. From the very top of the mountain in one direction you could see the ocean and in the other the snow capped Southern Alps mountain range. It took us a run or two but we were finally getting the hang of it, and then the run before Dad and I had planned to go in for lunch Dad wiped out. He had to be sled down to the med center, where the doctors believed he had sprained his knee. Unable to put pressure on it to walk I had to assist him up to the lodge where he hung out with Mom for the rest of the day in pain. Billy and I finished out the day and I traded in my skies for a snow board part way through the day. Great day of skiing, other then my Dad’s injuryL! We spent the rest of the evening heading back to Christchurch and touring around the city.
Sunday the 4th of July: The day of my return to the United States. My journey started at the Christchurch airport at 5 am. I had a long black and meat pie for breakfast—two of my favourite foods from the southern hemisphere before boarding my 6:40  am flight to Auckland (On the North Island), I had a 5 hour lay over there and met up with my family (Dad in a wheelchair because of his accident) for our flight from Auckland to LA. We had had to arrange separate domestic flights because I had scheduled mine back in February. It was a 12 hour flight which Qantas spoiled us with tons of food and movies. I slept a bit and arrived in LA at 6 am still July 4th. It was back to crazy USA airport security and summer heat (It had been winter in NZ and Australia). Ironically a girl I had lived near in Sydney was on my flight from LA to Chicago and we were in the same terminal as we had been in February for our group flight to Brisbane. Memories flooded back from the beginning of our trip and I was glad to have someone to talk to, still feeling a bit sad to leave Oz. I arrived in Cleveland by 7 pm after a total of 28 hours of traveling all on the 4th! A bit tired I spent my first evening at home catching up with my best friend Lisa and enjoying a mint Oreo blizzard from DQ –fulfilling one of my American food cravings.
Up next: American Observations

Cheers, Betsy

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Part 2: The Blue Mountains, Melbourne, The Outback, and Goodbyes..

Monday, 21 of June: We picked up our rental car and drove out to the Blue Mountains. I took them on a hike that I had done with my outdoor education class. We started at Echoes point overlooking the three sisters. This time instead of walking up the 990 “Giant stairway” we choose to walk down and take the world’s steepest railway up. My parents stayed the night out in the mountains while Billy and I took a train back to Sydney.

Tuesday, 22 of June: Billy and I got up bright and early to catch a flight down to Melbourne. Once we arrived we checked into Billy’s first youth hostel experience downtown. We had lunch at a Mexican chain restaurant called Taco Bill’s then walked all around the city. In the afternoon we took the tram out to St. Kilda because I wanted to ride the Luna Park roller coaster with Billy, but when we got there we discovered that the Park was only open on the weekends in the winter. So instead we went to a little cake shop and got some cake and coffee. That evening we met up with my friend Liam and his friend Russ(my friends and I had hung out with last time we were in Melbourne) at the Rooftop bar then went for as he would call it, Tea (dinner) at a hidden little Chinese restaurant that’s known for their dumplings. We foolishly choose the all you can eat deal…delicious but I was uncomfortably full!

Wednesday, 23 of June: We wandered up and down the alley’s to find a little café to have breakfast at. Which is one of my favorite things about Melbourne all of its hidden charm in the alley’s! Next we checked out the Melbourne ACMI- Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square. It was a museum that had really neat exhibits and interactive sites dealing with movies, video games, and computers. Afterwards we wandered along the Yarra River over to the MCG- Melbourne Cricket Grounds to look around to kill time before my parents arrived in town. We met up with them and did part of the Golden Mile---a mapped out walk of Melbourne’s historical buildings and attractions. We showed my parents the rooftop bar then met up with my Dad’s friend Catherine and her fiancé Paul (who live in Melbourne) for dinner. They took us to a strip of restaurants along the river called, Southbank. During dinner, outside of the restaurants there were giant towers that on the hour spit fire and lip up the whole walk way. We stayed at Catherine and Paul’s beautiful home that evening and they treated us to Haigh’s hot chocolate and Tim tam slams for dessert.

Thursday, 24 of June: Paul kindly drove Billy and me to the airport at 5 am to catch a flight out to Alice Springs for our outback adventure! Once in Alice Springs we retrieved our rental car, stocked up on water, peanut butter and jelly supplies, and had lunch before hitting the long flat road leading us to Ayer’s Rock. The drive took around 5 hours including our stop at a gas station/emu farm and to play on red sand dunes. We arrived at the big rock an hour before sunset so we drove the perimeter of it and checked out the cultural center before driving out to the car lot that was specifically for viewing the sun set. The dessert sky turned a purplish color as the sun sank lower and the rock was illuminated burnt orange. That night we stayed out at the Ayers Rock resort in a hostel dorm.

Friday, 25 of June: We watched the sunrise over Uluru (aboriginal name for Ayers Rock) before starting a full day of hiking. The first hike of the day was around the base of Uluru which was 6 miles. Next up: Climbing Ayers Rock. I was apprehensive at first because there are issues about climbing it being disrespectful. However, once I saw that they had a walking track marked out and realized there was no way my brother would be leaving there without concurring that rock- we began the climb. The first half of the climb up was lined with a chain, because the rock face was so steep. The climbing track was one mile to the highest point which was 1141 ft. From the top we could see the Olga’s and Mt Connor in the distance. Racing the sunlight and on a limited time schedule I made pb&j’s while Billy drove the 45 min out to the Olga’s (aboriginal name= Kata Tjuta: 36 red mounds). Once there we didn’t waist any time hiking at a speedy pace to complete both hikes at the park, the Valley of the winds (4.6 miles) and Walpa Gorge (1.6 miles). By the end of the day we had hiked a total of 14.2 miles up and down and all around! On the car ride out to Kings Canyon, the next day’s hiking destination, we passed two packs of camels in the wild. This surprised Billy because he did not know there were camels in Australia.

Saturday, 26 of June: We got up with the sun again to get hiking in time to return to Alice Springs for our flight back to Melbourne. Today’s hike was 4 miles total, up the side of a canyon, along the rocky canyon rim, and back down. In the middle of the canyon, surrounded by dry red rock was a lush green garden with a river flowing through it, called the Garden of Eden. I think this may have been Billy’s favorite hike, because every time I turned around he was climbing all over the rocks. Having time to spare back in Alice Springs before our flight we decided to drive just right out of town to Macdonnell Ranges. There we did a short hike out to Simpson’s Gorge.

Sunday, 27 of June: The whole family reunited after going our separate ways for the past three days, Billy and I to the outback and my parents to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, flew back to Sydney. Billy and Dad spent their last day in Sydney walking across the Harbor Bridge, while Mom stayed back to help me pack and then meet Emma and her Mom for afternoon tea at a little café in Newtown. That evening, my last night in Sydney, Emma, her Mom, and my family went for drinks at the sky tower’s (Sydney’s tallest building—similar to the Seattle Space Needle) revolving bar: The 360 lounge. After a drink there we all met up with Michelle’s family at the Lowen Brau (German Restaurant down in the Rocks) for dinner. It was so nice being there with all of our families! From there we went over to the Observer Hotel, which we were drawn to when we heard the live music from outside. I snuck over to the guy on the guitar and asked if he would let my Dad play one song. He announced for Billy Reedy from Ohio to please come to the stage. My Dad acted reluctant—but he loved it! He played a song called Annie Be Fair and a group of Irish man busted into a jig mid performance. We spent the rest of the evening singing along and dancing. A perfect last night spent in Sydney!

Monday, 28 of June: The day I had been dreading since I fell in love with Sydney and Australia! I kicked off the day with my last hoochie mama’s long black coffee and blueberry banana bread, and then spent the rest of the morning pack and cleaning. In the afternoon, Emma, Scotty, Luke, and I walked down to Janet’s Meat Pies for lunch, I said goodbye to my friend Shona, and then just all hung out until the dreaded time of 4:30 rolled around. They drove me out to the airport…I tried to keep it together the whole car ride but lost it when I had to say goodbye. Throughout my time in Australia I had people I met along the way right me a little message in a notebook that I had. My only rule was that I couldn’t read the messages until I left the people. So once I was on the air plane I read all of the messages from my Sydney friends. The people sitting next to me probably thought I was nuts by the way I would laugh one min and then by crying the next. My parents had had a flight earlier that day to Christchurch, New Zealand, so my Mom picked me up from the airport and I met back up with them at the hotel late when I got in. Leaving Sydney was really hard. I just kept telling myself…you’ll be back sometime don’t worry and instead of saying was I’ll see you later! It was nice to have a whole week of fun planned in NZ to look forward to and distract me.

Next up: Part 3 our New Zealand Adventure!

Cheers, Betsy

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Part 1: Sydney

Hello all!
I have now returned to beautiful sunny (hot and humid) Ohio! Although my time abroad has come to an end, I want to update you all on my travels with my family. We did a lot so I’m going to split it up into the places we visited. I also plan to write another post in a week or so to update you on my transition back into life in America.
Family’s Arrival to Sydney (they had already spent a week in Cairns at the Great Barrier Reef)
Thursday, 17th of June: I turned the corner to enter the Hotel where my parents were staying and right away see my Mom. Before even seeing me she was in tears…I didn’t expect any different and probably would have assumed something was wrong if she wasn’t crying ha. After welcoming them to Sydney with lots of hugs and smiles we headed back to my place so that I could show them around my new home. I had set up gifts on my desk, one for each holiday I had missed spending with them as their welcome souvenirs. After showing them around my apartment, I took them to my favourite café, Hoochie Mama’s! The rest of the day consisted of a tour of… Sydney Uni campus, Hyde Park, Botanical Gardens, Opera House, Circular Quay, and the Rocks. After all of the walking I think my family was relieved when the tour ended at Lord Nelson’s Pub (The oldest pub in Sydney located in the Rocks) after about 5 miles of walking. They were amazed at how pretty the University of Sydney’s campus was and impressed by how well I knew how to get around the city.
Oh yes and how can I forget….this was also the day that I met Larry. My dad has started the tradition of bringing along a mascot on family vacations. In Ireland it was a tennis ball named Wilson, this time a little stuffed bear with an Ohio State hoodie named Larry made the trip.
Friday, 18th of June: We went and got breaky at the “Waterfront Restaurant” in Darling Harbour and then walked around the area afterwards. They loved it and watching them take it all in reminded me of how I felt the first time I was down there. I had a re-appreciation for Darling Harbour and how alive it is. We stopped by Paddy’s markets so I could show them where I went every week to buy fruit and vegetables, then I took them up to Janet’s Meat Pies in Newtown, so they could experience a proper meat pie and to meet my friend Emma. We were in luck and Janet herself was at the store!   Of course Larry got a picture with Janet. Two train rides later and we were at Sydney Olympic Park. My dad was like a little kid hurrying to take a look at every venue and really lit up when he saw the blue marathon guide line. After my family’s first Newtown Thai experience my parents headed back to the hotel while my friends and I took Billy down to Darling Harbour’s Fifa Fan Fest to watch the USA vs. Slovenia world cup match.
Saturday, 19th of June: I took my family to two of my favourite beaches, Bondi and Coogee. Although it was a beautiful 18 degrees C (65 F), it was still too cool to swim so we did the scenic coastal walk that runs between the two beaches. By the end of the 6 km walk up, down, and along the cliffs my Mom asked me if I was trying to kill her. She was right…I had been making them walk quite a bit in their visit to Sydney! They were fascinated by the cliffs that surrounded the beaches, because they had no idea Sydney had that sort of landscape. That night we had ice cream at cold rock (where I worked) and then Michelle and Emma joined us for dinner down at Darling Harbour. After dinner we met my Dad back at Paddy McGuires an Irish pub to watch the Australian world cup match, and then we took Billy to my favorite spot in Newtown, the Marly Bar.
Sunday, 20th of June: Since we had been on our feet for the past three days, this day I decided to give them a bit of a break and we spent a lot of time cruising around the Harbour on Ferry’s. We went to Balmain (where my Dad’s friend Catherine used to live) for lunch, then to Circular Quay to catch another ferry to Whatsons Bay. Once at Whatsons Bay we walked up to the “Gap” a lookout with the ocean on one side and the city on the other. We ended the day at Doyle’s, a place in Whatson’s Bay famous for their fish and chips.
My picture uploads aren’t working—so once I figure it out I’ll put some up. Next up: Melbourne and Billy and I’s outback adventure!
Cheers, Betsy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fiji Pictures

Sega na lega

:It means “no worries, be happy” in Fijian.
Bula (hello, cheers, you’re aloha in Hawaii) everyone!
Friday, June 4th Emma, Lindsey, and I made the journey across the south pacific to FIJI. We arrived in Nadi in the afternoon and checked into our hostel, the “Drift in”. It was a Fijian lady, Donna’s home and she took wonderful care of us, paying for our taxis and feeding us breakfast and dinner all for just $25 FJD which is about $14 USD! In the evening we walked about the country roads down to the beach then went out with a guy named Andy from England and Oriol from Barcelona.
We took the bus into downtown Nadi, for only 70 cents...a big change from Sydney transportation! For being one of the countries biggest cities, it wasn’t that big. We walked down to the markets and experienced our first Kava ceremony. Kava is an herbal drink that is made from the root of a kava plant. Fijian people perform the sacred ceremony as a way to welcome people. They dish it out in little bowls and before you drink it you say Bula clap once, and then after you say Motha and clap three times. It kind of tastes like muddy water and makes your tongue go numb for a few seconds. In the afternoon we were picked up for our transfer to Robinson Crusoe Island, where we would be spending the remainder of the week.
We took a bus to the jetty and then a small boat out to the island. On the boat and seemingly every night that followed we were serenaded by acoustic guitars, Fijian music, Oasis, Jack Johnson, and all other chill music. The first night on the island was a fire dance show (like a Hawaiian luau). The only thing on the island was our resort. I would give you a day by day play out of what we did each day but, it would get to be a bit redundant because each day was so chill. So here are the highlights and pretty much our daily routine:
Kayaking, snorkelling, laying in hammocks, sun bathing on the beach, swimming in the ocean and pool, night bon fires, night games, eating and drinking coconuts, star gazing, listening to people play the guitar and singing along (I even busted out Stew ball was a race horse at one point by Emma’s request: the only song I know how to play on the guitar that my dad taught me) playing rugby in the sand, dancing, watching the sunset, kava ceremonies, and going on walks. One of the girls we met caught at baby turtle that would eventually grow to be a giant sea turtle. We named it Tittles and eventually set it free by the end of the week.
The first night we met 2 girls from Dublin, 4 guys from London, a couple from England, and 2 guys from Boston that we hung out with for the remainder of the week.
The whole week felt like the best summer camp ever! I literally did not wear shoes once all week. The only time that we worried about the time of day was at 8, 1, and 7 when meals were served. Other then that we were on “Fiji time”, which means nothing is never when they say it will be and there is no need worrying about it. The meals were delicious, all fresh fruit, vegetables, and sea food served buffet style. The island worked off of a generator that shut off at midnight each night. So the beginning of the night was spent under the pavilion lights playing games, dancing, and chatting, and when the lights went out we would move down to the bon fire. We all fell in love with an island song with the only words being: “Have you ever tried soup tavioca?” that had a catchy tune and we would all go crazy when it came on and danced. So they played it over and over. Our cabin had 14 bunks in it, all with mosquito nets to pull down at night. Since there was no running water, we showered using buckets. It was a beautiful 85 degrees and sunny every day. Technically it is their winter...I can’t imagine how hot it gets in the summer! The beaches were beautiful and the water was warm! Included with our stay was a complimentary 15 min massage and all of our activities! The best part about all of this is that... we got a bargain and only paid for 3 nights and got the second 3 nights free.
Since coming to Australia, one of my goals was to learn how to surf. Emma and I had told Donna (from our first hostel) about this and she set up for her cousin, a surf instructor and Nadi, Fiji’s first pro surfer to pick us up the Robinson Crusoe jetty for a personal surf lesson. The Fijian people are so willing to help you out and so happy to do it. We met up with Ian Muler (The surf instructor) and he took us to Notadola beach. Emma and I used a beginner long foam board. After some quick instruction in the sand, we hit the water. We both stood up on our first try, and every time after. Ian would tell us when to start paddling and to stand, but other then that we did it all on our own. It was awesome and addicting. After each wave I would paddle as quickly as I could back out to do it again. Paddling out was probably the hardest and most tiring part of it all. By the end of the day we were both trimming (turning into) the waves. I was upset because I forgot my underwater camera...oh well just another reason to go again some day!The beach that we surfed was beautiful and there were people riding horses all down it.
Everyone that we met was leaving on Friday, like we were. By the end of the week, I felt like I knew everyone on the island, guests and workers. For Emma, Lindsey, and I this trip would be the last big one before heading home home and for our new friends it was their last trip as well (most of them have been travelling for several months from Asia, to Australia, and NZ). As our boat pulled away the island workers sang Jet Plane, by John Denver (a song we sang a lot around the campfire) and we were all sad to not only see our Fiji trips come to an end but our big trips. After that it was off to the airport to catch our 5 hour flight back to Sydney. We had the taxi driver drop us off at Janet Pies for dinner...I’m trying to eat all the meat pies I can before I have to leave ha ha.  
These past few days have been spent walking around the city and getting everything ready for when my parents come. I went for a run at the botanical gardens the other morning, revisited Manly Beach, and watched a show down at the Rocks with Michelle. Right now they are having a Fifa Fan Fest down at Darling Harbour for the world cup. They broadcast all of the games live on a floating big screen and have live bands and activities every evening. Emma, Michelle and I went to watch the Australia vs. Germany game at 4:30 am on Monday. The place was packed with Socceroo fans. They lost 4-0 L. After the game we went down to the Rocks for pancakes and to warm up! My parents come tomorrow...Whoa I can’t believe it! I hope all is well with everyone at home! Be seeing and talking to you all soon!
Cheers/Bula, Betsy

Saturday, June 12, 2010


My parents arrived to Australia safely this morning. I'll be seeing them in 5 days after they go to Cairns. I can't believe they're already here :)!!! Talk to you all soon about my Fijian adventure.

Cheers, Betsy

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tomorrow I leave to say Bula (Hello) to Fiji!!

I just read over my last post and realized how sloppily written it was...sorry!
With more time on my hands now that Uni work is over, I have been finding random activities to fill my days. Most people still have papers and exams, so I have been pestering them to entertain me during their study breaks. To keep myself busy I have started running more again, going on walks, helping my family plan their trip, planning my Fiji trip, and visiting cafes. I spent one afternoon making a facebook photo album “storybook” of my friend Emma’s fake engagement to Andy (The guy from Melbourne who drove us around and pretended to propose to her at the 12 Apostles). All of their friends got a huge kick out of it. I don’t think Andy will ever live it down! Success! And I’m pretty sure all of my friends were annoyed that while they were studying, I had way too much time on my hands to be making up fairy tales.
Yesterday, Emma and I took the ferry over to Manly Beach and then a bus to North Head where we would begin the Manly Scenic walk. From the North Head is located at the tip of the peninsula, in one direction we could see across to The Gap, Reserve Lighthouse, and the Harbour, and in the other was the Pacific Ocean. We had trouble finding the trail head, so we stopped and asked an elderly couple for directions. They explained directions to us, but apparently we didn’t listen very well, because 20 min. later they drove past and saw that we had missed the trail. They were so nice and ended up driving us to the start of the walk. Finally on the right track, we hiked through the woods, spotted a Bandicoot (an endangered animal that looks like a rat), ducked through an old stone wall, and walked along the coastal cliffs. It was a beautiful 65 and sunny day. Today marked the first day of Australia’s winter...I could definitely get used to a place that calls this winter weather!
After skyping with my family today...the next time I see them will be in person! I can’t believe how fast time flies! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Talk to you soon!
Cheers, Betsy

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Here it goes!

Wow it has been a while. Sorry for the long absence of got a little hectic there for a while. So this is going to be a very long post to get you all up to date.
Blue Mountains:
Friday: I went on a camping trip with my outdoor education class the first weekend in May. My classmates and I took the train out to a town called Katoomba about 2 hours out of the city. The Blue Mountains are essentially Australia’s Grand Canyon, but instead of the Colorado River at the base there are Gum Tree forests.  The first day we took the Katoomba Scenic Railway, the steepest railway in the world to the base of the mountains and did about a mile hike. At the end of the hike we climbed the Giant Stairway (990 stairs) up to Echoes Point where we had an awesome view of the three sisters. To get back to our bus we took a Cable Car across the canyon and over Katoomba Falls. We went into town to grocery shop and then bussed it out to our cabins in Megalong Valley, that were located on a farm. We had to gather wood and keep a fire going to warm up our cabin. The temperature in the Blue Mountains was a probably at least 15 degrees cooler then Sydney. Later in the evening our whole class made a big bon fire and had s’mores.
Saturday: This was our longest and most challenging hike day. When we started it was early and the valley was full of fog so the bottom of the mountain was not yet visible. We hiked down the side of a mountain, which I believe was just as tiring as climbing up.  Then walked through the Bluegum forest and Grose Valley, and stopped at a river for lunch, before making the long trek up to Govett’s Leap. The hike took us around 6 hours and was a total of 10k (6 miles). The last 2 hours was all uphill, stone stairs, jumping on rocks to cross rivers, and steel stair cases. I could feel the burn! Looking out at what I had just done once I reached the top was such a rewarding feeling and the view was beautiful. It was one of those moments where I felt so alive and thankful. Before heading back we stopped in a town called Blackheath and then on the bus ride to our cabins we saw some kangaroo’s in the wild. That evening we ate dinner as we watched the sunset on the side of the mountains illuminating their orangish colours. Before crashing from the exhausting day we had another bon fire...this time I made a roasted banana with marshmallows and chocolateJ! YUM!
Sunday: Our final hike was at Wentworth Falls. Similar to the two previous hikes we climbed down the side of a mountain, and then walked along the base. We passed by and crossed countless waterfalls before we came to the main waterfall that fell from the top of the mountain. We had lunch at the base of the main waterfall and some people were crazy enough to go for a swim in the freezing water. We climbed back to the top of the mountain on stone stairs, steel stairs, and at one point we had to pull ourselves up by a rope. Once we reached the top we rewarded ourselves with ice cream. While hiking we passed by a checkpoint for the 100km endurance race that was taking place that weekend in the Blue Mountains. The sign said “17 km to go”, tired from our 6 km hike, I couldn’t imagine having already hiked 83 km and still having 17 more! We took the train back to Sydney. It was so nice to get out of the city for a relaxing weekend of hiking and camping! 
The first week of May:
I went to watch some of my friends that play for Sydney Uni water-polo team in their finals at the Olympic Park Aquatic centre. After one of the games, my friend Scotty let Emma and I drive home. I’m pretty sure everyone feared for their lives, but we made it home alive!
The Human Movement (the majority of my classes I took at Sydney were Human Movement) major held a circus themed Harbour cruise. Emma went as a cheetah and I made an Elephant costume. We cruised out of Darling Harbour, under the harbour bridge, around Sydney Harbour, and past the Opera House. On the cruise was dancing and games with all of my classmates.
On Thursday, I met up with my Dad’s Australian friend from work Catherine since she was in town (from Melbourne) making wedding plans. Originally we had planned on grabbing a coffee, but instead she had landed a meeting with a cake decorator so we went and designed a wedding cake instead! It was so much fun. I never knew how much goes into picking out a wedding cake! She showed me around the suburb that she used to live in called Bellmain and then took me through Leichardt, giving me tips along the way about places to visit.
On Friday, I took my friends back to Leichardt (Sydney’s little Italy). Italian restaurants are to Leichardt as Thai restaurants are to Newtown (the suburb I live in). We walked around some little shops and then ended up at a cafe that Catherine had suggested for the best tiramisu gelato EVER!
The Second Week of May:
I was feeling the heat of Uni work, with five assignments all due in the span of 5 days. Friday night I took a break from homework and Emma, Michelle, and I went to a rugby league match out at Olympic Park ANZ stadium. It was the Bulldogs vs. The Dragons. As recommend, we had a beer and a meat pie at the game, a true Australian tradition! After the game we got distracted chatting on the train and missed our stop. We ended up 26 km past where we were supposed to get off in Asquith. While waiting for a train back to where we needed to be, some drunken teenagers were causing trouble and the cops came to take care of the situation and questioned us about what we had witnessed. What should have been a 40 min. train ride home turned into a 3 hour adventure and we got home at 1 am. Surprisingly my first time getting lost in Australia! The rest of the week was spent buckled down in uni work and working at Cold Rock.
The Third Week of May:
Monday I went to with my Australian Film and Theatre class on a tour of the Opera House. We learned about the architect that designed it and the massive amount of time and money that went into it. We got to see inside of the two main theatres which are located in the two main sails. One of the theatres holds everything from rock concerts, to orchestras, to musicals, and the other hosts only opera and ballets. Procrastination at its best I finished all of my uni assignments with minutes to spare. About to go mad, if I looked at my computer or sat in my room any longer I took a study break and went with some friends to watch my friend Shona’s netball game. Netball is a popular female sport in Australia that is similar to basketball or handball. They have to shoot a ball into a hoop that doesn’t have a back board. I gave it a try...pretty tricky! After the game we all went for dinner and ice cream, then it was back to the harsh reality of writing my last and final paper. I worked on my paper all night, only getting two hours of sleep, but turned it in by 9 am when it was due. With two hours to spare before Michelle, Emma, and I were to leave for Melbourne!
Thursday: I was exhausted and loopy from running off of less then two hours of sleep, but so excited to be finished with all of my uni work for the semester! Now it was play time! We got into Melbourne around 3 in the afternoon and took a taxi to Emma’s friend Liam’s (An Australian who studies at the Melbourne Uni and is dating one of Emma’s friends from home who spent a semester abroad) apartment. We dropped our stuff and then Liam and two of his friends took us into the city via the Tram. Unlike Sydney, where the main public transport is Buses, Melbourne has a tram (trolley like) system. We went to a place called the Roof Top, and that is what it was. An outdoor bar with lounge chairs on the top of a roof overlooking the city. After hanging out there for a bit, we went for dinner (dumplings) at a Chinese restaurant that was hidden away back in a little alley. Melbourne has heaps of character and is full of little nooks and crannies. Every alley way is full of cafes, pubs, and shops. We went back to Liams, and played some n64 Mario Cart before getting ready and going out in downtown Melbourne to a place called Perseverance that played tons of 90’s music—my favourite! We danced all night... I haven’t danced that much in a long time! I surprisingly was still functioning after my lack of sleep. I had an Austin Powers style dance off with one Liam’s friends, and I’m pretty sure I lost, but learned some new moves! While taking a break from dancing I was approached by a guy and he asked me, “Aren’t you my wife?” I think I surprised him when I replied, “Yes, aren’t you supposed to be at home right now with the least tell me you took the dog out!” and this sort of conversation continued for a few min. before I returned to the dance floor with my friends.
 Friday: Liam took us to his favourite cafe in Brunswick, Mule for breaky. I was feeling revived after getting a good nights rest and ready to go explore Melbourne. We took the tram downtown and walked down Bourke St., one of the main shopping streets. Then went to see the Parliament house, St. Patricks Cathedral, and then to a little cocktail lounge called Madam Brussels. It was old English country club themed, with patio furniture, and grass inside and an outside balcony overlooking Bourke St. We sat down outside and I ordered a cupcake. We then walked down to Federation square and met up with our friend Lindsey and her friend from home Carrie who was visiting from home. We walked up and down some alleys in search for a little cafe for dinner, and ended up at an Italian restaurant called the Spaghetti Tree, which reminded me of the Spaghetti Warehouse from home. After dinner we shopped a little before we went back to Liam’s where we all just hung out for the night chatting.
Saturday: We got up early and went to the Melbourne Markets. Before shopping around, we went for breaky across the street at the Market Star Cafe. At the markets they had $8 live chickens and Emma was tempted to buy one, but we talked her out of it. In the afternoon we went over to Ethad Stadium to watch an AFL (Australian Rules Football: a cross between football and soccer, a fast paced sport played on a 150m long oval) game. It was the Bulldogs vs. The Kangaroos and the Bulldogs won. We were cheering for the Bulldogs and Liam let me borrow a hat, Emma a jersey, and Michelle bought a Bulldogs scarf at the markets earlier that day. We met Liam’s brother and parents at the game.  There was fight during the game between the players which spiced up the action of the game. After the game we walked down to an area called the Docklands, which is where there are boats docked and restaurants and bars along the water. On the way back to Liam’s we stopped in a little Irish pub called the Drunken Poet, and then we got pizza for dinner.
Sunday: Emma, Michelle, and I went down to St. Kilda the beachy area of Melbourne. We had breaky at a Beatle’s themed cafe called Abbey Road. Walking through the town of St. Kilda, we passed by countless cake shops. After breakfast we went to Melbourne’s, Luna Park (an amusement park like Coney Island, there is also a Luna Park in Sydney). There were funky mirrors that make us look shorter then we are and we had fun taking silly pictures. Along the beach there were markets and then we walked out on the St. Kilda pier. From St. Kilda we took a cab to Brighton Beach to see the painted houses on the beach. Apparently people spend a killing to own these little huts to house their beach stuff. When we got back to Liams that night, Liam’s friend Andy had offered to drive us to the Great Ocean Road. We stayed with some of Andy’s friends an hour on our way to the Great Ocean Road in Geelong. They made us dinner and we chatted, watched an Australian TV show called Under Belly, and played fifa on the play station.
Monday: We started our drive early. Our first stop was in a town called Torque at the beach, then a beach in Je Junc, and from there we went to Bells Beach. Bells Beach is where a major Australian professional surfing competition is held each year. We stopped in a town called Anglesee for breaky at a little cafe. The road winded along ocean cliffs. We stopped at the split point lighthouse, the Great Ocean Road sign for pictures, and passed a ‘Reedy Creek’. We passed through the town of Lorne, and then got ice cream at Dooney’s homemade ice cream shop in Apollo Bay the last major town before we reached the 12 Apostles. We didn’t realize that we were running low on gas and the E light went on with the closest gas station 30 min away. Andy was putting the car in Neutral on the down hills until we came across an old fashioned single gas pump on the side of the road. Emma and Andy had had an ongoing joke going on that Andy was going to propose to her at The 12 Apostles. So when we got there and were walking along the path, Andy jokingly got down on one knee with a candy gummy ring and asked her to marry him. The 12 Apostles were really neat, but there are only 8 still standing because 4 have collapsed into the ocean. After the 12 Apostles we drove the 3 hr. Drive back to Melbourne and just relaxed, because we had to get up at 5 am to catch our flight back to Sydney. It was an amazing trip! I loved the different character of Melbourne, but Sydney still has my heart and feels like home!
Back in Sydney, Fourth week of May:
Where is the time going!? I can’t believe I have been in Sydney for almost 4 months now! Time flies. On Tuesday I went and played laser tag for Shona’s birthday. It was so much fun they had a deal if you played 3 games, my laser tag name was Condor! On Wednesday night Emma and I went over to Scotty and Luke’s to watch the Rugby match “State of Origin”, a three game series 30 yr. tradition of games between New South Wales and Queensland’s best players. It’s a huge sporting event here. They were even showing it in 3d and passing out 3d glasses at the gas station. Queensland won unfortunatelyL! After this week I am officially done with class and all Uni work, so now it’s just play play play yay!!!! On Thursday I booked my flight home for July 4th and then I cried at the thought of leaving. I’m excited to see everyone I miss, but I’m going to miss it here and all of the people I have met. It’s very bitter sweet! To cheer up Emma, Michelle, and I went down to the opera house because they were projecting prints onto it from the Harbour Bridge. They lit it up with cheetah print and all different patterns. Then we went over to the Rocks for dinner at Pan Cakes on the Rocks! We ordered pan cakes of course and they were delicious!! I had blue berry with ice cream and whip cream on top YUM! After dinner we went for coffee at a little cafe called, “G’day Cafe”. This coming week I’m excited to start planning what I want to show and do with my family when they come to visit in June. I have so many things to look forward to in the next month! Next Friday, Emma, Lindsey, and I are going to Fiji for a week!
More exciting adventures to come!  I promise to update you all on my Fijian experience the week I return to Sydney. Now that Uni work is over I should be more on top of things! Until then have a great week! I will be posting pictures soon!
Cheers, Betsy

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm still alive!

Hello all!
Sorry it has been so long since I have written on here. As I reach the end of my semester I have been bombarded with Uni assignments, all which are due this week! The good news is after this week I will be done with Uni and once I return from Melbourne (I'm going there this weekend), I will have a whole bunch of adventures to share and catch you all up on! Oh the suspense.... :)

Until then, have a wonderful rest of the week and weekend!

Cheers, Betsy

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What a week!

This week has been a very influential one in my life.There have been both ups and downs. One thing is for sure, it is a week I will never forget.

We'll start at the beginning...

My 21st Birthday
At midnight on Monday, Emma, Michelle, and I went down the road to the Alfred Hotel to get a beer. We were the only three in the pub, and even though the drinking age is 18 in Australia, we made the bartender ask for my id so we could take a picture.

When I woke up the next morning Emma, Michelle, and Lindsey had decorated my door with birthday signs and streamers. I skyped with my family, and when they appeared on the screen they had balloons and a birthday sign in the background and were singing happy birthday. Half was through skyping, Emma barged into my room throwing balloons everywhere and gave me flowers.

That night, some friends and I got tight a** Tuesday pizza and sat out on the picnic tables to eat. After dinner, my friends gave me a card which they had had a bunch of people sign, a potato peeler, a cookies and cream kit kat (two things believe it or not, I've been wanting ha ha), and a birthday crown for me to wear for the remainder of the night. Later they threw me a birthday party at Lindsey's appartment with cake and everything. From there we went to a couple of local pubs and with the last stop being the Alfred hotel, where we had begun my birthday at. It was a birthday that I will never forget! I am so thankful to have such great friends and family which made my day so special!

Other News
As some of you may know, I have been waiting to hear whether or not I got into my major of Exercise Science at the Ohio State. Thursday morning, I received the email saying that I got in!!! What a relief!! All that work in chemistry last quarter finally paid off! Feeling motivated from the good news..I tried again to find a physio to observe with no luck. However, I did get in touch with someone about helping out with little athletics (a little league track club) and I may be volunteering with that in May.

 Friday-I spent the day at Coogee Beach. As Australia is moving into its cooler season, we are trying to take advantage of every nice day there is! The sun was hot, but the water temperature is dropping because of the cool nights. Friday afternoon a friend we had met in Byron Bay on our mountain climbing adventure came to visit us. His name is Tyler and he is an American studying 2 hrs. north of Sydney up in Newcastle. Tyler, Michelle, Lindsey, Emma, and I got all dressed up that night and went out to a nice birthday dinner at the Rocks. It was our first nice sit down dinner in Sydney. We went to a little Italian place called, Amoroma Ristorante. After dinner we went to the Lowenbrau, where a trumpet player from the band came to our table to play happy birthday, upon my friends request.

Saturday- In the morning I saw that I had missed some text messages from my Dad. My stomach dropped, because all they said were to give him a call as soon as I could. I knew what they had to mean. My Grandpa was diagnosed with Leukemia a couple of months ago, and not given much time. When I called my Dad, he told me the news. It makes me sad that today was his funeral and I am half way around the world. But I think what upsets me even more is that I didn't get to visit with him in his final months. He will be missed by many, but there are so many stories to tell about him to reminisce. One of my favorite stories is the one about when a horse bit him. That horse didn't know who he was messing with because my Grandpa turned around and punched the horse in the head and knocked it to the ground. My Mom always jokes that she could write a book full of Levi stories. I just want my family to know that my thoughts and my prayers go home to them in this time of loss. 

Saturday evening, Emma and I went to an Australian friend, Scotts 21st birthday party. Although 21st are big in the U.S., they are big here too, but in a different way. Families rent out venues, get dressed up, and close friends and family members give speeches in honor of the birthday boy.

Sunday- ANZAC Day:
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

To celebrate ANZAC day our apartment complex had a bbq with an inflatable twister and bull riding. I only last 30 seconds before getting bucked off. In the afternoon Emma and I played tour guide and showed Tyler around the city and took him down to Darling Harbour.

Monday- We didn't have class because of the Holiday. I spent the day preparing for two uni presentations that were this week. The first was a debate in my fitness training class, in which my team argued that cardio is the key to weight loss. The second was a presentation in my sports leisure and youth course about the experiences of Aboriginal people and sport. Monday night Emma, Michelle, and I booked flights to Melbourne for a weekend in the end of May. I started to panic as we planned the trip when I looked at my calendar. My weekends are filling up and my time in Australia is flying by. I don't want it to end!!!

Thanks to everyone for all of the birthday cards!!! Sorry for no pictures, the uploader was acting wacky. I'll add some later if it starts working!

Have a wonderful week!         

  Cheers, Betsy