Monday, April 12, 2010

Mid-Semester Break

 I hope everyone had a great Holiday! I just got home yesterday from my Mid-Semester break vacation. I had an amazing time, and was amazed at how much coming back to Sydney felt like coming home.  So here is the recap of my latest adventures:

Gold Coast: Surfers Paradise-
Saturday: Emma, Lindsey, and I left in the evening and flew to the Gold Coast where we would be staying for the next three nights in Surfers Paradise (a town that is part of the Gold Coast).  There we stayed in an older hotel which they had turned into a youth hostel. We shared a room for 4 with a Swiss girl, Yamush, who was travelling alone. I really enjoyed staying in the Hostel because of all the young travellers you meet from around the world. We met some Australians up the coast for the weekend, Irish, Canadians, English, Dutch, and French along with other Americans all in our hostel.
Sunday (Easter): My friends and I asked if there would be any sunrise beach services, but no one seemed to know of any. So we ended up going down the road to a church the front desk had mentioned called SurfCity. We thought day light savings time had occurred, because it had in New South Wales, but soon found out that Queensland does not, and showed up to church an hour late. The church service was unlike any I had ever been to before, but seen on TV. A lot of “Hallelujahs” and “you are healed”.  After an hour had passed and there had been no sermon and only healing for the sick (don’t get me wrong the sick need to be healed, but we were just looking for a nice Easter sermon and praise service) we decided to leave early for brunch, to exchange Easter baskets, and relax on the beach.
Monday: Another wonderful beach day. We took lots of goofy photos and Emma and I ran along the beach. I enjoyed our time in Surfers. It reminded me a lot of Florida, a very commercial beach town with high rises and amusement parks.

Byron Bay-
Tuesday: We took a Grayhound 2 hours south of Surfers to Byron Bay. Byron is a way more laid back and un-comercial (they outlawed McDonalds) beach town. Unfortunately we arrived a day after their big Blue’s Festival had ended with headliners such as Jack Johnson and The Fray. Cape Byron is the most Eastern point of mainland Australia. So Tuesday afternoon we did a coastal walk out to the exact most eastern point and the Cape Byron light house.

Wednesday: We booked a cheap tour to Minyon Falls and Nimbin via “The Happy Coach.” It was an interesting day to say the least. The falls poured into a gorge from 100m high. On the way to Nimbin we spotted a koala in the wild up in a tree. Nimbin got its reputation as Australia’s hippie town after the Aquarius music festival (Australia’s Woodstock) took place back in 1969 and the town thrives off of this reputation for tourism. Not exactly my kind of scene, but it was neat to see. That evening when we got back to Byron we met two English guys, Tim and James, a Danish guy Michelle, and an American, Tyler. We all sat around and visited at the hostel then went out to the local pubs.

Thursday: Emma and I got up early to walk on the beach, and saw a dolphin. The rest of the day we spent swimming, lounging, and playing Frisbee on the beach with the friends we had met the previous evening. That afternoon Lindsey was scheduled to catch a train for Sydney at 5 and Emma and I were to get on a bus for Brisbane at 7. After chatting with our new friends and hearing about their plans to climb Mount Warning (The first spot in Australia to see the sunrise) at 2 am Friday morning to watch the sunrise at 6 am Emma and I decided to reschedule our bus for the following day and join them. Probably one of the best decisions of my life! Unfortunately Lindsey still had to leave us for Sydney.

Friday: Possibly the best day of my life! James, Tim, Tyler, Michelle, Emma, and I rented a car and left at 2 am for an hour drive out to Mt. Warning. All of the guys had head flashlights, but Emma and I shared a little key chain flash light for the 2 hour trek up the mountain. On the way up we passed two snakes. There were a couple of times when we turned off all of our flash lights and we couldn’t see a foot in front of our faces. About 10 minutes from the top the path got extremely steep and we were holding on a chain and climbing up the side of rocks to reach the peak. 

We got to the top about 30 min before sunrise, but it was so foggy that we could only catch glimpses of sun rays and we still could not see the scenery that surrounded us below.

As we waited for the fog to disperse we met a French guy with dread locks who was carving a didgeridoo. He climbed up the mountain the previous day (barefoot!) and camped overnight. We gathered some wood and sat around the fire a few hours until the fog dispersed. By this time we were all delirious from lack of sleep and I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard or long as I did that morning.

The views from the top were amazing! It was so neat to finally see our surroundings which we were blinded to by darkness on the way up.

We got to the bottom around 10 am and departed for our next stop...Nimbin. I never thought that would be a place I went to twice in my life and I visited it twice in 3 days ha ha. But the guys hadn’t been there and wanted to check it out so we did a quick stop by. While in Nimbin we asked the locals if there was any place to go swimming or cliff jumping. They suggested that we go to a place called Breaking Rock a little out in the country. It was AWESOME! There was a cliff about 50 ft high and at the top was a rope to swing off of into the water. There was also a 15 ft drop off next to a waterfall.
 After swimming for a while we decided to make our second campfire of the day. Before we had left on Thursday night we had heard that James, Tim, and Michelle had never had a s’more, so we brought supplies and made some by the water. They loved them! We had to make do with chocolate coated digestive cookies because it was the closest thing Australia has to a graham cracker, but they were delicious!

On the way back to Byron the guys all spotted a kangaroo jumping into the bush by the road, but I missed it L! Right before town the sun was setting, so I captured both the sunrise and sunset on camera. After spending so much time with our four new friends, Emma and I had felt like we had known them from for years. It was such a neat dynamic of people: 2 giggling loopy American girls, an ex-professional soccer player from Denmark, a hyper chatty American boy, and two goofy “brilliant” Brit’s who are best mates.

Still Friday: We got back to Byron just in time to catch our bus to Brisbane and we both slept the whole way. When we got to Brisbane around 9:30 pm we found a hostel close to the Transit Station, unloaded our stuff, and went out exploring. As we walked down the road we saw a statue of a campfire and took picture or our third campfire of the day.

 We made our way through the Queen Street mall and then crossed the river to South Bank to ride the Brisbane Wheel (a huge Ferris wheel). We got there 20 min before it closed and had it all to ourselves for a night view of the city. Exhausted from only 4 hours of sleep in the past 40 hours we headed back to our hostel.

Saturday: Emma and I got up around 8 and took the train over to Fortitude Valley for some breaky. We were surprised at how quite Brisbane was on a Saturday morning, but it was a nice change from the hustle and bustle in Sydney. After breakfast we walked through china town, and then to the river to catch the river cat down the Brisbane River.

We got off at South Bank, a nice park with pools, creeks, fountains, street markets, and gardens. From there we crossed the river to check out more of the city.

We passed a casino, and I played my first slot machine. Emma and I each put in $1 and had no success. We revisited the Queens Street Mall, an outdoor shopping and cafe area, full of street performers.

Our time in Brisbane was dwindling fast since we had a train to catch at 3 pm, but we both agreed that we had gotten a good feel for the city in our 18 hr visit. The 15 hr. train was a nice way to catch up on journaling and sleep!

 I will never forget this Easter break and all of the great people I met on my adventures!
I hope I didn’t drag this post out too long. I didn’t want to leave anything out! I wish everyone the best in the next week.
Cheers, Betsy

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