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

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