Sunday, October 28, 2007

who wears short shorts?

aussie boys where short shorts.

its true. its true. the aussie boys wear absurdly short shorts. i mean, I honestly have no complaint...because most of them you know. have nicely sculpted...well ya know. but i have come to the conclusion that it is from Aussie rules football. i know that i have talked a lot about Footy in the past but i am not sure if i ever mentioned that the men/boys who play wear very short shorts and tight fitting muscle shirts. it feels as though they are stuck in the sports of the 70's in the states. remember back in those days (well, i dont really remember but i have picture proof from my dad), when the pro bball players wore extremely short shorts. well thats how it is. except its 2007. its crazy. its almost like they are wearing the short spandex that girl volleyball players wear...except they are unfortunately not spandex. BUT getting back to my original point...the boys here wear these short shorts to class. yes, to class. its quite the contrast because the girls are pretty europeanly (?) overdressed, and the boys walk in with their short shorts, havaianas and polos. its actually quite funny because sometimes its only 65 degrees outside...and just because the sun is shining...they rock the short shorts. with pride. they keep rockin' em and i will keep watchin' em. haha.

well back to the rest of the week. tuesday was pretty much filled with work, errands and studying. not that interesting. wednesday was more of the same...except we had our last PA's wednesday evening. i cant believe how things are already becoming "last(s)". it feels like i just got here...and i'm getting ready to leave. it is pretty surreal, and i really don't want to talk about it. But wednesday evening was fun and thursday was more work and such and then we went to the MUSEX! party @ Puggs. it was most likely our last thursday @ puggs...but you never really know with that. it was a lot of fun though...a good way to end that tradition. friday, MEGGIE CAME!!! wooohoo! yah, so i just got a bunch of studying and work done before she got here (oh, and siobhan left for sydney on thursday), and she is in Melbourne until Nov. 5th which is really exciting. Friday night we just stayed in and went over to Kristen's and watched a movie...and a night off was definitely needed. on saturday, we went to the market in the morning, came back and chilled out, and then headed off to the royal botanical gardens. It was a beautiful Melbourne day and the gardens were equally as beautiful. Oh, and the gardens are was me, meggie and leah and I think we all underestimated the size of the gardens. but they were gorgeous and we saw at least three weddings (I would LOVE to get married here...haha) and just enjoyed the beautiful day. we then headed back to the village and relaxed before getting ready for the CASINO! woohoo! So, last night we went to the Melbourne Crown Casino which is one of the MUST DO things while you are here. so we did it. and it was great. but never needed to repeat...haha. it is absolutely MASSIVE and i have seen my share of large casinos especially in Atlantic City but it was HUGE and went on forever. The Casino is in the Crown Plaza Hotel on the River so it is absolutely gorgeous at night and packed and just insane. not only is there a huge Casino, but there are 2 big night clubs and at least 8-10 bars/pubs with live entertainment on weekends. oh, and did i mention, the MALL inside of the hotel and the largest interactive indoor amusement park, and the bowling alley? yup. well they are all inside of the Crown. I guess it is technically also known as the Crown Entertainment Complex...but its completely massive and i'm not sure it ever ends. CRAZY. but awesome. Oh! and highlight of the Casino was that we actually got to see the FIRE SHOW! the fireshow is something that appears on many postcards of Melbourne but it is rare that you actually get to see it and we did! and it was just as awesome as it looks in the postcards! i don't really need to ever go back to the Casino but it was something that was fun to do for an evening.

today was pretty lame. i am just pretty much swamped with work and such. so tomorrow will be much of the same but i do have stuff planned for she wont be bored with me! haha. but yes, i am enjoying my last days here. but i don't want to leave. and i'm not quite sure how i am going to deal with it. until next time...CHEERS!

Monday, October 22, 2007

you say aussie...i say open.

finally back on the game. not the blog game persay. but definitely the field trip game.

so i believe that i left off with a very un-interesting week. well it got better. so, on wednesday i just had classes and my last Prac! (lab) of the semester! wooohoo! that was definitely a reason for rejoicing. but it also hit me then that i only have a month left here. a month. where did it go. as much as i want to see my friends, family...etc i am not ready to leave here. the easy thing about going home in september was the fact that i was coming back to australia. but when i go home now, i wont know when i will be back (hopefully 2010) but yet. thats a ways away...and i dont really want to leave this place that i now call home quite yet.

so thursday was just more class and also we went to puggs on thursday night which was fun. it was just me and siobhan and we met up with alycia who was there with a party for one of the girls in her college. it was definitely a good time and i really just wanted to dance. and i did. and it was wonderous.

friday! finally a field trip! so spring in melbourne is finally SOLIDLY underway with consistent temperatures in the 70s-80s and it is absolutely wonderful. australians are always really happy...but they are even happier when the sun is shining. so our fieldtrip on friday, was a picnic to the RipponLea estate about 7 km outside of the city. the estate is some mansion from some guy...kind of like a Mount Vernon (not the campus, gdub...) type of place. it was an absolutely beautiful day so we took the tram into the city which was awesome because it was great to see everyone just enjoying the day. at the state library(in the middle of the CBD), everyone was sitting out on the lawns and the same went for federation square too. so the estate was south east of the city but it was only a 12 minute train ride once we got to flinders street station. none of us (me, siobhan, leah & kristen) had ever take the train before so that was an added plus to the adventure. so we got there...found our way to the estate (with the help of this adorable woman) proceeded to the lawn and had our picnic lunch. it was perfect. although the bugs are now out which is probably the only negative the nicer was great. we didn't take the tour of the inside of the mansion but we walked around the grounds of the mansion which had various lakes, gorgeous flora and fauna (yah bio) and scenery all around. so that was a really awesome field trip and you can check out pictures on my facebook photo albums.

friday night was pretty uneventful...troy was on TV so we watched that but nothing much really happened. lame. i know. but we did have a long but great day! oh and i almost forgot...we stopped at melbourne central (one of the big shopping centers in the city) to go to this store that leah bought a really cute dress at earlier that day. we all got something but then siobhan and i both bought our first pair of havaianas!!! wooohoo!!! for those who dont know, havaianas are THE international flip flop. they really don't sell them in the states but they are HUGE in australia and pretty much everywhere else. they really don't look like much but they are probably one the most comfortable pairs of flip flops...without having to wear them in...i have ever had (rainbows...once worn it might still take the cake). i bought a pair of pink ones...but i am already obsessed...and i think im going to get another pair of the special aussie ones before i leave.

saturday: so alycia and I were very excited for this day to come. for those who don't know, the australian open is not played in sydney but rather it is played in australia's sporting capital...Melbourne. so alycia and i have been saying that we were going to go to Rod Laver Arena (the center arena) of the australian open since we got here..and we finally went on saturday. we took a guided tour (only $ 9! was a steal) and toured the australian open grounds and got some amazing knowledge. there were only 5 people on our tour so it was really nice and personal (the earlier tour had 20) and we were able to spend more time and do cooler stuff. if i detailed everything that i did on the tour i would be here forever so i am just going to share the highlights. we were able to go into the pressbox...the pressbox that they WILL be using to question all of the players come january 14-27th. i sat in the seat that andy roddick, james blake, rodger federer...etc will be sitting in! we also went into the MALE changing room. AWESOME. it was actually a pretty modest place (the public locker rooms almost looked nicer) but i was in the room that the aforementioned super stars will also be in and have also been in. alycia and I like idiots went into a couple of the shower stalls...because perhaps just perhaps andy roddick and alycia's favorite, the aussie, lleyton hewitt were there. in those stalls. ahh! we also went into one of the VIP skyboxes...i'm talking $4000/match. sweeet. but the best part was definitely going onto the court at rod laver. granted, there is no court there right now...but to be standing where this wonderful championship grand slam will be played was unbelievable. unbelievable. so an interesting fact about the upcoming years australian open: we couldn't actually walk onto any of the "courts" because they have torn up all of the courts. you ask why? because this year, they are putting down a whole new type of court. the open was previously played on the Rebound Ace Court but now they are putting down a new WM Loud court which main purpose is to provide a more level playing "field". so they are moving from the standard to a dark blue. so currently all of the courts were just a layer of cement. but all in all, it was a great day! a great tour! gahh I WANT TO BE HERE FOR THE AUSSIE OPEN. they have already sold out the championship matches (aussies love their sport!). the coolest part is that because we aren't quite in season can just walk around the grounds without any worries. it obviously isn't like that once the open starts or in december...but now. yes. and it was great. supposedly, Jelena Dokic was at the park that same day but we missed her! sad day!

sunday- work work work. finals and papers just around the corner so that is what my life is now. BUT i had the best 2 hour skype conversation with my ENTIRE family...although it took away valuable studying time it made me realize all the great things i am going back home to. it also got me really excited because everyone is coming to NY for christmas this year. should be a blast. oh! and i've officially changed my ticket so i am now home for thanksgiving. although i would have rather had the extra time here...i'm going home for my mom primarily. my dad too (obvi). but my mom got really emotional about being away from me for the first thanksgiving ever. so i'm going home earlier. and i am happy about it.

that leads to today. classes. work. classes. blaahh. now-> aussie idol results show. so this week is the last week of classes!!!! CRAZY. i could go into greater depth about that...but i'm not going to. haha. so i will get back to you later in the week...have a good one! Cheers!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

can i have some tomato sauce with my chips please?

only if you want to pay 20 cents a package. yeah, thats right. tomato sauce (ketchup) costs twenty cents a package at most fast food restaurants. who knew that the rest of the world does not assume that chips come with tomato sauce? that is a very interesting observation that i have noticed in my recent adventures into various fastfood establishments to see the similarities and differences. you would think, that mcdonalds, an american company and KFC, another american company, would do the american thing...and not charge you for tomato sauce. wrong assumption. i have never lived/been to a country where tomato sauce was not automatically served with chips but here...they don't do it. for any of my friends studying in england, do they too not give you tomato sauce with chips? maybe its just the states that are different in this respect but need to hop on the bandwagon because chips are SOOO much better with tomato sauce than without. Point USA.

another thing about the fast food industry here...we have burger king, they have hungry jacks. same establishment. same owners. same whopper. different name....crazy huh? i think i actually like the name 'hungry jacks' a little more. at least, you can definitely create so many more fun jingles with that name than burger thing. i guarantee you have already started humming a tune in your head. oh and mcdonalds is obviously still mcdonalds...but their mcdonalds comes with this placed called McCafe. mmmhmmm. oohhh yeah. now McCafe doesn't just store the $ 1 hot delicious apple pies that we are all accustomed to but it has everything from chocolate cheesecake, to regular cheese cake, to a variety of pies, brownies, desserts and cookies. it is basically a bakery inside of mcdonalds and they also serve starbucks like coffee drinks and such. Come on US. catch up. australia is way ahead in this category. Point AUSSIE LAND.

maybe in the states we do have 40 cent and 50 cent cones...but if we do...i have never heard of it. thats right folks. both hungry jacks and mcdonalds both cell 40 cent and 50 cent ice cream cones respectively...and i'm not just saying that actual does include the soft serve deliciousness ice cream of your choice. 40 & 50 cents! its a steal. i pure steal. and it is QUITE delicious. and don't you worry does serve flurries here. but really. 40/50 cent cones! Point AUSSIE LAND.

unfortunately, a long with the rest of this expensive country comes the lack of dollar menu. how do you survive australia? how do you survive? so there is no dollar menu at the aforementioned establishments which leads to a very expensive fast food outing (goes against the whole point). Point USA.

oh. and there is no wendy's. god i miss those 99 cent chicken mcnuggets. Point USA.

but there is also no Taco Bell. good on ya Aussie Land, good on Ya. Point AUSSIE LAND.

however, although late nite food outings to occur for most people to these various fast food establishments. the smart ones know that your best late night munchy food comes from the coveted pizza/chinese/souvlaki/kebab/fried food deliciousness restaurant (sorta kinda) place. i know you must be thinking, can any place have all those different types of food. well, they do. and the places are usually not that large either. how they manage to pull it off, no one will ever know. but one does know that when you may have some munchies due to the consumption of a particular substance or just plain late night will find one of these places. at least a 2$ slice of pizza, a couple of dim sims, fries and a lamb kebab. yes. every last one of them in one night (just kidding...but you get the picture). oh, and they are cheap. it is melbourne's tribute to the lack of a DCsnacks program. 3 am non/fast food food. Point AUSSIE LAND.

no Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Point USA.

no Dunkin Donuts. Point USA.

Tim Tams & Cadbury Chocolate point AUSSIE LAND.

Little Italy open until 2-3 am on a weeknight...point AUSSIE LAND (this includes delicious Gelato places).

Starbucks/Gloria Jeans/Hudson's Coffee. no points allotted.

Pizza Hut/ Dominos. no points allotted.

oh. Delicious CHEAP Sushi. Point Aussie Land.

Paying for Soy Saunce, Ginger and Wasabi. Point USA.

as you can see, there are many differences and similarities between the fastfood nations of these various countries. some for the good. some for the bad. the problem is that although the people in Aussie land seem to eat smaller portions and appear to be smaller than the average american...supposedly (according to statistics and whatever), aussie land also has a major obesity problem. who knew? so i guess you have your pluses and minuses for both places. but all in all many similarities do remain.

so there is your guide to fast food in aussie land. good luck. but bring your own tomato sauce.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

lazy days

ahh yes. sadly enough, birthday week is pretty much over. well, not officially but pretty much. sad day. but the week as a whole was very solid.

wednesday: lots and lots and lots of classes. that pretty much summed up the day and i went and hung out with the family that night at the hotel. oh, and it was kristen's birthday!!! wooohooo!!! so we hit up PA's and had an awesome time and celebrated the 20th year of kristen berberich. but yes, that was pretty much wednesday. oh, and i somehow lost my AMAZING sunnies that i bought while i was home...sad sad day. perhaps i will be able to track them down around uni at some point. but doubtful.

thursday: not that interesting of a day! oh wait. just kidding. well in the morning after my class, i took the fam to the market which was an experience. we first stopped to get some breakfast and then they were overwhelmed by the amazingness of the market (as is everyone). we were there for at least 2.5 hrs and only made it through 2 rows of sheds (compared to about 20 total). they also regretted not listening to me, when i told them to wait until the market to buy their souvenirs. they still bought tons of stuff and i got a little overwhelmed just thinking about all the christmas presents and souvenirs that i have to get from the market before i come home (which is only a little over a month now...SAD SAD SAD DAY). i think i might have to start making my list and going each week and getting a few things at a time. well, then later that afternoon i had a few classes, came back and took a nap (was SOOO EXHAUSTED) and then headed over to the hotel to spend some time with the fam (last night in melbourne before going home SAD SAD DAY). so that was solid and then i just came back to the room and pretty much crashed.

friday: again...pretty boring. i went to the hotel before my 2 classes and saw the family off. i then went to my classes, and then the girls surprised kristen for her birthday present and took her on a gelato tour. so we stopped at 4 gelato places and gave her tasks to complete at each place. solid afternoon (although it was raining off and on all day). that night, it was nikki's birthday, so siobhan & i headed over to brunswick street (just for a little) to wish her a happy birthday at her 21st celebration. we were able to see her and hang out for a minute, but neither me or siobhan were in the mood for partying that night. however, we determined that brunswick street is pretty awesome ( a mix between adams morgan & georgetown...for all you district folk) and we would have to come back and create our own bar/pub/club crawl down it one evening.

saturday: it was pretty much a day filled with work. alycia and kristen came over in the afternoon to join us for work. actually, that morning...siobhan, leah and I woke up at 7 am and went and worked out! it was fantastic (i actually have skyrocketed myself back into working out). we did a very very intense sprint work out. solid. but yeah, we just did work that afternoon which eventually led us all to procrastination (duh) and then they left. we ate dinner. and got ready for our self made bar crawl down russell street (a main street downtown). it was a pretty chilly night but we had a good time. the highlight of the night was this place called trader bar. trader bar is a pretty sweet place because it is set up like the stock market and the prices of all the drinks, whether it be a cocktail, an american beer, a european beer...etc all fluctuaed every 12 minutes like the stock market. SOOOO COOL. i know your jealous. but yes. so saturday night was solid.

sunday: more work and we also had a bbq in the courtyard which was nice. i went to church this afternoon which was awesome as usual (i've missed it for about the past month since i haven't been here) and now that leads me here. doing pretty much nothing except watching tv and not doing work. well...tomorrow night should be a lot of is andrew's 21st birthday and we also have another bbq before that. so it should be a really fun night.

i have some observations...but i'm getting lazy. so i'll post them later. g'day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

and with an element of surprise...

ahh yes. so among many things that have happened since i last posted, the most important is obviously the fact that i recently turned 20! woohoo! although i believe that even prior to the day, i was already having a quarter life crisis, and though i dont feel any different...its true. im 20. but more about that later.

sunday we went to the blue mountains which was great. it was absolutely gorgeous up there and although the blue mountains aren't "blue" per say, the mist that comes down over them is blue and it was captivating. it was nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of sydney (although i do want to go back before i leave), and just enjoy the beauty of australia for a day. the fam enjoyed it too which was nice. it was definitely worthy of the top 10 list of things i wanted to see in australia, and i think that if you come should definitely go check them out too. in comparison, for those of you who have been to the grand had the same sort of feel except it had trees?...if that makes any sense to you instead of just rock. it also wasn't quite on the same aspect of the grand canyon but i think thats the most similar thing to it (that i have seen) in the states. i got to see the three sisters, these cool rock formations off one of the mountains which was pretty awesome and also a pretty sweet waterfall. i think the craziest part about the mountains themselves is that they are very vast but not connected by sight? i'm not sure how much sense that just made...but in order for you to get to other parts of the mountains you have to drive every which way to see all the parts of it.

for lunch, we stopped in this really cool town called Leurna which on that day had a huge garden festival going on. it was very very very small mountain town (all of them were), but for the garden festival what happens is that all the members of the community have these unbelievably beautiful gardens and on that day...everyone opens up their back yards or whatever and you can just go in and out and see everyones gardens. pretty sweet/crazy ya think? we didn't go into anyone's gardens because i think thats pretty weird but there was also a huge market/festival going on in the main street of the town which we paroused for a while. there were various arts and crafts vendors, food and all that. this just added to my list of another cool market that i've been to in australia. i believe that they are very popular around here because i am pretty sure that you can find one anywhere in australia on any weekend. its a pretty cool culture though. oh, and one of the best parts of the market/festival was this turkish food vendor. they were selling these things called g
รถlezme which was delicious. it is almost like a very very very thin pita like bread that they put spinach, cheese and minced beef in and almost cook it like a quesadilla. DELICIOUS. if you are ever in turkey, or ever go to a turkish restaurant or whatever...get that.

after lunch, we headed off to the wildlife park. now, i have had my share of wildlife parks and the fam went to the zoo the other day so i wasn't sure about this part of the tour but it ended up being awesome. they got to get up, close and personal with the kangaroos and koalas which i believe they enjoyed and the highlight for me was the LITTLE PENGUINS!!! now, although i told you a while ago when i went to phillip island that was the primary reason. however, if you also remember i told you that we were not allowed to take pictures of them...but at the park we were so now i have pictures of the little penguins and they were adorable. sweet life.

on the way back, before we took the river cruise, we stopped at the olympic park which was awesome. i wish we had more time (i only had10 minutes) because i couldn't see everything...which was dissapointing but to just to be there was great. loved it (and i want to go back for longer)! oh, and i also decided that i MUST get to china next summer for the olympics. somehow, someway...i gotta get there.

monday morning we headed to melbourne and i was just so excited to have them finally come to my city. it was an early flight but i made it back in time for my classes which was good. i took them to lygon street for a little bit on monday but they were pretty exhausted and just relaxed for the day. monday night also began my & kristen's birthday festivities. the remaining four, took us on a surprise dinner trip to the Pancake Parlour and it was delicious! we all had pancake desserts for dinner and it was a swell way to begin the bday celebration. i had pancakes topped with hot apples with cinnamon and cream and it was AMAZING. we all decided that we would definitely go back there again sometime.

tuesday= BIRTHDAY!!!Wooohooo! the family wen't on a day trip to the great ocean road and they loved it which was great. i only had two classes so i went to them, had lunch with alycia and siobhan at st. marys, and then went into the city and had some karri birthday time. it was perfect. i bought myself a crepe which was delicious before heading back to the village to do some work. last night, we went out to dinner with the fam to this very good italian restaurant on lygon street. i had tiger prawns (shrimp) with risotto and it was delicious. but we definitely saved the best for last with dessert. i had STICKY DATE PUDDING (cake)...obviously and it was delicious. i made mom, yvette and bishop taste it as well and they enjoyed it equally. the biggest surprise of the evening was when siobhan and i returned to our room after dinner. i opened the door and was welcomed with a "surprise" from the remaining four with insane decorations and stuff everywhere. i had no idea! they got me! it was perfect though. i don't think that i could have asked for a better way to end my bday and for a better group of friends to end it with. ahh, i love the 6 so much and am already getting sad to think about how i am going to deal with not having them a mile away at any point during the day. they bought me a freddo ice cream cake which although i was stuffed from dinner, we still ate it and it was still delicious. but yes, so i had a wonderful bday and the bday celebrations aren't stopping because today its kristen's bday (surprises are in the works), tomorrow is george's and friday is nikkis. i guess you know what i'll be doing all weekend...muahaha.

well, i think that is it for now. i have some more important observations to share with you but i must be off to class now. until then, Cheers!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

dude, where are the whales?

g'day from sydney! so i got into sydney yesterday to meet up with the fam for the weekend before bringing them back to melbourne for the week. i got in at about 3:10ish in the afternoon and caught the shuttle to the hotel. ahh, i also forgot how much i love staying into hotels over hostels. you never realize how luck you are until you are forced to backpack around australia sleeping from one hostel to the next. now, don't get me wrong...i've met some awesome people and had some great times at these various hostels and backpackers resorts but there is nothing like a nice hotel. ahh, sweet life.

so it was a beautiful day in sydney when i arrived....about 75-80 degrees which was a nice contrast from the 65-70 of melbourne. we didn't do much last night as they are still pretty jetlagged so it just mainly consisted of me writing emails just to stay up later last night. i felt like an idiot because i shouldve called sam and stella then but it completely slipped my mind. i also feel bad asking the fam to let me go out because they are here to see me and so i feel obligated/i want to spend as much time with them as possible.

today, was pretty great. i got to see the harbour bridge and the opera house which were honestly two of my main objectives in this trip. i mean, i think thats the main objective for at least 99.5% of the people who come here. and it was a gorgeous day so it was absolutely perfect. the opera house was as unbelievable as the pictures make it out to be and the INSIDE is even more outstanding than the outside. we went on a guided tour and we had a great tour guide named Peter who was very engaging, funny and intelligent. my favorite part was definitely the concert hall which holds the largest pipe organ in the world. over 10,000 PIPES! insane!! the hall itself was absolutely outstanding and definitely the highlight of the entire structure. i learned so much that i would have never known about the strucutre and everything so if you ever get to australia (which you must) and you ever get to sydney (which you will) you must go on the opera house tour. trust me, looking at it from the outside is a great post card but seeing it from the inside is magical.

now, i really wanted to explore the rest of the city...check out the chinese gardens, the royal botanical gardens, the government buildings, maybe the aquarium (with the largest collection of species from the great barrier reef) know, do all the touristy things that you are supposed to do. but, the fam really wanted to go whale watching (which i have never done), so i was down for it. we got on the cruise boat and made our way throught the habour (which i didn't realize how HUGE it was...and beautiful) and into the pacific. we were cruising a long in the pacific when all of a sudden we ran into this storm. smack. i felt like i was in castaway without being castaway so i guess it was more like the perfect storm...but you get the picture. up and down, side to side...i definitely was very very very queesy throughout the whole ordeal. and we tried to ride through it but it definitely wasn't working and the storm wasn't holding up at all so we ended up having to turn around. goodbye whales. actually more like, dude...where are the whales? so, on my first trip to go whale watching i don't even get to see any whales. i saw some when i was at fraser island and i didn't even have to leave the shore. so i think that when it comes to whales...i'm going to stick to the beach and seaworld.

by the time we got off of the water, everyone was pretty starved. so we ran some errands and ended up going to this dinner across the street from the hotel called "mama's kitchen". it was actually delicious. i had pesto pasta with chicken which was phenonemal and also Pumpkin soup. i know alycia, you're proud of me. so now we're back at the hotel just relaxing because tomorrow we're going to the blue mountains! i might go and hang out with sam at her apartment later but i am strangely tired and we have to be up way early in the morning for our trip. but yes, i am soooo happy that i am going to the blue mountains because it was definitely on my top 10 of places that i wanted to see in australia. and sofar number 1 and number 2 have yet to be fulfilled (the rock and the reef). but about that...i'm hoping to get at least ONE of those done after my exams are over because i found out earlier this week that i have about 11 days between my last exam and when i leave for the states (don't even get me started on that). so i definitely need to organize a trip of some sort. i also decided that i want to come back to sydney again with some friends because not only did i really not to get to explore the city as much as i would have liked...well actually that is the main reason. oh, and i also definitely want to be able to hang out with sam and stella when i come and visit.

i'm sure you guys are wondering how i feel about sydney compared to melbourne. well, i think sydney is gorgeous (probably just as pretty) but it is so crowded here. now, don't get me definitely gets insane during the weekends and definitely during the day but sydney is a little ridiculous at some point. it is definitely the NYC of australia. i also believe that most of what happens in sydney happens in the CBD (central business district). however, in melbourne that is definitely not the case. most of the culture, diversity and just as much fun occurs outside of the CBD which i definitely love. definitely more tourists in sydney and sydney is taller but mainly there are more tall buildings. i will keep my eyes out for some other stuff but i think thats for now. i will probably come back to this monday (maybe tomorrow if i'm not too tired) but oh lordy, im 3 days away from being 20 and i haven't even begun to think about it. hope you enjoy your weekend! cheers!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

under down under

so this is it. i aim to finish telling you EVERYTHING i did on mid semester take some time. or go and come back. whatever your choice...but here we go.

so i left off with Monday night. so once we got back to hobart, we checked into our crappy/dodgy hostel (it was ok though because the four roomed together) and then headed off with the majority of team IES to get some dinner. we went to this cute Japanese restaurant which was quite good. that night is when my life got turned upside down though. we were at the end of little miss sunshine (good movie, yess i know), when i got a phone call from sharice telling me if i had talked to that night. i said yes, i had because talked to them maybe a couple of hours earlier. then she proceeded to tell me that my grandma had passed the night before. that rocked my world. i really am not going to go much further with this because for those of you who know me, know that i am very close to my grandma. so yea. but that changed my spring break because i ended up having to go back to the states...which i will get to eventually.

tuesday: we went white water rafting which was awesome...the river rapids weren't that intense but our guides were awesome (especially woody who was in our boat) and it was especially fun because "the 6" was in a boat together. so we tacked the rapids and eventually as we were making our way down to the river it just ends up being boat battles with people jumping from boat to boat trying to get people to fall in the river (it was very shallow). we had one official boat race and of course the 6 won. thats right, the girls kicked butt. per usual. but yes, that was a great way to get my mind off of things and just enjoy the day. we then headed off to the airwalk which was a 2 hour bus ride away but everyone passed out so it was good. then when we got to the airwalk, we had this MASSIVE bbq lunch awaiting us with my favorite aussie sausages and tons of delicious food. pleasant surprise. but it was awesome and then we went on this airwalk (walking among the tall trees) and it was beautiful. like the rest of australia. but it was great. we then headed back to hobart for dinner and such and had a low key night before going to bed.

wednesday: FREE DAY! woo hoo! 5 of us girls decided to go to the spa for the day which was awesome! it was only 20 dollars for a 3 hour spa treatment of sorts which was great. funny story. so for some reason (because i guess its like this in the states), we assumed that you go to those in your birthday suits. so, change our clothes, put on robes and on our way out the door we see the sign that says "Bathers must be worn". OOPS. lucky for us, we saw the sign because if we hadn't that would have just been a little embarrasing. a little. so we send kristen running back to the hostel to pick up all of our bathing suits and then we proceed to enjoy our spa day. close call. very close call. we walked around the city for the rest of the day before grabbing lunch at subway and going to the telegraph hotel that night. the telegraph was a pretty sweet bar which had a special that night which at 5, jugs were $5 and 6, jugs were $6 and so on and so on. the whole IES crew was there so it was definitely a fun night and we found where all of hobart was hiding out! sweet.

thursday: best day ever. it was definitely a save the best for last kinda day. so that morning we set off in our bus up to mount wellington, the highest point in tasmania. a whopping 4000 ft. it was pretty unbelievable. the view was magnificent and then we hopped on our bikes with our cool tour guides and got ready to ride down the mountain. UNBELIEVABLE. nothing but the wind in your face and i was going...i don't even know how fast but it was definitely pretty fast with nothing but me and the mountain. it was such an amazing rush and i loved every minute of it. we were on the roads with a few pit stops along the way until we started going on our off road ride. that was insaneee. it was awesome and i didn't fall but lots of people in our group because it was crazy steep and sooo many rocks and gravel and such. it definitely felt like you didn't have control of the bike at points but i felt pretty extreme doing it. it was crazy because we ended up all the way down by salamanca markets (where we were the first day) and all we could do was look all the way back up and not even believe that we just biked down it. awesome.

it only got better. thursday afternoon we headed to the cadbury factory which was honestly one of the highlights of the trip before we even left melbourne. although the tour could have been better, the factory was awesome and it was definitely chocolate mania. as soon as you walked in, you tons of free little chocolates and then the the cadbury store was AWESOME. soo much cabdury and so cheap= the best thing ever. so it was also nicely planned because i was able to bring my chocolate back with me to the states the following day to share with my family one of the many joys of australia.

that night we had our final IES dinner of the trip which was delicious and sad all at the same time. sad because this awesome trip was over but we went to this delicious Indian restaurant called Saffron that was on the river and it was delicious. i love indian food so it was definitely a fantastic final dinner. after stuffing ourselves, the 6 decided we would take a night stroll to walk off some of our food and just enjoy our time together before we all departed ways for the next week of holiday. it was definitely a great idea and a good ending to a great trip.

friday: time to go. so i was flying from hobart to sydney, from sydney to san francisco, from san fran to st. louis and st. louis to columbus. boy. sounds like a trip. well it was. it was nice because my flight didn't leave that much longer after the rest of team IES made their way back to i didn't have a lot of time to get sad or bored in the airport. flying overall...although long was fine. the issues however arose when coming to my bags. this is going to be fun.

so i get into san francisco, make my way through customs which fine (i had a really nice customs officer who even knew what tim tams were!), and then go on to baggage claim. i get to baggage claim and I had about 2 hours before my flight from SF left for St. i'm waiting and waiting and waiting for my bag. it takes a long time for them to get all the bags off of the flight because the flights are so after about 45 minutes, an hour they are finally done getting all of the bags out but wait, no bag for karri. sweet. so i go to baggage claim, put in my baggage request...qantas didn't even give me any money because i am an american citizen! yes. it sucked. so they said my bag would come to columbus the following day. fine. thats alright. so the next day was the funeral (very good, my family is amazing and it was good to see EVERYONE) but they were supposed to call when it got in. saturday rolled bag. sunday rolled around, no bag. we keep and keep calling and no one is really able to tell me anything. so monday, my mom had to drop some fam off at the airport...and so she goes down to baggage claim to see if my bag is there. and guess what, it was. sitting there since saturday because the idiots at qantas never told the american baggage claim who to bill the delivery of my bag to. so they never delivered it. ahh. awful. lucky for me...because i was heading back to melbourne the following day. so i got my bag just in the nick of time.
going back to australia: so seeing the family was great for a couple of day but i was definitely ready to get back to the australia. so i left around mid day from columbus to chicago to san fran to LA (stupid american airlines) to sydney to brisbane because i was planning to meet back up with monica and alycia and make our way to the reef. so the agent at american was very nice and she checked my bag all the way through to brisbane. so i make it from columbus to chicago fine and all and everything is dandy until the time comes around for boarding. not boarding yet because their is a thunderstorm and the plane that we're supposed to be getting on can't come in yet. so the plane finally gets in (delayed), and then the electricity goes out on the plane (before we got on), so we have to wait for another plane. more delays. i started getting a little worried because we were starting to push it close to when i was supposed to be leaving san fran for LA. so we finally get out and get into san fran but i was too late. this sucks. i go to the american airlines agent and there is no more flights going out to LA before the flight from LA leaves for sydney. BOOO. this is when i almost cried because i realized that my plans for the reef and vaca were starting to go down the drain. so i ask them what is going on with my bag and so the agent put in a request that they put my bag up so i can go get it at baggage claim before i got to the hotel. so i get my food vouchers, and go down to baggage claim...and guess what. no bag. surprise surprise. they said that my bag should be coming in on the next flight from chicago and they would bring it to the hotel. alright. solid. so i head off to the crowne plaza (very very nice) and wait for my bag. nothing. no bag all night long. so the next day when i make my way back to the airport for my flight, i go down to baggage services first to see what happened. they said that most likely my bag went onto brisbane without me because it is not showing up in the system. so i said alright. so my flight to LA was fine and i go and check with the qantas agent and they same thing. alright so fast forward to brisbane. i get into brisbane and go straight to baggage services, and of course my bag isn't there. i put my claim in (they gave me $100 this time..woo hoo), and make my way down to southport and surfers paradise for the evening. i had decided to go on a two day fraser coast tour from saturday to sunday because i really wanted to see it and i thought it was about time for me to do some true travelling on my own. i get to southport, head the hostel that i was staying at dropped my bags off and went to get some clothes ( i had NONE). southport and surfers was amazing. i met some really cool people at my hostel that night and took a nice trip to the surfers beach with them that night. solid times. everyone here is honestly soooo nice and not sketch and it was just a really cool evening. i had to be up super early the next day to make my way to the pick up spot for my trip. so i'm there and get picked up and get really excited for my trip. we eventually get back to brisbane and head off to fraser island.

this is saturday if everyone is a little confused. so it takes us about 3.5 hours total to get to fraser island (the largest sand island in the world), and it was amazing. before we got to frasers, we stopped at rainbow beach which was beautiful. i'm just so convinced that the pacific is definitely prettier from this side. so onto fraser island. i'm going to try and keep this pretty succinct. NOT.

so fraser island not only doesn't have any paved roads but it also is only accessible by barge. on fraser island, you take the barge over with your four wheel drive vehicle. its pretty insane. the barge was really cool and i have never been on anything like it. so as soon as we get on the island oh boy. oh boy. so the sand was supposedly really soft that day which made it extra bumpy...crazy. what a ride. so we rode on the sand (which is the only way to ride) on 75 mile beach which was unbelievable. we obviously didn't ride the whole 75 miles but i'll say we covered at least 40 of it. but just imagine a beach that just stretches and stretches and stretches. and the ocean is unbelievable. the water is sooo blue. its not carribean clear just the most unbelievable blue that you will ever see. and the sand is so soft. ahh. it was pretty much paradise. fraser island is so reknown and unique because not only is the worlds largest sand island but it is also the only place in the world where the rain forest grows out of the sand. yes, the rainforest. so on saturday we stopped at eli creek (this cool spot where a creek from inside the rainforest of the mountain leads out to the ocean which was pretty sweet. we also saw the colored sands which is also known as the pinnacles which almost look like a mountain of solid different color sands. crazy beautiful. we also took a very bumpy ride into the rainforest to one of the many lakes on the island (this island is pretty HUGE by the way) and saw little snapping turtles! soo cool! and let me tell you about the lakes on the island. just like the ocean...all the lakes, streems and rivers are crystal clear. you can see to the bottom of everything. i have never seen anything like it before. ahh paradise. oh, and the drives into the rainforest are definitely the most insane ones. its probably 30-40 minutes of your life that you honestly think your stomach is going to literally come out of your throat. but it was still awesome and definitely worth the small uncomfort. we also visited the maheno shipwreck which is honestly a old rusted ship that crashed into the island and has just deteriorated on the island. it was soo sweet. you'll have to check out the pictures to understand how cool it was.

that night we checked into the resort, had dinner and then watched the moon rise. sooo cool. i had never seen the moon rise from the ocean before and it was just unbelievable. not only how it turns from red to white but just everything. ahh so cool. then we headed to the beach bar at the resort where everyone was hanging out (all the people from various tours and such) and then karaoke started. that was actually a really fun time. i made friends with three other people on my tour...vanessa from hong kong who went to UVA and now is a consultant and nick and patty two cool irish guys. so i pretty much hung out with them on sunday. but yeah, the beach bar karaoke was a lot of fun. i actually sang "summer of 69" and it was all in all a good day and good night. oh, and i saw the most beautiful boy/guy i have ever seen in my ENTIRE life. he should've been walking down a runway in italy compared to being a crew for a tour company. but yeah. thats beside the point.

on sunday we had a couple of more stops before heading back to brisbane. we went into the rainforest and went to central station which we just learned a lot about the history of the island and such. we then went to this gorgeous creek where the water is pretty much drinkable because you can see to the bottom. you can't even see the water sometimes because its so clear. another interesting fact about fraser island is that they produce their own water from random streams from all over the island. oh, and i got bit by soooo many bugs in the rainforest. minor detail. we then headed to lake birabeen which was gorgeous (check out pictures later), and that was awesome. we went swimming in the lake...the most popular lake is lake mckenzie but birabeen is known to be better because its the same thing without all of the people in 3 times the space. so that was definitely a great way to end the fraser island adventure.

we made our way back to brisbane via the barge, via rainbow beach. we stopped at rainbow beach for lunch and had a delicious t-bone steak with chips( fries) and a salad all for $ 11...which was also overlooking the beach and the ocean. sweet life. we then hopped back on the bus and made another stop in matilda where our bus broke down. but i was hanging out inside talking on the phone when ALYCIA sits down next to me. and then monica! it was great seeing them because it had been almost two weeks since i had seen any members of the 6 and i missed them a lot and i mean...a rest stop in matilda? i'll take it. eventually i made it back to brisbane (still with no bag), and then they were supposed to deliver my bag that night to the hostel but of course it never came and i was leaving at 6 am back to melbourne on monday. monday i made it back to melbourne and started to stress out about my paper and chem assignment that i had due that i hadn't started yet. i got both of them handed in on time which was solid which has now finally allowed me time to write in this blog. oh and about my bag. i got it on monday night back in melbourne...thank god. but i got it and at that point...that was all that matters.

this week hasn't really been that exciting. its been great being back with the crew and the girls but i've been locked in the library finishing my work which is now thankfully done! oh and yeah, my mom, bishop and yvette got into australia on wednesday. they've been in brisbane and i am meeting them tomorrow (friday) in sydney for the weekend before heading back to melbourne. so. now i am done. and i will be now more frequently writing. it probably wont be until monday... but i will be back! cheers!

Monday, October 1, 2007

ghosts, devils and prisoners

i thought that maybe that would frighten you but i figured not so much. anyways. i left off at port arthur. i am going to give you all a quick history lesson about port arthur and australia. i'm sure that most of you know that australia and new zealand were both initially founded and established as a place to send all of the irish (australia) and english (new zealand) convicts. now, when those prisoners in australia did not learn their lesson they sent them to port arthur (tasmania). now, most of these convicts were robbers and they had more harsh sentences then the convicts who were murderers. crazy, i know. but yes, so we went to the historic port arthur after our day at wineglass bay to check into our HOTEL. being in an actual hotel was great because although most of the hostels and backpackers resorts in australia are not dodgy and relatively clean and nice...nothing is nicer than an actual hotel. so we got our was me, anna and siobhan and then kristen and alycia had their own room too. and guess what, we had joined rooms and didn't even know it! it was awesome. so we went and had a very nice dinner and the restaurant at the hotel before setting off on our ghost tour adventure of port arthur (yes, the prison) at night. it was pretty sweet. although no one in our group saw or were disturbed by any ghosts, we had a very good tour guide (todd, who has seen ghosts) and were pretty freaked out by the end of the night. we then went back to the hotel and played taboo with the whole IES crew which was at times way too competitive but all in all, a very fun time.

the next morning we went on our day tour of port arthur to learn more about the prison and see all of the buildings in the day time and were actually happy that we went on the ghost tour before we knew the actual map out of the place. i have a lot of pretty sweet pictures of the barracks and other places that we saw which were pretty sweet. we then hopped on this sweet catamaran and head off to an isle of the dead tour. the view of port arthur from the boat was sensational as was the ocean. our boat tour lady let us know that we were only 800 nautical miles from antartica ( i think) which was pretty awesome. however, we definitely weren't able to see it. the isle of the dead what you probably think it is. it was a small island off of the shore where they burried all of the convicts and members of staff...etc who died while at port arthur. i'm not one for cemeterys but we had the...i guess funniest tour guide (but he really wasn't funny), he was just out of a PBS special....

we left port arthur and then headed to the tasmanian devil conservatory. yess, i saw tassy devils. as yes, they do exist. and no, they do not look like taz nor do they spin. they are actually one of the most ugly creatures you will ever see...they look like giant rat/cats. GROSS. unfortunately, we learned that the tasmanian devil is on the basis of exstinction but the conservatory that we were at help breed more tassy devils which was pretty cool. the problem is that a lot of the devils that are in the wild or even at the conservatory (we didnt see them though) have this face cancer that is killing them. they spread it to each other very readily and scientists and doctors have yet to find out how to treat it or exactly how it is caused. they can only spread the cancer to each other though...not even other animals. strange and sad. however, we took many pictures and also videos of them during feeding time which was definitely the highlight of them. the conservatory also had other various animals including kangaroos (i was a little bored of them) but they also had this awesome parrot. he/she kept talking to us and that might have been the highlight of that adventure. his only three words were "hello" and "shut up". haha.

we then hopped back in the bus for our 2 hour drive back to hobart (capital cityy) and on the way stopped and got some delicious oysters. another random thing about tasmania is that they are known for their seafood. apparently, there are some lobsters that measure up to 3 feet long. yes. 3 feet. INSANE.

i think that is where i am going to stop for now seeing that i have a major paper due that i have yet to begin. i will probably be back later to continue and hopefully finish the journey of tasmania. g'day!