Day 27: Farewell, Cairns.

Goodbye, Cairns.

My last day was spent pretty actively.

First the day began with a visit to the wildlife dome & a chance to play with the koalas.

I held a koala named Kiah and, I don’t know, I could die happy. She was beautiful and soft and cuddly and perfect and wonderful and I smelled like eucalyptus afterwards. It was most likely one of the best things I’ve done abroad.

Next we headed over to the ropes course & zip lining. It wasn’t as high as the Elks course we did at mini boot camp (an NJROTC thing), but definitely as tough. It was individual as opposed to with a team so you rely solely on your own. There were 3 zip lines throughout, one right above the crocodile! Definitely worth the money.

Afterwards I spent the afternoon finishing all my packing and just relaxing.

At night we had a study abroad goodbye dinner at one of the top rated restaurants in Cairns, Ochre. There we sampled true Australian cuisine, including kangaroo, wallaby, crocodile and bush feed, which is native plants and fruits. We also had pavlova and ice cream made from bush feed as well!

I’m a huge fan of kangaroo in more ways than I can describe. It’s prepared rare and is very similar to a lean steak. Yum!

I didn’t go to sleep last night, as I knew waking up at 2am to get ready for the airport would be rough. Now I’m downstairs, checked out of my last hotel in Australia and I can’t believe it’s all over and I’m sad and happy and excited and every feeling under the sun.

Study abroad has been the best experience of my life. I am so blessed to be here and to have this amazing opportunity in another country.

I will post more later, but for now, off to flight 1: Brisbane!

-EA

Day 26: Packing up

I hate packing.

I love it going somewhere, but packing to go home just doesn’t seem right. I’ve spent a month in Australia and packing all my things physically hurts. I don’t want to leave.

So, I spent my last Sunday abroad packing.

I sorted through all the souvenirs I’ve acquired & wrote down everything for customs.

To those of you receiving a souvenir, YOU’RE WELCOME. My entire carry on is souvenirs for you. Feel loved.

I shoved everything not so neatly into my checked bag and used a separate bag for dirty clothes (sorry mom).

And don’t get me started on the Tim Tams. Let’s just say they could have their own bag.

My roommate and I chilled by the pool & did a bit more Cairns exploration. There really isn’t much here, considering it’s a beach town. And all the restaurants close at 3 and don’t reopen until around 6, which is a foreign concept to us.

It was a very lazy day, but necessary. Today I’m going zip lining & doing a ropes course, so yesterday was my last day to take stock of my time abroad.

Wish me luck, as my ROTC days lead me to believe I won’t be too good on the ropes course.

-EA

Day 25: Detox

My Saturday was spent exactly how I would spend a Saturday back home: by the pool. I laid out & enjoyed some beautiful vitamin D courtesy of Cairns, Australia. It was absolutely gorgeous out, with just enough breeze to keep you warm, but not burning up.

After we explored a local market down by the beach. It was similar to Paddington, but I forced myself to not shop since there really isn’t any space left in my suitcase…

We bought chicken & hot dogs and grilled by the pool for dinner, which ended up being an amazing idea. We each spent about $10 and had a delicious meal. It was so nice to eat food we made, as opposed to going out. Finally, a home cooked meal!

After that my roommate and I watched tv. Not an eventful night, but a great end to an exhausting day.

Today the packing commences, with a month’s worth of dirty & wrinkled clothes now needing to be packed ever so carefully into 2 bags. Oh God, this’ll be interesting…

Only 2 days until I’m on my way home. Australia, I’ll miss you!

-EA

Day 24-Exploration and Cairns at night

G’night, Mates!

I’m posting relatively early/late depending on your life because I’m actually awake at 3am.

Today began with our final day of classes (yay!).

Next a couple of us explored Cairns and did some more shopping (I am so sorry).

Cairns is a very beachy town. The streets are lined with surf shacks, fish and chips eateries or souvenir shops. It’s a great place to walk around & people watch, which is exactly what we did.

I ended up going out to a couple of bars with a large group of Gatorsk which ended up being a whole lot more fun than I imagined.

Now it’s time for bed, a day by the pool awaits me!

-EA

Day 23: Kuranda Rainforest

Oye oye oye!

G’day, mates! Another day down under is over.

Today we explored the Kuranda rainforest. We took a 45 minute gondola from Cairns all the way up the mountain to the heart of the rainforest. Up top there’s a little village with stores and local eateries.

If you enjoy the outdoors, I highly recommend it. But we were there for 5 hours and it basically only took an hour to explore.

We explored the town & shopped, and at this point we’re all pros at it. I bought an opal necklace, a shot glass and a tote bag.

I need to get into shopper’s anonymous, y’all.

Like for real.

It’s a problem.

We then took a scenic railway all the way down which took an hour and a half.

We got some really amazing views of the rainforest and beautiful waterfalls. But an hour and half is a long time and obvi I took a nap.

Today would have been tremendously better had I not been sick. My throat hurts and I’m absolutely exhausted. Hopefully this NyQuil kicks in soon!

Tomorrow will be an exploration day around Cairns!

Only 4 days until I head back to America!

-EA

Day 21: The Great Barrier Reef

GREAT BARRIER REEF.
That’s essentially all I need to say.

But I’ll give you great details because the Great Barrier Reef is great.

We left the hotel at 7am to walk over to the marina. I took two Dramamine because my motion sickness is a terribly crippling thing. It’s a two hour boat ride from the Cairns to our snorkel site, so I knew the trip would be hard.

AND IT WAS. OMG.

First of all, the water was so incredibly rough. The boat rocked back and forth and I swear throwing up was inevitable.

I didn’t, luckily.

Boom goes the dynamite.

We finally got out to the reef, snorkeled up and jumped in. I rented a wetsuit to stay warm and it was the best choice,

There isn’t much more to say except for the fact that it was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. I’m so happy I brought an underwater disposable (pics later).

The water was so clear and warm. At some points the reef was literally 5 feet below you. I made friends with a turtle and some fish.

Yes, I found nemo. You’re welcome.

I wish I could say more but only photos will do justice.

The way back I slept. That’s it. Motion sickness is horrific.

Tomorrow we’ve got class and then the Study abroad Olympic Games!

-EA

Day 20- Hello, Cairns!

Welcome to Cairns, a tropical island of beauty & beaches.

This morning began with a 4:30am wake up to finish the last of my packing & to say goodbye to Sydney. 5:30am checkout and breakfast and we were out the doors and off to the airport by 7:00am.

I was so nostalgic as we drove through Sydney one last time. This place was like a home to me and I couldn’t image leaving it.
Our flight, scheduled to leave at 9:15 but “reevaluated” to leave at 9:30 was amazing. Each seat got an iPad complete with movies & tv. I watched “The Big Bang Theory” & dozed in and out of sleep. It was only a 3 hour flight but we were given a full breakfast!

Let me just say that Australia has the most relaxed security. TSA took 2 minutes and NO ONE checked my passport or ID. I could have been Joe Schmoe hopping on the plane. It was nice to not wait forever to be scanned though.

Our hotel is a quick drive from Cairns airport, and it is stunning. Unlike our other hotel, this one comes with a spa, gym and pool.

Another difference?

Wifi is only in the lobby, and damn it’s slow. I’ll let you know how long this post takes to upload.

We walked around today & explored a bit. They have a Target (yay!) and some stores I’m familiar with from Sydney. We grabbed lunch and enjoyed the warm weather for awhile.

I also had a delicious “sex on the beach” slushy. Yumm yumm yumm.

Tonight I’m relaxing, as tomorrow morning we leave bright and early for the Great Barrier Reef!

-EA

Sending Sydney off with some Vegemite

Vegemite, Vegemite, we eat Vegemite! Come and we’ll sail ya to Australia!

That song from my childhood has been playing in my head this entire trip. As a send off to Sydney, I decided to try it. The outcome was not good.

Vegemite is salty. But not good salty, like that chicken you ate one time with so much salt your lips purse. That salty.

I tried it though, and that’s all that matters.

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Day 17: Manly Beach and Vivid Sydney

Greetings from Sydney!

Another day in a beautiful city I wish to call my home. 

Another post late because I was actually enjoying nighttime Sydney so don’t judge me. 

Yesterday morning was spent catching up on homework, blogging & packing for Cairns on Monday. 

The afternoon brought us to Manly Beach again for some light shopping (yeah right, “light”) and taking in the beach. 

I’m really sad it’s fall in Sydney, because the beach was breathtaking. This was the first time I actually got to see real surfers riding waves. The waves were huge and the beach was freezing, but they didn’t care one bit. They ran in fearlessly, surfboard in hand, and braved the icy waters. 

Afterwards we headed back to Sydney Harbor for Vivid Sydney. 

Vivid Sydney is a light show they’re doing for the next few weeks. Basically, they project lights onto the opera house and the harbor. Sort of like how they project images on the water jets at Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. It was absolutely and positively one of the coolest things I’d seen. We grabbed a quick dinner at a little market set up they had & returned home. 

I grabbed drinks with a couple of the girls on the trip & we played Uno (judgement is allowed). 

I turned in early, as today is to be very busy! Last Saturday in Sydney!

-EA

Day 14 & 15: Blue Mountains & Bridge Climb

Hello!

I’m combining these 2 days & posting extremely late for one reason & one reason alone:

MACHIAVELLI WAS BEING RUDE. 

Let me explain. 

Tuesday night I had a lot of homework, so I decided to wait until the morning to post. 

Except it didn’t happen. 

I guess I should clarify, my laptop’s name is Machiavelli. 

Get it, because it’s a Mac?

MAChiavelli?

Anyway, he was being slow (yes he’s a he, deal with it) & I shut him down. But then he wouldn’t start back up. He would get to the start up screen and just sit there. Pero like I wasn’t impressed. 

All the online forums said to do a “safe boot” which requires you to hold shift while restarting. Problem is, the restart was taking FOREVER & I had to leave to do my Bridge Climb (details to follow). 

So what do I do? 

I create an ingenious device to hold shift while I’m gone. I placed my camera charger on top of the button & used an apple to keep the weight on it. 

Laugh all you want, but I got back & my computer was on again. BOOM SHAKKA LAKKA. 

Except it was running really slow. And wouldn’t recognize my SD card. And had no sound. 

But an “on” laptop is better than anything else so I dealt with is. 

I went to class this a.m. & had an assignment to turn in. But we turn them in on flashdrives & my computer wouldn’t recognize his. So he had me restart it. 

AND AGAIN IT DIDN’T WORK. 

At this point I’m almost crying in class, but I put on my big girl pants & dealt with it. On the way up to my room it just started up again & is working perfectly fine now. 

Thank you, Jesus! I was beginning to freak out!

So now, lovely people, I can fill you in on what’s been going on down under. 

Tuesday we took a trip to the Blue Mountains, sort of. 

First we drove to a wildlife park an hour & a half our of sydney. Not really much to look at

EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT I GOT TO PET A KOALA AND KANGAROO.

Let me make one thing clear: I signed up for study abroad because of koalas. Sure, there were secondary reasons, but really mostly koalas. 

Okay, obviously I’m kidding (kind of ). 

But they were adorable and perfect and I cried a little. 

After that we drove another hour and a half to a little town names Leura. We stopped off for lunch & some quick shopping. It was a small town, similar to downtown Brooksville, but cute. It was still technically in Sydney so it was really interesting to see the differences. 

Then we headed off to the Blue Mountains. We stopped off at a lookout to take some great photos and then took a railway car straight down the mountain to the bottom. It was gorgeous  We got to see the three sisters and hike a bit. 

Like I said before, I had a ton of homework so I grabbed nachos for dinner & went HAM. 

The next day was the day of my laptop’s “fit” of sorts, but I don’t even care BECAUSE IT WAS TIME TO CLIMB THE HARBOR BRIDGE.

Since signing up to study abroad, everyone I’ve spoken to who has ever visite Sydney or lives in Sydney says it is a must do. Granted, it had a high price tag but I really didn’t care. 

A real quick update on weather: 

It’s technically the last week of Autumn here, about to head into Winter. 

So it’s cold. And on top of the bridge it was 12 Celsius (you convert it, I’m not your mom.)

And it rained. THE WHOLE TIME. 

Luckily we had tons of rain gear on. 

But honestly, it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had in my life. The view was breathtaking, the climb was exhilarating & everything about it was perfect. If you ever visit Sydney or even Australia, make the trip. Do it, you will not regret it. 

And so ends two days in Sydney. We only have 4 days left here before heading off to Cairns!

Sorry for the length of this post and I’m extra sorry I didn’t describe all my food (last night was Pie Face, there you go.)

Gday, mates!

-EA