Friday, March 26, 2010

Words can not explain... but I will try.

Today was an extremely eventful day to say the least. My alarm went off at about 6:30am and as I laid and bed and looked out the window I wondered to myself, why on earth am I getting up before the sun is even out? And then I remembered, I had an big day planned ahead. Remembering this exciting thought I got up, showered, dressed and got ready to go. I joined Olivia downstairs at the CYC for some breakfast and by 8am Mike and Steph also joined us. The four of us headed down the hill and got to Manly Wharf just in time to catch the 8:15am ferry.

We arrived in Circular Quay and started our adventure. The first stop was the infamous Sydney Opera House. Every trip that we have made into Sydney has given us the opportunity to see the Opera House from a short distance but before today I had not actually walked over to it and taken the time to check it out. The Sydney Opera House to some is considered to be a wonder of the world and I would have to agree. The architectural structure is pretty unbelievable and ten times better in person than in a picture. We walked all around it, observing its different angles and also had a nice view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I had a chance to go in and use the bathrooms in the Opera House which were very modern and nicely designed and also took a quick look around the gift shop. Many pictures later our group moved on to our next stop, the Botanical Gardens.

We lucked out and had perfect weather for our Sydney adventures day. It got up to about 85 or so and was sunny all day with almost no clouds in the sky. It made for quite a warm walk through the Botanical Gardens but it was gorgeous. There are so many different pathways that lead you by the water or through different areas of the park. Filled with different species of flowers, trees, bushes, and more, the Gardens are very entertaining. I had such a great time walking around with my friends taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. Other than just the plants, there were also some statues and animals that we had a chance to see. I even got a bird to bite onto a stick I was holding and hold onto it while I lifted it into the air. It was quite an eventful walk through the Gardens that we enjoyed for about 3 and a half hours. Our next stop caused the group to split up but it was okay because Steph and Mike had already gone where we were going, so it was Olivia's and I turn to experience the magic of the Sydney Tower Restaurant.

The Sydney Tower is really where the title of my blog comes into play. I will promise to do my very best to describe what I experienced but honestly its so hard to put into words the amazing experience. Olivia and I had scheduled our lunch date at the Tower at 1:30pm and anxiously showed up at the reservation desk a little after 1pm. The woman was extremely welcoming, checked us in, we got our picture taken by the professional photographer, walked through security and were escorted to our own elevator for the climb. 80 floors later we arrived at the top of the Sydney Tower. As the doors slowly opened at the restaurant a very nice woman greeted us, took us to our 2 person table right by the window and explained the details to us. The Sydney Tower Restaurant is a buffet self service restaurant filled with delicious food. And as you sit and enjoy the food, the restaurant rotates very slowly so that you get a chance to see all of Sydney. Buildings of all sizes, the Bridge, the Opera House, the Gardens, and so much more. We also called Mike and Steph when we were there and spotted them in Hyde Park from where we were sitting and I even zoomed in on my camera and got a picture of their teeny tiny bodies from our view. I had a great lunch date with Olivia and ate way more than I needed to but I could not help it. They had so much to offer from spring rolls, potatoes, green beans, salads, pasta, kangaroo, lamb, fresh fruit salad, and very yummy desserts. Olivia and I both left stuffed full and very satisfied with our spectacular experience of the magic of the Sydney Tower. I took lots of pictures while at lunch, but as I previously mentioned pictures really do not do the experience justice but some things are just hard to put into words, or in this case pictures.

After lunch we met back up with Steph and Mike in Hyde Park, walked around, took some pictures at the reflection pool and then headed over to Chinatown. It was a nice walk especially after feeling so full of food so it was great to get out and walk around for a while. We arrived at Chinatown and headed to Market City and walked around to the variety of souvenir vendors. It was great checking out the Market area and I actually found some great gifts for some of my friends and family. Shopping around Market City eventually came to an end so the four of us headed back to the ferry. After a very long, exciting, exhausting and fun filled day we made a quick stop at Starbucks before getting onto the ferry. At first we were a little bummed for missing the 6pm ferry and had to wait till 6:30pm for the next one but were quickly realized that it could not have worked on any better, because as we were pulling out of the Sydney Harbor the sun was just started to set. We ended up getting some of the most amazing pictures as the sun was setting with unbelievable colors right behind the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Yet again, words cannot quite explain it but in this case the pictures might help.

The ferry went by pretty quickly since I spent most of my time marveling at the sunset and before I knew it I was back at ICMS. Overall, it was a fabulous day and although I am very tired right now that I am laying in bed, it was completely worth it! I got to see so much, take hundreds of pictures, and experience Sydney like I had never imagined it before. This entire experience has been amazing and today was just another great day. It is really hard to put all of it into words but I think this blog and my pictures may help capture some of the greatness :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

1,000 meters above sea level - The Blue Mountains

Today was an incredible day to say the least. I went on a day trip through our school up to the Blue Mountains. I woke up early and excited and met down in the CYC at 7:30am. Although the bus arrived a little late the bus driver made up for it with his enthusiasm and excitement which he quickly spread to the rest of us. We drove for about an hour before stopping at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. At the entrance we were given a small paper 'passport' which we could take around and get different animal stamps as we saw the different exhibits. The park has an extensive collection of over 200 native birds and 30 species of mammals displayed in a compact layout where you can get hands on and pet and feed many of the animals. I got to see dingos, wombats, Tasmanian devils, penguins, kangaroos, koalas and more. During our time there we also got to catch a short show put on about crocodiles. I had the chance to feed the kangaroos, pet the koalas, hold a snake, and play with the emus. I was very amused by the emus and I figured out if I held out long blades of grass for them to eat they would take bites off of the piece of grass right out of my hand. It was quite entertaining and then they started to follow me around a little and my friend Ashley took a video of it for me. The Featherdale Park was really nice and a fun start to the day.

Next we drove about an hour and stopped for lunch. We were on our own for lunch and some of the group and I went to a little take away restaurant. Olivia and I shared some honey chicken and rice and it was quite delicious. We just ordered food and sat in the grass and ate and then loaded back onto the bus. About 14 minutes later we were at our next stop, the Blue Mountains. Our first stop was the Echo Point which is the home to the famous rock formations the Three Sisters. We had about thirty minutes or so to take pictures walk around and enjoy the scenery. The view of the Blue Mountains is, again like many amazing places I have been to so far in Australia, quite indescribable. The Blue Mountains are named the blue mountains because of the eucalyptus trees that make the forests and mountains appear to have a blue tint to them from the eucalyptus leaves. The view at the first stop and for the rest of the day was so gorgeous. The mountains and valleys are so lush and dense with different shades of green and blue as far as you can see. It was quite a magical experience, not to sound too cliche, but it was really awesome. :)

After stopping at Echo Point and the Three Sisters we got back onto the bus and drove farther up the mountains to the Scenic World station where the Blue Mountains souvenir shop and the Katoomba Scenic Railway is located. We walked down the trail for a while and had different opportunities to take more pictures. It was a great walk and of course more gorgeous scenery. We made it to the bottom of the trail where the Katoomba mine is and our bus driver/tour guide told us some stories, legends, and history of the Blue Mountains. After our nice hike down the mountain we took the Katoomba Scenic Railway back up to the top which is the "steepest incline railway in the world." I rode up next to Ashley who was quite frightened of the entire experience but I found it to be quite thrilling and awesome. We were sitting in this railway car with bars and fencing to keep us from falling out as we are traveling backwards up the side of a mountain, pretty cool if you ask me.

After the railway we browsed around the souvenir shop, some of the group found worthy purchases while others of us simply looked around. We loaded back on the bus and headed to our next and final stop for the day, Wentworth Falls. We stopped, unloaded the bus and hiked down the short 10 minute trail or so to the Princess Rock lookout and a view of the falls. Yet again a beautiful and incredible site. The amber colored rocks, with lush green and blue surrounding it and the waterfalls trickling down the rocks. A great place for more pictures including group shots, Delta Gamma pics, an Albion group shot, some artistic attempts, and me trying to take a fun picture by climbing into a rock hole and sticking my head out of the top of it. The falls was our final stop so we loaded up the bus one last time. Our bus driver and tour guide who had been very nice and helpful all day, summarized our day and passed out some small koalas as a little gift for our group. The bus ride back went by pretty quick because I took a little nap and then the bus driver dropped us off in Manly so we could get some dinner. Some of the girls and I walked over to Subway, ate and talked about our wonderful day. We hiked back up the hill and now I have spent the rest of my evening uploading and editing pictures and working on other things on my computer. Back at it for classes tomorrow and I have had an absolutely wonderful weekend. Classes are not too busy this week but I have some stuff due next week so plenty to work on and then Friday Olivia and I have a little date planned for going in to 'the city.' :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Moments of wonderful are better than a lifetime of nothing special

These past couple days have been fun filled and relaxing. Friday I do not have class so I got up and had breakfast and took a nice walk with Olivia up to North Head. It is so awesome up there and although I have been up there so many times and have numerous pictures of it nothing can compare to just standing there and taking in the incredible view. That view has to be one of my favorite places in Manly. After showering, eating some fish and chips for lunch, we packed up and headed down to Manly Beach for the day. It was a great sunny and beautiful day. Kaleigh, Steph, Olivia and I had a nice relaxing couples hours in the sun and swimming in the ocean. I took a nice little nap at one point and also had a chance to read some of my book. We then walked around the Corso and some stores for a little while and I purchased some souvenirs for my family. We decided as a group after Steph had looked at the dinner menu at ICMS, that our best bet was to eat something in Manly. There is a great little local pizza place called La Casa, that reminded me of Albion :) so we ordered some pizza and headed over to the small beach area by the Manly wharf and had a picnic. It was such a great time and so much fun to just sit and chat with some friends and eat yummy pizza. After dinner we got some ice cream walked around Manly for a little while and walked by the beach before heading back up the hill to school. At the beach we spotted a man in a speedo doing some kind of karate/kung fu fighting dancing skill workout, we stopped and watched for a little bit and found ourselves quite entertained by his talent and his passion for what he was doing. It just completely added to the already pleasant and successful day. If you can you should check out the video that I have posted on my facebook page, I tried to add it here but it was not working, to say the least he was quite entertaining :)

Today was yet again a beautiful day here in Manly. It was 80's and sunny almost all day. After a walk this morning and some brunch, Heather and I packed up for the beach. We headed down to Manly Beach to find it, like most Saturdays packed full of people all across the beach. With people of all ages laying out, playing games, swimming, surfing, and so much more, Manly is an extremely popular place for locals and tourists especially on the weekends. Heather and I found a nice spot, sat down and just appreciated where we were. We talked for a while and just took in our surroundings and had a nice time people watching and observing the diversity of Manly Beach. Yet again, took a little nap, listened to some music and met up with Olivia and Laura at some point during the day. After laying out for a little while Heather and I were quite warm and ready for a swim. We got about waist deep into the water before the lifeguard and surf rescue staff was running up and down the beach whistling and yelling at people to get out of the water. There had been a shark siting and everyone needed to get out of the water immediately. We were in pretty shallow water and I was not scared of the shark but the whole experience was pretty intense, thrilling, and a little exciting. They called in the surf rescue helicopter along with a boat to search the area and check on people to make sure everyone was ok. We had to wait a good twenty or thirty minutes and then they were considering letting us go back in, and then the shark was spotted again. They sound off a siren and make an announcement on the p.a. when the shark is sited and it startled many people on the beach. About an hour after the first siting people were allowed back in the water but the staff was continually patrolling the beach, water, and air as we left later in the day. It was an exciting experience and also very comforting to know that they take it very seriously and do everything they can to keep the people at Manly Beach safe.

After the eventful afternoon at the beach, we kept up the excitement into our evening. Heather, Jessie, Olivia, Laura, Ashley, Steph, Ashley, and I went out to dinner at the 4 Pines Brewing Company and had a great time. It was a really awesome girls night out filled with talking and some shared stories. We ordered some pasta and burgers and each tried some of the local beer. I had some of their specialty cider which was very delicious. Overall, the past two days have just been very relaxing and I have had so much fun hanging out with my awesome new friends here in Australia. I am so thankful for this experience and am grateful that I am spending my time abroad in such a spectacular place like Manly :) Up early tomorrow and off to the Blue Mountains all day, so excited and I am sure will have more to say about that soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I'm back again and I know I haven't written in a while but there really wasn't too much going on. The past couple weeks have been really picking up with classes and I have been very busy working on a 2,000 word minimum and 4,000 word maximum report on a sports team for my sport management class. Despite the fact that the report took me quite a bit a time, I enjoyed learning more about the Detroit Red Wings. After the hard work and lots or research and writing, along with some help from my Daddy and friend Joe Marino, who I interviewed for the report, I finally turned it in this past Wednesday. 3,600 words later, 25 pages, and a sense of accomplishment. It has been really nice the past couple days not having to worry too much about school. I have two papers due in the next couple weeks so I have started to working on those but after completing the big paper I have taken some time for myself. The weather has been pretty great, sunny and warm so the beach has definitely been my second home. Its so great to go to class, learn, challenge my mind, and then head down less than ten minutes away to Manly Beach and just hang out with my friends and enjoy this amazing place.

So not too much was going on the past couple weeks but now I have something pretty exciting to write about. On Wednesday, St.Patrick's Day, Olivia, Steph, Kaleigh, Chelsea, Jessa and I went to the Lady Gaga concert!!! We got dressed up, took the ferry across the ferry, got Subway for dinner and then walked on over to the Sydney Entertainment Center for the big show. Before heading inside Olivia, Steph, and I were just hanging out waiting to go in and find our seats when we were approached by a local radio station and asked to be interviewed. It was a very exciting and fun experience. We told the guy we had traveled all the way from the US to come see Gaga in concert and he was very intrigued to hear what we had to say :)

After out moment of fame, we headed inside to find Gaga fans of all types. Many people were dressed up in wigs, and fun and crazy outfits. We watched the opening act, Semi Precious Weapons, who were very eccentric to say the least and probaly a great fit to open for Lady Gaga. The lead male singer in the band was even wearing high heels and a dress. They were quite entertaining and full of energy which got me even more excited for the show to begin.

And then Lady Gaga, with all of her flashing lights, crazy costumes, and theatrical tendences appeared. The entertainment center was rocking. I think every person in the arena was on their feet, jumping and screaming. It was extremely high energy throughout the performance. I have been blessed and lucky to have attended several really good concerts in my lifetime but nothing like a Lady Gaga concert. In my words to try and describe it, it really is more than just a concert. I have had a great time at Little Big Town, Big and Rich, Michael Buble', Third Eye Blind, and more but for the most part those concerts were just performing songs. Gaga performs beyond just her song. She incorporates props, her costume, other dancers, and so much more. It really was an unforgettable experience and honestly so hard to explain to someone who was not there. I am so glad that I got the chance to go and had a great time with the girls I went with. Lady Gaga is not only a talented singer but also quite the performer. My favorite part was when she sang Speechless and played the piano. Speechless is one of my favorite songs of hers right now and she played with such passion. During the song fire started coming out of the end of the piano which also added to the performance. There were so many elements that factored into the overall experience but the bottom line is, it was great, amazing, and I am so glad that I went.

After the concert, Olivia, Steph and I were filled with adrenaline and excitement from the concert experience. We stopped by McDonalds for a snack and then headed back to the ferry raving about the concert the whole time. We shared different thoughts and ideas of what we had observed but concluded that we loved it! Overall extremely successful night! :) Upcoming plans and things to look forward to include a day at the beach tomorrow, Sunday we are going to the Blue Mountains, next week I am having a lunch date with Olivia at the Sydney Tower, and so much more, but I do not want to give it all away. Australia has been such a blessing and I am so happy that I am here having the experience of a lifetime :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mardi Gras in Sydney!

This past weekend me and a group of girlfriends headed into Sydney on Friday evening to experience the city as it was alive with spirit and celebrating Mardi Gras. Specifically we headed in to town for Saturday's huge Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and celebration which is the 2nd largest in the world! It was an amazing experience to say the least. People of all different backgrounds coming together to celebrate. Friday we just hung out with our friend Jake from Albion and some of his friends at the University of Sydney.

Saturday we got up, had breakfast, and headed over to Darling Harbor. Steph and I had the awesome chance to meet up with Lisa Dorr, our soccer teammate and Delta Gamma sister who graduated from Albion a couple years ago. After the great visit with her we met back up with our group to board the boat. We had signed up for a Harbor Cruise to take us around the Harbor to celebrate Mardi Gras with lots of people. It was such a beautiful ride, with a great party atmosphere as we listened to music and hung out with friends.

After the Harbor cruise we headed over to the main streets where the parade was held and packed full of people. The streets were lined much farther than you could see with at least four or five people deep to the front line to the parade. We stood behind a group and reached up on our tip toes to catch the colorful entries of the parade as they walked or rode by. It was such a cool experience and quite the display of culture. I randomly and quite fatefully ran into my Delta Gamma sister Mekayla! It was so awesome, we just made eye contact walking down the street as we passed each other, screamed, jump into each others arms and celebrated! It was so great to see her and have a chance to talk to her for a little while.

We continued on with the evening walking around the city and later meeting up with some more friends. Sunday we packed up and headed back on the ferry after a very eventful and awesome weekend spent in Sydney!

Back to classes on Monday and Tuesday with some pretty cloudy and rainy weather. Classes are going good, still very interesting and fun just getting a little busier as the first big deadlines of most of my classes are slowly approaching. The past couple days of not the best weather has really helped me focus and crack down and work on school work. Today I had two morning classes, ate lunch, and headed to the beach for a little time in the sun. It was nice and sunny for the first time in a couple days so I had to embrace it. Overall things are going great. I am having a blast and learning so much about so much, if that makes sense :) I miss my friends and family a lot but I appreciate their constant communication via skype, email, and of course facebook. :)