Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blue Mountains

     On September 29, 2013, my aunt and uncle took Katie and I up to the Blue Mountains.  We absolutely loved it!  Jamison Valley is beautiful.  We took a few different modes of transportation including a sky train, railway and cable car.  This railway claims to be the steepest in the word and I definitely don't doubt them!  It is at a 52 degree angle and I nearly had a heart attack on the ride.  

 Steepest railway in the world!

     After this, we met up with my uncle Darren's parents.  They have retired and are living in the Blue Mountains.  The view outside of their backyard is insane and I am very jealous!  We all wandered around the small town centers and shops enjoying a nice family filled day.  I could really see the spring season here as there were beautiful flowers blossoming everywhere.

 Apple Orchard

"Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams". 
-Ashley Smith

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hello from Australia! Sydney

       I had incredibly mixed feelings about coming to Australia.  It is a place I had wanted to go to my entire life, but when it came down to it... leaving Europe broke my heart.  Some tears were definitely shed... 5 months in Europe coming to an end.  I saw some breathtaking places and made the most amazing friends.  Europe is so full of history, beauty and warmth and I will miss it deeply, but know I will return in no time.  Thanks to all who provided me with some of the best memories of my life!

     I arrived in Australia on September 15, 2013 in the morning.  It was an absolutely exhausting flight to say the very least.  Glad I had a bit of a break in Singapore.  My aunt and uncle picked me up at the airport with a beautiful flower.  It was a weird feeling to see them...  I have been so used to traveling around alone and just leaving the airport to hop on a bus or train to where I needed to be.  A sweet change to see familiar faces coming to get you!

     In total, I was in Sydney for 2 weeks.  The first week I was by myself staying at my family's house, and the second week, one of my best friends came from California and stayed with us as well.  I really love Sydney.  I am not big on cities, but this one is a beautiful one and I definitely saw myself possibly living in a place like this.  For a city, it is incredibly clean.  I like the vibe and I like the people, not to mention all the beautifully suited men walking around!

Enjoying Springtime in Australia

     I spent my first few days being lazy.  8 months of travels will wear on you, so I definitely took advantage of having my own room.  I spent time with my aunt and uncle, wandered around Chatswood, spent time with a friend in Chinatown and with a friend in Manly as well.  I didn't want to go to any of the touristic spots since Katie would be arriving just a week later.  My aunt was kind enough to set up a going out night for me in the city and it was a lot of fun!


 Establishment Nightclub

 Spending a beautiful sunny day with the family.

 First activity Katie had to do upon arriving in Australia.

     Katie and I did a lot in Sydney during her stay.  Of course we saw the major landmarks first.  The Opera House and Harbour Bridge are truly beautiful.  I love Sydney Harbour and could spend hours just sitting by it.  Another day we went to Darling Harbour which is lovely as well.  There is lots to see and do there and we decided to go to the Chinese Garden of Friendship and the Sea Life Aquarium.  

 Chinese Garden of Friendship

 One of my close friends, Manuel had his 25th birthday on this day and so to show I was thinking of him, I took pictures around Sydney with a sign of his name.  He loved it!


     On another day, Katie and I went on a whale watching tour departing from Sydney Harbour.  It was a beautiful ride on a sunny day.  We were lucky enough to see a humpback whale and her calf out in the water.  Definitely a special experience as I love marine life, whales especially.  I wish Free Willy had a female lead and I was the star.  Jessica instead of Jesse... HAHA!  If I wasn't told that Marine Biology was an extremely difficult field to get into, I would have majored in it... but things work out as they should and Social Sciences and History are my true passion.

     Following this tour, we went to the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Large, beautiful garden that I could spend days on end in.  It is located right on the edge of the harbour so you can lay there and look out at the water.  Katie and I found a spot underneath a tree and just laid in the grass in silence for at least an hour.  So peaceful!

     One day, we wandered around the city again before meeting up with my friends for dinner.  Two of them are Aussies and one had just flown in the previous day from Portugal.  So great to reunite with some more familiar faces.  The girls and I have been in 3 countries together this year, Portugal, Spain and Australia.

Rui, Keisha, Mei and I

     What is Australia without beaches?  One day, we went to the world famous Bondi Beach and took a coastal walk.  The coast is gorgeous!  I swam in the tide pools and checked out some of the creatures within.  I also took Katie to Manly which I had previously gone to a week prior.  Small laid back feeling place with a nice beach.  Both great places and worth a check out when in Sydney!

Bondi Beach

Manly Beach

"Sydney is rather like an arrogant lover. When it rains it can deny you its love and you can find it hard to relate to. It's not a place that's built to be rainy or cold. But when the sun comes out, it bats its eyelids, it's glamorous, beautiful, attractive, smart, and it's very hard to get away from its magnetic pull". -Baz Lurmann