Monday, May 25, 2009

Mike's visit

A little over two weeks ago now, Mike came the whole way from Ohio to visit me in Sydney. It was great to see him and we had a lot of fun during the 10 days he was here.

When he arrived in Sydney, I went to the airport to meet him. However, I went to the wrong terminal! After about a half hour of anxious waiting, Mike came and found me. I was very excited to finally see him! The first day I showed him around the University of Sydney campus and Newtown, the suburb where I live.

Friday, we went downtown and saw the highlights of Sydney. We went to Circular Quay to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge then over to the Botanical Gardens. We also went to the Rocks, Hyde Park, and ended our day at Sydney Tower.

Saturday night we went to an Aussie rules football game at Olympic Stadium. It was cool to see such a unique Australian sport being played at the famous Olympic Stadium. Sunday we did a walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach. It was a beautiful day and it was great to spend some time at the Ocean.

Monday, my weekend was over and sadly, I had to go back to class. Monday night Mike joined our trivia team then Tuesday night we went to the movies to see Angels and Demons. Wednesday night, Mike and I got dressed up and had a nice dinner in Circular Quay. Thursday we did some shopping at Paddy's market and then went to Darling Harbour for the night.

Friday, we took a nice day trip out to Featherdale Wildlife Reserve and the Blue Mountains. Featherdale was definitley a highlight. I had previously been there, but Mike got to fulfill his dream of petting koalas and kangaroos. We also saw dingos, little penguins, wallabies, wombats, emus, and many other animals.

After Featherdale, we took the train out to the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately, it started raining on our way there and continued raining the rest of the day. But we still had a great time! We went to scenic world, we were road a cable car across the mountains, a scenic railway down the mountain, and another cable car back up. We bought ponchos to keep us somewhat dry and hiked around in the woods for a while too. The other site we visited was the Leura Cascades. We got soaked, but we got to see some really amazing rapids and waterfalls!

Saturday was Mike's last full day in Sydney. We went to Paddy's again to pick up a few more things and walked around Sydney for the afternoon. Sunday morning we said our goodbyes and he headed back to Columbus.

Here is the link to some of the other pictures from his trip:

Some other updates since Mike left...Team Charity got first place in trivia! Sadly, it was the last one of the semester, but we went out in style. Also this week, Becky, Nate, and I went to see Luminous at the Opera House. They light up the Opera House different colors which change every few minutes. The event is part of Vivid Sydney, which lasts until June 21st.

Only one more month left in Australia! It's hard to believe I've been here for 3 and 1/2 months. It will be hard to go, but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at home.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Zealand

I just got back from an incredible week in New Zealand! The scenery there was spectacular. Everywhere we went there were beautiful mountains, lakes, forests, and beaches. There were also a lot of fun activities to do along the way. We packed a lot into our 7 day tour of the South Island!

Our trip started last Saturday when Becky and I flew from Sydney to Christchurch. We wandered around the city that afternoon, visiting Cathedral Square and the Christchurch Botanical Gardens.

Sunday morning was when our tour started. Our tour group was about 35 people, coming from all over the world including England, Korea, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, and the U.S. It was great to meet people from so many different nationalities.

The first stop of our tour was the beautiful Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd. This was our first taste of the fantastic scenery of New Zealand. The snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps provided a stunning backdrop to the lake. Next we traveled to Lake Pukaki. There we could see Mt. Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain, in the distance. We then continued on to Mt. Cook village where we did a hike to Kea Point. That night, we stayed at a ski resort by Lake Ohau. That night was one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. We ended the night by spending some time hot tubing under the stars.

The next day we left Lake Ohau to continue towards Milford Sound. Along the way, we stopped at Mirror Lake and The Chasm. We then arrived at Milford Sound (which is actually a fjord) where we boarded the Milford Mariner, the boat for our overnight cruise. That night we journeyed out to the Tasman Sea and then back into Milford where we anchored for the night. It rained overnight, which meant when we woke up there were waterfalls everywhere! Although the weather was not very pleasant, it was awesome to see. We also did a tour around the sound on a smaller boat that morning. Towards the beginning of our ride, we got caught in a hail storm! Luckily the hail stopped and we continued. We got to see some wild seals which was really cool!

After leaving Milford, we drove down to Queenstown where we spent two days. The first night we went out for dinner with our tour group to Lonestar (not the same as the one in the U.S.) and then to Minus 5 Ice bar. The next morning Becky and I planned on sky diving, but it was too cloudy. Instead, we rode the gondola (not the boat, more like a ski lift) up the mountain. There were some incredible views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. We even saw a rainbow! We also did the skyline loop hike further up the mountain which had some beautiful views as well. Later that night we walked around Queenstown Botanical Gardens and saw the sunset.

Thursday we left Queenstown to head for Fox Glacier. Our first stop of the day was at the Kawarau River and the site of the world's first bungy. Also on the way, we stopped at Thunder Creek Falls and a couple places along the Tasman Sea.

Friday morning we woke up bright and early to hike Fox Glacier. We walked up 700 stairs and along the side of a mountain in order to reach the glacier, but it was definitely worth the hike to see it! It's not everyday you get to hike on a glacier. That afternoon we traveled on to Hokitka where we visited a jade factory and the beach. That night we arrived at Flock Hill Sheep station, where we spent the night.

Saturday morning we got to see some of what goes on at a sheep station. Some of the workers showed us how the dogs round up the sheep and then how to catch sheep to sheer. After having morning tea, we drove back to Christchurch where our tour was ending. That afternoon we took a nice relaxing boat ride down the Avon River and visited a museum. Finally, Saturday night we had one last dinner with the group and said our goodbyes.

Our last day in New Zealand, we visited the Kiwi House and Aquarium. The kiwi we saw was adorable! After some souvenir shopping, we were on our way to the airport and then back to Sydney.

Here are the links to some of the pictures I took:

After such a nice break, I'm back to class tomorrow. I have a few days to cram in my homework and then Mike is coming to Sydney on Thursday! It should be lots of fun!