After packing up our lives in Melbourne, we were off to our first stop of our 5 week holiday.
The 2 hour flight landed us in the beautiful, warm weather of Gold Coast. Our first stop was buying "Go Cards" at the airport, which are public transport cards that give you about a 20-30% discount off the regular rate (buying tickets up front on the buses) because we are excellent researchers and bargain travelers:) This made our 45 minute ride to Surfer's Paradise (where our hotel was) only $4.35, saving us a $75 cab.
We checked into our room at Vibe Hotel, which was a bit more than we wanted to budget at $120/night but it was worth it to be so close to the beach, shops & bars. And it also didn't hurt that it was a pretty nice hotel as well.
A two minute walk took us to the strip where everything was. We relaxed on the beach and got food before going out. There are always promoters out everywhere selling tickets to "Club Crawls", so we figured it would be a good way to check out all the nightlife.
The Club Crawl was worth the $25 we paid each, getting us admission to 5 "clubs" (which were more just fancy, small bars), a drink at each and food. Pretty sure I was the oldest one there (besides Nate) but it was still a good time, even though they slightly resembled frat parties.
Day two in Gold Coast was rainy the entire day so it consisted of a lot of relaxing, card playing (we're avid Rummy-players) and going to the bars again.
The next day was probably one of the best of my life because I finallyyyyy got to fulfill my dream of holding a koala!! We went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary which was easily the best zoo I've ever been to in my life. We started with the "Koala Cuddling" and paid $45 to get three pics with Yani, the three year old koala girl. She was extremely friendly and surprisingly not heavy at all. She's not the smallest thing in the world and you would just expect them to be heavy but she was actually super light. The trainer let us pet her and hold her for a bit and we got some good pics with her. I've heard their fur is very coarse but she was really soft! This experience definitely solidified my goal of having a pet koala eventually. And I'm being completely serious.
After that, we did the Green Challenge. This was a fun little ropes course that they had set up in the middle of this rainforest setting. They unfortunately had the harder adult course shut down because it was too windy but the kids course was entertaining as well.
They have a huge area with about 40-50 kangas just hanging out where you can go in and feed them. They sell "roo food" for $2 so all the kangas come and surround you to eat. They also had a Lorikeet feeding and would give you a plate of milk and so the birds would come swoop down and sit on you and drink.
Overall, best zoo ever! And Gold Coast was a great and relaxing start to our trip:)
Me & Yani:)
View from our room!
As my month-long holiday is coming to an end, I find it ironic how I take a vacation from my vacation (Australia) at HOME. But more than that, I realize how incredibly LUCKY I am to be able to do so - that my "home" is a vacation.
Granted, Sacramento isn't the biggest tourist destination (ha), but that's my original home and I will always always ALWAYS love it dearly. I got to be in one of my oldest friend's wedding, spend time with my family and play with my nephews that are growing all too fast (reality check, or should I say a slap in the face by reality: when they're around 20 years old, I will be 40!! FORTY!!). Anyway, I got lots of good family time in and got to see some old friends as well, which is always nice. I absolutely LOVE summer days in Sacramento consisting of BBQing, swimming, going to the lake and ending with the most amazing warm summer nights!
I was back and forth from San Diego to Sacramento a total of 3 times. That's three 8-hour drives & one flight. I didn't originally intend on going back and forth so many times, it just kinda happened. When I first arrived back in the States -
OH and can we first talk about how I was reeeal reluctant to go back, BTW? I may or may not have been a little careless with my passport the week prior to flying home so I might have an excuse not to have to go back (sorry America, but I looove Australia and I reallyy wasn't ready to go back to reality)
- I had landed in LA and then took a train to San Diego after hanging out with my mom in the horrible city that is Los Angeles (8 hours in the city really solidified my hatred for this place. From the exasperating traffic, to getting lost in the ghetto - thanks mom! haha - to rude employees at the train station.) After spending the 4th of July in not-so-sunny SD, I drove up to Sac for my high school best friend, Rosy's wedding. I drove up with my friend, Miles, and was close to deciding to just stay in Sac the remainder of my time in The States, until he ended up needing a ride back down to SD.
My first few days back in SD were kind of a bummer. Everybody was pretty busy working & what not and I spent the weekend mostly by myself. The weather was perfect and I went on bike rides to the beach and ate all of my favorite food - alone. I decided to go back up to Sac early and then of course, my last 2 days in San Diego, everybody was around and reminded me why I love this place so much. It's funny because I was seriously questioning whether or not I ever wanted to move back to San Diego and then did a complete 180 and am now excited to move back here when I return from traveling. I guess loneliness will do that to you.
Anyway, I spent my last couple of days in San Diego wishing I wasn't going back to Sac and wanting to stay there. I had a flight from Sac-LA and then my international flight from LA-Melbs and so I decided last minute to change my Sac-LA flight to Sac-SD so I could spend my last few days back in SD. Talk about last minute plans.
So I made the drive back up to SacTown and spent more quality time with the fam. My dad came into town, which is a kind of rare occasion, so it was nice hanging out with him. And then my mom came up for my sister, Mallory's birthday a few days later and so we had a BBQ with each of them (one perk of your parents not being able to be in the same room as each other = more family events because of having to separate them). So here I am back in Sacramento and you can probably guess what I'm thinking by now - I just want to stay here instead of going back down to SD! (Yes, I sometimes wonder if I am clinically bipolar as well).
I literally thought of every possible way to just stay in Sac and worked out a pretty good plan, but decided last minute to just go back down. So now, I'm in San Diego on my last full day of vacation before heading back to Aussieland (and for some reason I'm inside blogging instead of laying on the beach...hmmmm...). And of course, I'm not completely 100% thrilled on going back (I may or may not have delayed getting my visa to enter back into Australia, at the chance that I may not have to go back).
Not that I'm not incredibly excited to see Nate, but this trip back and pretty much my entire trip to Australia, has made me realize how much I love my home. How much I love California and honestly, America overall. And I've never been one to be super pro-'Merica. But I love this place - this country - and I love living right by the beach (No - Australia is NOT all beaches like how their propaganda leads us to believe!) I love cheap alcohol you can buy everyyywhere. I've missed my friends and my family so much. I'm LOVING watching the Olympics from America. I miss having a working iPhone (damn you AT&T for making it impossible to use iPhones with foreign sim cards!) I miss driving, In-N-Out, California Burritos, having toilet seat covers in public restrooms, Sacramento water (it tastes amazing! Although I may be a little biased since I grew up there), seeing all American sports on TV, driving on the RIGHT side of the street and the rest of the familiarities of home.
So as much as it seems like all I've done is whine and complain about where I am or where I'm going, from all of this, I've come to really appreciate so many things - everything really. Not only am I blessed to be able to travel to all of these places - my homes included - but they're all so amazing that whenever I arrive at each one, I don't want to leave.
Overall, I had an amazing time catching up with old friends - one of the biggest things I've missed while being away is having a lot of friends. I've made a few good friends in Australia, but most of the friends I made at all have moved back home. I've missed the nights of going out with a big group and then passing out on a friends couch with the pizza guy banging on the door because your drunk friend ordered a pizza and then decided not to wake up when he came to deliver it. I don't miss getting hammered 5 nights a week (well, every so often I might), I just miss making crazy memories with friends.
I'd love to think that one day I will decide to just live in some exotic city like Nepal or Tuscany or something, but I honestly don't think I could permanently live anywhere but California.
I realize I just posted a blog entry, but I'm actually writing about fun stuff now & I felt like it was appropriate to start a new entry.
So as I said in my last entry, I've finally gotten over being homesick. I suppose the combination of finally making friends & going out & finally doing stuff, did the trick. I went out to the city at night for my first time and it was BEAUTIFUL. It's like a different world at night. There are people along the streets doing artwork or throwing fire. The water reflects the lights back and illuminates the city. When I got there, I finally felt like, this is what I came here for.
We went to a bar called "Ponyfish Island" and it was gorgeous. It was right in the middle of the water (I know, I get it, island) and was a pretty mellow bar. There are tables that line the edge of the bar so you can overlook the water. I hear that it's gorgeous during sunset so I'll definitely have to come back. All in all, there wasn't a cover charge, drinks weren't too crazy expensive & I was digging the atmosphere. Not bad for my first bar:)
This week was also O-Week (Orientation Week) at Deakin. Which is where you come on campus and go to Host Welcome Sessions, Meet the Faculty, Lab Safety Sessions & most importantly, where you get free food & other free stuff. I honestly tried to go to my Host sessions but I just couldn't get it right. I thought it was one day but it was another and I thought it was at this time but it was earlier.. But I hear I didn't miss anything too important. I think they're more aimed at first year students. Which I suppose I am, but I've been in college for 5 so I think I'll be okay. Anyway, they also have O-Week parties which sounded like they would be fun, but I went to one and I didn't think it was really worth the $30 they were charging. I went to the "Beach Party" which was held at a club in the city. I went with my friend, Kyle, & his roommate Syd. We ended up drinking a whole bottle of rum to ourselves so that may or may not have had something to do with any fun we had.
I also went to the beach for 2 days straight. We went to St Kilda's, which was really nice. Super clear water, semi-rough sand, minimal waves. There were a TON of people there and it was blazing hot. I spent most of the first day reading at the little outdoor ice cream/sandwich shop under the shade. I just finished reading the Hunger Games series and it was AMAZING. I'm so sad it's over. Anyway, the beach was really nice. Just a little too hot for my taste. People tell me that there are multiple holes in the ozone layer over Australia and I definitely believe them now. The sun just feels sooo much hotter here.
I also went to my first soccer game! (Told you I've been quite productive). And yes, they also call it soccer here. Their team name is actually the "Socceroos". Our $10 concession (AKA Student) tickets got us on Level 1 a few rows up right by the goal. Which, I didn't mind at all. I guess it's better to have higher seats, perhaps on the sides so you can see what's going on better, but I enjoyed our seats. I really wanted to catch a ball but it only even came near us when they were warming up before the game started. Anyway, it was Australia's national team playing Saudi Arabia. I guess it was a qualifier game for the World Cup but Australia already qualified, so it would determine if Saudi Arabia would. It was definitely a lot more mellow than I thought it would be. I guess soccer isn't too crazy here in Australia. Saudi Arabia, however, were crazy. They were singing and chanting the entire time. They lost, though, which sucks because the next 2 years before the World Cup doesn't even really mean anything for them now. The end of the game was the only time the Aussie's were even loud at all. They did their "Aussie Aussie Aussi, OI OI OI!!" chant a few times and that's as crazy as they got. Anyway, it's been a GREAT week. School unfortunately starts next week, but let's be real, I'm not really here for the "studying" part, just here to be abroad:)