Category Archives: Australia

Australia Day 5/Hawaii Day 1

Today we packed our bags and headed to Paddy’s once our bags were in storage. Using only our memories for navigation, we got to the flea market for the final time, and we haggled for bags and other souvenirs. Then we walked to 7/11 and bought more Tim Tams to take home. After lunch, I hiked to a grocery store, Coles, with a friend to help her pick out her Tim Tams. the security guard told me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures within the store…so naturally I did because I was told not to.

Then we hiked back to the hotel, and said our goodbyes to Matt, while we waited for the bus to the airport. Four hours later, we were on a nine hour flight. A flight I got no sleep on, had no music for, and didn’t feel like reading on. Otherwise known as a red eye. We crossed the International Date Line, so we left on July 9th Australian Time, and arrived at 7:30am on July 9th, Hawaiian Time. So to answer any remaining questions, yes, we did in fact travel.

We met our new tour guide Laurie, and bus driver Richard. Tired, hungry, dirty, and¬†disheveled, we were told we wouldn’t have time to change or clean up before visiting the USS Arizona Memorial. It was beautiful and very cool to learn about Pearl Harbor, or at least what I hadn’t already learned from the movie. ūüėÄ

After a short film about December 7th, 1941, we took a boat out to the memorial which is built over the Arizona, never recovered. There are seven windows on two of the sides and the roof, symbolizing the 21 gun salute.

While there, a Pearl Harbor survivor hobbled in on his cane, and everyone applauded him. Apparently he comes back to visit the memorial every year the week of July 4th.

Then we took the boat back to the mainland and loaded the bus to Punchbowl Cemetery, with a pit stop at a hot dog stand to appease our stomachs. Punchbowl was a drive through, and then we drove to Diamond Head Crater (another drive through.) Finally, after seven hours, we could rest at the hotel. We got our rooming assignments, and headed straight for the beach. Intermittent sun showers didn’t spoil the beauty of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. Our skin hadn’t seen sun in a week after the New Zealand and Australian winters.

We went back to Queen Kapiolani Hotel, dressed up for the first time in weeks, and walked to get smoothies with the girls. We enjoyed the beautiful boardwalk, street performers, and warm weather most of all.

Australia Day 4

Last night Ms.Beekley (my English teacher, and one of the trip coordinators) called my room around 10pm to gossip. We talked for a good hour, about my life and some things going on for me, and my thoughts on the trip so far. Definitely a perk to a sleepless night.

This morning Matt took us to Starbucks to have the real Tim Tam Experience. Caramel Macchiatos in hand, we bit the ends off the cookies, absorbed the coffee, and let the amazing treats melt in our mouths.

Then Ms.Beekley and I walked back to the hotel while everyone else headed to the aquarium or to climb the bridge. Not this girl.

I had planned to go to the State Library to see the free photo exhibit, courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald and World Wide Press ’11. The Sydney photos were beautiful and helpful to understand the Australian culture. The World photos were graphic and eye-opening. Too graphic for Beeks, so I continued through the exhibit with Sabrina (another student who joined us.)

Then, we went to the Australian Museum to see the Aboriginal Exhibit. I didn’t know the aborigines didn’t gain full rights until 1969. It reminded me a lot of the movie we watched in seventh grade called “Rabbit Run Fence.” It was related to the Australian unit we were covering at the time.

The three of us walked back to the hotel to pick up Erica (who has been battling a fever this week) and took the subway to the Rocks, and went to the same cafe we’d gone to a few days earlier. The four of us talked about our trip thus far, compared other tour groups, and talked about Masco as a whole. We then went to get ice¬†cream, til I pointed out a cockroach on the parlor floor, which made us lose our ice cream appetite.

We then booked it to the Sydney Opera House on the other side of the Harbor for our tour. The House was beautiful, shaped like sails of a ship and seashells, all designed in one. My favorite part was sitting in one of the concert halls, deathly silent, as we listened to the harpsichord being tuned on stage.

After the tour, we subway-ed our way back to the hotel, just before dinner. We walked to dinner as a group, led by the fearless Matt, to the Blackbird Cafe. Don’t let the name throw you off. Blackbird Cafe, was a club. Dim lights, house music, music videos, and neon lights, this was definitely a club.

We walked back to the hotel, flying high with excitement for celebrating our last night in Sydney.

Australia Day 3

Today we drove to Featherdale Wildlife Park. This was much different from the place we visited yesterday. Here, we got to pet koalas and feed kangaroos.

When we were animal-ed out, we drove to the University of Sydney. The campus ¬†is beautiful and I want to study abroad here. We went for Thai food near campus, per Matt’s suggestion, to live a day in the life of a college student. Then we wrapped our tour up, like all tours prior to this one, by visiting the gift shop.

We took the subway to Paddy’s, the local flea market. The market was so huge, it would take days to cover it, and that’s only if you manage to not get lost. Otherwise, you’re looking at spending weeks there. Using my super navigation skills and a small map we’d been given, I guided Talia and I through the city back to the hotel. I still have no idea how I was able to manage that.

We made a meal of Tim Tams in front of the TV– a Simpsons night. Then we checked in with chaperones, and everyone went out to get smoothies and Chinese food. Feeling a bit “under the weather,” I stayed in for the night.

Australia Day 2

“Every day becomes a fight to beat the Asian tourists to the sights.” Matt’s words, not mine. But with that in mind, we loaded a bus bright and early to a viewing point of Sydney Harbor. We saw the Opera House and Bridge. After, we drove to Bondi Beach where we took group photos in our school shirts. Talia used her new school shirt. to understand what a relief this is, you have to know what happened earlier this morning.

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After breakfast, prior to taking the bus, we went to our rooms to grab our Masco shirts we’d gotten for free for going on the trip. We were going to take a group photo at the beach. Talia’s was kept with her wet swimming gear in her luggage, and it was still damp. Being the geniuses we are, we hung ¬†her shirt on the lamp, and turned the light on. Kids: If your parents ever warn you not to put things on or near a lamp, listen to them!

We were lucky that Jennie saw the flames and smelled the smoke in time. She grabbed the shirt and stomped out the flames. To Talia’s horror, a giant hole was burned front to back in her shirt.¬†Panicking about repercussions with the hotel and our teachers, we fanned the room, and posted the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. We told our teachers, fessed up to our stupidity, and thankfully they had another shirt for the group photo.

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Anyway, we lost Matt at Bondi, and waited for him to come back to the bus to take us to the Opera House. When he did, we drove down Oxford Street, the most well known gay street in all of Sydney. We finally got to the Opera House and were able to see P.Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. We walked to the wharf, home to didgeridoo street musicians.

We walked to the Rocks, a district of Sydney packed with the little eateries that were good enough to write home about. Splitting into little groups, my group went to a little cafe with a patio out back and a deli up front. We ordered delicious sandwiches, then got gelato next door. Yes, that’s right. The gelato fad is back!

From there, we took a cruise out of the marina (more like an extended ferry ride) where I developed a severe need for Dramamine.

We went to the Sydney Wildlife World, which was mediocre at best, followed an even worst dinner in their cafeteria. But all that couldn’t bring down our high energy for what was to come later.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel, painted our faces blue, and spray painted our hair blue too. Then, Matt paraded us, The Smurfs, to a local bar/lounge where we camped out to watch the rugby game. The tension everyone in the club felt watching the big screens was tangible. Unfortunately, the blues lost that night.

Australia Day 1

Today we woke up at 4am and flew to Sydney, Australia. On the bus to our hotel (or Travelodge) we learned fun factoids about Australia, courtesy of Matt. We dropped our bags at the hotel and practically sprinted through Hyde Park to get lunch. We intermittently stopped to listen to Matt’s commentary. Our lunch break was at the best food court I’ve ever been to. I know, it’s a funny thing to ¬†take notice of, but it was filled with a variety of different¬†restaurants that all smelled delicious. Then we walked to the Opal Museum, where we watched a movie presentation on opal mining.

I love opals, they’re my birthstone after all. But when we were allowed to check out the jewelry store¬†attached¬†to the museum, everything was a bit out of my price range. But I talked with the woman behind the counter for a while and really enjoyed telling her about our trip, and what I’d noticed the major differences to ¬†be between her city, and mine.

From there we walked to Sky Tower and did the overlook. The city was beautiful, but the rush Matt had put on the afternoon made it hard to appreciate everything the city of Sydney had to offer. But hey, it’s only day one.

Back to the hotel to relax before dinner. Something I’ve noticed between New Zealand and Australia: you really have only two choices when it comes to tv channels. One resembling TV Land, and all things 70s. The other, 24 hour Simpsons. So we filled that afternoon with Mork&Mindy, Happy Days, and the Brady Bunch.

After a chance to relax, seven of us (perhaps the randomest group of seven teens you’ll ever find) went to find a light dinner. We asked three people for recommendations, asking around the city, dodging the over 18 pubs, and getting progressively more and more frustrated. Finally, we found a place where we could order water and salads, and waited an hour for the food to arrive. The wait was long but the company was good which made it worthwhile.

Stomachs full, we walked back to the hotel, stopping in the nearest 7/11 for Tim Tams. Note:  Tim Tams are the most delicious cookies you will ever try! I now have an unhealthy obsession. Then my roommates and I returned to our room to watch Wilfred.