Hello, everyone!! It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to bring you up to speed in the Land Down Under, so let me tell you about how I’ve been spending my time. I had a week in Melbourne before classes started, and my roommate and I figured that since we will spend the majority of our semester in Melbourne, we wanted to go on a little adventure during that time. So we stopped by a local travel agency and asked which parts of Australia we could see in a six day time span. We were there for about two to three hours but we left with an adventure of a lifetime booked!
Our destination? The Gold Coast of Australia. It is raved about as having the best beaches in Australia, and now that I have been, I can certainly attest to that! We flew into Surfer’s Paradise which is just south of Brisbane and stayed for two days, then we took a two hour bus ride to Byron Bay for the remaining four days before flying back to Melbourne.
Upon arrival to Surfer’s Paradise, the first thing that we realized is that it was HOT. And I mean upper nineties hopping off of that plane (which was tough because we wore most of our clothes so that we didn’t have to check too many bags at the airport, a classic move that I picked up from some other travelers in my program). We dropped off our things where we were staying, and then we went and got a late breakfast, or as Australians say, “brekkie,” right by the beach. Brekkie was a pretty basic breakfast I’d have in America, eggs, bacon, and toast. Some things just aren’t so different down here. Then we spent the day walking the boardwalk to see some sand sculptures that were just put on display for a surf festival, and exploring the little shops lining the town.
Anyway, this first day in Surfer’s Paradise was the ONLY DAY we got burnt on our entire beach trip and it is because we underestimated the strength of the sun over Australia. In case you don’t know, there is practically no ozone layer here. We could only use SPF50 or greater otherwise you get third degree burns within a half hour. Fortunately our burns weren’t too bad, but after that we were diligent about our SPF application!
The next day was another beach day for us. We made sure to grab some gelato that night at a place by the beach. By the way, there are really no ice cream places in Australia! It is alllll gelato. Australia seems to be really into coffee, sushi, and dessert. There are coffee places, sushi places, and dessert places EVERYWHERE on every corner. And my friends from The States (That is what I have grown to refer to America as now. If you tell someone you are from America they look at you very quizzically and say, “North or South?” so learned that one very quickly!) Now, I LOVE SUSHI so this is absolutely beautiful. A roll here is only $2.70AUD which is roughly $2.00USD and that is so inexpensive compared to The States.
When we got to Byron Bay, we all had a bit of culture shock. We only saw as much of Byron Bay as
Google showed, which was primarily the beaches and its famous lighthouse, but what we didn’t see is that basically the town is in the JUNGLE. So when we got to our accommodation and were greeted by wild turkeys and huge iguanas we were looking at each other like, “Whaaattt did we sign ourselves up for?!” but we became friends with the animals pretty quickly! They were never inside our living spaces which is all we could hope for, but by the end we learned which berries you can feed the iguanas off the trees and that you can pet them once the sun goes down because they aren’t as hot and angry! One of the first days we were there we went SURFING. Yes, you read that correctly. Me… Alexis Anne… Surfing… Anyone who knows me would know that I am not much of the CATCH A GNARLY WAVE and HANG LOSE type but believe it or not, I was actually pretty good! I was catching waves left and right! I definitely have my instructors to thank for that. They were incredibly patient and really helpful. However, I should mention I also wiped out a million times.
Another awesome adventure I had the chance to do was ocean kayaking and it was AMAZING. The scariest part was that we had to get our kayaks out into the ocean through GIANT breaking waves. Once we got far enough out, we saw dolphins and the water was so clear that you could see right to the ocean floor. Of course every adventure has to come to an end, and this one was glorious.
WHAT. A. TRIP. I will never forget it, but now it’s time to tackle a new adventure—classes!
Until next time,