Monday, January 31, 2011

{ I went to Australia // Part 3 }

Towards the end of our trip, my friend Nicole and I decided to have another adventure. We bought train tickets and headed three hours south to Sydney.

It happened to be raining cats and dogs that day, which we found kind of ironic. We made the best of it - I picked up an umbrella and urged Nicole get one too so she wouldn't get sick and die.

Sydney's Chinatown as interesting. Actually, back up. Getting to Sydney's Chinatown was interesting.

Thanks to our friends we had gone to Sydney armed with a plethora of maps, but of course we accidentally left them at the youth hostel. So instead, we had to guess where to get off the bus.

Normally it wouldn't be so hard, but when you can't even see out of the window because of the rain, it gets...complicated.

We took our cue that that we had reached our stop when half of the bus (who happened to be Asian) stood up and walked off. We had reached Chinatown.

We had fun shopping and walking and seeing all there was around us. I didn't pull out my camera though because of the elements. And after a while we liked the idea of not being completely drenched, so we headed back. Nicole phoned her beau and I read. And after a while we went out to find dinner.

Let's just say, it wasn't quite what we had in mind..."Do you want fries with that?" Yeah, that bad. But it did stop raining and the Harbor at night was just beautiful, so we lingered for a while.


We were happy to see that the following morning was bright and sunny! We found some yummy brekie at our new favorite cafe...


And then I picked up a cup of "the best coffee in the world" as the shop sign stated, we took a ferry to Manly Beach!

The wharf was pretty cool...


And we saw the Sydney Opera House again. :)


As we floated away from the bustling city, I asked an elderly gentleman sitting by us what the name of "the tall yellow building" was in the center of Sydney. (I had temporarily forgotten it was the Syndey Tower. ) He said he thought it was a hospital. Yeah...


So the rest of the 30 minute boat ride, he took it upon himself to be our personal tour guide, pointing out anything and everything he could.

It was very sweet, though we guessed at least half of it was inaccurate. Amusing, nonetheless. And we were glad when we got to Manly Beach...


Though this I can not condone... I'm Irish and drinking tea with fish & chips is just unacceptable.


On my previous trip to Australia, my friends and I had spent a day at Manly Beach, so I had really vivid memories the whole time I was there. But those memories were interrupted by new memories...

As we walked along a path that ran next to the ocean, Nicole and I met a woman from Seattle who had just arrived in Syndey the night before. She was an interesting soul, and kept trying to convince us that they time change was only several hours instead of 14 hours. (She did backwards math, I think.) Anyway, we just were confused. :/ So I just tried to take pictures...


Apparently it was "Surf Education Day" for these kids. So yeah, it was a credited school day. Tell me again why I didn't grow up in Australia?!?


Ok so they call flipflops "thongs." FUN-NY!


After walking around the town, listening to a blues fest and munching on some yummy gyros, we caught a boat, bus, train, AND car ride back to Port Stephens.


Once we were home, the sunlight outside was GLORIOUS. So I grabbed my camera and took this photo. Doesn't it look like the sun is melting off the leaves like butter?


I ran back inside to switch lenses and 3.27 seconds later, the clouds had swallowed up the sun. Sad day.

Well not really though, because most days in Port Stephens looked like this:


And this:


Well I thought I'd be able to fit my trip into three posts, but alas, there's still a little bit more...

Friday, January 28, 2011

{ I went to Australia // Part 2 }

So there I was, nestled in the van as we drove 3 hours north of Sydney. We had seen a bit of the city and were headed "home."

Favorite songs played on my ipod as I studied everything outside the window as drove on.

I should clarfiy: I studied everything outside the window in-between short naps and re-awaking. Slowly the rain and the early hours our friends had left to collect us from the airport were having their full effect. Nearly everyone was falling asleep, and I was no exception.

After a while we arrived in Port Stephens, NSW...a hidden paradise, if I may say so.

We spent much of our days speaking about Bring Me Hope on the radio, newspaper interviews, in schools, and churches.

Our downtime was spent reading, walking on the beach, climbing mountains (they call them "big hills"), seeing wildlife, soaking up the sun, meeting the lovely people of Australia, and trying to spot kookaburras in gum trees.

One of our first days we went here:


That same day we took a boat ride across the bay to get fish & chips and see the Island. We also saw lots of these guys...


A favorite spot of mine is a place called Burbi Beach. Just image breath-taking sand dunes, miles and miles of gorgeous ocean, dolphins jumping in the waves, people four wheeling and having family barbecues. One day we even got to explore Burbi on horseback along the ocean. *Contented sigh...*

Here are a few photos from one night at dusk...





Then the sun began to set...



And yet it left it's presence.



On of our days off, some friends thought it would be fun if we climbed this mountain, I mean hill.

Only thing was, I was beat tired.

So much to the confusion and probably dismay of our friends, Nicole and I laughed most of the way up. We stopped at most any plaque we saw to regain composure and rest (and learn, of course. ;)

But I'll tell you, when we got to the top of the mountain...hill...and I saw THIS, I was completely sobered and stunned at beholding this amount of beauty.

Take a look...





The view gave a great look at Port Stephens.




And yet a bit more coming soon... ;) Then the end.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

{ I went to Australia // Part 1 }

Hey there,

So can we backup say...about three months?

This past November I had the wow, can't-hardly-believe-it experience of going back to Australia. Why, you wonder? I'm glad you asked.

Those who've known me for longer than a day know I'm passionate about orphan-care. I actually work for an organization called Bring Me Hope (you should check it out!) and we run summer camps for kids in China.

We love these kids so deeply that we can't hold it in. So we tend to wander to places, shouting from the rooftops (where possible) our love for these children and inviting other people to become involved.

We've had more and more volunteers come over from Oz (That's Aussie language for Australia) and I was asked to spend a few weeks connecting with those amazing, lovely people and also sharing the kids stories on what we call Speaking Tours.

So there you have it. That's why I was compelled to sit in a middle seat of a huge jet for 14+ hours. All for love.

* * *

But of course I was blessed too (though who wouldn't be blessed by being asked to go spend time in Australia? Unless it was several hundred years ago I suppose...)

My friend Nicole and I were met at the Sydney airport by our dear friends, who were also coincidentally the loudest people there and adorned with Hawaiian lays and bright pig wigs.

We happily piled our bags into their van and we drove right into the heart of Sydney. Oh, it was wonderful.

It was right during the morning rush, so we saw people going thisaway...


And thataway.


It was this kind of a day. (of which I have no complaints :)


We walked around The Rocks. Cool place. I'm guessing most people would dig it as much as I did.


Then we took a stroll around the Opera House. That area is just so enchanting. Add friends and a strong cup of morning coffee on a gray day and you have pure heaven on earth.





By the harbor!


Here's Eli, my little Aussie brother.


This is not Eli.


Intriguing sign...


Anyway, I saw some things flying around...



Later our tummys started rumbling (airplane food is not an option) so we checked this out:


Things that caught my eye...






Apparently this is a famous spot for wedding photos. So we also took a photo...


So we were led to a youth hostel that had a fun view on the roof. Made.Me.Happy. :)



Long drives + Music + Rain also makes me happy...


More coming soon...