Just got back from an amazing weekend! I got up on my second try also (which is surprising for a (un)graceful creature like myself). We stayed in huts, chilled on the beach all weekend, and had 4 surfing lessons. This video sums up the weekend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om0wCJ7SzC4&feature=youtu.be. You can see my running across all the surf boards in the water and in a lot of the group shots. Now for a week of finals and papers and then it’s spring break!
My wine industry class included an all-expense paid trip to the Hunter Valley 2 weeks ago. We boarded the bus at 8 am and began at our first winery, Drayton’s, who are famous for their world-class ports, at 10 am. Needless to say, i was pouring out most of my glasses that early in the morning. We went to several different vineyards that day, which ranged from an organic run-down cellar door with racy pictures on the walls to an upscale black and chrome building where the sommelier was in a tux and poured us wine from an elaborate glass vase. It was a bright, sunny day and the views were breathtaking down in the valley - rolling green hills flanked by monstrous mountains on either side. We ended up that day at our very nice hotel room - it had gardens, a pool, fountains, and a beautiful dining room. Then we met for cocktail hour and a beautiful dinner with more wine - all included for free. The next morning, after brunch, we began at my favorite winery, Peterson’s Champagne House. It was an open veranda located right on the vineyard. We even saw a snazzy couple take off in their helicopter right near us. We tried a lot of semillon both days - Hunter Valley is widely acclaimed for producing the best semillon in the world. By the end of those two days, we were all exhausted and extremely happy to be headed back to our beds. I still can’t believe all of that was included in our class, at no cost to us.
The best day ever. We began at 6 am (ouch) with a 2 hour train ride to the Blue Mountains and immediately were fitted with gigantic packs, a wetsuit, a helmet, and a harness. We were at the top of the mountain and got some really breathtaking views - the mountains really do look blue! Then we hopped in a run down old van and drove up to our first spot we were abseiling. Abseiling is easily the scariest and most fun thing I’ve ever done - you wear a harness around your waist which a rope loops through, and then you feed the rope through the harness as you walk yourself down cliff faces at a 90 degree angle. The scariest part is getting over the ledge because you feel like you’re about to fall over the side of a cliff into the canyon. But once you get to the bottom you feel awesome. Once we finished abseiling down a few cliff faces in the Blue Mountains, we hiked over to the temperate rainforest, had some lunch, and began our trek down the side of the mountain to get to the canyon. It was beautiful to see the waterfalls and go over the bridges and see incredible views of the forest and the mountains. Once we got to the bottom, we donned our wetsuits and jumped into the water (with our packs still on). We were right in the heart of the canyon and we could only see a little crack of sunlight letting through overhead. We jumped in pools of water, climbed up rocks, slid down rock water slides, and ended up at the top of the waterfall. It was incredible - and then we got to abseil down the front of the 30 meter high waterfall. This time was harder because the water was hitting your face and the surface was a lot more uneven but you got to jump in the water at the end and it was awesome. Everyone lost their footing and hit the rock a few times. Once everyone was down, we hiked back up the mountain - we were exhausted at this point because we were going straight uphill and there were heavy wetsuits in our packs but it was completely worth it. It’s hard to describe how amazing it was - but it was such a great experience.
I just got an internship! I’ll be writing and web designing for a mental health blog/website, inspire.org.au. They help teens who are depressed, mentally unstable, etc. get help and overcome their problems. Unlike American internships I’ll actually be doing things for the company and my writings will get published. I’m so excited to be working for a non-profit organization. I start on my 21st birthday.
Sydney has the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside of China.
It’s the year of the dragon! All month there’s been markets, celebrations, and banners everywhere promoting the Chinese New Year. This weekend we were front row for the Chinese New Year parade. There were thousands of people in the street. They go all out - a float for every animal on the Chinese calendar, geisha-esque dancers, flag twirlers, a jazz band, tons of dragons and even a man banging on some pots. The dragons are so cool, they have them swoop down and over the crowd and some even light up.