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.
The best day ever. We dressed up like fools, got the most incredible burgers in Hyde Park, took a nap in the Botanical Gardens, saw the Opera House up close, watched sky divers land in the Harbor, and saw a ton of open markets and free music. My favorite was a lady who rapped yo momma jokes. We even got interviewed by a local news station! Then we all went to the bridge and watched the boat tour. A friend of mine jumped off the bridge into the harbor (which is quite the drop) after the national anthem and was immediately surrounded by police and brought to land. He has to go to court today. At the end of the day, we watched stood on the bridge with thousands of other people and saw the most amazing music/lights/fireworks display on the water.
I fortunately landed a job as a program assistant for the BU Sydney program - I’ll be planning events, working in the library and helping out with school events and other fun stuff. We had to fly out two days early for orientation - but they bought us breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks for both of those days (thanks BU!). So far it’s been full of perks - they gave us free phones, pay for our calling plans, take us out to eat, pay for us to go on events, and give us first pick on courses. We’ve been to some really cool places, a lot of the bars and pubs here have open gardens in the back where you can sit and eat in the sun. Here’s a picture of some of the other PA’s at the Rose.
Finally made it to Australia! I hopped off the plane at LAX, then I spent my 13 hour layover bumming around Santa Monica for the day - I even made it to the pier from Rocket Power. Then came the 15 hour plane ride to Australia - I slept for ten hours, ate some congealed airplane food, and then landed 50 degrees warmer and 5000x more tired in Sydney! I still can’t believe I’m here. Boston’s weather reads 22 degrees today, mine reads 82