A Travellerspoint blog

Brisbane Part 1: Contiki Reunion


I'm sorry there has been such a long gap between posts this time. I will attribute this to a combination of being super excited to see people I haven't seen in a year and a half, and also not really doing much that is blog-worthy. The last few days have basically been just spending time with old friends.

On the day of my last post, Rob and Bec and I went and picked up Harry from the airport, and then stopped at the liquor store on the way home (obviously). We spent a couple of hours drinking and playing trivial pursuit before heading into the city to meet up with some more of the Contiki crew. We went to a bar called Netherworld, which is half an arcade, and half filled with tables for board games. And of course, it serves alcohol. Danny and Rhi met us there, along with Morgaine and Marina! I had spoken to Morgaine the day before, and she had lied and said she wasn't able to come, so this was very exciting. There were many hugs, and then we played a game I have never heard of where you have to name three things that fit into a certain category within five seconds. Then, yet again, we played Trivial Pursuit. This was the "early 2000s" version, so I thought perhaps I would have a better chance this time, except it turned out to be an Australian version. I was a useless partner - sorry Danny. At one point,it was suggested that we return to Rob's house, where there are board games and alcohol that is free. We agreed with this fiscally responsible suggestion, and the whole group went home with us. Rob's roommates joined in, and there were some very entertaining drinking games and shenanigans occurring. As a throwback to the days of Contiki, several people got very very drunk. However, since we had all started drinking at about 2pm, this happened at about 8pm. Eventually some pizza was ordered, and some people passed out, so the night just kind of trickled to a stop at about midnight, which was fine with me. My bed was the couch that everyone was sitting on, so I wouldn't have been able to go to bed until everyone left anyway. It was a very fun afternoon/evening, with a lot of reminiscing, some dancing to our trip theme song, and a toast to one member of our trip who had passed away a few months ago. The next morning was a bit rough for some people!

The next day, which had a bit of a slow start, involved me, Harry, and Rhi takin the bus into the city. We met up with Danny, who was at uni, for lunch, and he gave us a nice walking tour of the Southbank area. Harry, Rhi, and I spent the afternoon wandering around the museum, which had an excellent dinosaur exhibit, and then the Museum of Modern Art. There was a Marvel exhibit on there, which had all of the costumes and props on display, descriptions of the design and filming processes, and behind the scenes clips. It was very interesting, and I was tempted to go home and watch every single Marvel movie in a row. Also - when are they going to make a Black Widow movie?? The three of us took a photo at the end, which was photoshopped into the poster for the first Avengers movie. We had a nice walk back along Southbank, which is beautiful. There are these huge trellises along the path that have flowers wound around them. There are also two little manmade beaches, and a Japanese garden. We stopped and had a drink at a pub with live music, and eventually Danny joined us and we made our way back home.

Tuesday was very quiet. Rob had to go to work, so Bec, Harry and I went out for lunch, got some groceries, and walked 4km back home. The afternoon was spent binge-watching a show called Zoo, where animals become sentient and try to destroy the human race. It was unsettling, but very good. Harry and I made poke bowls for dinner, which are basically bowls of deconstructed sushi. It was delicious - tofu fried in sauce, rice, and a bunch of fresh veggies. After the high amount of carbs I've been eating over the last few days, it felt good to be healthy. When Rob got home, we played Monopoly, which lasted for hours and turned into an epic battle between Rob and Harry. Rob won.

On Wednesday, we went to the botanic gardens, which were beautiful. I was having a great time wandering around and taking pictures, until Rob pointed out the spiders in the trees. From then on I was very conscious of where I was walking, and everyone made fun of me. There is a planetarium at the gardens, so we went to a very cool show called Capturing the Cosmos. It was shown in this cool room with a domed roof, and the seats reclined so you were laying there and watching the movie projected onto the ceiling. It was very interesting. At the end, the night sky that would be visible over Brisbane was projected, and the commentator showed us how to identify the constellations. I successfully identified the Southern Cross last night and I was very proud of myself. That night we went to a great Vietnamese restaurant, where I had shrimp salad rolls and a delicious vermicelli salad. I pretty much only want to eat that meal for the next four years. It was so good, and fairly cheap.

Yesterday, Harry flew back to Melbourne, and Rob was working in the morning, so Bec and I hung out and watched Into the Wild. I didn't really know what it was about, but it was very sad! I just really wanted the main character to go home, but he didn't. When Rob got back, we drove to his parents' house, where I got to meet and cuddle his dog, Milly. She is so sweet and fluffy. We took her for a walk, and then had dinner. Rob's mom made a fantastic lasagna and garlic bread. One of Rob's roommates has gone to a music festival for a couple of days, and he is letting me use his bed while he is gone. So when we got home last night I made a lovely nest, and slept in a room with a door. It was great.

It has been so awesome to see these people again. It feels like it hasn't been very long since our tour, but also so much has changed. I am so happy that even though for the first half of the tour I was really shy and didn't socialize as much as I now wish I had, I made friends and kept in enough contact with them that they are willing to come and see me, and let me sleep on their couches. It makes me wonder how many more friends I would have made if I had been as social and confident (even though compared to other people, I'm still not very social) during that Contiki. I would love to do another one, perhaps a European summer trip, and see what happens. We'll see.

I feel like I've been apologizing a lot on these posts, but I'm sorry it's taken so long to update this. I have a few more days in Brisbane, and then I'm heading to the Sunshine Coast to spend a few days with Morgaine and Marina. I think my plan for my extended trip time will be to town-hop my way down the east coast until I get back to Melbourne, and then Cass and I are going to go to Tasmania for a couple of days! It should be very fun, and I am so happy that I have made friends on this trip that actually want to see me again.

I think today is going to be fairly quiet. Rob is at work and Danny is at uni, so Bec and Rhi and I are going to hang out. They are actually sitting across the table from me right now, waiting for me to finish writing this. Also, as of today, I have been in Australia for a month! I am enjoying this trip immensely.

I hope you are all having a good week.


Posted by jennamiller 15:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Kuranda and Towoomba


Fun facts: the Cairns airport only gives you 30 minutes of free wifi, and while Towoomba chateaus may be surrounded by wallabies, they don't have Internet. I'm sorry that I did not post when I said I would - please forgive me. And while I'm asking forgiveness, I will let you know that I have rescheduled my flight home. I am now returning on August 10th. I really don't think many people will be surprised to hear this. I love Travel Jenna and she needs to stay here a bit longer. And I'm already all the way over here.....

Anyway. So during my last full day in Cairns I took the Skyrail up to Kuranda. It's basically a gondola split into three segments that ends in an adorable rainforest village. On the second gondola segment, there was only one other person in there with me, so we had a chat. She was from New Zealand. I mentioned that I had been scuba diving the day before and that I had seen a shark, and she responds with "I was attacked by a shark a couple of years ago while sailing in the Whitsundays.... I had to have two blood transfusions and four surgeries." Oh. Well, that didn't happen to me, so all is well. And she seemed in good spirits about it. She said she would definitely still go back to the Whitsundays. When I got to Towoomba, I got a coffee and then wandered around the many little markets that make up the entire main area of the town. The highlight, however, was the Kuranda Koala Gardens. Is anyone surprised? No, me neither. This was the place where I finally got to hold a koala! His name was Charlie, and he was adorable and very fuzzy. I've never been so close to a koala before, obviously, but they don't look real! If it wasn't moving, you could say it was a stuffed animal and I would completely believe you. Their fur is so different than anything I've seen on another animal, and looks identical to what you would see on a well-loved stuffed animal. I've also never seen a koala walk on the ground before! I felt like there should have been more to the back half of their bodies. It was strange. So I held Charlie the koala and got my picture taken, and then walked around the village some more and had lunch. I then took the Kuranda Scenic Railway back to Cairns. It went very slowly, but there were some great views over the valleys. The railway went through 15 tunnels, which were all dug by hand back in the 1800s.

I stopped by the grocery store on my way back to the hostel, and then sat by the pool and read my book. The next morning, I got an email confirming that my several week battle with UVic about which faculty I was allowed to be in was successful! So after I checked out, I sat in the lobby of the hostel and registered for my classes for September. One quick airport shuttle, an hour and a half wait at the airport, and then a two hour flight later, I was in Brisbane!

I was picked up from the airport by Rob, another Contiki friend, and his girlfriend, Bec. We then drove for an hour and a half to Towoomba, which seemed a bit like Parksville, minus the beach. Bec's friend's parents own a place that is literally a chateau. The interior is all beautiful wood and windows that look out over "the bush". Danny and Rhiannon, more Contiki friends, met us there, along with a couple of Bec's friends. It was an excellent reunion, and I was finally able to dispense the rest of the Canadian gifts I brought with me. That evening was spent drinking cider, catching up, and watching Planet Earth. The next morning, we made pancakes (with real Canadian maple syrup, not the sacrilegious "maple flavoured syrup" they have here), and I was introduced to classic Aussie foods like Milo and vegemite. Vegemite is really salty, and I'm not sure I would want to eat it for breakfast, but in general I would eat it again. I also had a lamington, which I was told is also important to try while I'm here.

On our full day in Towoomba, we went into town and wandered in and out of shops. We had a tasty lunch, and then went back to the chateau. The afternoon was spent reading and playing Trivial Pursuit, which I lost. In my defence, it was an Australian-specific version. I also made friends with a possum! It was sitting on the deck railing, and was very curious and cute. Everyone else thought my excitement was very funny. For dinner, Rob cooked up a huge pot of delicious spaghetti and several loaves of garlic bread. I finished yet another book after dinner, had a shower, and then went to bed relatively early.

This morning we departed the chateau at 7:00am, which seemed to be peak wallaby time. We saw at least 20 as we drove down a windy road, which was extremely exciting for me. Most of them were just standing along the road looking regal, and a couple of them stared us down and then decided to cross the road directly in front of our oncoming vehicle. This explained the several roadkill wallabies we saw along the way, which was tragic.

I am now sitting in the lounge at Rob's house, my residence for the next few days. Soon we are going to pick up Harry from the airport, and then this afternoon is the long-awaited Contiki meetup! I am not sure how many people are actually coming, but apparently we are going to a bar that is filled with board games, so it should be a very fun afternoon.

Again, I'm sorry I didn't post when I said I would, and I'm sorry I'm not coming back when I said I was going to. Well, not really that sorry, because I love it here, but sorry that some of you are disappointed in me. I still love you, I promise. I just have a few more favourite things to discover before I come back to the real world.

I hope you're all doing well.


Posted by jennamiller 18:05 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef


Has anyone else noticed that Travel Jenna has a lot of "new favourite things"? As a writer, I feel bad about being repetitive, but it is such a simple, accurate, and effective description. I feel like I try a lot more new stuff when I am away than I do at home. And considering how many new favourite things I have, I should probably try more things in real life as well.

I'm getting sidetracked. I am now in Cairns, where it is 28 degrees and yet somehow "winter". I was correct in my last post - my flight didn't land until after 2:00am, and after getting my bag and waiting for a taxi, I didn't end up falling into my hotel room until just before 3:00am. Being out that late when you're dressed up and dancing is one thing, but being awake at 2:30am because your flight was delayed and the high ratio of Asian tourists on your flight can't figure out how a taxi lineup works is entirely different. I was grumpy. But thankfully my hotel room had air conditioning and excellent water pressure, and I got an extended checkout time, so all was well in the morning. I did, however, make the mistake of wearing pants that morning, so by the time I had walked the 3km to my hostel I was a sweaty mess. The rest of the day was spent applying sunscreen, wandering around the Cairns Esplanade, splashing my legs in the lagoon, and reading an entire book. I was asleep by 9:00pm.

Yesterday was a grand adventure! I woke up at 6:30, and was picked up from my hostel at 7:15am by a bus that said "Airport Shuttle", despite the fact it was picking up people for a reef tour. We arrived at the marina at about 8:30am, and boarded the Reef Experience catamaran. One thing that happens a lot as a solo traveller is that whenever a certain amount of people will fit somewhere, you kind of just get thrown in to fill it up. I was placed at a table with three other people, none of whom spoke any English. After the initial safety talks and such, the boat left the marina and I ate a lot of the free watermelon that was available. Since I couldn't talk to anyone at my table, I spent the duration of the 90 minute ride out to the reef standing on the open top deck. Other than the crew, every single other person up there was being sick. It was quite windy, and therefore extremely rocky since we were going fairly quickly. Thankfully, I was not remotely seasick, and so was enjoying it immensely.

Remember when I was talking about walking along Manly Beach and how people probably thought I was nuts? Yeah, I am positive the crew thought that as well. I was standing in such a place where I continually got sprayed, but since it was hot out I didn't mind. I was enjoying going fast and being on the water. Whenever there was a big wave and corresponding splash, the crew and all the seasick people yelled. I mostly just laughed. And then, randomly, it started absolutely pouring. I'm talking sheets of water on par with the water pressure from my earlier hotel. The upper deck had a little bit of covered space, which is where all the crew were hanging out, and now where every single seasick person was trying to squish into. I was already a bit wet from laughing at the waves, so I decided to go big or go home, and I definitely didn't want to go home. I went and stood in the back corner of the deck where I could hold on to two railings, completely uncovered, and just got pummelled by water from all directions.

I'm not entirely sure how to describe that couple of minutes. I'm sure everyone else on board was very confused, but I was in my own little world for a while. Everyone knows I love the ocean, so I was already super happy just being on a boat. And this might sound kind of ridiculous, but going and standing out in the open, on a fast, very rocky boat, in the middle of a monsoon was extremely freeing. I was holding onto the railings and was going with the motion of the boat quite easily, so I felt completely in control, despite being drowned from multiple directions. My clothes were already wet, and I was wearing a bathing suit underneath anyway, so I really didn't care. It wasn't cold at all. So I just stood there, laughing. The rain stopped as suddenly as it began, and when I turned around everyone was staring at me. Yes, hello, I'm the crazy girl that loves the ocean, nice to meet you. One of the crew members came up to me afterwards, asked if I was okay, and then said "I've never seen that before". It was quite amusing.

Anyway, that was just the ride out there. Then we were at the Great Barrier Reef! We went to two locations, one before lunch, and one after. I snorkelled for half an hour or so at the first stop, and then did my first scuba dive! It was so cool. It was a little bit sad - the reef did seem like a fair amount of colour had been washed out of it. But there were little bits of coral in each formation that were so beautifully vibrant, that they basically glowed in comparison. Seeing the reef when the whole thing was that colourful would have been spectacular. I have been thinking for a while that I want a GoPro, and this first dive absolutely confirmed that. The emotional photographer in me was devastated that I couldn't document it. So if four or twelve of you want to team up and get me a GoPro for Christmas..... I'd be thrilled. Food was included in this tour, so we had steak sandwiches and multiple types of salad for lunch. It was delicious, and I probably could have had a nap afterwards.

Despite having chosen a slightly more expensive reef tour to being with, I loved my introductory dive so much that I signed up for a full-length dive at the second location. It was so worth it. At the beginning of the intro dive, we had to demonstrate that we could breathe and clear our masks etc, which took a really long time. One guy in my group just could not grasp the fact that you can't breathe through your nose while scuba diving. We did not have to go through that again for the second dive, thankfully, so we spent the full 45 minutes mermaid-ing around. (This is what I was referring to at the beginning with the "new favourite thing" comment.) I love scuba diving. So if anyone is keeping track, I am now going to move to Brighton, Australia, join an AFL team, and go scuba diving every weekend. And get a pet kangaroo.

I've started just writing these posts in a stream-of-consciousness style, so they are getting a bit all over the place. Hope you don't mind.

During the second dive, I SAW A SHARK. It was a little reef shark, relax Mom. But still, it was very exciting, and I utilized my new scuba skills and followed it for a while. I also saw a turtle (one of my many other favourite things), and many cool and colourful fish. It was so much more interesting than snorkelling, as I could actually go down and look closely. I even saw two clownfish going in and out of an anemone, which is when I really really wanted to be able to take pictures. The colours and the clarity of the water were fantastic.

The boat ride back to Cairns did not involve any soul-energizing monsoon moments, and I was very tired, so I just sat on the top deck and watched the waves. Despite the fact that the tour bus took 40 minutes to get from my hostel to the marina, since it stopped at every other accommodation in town as well, it was actually only a ten minute walk back. When I got back to the hostel, I was sitting on my bed checking my phone when I realized I had a literal layer of salt all over me. It felt like I was covered in sand, but I couldn't see any of it. I had a shower, and washed my hair twice, but when I woke up this morning it still felt like my hair was crunchy.

I was going to talk about today in this post as well, but so far I have been writing this for an hour, and I'm tired. I will do another post while I'm at the airport tomorrow, waiting to go to Brisbane.

Ponder this - when was the last time you had a rocky-boat-ocean-monsoon moment (or whatever your version might be, if my description of it made any sense)? I would highly recommend going and finding one. It feels really good.

Talk to you tomorrow.


Posted by jennamiller 03:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Melbourne: Part 3


I am currently sitting in the Melbourne airport, waiting for my flight to Cairns. And while I am very excited about what I have planned for the next few days, I am sad to be leaving Melbourne. But we need to backtrack here for a moment.

So on Thursday, after I returned from the Phillip Island adventure, I met up with my friend Hannah for a drink. (Hannah's parents own the bakery where I work, so it's hilarious that we are in the same place at the same time on the other side of the world.) We had a lovely time at a bar in Southbank, which is an area right along the Yarra River that is full of restaurants and fairy lights. Hannah and I decided to meet up the next day as well.

Since Hannah was leaving Melbourne that night, she checked out of her hostel and then came and stashed her stuff at my place before we went out for the day. We wandered down to Degraves St, which is a narrow alley in the centre of the city that apparently has the best breakfast places. Harry and I went at the beginning of my time in Melbourne, which I think I mentioned. Anyway, Hannah and I had a tasty breakfast, and then took the tram to the Queen Victoria Market. I went there last week at night for a food festival thing, but it is completely different in the daytime. Row upon row upon row of knickknacks, clothes, shoes, and souvenirs. There is also a whole side of the market that sells fresh fruit and vegetables, and a building beside it that has meat, seafood, cheese, wine, and baked goods. (There was a fresh pig's head in the meat section....). There was quite the assortment of smells there, but we had a nice couple of hours wandering around. After that we went for a walk down to Hosier Lane to take pictures of the street art, and then went through the Fitzroy and Parliament gardens, which are fairly close to my hotel. The sun had come out, and we saw three different wedding parties getting photos done. Hannah set off for the airport at about 4:00pm, so I then had a nap.

Friday night was a big one. Harry, Cass, and I went out to Chapel Street, which is a bit fancier than the area we went last weekend. I wore a dress and Cass' heels. We met up with a few more girls from Harry's footy team as the night progressed. We ended up at a club that played strange remixes and a lot of very songs that sounded almost exactly the same. Still, it was fun! I got home at about 3am.

Saturday was a bit of a slow start. There were a couple of excursions for food and coffee, but a lot of the day was spent napping and watching the Australian version of the Bachelor. Like I mentioned in my last post, I was taken out yet again on Saturday night, but this time I just wore jeans. It was girls only - Harry had a 21st birthday party to go to. Cass took me to one of the bars in Crown casino, where some of the footy girls were. We stayed there for a while and let two foreign bankers buy us drinks. Then we ended up going back to the club we were at the night before (with the bad music). I guess since it was Saturday night, they decided to get a DJ that wasn't awful, so it was more fun to dance. I got to bed at about 3:00..... Again. I woke up briefly at about 7:30am, and then rolled over. The next time I opened my eyes it was noon. Whoops. Especially since I had made a plan to FaceTime my mom at 10:30am. When I checked my phone there were 33 missed FaceTime calls. I called back, and attended a bit of my grandparents' 50th anniversary party via iPad. I had a nice chat with the fam, and waved at everyone on the screen. A fair amount of the day was gone by this point. Later in the afternoon I walked down to the major shopping area in Melbourne and poked around in stores. Then, I sat on a bench and connected to some free wifi. At this point, a random Australian guy sat down next to me, asked my opinion on his facial hair, and then asked me to dinner. It was very strange. I said no.

For my last night in Melbourne, Harry and I went out for dinner. He picked me up, and then put the address of the restaurant into google maps. This led us to a house in suburban Melbourne, which obviously was not correct. Turns out there are two Liverpool streets in Melbourne. This was made all the more hilarious by the fact that the restaurant, when we finally got there, ended up being less than two blocks away from my hotel, where we originally started. Despite this amusing setback, we had a fantastic dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. Afterwards we attempted to watch a movie on Netflix, but the wifi at my place was not good enough. Harry and I said goodbye for a week - he's coming up to Brisbane when I am there.

Today, I checked out of my hotel and then went for a walk down to Federation Square, where I sat and had coffee. I wandered through St Paul's Cathedral, which is right beside the square, and then through the garden that is on the other side of the bridge. I didn't have to leave for the airport until about 6pm, and at this point it was only 11:30. I decided to take the train down to Brighton beach. I took a ton of pictures. That is where the colourful beach huts are. I couldn't help but wish I had been able to take my grad photos there! It was so pretty. I also took a lot of selfies.... Solo travel problems. I was there for about two and a half hours, and walked a fair way down the beach. I took the train back to the city, got some food, and then went to pick up my bag from the hotel. One slightly nauseating shuttle bus-ride later, I'm at the airport.

Like I said, I am very excited about Cairns, but I am sad to leave Melbourne. I loved it. I made friends! And today's adventure made me love it even more... What is it about places called Brighton that make me want to live there? I hope I will be able to come back to Melbourne at some point.

As I am typing this, an announcement came on saying my flight has been delayed. I was already going to land in Cairns at 1:00am, but now I won't get there until about 2:30am!! Budget airlines suck.

Two cities down, at least two to go. This trip is going way too fast!



Posted by jennamiller 03:10 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Phillip Island


Once upon a time, I went to a magical place where all my dreams came true. No, not Disneyland. (Although if anyone does want to go to Disneyland *ahem Liz* I would be thrilled to go.) On Wednesday morning, I took the train from the city out to the station near Harry's place, where he picked me up and we set off on a little road trip. It was about a 90 minute drive from Melbourne to our first stop, the Maru Wildlife Park. This is a wonderous place where kangaroos and wallabies hop around, and you can pet them!! There are other things there as well, like dingos, emus, and koalas. The kangaroo section is just basically a field with a few paths through it, where you can wander freely amongst these delightful creatures. I admit, it took me a second to realize that we could actually go into the enclosure, but when I figured it out I pretty much almost cried. Harry can corroborate this. I went around and had a cuddle and a conversation with every single marsupial that was available, including some albino wallabies, which I did not know existed. The entire time we were at this park I was vibrating with happiness and making some very excited noises. You're making fun of me, I know. But how excited would you be if a small, soft, adorable wallaby came hopping up to you, demanded petting, and then held your hand in his two little paws and inspected it very seriously?! I have photographic evidence of this. Seriously though, it was an absolutely glorious experience, and I would like to petition the Canadian government to import kangaroos in order to boost the general joyousness of the population.

Right, where was I. Phillip Island. Okay so after the most amazing two hours ever, we continued our drive to Phillip Island, which is a very sweet little beach town. Technically it is an island, but it is connected to the mainland by a bridge about the length of the bridges that span the river in Vancouver. Harry and I had thin crust pizza for lunch, as a throwback to our adventures together in Italy last year. I was then challenged to a game of mini golf. "I'll keep score - I have to know how much I beat you by." These were Harry's exact words. I won the game. There was some serious pouting from his side of the car on the way to the hotel after that.

That evening, we went to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, which is every bit as adorable and fantastic as the name suggests. We got some coffee when we arrived, and then secured great seats on the bleachers that have been built on the beach. The beach itself is gorgeous - the setup is in the middle of a bay with big bluffs on either end. The penguins don't come while it is light out, so we got to watch a beautiful sunset first. Then slowly, the tiniest penguins in the world surfed in and waddled up the beach. After the first couple, they arrived in packs. (Packs? Flocks? Swarms? Herds? What is the appropriate collective noun for this situation, Mom?) It was very exciting. The penguins have three tracks that they tend to use to get across the beach, and the wildlife people built the two sets of bleachers so that one congregation would go up the hill in between the stands, and one convoy would go up either side. (I'm just going to keep switching up the collective nouns to make it more fun.) Our seats were on the inside of the second row from the bottom, so we had a great view of the fleet of penguins that meandered up the middle track. After the majority of the penguins had made it up the hill, we walked around the network of boardwalks behind the stands, where you could see the tiny penguins finding their burrows, mating, and having loud conversations with their neighbors. It was dark by then, so it was quite entertaining playing Spot the Penguin as we walked around. Obviously there were excited squeals on my part whenever we saw one. Eventually, most of our new friends had reached their burrows for the night, and we went off and got fish and chips for dinner. Apparently if you're near the beach in Australia that is what you have to eat.

The next morning, we got one of the fabulous cappuccinos that I have become obsessed with since reaching Melbourne, and went for a lovely walk along the beach in the sunshine. I probably got slightly sunburnt, but not too noticeably. Harry demanded a mini golf rematch at a different course before we left, so we went to a place with very creative and complicated hole designs. I lost this game in spectacular fashion (partially to restore some of Harry's damaged pride, but don't tell him that). We had a quiet drive back to Melbourne, where we went for lunch at a place where the waitress forgot to actually give our orders to the kitchen. It took a while to get our food, but we also got free sweet potato fries. I was then dropped off at the station and took the train back into the city and to my hotel.

It was a great weekend trip that occurred mid-week. I would highly recommend going to Phillip Island if you are ever in the area and are even fractionally as excited about animals as I am. Today is now Saturday, but I will include Friday's events in a later post in order to preserve my arbitrary pattern of blogging. I now have to go get ready, as I have been informed by Cass that I am coming out dancing for the second night in a row. Good thing I had a nap today. Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!


Posted by jennamiller 00:51 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Melbourne: Part 2


Alright, so I have been in Melbourne for a full week now, and it is great. I am back to having to pay for accommodation as of yesterday. HUGE thank you to the Urwin family for allowing me to stay with you! I loved meeting you. You can have your office back now, and you can boast about converting a Canadian to AFL and Hawthorn!

On Friday, my new friend Cass picked me up and took me to her house, where I picked a pair of heels to borrow for our upcoming night out. We then went to the aquarium! Bonus points to Cass for not abandoning me when I was transfixed by giant manta rays for a good twenty minutes. The Melbourne aquarium has a humongous crocodile that could easily swallow me whole twice and still be hungry. The viewing area for this beast includes a glass floor, which of course we sat on and then discussed the best escape route if we fell through into the enclosure. The aquarium also has several kinds of penguins, including big brown fluffy ones that I have never seen before. I guess if I am still seeing new animals, I haven't gone to enough zoos and aquariums, right?

Saturday was spent at the footy field. The women's team that Harry coaches had a game in the morning, for which they were short players. I desperately wanted to play and volunteered several times, but Coach Harry was having none of it. I suppose he had a point... Getting another concussion on a different continent would make life difficult. I did get to help, though. They needed someone to stand on the sideline and record the numbers of the players on the bench. Truly a difficult and fascinating job. But it meant I got a great view of the game, which I watched with much interest. After that game finished, Harry played in a game as well. I got a lot of good photos, which I edited, and yet he still added a filter to the one he decided to post on Instagram. I was offended. In total we spent about seven hours at the field, and I got a sunburn. Classic. I had a nap in the afternoon, and then got ready for our night out. Harry had made a Facebook event called "teaching foreigners how to drink" or something like that, and invited a ton of people. I introduced myself as "the foreigner" several times. I had a lot of fun, actually, which surprised me. Travel Jenna loves to dance! We got home at around 3:00am, and it wasn't even me that said "let's go home". (Also, when is Canada getting Uber?? It's fantastic!)

On Sunday, Harry and I went out for brunch, and then to an AFL game! Hawthorn vs Collingwood. (Hawthorn are the good guys, and they won.) I think I irritated Harry with my many questions, but I think I have a pretty good handle on how to play now. Also, I looked it up and there is an AFL league in BC! If anyone wants to come join the Victoria Sharks with me, I think it will be hilarious and awesome.

Monday was quiet. We had yet another delicious breakfast out. I am becoming addicted to Melbourne coffee. I went and got some today as well. In the afternoon I packed up my stuff and took the train into the city to my next accommodation. Today was also super exciting: I did laundry. I also walked around for about three hours, some of which was in the rain. It seems there are many similarities between Melbourne and Victoria, including weather.

Tomorrow will actually involve some fun activities! Harry and I are going to drive down to Phillip Island to watch the penguin parade! Expect some good pictures, if there is enough light. Apparently there is also a spot near there where you can hold a koala, so obviously I have to do that. I will report back later. Do you think I could smuggle a koala through Canadian customs??

I have reached the point in my travels where I am comfortable and a little bit tired. There are a couple of exciting activities coming up, so while it is not overly interesting to read about, I think it was good to take yesterday and today slowly. I am still happy, and still vaguely considering never coming back to Canada. We shall see. (Sorry mom)

I hope everyone has had a lovely couple of days! I heard it has been very warm in Victoria. And I've seen several photos of various Canada Day festivities, which looked like lots of fun. No one wanted to celebrate Canada Day with me here. My plans are still the same so far: I am in Melbourne until July 10th, and then I'll head up to Cairns. Fingers crossed for some sunshine in Melbourne, and no sunburns in Cairns.

I miss you all!


Posted by jennamiller 01:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Melbourne: Part 1


I am now in Melbourne, where the opposite season thing is really throwing me off. Sydney was about the same temperature as Victoria so there wasn't much of a change. In Melbourne it is actually fall, with the leaves changing and falling and jackets being necessary. Although not quite as necessary as the Melbournians think!

I have had a quiet couple of days, enjoying spending time with old friends and having less of a touristy experience. Harry and I went to the zoo (yes, another zoo) on Wednesday, which I enjoyed exactly as much as you would expect. Yesterday we explored a bit more of the city - apparently I am not allowed to call it "downtown". We had a fantastic breakfast on Degraves St, and then wandered around the Royal Botanic Garden. We also went to the Eureka Skydeck, which is I believe the highest viewpoint in the Southern Hemisphere. Great views, obviously. Melbourne is a lot bigger than I expected! Even from that high up, it didn't look like it ever ended.

Last night I went with Harry when he was coaching footy, which was very interesting. I have been given a crash course on the many rules, and I am trying my best to pick it up. I think if I had grown up here, I would absolutely have played and loved it. I "kicked the footy" around a little bit with Harry and apparently being a soccer goalie gives me a great advantage. However, knowing me, I would be injured within twelve seconds of starting. We are going to a professional game on Sunday, which should be very fun.

Today I am heading off to wander around with Harry's friend Cass. Ten points to me for being social with people I don't know!

Hope everyone is doing well. And happy almost Canada Day!


Posted by jennamiller 17:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Sydney: Part 2


How is everyone? I will mention again that I will be thrilled to receive pictures of people's pets while I'm gone.

Okay, so, when I left off I was about to head out and do the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. I did in fact do that, except I decided to take the bus to Coogee first and do the walk in the opposite direction. I was a bit unsure about where to get off this bus, so as soon as I spotted the ocean I stopped and walked directly towards it. This strategy was actually very successful, as the road I went down led right to the official "end", or beginning in my case, of this walk. I got to this point at approximately 9:45am. I of course had to immediately go and touch the water, as per my personal tradition. Coogee beach is absolutely gorgeous, and I took a ton of photos and video right off the bat. I am really happy with how one picture from there turned out - I posted it on Facebook and Instagram. Anyway, this walk went along the cliffs, up and down wooden stairs, around several smaller coves, and on pavement, sand, grass, and gravel. One part of the wooden structure that would normally be a part of this path was damaged in a storm last year apparently, so the walk was diverted through Waverly Cemetary, which is gigantic and very picturesque. I took a few photos there as well. My walk ended, of course, at Bondi Beach. I took my shoes off and walked along the edge of the water about halfway across. I got there at about noon, so it was a substantial walk, even accounting for my photo time along the way. I had lunch at a cafe across the street from Bondi, wandered through the tourist shops and had some chocolate chai gelato. I took the bus back to the train station and was back at the hostel at about 4:00. It was a full day.

The next day, Saturday, I went to Taronga Zoo, with about every other tourist currently in Australia. It was extremely busy, but I love zoos so all was well. You have to take the ferry to get there, and then the zoo has its own gondola system that takes you up to the actual entrance. Theoretically, you walk all the way down the hill through the exhibits and then exit right by the ferry stop, but they put the main gift shop at the top! So after I had seen everything, I walked all the way back up to go purchase a stuffed platypus. (I've now seen a platypus! So thrilling!) I cheated and just took the gondola back down at that point. My super exciting first Friday night in Australia consisted of Thai noodle salad from the grocery store, and a couple of episodes of Outlander. (Has anyone else watched this? I'm really enjoying it.) I have now mostly adjusted to the time zone, but clearly not to the amount of walking Travel Jenna likes to do daily.

On Sunday, I spent most of the day in the hostel, as I was hoping to meet up with a friend, and so needed to stay connected to wifi in order to figure out where and when we were going to meet up. It turned out she was not able to make that work, which was too bad. I took off in the afternoon and went and explored Paddy's Market. Again, potentially with every other tourist in Australia. There is quite a diverse and random selection of items for sale in there! It was entertaining, although a bit claustrophobic.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, was epic. If you followed along with my Europe trip, you will know how much I love Rome. At any point, anytime, I would be thrilled to go back there. I wouldn't necessarily describe where I went today as quite to that level, but that should give you some idea. Today I took the ferry to Manly! The little town there is adorable, and the beach is magnificent. It was a gorgeous day, for one thing, but Manly beach is incredible all on its own. And I have been to many beaches in my 21 years. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with the ocean. I sat in the sand and read my book for about an hour, until I got too warm. Then I walked in the shallow water from one end of the beach to the other, which is quite a ways. It was at this point I decided I was in love with Manly. I was walking along through clear, cool water, and listening to a song that was going the perfect walking pace. I'm pretty sure many people on the beach were thinking "who is this girl holding her running shoes, letting waves splash over her knees, grinning, and singing??" Yes, that would be me. When I got to the end of the beach, I sat in the shade and read my book some more. When I got hungry, I walked all the way back, still smiling and singing in the shallow water. Then I went and got a steak and cheese pie, which was delicious. Obviously, I had to get some kind of souvenir from my new favourite beach, to go with my platypus from the zoo. I got a t-shirt, which is highly unoriginal, but I love it. If I had taken the ferry back about 45 minutes later, I think I would have come into the harbour as the sun was setting, which would have been amazing, but alas I went too early. It is still a fantastic view, of course. Today was a very good day.

I have now washed off the sand and packed up my bag, as I leave for Melbourne tomorrow! When I booked my flight, I was thinking "oh awesome, I will get there first thing in the morning, so I can see Harry right away" (he's picking me up from the airport). What I neglected to consider was how early I need to get to the airport, and therefore how early I need to wake up in order to catch a 7am flight. Whoops. I have an alarm set for 4:45am. This would have been easier if I hadn't adjusted to the time zone! I woke up at 3am and was ready to go on Thursday and Friday. Oh well.

I would definitely consider Sydney to be a success. I have remembered how to be Travel Jenna. And I definitely know some people that would love Sydney, so if anyone wants a buddy when they go, I'm ready. And I am very excited for Melbourne! Stay tuned.


Posted by jennamiller 10:52 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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