Amazing Australia- Sydney Bridgeclimb

Hello Dear Readers!

My second day dawned bright and early, with me squinting angrily through blurry contacts at the shining sun outside. I’d only booked the Intercontinental for one night, (I’ll write a post about why later), so packed up my things and dropped them off at luggage storage before heading out for the day.

Has anyone ever planned anything that they then regretted and dreaded?

Yeah, that was me with the Sydney Bridgeclimb. I’d planned it literally the day earlier and was not looking forward to it in the slightest. In theory, it’s this super climb hike up to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where you can overlook the city and then have bragging rights over all your friends. In actuality, however, I was feeling super jet-lagged and not in the slightest ready to climb some 1600 steps.

So it was with a feeling of trepidation that I dragged myself to the Bridgeclimb office, inwardly moping and all set to have a miserable time.

Joke was on me! It was super awesome. I mean, they make you take off everything from bobby pins to Fitbits (did my climb even count?), and you had to wear super doofy Bridgeclimb jumpsuits, but this is seriously one of the coolest things I did.

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I immediately met the only Australian on the tour and befriended her, which is a good thing because everyone is strapped into a single line and you’re stuck next to your partner for a good four hours.

The climb itself wasn’t too strenuous, and I had chosen the sunset climb, which meant I got to watch the sun go down over the city, which was incredible.

It also happened to be couple’s night, so a guitarist strummed love songs at the top while couples gazed lovingly into everyone’s eyes and a few different people proposed. It was very romantic, and if you look carefully, you can see me squeezed uncomfortably in the back of all their celebration photos. Win!

Since they don’t let you bring your cameras to the top, (something about terminal velocity), they have a photographer come up, which means they can charge exorbitant prices for your precious memories. Seriously, it was $20 for one photo, $40 for two, or $60 for ten. Obviously I chose all ten, but I’m a genius and had them put it on a USB (I don’t bring my laptop with me), so I waited three long weeks to view them in all their glory.

To that end, you guys are welcome:

I am literally the most awkward person ever.

-Carissa “Da Monkey” Rawson

I’m Scottish Now, Y’ken?

Hello Dear Readers!

Just a short post today assuring you all that I haven’t, in fact, died. I’ve just been busy moving internationally and attempting to figure out how to live (not travel) in a different country.

That that end, look how cool Edinburgh is!

Ok, I’m saving all the rest of my photos for future Edinburgh posts. Stay tuned!

 

-Carissa “Y’ken” Rawson

Amazing Australia: Strolling Through Sydney

Hello Dear Readers!

Ok, it’s time to delve into this Australia thing. It’s been a long, crazy trip, and I’m so excited to share it all with you!

I landed in Sydney super early on the 4th, which meant plenty of time to hang out, attempt to avoid jet lag (which failed) and begin to explore the city.

First stop? The Intercontinental Sydney, which (due to my elite status) let me check in at 7am and drop my things before heading out to the Sydney Opera House.

Now, I know we’ve all sent the Opera House a thousand times in photos, but it’s one of those buildings that is truly awe-inspiring. It was recently awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, because, as they said, it is a building that has “changed the image of a nation.” And that is so true:

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After my tour, I wandered the Botanic Gardens, which were gorgeous, and headed up to the Rocks, a neat little neighborhood home to quirky shops and a weekend market, which I found myself returning to daily during my stay in Sydney.

One of the stalls in the market, named Natalia Ness Jewelry, looked especially enticing, and I stopped to hang out with the owner, having her make me my own little necklace.

That’s right, handmade! She even added a little plane charm to the end, since I’m a travel blogger and all. Very cool.

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I’m now going to shamefully admit that, despite my efforts, my first day in Sydney ended at 7pm, when I turned on Netflix in my room, attempted to drink the bottle of wine they’d given me as a welcome gift (I finished half a glass), and fell asleep fully clothed in bed.

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Which prepared me for my Bridgeclimb the next day!

-Carissa “The Snooze” Rawson

Amazing Australia

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s been a furious few weeks here for me, as I’m roughly three quarters of the way through a trip to Australia. It’s been an an incredible journey so far, and I’m more than a little excited to share it with you all.

First things first- figuring out my itinerary for Australia was pretty overwhelming. I originally booked my ticket for ten days, figuring, what the hey, that should be a good amount of time to tour the country. However, upon beginning to try and figure out where I was going to go, I realized that Australia is simply massive. I know, I know I should look at a map more often.

Anyways, it’s nearly the size of the U.S., so once I realized this, I decided to go ahead and change my dates from August 2nd-14th to August 2nd-24th, giving me just over three weeks in the country. (Though not really, since you lose two days on the way over.) I then decided to do the classic journey from Sydney up the East Coast, stopping over in Brisbane, Hervey Bay, Airlie Beach, and Cairns before hopping a flight to Alice Springs for a quick jaunt through the outback. Now this may seem like a lot, and it is, but it doesn’t begin to touch the amount of things to see and do in Australia.

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So, with my itinerary decided, it was time to figure out where to stay. As an aside here, I booked my ticket to Australia during a price war between the major US domestic airlines, meaning my nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Sydney clocked in at just over $700 on Delta. I then paid for the flight using 35,000 American Express points. (To see what I’m talking about with these points, click here).

Australia doesn’t happen to be a cheap country to travel, especially when you’re booking hotels. I could use points, but it would burn much of my stash, so that’s not really ideal. And I’ve always wanted to meet great people while traveling, which is a bit difficult when you’re isolated in a hotel room.

All of this is a lead up to say that I booked most of my nights in hostels. And not just like, private rooms in hostels. I mean 10 bed dorms with creaky metal bunks and the dulcet sounds of snoring to keep me awake all night. Do I sound bitter? Maybe a bit.

So this has basically been an intro to the reallly long saga of my trip that I’ll be posting over the next few weeks. Are you guys excited? I am!

First up- Sydney!

-Carissa “Almost an Aussie” Rawson

Israel? Ein Gedi

Hello Dear Readers!

The day after returning from my trip through Palestine, Harrison and I made our way down to Ein Gedi, a really cool nature preserve on the Dead Sea.

I’m going to tell you all, it’s super surreal being on the other side. Like, looking over and seeing Jordan so close…but as Harrison succinctly put it, “it’s a world away.” And that’s true, getting across is both time-consuming and expensive. It’s almost as if they don’t want to encourage border crossings.

Anyway, I enjoyed pointing out my hotel from the Dead Sea across the border (Hello Hilton!), and getting to see what life is like on the other side.

The Ein Gedi nature preserve is a unique place. It’s essentially a large park in the middle of the desert, where natural springs create a lush environment of greenery in an otherwise stark landscape. Ibex, Iroc, and other animals roam freely, unafraid of all the people wandering through.

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Waterfalls make large pools that you can both swim in and drink from, though hopefully not at the same time.

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We stayed at the Ein Gedi hotel, a lovely little place run by a Kibbutz. Do you know what a Kibbutz is? It’s essentially a communal living environment for Jewish groups, who all live and work together for the common good. Originally agricultural, Kibbutz’s have now expanded their reach to include things like light manufacturing and hospitality. So it was that we ended up staying here, right on the edge of the nature preserve.

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One of the first things we did (and what we did most) was head out to the massive pool area, where everyone naturally congregates and whose size I cannot convey to you accurately. The pool was really big, all right?

There was a spa too, with free Turkish baths and even a pool filled with Dead Sea water, which I didn’t realize until I got in and nearly flipped upside down due to the buoyancy. Oops. Good thing I hadn’t shaved! (The water will BURN if you’ve shaved within the last 24 hours)

Our second day there, we went on a guided hike through the nature preserve, which I will summarily describe as “hellishly hot.”

Did I mention it was the Middle East in the summer? It was so hot that as soon as we reached the first spring, Harrison ducked right in despite being fully dressed. I happened to be wearing a white shirt, and wasn’t up for a wet t-shirt contest, so I made do with merely sticking my feet in.

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Do all these photos make me look egotistical? It’s only because I am.

We hiked all the way to David’s Spring, which is also apparently holy, and took a bunch of pictures before heading back down the mountain.

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After that there was nothing left to do except go back to the pool, obviously. We were so overheated that other movement was not an option.

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And now I’m more tan!

-Carissa “I Need A/C” Rawson

Choices

Hello Dear Readers!

Missed me? I’ve been gone for a few weeks now- and I promise I have good reasons why. First, I just spent three weeks in Australia, where my internet access consisted of…well, almost nothing basically. I might as well have fed my phone to a kangaroo for all the good it was worth.

But I’ve been back for a few weeks now, and I’ve been struggling to make one of the most difficult choices in my life.

You guys may have remembered that I said I was attending the University of Edinburgh in the fall. Such was the plan for most of this year, as I made my way around the world, hopping from place to place and having the time of my life.

However, a few months ago I was offered my dream job. My dream job.

And I took it. I made plans to move my life (and dogs) across the country and settle down for what I hoped was a good long time.

But there was always something in the back of my mind. Something wondering…a niggling little thought.

What if I went to Edinburgh? What if?

 

So I was stuck with a problem. Dream school or dream job? You guys will recognize this as a gold-plated problem. But a problem it was indeed. Because, you see, these choices were 180 degrees different, and choosing one essentially meant I lost the other. For good.

Like I said, I chose my dream job.

But then the what ifs got me.

And I realized that while my dream job was the dream for the person I was- the girl who lived to work and, essentially, just wanted to be a badass- my dream school is the dream for the person who I want to be.

And so, for the first time in my life, I am choosing the risky road. I am choosing happiness. I am choosing me.

I’ll see you all in Scotland.

-Carissa