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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sunday... a day off!!!

Hi Everyone!

Morgan will do a wrap-up of the day off today and the first day at Canbarra on Monday night. Wifi there can be worse than Lennox Head so be prepared for possible delays...

Lisa and I are treating the gang to an optional dinner tonight and so far, I think we will have a 100% going. This group gets hungry... and you know the old saying, "Feed them and they will come..." LOL...

I am attaching a group photo taken Friday during our Blue Mountain and animal park tour as well as an updated acknowledgement of our friends from around the world.

And Happy 21st Birthday, Brian 'Broy'!!!

Saturday, May 30th

"Every citizen of Australia who posses sporting instincts is proud of the Sydney Cricket Grounds. Many say that it is the finest ground in the world." - M.A. Noble (of the greatest Australian cricket players of all time) 

Family, friends, and readers of the world! It's Saturday, May 30th and here's a recap of our day down under!

Lisa and Linda graciously allowed us bypass this morning's breakfast at 8am. We met in the lobby at 10:00 and set off to the Sydney Cricket Grounds. Just as we thought we had the Sydney transportation system down, the buses played a few more tricks on us today, but we made it eventually. 

The Sydney Cricket Grounds is an area about ten minutes outside of downtown with both public fields and two historic, yet state of the art professional stadiums.

First we toured the Allianz Stadium (Allianz is an Australian insurance company). Originally this was Aborigonal land, then it became a speedway, and eventually the current stadium was built in 1988. It seats 46,000 people, and although there is a ten year plan to add a roof, no seats will be added. Allianz Stadium also boasts the largest screens in the Southern Hemisphere.

While Allianz Stadium is home to rugby and AFL games, it was used as the soccer facility for the 2000 Olympics and has sold out concerts to Madonna, U2, One Direction, and Taylor Swift.

One of the first things our tour guide pointed out was at our feet: a buried time capsule containing jerseys, balls, photos, programs, and more planted in 1988 and to be open in 2088.

Next we got to see the home "change room," which, as you can see, doesn't quite live up to most locker rooms in America. While the change rooms look very plain now, they are decorated on game day according to the particular team. We were very impressed by their hot and cold tubs at 33 and 11 degrees Celsius, respectively. 

From the change room we proceeded through the tunnel and onto the field! One notable feature: the lights are on the inside of the stadium, none are towers. This is because the stadium is very close to a residential area. 

Right next to Allianz Stadium, we made our way to the Sydney Cricket Grounds. This stadium is just under one year old, as it opened in June of 2014. It is quite modern looking, and even boasts to be the first stadium to have wifi for which you can order and pay for food from your seat. Despite the modern stadium, surrounding buildings are very historic. We got to go in the "Members Club" which is a bar and restaurant area that flows right into the reserved seats. Still today one has to pay to be apart of this club. This club is so special that the change rooms are connected to it, and the players walk through the seats to get to the field. The home change room was a bit better than the last, but the away change room was far from it. According to our tour guide, the players like them being historic and wouldn't change them!

View from the deck of the Sydney Cricket Grounds showing the proximity to Allianz Stadium.
View from the media level.
Home change room.
Away change room.
The Members Club bar with their seats on the other side of the windows.
Members Club seating.
Members Club from above showing the historic architecture connecting to the modern stadium.

Our tour concluded with the a look around the museum and explanations of the statues around the yard. Then we made a dash for the bus and found our way back to downtown. From there we split up. 

Some of us went to a cute outdoor market and craft show, while others went to the Museum of Contemporary Art.  The streets were lined with tents of food, jewelry, and other Australian authentics. The museum had a theme of lights because of the Vivid Sydney festival currently taking place. 

The market/craft show we found in town!
While it has been overcast throughout the day, it hasn't rained. 

Later, we regrouped before we heading out to dinner and to celebrate Bryan's 21st birthday! We found dinner at a type food court just as it closed, but then had to eat in a hallway of the mall. Finally we headed to "Sunbar," and although we were the only ones there for the first few hours, the place eventually got packed with loud music, bright lights, and glow paint. Fun was had. 

Sydney closed St. George Street (the main downtown street) for people to walk around for the Vivid Lights Festival.

Tomorrow is our free day in Sydney, the time here went fast!

Leah Jenk
Xavier Sport Management

PS. A big thank you shout out to my parents for sending me on this trip! Love you!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Trip to Blue Mountains- May 29

Our day started pretty early! Getting up before 7 to get breakfast and get on the bus was a little rough, but it was worth it without a doubt!

Our bus driver, Dave picked us up at 7:30 to head to Blue Mountains for the day. Blue Mountains is an hour and a half away, so we made a whole day trip out of it. We learned a lot about Blue Mountains and its history on our way, thanks to Dave.

Here's a little information about Blue Mountains;
The geography goes back three hundred million years ago, which is older than the Grand Canyon. The region was named Blue Mountains because of the visible blue haze . The eucalyptuses in the air causes this blue haze. What I found very interesting is that no koalas live in the mountains.

Our first stop of the trip was in a town called Katoomba, where we rode on three rides. First, we rode in a cable car to get a great view of the Blue Mountains and the "Three Sisters," which are three big rocks connected on the mountains. The cable car took us to a boardwalk that was built around all the trees, and no trees were allowed to be cut to make it. The boardwalk is four kilometers long, and has just recently been built. We were able to walk on the boardwalk, and able to take in the scenery.
Next, we rode on the world's steepest railroad. This railroad has an incline of 52 degrees, and took just about a minute to ride up. Everyone was excited because we got to ride up and down the railroad (and then up again), which Dave explained was unusual on the tours he guides. He normally only has people ride up it once. Personally, I thought it was somewhat scary, not just because of the incline but also because of the speed. There was one point that we couldn't see anything and it was all black, which was the scariest part of the ride.The last thing we did at the stop was ride the scenic skyway above the mountains. The view was pretty similar to what we saw in the cable car, but a little closer and clearer for pictures.

We stopped at Echo Point to get an even better view of the mountains after eating lunch. We actually had to stop there twice because the first time it was ranining and you could barely see anything. See pictures at the end of the blog post to enjoy the beauty of the Blue Mountains.

On our way to our last stop Dave showed us how to use a boomerang. I had never seen someone use one, so it was cool to see. He explained that as long as you don't miss, it won't come flying back and hit you. Before reaching our final destination, we stopped at a little candy store. I was amazed by all the different types of candy and flavors there were, and wanted to buy one of everything. I think everyone really needed something sweet (or sour) and going to the candy store was a great move!

Our final destination before going back to the hostel was Featherdale Wildlife Park. This park consisted of many animals and petting and feeding areas to interact with the animals. My favorite part about the park was being able to get really close to the koala bears and kangaroos. I was able to touch a koala bear and even get a selfie with one! This was probably one of the highlights of the trip so far. We were able to feed kangaroos, which also made it easier to take good pictures of them because they would come to you. I didn't feed them myself, but many people did. I also completed the "passport" we were given before entering the park, which included getting stamps when going to see certain animals. We all truly enjoyed the animal park, which was seen by all the pictures, including selfies, that everyone took.

Dave drove us to a ferry stop, and we took about an hour ferry ride back to the Circular Quay to return to the hostel. When we got back to the hostel, a group of us attended a barbecue on the roof, where we ate kangaroo and sausage. It was a great dinner for a good price!

We really lucked out on the weather, as it was predicted to rain for a portion of the day. The only time it rained was when we were just leaving the rides in Katoomba. We also were very lucky to have Dave guide us throughout the day. I think it is safe to say that everyone had a great time touring the Blue Mountains and will sleep well tonight! I hope you enjoyed reading my post about today's adventures. Enjoy the pictures below that I took throughout the day. Thanks for reading!

Emma Ganiban

Blue Mountains (notice the Three Sisters)

The railway

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sydney Opera House and a Free Afternoon!

I never know how to start these posts, so my travel buddy Laura told me to just jump into our adventures of the day. 

We had a bit of a late night last night after the State of Origin match (see Dustin's post). A lot of us found our way back on the train, making weird connections we weren't used to and splitting up into very small groups to get through the crowds from the stadium. It ended up being a very long night and meant that we were ready for bed as soon as we got back to our Hostel.

This morning we had our first day to sleep in (a little bit) since being in Sydney. You could tell that some of us needed it because some people slept in right before breakfast and others even slept past breakfast. With our late start to the day Lisa and Linda allowed us the wonderful luxury of not having to go to our breakfast time at the hostel and some people took advantage of that time by going to a pancake place near The Rocks (the neighborhood we're staying in) for breakfast.

Our tour of the Sydney Opera House was scheduled next so we all got ready (some of us finally woke up) and headed out to the giant building that has been in the background of our selfies for the last couple of days.

The Opera House is probably one of the most recognizable buildings in the world and is regarded as one of the greatest pieces of architecture in the 20th century. We were able to tour the outside and inside of the opera house (Thanks to Steven, our guide) and learned about the history of the construction of this masterpiece.

The Sydney Opera House was built at the end of the 50's in the hopes of having an opera house in Australia. What I didn't know until the tour was that the design for the Opera house was selected as a part of a competition for the best design. A Danish Architect, John Utzon was responsible for the design and the challenge of mathematically and structurally creating this artistic curved building as well as making sure the sound quality correlated.

I was very impressed by the sheer size of the opera house, it features around 6 theaters that can feature dance, ballet, opera, plays, comedians, children shows, classical symphonies, or other rock or pop music groups and is busy almost every night. The versatility of the building was amazing and it truly showed me how the Opera House is a part of much more than just a tourist attraction to take a picture with.

Linda posted some pictures of the group at the Opera House below, but here are some shots of the outside and inside the theaters.

After our tour we had a free day! So after this point we all decided to walk around the Royal Botanical Gardens for a bit and then we all split up into smaller groups.

Some of us took the ferry to Darling Harbor, walked around the area of Sydney that is more like the Business District and did some shopping & eating, while others got some lunch and went back to the Hostel to get some more rest. Afterwards the group that was resting got some of their energy back and decided to walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge and then go out to dinner.
A couple of people decided to go try their luck and get tickets to see Les Miserables here in Sydney and were able to see the show tonight.

The rest of us went to dinner at the Orient Hotel and then had a nice walk around the Vivid Sydney Exhibits surrounding our Hostel. I think we've been extremely fortunate to be located so close to all of the action in Sydney by staying in the Rocks as well as being here when Vivid Sydney is going on.

Sorry for the long post today but I just started typing away and there were a lot of different adventures that we had going on. Hopefully more pictures will pop up later from others, but for now here are some selfies and pictures we all took thought the day! 

(Vivid Sydney lights on the Opera House. Our tour guide today told us they use the Maximum Wattage for the bulbs they use to project the lights and they change the high power bulbs every night)

(Laura standing by some vivid light up trees!)

(Me with the Opera House at night)

Below are some group pictures from the last couple of days! I think Emma is up tomorrow when we'll be touring the Blue Mountains. There's a high chance of rain and lots of walking to do all day so hopefully we'll make it back and be able to rest for a little bit before our next day of Sydney Adventures!

Thanks for reading everyone!
Stefani Moranski

Our friends around the world...

The Gang!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Taronga Zoo & State of Origin

Hi friends, family, & colleagues,

     Today was a long, yet satisfying day...

    We woke up this morning after a fun evening on the harbor dinner cruise last night (some more than others haha), We ate breakfast at the hostel and prepared for the day of Zoo adventures with our morning routines. 
     Around 9am we met as a group and walked to the Circular Quay to catch the ferry to the Taronga Zoo.  On the ferry we noticed a large carnival cruise ship had ported and got some grand, up-close shots of the Sydney Opera House.
     Upon arriving to the zoo, which was build on a gradient hillside, we boarded buses which took us up the hill to the zoo's entrance. Lisa purchased our tickets, while the rest of the group took pictures of the arched building displaying "Taronga Zoological Park" as well as reading signs reporting the history of the land and indigenous people that once lived there.
The Taronga Zoo is world renown for its wildlife and a leader in the wildlife conservation effort in New South Wales. 
 *I think it is very honorable to give thanks and care for the indigenous people and land being used as the Australians do*

     After studying the map, and realizing how large of a zoo we were in, we made a plan to visit the exhibits we couldn't miss and others we would be interested in.  The 19 of us broke up into smaller manageable groups and went on our adventures through the zoo. Many of us went for the Kangaroo Encounter first although, along on the way, stopped in the Nocturnal animal enclosure to see the variety of mammals who did their thing in the low-light hours, like bats and sugar-gliders.
   The next stop was the kangaroo encounter which was a pathway where small kangaroos, wallabies, and emus walked freely and guest had an up close look.  It seemed like the Kangaroos greatly enjoyed relaxing, by lounging propped up on an elbow.  
     The emus paced back and fourth near the fences border while the wallabies enjoyed their carrot snacks in the shaded center area. Many of us took selfieso with the Roos and emus, It was a fun exhibit.
    Our next stop on the path was the Tasmanian Devil enclosure.  I was excited to see that it was active and scurrying around. They are very cute, and about the size of a small dog, but much stronger than they look. 
     Following that, I sawyer that the Sea Lion show was about to start so we headed to get seats in the amphitheater.  The show was great and featured 3 California Sea Lions and trainers to toss in some interesting facts on the animals in the wild and display natural behaviors in the show pool.

     My group had lunch in the food court and then traveled to the Bird show which displayed the beautiful birds of Australia by having them fly closely over the audience. It was especially beautiful having the Sydney harbor as the backdrop for the show. 
   After the bird show we visited the chimpanzees, the Giraffes, the Lions and Tigers, Koalas and the Asian elephant enclosures. Most of the animals were active, and all of them were healthy.  
   The final enclosures we visited were the reptiles.  Knowing that Australia was home to a variety of interesting reptiles had me excited to see them.  We saw small frogs, a variety of lizards, turtles and large snakes in the enclosures, but of them all I was fascinated with the large Komodo Dragons.  They truly are beautiful creatures, with intimidating features.
      A few of the smaller groups met up at the exit and visited the gift shop for souvenirs and memories to take home.  We got to ride in sky buckets down over the zoo, back to the ferry, which we rode back to Sydney and walked back to our Hostel. 
    Many of us were exhausted from waking the hills of the zoo and ended up napping  before getting ready for the State of Origin, Rugby League Match in the evening.

   State of Origin Match

    We left for the YHA for dinner prior to the State of Origin match at 5pm after a 10 minute walk and the way things close early around here,we just barely made the food court before it closed. The food was decent, but acceptable.  The Crew met up after dinner and headed to the train Station, some of us were adorned in our recently purchased New South Wales (NSW) swag, and boarded the trains to the Sydney Olympic park.  
    After one transfer and 30 minutes we had made it to the Olympic park, which had transformed from the quiet & peaceful grounds from our tour 20 hours prior into the thumping bass of a hotel club and 40,000 electric rugby fans headed toward the majestic ANZ (A-N-Zede) Stadium.
     We made it through the turnstiles and walked Around and Around and around the 6 story rotunda walkway to our section in the stadium, and up, up, up, to our row. We had a birds eye view, and were happy to be there.  The pre-match festivities began on the field, as the stadium filled more and more topping off at 80,122 fans. 
    The game began after the Australian National Anthem, with a kick-off for two 40 minute halves of intense hard hitting Rugby, the visiting Queensland Maroons edged out the NSW Blues 11-10 in the first State of Origin match of 2015.  Two more rematches (best-of-3) will take place in the next month to discover the winner. The 8 years prior to 2014, (which NSW won), QLD has been victorious. So we'll have to see how this tournament turns out even though we'll be back in the states by the grand final.  

Next up: tomorrow is a tour the the Sydney Opera house.


Dustin Norton
Azusa Pacific University
Athletic Training Student L3