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hello! i’m juli!

welcome to design to explore! I document my adventures in travel, design, and food.

bros abroad | dads down unda

bros abroad | dads down unda

3.3 tommy and mitch arrive! The first American visitors have arrived! This morning tommy and mitch arrived and came over to our apartment to say hello and hang out until their airbnb was ready. I was a kind sister and made them some eggs and toast to start the day. The weather was crappy so naturally we decided to go to the beach and go surfing, Tommy was able to convince most of my roommates to join us as well, so we headed to Bondi…

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When we got there it was windy and the rain was whipping on us, but we still continued, because Tommy and Mitch are quite the motivators, and we went in the water, it was a pretty comical scene. My roommates and I were definitely struggling, Tommy seemed to catch some waves, but he also got badly stung by a jellyfish, so we ended up cutting our time a little short since it was getting miserable. Still quite the experience though…

That night Stef, Jess, Monica and I headed to the boys airbnb to have some drinks before we went out and it was quite the pregame. The first bar we went to ended up being quite the uphill hike that I was not expecting, and I got a lot of crap for leading the way, but it led us to a dive bar type place, called The Royal Hotel, that was really cool. There was live music and pool tables and no other Americans from our program so I was really happy with it, but some of my friends wanted to go to a club, in which we split up.

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Then we headed to a different bar further south called the Pavilion that’s really popular, we went there for my friend Sara’s birthday the weekend previously and I knew they were very strict with ID-ing people, which caused me to freakout when I got out of our uber and realized that I did not have my ID on me at all. Cue the complete panic. Mitch started filming me on snapchat because Kelsey always does this apparently, so he sent a nice video out which was great….

Tommy, Monica and Mitch somehow talked me off the ledge and we decided to see if we could get into the bar regardless, and we randomly found a side door and just snuck right in as the bouncers literally stared us down. I was expecting them to come find us in the bar and kick us out, but we successfully were able to stay in the bar the rest of the night.

3.4 mardi parti

Exhausted from the night before, the morning was very slow, I went to breakfast with Monica and Eva around noon, then took a nap when I got home. The nap didn’t last long as I was awakened by my friend Sara jumping on my bed screaming “LETS GO ITS MARDI GRAS”. What a nice wake up call let me tell you, then I proceeded to get out of bed and go into the living room only to walk in front of about 15 people in a giant sweatshirt and that’s it. I had no idea they were going to be so many people and all I wanted to do was go back to bed.

But I rallied, I got ready and I got dressed, but I did not touch any alcohol as I started to get hungover from the night before, and Im not one of those people that can drink through their hangovers. But we all painted our faces and took lots of cute pics on the balcony and got ready to go.

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Mardi Gras itself was crazy hectic, we ended up breaking off from the group pretty early on because we got to the city way too early. So my little group of Monica, Eva, and Kayla went and got coffee and then we ate at quite possibly the nicest McDonald’s that I have ever been to. In usual fashion, I ordered chicken nuggets and French fries, which I intended to share with Monica, but I ended up eating most of it due to my fast eating.

Then we went to a bar to meet up with Tommy, and we made it with five minutes left in happy hour, bonus! Once Tommy and Mitch arrived, we hung out at the bar for a little before heading to the parade. In true dad fasion, Mitch started talking to some older gentlemen at the bar the whole time we were their, then informed us he fell in love with them, lol.

The Parade was an absolute mess, the crowd was literally ten people deep, so clearly I knew I wasn’t going to be seeing much of the parade. But at one point Mitch and Tommy got on each others shoulders and I just about died laughing, when Mitch was on Tommy’s shoulders he was trying to take videos of the parade with his new and improved view, such a dad move yet again.

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We grabbed some food after the parade, then decided to head back to Bondi to go out somewhere less crowded. So Mitch and I took an uber and dropped Eva back at home, and Tommy and Monica took a separate uber. Mitch and I arrived in Bondi within 20 minutes, Tommy and Monica didn’t have such luck, as their first uber drove them in a circle then dropped them off right where he picked them up because he couldn’t figure out how to get out of the parade traffic. Get this, the uber driver still charged them $15 for the ride that LITERALLY got them no where. According to Monica, Tommy LOST HIS SHIT and was screaming out the window and going crazy. I’ve literally never seen Tommy go crazy and my roommate, who I’ve only known for two weeks, and only knew Tommy for two days, saw him lose all shit. Oh well. Mitch and I went to a bar and got pizza while we waited for them…. Quite the night.

3.5 surf open

Today was the Australian Open of Surfing, so we all decided to go and see some surfing at Manly Beach. The town is super cool and quaint, and if it wasn’t raining and gross out I would have taken so many pictures, but because of this we plan to return later in the week.

We got the area where the competition was, and it was pretty cool, but the waves weren’t that big and it wasn’t a super professional event, so the surfing was cool but not crazy. Mitch, Tommy, Kayla and I decided to get some food and out of the rain, so we headed to a restaurant called Daniel San, it was a really cool open restaurant (again if it wasn’t crappy out, it would be ten times nicer). But the vibe was great, the music was on point, so much so that we came back an hour later with my friends from TEAN.

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It was a Sunday night and the weather was crappy, so I didn’t really feel like going out at this point, so I just hung out at home with my roomies and Tommy and Mitch apparently had a crazy night, that I still have to hear about……

3.6/7/8 school school school

Hey, you probably didn’t think I was doing anything school related? Well you guessed wrong! Not much happens on Mon through Wednesday because I literally have class and after class try and do the homework that’s due the next week so I don’t have to do homework on the weekend, I know I’m such an overachiever (insert me doing a hair flip or something)

On Wednesday night, Stef and I went to go hang out with Tommy and Mitch at their new airbnb in Surry Hills. According to one of my uber drivers, surry hills is like the West Village of manhattan, so just use that as a comparison for this neighborhood, especially as we tried to go out and discovered all the bars were gay bars. We gave one of them a shot, Tommy whipped out some solid dance moves and Mitch claimed to get hit on by a couple of men, but we soon decided to leave once the strip competition started…

We then headed into the downtown (central business district, CBD) to a different bar that was extremely empty, but the bar was still cool, definitely plan to revisit on a weekend night.

3.9 walking walking walking

Today we didn’t really have a plan at all, it was cloudy and kinda gross out, so I met up with Tommy and Mitch in Darling Harbor for lunch. We walked around for a bit, and we just kept walking and walking and it was cool to see a different part of the city. Then, we walked over the Sydney Harbor Bridge just for fun because we didn’t have any other ideas of what to do. Mom called us mid walk, and informed us to go to the Taronga Zoo, so we said why not, and headed in that direction

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Before hitting up the zoo, Tommy and Mitch did some ~sick~ parkour and it was quite the sight. Then, we got in an uber with the coolest driver on the continent, he was giving us advice about what to do and informed us we could definitely get the zoo done within an hour. Boy was he right, we blitzed the zoo (partly because most of the animals were sleeping since it was the end of visiting hours), but we got to see three koalas hanging out in a tree and we were super close to them – fun fact, koalas sleep for about 20 hours every day and they only have the brain capacity to eat sleep and repeat. They even poop in their sleep to be efficient and not wake themselves up.

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We were exhausted from all the walking, so we took the ferry back to the central business district of Sydney (CBD), before parting ways. I thought I was going to end up going out with them that night, but after a quick nap I felt really sick, so I stayed in with Monica and Eva and we watched 8 Mile, at Monica’s request because shes obsessed with 90s and 00s rap.

3.10 bluuuuuuuue mountains

I woke up to a bajillion text messages from Tommy, Mom, and Dad, first about how Tommy got kicked out of a bar, then second from the parentals about how Tommy lost his phone, then Tommy on his work phone about how he couldn’t find mitch… so yeah, you can imagine how crazy our morning was trying to get on the road to the blue mountains and do all of this. When we finally got in the car, we logged into Find My iPhone for Tommy, and we literally could see exactly where his phone was, literally the EXACT address. At one point, I even saw the phone move within the house, so we called the phone instantly, and Tommy’s cab driver from the previous night answered and agreed to meet him to return the phone. We immediately re routed ourselves to meet the cab driver, who was so nice and refused to take any money from Tommy for returning our phone. This is what I call the Tommy-Helen Luck, because for some reason Tommy and Mom always have the luck that things work out for them, but if this was myself or my dad, nope, the phone would be gone.

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We finally got on the road to the blue mountains, we stopped at 7-11 to pick up a hearty breakfast of chicken salad sandwiches. About 2 hours later we arrived at the three sisters of the blue mountains, it was basically three rock formations that are all hanging out in the same area. It was really beautiful, and reminded me of the grand canyon, except more green, but it was soooo incredibly swamped with tourists, making the experience pretty unpleasant. We started walking along one of the trails in hopes of getting out of the complete touristy area, and it led us to these amazing views and a beautiful water fall.

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Mitch always comes in clutch, running multiple paces or up many stairs ahead of Tommy and I in order to get an action shot of the two of us walking among the scenery. At one point, Tommy climbed the water fall, and used the water to cool off, only to come down and have me inform of a sign that says the water is contaminated from the local fire department near by, he spent the rest of the afternoon trying to wash his face off with bottled water…

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We continued hiking and it was absolutely beautiful, we finished the hike and still had time to explore the area, so Tommy and Mitch went to the information center where they were told about an area called Wentworth falls, with an easy and fast hike that was doable on our ride home, so we decided to venture there next. However, we made a quick pit stop so that Tommy and Mitch could take some car modeling pics (this was a continuation of a trend from their Melbourne excursion where they rented a Mustang and took some photos, but this time, they modeled on top of a Nissan). So we found a nice park along the way and had a little photo shoot, I just about peed my pants and tried so hard no to take a blurry picture.

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As we were driving away, the boys spotted a tour bus coming into the park and out of that bus came about 20 german girls on a tour hanging out around the lake. Tommy and Mitch quickly decided to turn the car around, and immediately ask the girls to join them in their pictures. Tommy walked up to the giant pack of girls first asking if “you ladies would like to take a picture with us”, they were confused, so Mitch came in, with maybe the most dad line of the entire trip asking “have you ladies heard of snapchat?” DEAD. Giggles erupted from the group, because DUH, a group of teenage girls know what snapchat is. As the boys continued to explain their idea, the girls actually took to it and joined in the picture. I remained the photographer, again trying not to take blurry pictures through my laughter.

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We continued on to find Wentworth Falls, using a good ole fashion paper map, so it did take a little longer than usual. Since we were now cutting it short on time, thanks to the photo shoot, the boys started running through the Wentworth falls trail determined to make the one hour hike completed in 30 minutes so that we could make it back to go out on the town. So picture this: Mitch in the front, camera in hand, then Tommy behind him a couple of paces, and then me struggling with my camera and running behind many paces behind as we pass calm, tourists who are taking leisurely walks at dusk.

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Once we got to the bottom however, the view was insanely breathtaking and worth every minute of the run. We were at the bottom of a giant waterfall, looking up and there were rainbows and the light was hitting it perfectly. We took tons of pictures, and you can’t even see us in the images because the waterfall is THAT big. One of the most incredible experiences of this trip by far.

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The kicker, was the all natural stair climber that we had to do back up the mountain side. Being five foot two, these giant steps were literally like doing lunges each step up the waterfall, and it was, quite literally, the most intense workout ive had in a very long time. Tommy and Mitch somehow flew up the stairs, and there I was huffing and puffing at the bottom while the 27 year olds beat me (embarrassing I know).

Once we finally reached the top and cooled down, we headed back into Sydney for the night. One of Tommy’s bosses friends took us out to two very schmoozy bars where I registered as a legit baby. I swear everyone else in these two bars were in their 30s, dressed to the nines, and there I was in a casual bar outfit with a baby face, so yeah, I definitely registered as a child.

3.11 beach attempts

After a long day at the blue mountains, we decided that Saturday was going to be our chill beach day. Monica and I met up with the boys at Marouba Beach because we wanted to try something new. As much as the boys wanted to surf, the luck was not in their favor, as the waves were huge and “the beach was closed”. We could hang out, but going in the water was not and option, and Mitch was extremely disappointed. But to lift his spirits, he did another dad move, and decided to facetime people while we sat on the beach.

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Then, because swimming needed to happen, we ubered up to a beach further north, Coogee Beach. As we put our towels down, I kid you not, over the loud speaker they announced that everyone needed to get out of the water as they were shutting this beach down too because the waves were too rough. It was not Mitch’s day. But, then we saw a secluded rock area called the Baths, and people were still swimming there, so Mitch Tommy and I all headed over to cool down. It was a really cool area, but also quite slippery and I was shocked people were allowed to be swimming here considering the beach was closed off. But we slowly waded in, and as I did so, I got absolutely pummeled by a wave. It knocked me over and I slammed my leg against a rock, then I proceeded to get blending into the baths by multiple rocks, getting continually scrapped up. I saw no hope in getting out, I made eye contact with Tommy and I swear I probably looked terrified as he came over to legitimately pull me out of the water. I now have a bruise the size of an orange on my ass, and my entire right leg is scrapped up with cuts. Fun stuff.

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For our last night together, Tommy and Mitch took Monica and I out to dinner in Bondi Junction, we went to a place called the Zebra Garden Hotel. It was a tiny hole in the wall and the food was amazing, I got a cheeseburger (lol) and it had apples and coleslaw on it and it was amazing. That night, we went to the Coogee Bay Hotel and another bar called PBH and I was determined to keep up with Tommy and Mitch (they were giving me shit the entire week about how I would leave the party early to go to sleep). It ended up being one of the most fun nights ever, from the dancing to the dad jokes to the tearful (and drunken) goodbye on my part, the longest and best night out ever, as I didn’t get home until 5:45 in the morning.

Big shout out to Tommy and Mitch for even making the long journey out here, I super appreciate you both coming and absolutely loved having you guys here for every minute, I will miss all the drinks you purchased for me and all the ubers you let me ride with you, but most of all, I'm excited for the shenanigans we will get into once I'm back in NYC. #brosabroad #dadsdownunda #longlivethevacation

Weekend in Melbourne!

Weekend in Melbourne!

getting into the swing of things

getting into the swing of things