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hello! i’m juli!

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

parentals down under

parentals down under

5.11 adventure time! Since coming to Australia, it has been on my bucket list that I would go skydiving. So today, on this random Thursday, I decided it was the day. None of my friends wanted to go, so on a solo trip I traveled an hour down the Sydney eastern coast to Wollongong to skydive.

When I arrived in Wollongong, I got to a small shack that this operation was running from, got suited up with all the gear with my group (which ended up being a family of Asian tourists who spoke no English), before we took a van about 20 minutes to the airport. From there, we boarded a small plane and sat with our instructor, at this point we got strapped to our instructor person as we flew up 14,000 feet in the air.

I, for some reason, was not that scared, I was more extremely excited for thrill and getting high off of adrenaline. Luckily, I was the second person to jump out of the plane, so I only needed to see one other person fling out of the plane before I ended up doing it myself. Jumping out of the plane was absolutely crazy, I couldn’t tell you if I was scared or just in shock, but it was amazing. Freefalling was one of the most incredible experiences ever, and the view definitely helped as I flew down into the coast.

I’m not sure how much time passed, but my instructor ben finally released the ‘chute, and we slowly descended to the ground. The views were absolutely insane, as the coastal beaches looked amazing and the ocean spanned out for miles. The best part was landing on the beach in the sand, being on ground and realizing what I had just done. Absolutely incredible!

Once I got on land however, I was extremely motion sick and had to sit down and try not to pass out or throw up for a good 30 minutes. But the pictures, and this video I made, are absolutely hilarious, and if you don’t laugh at the amount of facial expressions I make throughout this jump then you clearly don’t have a soul.

Also, fun fact, one of the pictures I posted of me skydiving on instagram got posted on the University of Michigan alumni page and then i made this video – check it out!

https://vimeo.com/218346714

5.12 the parentals arrive!!

Today was the day that I was waiting for since Tommy left Australia, the parentals being in town!!!!! I was so excited to the muther and futher as I hadn’t seen them in about 3 and a ½ months, so when they texted me that they had made it to the hotel and were about to grab breakfast, I jumped out of bed and headed downtown to see them (and get that free breakfast).

After being reunited and catching up over breakfast, mostly showing them my skydiving pictures and videos, we headed out on the town. We started off at the Rocks and walked around the cute markets across from the opera house. Suprisingly, Dad made the first purchase of the trip buying some interesting wind thing that will definitely be hung up in LBI somewhere. Then we walked along the harbor before hopping into a water taxi for a tour around the harbor.

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The best part about this water taxi was that no one else was on it, so we basically had our own private tour of the harbor where we got to see the opera house, the nazy base, the botanical gardens, darling harbor and the bridge! We got out at darling harbor and decided to walk around for a bit, Dad somehow go us to go into the maritime museum, where I almost fell asleep on an interactive museum exhibit, so that was our cue to head back to the hotel, where dad and I took some quick power naps.

That night, the parentals then came to Bondi Junction to check out my pad and grab dinner near me. We headed to the zebra green hotel, a favorite of my roommates and I in Bondi Junction, for some dinner. The jetlag of flying was finally hitting Mom and Dad, so they headed home where I headed out for the night with Jess. We went out in a neighborhood called Darling Harbor, one of the areas that we saw on our boat tour, and it was so fun. All of the bars and clubs are right on the water so they are all indoor/outdoor with great music, needless to say we had a blast.

5.13 fun in the sun, fun in coogee

Now that the parentals had a solid night sleep and hopefully no more jetlag, we started the day off with doing the Bondi to Coogee walk and Monica joined us on the adventure. The walk was quite hilarious with mom and dad for some reason, we took it slow and stopped at every chance we had to take pictures. 10 minutes in we even ran into Grant, one of my friends here, and we ended up chatting for a bit….

Along the way we found a cute park to play on, walked through the cemetery, and hit up the beaches before finally making it to Coogee for a nice late lunch. We ate at Jack Horner’s and we all had a great meal before mom and I decided to do some shopping in the neighborhood, and since Monica isn’t a huge fan of shopping she gave dad company in a coffee shop.

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Here we went our separate ways, Monica and I headed home to shower and decompress and mom and dad did the same. Once we were all freshened up, I headed back down to Coogee with Jess to meet them for dinner. We ate at the Coogee Pavilion and then ended up heading upstairs to the bar after for some good times. Dad was on top of buying drinks and we hung out since I am legal here, it was a fun night filled with lots of tequila shots. We were going to head to a different bar around midnight, but Helen the lightweight had to tap out for the night and head home…..

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5.14 mother’s day

Unfortunately, the weather today was not as bright as Mother’s personality (cue the awwwwhhs), as we experienced some rain, but I met up with the parentals for a nice breakfast before heading out tho the Kirribilli markets. These markets are located on the other side of the bridge, across from the Opera House in northern Sydney. We walked around, and enjoyed the looking through the thrift shop section and then the art a design section, and then dad was just about done with the markets, so we were on to the next activity…

We then hopped in quite possibly the most painful Uber ever taken, as the driver’s car smelt terrible and kept repeating the same things over and over and over again, I was literally dying and extremely carsick. When we arrived at Manly beach, I nearly kissed the ground as we got out of the uber, but we were off exploring and I had no time to do such thing.

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We walked through the quaint town, and it was actually nice in the rain because it wasn’t as crowded as it usually is. Even though it was raining, it was still nice to explore the cute streets of Manly, it’s a nice beach town that at points reminded me of LBI just a lil bit…

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Then I just had to take Mom and Dad to experience Doughnut Time, a very famous Australian donut chain that we love and only eat on occasion (because if we ate them everytime we wanted to wed be fat AF) We grabbed our donuts, some coffee and tea, and headed to the dock to wait for our ferry back to the city center.

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After the ferry, mom and dad were off to Melbourne, so I was off to my apartment to get some homework done for the upcoming week…

5.15-16 school

school is super fun (detect the sarcasm), but on Tuesday I accompanied Monica to get some dreadlocks in the park which was interesting. She tried to convince me to get some as well, but that was definitely not happening haha

5.17 outback bound

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Today I was outback bound to meet up with the parentals again, they had been in Melbs doing all the cool melby things while I was in class… I met up with them at the hotel before we went to dinner at one of three restaurants in the town. Mom and I got kangaroo steaks, she wasn’t a big fan, but I liked it, and the fries were awesome.

Mom signed us up for stargazing tour, so we walked out into a field area and leaned back and could look up at the stars. It was so clear, and since we were in the middle of freakin no where, and it was actually pretty amazing. Usually I’m not a huge fan of these star tours, but this one was interesting. The tour guide explained things in a way that didn’t go completely over our heads, and I got to fully see the southern cross star constellation (my tattoo) and that was incredible (im not very good at finding constellations on my own). Then we dipped out early because it was cold, and they started showing us stuff in the telescope and it al looked pretty much the same. So we headed back to the room and got a good night sleep so we were all rested to do out big tour of the rock.

5.18 outback steakhouse

So the main attraction of the Outback is this giant red rock called Uluru and another cluster of giant rocks called Kata Juta (I think). So today we woke up and headed to Uluru to go around the rock, it was a 10 km trail which we decided to bike instead in order to make it go faster (biking was too slow, and tbh would have taken like 4-5 hours).

So we hopped on our bikes and started the trail. The rock was pretty incredible, its quite literally in the middle of nowhere and once you get up close to it, the massive-ness is enough to make your jaw drop. Unfortunately it doesn’t photograph that well when you get up close, mainly because it doesn’t fit into your camera frame at all. The rock also has lots of little coves, that’s what Ill call them, where you can walk in closer to the rock to see where the aboriginal people lived and some watering holes.

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So this is where the bike tour got interesting. We left our bikes at one of the cove walking points, and we walked in literally for 15 minutes maybe (because there wasn’t much to see) and when we walk out, I notice that we have one less bike and of course that one less bike is mine, so someone had stolen it. Cue a grand theft auto moment by Helen Polise, as she immediately interogatted the tour group passing by, asking if they had seen someone take the bike, and turns our people saw a Japanese lady take the bike. So Mom hops on hers and legit tears ass down this dirt path in the direction they said the lady went, meanwhile, dad is walking up to this whole situation and I tell him the whole ordeal and he hops on his bike to give mom back up (he doesn’t quite tear ass like Helen, hes hitting a calm pace).

So there I am now, I don’t really know exactly what to do, because now im just thinking I have to walk around the rest of the damn rock and we weren’t even halfway there. So on I go walking, bike-less, parent-less, down this path, and 5 minutes into my walk I see mom in the distance riding her bike with another bike rider. Helen successfully Grand Theft Outbacked and retrieved the bike for me, and don’t worry, she even took a picture.

The rest of the bike around Uluru definitely wasn’t as eventful, more scenic and pretty. We finished the tour around noon and then headed back to the resort area for some lunch and showers before we headed out to a camel tour!

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Now I was really excited for this camel tour, it has been a strange goal of mine on my bucket list to ride a damn camel and the day finally happened (even though dad was less than thrilled that we were camel riding). But we took a bus to the farm, and hopped on to our camels for the night. I got the joy of riding Pete, the second tallest camel, and Mom and Dad rode Stumpy (idk why mine had such a boring name like come on). We were off on our way, and the camels went pretty damn slow, but I really enjoyed it, I thought it was really fun and it didn’t hurt that the cowboy leading our group was quite good looking…

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An hour or so later, we made it to the lookout point where they had an open bar waiting for us! I definitely took advantage of this and drank some champagne, and so did Mom. She bravely had three glasses and was very loopy (what a lightweight). They also provided some hor’deuvers, which honestly were pretty gross, so we just drank some more (which was not a good idea for Mom) until the sun set.

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Once the sun was down, the Field of Lights started to illuminate. It was this installation art piece in front of the rock that was really cool, it was hundreds of thousands light orbs changing color in the field, and since it was so dark it was the only illumination in the middle of nowhere, so that was pretty cool. We were able to walk through the whole thing which was amazing, although extremely hard to photograph, I promise it’s pretty.

5.19 sunrises and sleeps

Since mother signed us up for an activity to keep us busy every hour of the day, today we were signed up to go on a sunrise tour. So we all had to drag our asses out of bed around 5:30, and I was not a fan of this. We met for the bus and it was cold and dark and I just wanted to be back in bed. But there we were, in a van with a bunch of old people, driving to Uluru in the dark.

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Our tour guide took us to a small area where no other tour groups were which was pretty nice, as we got the views all to ourselves. But we got to the lookout point about 40 minutes before the sunrise was actually going to happen, but he came prepeared with hot drinks and food. Mom and I absolutely obsessed over his gluten free banana bread that was literally to die for, I don’t think I‘ve ever eaten such a delicious gluten free thing EVER. Besides that, the sunrise was pretty cool and beautiful, it didn’t rise over the rock, but all the colors in the sky and the area were pretty insane and cool.

After the sunrise, our tour guide then took us on a “hike” aka we walked about 10 minutes and then would stop for him to tell stories for 10 minutes and the cycle would continue. It was interesting, but we read all the stories he told the day before, so we just hung out. Then, on the drive back, he took us the scenic route along the rock and there was something about being in the car that just made me fall asleep in the middle of his stories and of course I was sitting in the front right next time him, he had no problem calling me out once I woke up, but hey I was tired and his stories, no offense, were boring.

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We got back to the hotel around 9:30, so we ate breakfast and then were forced to checkout of our hotel at 10:30 even though the shuttle to the airport wasn’t until noon. I just took another nap in the lobby, then when we got to the airport and on the plane, I slept the whole flight. Sunrises really take all the energy out of you.

5.20 money is only good…

I met up with Mom and Dad today to show them around the downtown city area. There are a couple of beautiful buildings and shopping centers that dad just needed to see. So we started off going to the Strand Arcade, it’s a beautiful alleyway with high end shops. We also walked through the Pitt Street Market area and saw a cool street performer drumming on some paint buckets (was a lot cooler than it sounds I promise).

Dad was then on a mission to buy me a pair of new shoes after seeing me wear my 8 year old converse. I was hesitant, mine had such character and had been so worn in they were practically molded to my feet. Two stores later, we had successfully found the exact same pair of shoes so we got them, dad was very pleased to see me in shoes that weren’t falling apart and brown…..

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Then we randomly decided to go to Bondi Beach since the sun had finally come out. We hopped in that uber and hung out along the strip of stores. Mom and I went shopping for some souvineer type of shirts, Dad wasn’t pleased with how long we took in the store, but we were in no rush. We hung out around Bondi for the rest of the afternoon, before heading back to my place to pack. Since I will be traveling for three weeks after I finish school, I had mom take my large duffel bag and we put pretty much everything in the duffel, so now my wardrobe is literally limited to two pairs of pants, three shirts, and a jacket, basically a dude wardrobe……..

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That night we went out to dinner in Newtown, it’s a cool neighborhood outside of the city that’s supper hippie and trendy. Unfortunately, we got recommended to literally the worst and overpriced restaurant that ever existed, the food was shared plates of the strangest food ever, talk about portion control and no overeating that night.

After dinner, Monica and I went bar hopping around the neighborhood which was super cool and fun, finally a neighborhood with no cover at ever door and EXTREMELY LOCAL! It only took us the whole semester to discover the neighborhood we wished we lived in instead.. next time.

5.21 adios amigos

Today was the last day with the parentals L I didn’t really plan any activities because we just wanted to have a chill day. Dad wanted to start the day by swimming at the Bondi Icebergs Swim Club, so while he did that Mom and I walked around and went shopping and just hung out. We even hit up the beach for a little bit, but for some reason it was not pleasant at all… So we got up and headed into a small café for some lunch.

There we met one of the most gorgeous humans I have ever encountered, but of course he was from the USA so boo to that. We got a really good brunch there, I was in the mood for some breakfast so it ended up being the perfect find and WAY better than our meal from the night before.

We then headed back downtown to the Rocks Market, where we started our week together on their first day. The markets today, however, were massive in comparison to the previous week. So again, Mom and I paroozed the area and did just a lil shopping before heading to the Opera House to take some family pictures.

Dad was failing as a photographer, so I had to step in to help mom recreate her photos from the 80s. Dad wanted to walk inside the Opera House, but it was closed, so that was a no go, but at least he got to feel the roof of it hahaha what an engineer…..

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That night, I picked the restaurant to ensure it would be a good meal, so we headed to the Meat and Wine Co. for one of the most delicious meals of all my study abroad time. Dad and I split a ribs platter because I’m basically the third son he never had as I nawed on some ribs in the most ladylike fashion…….. not………

Once we were sufficiently stuffed, we were generally disappointed with their dessert options, so we went back to the hotel. We got some fried ice cream and a nutella pizza as we enjoyed our last moments together before I left and they were off to go back to America….

MOM AND DAD – I am so happy you guys came (and fed me) because it was one of the most fun weeks ever, so many laughs and I didn’t even get too annoyed with Dad (although he was clearly done with when we all sat in the same row home from Uluru but switched seats). Can’t wait to see you (and the rest of the fam) in just a month, don’t forget, I land at 6pm on June 28th and if you’re late to the airport… well you don’t want that to happen hehehe

New Video!

New Video!

Birthday Radius!!!!

Birthday Radius!!!!