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hello! i’m juli!

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

sydney + whitsundays

sydney + whitsundays

5.25 reunited with a familiar face After the wonderful week with my parents, I had to grind through my schoolwork considering I didn’t touch it the entire time they were here, and to make it even better, I’m entering finals season…. Oh well….

But despite that, I only have like 10 days left in Sydney, so im clearly going to make the most of it, starting with seeing and old friend. Kellye was my freshman year roommate at Michigan, and she was spending the month of May studying abroad an hour south of Sydney in Wollongong. After multiple attempts at meeting up, our dates finally clicked and we were able to hang out for the first time in a loooooong time. I met up with her at spice alley for a nice Asian fusion dinner, I got to meet all of her friends from her program and hang out with them for the night.

Then we went to a cool bar called Soda Factory, probably now my favorite bar in Sydney after this night. It’s a tiny little, hidden place, that hosts different live music bands. Monica and I had been there a few weeks earlier, but this time it was amazing. The band was sooooooooo good and they were playing the best songs that we had an absolute blast. Kellye got to meet all my Australian abroad friends too, so she was finally able to connect faces to names.

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5.26 vividly high

Today was a chill day of doing homework in coffee shops and trying to catch up on all the work that’s due in the upcoming week. But at night we were able to take a break and do some fun touristy things, the Bridge Climb!

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Stef, Monica, Eva, Jess and I all signed up to do the bridge climb and today was also the first day of Vivid Sydney. It’s a light, ideas, and musical festival that goes on for three weeks where they basically light up the city in neon lights, what a perfect time to climb the bridge.

We got to bridge climb literally right on time, which was not the ideal time, but the front desk lady was able to slid us into the group and we were good to go. We got suited up in these gross gray jumpsuits that made us feel like we were in ghostbusters, but they somehow worked, Then we got accessories, and not the good kind ladys, we got straps and bandanas and headsets and harnesses, I easily had added another ten pounds to my body in accessories.

At this point, this is where we met our guide Mitch, he was really fun and from the start was making fun of us Americans, but in a good way. Once we started the walked we were at the front of the group, and I was first in line so I had a good view, and I also was able to give him intel about the rest of our group, especially talking about Eva, who he then continued to give a hard time which was hilarious. We climbed the bridge and he told us all these interesting facts about the bridge construction, while also informing us of ways that people fell during construction and died. What pleasant stories to hear as we are climbing this bridge.

Walking up the bridge the views were incredible, the entire city was lit up and it was gorgeous in a whole new way that we’ve never seen before. The opera house had animations all over it, and all the skyscrapers were lit up in different colors, and all the boats on the harbor were in different colors as well. Overall, incredible to see from above we were all in such shock.

Once we got to the top, we got to hang out on the dance floor, and we had a little dance party. Of course, being the americans, we brought the party and were clearly the center of attention as we were busting moves, while still buckled in to the railing, so not our best moves but still moves. We even got Mitch to bust a move or two as well and he joined in with us. Walking down was pretty fast in comparison to the way up, but still pretty fun. Having Mitch as our tour guide was definitely a major plus, we would have not enjoyed it nearly as much if we didn’t have him. At the end me and him were chilling waiting for everyone to climb down the hard ladders and he was a cool guy, we ended up taking a picture with him at the end of the climb and his coworkers gave him shit for it, but totally worth it.

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We were all going to go out after the bridgeclimb but we were all pooped and hungry, as the climb was 3 hours long and we finished at 11pm. So, we decided to go to pancakes on the rocks, a 24/7 dinner right on the water with to die for pancakes.

5.27 80s style

Today Monica and I woke up and headed to the Glebe Markets, which are the thrift shop stands, to find some cool clothes. We both really wanted 80s windbreaker, fresh prince of bel air style jackets so we hopefully headed out to find them. Luckily, there were like 10 stands with 80s inspired clothing and vintage, so we knew that we would be able to find them. And after a little hunting we did!

Afterwards we went to a taco stand and sat in the park and hung out and listented to some live music.

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5.28 beach dayyyye 

Today we headed up to Manly Beach, one of our favorite beaches but of course one of the farthest beaches from our apartment. It was Taste of Manly today, and we thought that meant it was a food festival and were super psyched, but it ended up being a wine and alcohol festival, mostly for people to try lots of different alcohols and get drunk. None of us were really feeling that, so we just got some food and headed to hang out at the beach.

It was sunny and warm, so we were even able to tan and lay out which was nice. Of course Eva doesn't like the beach so she was fully covered as usual, we still don't know why she decided to study abroad in Australia......

Monica met up with us later in the day and we had a really nice chill day of hanging out on the beach and relaxing together, enjoying the nice warm weather as we enter the Australian winter here.

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5.29-31 school school n nothing exciting

I basically just worked on school and didnt do anything too crazy or exciting. I needed to get a lot of my work done because I was going on a weekend trip!

6.01 the beginning of a weekend to remember……

Today I embarked on my first really solo adventure of my time down under, going to the Whitsundays on a sailing trip for the weekend. For those of you who don’t know, the Whitsundays are iconic islands in Australia with famous white sand beaches. So enjoying adventure and the ocean, I booked this two day two night sailing trip and I was so excited!

The day started with me waking up at the crack of dawn to catch a 7am flight. Luckily, I slept the entire flight and woke up but unfortunately woke up to rain. Regardless I went on about and checked in for my boat, where they told me I should probably buy a sweatshirt since it would be cold on the water. Then I spent the next two hours until the boat departure trying to find a damn sweatshirt, and let me tell you this wasn’t easy for some reason. The touristy stores didn’t sell anything heavier than a t shirt and the clothing stores sold cropped sweatshirts, like why what is the point of that???

Once I found a winner, which ended up being an XL mens sweatshirt, I was on my way to the boat. Along the way I met Dan and Matt, two brits traveling together and we talked while trying to figure out where this boat was supposed to pick us up. Once we did, we were off and on our way.

Of course, as soon as we got on the boat the sun disappeared (and this was legitmatley the last time we felt the sun until we docked at the end of the weekend). The weather was horrid, the sailing conditions were awful, so the boat didn’t even end up sailing, we just motored our way to the islands. One poor kid got so seasick he was puking off the side of the boat, literally, the entire 2 hour trip.

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Eventually we made it to our stop for the night, as by now it was about 5 oclock. We all needed a break so we decided to go for a dip, especially because the water was warmer than the temperature outside. They had a plank which was pretty hilarious, so people were able to jump off of it and stuff. The water could stay warm only so long, so we all got out and started the evening festivities, which was drinking.

I wasn’t super keen on getting drunk on this boat, so I just tried to socialize with the other people on the boat, there was about 32 of us on board, plus 4 crew members. I went to bed with my fingers crossed that the weather would be good for tomorrow.

6.02 white sand, hella rain

Woke up, and the wishes did not come true, as it was extremely dark and gloomy, we woke up for the sunrise but couldn’t even see it. After breakfast, I ended up going back to bed until we made it to our first stop of the day, Whitehaven beach, the one with the gorgeous sand. We all disembarked onto a dinghy boat and headed to the island, where we hiked for about 15 miuntes to the lookout point. Despite the awful weather, it was insanely beautiful, the white sand swirls throughout the cove and its just amazing, I’ve never seen a beach like it.

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When the time came for us to go down to the beach and for a swim, of course, it started torrential downpouring. I kid you not, we were soaked from rain before we even hit the water in the ocean. We hung out for a little bit and tried to put on our best faces, but everyone was pretty miserable and we had to get to the boat before low tide, so we left the ocean.

We then sailed to another area of the island, where we could snorkel. I decided to go in and it was cool seeing the reef, since we were on the edges of the Great Barrier Reef. The last time I swam the reef was back in February for orientation, which literally FEELS LIKE JUST YESTERDAY, but its not. Unfortunately, the reef actually is super dead and its pretty much just gray coral and fish, but still pretty cool nonetheless.

They then took us to another snorkel location, but it started raining and was cold again, so I opted out… Since the weather was shit, we all hung out inside and people started drinking, so I just kinda sat and hung out with everybody because still didn’t really feel like drinking on a boat.

6.03land (and sun) ho!

Today we were sailing back to the mainland (thank goodness!). After two days on the water, and with a bunch of interesting European frat stars, I was ready for a break and some Internet service. Of course as soon as we docked, the sun came out and it was absolutely beautiful. So after I checked into my hostel for the night, I headed around town to explore.

At this point I realized how destroyed the town was, because about a month ago there was a really bad tornado. So about half of the storefronts on the main strip were closed and the main beach was also closed off for repair. So I ended up going to the shit beach (that is its nickname) and Im guessing because it’s the shit beach that’s why it was completely empty and I was able to get some peace and quiet. I ended up taking a lil nap, before heading back to the hostel.

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This hostel was pretty cool, it was organized like a resort so there were multiple cabanas which the dorm rooms were in, and then there was a pool and hammock area, so I went over to hang out and ended up running into a couple of people from the boat. Shockingly, even though I wasn’t their biggest fans, I hung out with them and then ended up going out with them that night.

It was an interesting night to say the least, we got a ton of free booze from the tour company, which was super nice, so we got those free drinks at this place called Shed Bar, which was basically just a picnic area that sold booze. Then we headed to the beach to hang out and drink more which also was a ton of fun, before we headed to a club called Boom. This place was god awful, it smelled, no REEKED of vomit and the smell just didn’t get any better. It was your stereotypical club, and it was fun night to say the least, made a few friends even though the boat tour and entire weekend was not great.

6.04 back home (to Sydney)

Not realizing how much alcohol I drank, I woke up pretty hungover and my timing was pretty poor because I had to take a flight home back to Sydney that day, and hungovers + Juli + planes = AWFUL. But, I was able to soldier through and make it home.

Once I was home, I literally had to do all the homework and final projects that I should have been doing that weekened, but was sailing instead… whoops. I also ended up planning out my entire week because its my last full-ish week in Sydney, and I needed to make sure I hit everything that I wanted to do before I leave.

Being back in Sydney, now it's my last week :( Saving that post for the end of this week before I head to New Zealand for my next adventure!!!

in the land of kiwis (aka New Zealand)

in the land of kiwis (aka New Zealand)

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