My friend Katie Jo and I purchased tickets from Mystery Flights several weeks ago. We told them that we wanted to fly in and out of Sydney, the days that we wanted to be gone, and we are able to exclude one location. We excluded Cairns, since we have both already been there. The package includes plane tickets, transportation between the airport and the hotel, and a hotel room. The catch is that we didn't know where we were going! There were 15 possible locations, all in Australia. We were sent an e-mail with our flight time out of Sydney and an envelope in the mail that contained our destination several days before we left…Our flight left Sydney airport at 6:50 Friday morning. Katie and I were supposed to take a train that stopped at the train station closest to our dorms at 3:30am. At 3am I go to Katie's room and the door to the apartment is locked. I tried to know but no one could hear me. She had to get a new cell phone the night before, so I didn't have her new number. 3:30 came and went as I waited in the hallway alternating between knocking and sitting. Shortly after 3:30, when I was knocking on the door again, I heard her coming to the door. We found our train book and realized that there was at train at 4:30 that would get us into to Sydney at 5:51. We then had to catch another short train to the airport, check in, check our baggage, get through security (luckily it is much simpler over here), find our gate, and board the plane in an hour. Once we were in Sydney and on the train to the airport, we opened our envelope that revealed our destination. We were going to Adelaide, which is the capital of South Australia. It is located approximately half way between the East and West Coast and it sits on the South coast. We made it to the gate on time and were on our way to Adelaide.On the plane we tried to sleep and do a little research in our travel books. We were excited about going to Adelaide. It was somewhere that we probably would not have traveled to otherwise.We arrived in Adelaide at 8:30am. There was transportation lined up to take us to our hotel. We stayed at the Stamford Plaza. It was a very nice hotel. I was impressed. Our hotel was located across from the state capital building and there was a protest, which was kind of cool. After checking in we went to the markets, which was a lot of fun. There was produce, bakery items, souvenirs, and then little shops on the side with all kinds of things. We ate lunch in China Town. We had dinner at a casino in a big train station across from the hotel. The meal there was surprisingly really good, especially since it was cafeteria style dining. We played a few slots, watched some poker and then headed back to the hotel. Saturday was a fun day, filled with different activities. We began the day with a nice walk to the National Wine Centre. There we learned about making wine. We then took a stroll through the Botanical Gardens, which were very pretty. The Art Museum was next. It was very interesting what was similar and what was different from art that I have seen before. We took a look at the wildlife and Aboriginal exhibits in the History Museum. Then we took the tram to Glenelg beach where we did some shopping, had a nice lunch of fish and chips, and got some pretty pictures of the beach. Once the shops closed, we headed back towards the hotel. We had dinner at the Casino again that night (it was good, cheap, and close to the hotel). No slots this time though. We got in the hot tub at the pool for a little bit that night too.On Sunday we went to the markets on Rundell Street and then did some shopping. (Rundell Street is the big shopping spot in Adelaide and it was a block away from our hotel.) We also looked at some opal jewelry stores, which was cool. Then it was traveling back to Wollongong. Monday was Laura's 21st birthday, but she was celebrating on Sunday night. We ran from the train station to make it out in time. Haha. My purchases in Adelaide included two scarves (it was pretty chilly there), a beautiful pair of earrings that I got at the market on Sunday, a pair of black heels (Yay! I have been looking for some since I got here), and a fleece blanket that has the Australian flag on it!
Overall it was a great trip. It was exciting, but chill at the same time. It was nice to be able to just take our time and do things when we wanted (unlike some of the tours I have been on). This weekend some of the AustraLearn people and I will be going to Werri Lagoon, south of Wollongong, with CVA (Conservation Volunteers of Australia). Should be fun and interesting!