Jen’s Story

Sydney Opera Hosue

Sydney Opera House

This month all of the travel stories will come from me.  I have been to Australia twice, and had two very different, but amazing experiences.

My first trip was when I was 15 with People to People, a student ambassador program here in the US.  I went for 3 weeks with a group of about 30 students.  The program was very structured (it needed to be with that many of us!) and had us starting in Sydney and working our way up the East coast of Australia ending in Cairns.

MW 2.4C0

The iconic view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge!

We saw all the sights, visited all the major attractions, and generally had a blast.  The highlights from that trip easily include doing the Bride Climb at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, staying at an eco-resort, living on a ranch in the Outback for 3 days, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.  We also visited a pineapple plantation, got to hold koalas, and lived with families near Brisbane for a couple of days to see what it was like to really live in Australia.  I could probably talk about that trip for days, but I will spare you having to re-live every single moment with me.  Even though the flights from Atlanta were very long (30+ hours of travel time) it was so worth it.  When I got the opportunity to return to Australia, I took it.

MW 2.4C0

Such a beautiful country!

My second trip to Australia was the summer after my 1st year of Undergrad.  I went to Georgia Tech, was in the band there (I play the flute), and got to be part of a group of about 30 students, directors, and family members who spent 10 days in Sydney and the surrounding areas performing as part of a concert tour.  Over the 10 days we were there we did 2 or 3 concerts with Australian University bands.  This experience was so different from my 1st trip.  The 1st trip was a group of high school students.  We were closely supervised and followed a packed schedule.  On this 2nd trip, we were all adults (well, with the exception of the band directors’ kids) and we were really able to do whatever we wanted.  We spent time wandering around Sydney, visited the National Maritime Museum, and took a dinner cruise around the Harbour.

I can’t wait to take a 3rd (and 4th, 5th, 6th, etc) trip to Australia, and check out the rest of the country!  If you are looking at a trip to Australia, do it!

Under the Harbour Bridge

Under the Harbour Bridge

Tuesday Travel Tips ~ Barcelona!

I can sum my travel tip for this week up in two words:  Visit Barcelona!  Barcelona has something for everyone.  Whether you prefer the beach or the city, history museums, or modern shopping, you can find it, and, of course, you can also always find delicious food!

Inside La Sagrada Familia

Inside La Sagrada Familia

Visiting La Sagrada Familia is a given if you visit Barcelona.  It is easily the most famous landmark in the city, and definitely worth the cost of admission.  When you visit, one of you ticket options will include a trip to the top of the one of the towers.  There are two towers.  You take an elevator up to the top regardless of which one you choose, however for one you have the option to take the elevator back down, and for the other you must walk down a steep spiral staircase.  Sarah and I chose to pick the one where you walk down the stairs.  It was definitely a steep staircase.  I don’t like heights so the walk down was a little interesting, but the visit to the top is definitely worth it!

If you are looking for the beach, head down to Barceloneta.  You can take the metro straight there, or it’s about a 20 minute walk from the end of La Rambla.  Since Sarah and I visited Barcelona in December, we didn’t make it to the beach.  We did make it down to Port Vell one night, completely by accident.  That turned into one of our favorite travel memories.  We decided to have a little dance party on the bridge and take stupid pictures.  It was great.  We even got to see another “surprise road” of Barcelona.  A car drove down the sidewalk/road – I swear it was not meant to be driven on! – and we were convinced he was about to drive into the water.

If you want high-end, modern shopping, head over to Passeig de Gracia.  This street is Barcelona’s equivalent of New York’s 5th Avenue, or LA’s Rodeo Drive.  You will also find Casa Batlo and La Pedrera on Passieg de Gracia, so you can get some museums in in between shops!

There is so much to do in Barcelona, and you should definitely customize your trip to suit your tastes.  My Barcelona “Must-See” list is below!

Barcelona Must Sees:

La Rambla at Christmas

La Rambla at Christmas

  • La Sagrada Familia
  • Casa Batlo
  • La Pedrera
  • Port Vell
  • La Rambla
  • Montjuic
  • Santa Maria Del Mar
  • La Boqueria
  • Parc Guell
  • The Chocolate Museum
  • Parc de la Ciutadella

There are also a ton of other great cities to visit in Spain.  Next on my list are:

  1. Madrid
  2. Valencia
  3. Salamanca
  4. Seville
  5. Granada

What are your must-see’s in Barcelona?  Are there any other Spanish cities I should add to my list?