Where have you been?

I’ve been lucky enough to do some travelling in my life.

When I was a kid, my parents used to take us on vacation every summer.  The trip I remember the most is probably the one where we drove to Colorado, spent a few days at a ranch, rafted the river (and nearly froze to death in the process), and went on a jeep ride that was downright scary at times!  Our trip to the Grand Canyon is another one I remember pretty well.

We didn’t have to go a long way to have a fun vacation.  Sometimes, we would combine a vacation with visiting family, like the time when we went to New Braunfels, Texas, with all the aunts, uncles and cousins and floated the river (I can’t remember if it was the Comal River or the Guadalupe River), but either way, we had a good time.

In 2011, the husband and I went to Asheville, North Carolina for our anniversary.  I think the highlight of that trip was getting to visit the Biltmore estate.  The House and the grounds are really amazing.

Biltmore House

Biltmore House (image by me)

I’ve also been lucky enough to do some international traveling as well.

In 1995, I participated in Louisiana Tech University’s Tech Rome program.  The program was open to college students all over the US.  We had students from a university in California, we had students (and professors!) from LSU, as well as Louisiana Tech students and professors.  We were required to take two classes, an Art History class (college credit for visiting museums!) and a Physical Education class (because of all the walking we did).  Other classes, such as Italian 101 and Roman History, were offered as well.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum (image by me)

We spent six weeks based in Rome, taking official program side trips to places like Capri, Greece, Switzerland, Venice and Paris.  We got to tour the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.  We had an audience with the Pope where the Holy Father blessed everyone in the audience.  Touring the Vatican was an amazing experience too.  We went to the Greek Acropolis and took a gondola ride through Venice.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum (image by me)


Florence (image by me)

I only wish that this part of the world was a little more stable politically, because I would love to go back.  Unfortunately, traveling to places like Greece is a bit dangerous right now.

The Temple of Athena, in Greece.

The Temple of Athena, in Greece. (image by me)

But I honestly think of all the places I’ve been, Australia is my favorite.

In 2009, my friends Sarah and Lauren called me at work on my birthday.  In the course of our conversation, they mentioned that they were planning to go to Australia’s Gold Coast the following year.  Sarah suggested that I should meet them there and without hesitating, I said I would.  Sarah was shocked but excited.  This would be the first time we had actually met face-to-face during the course of our friendship.

I told my husband what I was planning.  Surprisingly, he didn’t object much to my wanting to fly to the other side of the world for two weeks.  Sarah, Lauren and I made our plans.  I applied for a new passport and started watching airfares to Brisbane, which is where I would be meeting up with Sarah and Lauren.  Sarah handled the accommodations and activity planning.  We had a couple of Skype calls prior to me leaving to iron out a few details.

After nearly a year of planning and saving, I flew off to the Gold Coast in October 2010.  Sarah and Lauren (and Sarah’s mum) met me at the Brisbane airport and we set off on our adventure.

Headed to the Gold Coast!

Headed to the Gold Coast! (image by me)

We were based in Surfers Paradise, Queensland for a week.  From there, we traveled up (to Beerwah) and down the coast (to Coolangatta).  We went to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, Sea World Queensland and Movie World.  The Melbourne Cup (known as the race that stops a nation) was run while we were there, so we went to a betting lounge, placed bets and watched the race.  Our last day, we flew into Sydney and spent the day seeing the sights, including a tour of the world famous Opera House.

The view from our rental in Surfers Paradise.

The view from our rental in Surfers Paradise. (image by me)

Feeding the kangaroos at Australia Zoo.

Feeding the kangaroos at Australia Zoo.

The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House (image by me)

Then we got on a plane and flew to Western Australia (where Sarah and Lauren live), so I could see the sights of Perth and Fremantle.  We went whale watching, which was a lot of fun.  I got to tour Fremantle Prison and the Perth Mint.  The entire trip was amazing and I had so much fun.  I would love to go back at some point in the future.

Fremantle Prison

Fremantle Prison (image by me)

Perth Mint

Perth Mint (image by me)

(video by me)


4 thoughts on “Where have you been?

  1. I so want to go to Australia and Italy one day. Love your pictures!

    It’s funny…I grew up outside of Houston and when I was younger, for our family vacation, we always traveled all the way to exotic…central Texas. The furthest west we ever got was Llano, TX before my siblings and I drove our parents bonkers and we returned home.

    I remember thinking New Braunfels was totally awesome because of the tubing (but the river was so cold). Funny that I now live in the area.

    • One thing I remember about one of our New Braunfels trips was that the river was low and we kept hitting our butts on the rocks. We had to “sit up” in our tubes to keep from nailing our poor tailbones over and over again.

      Australia was so much fun. I want to go back. Italy is beautiful, but I don’t think I appreciated the experience as much then as I do now, you know?

  2. Hello!

    My name is Lisa, and I went to Tech Rome in 1999. I believe that was the second-to-last year it was held? Anyway, a bunch of people from that year gathered today for a reunion. I live in Alaska, so I skyped in, and it was so cool to to see everyone!

    I have lived in Alaska for most of my life. I attended undergrad at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (go Nanooks!! :-)). I still remember coming across a poster advertising Tech Rome in the hallway of on of the buildings on my campus (all the way in Fairbanks, Alaska!!). It was one of those posters where you could tear off the card, fill it out, and send away for more information. This was in 1998, so it wasn’t so long ago that you couldn’t use the Internet to send away for info, but that’s just how I did it. I was at the tail end of a relationship with a guy that I was growing away from, and I was looking for a big adventure. I am of Italian descent, and had always dreamed of going to Italy to visit the place of my ancestry and feel a bit more connected to my family history. I’m about 6th or 7th generation American, so my family has been here for a long time, but I still wanted to see where it all began 🙂

    I said I wanted adventure, and boy, ask and ye shall receive! As I said before, I went in the summer of 1999, and it was the best summer of my life!! The view from my room at Casa Kolbe was the Palatine Hills, and I could see the Roman Forum if I leaned to my right. There was plenty of time for trips as a whole group and individual exploration. I got to see the Pope in person (JPII) – twice!! One of my favorite things to do there was go to Giolitti’s gelateria, get a scoop of the champagne gelato, and hang out at Piazza Navona with my newfound friends, many of whom I still keep in touch with 15 years later.

    I am so glad I tore that little card off of the poster and sent it in!

    PS. I hear that Casa Kolbe has since been renovated into high-end condos and a four-star hotel. No more sneaking up to the 4th floor to try and catch a glimpse of the monks, or hanging out in the lobby with Fabio and Maurizio!

    • I don’t remember what year they ended it, but it was while I was in grad school. There were all sorts of rumors as to why, one of which was that the faculty member in charge of the program was embezzling! Such a shame, since that was a really good program.

      Did you do any of the side trips? I did Capri, Greece, Venice and Switzerland. Skipped Paris, because it cost as much as all the others put together.

      The only person I knew was a sorority sister who I roomed with and I didn’t even know her that well. I’d had one of the history professors, Dr. Meade, for a class or two before the trip, so I was his teaching assistant in Rome. Took roll for his class and a few other things. Got nicknamed Caesarette as a result. 🙂 Met some cool people, but unfortunately, didn’t stay in touch with most of them after we got back. A few I ran into from time to time at parties and stuff (frat guys), but the rest? Never did cross paths with them after that. But it was a good experience and I’m glad I went, regardless.

      Time sure does change things doesn’t it? I still remember hanging laundry up to dry on Casa Kolbe’s roof!

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