Magical World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Japan!!

We did something totally magical and wicked in Japan. Who can guess?

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Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

WE WENT TO HARRY POTTER WORLD AND UNIVERSAL STUDIOS , IN OSAKA, JAPAN!!!

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We couldn’t wait to get there!

I love Harry Potter like crazy!

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I’ve always wished to be accepted into the school! New classes find out in the summer if they are accepted for the upcoming fall semester.

I am a total Harry Potter fanatic! I read all seven books by the end of third grade and can’t wait for J.K. Rawlings to write some more!

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Okay, so walking through the Forbidden Forest, I saw the Weasley’s flying car with every little detail – broken bumpers, cracked windshield and everything!

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Weasley’s car was honking and lights were flashing, just like when Harry and Ron crashed.

We rounded the corner and hogsheads village met our eyes.  It was a beautiful site!

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You get on Hogwarts Express on Platform 9 3/4

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The rooftops sparkled with snow – not real snow of course – and each window had something very odd and wizardly, like a mandrake or Quidditch balls.

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I drank some Butter Beer!

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We watched a worker take out a live owl, while we were picnicking on home-made tunafish sandwiches.

IMG_3324Above us there were owls perched with poop stains as evidence.  I posted a real letter by owl mail to my Grandma Marcia.  She just got it!

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We waited in a very, very long line in Hogwarts to go on a ride called “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,”

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We went through Dumbledore’s office, and the Gryffindor common room and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom before the ride.  In line we saw portraits talking to you and each other; as well as the sorting hat, though I just couldn’t understand all of it because it was in Japanese!  Although, I know I was chosen for Gryffindor!!!

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Finally, we reached the ride. It was awesome! It used 4-K technology.   We started by exploring Dumbledore’s office, then the Gryffindor common room and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom before we went on the ride.  I learned that they call it 4K3D, which uses state-of-the-art 4K technology and is here for the first time in the world.

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First, there was a dragon chasing after you, and then it blows flames on you – or heat – and then the dementors come, and it starts getting cold and spider spray venom – water – on you! Whoa!

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Then there is a game of Quidditch, and you see the golden snitch race by — I thought I could catch it!  Of course, Harry wins the game.

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It was a great ride and it ended in Filches Emporium where all the gadgets that he takes from the students.

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Outside we were met by a choir of Hogwarts students with their croaking frog’s.

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They saying many different songs like, the Quidditch World Cup.

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While we were strolling through Hogsmeade, I spotted Ollivanders.

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When a group of 30 of us walked in Ollivanders Wand Shop, Mr. Ollivanders said that I was the chosen one to get a wand that day!  I was so EXCITED!!  He looked through his wands and had ME test the spells…”Wingardrium Leviosa”  and “Alohomora” until the room lit up and the wand found me!!

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So many wands to choose from!

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Check out this video:

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How the heck is that wand floating in mid-air?

Honeydukes was where we went and bought a chocolate one for dessert.

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I was very sad when it was time to leave Harry Potter World, but I knew we had to explore the rest of Universal Studios.

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How do they do that?

Enjoy a more photos of what lies behind Harry Potter and the other films that are famous parts of Universal Studios:

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I will remember this day with my parents and Mariko forever!

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And they will, too!

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If you can’t get to Harry Potter in Florida, you might as well go in Japan!

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Stay tuned for more ‘magical’ posts from your Junior Worldtrek Reporter

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Keep Calm and Travel Around the World

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Kyoto, Day 2

Hi Folks!  We are still in Kyoto!  This is our second and last day here.

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Good Morning and Nameste, again!

Have I told you that the food in Japan is always amazing?!  Well, the next morning we woke up and had our tea in the tea room, and then we were treated to a typical Japanese breakfast, which we would NEVER have in America.

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The meal included a whole fried and salt-encrusted fish, a cube of tofu with soy sauce, pickled cucumbers, two eggs in the shape of squares and a bowl of miso soup.

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I bet none of my friends and classmates have this for breakfast!

It was very different than Cheerios, that’s for sure, though I really enjoyed it.

Kazu met us at the hotel and we were off to tour much more of Kyoto!

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Traditional Attire

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Beautiful Kimonos

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Just like Americans, the Japanese school kids LOVE field trips!

Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its thousands of torii gates, which make up a large network of trails.

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Torii gates are supposed to divide our world and the spirit world.

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The shrine is also known for the fox that guard at the shrine.

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They are present all over.

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Kakigōri (かき氷?) is a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and a sweetener, often condensed milk. As you can see from this photo, I loved it and it was very refreshing on a hot day!

 

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What a fantastic time we had with her touring one of the world’s most famous shrine and temple cities.

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After another day of great sight-seeing and of course some refreshments, we went to the train station to head back to Kobe and say goodbye (and thank you, again!) to Kazu.

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The next day in Kobe we went shopping at a huge Japanese mall – which was perfect timing because it was raining.  That night we went to a delicious Teppanyaki steak restaurant, where our food was cooked right before our eyes on a iron grill – sort of like Benihana’s.

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Our chef really made our experience better — he put on a food preparation show for each course, and most of all,  he is a huge Harry Potter fan!

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He was so jealous when he learned that we were going to Universal Studios’ Harry Potter tomorrow!  I think he was trying to put a spell on my dessert!

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Well that’s the end (ha ha) of this post.  Next up, something magical!

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Look for more Yukata from your Worldtrek Reporter

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Keep Calm and Travel Around the World

Kyoto, Japan

Arigato (thank you in Japanese) for looking at my blog again!  After our Mother’s Day breakfast we headed on a bus, then a train to Kyoto, Japan.  One of Mariko’s friends from high school, Kazu, who lives in Kyoto, met us there.  Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan…do you know what the capital is now?  Kyoto also used to be the most populated city,  but now it is ranked number 7 behind Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Kobe.  Kyoto is located in a valley and is part of the Yamashiro Basin.  It has a humid subtropical climate, which means the summers are hot and humid and winters are relatively cold. We planned our trip to Kyoto at the right time, because the rainy season is June and July!

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Now I will tell you about the 2 days that we stayed in Kyoto.  Kazu had planned a very special lunch – once again, traditional Japanese.

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We had a delicious lunch in a quiet restaurant, where you don’t order your meals.  They serve your courses of different food, a lot of which includes tofu.  We had soup, noodles, a variety of pickled veggies, seaweed, tempura, and dessert.

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After lunch Kazu took us to some famous shrines and temples.

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This is where you toss your coins in to make an offering to Buddha.

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Kazu took us to Kinkaku-ji Temple.  The temple was so beautiful.

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To enter a shrine/temple, you must purify your hands and face in the correct order.

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First, you scoop up water up and wash your left hand.  Next your wash your right hand.  Then you cup your left hand and pour water into it to rinse your mouth, but you spit the water out.

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Another thing you do is light a stick in a flame and drop it into the ash, breathing in the smoke and putting it on different parts of your body to improve that part.  For example, if you swish the smoke onto your head it will make you more clever.

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You can also ring bells and drop money in boxes to make an offering to Buddha and/or gods.

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When you pull on this rope the bell rings, which will wake-up the Gods.

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This a traditional Japanese cafe.

On our way to dinner, we walked through an area that looked like Diagon Alley.  If you read the Harry Potter books you will know what I mean.   These areas were teaming with people.

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I had two plates of delicious steak (not sushi this time).  Yum!

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After dinner, we returned to our hotel.  I learned how traditional the hotel was.  Almost 100% of the time when you enter a home or hotel in Japan, you take your own shoes off and put their house slippers on.  It was no different at our hotel.

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There was a warm bath and Japanese shower, which we all enjoyed.

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This is the courtyard outside of our room.

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Rice paper doors add to the Japanese feel, don’t you think?

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And we slept on the traditional futon bed roll-out mattress (we did in our home-stay in Kobe, too)

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Here I am reading books on the I-pad that we download from the Sacramento public library. This makes me very happy, because you know how much I LOVE to read. In fact, I have already read nine books on this trip!

Well, I am getting sleepy — next post is about the next day in Kyoto.

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A Traditional Yukata

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Keep Calm and Travel Around the World

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Nameste!

Kon-i-chi-wa — Japan!

Kon-i-chi-wa! Hello, in Japanese. Sadly, we have left Australia, but moved on to another great country, Japan!  Here is happy arrival in Japan after a day-long flight from Australia through Kuala Lumpur and an overnight flight to Osaka, Japan.

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M & M = Mariko and Makenna upon arrival at Osaka International Airport

We are staying in a traditional Japanese home. Arigato to Mariko’s friends, Mr. & Mrs. Kabashima for a fantastic home-away-from-home, not too far from Mariko’s hi-rise condo, in Kobe.  Mariko Ohnaka is my kindergarten and first grade teacher (and Japanese teacher’s) mother-in-law, and has become a dear friend of ours.

The first of many, many sushi meal -- one of my favorite foods in the world!

The first of many, many sushi meals — one of my favorite foods in the world!

Two years ago we visited Mariko in Tokyo, the capital city of Japan.  And many of you know her, too, because last year she came to visit us in the U.S. for a few weeks and we toured her around Northern California. Okay, let us talk about what we did with Mariko, after she picked us up from the Osaka Airport. Once we drove from Osaka to Kobe, in the morning, we went to a sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt, so sushi can ride right to your table and you can pick out exactly which pieces you would like to eat. It was so cool! Check out this video:

Advice from Makenna:  Keep eating sushi!

After sushi, Mariko’s friend, Yumi Yamada, who is a licensed “Traditional Tea Ceremony” teacher (for over 40 years!), invited us to learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Her Tea Ceremony Assistant was Toshiko Izutzu.  We gladly accepted!

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We learned how to wash our hands correctly before the ceremony and how to enter the tea room.

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Left hand first, right hand second and your mouth is rinsed last

We learned how to make the green tea, how to present it to guests, and also, how to drink it. IMG_2835 IMG_2851

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I had fun mixing the tea to bring it to a nice froth. My teacher was impressed. 🙂

You can see the traditional tea ceremony equipment and the tami mats which cover the floor. IMG_2846

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During a Japanese tea ceremony it is ok to slurp your tea.

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Thank you so much to Yumi and Toshiko for the amazing traditional tea ceremony experience!

The next day, Mariko threw us a Welcome Party, with a surprise early birthday cake for me!

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Japanese hospitality and friendship – and YES, of course, MORE SUSHI!

All her Japanese friends were so kind and generous.

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IMG_2876I I I enjoyed learning more Origami.

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Origami Samurai Hat and presents from my new friend. Thank you!

The food and birthday cake were wonderful and so were the presents!

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Our new friends are so kind and loving.

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We all ended up singing Japanese and American songs together.

IMG_2889 After the party we went to one of the world famous, Japanese Onsen’s in Kobe. This is a public bath (divided into girls and boys) with all kinds of hot tubs, that are different temperatures. The onsen has a sauna, steam room, and an ice dip pool, too. Then Mariko had made some home-made beef stew for dinner at her house……we went to bed very full from the party, very relaxed from the Onsen, and still very sleepy from our overnight trip.  What a great day! The next day we got to celebrate Mother’s Day. I love my Mom’s! And Mariko! We made a special Mother’s Day breakfast before heading on the train to Kyoto.

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M, M, and M = Mama, Makenna, and Mommy, on Mother’s Day, in Japan.

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I bought my Mom’s some surprise gifts while I was in Australia! Thanks Rochelle for your help with shopping.

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M & M & M on M Day. I love you! Love, M

We are very lucky, and as Mariko says, “Life is wonderful!” So far, Japan has been awesome! And much more to come!

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Look for more sushi, I mean more posts, from your Junior Worldtrek Reporter!

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IMG_0889 Keep Calm and Travel Around the World!

Sydney Sites and Adventures

Who goes to Sydney, Australia, and doesn’t go to the Sydney Opera House?

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I was amazed by all the detail they put into building it, how big all the theaters are and all the architects’ incredible ideas.

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The view from inside the opera house outside of the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

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1,056,006 tiles were used to make the shell-shaped grooves. It took 14 years to complete

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The concrete tiles were manufactured in Sweden. You might think that the opera house is one color, but actually, they used two colors, glossy white and matte cream, so it wasn’t too bright to look at in the sunshine.

There was a design competition, where 233 architects from 32 countries submitted ideas for the new opera house.  Legend has it that the chosen design was rescued from a pile of 30 rejects.  It was submitted by Mr. Jorn Utzon, from Denmark.

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Utzon had no idea that the Sydney Opera House would become one of the worlds’ most famous buildings.

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The opera house at sunset was amazing!

The theatres are all so beautiful.

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I really enjoyed the tour with the guide, too.

I had a lot of questions

I had a lot of questions, like “do they have kids’ programs here?”

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Later in the day, we climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge!  Daniel Radcliffe, one of my favorite actors; and, the entire cast from Modern Family has also climbed.

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It was a really fun adventure!

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The Sydney Harbour Bridge was meant to last about 40 years, but now has survived twice as much time!

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You start by hooking-in your safety harness to a cable which runs all along the climb for safety.  We walked along the steel girders, under the road (from left to right), up to the steel arches, and  then, up the arch!  It is super high and super fun!

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The views are amazing!  And it is super high and super cool!

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The flags of Australia and the state of New South Wales are flying on top.  There are six states in Australia and they each have their own flag.  If you want to learn more about the states and flags you can check out this website.  http://www.flagsaustralia.com.au/StateFlags.html

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What a great way to wrap up Sydney!  We had tons of fun sightseeing!

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It’s getting exciting — Walking up to the bridge to get ready for the climb

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Of course, we really enjoyed more time with the Fletchers!  Thanks so much to Hannah and the Fletcher family for hosting us in your home. It was way better than the hotel would have been!

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Rochelle, Hannah and Rys

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Keep Calm and Travel Around the World

Sydney

Hello everybody!

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We made these tye-dye T-shirts in Fiji together

Do you remember Hannah, from Fiji?  Well, we stayed in her house in Sydney, Australia!  It was fun having some kid – time after a while with grown-ups.

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One amazing thing we did was go to Les Miserables, one of my favorite musicals, in the old Capitol Theatre.

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The acoustics were amazing, especially in the first scene – I got goosebumps when the orchestra started playing!

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Here we are with Hannah, Rochelle, and Jamie Fletcher

It was fun being in the audience, because when I was in the musical, as Young Cosette, at the Woodland Opera House, in California, I never saw it live myself because I was always backstage.

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It was fun to wear my Les Mis t-shirt from the Woodland Opera House to the show! If you are from the Woodland Opera House, please give me a shout out! I miss you guys.

Another thing we did was go to the Sydney zoo, where I saw Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, giraffes, lions and many other animals – though I didn’t see any flying dingoes – inside joke with my classmates.

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Question to my classmates: What leaf do koalas eat?

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This koala brushed right up against my Mama.

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I see a smile on her face, don’t you?

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Check out the koala sticking its tongue out for the photo! LOL

I loved the zoo!

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What caption would you put for this photo?

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This komodo dragon was taking a nap in the sun. Komodo dragons are the largest living species of lizards, growing up to 10 feet and weighing up to 150 pounds.

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I was chosen from the audience to play with the seal!

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He responded to my command to jump!

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I love the views from the zoo! Here we are with Rochelle, Hannah and Rhys.

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Look for another Sydney post from your Junior Worldtrek Reporter.

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Keep Calm and Travel Around the World

“Campa” + Me = GLEE, The Great Ocean Road Part II

Hello again, mates.  “Good on ya” for checking in with me and our adventures in Australia!

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What a GREAT time on The GREAT Ocean Road

We are having eight glorious days along The Great Ocean Road. This road was built by hundreds of men as a living Memorial to the Victorians of World War I.

One campsite along The Road had Erskine Falls, a beautiful waterfall with a hike — it was awesome!

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We met a very nice Australian family at the Erkine Falls campsite and we enjoyed the hike and falls together the next morning.

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We are meeting fantastic people from all over the world!

They have three girls and they were on an 8-week holiday in their “campa” all around Australia.

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We had fun at Erskine Falls and a park together.

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The “zip line” is called a “flying fox” in Australia

All along The Great Ocean Road, you can see spectacular sculptures formed by Mother Nature from limestone hundreds of years ago, such as, the 12 Apostles and the London bridge.  I hope you enjoy the scenery I am sharing with you:

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Can you guess why this is called “The London Bridge?”

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We liked the 12 Apostles so much that we went back for a second time when it was lighter.

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At one stop there was this really cool sand dune slide, and an incredible view of Block Island.

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Okay, why is it called block island?

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Roll out of bed and have a wonderful breakfast

Chef Mommy continued cooking in the campa and on the Australian-style “barbies”  in the campgrounds.

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And I continued eating in the loft of the campa!   Breakfast in bed is the best!

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Here is a shout out from my campa to my classmates at Two Rivers with Ollie the River Otter; and, Grandma Marcia with Hedwig, the Owl!

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One evening, while in Warnambool, Australia, we went to an incredible place, called Tower Hill Reserve.  There were animals everywhere!

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We met a family from Boston who were also on a long international trip.

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Once again, we saw tons of kangaroos, emus, and wallabies in the wild.  By the way, emus’ poops look like cow patties!

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Another campsite had fun activities like minigolf and huge bouncy pillow to enjoy.

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More jumpin’ kangaroos!

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Well that’s it for today. Look for more posts from your Junior Worldtrek Reporter – the next place we head to in the “Campa,” is the great city of Sydney, Australia!

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Keep Calm and Travel Around the World

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I loved the parrots so much that we went back to feed them again.