Sydney

The next morning, we drove about 2 ish hours to Sydney. We checked into our hotel room and left the room at around 3 to explore the city. We walked around the city to Darling Harbor (the suggestion from the previous hotel owners). It was beautiful. It was just a little harbor with people sitting on the steps around it, some boats docked in and the glare of the descending sun on the water was magnificent. We ate a late lunch of Subway, very Australian I know. As we ate lunch we had a spectacular view of the harbor. There were many seagulls near us, staring at us, waiting for us to drop some food, which we didn’t. Dad and i decided to stare back at them examining their thin legs and the fact that they have no eyelids (we are normal, I know :P). One had no foot and it was limping, very sad 🙁 Another one was fat as my dad said, so he didn’t want to feed it. After lunch, we walked more along the harbor. After a bit, we turned around and went to a walking bridge to see the sunset. The sunset was disappointing that night because there were no pretty colors, but it was nice to see the sun reflecting off the water from another angle. Since dad was all walked out, we went back to the hotel to relax before dinner. Surprise Surprise, Dad fell asleep within 10 minutes of lying/sitting down. So I laid on the bed watching TV and I fell asleep too. I guess the jet-lag was still affecting us. I woke up around midnight and thought to myself, I guess we missed dinner. I got into y PJ’s and fell back asleep.

We woke up a little later than I wanted that morning, and we decided to go to the Blue Mountains, since it would be a little cooler the next day. We left the hotel around 11:30 AM and drove about an hour to the Blue Mountains. We stopped in an information building and a lovely man gave us his five favorite spots within the blue Mountains, we took his highlighted map and started to drive to our 1st destination, Wentworth Falls. We saw the Jamison lookout and walked a bit to the Princes Rock lookout. The steps were steep, but it was a nice lookout onto the mountains. The waterfall was a little wimpy and small, but still nice. We then went to the Conservation Hut to eat (near Wentworth Falls and actually in that town), Dad and I shared a steak sandwich and a Greek salad without purple lettuce and olives. So the waitress called it a not do Greek salad. She was a nice waitress and a bit funny. We were unsure of how we tip the waitress, it seems to be less common here than at home. After lunch we made out way over to the town of Katoomba to see the three sisters and the giant stairway. From the tree sisters lookout, it was hard to see all three sister stones/rocks, we could only see one of the sisters, the other two were hiding behind the first one. We walked part of the giant stairway down to the tree sisters, instead of just the lookout. The stairway was really steep and took a lot of balance and holding on to the railing. But it was cool to go down and touch one of the three sisters. It was exciting. There was also Echo Point lookout in Katoomba where we could see all three sisters next to each other, it was a beautiful view. Next, we drove to Blackheath, where we went to Govetts Leap lookout. To Dad’s disappointment, it wan’t named after Govett who leaped off the edge because of a woman, it was named after Mr. Govett because he was the first to discover the beautiful lookout onto the Blue Mountains that Dad and I got the privilege of seeing. Next, we drove to Mt. Tomah, where we drove past the botanical gardens because of the ext days planned activities. We then drove back to Sydney some weird way, but we winded up finding the correct road we were supposed to be on to make our way back to Sydney. We drove to dinner that night and ate at this interesting Italian Restaurant. Each customer got a card and walked up to the counter, to a chef, who cooked your food in front of you, kind of like Oscars in New Paltz, and added the price to the card which you paid for at the end. It was like cafeteria style. The chef I went to was really friendly, striking up a conversation with me until my food was don’t, the food was very tasty, as mom would say is Alec’s favorite word. We went back to the hotel and I relaxed and watched a movie, the Blind Side,, as Dad took his long wanted bath and we went to sleep.

I forgot to mention the first day we were in Sydney we went to a mini market to get some milk and juice. When we went to the cash register and started a conversation with the person behind the counter, we mentioned we were from New York, USA. He then asked, “Ohhh the rich part?” We responded with, “Not quite!” That was a very interesting stereotype to me.

The next day was a busy day in Sydney. Since it was our last day, we wanted to hit all the attractions. Dad and I got a late start, nothing new there, and we got a cab a few blocks from our hotel. The cab driver didn’t know where our destination was, I felt proud teaching him something faraway from my neck of the woods. We started out at the mint, only coins. We walked past a hospital, which had amazing architecture, you would have never known it was a hospital, besides the signs of course. Next we took a mini self tour of the parliament house with a booklet they had available. Dad took a bunch of little booklets to give to Alec as his Australia gift. We ate at a small cafe place, we both had some kind of chicken sandwich. Dad and I then walked to the botanical gardens, it was beautiful! We took a stroll through the most of the gardens. We saw some interesting looking trees with a lot of branches. I was a bit disappointed though, the garden wasn’t as colorful as I expected. Dad did remind me that it was the winter there, so it made sense. As we came closer to the end, we stumbled upon one of the best sights of the trip so far. There was a little harbor with cute boats in it. And on the other side of the harbor you could see the city skyline as well as the Sydney Harbour bridge and the Sydney opera house. The best and most touristy attractions were right in front of out faces. I couldn’t get over how the sun was shinning/reflecting on the calm of the harbor water with the skyline. After we took a million pictures there, Dad and I walked fast through the rest of the gardens to catch a tour of the Sydney Opera House, we could walk through the Sydney conservatorium of music and the government house. Unfortunately the conservatory didn’t have tours running on that day. The government house was also closed to go inside, but we walked around the building. We then went to the opera house. While waiting for our 4:30 tour to start, Dad and I sat outside enjoying the scenery of the opera house in front of us and the harbor bridge behind us. The guide gave us some headphones so we could still hear her if we ended up in the back of the group. We got to see into a few of the theaters as well as get a history lesson on how the design was chosen and how they executed it so well. The building of the Sydney Opera House costs over double their anticipated price and took over twice as long as they originally thought. The design was so hard to build that the contest winner eventually gave up on building it and went to another country. Other architects eventually figured out a way to build the tree domeish shapes by just connecting a bunch of small pieces together. It was designed so every nook and cranny was there for some purpose. The opera house doesn’t only hold operas, it holds plays, musicals, ballets, circus, acrobatics, dirt bike tricks, and many many more. The biggest theater had three rings coming down from the ceiling, they move up and down depending on the performance. The stage and chairs move as well. We witnessed workers setting up for the next show in that theater. After going to the place where they store all the equipment, we went up to the 2nd balcony. I looked up to see the reflection of the bridge on the glass. Another unforgettable sight was seeing the sun setting behind the bridge. The Sydney harbor Bridge looked gold from the suns’ rays (the pictures I took didn’t do the in-person view justice). It was absolutely breathtaking to see the sunset from a high point in the city in the Opera House. You could see the reflection of the sunset on the glass that covered part of the opera house. After the tour was over, we bought some souvenir pictures and history about the opera house and went outside. We took in the view of the city skyline, the bridge, and the opera house at night, lit up. (I forgot to mention the winning design architect didn’t see the finished product of his design and work yet.) We then took a taxi back to the hotel where we relaxed for a bit. I kept begging Dad for dinner because I was really hungry. But, he ignored me, kept pushing it off and milking the time just to annoy me. So when he finally decided that he was hungry, we went to china town, where dad suggested we eat. We ended up picking an authentic Chinese Restaurant. The food was surprisingly not that good. Neither of us finished our dishes because we didn’t like it that much. We are used to Americanized Chinese food, so the authentic food tasted weird to s. We walked around china town for a few minutes as we were heading back to the car. We then went back to the hotel to pack and get ready for the flight in the morning. But I decided to take a relaxing bath before I packed. (The first bath for me in over 7 years!) Then it was sleepy time zzzzzzz.

 

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<3 <3 Stay Awesome!! <3 <3

INSTAGRAM

I have created and instagram account JUST FOR THIS STUDY ABROAD SEMESTER! See more videos and pictures of this study experience on your computer or on the go.
If you have an instagram account, you can follow me @studylikeakiwi
If you don’t have an account but would still like fast easy access to tons of pictures and videos of New Zealand and life in Wellington, check out my account at http://instagram.com/studylikeakiwi
Thank you, and enjoy! 🙂Monkey Creek, NZWellington!

I highly recommend using juicy tours. Good prices, good humor, and whole lot of fun!

This is the very sweet cat that lives at Victoria Univeristy. The vic cat can be found right on the walk up to Uni!

This is the very sweet cat that lives at Victoria Univeristy. The Vic cat can be found right on the walk up to Uni!

Accommodation, Making friends in the Hall

I chose to live in the Stafford UniLodge during my trimester abroad. I was lucky enough to be on the ninth floor with a bit a view out to the harbor, which made for awesome sun rise and sunset pictures!
The layout of the room is three private bedrooms that share a kitchen/dining/living area and a bathroom. There was nothing terrible about this accommodation, in fact I met my really good group of kiwi friends here! The only cultural oddity I found was the lack of dryers in NZ. Apparently it’s not uncommon to air dry everything so a drying rack was provided as well as bedding and pillow to “hire” (rent).
Unfortunately, there were a few down sides to living in Stafford UniLodge… First, it is at the bottom of a very very long and big hill in order to get to Victoria University Kelburn campus, where most first year classes take place (20 minutes of walking about, unless you walk everywhere and you’re used to large hills). Second, it is a little far from Courtney Place (the main night life street) but there is a free van set up by the university to drive students back to their hall for free!
Overall my experience as a hall resident in New Zealand has been great! I truly suggest to anyone studying abroad here to go to activities offered in the hall to meet kiwis! This hall had many international events at first, but it was hard to truly jump into the culture here when I was only with other exchange students. As soon as floor or hall activities were available I signed up and met a wonderful group of kiwi friends. IMG_3850View from Stafford UniLodgeCooking in the hallA night in with Kiwi friends :)p

Coffs Harbour

 

We arrived in Coffs Harbour that night around 6 PM, oddly the office was closed, so we just rang the bell to check in. After we out our bags in the cabin, we found a good place to eat called the Greenhouse Tavern. Even though it was late, there was nobody in the restaurant part, Dad and I were the only two. As we ate, we watched cricket on the TV. We tried to figure out how to play, but it didn’t really go so well. It was interesting watching a sport that we had no clue at all how to play.

The next morning, we woke up and got ready to head to Sydney. The weather was gloomy but we stuck with some of our plans for the day. We went to the beach and enjoyed the view as we Skyped home. Dad and I then went for a walk on a path near the beach for a little bit. Since it started to rain, we found an indoor attraction called “The Big Banana.” Apparently Australia is known for their big things. All over Australia there are tourist attractions with the name, “The Big _______.” We went to thr famous Big Banana and saw a show that explained how bananas evolved, how it was brought to Coffs Harbour, and how they are grown and packaged. It was very interesting and made me hungry. So we got a chocolate covered banana to share. Of course i was wearing my white jeans and some chocolate got on them, like during a chocolate Seder a few months prior at New Paltz.

We took pictures with the big banana, like the good tourists we were. Then we went shopping for food for breakfast and dad had to buy nuts because he was very far away from Alec, so he went crazy with nuts! We then ate KFC for lunch and were on our way to Sydney. We stopped in Buladelah (or however you spell it) for dinner and to sleep. We ate dinner at the hotel’s certifies restaurant. The worker was so sweet, he greeted ma as a “lovely lady” and pulled my chair out for me as I sat down at the table. Then the owners gave us some tips for Sydney the next day. We ended off the night just relaxing in the hotel room resting up for the next days activities.

Next stop: Sydney

Stay Awesome! <3

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Byron Bay

 

That night after we left Brisbane, Dad and I drove into Byron Bay in time to get some dinner. As always, I couldn’t make a decision so I made Dad make it for me. He made a good decision because we ate at a yummy falafel place that was named “Orgasmic Food: A taste of Mediterranean.” Then on the walk back to the car, we followed our ears to a live band playing outside, with people dancing. The music was great and entertaining, But, after about 10 minutes of watching them, we were too cold, so we went back to the cabin/hotel place, but not too cold to miss Baskin Robins Ice Cream to eat back at the hotel while relaxing.

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and went into the main town of Byron Bay. Dad and I walked around the town for an hour or so. We went into all the little shop, which were a bit too high end for me. As we walked all through town, we kept a log in the back of our heads of all the places we could eat lunch later. After we walked around, we walked a bit more to the beach. It started to drizzle a bit but that didn’t stop us. I took a walk on the beach with my mom on Skype and just enjoyed the view. I read a little bit of the book I bought, “The Fault in our Stars” before we were hungry enough to eat lunch. Dad and I ate ate lunch on a cute cafe with good music. Dad sang along to the songs so I left and sat at another table, just kidding!! I’m not THAT mean.

Since it was a little gloomy out, we decided to leave town right after lunch. There was a bit of traffic on our way out because of some protesters in the streets with “I stand with Gaza” signs. I thought that was interesting. It showed me that people are passionate toward their specific country or religion everywhere. It showed me that news that I heard about on the other side of the world, was here too. We passed some water on our way out of Byron bay as we drove to Coffs Harbour.

I didn’t mention this before, but the first day in Byron Bay we went to a light house. We saw some pretty views as well as took a tour of the light house. we learned all about Byron Bay light house as well as how light houses work in general. It was very interesting and beautiful.

Next Stop: Coffs Harbour

Stay awesome <3

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Exploring local streets, First day

Sunset from my appartment in Stafford Unilodge

Sunset from my appartment in Stafford Unilodge

I Live near Parliament!

I Live near Parliament!

Yesterday we landed in Wellington around 11 am. I have never met so many friendly people in a CITY before! Luke and I wandered around (with a map of course) and found a local supermarket similar to a Price Chopper back home. As the day went on we found out that the street parallel to us, Lambton Quay, had many shops and places to eat! Clothing here is very expensive ($120 for a simple sweater!) so I am hoping we will find a less expensive shopping area for when we need to buy things. My apartment has two windows that look partly out at the ocean and partly at other buildings but I am thankful I am on the Coast side of the building. I can’t wait to discover more of what this city has to offer! Kiaora!

Brisbane

The next morning after our Cairns adventure, we got up early and went to the airport to fly to Brisbane. It is ironically pronounced Brisbane even though it is spelled like Brisbane. We found that out by listening to all the Australian locals and the flight crew. The flight was relatively quick, about 1 and a half hours  but it spared us 30 hours of driving.

When we arrived in Brisbane, we rented a car at the airport then drove to our hotel in the city if Brisbane. The hotel looked beautiful as we drove up to it. But it wasn’t as great as it looked inside, but it was good enough. It was very windy that day as the pilot had emphasized. After we relaxed in the hotel for a bit, we drove into downtown Brisbane to eat and walk around the shopping center. We planned to go to Springbrook National Park that day, but it wasn’t in the location that Google maps told us (dad was very mad about this and proceeded to say “that is why Google maps is stupid, you should always use mapquest” his passion for this was very entertaining). So, we just walked around the outdoor mall. After, we ate dinner in the mall at this good Mexican place. The outdoor mall was nice. We went to a bunch of stores, but they were high-end stores, so i didn’t buy anything. That part of Brisbane was a hopping place. There were many people, who I assumed to be locals, walking around with friends, family, or just alone. I felt like a local that night. It was a nice change from all the tourist attractions we were going to. Being in the city gave me a little taste of home, the few times I go to NYC. It was also hard to find a parking spot, especially a reasonably priced one. We went around the block many times before we decided to try a parking garage. But we ended up leaving that garage because is was $48 AUD (Australian Dollars) for two hours. Good thing we left because after going around the block a few times the nightly rates came up and we found a parking garage that was $15 AUD for as long as we wanted to stay. The lovely lady who drove us to the airport in Cairns did say that parking in Brisbane was ridiculously expensive. That lady also refused a tip from my dad. I thought that was very kind of her.

We fell asleep that night without dinner since we were both still full from a late lunch. Before we fell asleep, we tried to watch the series finally of 24: Live Another Day, but the internet wouldn’t let us because of the sound and our geographical location. That was very upsetting but I got over it haha.

The next morning we drove to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which was in/near Brisbane. This Koala Sanctuary wasn’t what I was expecting, I don’t remember what I expected to be honest, but it was more like a zoo with a lot of Koalas. I loved it though! The Koala sanctuary was a major tourist attraction and very busy, I was a tourist so I fit right in, Dad and I went to the reptiles, then koalas. We went to the main enclosure for a presentation about a few of the animals they have there. After that presentation, we stayed for an interesting koala presentation which we got to pet and take a picture of us petting the Koala. Koalas are one of the only animals that survive on a certain kind of leaf. when they are born they eat their mom’s poop to build up enzymes to be able to eat that leaf they survive on. This specific type of leaf has low energy so that is the reason that Koalas sleep all the time. Anyway, we also saw birds, reptiles, more koala’s, platypuses, and many other animals including kangaroos. I pet some of them, took selfies with them and just observed them in their natural habitat. After someone with food for the kangaroos left, that same kangaroo came over to me and kept looking up at me waiting for me to give him/her food. It was adorable! But I felt bad that I didn’t have food for it. I saw a kangaroo hop and jump over to people. I even saw a joey pop its legs and head out of his/her mom’s pouch it was so cute that I took a picture!

After we left the Koala Sanctuary, we went to Spring Brook National Park, the correct place this time. As we were driving to it (or in it i don’t really know where it started) it was really hilly and curvy so Dad was having a fun driving up those roads! The first stop was a waterfall lookout. About 100 meters walk from the car was the lookout. It was pretty with mountains and a city in the background. But the falls were wimpy, there wasn’t much water. Maybe I just thought that because I am spoiled with Niagara Falls. We then went to a Canyon lookout which was 10 steps from the car and it was absolutely breathtaking. I just stared at the scenery forever. I couldn’t stop taking pictures too, I was attempting to be artsy with my pictures but I failed. The next lookout we went to wasn’t that great because trees grew in to block the view. But off to the side was a nice view of the sunset in the clouds, my pictures looked like paintings. We ended up passing the last lookout we wanted to see, but we saw plenty of beautiful views that we were satisfied. I had a great time in Brisbane.

Next Stop: Byron Bay

Stay awesome <3

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Can’t wait for Wellington!

Soon I will be leaving the country to study/ live in a place I have never been to. I have planned for this for so long, It doesn’t even seem like I’m about to leave. I can’t wait to see what this mysterious place called Wellington is like. I have such high expectations for this place from all of these pictures and information I have been receiving. I really hoped I packed all of the right clothes and general “college stuff” for a whole semester! Am I the only one who rethinks what they are packing a billion times until they’re literally walking out the door to catch that flight?1468732_10201569212190956_7824797696574242274_n

Great Barrier Reef

7/16/2014

Our first day in Australia was in Cairns. Cairns is on the North East coast of Australia, near the great barrier reef. After we got settled in where we were staying, Dad and I started off with a relaxing trip to the lagoon. If we stayed in the hotel, our sleep schedule would have been way worse from the jet lag, so we decided to go somewhere relaxing and calm to start. The lagoon is a salt water enclosed swimming pool. Since it was winter when we got there the water in the lagoon was pretty cold, also because we ended up getting to the lagoon in the evening. Since it was too cold to swim, we sat on a bench, read our books, and took a few walks around the esplanade. During our walks it was low tide, so if I jumped over the wall we were walking next to there wouldn’t be any water, just wet sand and rocks. The walk continued past 5 PM so we got to see the sunset over the mountains. It was a breathtaking view. We ate at a local restaurant for dinner and went back to our accommodation called Crystal Cascades. It was a cute cabin that had a view of the mountains and palm trees surrounding it. We ended up falling asleep really early (it was early for my family, sometimes at the time we eat dinner!) around 8 PM.

The next morning we woke up early to go on a mini cruise to Green Island. Green island is one of the islands that make up the Great Barrier Reef. Fun fact: it is the only island in the Great Barrier Reef that has a rain forest (according to my Dad’s tour guide). Once we found where to park (it took us about 20 minutes of going in circles) we checked in and took an hour long catamaran ride to Green Island. The ride wasn’t as bad as Dad had anticipated it would be (he had a bad catamaran experience once) but it may have been because we slept most of the ride there so I guess the world may never know how bad it actually was, except the people that were on it too. We got my snorkel gear and waited for the boat to finish docking. I stepped off the boat and didn’t know where to look, (I felt like a dog spinning in circles) it was beautiful 360º.

We first took a walk along the path in the rain forest. We Skyped mom for part of our walk and ended up with this beautiful view, it made my mom jealous (SUCCESS! I made her jealous yayy!!). After that walk, we went back to the boat for a buffet lunch, it actually wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t too exciting either. I left Dad on the boat by himself because I was mad at him. no jk it was because that is where he had to meet in a few minutes to go on the glass bottom boat tour. I went to the beach and just relaxed lying on a towel soaking up the sun and the beautiful views.

When Dad was done with the glass bottom boat tour he found me on the beach and we moved to a less populated area. I put on my Lycra suit and snorkel gear and was ready to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. As I was going in, I saw my Dad Skype my family back home so they could see how funny I looked in all my gear. As I went into the water, which was a bit cold, it was hard for me to walk with my fins. The first few times I wend underwater it felt weird. I didn’t like feeling as if I couldn’t breathe correctly. But after a few tries and remembering my Dad’s advice, breathe in and out slowly through your mouth only, I got the hang of it. Snorkeling was pretty cool!! I saw some grass and plants at first, I couldn’t go out to far because I started choking after doing something wrong. But it was pretty shallow and I could stand up even pretty far out. On the way back to shore, after I used up all my underwater camera film (of course I used it up), I saw fish for the first time during the snorkeling session. There must have been a few hundred fish swimming together in a long line. It was so cool to just look down and see fish. I was so entertained by them that I just floated in that one spot as they kept swimming back and forth under me. After I was done snorkeling we had been on Green Island for about 5 hours, so it was time to head back to the boat. I took off my Lycra suit near this elderly couple (don’t worry I had a bathing suit on under the Lycra suit) and the man started taking pictures of the ground, (it was a bit weird he should have been taking pictures of his beautiful wife) but then we started to walk towards the boat.

We took the catamaran back to Cairns, we slept most of that ride too. (We sleep a lot, it’s a family tradition to just sleep everywhere, so why not bring that family tradition to Australia?!?) Either that night or the night before, I don’t have the best memory, we took dinner back to the cabin to relax. We ended up walking around the town at night looking in souvenir shops and places to eat. We both conked out between 8 and 9 the second night as well.

Cairns was beautiful! I definitely wouldn’t miss snorkeling in the great barrier reef if I were to come to Australia again. It was an awesome experience with amazing views. It was the place my Study Abroad Adviser back at New Paltz told me not to miss, and I would pass on the same advice. I think it still didn’t sink in that I was in a different country. There are some pictures to prove how beautiful it really was. The pictures don’t do it justice, but its the closest you can come to seeing it and not being in Australia.

Next stop: Brisbane

Thank you for reading!

Stay awesome!! <3

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30 hour trek from USA to Australia

Driving to the airport was….driving to the airport, nothing special. We were there plenty early. On our flight from New York to San Francisco we had a few rude crew members on United Airlines, but on the next flight, San Francisco to Sydney, everyone was super kind and friendly. That flight was also United Airlines so you just never know if you will get someone who just had a bad week. On that second flight, Dad and I made a friend. The way we started talking was cliche, well it would have been cute/cliche if it was a start to a love story, but the guy who worked on the plane bumped into my dad with a food cart. (SPOILER: It was not a start to a love story.)Then we striked up a conversation with him every time he passed by us. This second flight was the longest one, 15 hours. Dad and I got up every few hours to stretch, walk, and let the blood in our legs flow. To everyone who lectured us on doing this, you would be proud. I even woke Dad up a bunch of times to walk. We listened! During one of the stretching sessions, we went behind our seats (we sat in the last row), went to the back of the plane, and met our friend again He was telling us some of the differences between The United States and Australia (One was how in Australia the police enforcement was strict on bar fights, speeding, and other things).

We got served food on the plane. It wasn’t the best quality but that is what I expected. I mean, after all it was free food so who could complain? (I guess it wasn’t free, I mean we did pay for the flight.)

After a layover in Sydney, Dad and I finally got to the destination that would start an amazing trip down the east coast of Australia. That destination was in Cairns, the northeast of Australia, and we arrived there around noon local time. The total time of our trip from New York to Cairns was about 30 hours (including the layovers). It was a long and tiring trek all the way here, but it was definitely worth it!

The better blogs of the scenery and each city is still to come! And get ready to be amazed by pictures! Lots of them!

Thank you for reading!

Stay awesomely beautiful! <3