Summer Plans – Tiny House Festival

You must be thinking, “Did I read that correctly?” Well yes, yes you did. Apparently, this year is the third annual Tiny House Festival. The event is happening August 12th & 13th in Old Port, Montreal. Oh… AND IT’S FREE.

I’ve been looking around for workshops/meet ups/conferences – anything you can think of that has to do with the Tiny House Movement. Finally, I stumbled upon this.

Fingers crossed that I can get the full weekend off of work to be able to make it there, because it seems like a pretty cool event.

SIDE NOTE: If this is something that interests you and you’d like to drive up from New Brunswick with me, leave me a comment so I can contact you and therefor save myself lots of money on gas by bringing you with me. 

From what I could read on the website, the festival grounds will permit attendees to visit Tiny Houses models that are on site, listen to inspirational speakers on various subjects about Tiny House living and self-sufficiency, attend workshops about construction/finances/alternate energy sources, and much more.

The festival’s mission is outlined as follows: to promote an eco-friendly, affordable and healthy lifestyle which allows for increased self-sufficiency and independence. They also hope that by creating awareness about the Tiny House Movement, an increased amount of municipalities will accept the creation of Tiny Houses and/or will amend their laws to allow Tiny Houses in their region.

To be quite honest, I’m super pumped about attending this event, and I hope you’ll consider going too!

If you’re not convinced, you definitely need to check out this video.

And this one!

Everything is as it should be

Yesterday I got upset. Really upset. I made plans to attend a really special event out of town, and I was so excited for Max to come with me and meet some of my friends for the first time -they live in Africa, so it’s not an every day occurrence!

Then, just as I was about to finish work and head home to pack the car, I receive a text.

Turns out I’m working tomorrow.

You wanna know how to hurt my feelings? Make plans with me and then cancel at the last minute. It kills me, every single time. Even when I know it’s going to happen, I can’t avoid the disappointment and heart-sinking feeling. Every. Single. Time.

But as upset as it makes me, I know there is no one to blame. Things happen. Work happens. And the fact is, my significant other works an on-call job, so this is bound to happen anytime of the year. And yet here I am, feeling the exact same way as if it were happening for the first time.

Because there is no one to blame, I can’t help but feel like my emotions are unjustified. Why am I upset? Why can’t I accept that this is our reality, that not everything is going to go according to plan? And worst of all, why do I feel like dumping all of my anger out on the person I love the most?

Apparently, it’s a thing – getting mad at someone you care about because you can’t think rationally about what’s actually bothering you. Or you don’t want to admit it.

It’s called displaced aggression.

For the past little while, I’ve been working on being more conscious about why I feel a certain way, especially when it’s a negative feeling. I try my best to get to the root of the problem, to talk about that, to not assign blame, to listen and understand the other person’s point of view. I am continuously working on becoming the best version of myself that I can be, primarily in regards to my relationships.
I feel like there’s been definitive progress, because just a few years ago, every time I would get upset, I couldn’t figure out how to calm down, how to talk rationally, and most importantly how to fix things. I’m getting to know myself better and becoming aware of what I need/when I need it. Sometimes I need alone time. Sometimes I really need someone’s support. And sometimes the thing that I need most isn’t what my significant other needs, so there’s the whole added aspect of respecting that other people have important needs too, and sometimes those needs to be a priority even when I’m upset.

That was a hard lesson to learn.

And today, I’m reminded of all the hard work I’ve put into myself.

I just finished doing a video of Yoga with Adriene called Practice Peace. I had a hard time concentrating, and I had no cat to cuddle with as I am not home. But as the video went on, I did my best to focus on my breathe, be aware of my how my body is feeling, and respect my body’s limits. The video was almost over when I finally found myself in a good state of mind. At that precise moment, Adriene repeats the mantra of this practice.

Everything is as it should be.

Yesterday, I got upset. Really upset. But today is a new day, and I will learn and grow from every experience, and for that, I am thankful.

Big Decisions

Do you like oxymorons? Because that is exactly what the title is all about.

We’re building a tiny house. 

Can you believe it?! We are so incredibly excited!

Ok, ok. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. This is a long and arduous project, and I know that this is just the beginning. So what better way to enjoy it than to share it with all of you!

Max and I have been talking about the idea for a long time now. I can’t even remember who brought it up first, but we both had the same vision – to live in a tiny house built to meet all our needs.

This whole project has really sparked some ideas in my mind, but most importantly, I think it gave me the motivation I needed to finally get my own website up and running! It’s still in the works, but soon enough I will start documenting every aspect of our Tiny House Project and everything it entails. I met up with the person who will be hosting and designing the website today, and I am already on the edge of my seat – too many ideas flowing through my mind, I just can’t wait to write them all down and get them published on my very own domain!

You must be wondering what kind of name we will be giving to our project. Well, let me tell you that it was quite the brain storm, but we finally agreed on something we both loved.

TINY ADVENTURES

We hope to have our website live within the next month or so, and to start working on some video content to put on youtube. We’re setting up a Facebook Page, and definitely an Instagram account too.

In regards to the physical aspect of the project, we bought a welder – yes, Max wants to build the trailer himself!! We also started talking about the specifics of the tiny house layout (model still to be made) and started looking at purchasing some land – my favourite part.

But for now, it’s still the beginning phase so I’ll leave it at that for now. If you have any interest in this project or have any questions, leave us a comment – we’d love to hear from you.

xo

Down day

Today was not a great day. Nor was yesterday, and that’s particularly disappointing because those were my two days off this week.

It’s funny how it ended up that way. I mean, it wasn’t like I had really bad days or anything, they just weren’t great. And the reason I say it’s funny is because I was actually making efforts to try to get out of the slums I ended up getting myself into. I did yoga both mornings. I spent some time with my mom – you would think that would help! I did some cleaning – purging = cleansing, but the effect was not long-lasting. I went on a date night. [Side note: HOLY SHIT THE MOVIE LOGAN IS IN-FUCKING-CREDIBLE!] I intentionally did not pick up my phone nor my i-pad this morning, and instead started reading a new book. I decided to give myself a make-over. I decided to try to take it easy by spending the afternoon watching TV and playing videos games. I had a glass of wine. I had my favourite meal for supper. And still, this mood remains.

I suppose that’s just how it is sometimes. We all have good days and not so good days. We all have bad days and sad days and days when we just can’t even. All these days will pass, and something better will come along. Tomorrow is a new day, and I welcome it with open arms. As I type this message I hope my heart feels a small sense of relief, that it doesn’t have to carry the weight of all these words anymore. The feelings can hopefully dissipate into each key I press and as time goes on, it doesn’t seem so bad – not that it’s “bad.” It’s just not good.

Rocky & The Great Barrier Reef! 

I’ve been meaning to write more about my trip as I travel, but I’ve just been so busy and having such a great time, it was hard to take a break and sit down at the computer. Now however, it feels like quite the opposite. It’s been two and a half weeks, and I’m back in Sydney. I am alone again, and it has been hitting my like a brick.

I was so incredibly fortunate to have been able to spend the last week and a half with friends new and old. The first week was entirely spent in Brisbane at Vanessa & Matt’s place, and what a fantastic week it was. They were both working through the weekdays, but that was fine by me because I needed a bit of downtime at the beginning, and then I had tons of places I wanted to visit that would take most of the day that they had probably visited a billion times every time they had Canadian guests over. We spent pretty much every night together, mostly relaxing after we had all had a long day either at work or at play – or both! Then the weekend came and I had made sure not to make any plans at all, so we headed out on the jet ski on the Sunshine Coast for the first day, then a little drive down to Gold Coast on the second day. And of course, plenty of time to enjoy the sun, and the pool in their backyard!

And that was just the beginning! I was pretty sad at first to be flying out of Brisbane, but my next destination turned out to be just as incredible! I landed in Rockhampton on February 13th, where Max’s friend Greg met me at the airport. I was a little worried because we hadn’t talked about the details of picking me up, and I only got his text when I landed, saying “I’m wearing maroon.” I smiled at the text. Typical. And I regretted now following Max’s advice to bring his maroon sweatshirt. It’s part of their bond, among the Paintball Commonwealth. But then again, who wears a sweater when it’s +30 degrees celsius? It would have stayed in my bag the entire trip. Part of me still wishes I had it, at least it would remind me of home. But Greg did just that, no sweater required!!

Basically, this man is a carbon copy of my boyfriend, but with an Australian accent. Ok, and a nicer moustache – sorry Max!

I don’t think we ever had a moment of silence, I was just talking so much and asking so many questions. And he was SUCH a great guide! We honestly didn’t even stop during my three days there. And I honestly really wish I would have extended my stay, because it was so nice to spend time with such a wonderful person – whom I had just met for the first time!

We basically spent every single minute of the day together doing some activity or another. It started right after I dropped my stuff off at his place – we went to visit some local spots, best of all, a local catholic church that just took my breath away. I think it was also the feeling of being “at home,” and thinking of my grandma as I walked through the entire building. It was so beautiful and peaceful, and he didn’t even know how much it meant to me, how much it actually touched my heart that he ended up bringing me there.

I was actually sick that day I landed, and I was trying so hard to keep my energy levels high. I had been taking cold medication – holy shit, they’ve got some strong stuff down under! Apparently you can only take the pills for 3 days in a row, because of addictive products in the medication. The good thing is they worked friggen well, but it was still hard to stay in top shape. To the point actually where I was laying on the couch, half dead, and Greg offered to make me some pasta with loads of onion and garlic to help boost my system. What a life saver! I think I dozed off for a bit, and then the meal was all ready! The heat was hitting me hard so I wasn’t able to eat even half, but it was very delicious and I could already feel the antioxidants making their way into my body! A few seconds later, I closed my eyelids for just one second and – BAM! I fell asleep for two hours. At which point I dragged myself into bed and thanked Greg for everything.

I slept like a log that night, like… even better than I had slept in the air conditioning at Vanessa & Matt’s house in Brisbane for an entire week. And let me tell you it was not cold in Rockhampton, no sirree Bob! But I was so tired from everything, my body obviously needed the rest. We didn’t set a wake-up time for the next morning, although I was sure I had woken up before him. I talked to Max a bit and went about my morning business. But when I went to the washroom, it looked like his bedroom was empty. I took a quick shower, and when I later went into the kitchen, he was sitting there sipping tea. I quickly got dressed because I didn’t want to make him wait, and when I went to talk to him I noticed something on the table there beside him…
OK, don’t make assumptions. You have no idea if he has a girlfriend or not. That rose might be for someone else. 

“Hey, by the way, Max wanted me to go out and buy you this.”

He points to a beautiful red rose and a family pack bag of M&Ms. Oh my God, my boyfriend is SO PERFECT! He is 20 000kms away and he still managed to get me something sweet for Valentine’s Day! (Keeping in mind that with the time change, we are never living the same day at the same time, so I still had time to plan my Valentine gift…)

(photo)

I couldn’t smell much, because I was still sick, but Greg told me that the flower smelled very nice – as roses always do.

I ate a little bit of breakfast, drank some tea, then off we went to start our day anywhere cooler than here! First stop: Capricorn caves! I had looked into it quickly, and I didn’t know much other than I just wanted to do the simple walk around, no adventure stuff for this sick girl.

We got there at 9:30AM and had to wait for the next tour to begin at 10AM, but that was fine by me because it gave us plenty of time to look around and read all the information about what the heck these caves means and why they’re important. Click here if you wanna read about it!

I hadn’t thought about it much, but jeez was it ever a good idea to go through those on a hot day – the temperature was about 10 degrees lower inside the caves, and they aren’t even underground caves. These caves are actually above ground, but still keep the damp coolness to them. Unfortunately, this meant it was not ideal for the bats to have babies, so we didn’t get to see them since if was birthing season. But we did get to walk over a bunch of guano – that means poop!

After the tour was done, we took a drive down to Yeppoon (I think?) and checked out some lookout spots and beaches. Once again, we didn’t stop talking the entire trip. We grabbed some fish and chips on the oceanside and ate and talked about God-Knows-What. It started drizzling a bit, but it didn’t seem to worry Greg one bit. We got back into the car and drove down to another spot – a creek, can’t remember the name. Apparently it’s usually hustling and bustling down there, but because of the weather, there wasn’t a single soul! We had the entire place to ourselves. Part of me was worried the water would be “cold” (I’m a wuss), but Greg went right in… so I took a leap of faith and got in the water!

Surprisingly, it was quite nice and we hung out in the water for a while, until the rain started coming down again. I was a bit worried about my phone and all that inside our bag so I figured it would be a good time to call it quits – before it started pouring, which it did.

Unfortunately not a lot of the rain made it to Rockhampton itself, but it was a nice drive back through the downpour. The air was a little bit cooler than the first night, and again, I slept incredibly well.

My last full day in Rockhampton was the one I had been waiting for: a snorkelling trip to see the Great Barrier Reef!!
I’m just gonna start off by saying I am so incredibly happy Greg came out with me – I don’t know what I would have done without him! Firstly, I got majorly sick on the boat (Damn you seasickness!). I mean, nobody can really do anything for that, but it was nice to know I could ask someone to go get me some water, or another barf bag, or what have you. I, of course, told him he didn’t have to hang around me, I knew right away that I was inevitably going to throw up. Fortunately, the ride out was only 30 minutes, and I got sick when we were almost there, so it didn’t last for too too long. The only down side was that the tour we had paid for was heading back on the water in a glass bottom boat to view the Great Barrier Reef. I tried to see if I could muster the strength, but there was no way in hell I could manage going back on the water. I asked the lady if it would be alright for me to sit that part out and just relax on the beach. She said it was no problem, as long as the driver knew that he could leave without me on board. I’m happy Greg ended up going because that way he didn’t have to miss out, plus he could take some cool pictures of something I would otherwise not have seen.

On the beach, I actually just walked around for a bit, bought an ice cream bar (Oh my God, it was so delicious), and went swimming in the super warm, super blue ocean!! Now THIS felt like a vacation! It was so quiet, there were only two other people around and they weren’t there for very long. Paradise, I tell you.

When the boat was pulling back in, I walked toward the landing spot and met up with Greg. Turns out that lunch would only be served later so we had about an hour on the island. Oh by the way, we went to Great Keppel Island!

I was glad we had some more time, half because it would give me even more time to gather my bearings, and also because I wanted to walk around some more.

We visited the local pub/restaurant, and got a cold drink while enjoying the view. Time flew by and we were actually the last ones back on the boat – then lunch was served. Unfortunately, lunch was being served as we sailed away. Damn it. So much for eating then.

I was getting hungry, and was wary, but the good part was that we were now just driving slowly on the ocean, we weren’t going full speed or wavering about anymore. I figured I should try eating something before we headed out for the snorkelling trip.

A few bites of corn and some fruit later, it was time to get geared up! We were the first ones in line, although not the first ones to dive because the super nice lady to whom I had been speaking ever since I started feeling sick mentioned that she could get me some (weak, but still) prescription goggles!! I think that was the best news I had heard all day! I didn’t even know that was a thing, but man that would help! I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I didn’t have any contact lenses – even though Greg had already mentioned that’s why he wasn’t wearing his glasses.

Well, they surely don’t make ‘em thick enough like my glasses, but I could already see a difference, and I was so excited to jump in! Of course, not before getting a cute photo of me all dressed up!

Greg and I jumped in around the end of the group and started making our way through the water.

Well here’s where my heart sank. I jumped in and started looking down, excited as all hell to see what amazing beauty was lying beneath us. And do you know what I saw? Big. Fat. Fucking. Nothing. I wanted to cry. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t see. They must be so far, I thought to myself, I won’t be able to see them…

I kept swimming, following Greg, hoping he would at least describe them to me along the way. When all of a sudden – OH MY GOD THERE’S COLORED STUFF DOWN THERE!! I CAN SEE THINGS!!!! YAYYYY!!!!

Ok, so it was at this point that I realized the boat isn’t allowed to drive over the actual reef, so he dropped us as close as he could and we had to swim a bit before reaching it. Sweet relief!!

I couldn’t stop looking down! There was blue coral, like cute sky blue! There were some pink ones, lots of white-ish ones, and wow!! A big bright neon green one! Some were all wiggly and others were sharp and point! AND I COULD SEE THEM! Probably not as well as everyone else, definitely not as defined, but I could still see them!! At first, I couldn’t really see the fish. I knew they were there, because there was a lot of moving black blobs, but they were further down and my eyes couldn’t focus well enough to make them out. (Side note, they were small fish) But then a big school of fish was swimming underneath us, like, REALLY CLOSE, and I could see them all!

We kept swimming and swimming and swimming, I’m sure for much longer than we were supposed to. It actually felt like time slowed down so we could fully appreciate nature’s beautiful creations. I swear, I can still see all of the different corals going by slowly if I close my eyes. On the way back, I saw some more fish, cool striped ones and best of all… I SAW A DORY!

After we got back onto the boat – honestly this was the one part I was most worried about, like, how the hell do you get back onto a boat when you’re wearing flippers and a pool noodles?! – and heading up to grab some hot tea. What a great idea, tea and cookies after a dive!

We took our things and went upstairs, assuming that was the end of it. But no! There was also the opportunity for everyone on board to try boom netting, whatever that is. OK, so I don’t know exactly what it is, but basically you jump off the back of the boat and grab onto the net and let yourself ride by hanging on. I was debating trying it out, but I felt it would be best to try to rest, especially since I hadn’t eaten much.

After all that, we headed back to the island for the end of day pick-up, and we made our way back to shore. It should be noted that the water was MUCH calmer on the way home, and I was surprisingly not sick.

By the time we got back to land, I was just about ready to go home. We grabbed all our stuff and got into the car, ready to spend the rest of the night relaxing. Greg was kind enough to stop at a Chemist – that means pharmacy in Australia! – and bought me some real hard-ass travel sickness pills. No more getting sick for this girl, and hopefully lots of sleeping on the flights home!

And after that, it was basically all done! Time to head out to Sydney again.

It was hard saying goodbye, both to Vanessa & Matt, as well as Greg. I think – OK, I know – that it was mostly hard because I knew I was leaving them and going back to being alone. Still adjusting to that. But there’s always gonna be ups and downs. As much as I hate my low moments, I appreciate them nevertheless because they are part of the reason I know what it is like to feel the complete opposite. I can recognize how great, but also how shitty I can feel, and that in itself is living life to its fullest.

So to all my family and friends, don’t worry about me, even when I write shitty stuff on Facebook. We all have good days and bad days, it just so happens most of my bad days happen while I’m in Sydney. But it’s homeward bound very very soon, never a dull moment!

xoxo

Uluru & Kata Tjuta – The land of the Anangu people

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I landed in Ayers Rock. This place, almost completely cut off from “civilization,” as we call it, was like nothing I had ever seen. The outback. The middle of nowhere. The land of the Anangu people.

Basically, I was picturing very poor living conditions, no cell reception, and no air conditioning. To my (pleasant) surprise, all those assumptions were completely wrong! There was air conditioning everywhere – unlike India – and the living conditions were very nice, where the government had built what is now known as Ayers Rock Resort. There is cell reception and wifi available all throughout the town, but it starts to get weak as you drive further away.

Good enough for me, I was just keeping my fingers crossed I would be able to communicate with my family! The connection was even better than I had in Sydney actually. It wasn’t perfect but I had less trouble hearing Max the first few times I called. The wifi wasn’t the greatest, but luckily, 8GB of data on my cell phone is MORE than enough to do all sorts of internet browsing.

When I arrived at my hotel, I went straight to the reception to try to get into my room ASAP. What I hadn’t known – or just completely misunderstood – was that check in wasn’t guaranteed until 3PM. Damn, that’s late. I arrived around a little past 1PM, so lots of waiting. Luckily, as I mentioned, everywhere has air conditioning, so at least I wasn’t suffering through that afternoon dry heat.

I went to grab lunch right away – my stomach was growling! There were a lot less solo travellers here, I noticed. Most people travelled in pairs, and did not seem as friendly as most people I had met/talked to in Sydney. No one approached me, no one smiled as I passed them wondering if I could grab a seat with them. Not the end of the world, I just sat alone and ate quietly.

By 3PM, I was finally able to get into my (air conditioned) room. Huzzah! Mostly, I just wanted to lie down. As I walked into the 4 bed female dorm, I met one of my roommates, whose named I later remembered was Molly – Dear God, I need to make better mental notes of people’s names! We talked for a bit, and I learned that she was from New York, studying in Massachusetts. She was travelling with her friend Jared, who was in another room on the grounds. They had booked their Uluru/Kata Tjuta tour with Uluru Express, which was exactly the company I had planned to book, so I asked if it would be alright if I tagged along with them tonight. She said that would be alright, but to make sure I could get on for the 4PM tour if I wanted to head out at the same time as them. So I headed back to the reception to get all that booked and then got ready right away to head out!

The shuttle driver was super nice and informative on the way over. He explained that this past year had been the period of time where they had gotten the most rain since anyone can remember. Apparently one day after Christmas, the amount of rainfall in one day was equivalent to the usual annual rainfall!! Now that’s a lot of rain! So as we looked out the windows of the shuttle bus, we could see that most plants and trees were actually not yellow like in most photos of the area, but almost all green!

But that wasn’t even the most beautiful part. We shortly thereafter started driving by Uluru itself, the infamous giant red rock in the centre of the Australian outback. Simply spectacular.

Then it was time to start the drop-offs. There were three different spots where you could be dropped off to either do a short walk, do a long walk, or check out the Cultural Centre. I was happy my roommate and her friend wanted to go to the Cultural Centre because I definitely wanted to learn more about the meaning of Uluru and its history because I started walking all around it.

Basically, the cultural centre is where it’s at. There is a TON of information about Ayers Rocks (Uluru) and The Olgas (Kata Tjuta). There are videos, drawings, and loads and loads of posters with interesting historical facts. Mostly, it all focuses around the fact that these amazing sandstone rock formations were sacred to the indigenous people of the land and held very important cultural meaning. I couldn’t possibly recall all the details, but there was this amazing story written throughout the building, explaining the story of the protector snake and its enemies, as well as the travels and journeys of their ancestors and how they became the keepers of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Unfortunately, the government seized possession of these cultural landlmarks, despite the fact that it was already known as a National Park. According to one website – because no, I did not memorize all these facts by looking at all those poster during my very short visit – it took the Anangu over 35 years of hard work to be finally recognized as the keepers of the land. It was only in 1985 that they received the deed back to their own land. Pretty sad story, but at least it all worked out for them in the end.

After a very thorough look through the cultural centre – and a very obvious employee who was waiting to leave, come on people – my new friends headed out the door where I had been waiting for them and we made our way to the nearest trail back to the base of Uluru. I believe it was called the Mira Walk, and although there appeared to be a sign saying something along the lines of “Trail Closed,” we had no other way of joining the shuttle unless we walked to the base of Uluru so we took our chances.

Holy crap. You would think that in that kind of heat – somewhere between 32 and 40 degrees celsius – that flies would die off. No, apparently not! They were buzzing all around us the entire walk. Both Molly and Jared walked behind me, and I was starting to wonder if I was the only one getting attacked, wondering how ridiculous I must look if it isn’t also happening to them. So I turned around quickly only to see them swinging their arms as fast as possible, looking just as silly as me.

Luckily, the shuttle driver was right when he said the walk wasn’t much more than a 20 minute hike. We stopped to take pictures once or twice – thank you to Jared for the only picture of me on my camera that is not a selfie! Then we had to play the waiting game once we reached Uluru, and try to avoid the flies until the shuttle bus came by.

Side note: these are completely harmless black flies. They are just annoying is all.

The shuttle arrived a few moments later and we all hoped in as fast as we could. The air conditioning was a “warm” welcome – HA, did you like my joke there?! – during the short ride from the base of Uluru to the sunset viewing area.

The shuttle driver parked the bus and we all got out to walk around and see the different hues of color change as the sun slowly sank down and created beautiful shadows all along the horizon. I took a few shots – ok, more than a few – and then made my way back to the bus because I just could not stand the flies anymore. I was the first one back so I sat near the door and started chatting with the driver – who’s name I later found out is Simon. We talked for a while about the regions and the sights and whatnot, and it was so interesting listening to him talk about it even though he had only been here for a few months. He was from Darwin and had just moved here to work for a while, and apparently did some photography. He started talking about this amazing shot he got of a completely red sunset that happened not too long ago, but unfortunately he couldn’t show me because his phone had died earlier. I was a little disappointed, and hoped I would run into him again before I left the area.

And then it was all over, just like that! The sun had set, it was time to head back. What I hadn’t realize though was how much time had gone by! Jesus. By the time we got back to the town, it was already past 8PM and I didn’t have anything to eat. Honestly, I was so friggen tired I was just going to skip dinner and go straight to bed. But my new friends told the driver they would like to get off at the town square/IGA and so apparently that was enough to convince me to get off. I started walking towards where I had been told the grocery store was, only to turn around and find out that my new “friends” had not followed me. They must have gone to a restaurant or something for dinner. Dang. I guess I was back to being alone.
I treated myself a little more during this visit to the grocery store. I bought myself some fruit loops – they were on sale, stop judging me! – some milk, some tuna, a small pack of bread (not sliced – frig), a banana, some cookies, and one of those instant noodle pack things.

I was able to stuff everything into my backpack and walk down to where the local bus would stop hopefully sooner rather than later. I had no idea where I was/how to get back to my hotel otherwise, so I waited silently on a bench, soon joined by many others. I must have JUST missed the last bus’ passing because I waited a good 10-15 minutes. I got on the bus with my stuff and looked out to make sure I didn’t miss my stop.

Back at the hotel, I unloaded all my things in the shared kitchen, heated up some water really quickly in the microwave, poured it into my noodle pack thing and went straight to my room. There, I gobbled it all up and, too lazy to return to the kitchen, I laid it down on the floor and went straight to bed.

Next morning was a super early rise from bed, since I had booked to go see the sunrise at Kata Tjuta! The bus pick-up was scheduled for 5:15AM so I made sure to get there a little early and met up with Molly and Jared, who I knew were heading out to the same spot. Unfortunately, the bus drive was not the same as the night before, and for some reason I think he loved his air conditioning because it was FREEZING on the bus! I was some glad I brought my sweater, jeez.

It was a longer drive out to Kata Tjuta – or Katuh Jou-dah as the Australians seem to pronounce it. Ok, it’s probably not that bad, but I swear I had no idea what the driver was saying until I heard him say it the tenth time. Anyway, it was a longer drive, and I was pretty happy to get out of the bus when we arrived. Pretty sure my glasses fogged up.

We all got out at the sunrise viewing area, and I got some pretty nice shots. Definitely very different lighting than sunset, and it was cool because you could see Uluru from where we were, so you could watch the sun rise over both of them – although you had to look in two different directions, as they are not aligned with each other or the sun.

When our time was up, the bus driver called us all back in and we headed out to do one of the two hikes. I had chosen the shorter one, called Walpa Gorge. It was said to take one hour, whereas the longer hike, called Valley of the Winds, was more like 3-4 hours long, which meant you would be getting that hot heat from the late morning. I definitely didn’t want to perish in those temperatures so I picked the shorter one and said goodbye to Molly and Jared. I took my time doing the walk, although everyone else was actually stopping way more than me (for pictures). I got all the way to the end of the gorge and walked back to the parking lot. The bus driver had initially said we could definitely do the walk in 40 minutes, but my God, it had already been a full hour when I got back there, and I was the first one by far.

The bus driver waited for everyone to come back, and then we were off to the resort. It was almost lunch time so I made sure to go and make myself a tuna sandwich and eat the whole thing since I hadn’t been eating all that much. Then it was the great debate: do I spend time in the pool first, or shower first? Obviously, the right thing to do was pool first, but I wanted to shower so bad… I’m pretty sure I ended up going into the pool, into the shower, and then back into the pool!

I was debating going to try another Uluru hike that afternoon, but it was just SO HOT. I figured my body would prefer resting, and it’s not like I hadn’t seen most of it anyway. So I trusted my gut and I stayed at the hotel and relaxed until dinner time.

I snacked a bit but decided I would wait until after sunset to eat. And I was planning on going out to eat and using that free drink voucher I got when I checked in! All this heat makes me feel like I deserve a good cold beer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the sunset first!

So around 6PM is the pick-up time to just do the sunset viewing. I waited by the entrance and was happily surprised to see the same bus driver as the first night! I didn’t know if he would recognize me or not, so I waited in line to get my ticket checked and all that. But what do you know, he just glanced my way, smiled and said I could hop on.

The sunset viewing area was the same as last time, so I knew it would be a quick session for me, just trying to get different lighting and new angles on my last night there. I ran into this lady who was there by herself as well, and what a chatter-box! I wasn’t too sure how to slip away, she was asking so many personal questions about my life, my relationship, marriage, children, religion… jeez-o, gimme a break lady!

I somehow managed to end the conversation saying I wanted to take more pictures. I only took one shot and then darted back to the bus so I could talk to the driver again. But when I got there he seemed to be involved in another mundane tourist-y conversation that I didn’t want to take a part in, so I got in the bus and sat down in my usual “closest to the door” seat. A few seconds later, the driver pops by and says he wants to show me something. He hands me his phone, and I’m greeted by this GORGEOUS super bright red sunset over this super clear shot of Uluru. Wow. Like, take-your-breath-away kind of wow. And with his phone! I couldn’t believe it.

He showed me some other shots, and then he told me about this website he has where he puts up his creations – he also does photoshop work of movements using water and inanimate objects. Really cool stuff, and pretty disappointed other tourists kept interrupting – I didn’t get a chance to ask him to write down the website!

On the way back to the resort, the drive was actually super interesting, because these super dark ominous clouds started rolling in. And just like that, it starts pouring rain as we arrive into town!! Everyone that gets dropped off has to run inside, and it’s so funny to watch! I honestly couldn’t stop laughing as I myself tried to run out to my room at the hotel. Mostly I was running to get my camera to safety. Nothing else really mattered, so I went back out in the rain a little and man – when it rains, it pours over there! The ground quickly started flooding in lots of areas, but the rain then came to an abrupt stop. I didn’t get a chance to take a video, I was so hungry I went straight to the dining spot. It was a weird kind of all-you-can-eat salad bar where you pay for a main entrée (mine was veggie stir fry) and you had to cook it yourself. There was also this weird pear/apple cream/cobbler dessert thing, and that was pretty amazing. The beer was less than desirable though, so I didn’t even finish half and I left the rest there. Some of the salads were not up to par either, so a little disappointing, but I filled myself up nevertheless – probably a little bit too much.

I then made the mistake of going straight to bed. The next morning led to – obviously – a little tummy ache, but it didn’t persist for very long, and I was still in good shape to do another sunrise trip, this time to Uluru! It was the shortest morning trip and I knew I had to be back as early as possible to pack all my things and take the coach back to the airport for my next flight.

The sunrise was actually a little better than the first morning, so that was pretty great for nicer photos. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same driver so I never did get to ask him about his website. I suppose I’ll just have to content myself with my own photos.

We made it back to the resort super early actually, our driver made sure of it because two older gentleman had an early flight as well. We got back so early that I actually saw Molly & Jared take the coach that leaves before the one I was taking, although we didn’t actually say goodbye to each other. I guess that meant I had plenty of time to relax and make sure I had everything packed before my coach around 9:20AM.

And that was it, my trip to Ayers Rock was already coming to an end! But the great part is that there’s still SO much to look forward to, especially spending an entire week in Brisbane with Vanessa & Matt!!

 

Solo travelling: Ups and Downs

Everyone will tell you there are ups and downs about travelling alone. I find it so interesting how some people cannot stop raving about how amazing it is to travel solo, while others tell of their completely disappointment when travelling all by themselves.

It is surely very dependant on a person’s personality, but I know that every single person is capable of travelling – or doing anything for that matter – alone. There’s just the matter of doing it or not.

Honestly, I completely surprised myself when I made the decision to do this trip to Australia alone. I’ve never travelled alone, although I always told myself I would one day. I certainly did not think Australia would be the destination. All I knew for sure – back then – was that when I was going to travel alone, it was going to be in a relatively safe country, especially for women. Well, what better place than Australia?

As I was preparing my trip, I didn’t feel nervous about going alone. Again, this surprised me. Why wasn’t I beginning to feel anxious? Why didn’t I feel scared? Well I’ll tell you why. Because I knew I was capable of doing this. I was confident, excited, and determined. I was going to live out on my life long dreams of visiting Australia. Nothing was going to hold me back.
Honestly, I think that’s what pushed me to decide to make it a solo trip. I didn’t want to be held back. I wanted to live this and experience this at its fullest. As the young folks say, “You do you!” So that’s what I was going to do. This trip was going to be all about what I wanted to do, when I felt like doing it.

Inevitably, there always comes a time – whether you’re travelling alone or even in a group – where you just don’t feel like doing anything. OK, maybe not everyone feels that way, but I know I’m not the only one. I’ve experienced it every single time I’ve travelled. And the good part is, I’ve always been aware that that’s what I needed, and so I took the time to actually do nothing.

It sounds a bit silly. Planning to do nothing. But I think it’s important, crucial even, to respect that your body can’t be in super intense mode 24/7 during the entirety of your trip. Your body needs rest. Your body needs self care. And your body will always let you know what it needs, you just need to listen.

For me, the hardest part of travelling alone so far is not giving in to that little voice in my brain that tries to disguise itself as my body telling me to slow down. That little voice in my head that tries to bring me down, that brings up thoughts of loneliness and the feeling of being homesick.

And of course, after that starts happening, I can’t stop but think of the “Cons” about travelling alone.
1) I don’t have anyone to share these experiences with

2) I don’t have anyone here to laugh with me

3) I don’t have anyone to suggest we do something new

4) I don’t have anyone to kick me out of bed right now

5) I don’t have anyone to watch my bag, but I really need to pee

6) I can’t go out now, it’s dark and I’m alone

Etc, etc…

I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with all my family and friends from home via Facebook and e-mail and all that junk, because I made the decision to purchase an Australian pre-paid phone plan for a month, and it came with 8.5 GB of data. This helped me in many ways, namely because I am constantly – ok, not always in the outback, but everywhere else! – able to connect with someone, and because I got some beautiful and touching messages from old and new friends alike, showing me that those “cons” I kept thinking about were insignificant compared to the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is this: I have always dreamed of visiting Australia. And here I am, doing it!!

Best tips I received about staying positive and looking at the pros of travelling alone:

  1. Concentrate on living in the moment
  2. Be aware of what you’re experiencing – not everyone has such an opportunity!
  3. Make new friends, new connections, even if they don’t last
  4. This won’t last forever, before you know it you’ll be back home – so don’t leave with regrets!
  5. Focus on the fact that this will probably be the last time you see or experience these things
  6. You’re not forced to stay in one place; you can always change your plans
  7. You are not completely alone, everything you share on social media lets everyone back home feel like a part of your trip
  8. Live fully for those who cannot
  9. You do you
  10. Let your mind wander. Let your soul wander. Feel. Live. Breathe. Be you. Be that moment. Live that moment. Live you.

I had a really hard time the first few days. I couldn’t connect with anyone, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There was a super cloudy day in Sydney one day, and I know most people feel the same way on a dull day, but I just couldn’t get out of the rut I was in. I missed everyone from home. I missed joking and talking and telling stories with someone who actually cared. I had no energy and I had no motivation. It was my “down” moment.

But now, my down moment is over. I have taken the time to rest, to ask for help and support, to take care of myself. The next morning, I woke up and I was proud that I had gone through that. I was aware now that this happens when you travel alone. It will always be a struggle, but it will always pass, if you let it.

That last full day in Sydney was spent relaxing at Bondi (pronounced bawn-die) Beach all morning – I love to do things early in the morning! – then spending some time at the hostel before heading out for a nice walk to visit the Public Library and the Sydney Opera House.

While I was at the hostel mid-afternoon, a fellow roommate had asked if I wanted to join him back at the beach to do the Bondi to Coogee walk. I had told him maybe, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. And the more I talked with that guy, the more I realized how different I was than most backpackers. You know what? No, I don’t want to go do that walk. No, I don’t want to get absolutely plastered every single day/night. No, I don’t want to go home and feel like all I’ve done is party during this entire trip.

You know what I want? I want to be a tourist. I want to travel like old folks do. I want to visit museums and libraries. I want to go to every single zoo, aquarium and animal sanctuary. I want to learn new things. I want to love this trip. So fuck your stupid drunken beach walk, Joey.

Out and About in Sydney!

Well, it wasn’t my first day in Australia, because that day was spent mostly recuperating from the long and tiring flight from Canada, not to mention the incredible jet lag. But on my second day, after sleeping for a good 12-13 hours (forcing myself back to bed every time I woke up in the middle of the night), it was time for a day out in city!

I’m currently staying at this super cute hostel called Eva’s Backpackers, located pretty much near the downtown/waterfront/whatever you call it area. It’s nice and quiet, somewhat easy to find, near lots of amenities like a grocery store (called supermarkets here), a bank, and lots of other crap. I’m staying in a 10 Bed Dorm room, and I’m happy to say that I nabbed the last bottom bunk when I checked in early!

But anyways, back to the story! So I decided that I would go out and explore the city after being well rested. I grabbed a map from the front desk, but was also very aware that I would probably be relying on my phone to check online maps in real time. Here’s the surprising part: I was actually able to make my way toward the water without checking too much. I knew it was to the left of the hostel and a little higher up, so I just went from there. Although there was a super confusing part. I didn’t know this, but there are lots of areas in Sydney that have stairs. Like… what? Public walkways where you have to climb up to get to the next street. How does the layout of this city even work?? I was lucky that as I was confusedly checking my map/phone, a lady stopped and asked if I needed help. I told her I was looking to get to Circular Quay to catch the ferry. She told me I had the climb the stairs nearby to get there, and that I could cross the Botanical Garden if I wanted to and that would lead me there. Initially, I did not like the idea of zigzagging around in a public garden, but in the end, that’s where I ended up going to avoid crossing streets. And you know what? It was actually pretty easy to navigate! This is a pretty big deal for me by the way, because I usually have a terrible sense of direction. More on that later…

So I cross the Botanical Garden-ish, and get out onto a street that I remembered seeing on the map as being one of the main streets leading down to the water. Lucky me, that’s exactly what this street was, and it led me directly to the Sydney Opera House.

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I took some time to take some pictures and look around a little. Then I checked the signs for the ferries and found out that I needed to get to Terminal 4 to take the ferry to Taronga Zoo, which was departing very soon! I hurried over and asked the lady at the ticket counter how it all worked. She said I didn’t need a ticket or anything like that as long as I had my Opal Card I was good to go. As I walked passed her, I saw the ferry leaving. Dang it! I was hoping to get to the zoo right when it opened at 9:30AM. I asked the lady when the next ferry would arrive and she said it would be at 9:50AM.

I decided I would take this time to get a small breakfast or snack while I waited. I looked around and didn’t find much that interested me, so I went to a place that sold small breakfast items (little pricey) and went with a simple fruit salad. And holy jeez, was it ever good! That’s probably due to the fact that all the fruit in that salad were actually grown right here in Australia!

After I was all done eating, I grabbed my Opal Card – the public transit card used in Sydney for busses, trains and ferries – and scanned in to take the ferry. I sat down and waited, although it didn’t take too long for the ferry to arrive. I got on board and sat down outside, although not too close to the water. I was just hoping to God I wouldn’t start feeling queasy again and that the ferry ride didn’t last too long.

It didn’t help that an old lady working on the ferry asked if I could fill out a form about the quality of service. I didn’t feel like saying no, so I accepted the paper and a pen, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to write anything down without starting to feel sick so I just set them aside.

The ferry ride was actually pretty short, less than 10 minutes I believe. I stepped off and headed where everyone else was headed, assuming that was the right path. What I hadn’t known at the time was that you were supposed to “tap off” when you were done, but I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it, so I didn’t do it either.

I started looking around to see which way the entrance would be, since I hadn’t bought my ticket in advance (I had a coupon, which in the end would save me more money than purchasing in advance). For some reason, there was an employee greeting everyone and insisted that if we did not have a ticket that we needed to board the bus. I thought this was odd – why couldn’t we just walk there? But apparently the entrance where there is a walkway was under construction. Plus turns out the bus fair was only like ten cents.

When you walk inside, it’s very different from the Magnetic Hill Zoo where I work in Moncton. First of all, there’s no actual entrance building. The arch leads you back outside, where you are directed to make a line to pay the entry fee at the windows to your right. When it gets to be my turn, I ask the lady at the admission booth to see if they had any discounts for zoo employees from other countries. She said she could ask, but that she would need to see some ID. Darn it. Stupid admissions workers don’t have swipe cards so no proof that I actually work there. Ah well. At least I had my trusty coupon, saved me 15%!

After you pay, the admissions employee hands you your receipt, and apparently this is your proof of payment. Right after that area is another wooden structure on your right hand side, and I can see that everyone there has a volunteer tag on. They are giving out maps and information and such. On the left, there’s one of their many gift shops. Part of me REALLY wanted to go inside and see, but I knew that the presentations were starting soon and I really didn’t want to miss those!

After you pass those things, there are washrooms, and then a toll-like area. Two employees stand there waiting for you to show your proof of purchase, and then they stamp you on the hand. I can already tell this zoo has way more employees than the zoo back home…

I open up the map right away.

I’m so excited, I don’t know where to go first! The map is also pretty confusing, because there are lots of higher and lower areas, and 3 or 4 coloured paths that I couldn’t quite find in the beginning. But the super obvious path had green circles painted onto the asphalt. I figured that would be a good place to start.

I wandered around for a little while, taking some shots as I walked by some cool and interested creatures. I skipped some on the way because I was trying to rush to get to a show. I couldn’t find the lemurs right away, so I gave up and decided I would go to the seal keeper talk instead. And holy camoly, was it ever worth it!!

Get this – they’ve got about 8-10 different seals, all trained very much like dogs! I couldn’t pick my favourite, but here’s a good shot of Pepper:

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My God, they are such majestic creatures!

Next up were the elephants! Some were getting bathed, while others were doing exercices. It was pretty cool to see, especially since I think this was the first time I have ever seen an elephant in real life (except that one time Max & I saw the circus elephant’s butt as he was being taken out back at the Magnetic Hill Zoo like 10 years ago).

I also saw loads of birds, various monkeys, something called a binturong which is also called a “bearcat,” some hippopotamuses from behind, and so much more.

OH, AND I SAW A RED PANDA!

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Ok it’s not the greatest shot, but it’s the only spot where you could see him. And he was just so cute!

I’m probably boring a lot of you, but you know what? I had a a BALL spending my entire day at the zoo, so I’m just gonna go on and keep talking about every animal I saw!

After I spotted all those guys, I walked down to see the seals again, now that they were all in their enclosure. And oh they looked like they were having so much fun! Playing with each other, swimming up and down, flipping around… so much fun to watch.

But you know what’s even better than seals?? TINY PENGUINS!!

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Next up I went to see lots of reptiles and bugs and whats-its. It was in the kids area but there’s was lots of interesting information about all the animals. Next to it was a barnyard area, but I pretty much grew up with most of those so I just walked through. But then was a super cool spot that they called “Kangaroo Walkabout.” There’s actually two spots like these, the first one was right next to the koalas (more about them later…) and had wallabies, ostridges, and two different kinds of kangaroos, then the other one had your typical Australian kangaroos.

OK so here’s the deal with the koalas… turns out it was not a great time to try to see those guys because usually, they have 3 different enclosures throughout the entire park, but today (and probably for a few days to come) two of those enclosures were under construction, and the only one left that was open to the public was the one where you had to book to go for an encounter. Well, that was obviously sold out all day, so the best I could do (for now…) is this:

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I didn’t get to see any Tasmanian Devils, they were probably all hiding or sleeping. But it was interesting to read about the conservation project that the Taronga Zoo has going on to help save the population from going extinct.

What I did get to see though were some FREAKING ADORABLE LEMURS!! I went by for the keeper talk in the afternoon and then she said we could do a walk-through of their enclosure 12 at a time. Well, you can imagine I ran up to be first in line (ok, fine, I was third in line because two people had coincidentally already been standing there while watching the presentation). I was among the first to go in, and she explained the rules to us very clearly. Apparently these guys don’t like to be touched (the ones in Moncton, I’ve been told, will tolerate you petting them, especially if you give them food) and get nervous is people crouch down. So I couldn’t get lots of different angles, but I did manage to get some good shots. Check this guy named Julian:

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He was an excellent model.

After that excitement was all done and over with, I continued my walk and went back to see everything I had missed. I saw some meerkats (Timon!), a beautiful zebra, an animal similar to a cow called a bongo, some mountains goats, very vocal chimpanzees, and many more. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the Fennec Foxes, which I was really looking forward to, but for good reason. The female had just given birth recently and was likely out back tending to the kit.

You thought it was all over, didn’t you? Well, I saved one of my favourites for last…

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And that’s where I’ll take my leave.

Honestly, that’s pretty much the only thing I did on that first full day in Sydney. By the time I took the ferry back to Circular Quay, it was almost 5PM. I had to walk back to the hostel, that was another 20-30 minutes, then I had to cook supper, eat, and it was almost time for bed. (Don’t judge me, I’m still pretty jet-lagged)

If there’s somewhere you think I should absolutely not miss out on while I’m in Sydney (or along the East Coast), please feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll gladly look into doing some new stuff that maybe I hadn’t thought of!

Cheers! xo

Leaving on a (jet) plane

OK, not a jet plane, just a regular plane. But I am leaving on it!

For those of you who were not aware, my Australia dream vacation begins today. Or at least, the travelling to get there begins today! I boarded the first flight in Moncton at 5:50AM this morning. First connection is in Montreal with a 3 hour layover – just enough time to get through customs and relax in their new airport furniture.

Womp – nevermind. More like a 6 hour layover. I guess I’ll be grabbing a lunch here as I wait for my delayed flight to Washington, DC. The plane’s sensors came on, not quite sure what the problem was exactly, but it took the technicians a while to check it out, and then around 10:15AM (Montreal time) they let us know it would be another hour an a half. So I’m just sitting here in the airport typing away to kill some time.

If all goes as planned – because I was supposed to have a 4 hour layover in DC anyway, so I shouldn’t be missing my next flight – then I’ll be heading to LA pretty soon and I am so excited!

Well shit. Make that a 10 hour layover in Montreal and cancelled flight to DC! Good news though: I was able to get rebooked on a flight straight to LA instead! Another guy who was waiting in line to be rebooked asked me where I was going and I explained what had happened at the counter when I rebooked to get to Sydney. He was so pumped – we were doing the same trip.

Meanwhile, now that I had even more time to kill, I decided to go scavenging for somewhere to eat dinner or have a snack to hold me over until we got to LA.

Side note: I had sushi for lunch. And I actually ate the whole thing. Like, for the first time… ever.

But let’s get back to the story. I decided to treat myself and go grab a beer at one of the airport pubs. It was relaxing. I ordered some (OVERPRICED) fries to go with it. Good afternoon spent at the airport, not too worried about the problems and last minute changes.

Only after I had paid did I realize that the agent that rebooked my flight never offered me any compensation – this isn’t as selfish as it sounds, they had offered food vouchers to a bunch of other people. So I went back to see the lady at the counter and lucky me, it was the same lady who had rebooked me! She remembered me, so I asked if it was possible to receive food vouchers due to the cancellation, since I had seen/heard other employees offer them to passengers on the same flight. It doesn’t hurt to ask, right? And what do you know, I got three $14 CAD vouchers for food, valid for 24 hours. Too bad I hadn’t thought of that before ordering those stupid fries, but ah well!

I went to spend one entire voucher at Starbucks. Why not – it’s free!

After all this, I finally went to sit down at the new departure gate. I found my friend sitting by a charging station and he offered to let me charge my i-phone since he had already charged his for a while. I graciously accepted and we talked and talked until our flight was ready to board.


Side note: It’s weird how all solo travellers seem to have this connection between them. Like it’s just so much easier to approach one another. Everyone is willing to help out or answer questions or lead the way. How interesting.

The flight to LA was pretty good, no hiccups whatsoever. The only downside was that I began feeling queasy about half way through because I had tried writing in my journal – bad idea. (More about that later…)

When we landed in LA, I didn’t spot my friend right away so I went to see if I could figure out what gate we were meant to wait at for our connecting flight to Sydney. Nothing. Huh, that’s weird, I thought to myself. I looked around and there was another girl travelling alone who seemed to be wearing the same confused look as me. We looked at each other and she asked me where I was going. Surprise, she was also heading to Sydney! My friend from Montreal joins us and we are now the three amigos. We do our best to navigate through the LAX Airport – not a small feat of accomplishment, let me tell you that!

We went to ask for help to make sure we were headed in the right direction. Seemingly, yes, we were walking the right way, but we still had much walking to do. Ugh. And here I was, the only one with a big backpack to lug around. I was lucky enough to be able to keep up with their fast pace, and we made conversation on our way to terminal 7.

Turns out the third amigo, Catherine, is actually living in Australia right now. She was returning from a vacation home in Montreal. God what I wouldn’t give to get the opportunity to work in Australia!

But anyway, we found our way to the gate and even found 3 empty seats gate so we could wait for our final flight together. I offered to buy them something to eat since I still had two vouchers that would expire that night. Hugo (the first amigo) politely declined. I looked at Catherine, hoping she’d consider the offer for free food instead of me throwing it away, or even worse, buying lots of food and not being able to eat it!

She agreed and so we all walked to the mini food court area together. She ended up choosing a vegetable and pita & hummus plate – I should have picked the same. I regretted it later when my food was ready. I had ordered a mini mac & cheese with carrot sticks, and let me tell you that the portion was not mini at all! It also made me want to puke my life away – because of the nausea, not because it was absolutely disgusting. Lol.

I tried to eat a few bites and managed to eat all the carrots sticks with some of Catherine’s left over hummus – yum. Then it was basically time to board the plane!

I got to my seat and put all of my belongings away – that is, except for the nausea pills. I made sure to take one before departing so hopefully I wouldn’t hurl. Boy, how wrong I was.

It doesn’t help that those pills are only good for so many hours. And the flight was +15 hours long. Well you probably guessed it – or read it on Facebook – by now… I puked. Twice. Blah!

OK, enough of the gross stuff.

The good stuff: they actually offered three full meals on this flight! United Airlines, I am impressed. Another good part: I was able to fall asleep right as soon as we took off. AND – sleeping made me feel less sick. Woohoo!

Downsides: I didn’t sleep for that much time, so the lasting effect of “feeling better,” quickly dissipated. Also, one of the flight attendants was a giant biatch. Like, to the point where I was debating talking back to her in my “madame” voice. The first time I thought I was going to be sick, I was waiting for the washroom – I actually had to pee really bad, but I also figured I’d rather puke in there than at my seat. This blond flight attendant looks at me and says, “Ma’am, not in here!” Like… OK, where the hell else am I supposed to puke? Lucky her, I did not vomit until I was safely sealed off in the washroom. When I am done, I ask the attendants for some water, and where it is I could dispose of my little bark bag. That same blond lady looks at me, appalled, and says I cannot throw that out in here where the rest of the garbage is. She proceeds to walk away, not offering me anything to drink, or a napkin to wipe my face. Fortunately, there was another lady who had MUCH better people skills – probably a mom, or mom-type woman. She was extremely helpful and even came to check up on me. Oh, and then when I was exiting the aircraft, she asked if I was feeling any better. That, ladies and gentlemen, is good service.

So long story short, I puked twice during that last leg of the trip. The second time not as pleasant, especially because it was at my seat. But the young couple who were sitting next to me were super helpful. They called the attendants for me – I had no tissues left, no water and part of the barf bag was ripped – and I had the unfortunate luck of receiving “help” from the blond lady. She did not bring me tissues, simply a garbage bag that she insisted I tie myself, and then shooed me into a bathroom and said, “Good luck.” … I don’t even know how to react to that.

The young couple I was sitting with also offered to give me some anti-nausea medication they had, and I accepted, thinking maybe their stuff is stronger than mine. And it did actually help. I was honestly expecting to get sick a third time, because the nausea never really subsided until I got into the airport and started walking around.

And speaking of the airport, turns out I had left the plane in a hurry and forgot my brand new Camelbak water bottle! NOOOO! I screamed on the inside and tried to convince myself it wasn’t a big deal. I can just buy a new one. Ugh. But that meant I would have to go shopping, and I really did not want to go shopping. Disappointment started to seep in when an employee was not very helpful in giving me instructions on what to do if I had forgotten an item on the plane. After passing customs, I spied another employee who seemed more informant, so I went up to him and explained everything again. Man, do I ever have a good gut feeling about people sometimes! I basically had asked helped from the guy whose job was to do exactly that. He radioed somebody right away, although they did not answer. He kept calling other people to get a hold of the airline employees on that specific flight and was told there was a 20 minute wait. I said I was in no hurry, I would rather wait and get my water bottle back so as not to go to more trouble of finding a new one. The man came back much less than 20 minutes later and said he got a hold of them, they are going to look now, it should take 10 minutes. Again, much less than 10 minutes later – boom! My water bottle in his hands! Sometimes, you just gotta ask the right person.

By now, it is Feb. 1st 2017 in Sydney, Australia. The time is approximately 10:30AM. I walked out into the airport’s main lobby and I ask for help on how to get to my hostel. When I had e-mailed them, the two suggestions were to either take a shuttle bus such as Airbus ($15) or take the train over ($18). Knowing me, you are surely aware that I went with the cheaper option. But before heading out to the bus area, I decided to stop and check the few shops in the airport. And what do ya know – there are two phone companies who sell SIM cards and prepaid plans right there inside the airport! Well that’s gonna save me a good walk!

I wait my turn and explain to the employee what kind of plan I’m looking for. Valerie’s sister Vanessa, who lives in Brisbane, had previously told me to expect to pay about $50 for 4 GB of data and enough minutes to phone home every night of my trip. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the phone shop employee showed me the specials: a SIM card, 8.5 GB of data, unlimited phone and text inside AUS, and 1090 minutes of international calls – FOR THIRTY DOLLARS!! What a steal!!

As soon as my new Australian number was all set up, I called Max right away. Maybe not the best place to try to have a conversation with your boyfriend, but I was beginning to get really homesick after all that travelling/not feeling well and having no one to comfort me. It was great talking to him, even if it was fuzzy and just for a few minutes.

Then it was time to take a shuttle to my hostel! First travel challenge: a man from another company (not Airbus, like I had planned on taking) walked up and blocked my passage, asked where I was heading. I put my brave face on and told him where I was going, but that I was looking to go with Airbus. He tried to convince me to take his company instead. I stood my ground and simply/calmly explained that I had planned to go with Airbus, could he point me in the right direction? And he kindly did.

The guy from Airbus, however, did not seem super impressed when I told him I was going to Eva’s Backpackers in Potts Point. Apparently, it’s a little out of the way, further than the other hotels where he was dropping off his other customers. I don’t remember really saying anything to convince him, but he reluctantly said he would take me anyway.

As we were driving, me, two senior couples, and an Asian lady, a thought hit me. Dammit, you didn’t ask for the fare rate before getting in. What if he charges double the amount he charged the others? Am I going to have to argue for this?! Gah!

I try not to worry as one by one, the other passengers disembark to go to their respective hotels. My hostel was actually not THAT far, but I understand that it was more within the downtown area, so traffic was worse – and it was already bad enough.

I got out and the man asked to make sure I had Australian cash. I reassured him I did, and asked how much the fare would be.

“Fifteen dollars,” is all he said.

Huh. Well look at that. I was worried for nothing! I thanked him for going further to drop me off and left him a tip. I appreciated being treated fairly, even though I was a young woman, alone, who was obviously not staying in nice hotels like his other passengers.

Your probably wondering what my hostel looks like now, aren’t you? Well, I was too tired to take any pictures yet, so you’ll have to wait and see later on. For now, here is the description you get:

Quaint
Delightful
Very friendly and helpful staff
Nice small kitchen and dining area
Offered an early check in – HAZA
Love the fact that you need a code to get into the dorm area of the hostel
3-4 bathrooms per level, very practical
4 fans in a 10 bunk room, nice! (One of them is pointing towards me)
Free towels & linens
Storage lockers big enough to fit all my stuck, and then some
A beautiful furnished rooftop area
A bed. Oh, a lovely bed…

MUST NOT NAP YET!

I convince myself I can’t go to sleep yet or I won’t be able to sleep a wink during the night. Plus, I need to go out and grab groceries. But not before using the internet for a while and calling my wonderful boyfriend one more time – I miss him already.

After an hour or two, I finally force myself to leave the hostel and get some groceries done at a nearby supermarket called Woolworth’s – Wolly’s, for short. And what a short walk it was!


SPOTTED ON THE STREETS OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: A man getting into a cab whose backpack is wide open, containing not one, but TWO dildos!!

I almost died laughing, I swear to God. And there I was, alone, with no one to share this with! Well, except all of you now!

Australia is beautiful so far. Except I haven’t even really seen it. I will give a better detailed explanation within the next few days, after I’ve actually had the chance to explore the city of Sydney much better than one walk to the supermarket where I encounter dildo-man.

Cheers for now! Please feel free to leave me some tips or comments about anything Australia-related!

xo

Travel Shower

You’re probably a little confused by the title of this blog post, I’m sure I would be too. So let me explain as briefly as possible so we can get right down to it.

It is common knowledge that most women’s dream – feminists aside – is to get married and/or have kids. And quite honestly, I am envious of a lot of those women because I wish I knew that that was what I wanted.

Relax mom, I’m not saying I don’t want to get married or that I won’t have kids.

But what I’m trying to say is that regardless of whether or not I want those things, those two kids in particular are special events that are very often celebrated by having a “shower” of sorts. For example, when you’re an expectant mother, you have a baby shower. When you’re about to get married, your family and friends throw you a wedding shower. But why is it limited to celebrating only those specific “traditional” events? Why can’t I celebrate the fact that I’m going to friggen Australia in less than two weeks?? I know it’s very different than giving birth, but in a way, that is my most recent and greatest achievement. I’ve been working hard to save my money for as long as I can remember to go on a trip specifically to Australia. It’s my dream vacation. And it’s actually happening. I’m still in shock.

When I spoke openly about this “travel shower” concept to my boyfriend, he was skeptical.

“Why?”

In my mind, there was no “why,” but rather, “why not!” Especially knowing the type of people I associate with, most of whom are all avid travellers. Wouldn’t they all appreciate my idea and rejoice in celebrating the success our own special life goals?

Picture this. Guests are invited to an afternoon gathering at my house. Gifts/cards are optional, of course. If guests would like to bring something for the hostess, it is suggested to bring something small that they feel you shouldn’t travel without. At the event, finger foods and desserts are served. The decor is very fitting to the theme of the event. There is a world map pinned up on the wall. There is a vintage luggage set and a globe to be signed by guests – where have you travelled to? There is fruit punch served in a bowl decorated as a sail boat. There are games to be played throughout the afternoon, and lots of wisdom to be shared. My favourite part: a travel advice & well wishes nook where guests can leave notes and invaluable information. And of course, guests would not be allowed to leave without first grabbing a little something from baggage claim!

“It sounds kind of selfish,” my boyfriend had expressed. “You don’t need help like expecting mothers.”

But it’s not about getting help or receiving something, even though I might have made it sound that way. It’s really just about one thing: celebrating something that holds a great deal of importance to me.

I know how it sounds, I’m not foolish. A lot of people will think this is a dumb idea. And that’s OK. They just won’t be invited to my party. 😉