Sunday, February 27, 2011

Life Update!

So apparently my last post was a bit of a downer and I just wanted to quickly update you guys on some decisions I've made and some things I need to accept that are out of my hands.

So today I went to the Optus store to finally get my phone sorted out and turns out I can't. In order to get a phone plan with data and internet and all that jazz I need to pass a credit check. In the states, this would be no problem. But I'm not in America, I'm in Australia and I don't have a job or any credit history here at all so needless to say, I failed. After that news sunk in I went to Global Gossip to let off some steam by yelling at them some more about fixing my phone so I can text people back home. Turns out it's not my sim card or global gossip- it's my stupid useless Blackberry. So as of now, I can call you guys and you can call or txt me, but I can't txt you back. Maybe I'll look into fixing this problem better at a later date, but for now I'm just going to deal with it.

On a slightly better note, I'm going to be staying in Sydney for at least one more month. My friends are all staying at a long term hostel in Glebe- a suburb 10 minutes away from the center of Sydney- and starting on March 8 I will be here too. It's not exactly the nicest place in the world and I'm sharing my room with 3 other people (one of them is my new friend Emma :D) but it's cheaper and I like the area. There are tons of little cafes and restaurants here too which means it shouldn't be too hard to find a job.

So this all makes me feel a little less stressed. Tomorrow we're doing the bridge climb which should be a LOT of fun and then this weekend were going to the Hunter Valley to drink wine, eat cheese and then drink more wine. But for now I'm going to finish watching the Oscars and relax. I miss you all more than you know!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Aussie Rules Football (Or Whatever That Weird Sport is Called)

So I haven’t updated in awhile but I guess not a whole lot has happened that’s worth updating or is appropriate for the internets. As many of you know, I flew back from Brisbane to Sydney so I could be with the few friends I made here on my birthday as opposed to being alone and trying to make new friends in another new city. This was good and bad for a few reasons. I had a FANTASTIC birthday for starters. Me and a bunch of friends went to this nice Italian restaurant by the Rocks, a more historic part of Sydney that almost reminds me of a cross between Quincy Market and Beacon Hill. Afterwards, we went to Kings Cross, the Red Light District of Sydney, where we proceeded to get drunk and have a lot of fun. Though I wish I could have spent my birthday with my friends back home, this was definitely not one to forget and I had an amazing night.

The downside to coming back here is that I had cut my traveling a little short and I still don’t feel ready to be back in the busy city of Sydney where I slowly watch my money drain away without any of the satisfaction I had while traveling. I know I need to find a place to live and its really difficult to find anything that isn’t either a shit hole, in the middle of nowhere, or stupid expensive. I’m flying blind here and it’s very overwhelming. Also, the group I hang out with consists of this one girl, Emma, and 2 guys, Chris and Ollie, and we would all love to find a place together, but it gets a little trickier when you’re looking for 4 people instead of one or two.

This also brings up the whole job crisis. I still have enough money that I’m not having a panic attack at what I’ve spent (and I wouldn’t have spent what I have on anything else in the world) but I feel like I need to get a job before I’m completely broke. I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t put any effort into this yet. Again, it’s overwhelming because it’s a lot more complicated than in the states. I need to completely remake my resume (again I feel like I’m flying blind here) and on top of that, since I’m clueless about where to live I don’t even know where to start looking.

I don’t know what it is that’s making these two tasks that sound so simple cause me so much stress, but it is. A part of it might be that I just don’t want to live in Sydney. I don’t feel like I’m in Australia when I’m here. I just feel like I’m in any city anywhere in the world. Part of why I wanted to come all the way to Australia was to have new experiences and live in places I haven’t necessarily lived before. Don’t get me wrong, Sydney is really cool, but I’m starting to think it’s just not the right city for me. There is no doubt in my mind after spending over 2 weeks on the beach essentially when I was traveling that I am NOT a beach person and never will be. I was born a city girl and will die one. I just don’t think Sydney is the city for me.

This all sort of culminated last night in the bathroom of the bar with my friend Emma when me met a woman from Canberra who started talking to us about jobs and Australia and where to live and it dawned on me (again it was one of those moments I felt really dumb for not coming up with on my own) but maybe I should leave Sydney and try things out somewhere else. Again, this is one of those things like when I decided to travel for a little bit that only has just come into thought for me, so stay tuned for updates.

They say you can’t run away from your problems, and I don’t think I came here because I was running away from things (though there definitely are things I was trying to escape when I decided to come here) but that statement holds a lot of truth for me now. I don’t know where I’m going on this adventure of mine but I need to learn to just stop and breathe. I’m only 23 years old and I’m only 4 weeks into this great journey. Again, I wish I had the natural ability to chill out and go with the flow, but that’s just not how I work. I just jumped into this whole Australia thing and it’s hard for me to learn to just see what happens. My dad likes to tell a story about how when I was little and started playing soccer in the first grade I joined in the middle of the season because I needed to watch the game and learn how it all works before I just jumped in. That’s a very good explanation for how I like to try to live my life (control issues much?). The season just started here and I’m not only learning the rules as I go, but I feel like I’m playing without a coach.

Well that was QUITE the long post but it had been awhile. I hope you’re all doing well. I’m hoping to get my phone sorted out today and get a data plan with a different provider and when I do you will all get txts and bbms and pictures from me. Wish me luck on all fronts because I feel like I need it now more than ever….

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Fantastic End to A New Begining

So I really want to just nap and read my book but I’ve had such a fantastic lazy day today I had to write it down now or I never would. Let me start off by saying I am so happy I stopped in Brisbane for a couple of days before continuing my travels which, for those who don’t know, are actually ending sooner than I thought. I have a plane ticket to Sydney which leaves tomorrow at 1pm and gets in around 3pm. As much fun as I’m having traveling alone and meeting new people, it was brought to my attention by a couple of cool Canadians I met here that it just makes sense to spend my birthday with the good friends I’ve made in Sydney. It astounds me that this thought never occurred to me myself, but no matter, because I made it happen.

Let me start by saying that all of the YHA’s I’ve stayed in have been fantastic, but this is the newest and by far one of the best. I have me OWN bathroom in my room (!!!) and air conditioning (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) which the Aussie’s refer to as aircon, not AC. To top it all off, my room was empty last night except for me and I never realized how much I appreciated having my own privacy until this moment. I wish no one will move into the room for tonight, but I’m not holding my breath.

After a fun night drinking with some Danish guys I met in Byron who I bumped into here and a couple of other guys I went to my own private room and slept very well. I have to admit, I’m still having vivid and unsettling dreams, but not even the insane things I dreamt about last night can bring me down. I went to the bookstore yesterday because I already finished the 2 books I brought with me (American Psycho and One Flew Over the Cuckoos’s Nest, both fantasitc) and purchased Eat, Pray, Love (because I’m traveling and needed a girlie book after so much gore and mentally unstable men) and I’ve already read the first 130 pages before noon. I also got The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because I’ve heard nothing but good things and figured I’d join in with the rest of the world and see what the series is all about.

I don’t know if it’s because I started Eat, Pray, Love, or because I’m living my own version of the book (perhaps a little of both) but the days I spend alone doing whatever I feel like doing at that moment are jus the best days ever. After a nice breakfast of eggs and toast and bacon I finished the chapter on Italy in my new book and was inspired to go try this cool pizza place we passed last night while walking around. Pizza in Australia is shit. I don’t know what they do to it here, but it’s just not good. This was probably one of the BEST pizza’s I’ve ever had. Ever. To top it all off, it was a mushroom pizza. Mushrooms gross me out more than any other food, but something about me said to order it. These mushrooms were roasted to perfection and soaked up all the garlic and salty flavors in a salivating way that will forever make me rethink this odd, edible fungus. One delicious pizza and two glasses of fantastic Australian Chardonnay later and I am a happy camper back in my ‘airconed’ room about to start the second part of my book.

I can’t wait to get back to Sydney by plane and not a 14 hour bus ride (which does mean I have to throw out my souvenir from Nimbin, but oh well). My birthday should be sooo much fun and I wish you all could celebrate with me. This coming weekend me and my new friend Emma who I left in Sydney are planning on going to the Hunter Valley for a girls weekend drinking wine and eating cheese and I think it sounds like the best way to end my short time traveling. I miss you all but I’m still having a fantastic time and whenever people ask if I’m homesick I respond with an astounding NO. It would be great to share this experience with you all in person, but I have to say, it just wouldn’t be the same…

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fraser Island

So I’m off Fraser Island and back in Hervey bay. Fraser was SUCH a great experience. I met so many cool people (and a couple of not cool people, but that happens everywhere- no point in dwelling on the negative) and had a lot of fun getting to see and do everything. After a certain point I really felt like I was on the island from Lost. There is even a shipwreck on Fraser! Unfortunately I think my camera is dunzo, but I did try to take a few pictures on my phone. Anyone know if those get automatically saved to my memory card (*cough*Melissa*cough*)? Like, if I put by blackberry’s memory card in my card reader will the pictures show up on my computer to post? If not, you will all just have to wait until I get a data plan for my phone and post them that way.

I’m spending the day in Hervey bay because I haven’t booked my next travel plans yet. Once I wake up a little more (it’s only 9am here) I’m going to book a greyhound bus to Brisbane and a couple nights in a hostel there. I was hoping to be in the Hunter Valley for my birthday, but if I stick to my plan, it looks like I’ll actually be in Newcastle. Se la vie. Wherever I am, I’m sure I’ll have a good time. Positive thinking goes a long way…

While I was still on Fraser Island I got to talk to this one Swiss guy about life, traveling, relationships, etc. and it was a really nice talk. I felt like I was back in Mr. Dickerman’s philosophy class at BHS. He had a lot of insight into himself that most guys never seem to find. I have met so many interesting people during my travels and I love getting to hear everyone’s opinions on life and the world. Most of you said I was very brave for traveling alone and leaving my home and friends and family behind for a year, but I don’t really see it like that. Traveling, and most importantly traveling alone, has been extremely therapeutic for me. I really didn’t have a whole lot going for me back home and felt very lost and depressed. Being here by myself hasn’t ever felt lonely or sad. Sure, I do have moments when I get caught up in the world I left behind, but they always pass, and if anything, thinking about it here allows me to have a clearer head on the issue. I promise you, it is not terrifying to do what I am doing, and everyone has it in them to put themselves in my shoes and go on their own adventure. It doesn’t need to be traveling (though I highly recommend it) but I think it’s so important for people to take the time to get to know themselves. Any fears you may have about that will vanish the second you realize how much good you will actually get out of the experience. 

Some Thoughts While On Fraser Island

I have so much to say I almost don’t even know where to start. I spent today on Fraser Island and it is amazing- like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The island is HUGE and it’s all sand, yet it has managed to grow and support a rainforest. There are plants and trees just growing out of the sand like it’s normal. The life cycle here is pretty interesting too- I guess the trees shed their bark as the years go by allowing the brush to gather on the forest’s floor and eventually catch fire by means of lightning. You’d think that was bad for the plant life, but they do it on purpose. After they burn, the plants re-grow healthier and more lush, like a phoenix from the ashes. It made me think about how in a way, I came to Australia to shed my bark only to ignite on fire and come back feeling more alive and aware of myself and the world around than ever before.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking while I’m here, mostly because I’m alone and have the time. It’s crazy how even though I’m thousands of miles away it doesn’t feel like that, because a lot of the things that would creep into my head back home have traveled with me here to keep pecking at me. My dreams haven’t been helping. They say when you’re used to smoking and stop you have vivid dreams and let me tell you it is true! I’m not having restless sleep, but I do keep dreaming about one thing in particular which I spend most of my days trying not to think about, which is probably why the subject comes to haunt me while I sleep. I wish I could turn it off, but they say time heals all wounds, so I suppose this is just a part of the healing process.

I need to learn to relax- it is not a skill that comes naturally to me. Spontaneity is one thing- I’ve loved taking my travels day by day, not planning anything in advance so I can do as I please- but I still haven’t managed to master the laid back attitude of the Aussies here. I know, it all comes in due time, and perhaps it’s just something I need to learn to accept instead of change. Again, only time will tell.

Traveling alone is something I think everyone should do in their life. You don’t have to worry about pleasing someone else or going on their schedule. You get to figure out what you really want to get out of your trip and just do it. My short week of traveling has quickly taught me this, and it makes me slightly anxious to come back to Sydney where I feel it could be easy to fall back into a routine out of simplicity and laziness rather than work on really figuring myself out as I feel like I am now. I’m almost afraid to get stuck in one place so soon and put down roots because there’s so much to see! I know, I’m getting ahead of myself and over thinking everything instead of just living in the moment, but it’s a habit that’s hard to break.

This blog entry was different from the rest and I hope you guys appreciated a more intimate look into the world of Leah. There’s so much more that’s been happening and I wish I could share it all with you but there simply are not enough hours in the day.

Waiting in Brisbane...

I am so exhausted. So I finally left Byron Bay and I’m in Brisbane right now waiting for my bus connection to Hervey Bay where I’m going to do my tour of Fraser Island. I don’t have internet here so I’ll have to remember to post this once I’m at the hostel.

My last day in Bryon was spent doing laundry and getting a massage. I’ve never had one before but I can safely say that it won’t be my last. Also, I finally met someone else to hang out with, and I have to say we were both sad we only got to spend the one day together. She convinced me to do the pub crawl again and this time it was MUCH more fun. It was an older crowd (and by older I mean my age and not 18) and though the clubs and bars were just as shitty as I remembered, the group of people was much better and I had a blast. The free drinks tasted like they had hardly any liquor in them, which was fine with me because I had to wake up at 6:45am this morning to catch my bus and I was definitely not drunk when I went to bed. For whatever reason, I woke up this morning with the WORST hangover ever. I think I was just really dehydrated and it was so early in the morning, but whatever the reason, I felt like shit.

I’m feeling much better now after resting on the bus and eating here at the Brisbane Bus station. I forget if I’ve mentioned my once again changed travel plans to you guys, but after Fraser Island I hope to come back to Brisbane for a couple of nights then go to Newcastle and then hit the Hunter Valley for some vineyard tours, hopefully in time for my birthday.

That’s it for now, I’m pretty exhausted so I’m going to read and chill out before my bus leaves in an hour and a half. Oh- so it’s possible I broke my camera. Don’t freak out though guys! I think I may have just gotten sand in it or something. It turns on and the lens comes out, but then it goes back in and then out and then in (that’s what she said lol) and then it says lens error. I’m hoping it just sort of fixes itself… And in due time I’ll put up the 20 or so pictures I’ve taken to represent my 2 and a half weeks here haha.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day Trip to Nimbin

Guess who finally took pictures with her camera! You’re going to have to wait for me to post them though because being a noob I only took about 7 pictures so I’m waiting until I have something more substantial more to post.

To fill you guys in I went kayaking with dolphins two days ago which was SO much fun! We technically didn’t see anything because the dolphins we saw were kind of far away so that means if I want to do it again I can for free. I’m not sure if I will though because it didn’t exactly help my sunburn. And trust me guys, I am applying lots of sunscreen! You just can’t help it here.

On a more exciting note, yesterday I did a day trip tour to Nimbin and had SOO much fun! Once again though, I felt pretty old riding on the bus with a bunch of 18-20 year olds, but I just tried to ignore them and their immature behavior. We left the hostel at around 10am and made a pit stop around 11am for beer. The way the law works in Australia (according to our bus driver, Jim, who was awesome) is that if the driver allows you to drink on the bus, you can. So we all stocked up on beer and got a little tipsy (well, I stayed sober even though I did drink a little, but the youngin’s got a little more riled up).

After the beer run he took us to this tiny waterfall where those of us who wanted went for a dip. Of course I went in because I had never swam in a waterfall before! It was nothing too exciting and the rocks were way too close for me to muster up enough courage to jump off one of the short cliffs into the pool below, but I swam in it enough to cross that off my bucket list.

We piled back onto the bus and finally set off for Nimbin! Again, because my parents read this, I’m censoring a lot of what happened, but if you want more about my amazing time just ask ;). For those of you who don’t know, Nimbin is a very small hippie town known for one thing. I spent my time walking around the small main street with my friend and then we sat in a cafĂ© and talked to one of the locals who has lived in Nimbin for 7 years. I’m not sure where he was from originally, but we had a great time getting to see some of the local color.

So that’s been my past two days. The girl I’ve been hanging out with checked out last night so I’m once again alone. Two new girls moved into my room who are older (31 and 29) and they’re kinda weird. They seem nice, but they’re very weird. It’s not something I can really describe in my blog- you’d need to see them and talk to them yourselves.

OH! So last night we were all just sitting in our room and this one girls starts freaking out and apparently a gecko had found its way into our room! They’re pretty common out here, but that still doesn’t mean we want one in our room! Being stereotypical females we all panicked and found the first boy we could to get it out for us. That also reminds me- keep an eye out for when I do post pictures because when we stopped for BBQ lunch during my day trip to Nimbin we made friends with a 2 foot long lizard! It was soo cool!! But also slightly terrifying…

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Adventures in Byron

So yesterday was a fantastic day! I went to beach around noon with my new friend Kat (guess where she’s from… London. I don’t know what it is but the Brits just seem to flock to me…) I thought I had done a good job with sunscreen but my belly and the backs of my legs got very burnt. They hardly get to see the sun so I’m not surprised but today I’m feeling a little sore to say the least. Later today I’m going with Kat to kayak with dolphins which should be LOTS of fun, but I really hope being out in the sun doesn’t make my burn any worse.

Yesterday, after the beach, we walked up to the Byron Bay lighthouse which had spectacular views. Guess who didn’t bring their camera again though? It’s ok because I’m still here for awhile so I might just do the walk again so I can actually take pictures and post them to facebook for you guys. I have lots of cool pictures on my phone and I wish there was a way to get them on my laptop to share with you guys…

After that we had dinner at a great little Israeli restaurant where I had falafel. We had signed up for a pub crawl earlier in the day so after a filling meal we headed over to that. At age 22 (almost 23) I have never felt old at a bar before. This pub crawl made me feel 30. Everyone showed up already wasted and was between the ages of 18 and 20. Needless to say we didn’t end up getting drunk dispute our efforts, but the night ended in a funny little twist that I’d love to share with you, but unfortunately my parents read this. So friends, feel free to message me if you want to hear about the dumb Costa Rican kids we accidentally swindled.

Bryon Bay is one of the most beautiful places I have been yet and if you find yourself in Australia I absolutely recommend coming here for a few days. I’m doing a day trip to Nimbin tomorrow but then I want to look into booking a tour of Fraser Island for a night and then try to book a night or too in the Hunter Valley back near Sydney for some wine tours and then end my short vacation and head back to Sydney. Once I finalize this all more I’ll be sure to let you guys know :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Byron Bay

12 hours on a bus does not go by quickly let me tell you. I have made it to Byron Bay in one piece, however, and that’s all that really matters. Unfortunately, it’s cold, rainy and overcast so I spent my first day wondering around a little in the rain, but I spent most of my day inside reading and napping.

Byron is pretty cool though- I feel like most Clarkies would love it here. It’s a pretty hippie town with lots of cute shops but it’s extremely small. There’s one main road that takes about 5 minutes to walk down and leads you to the beach. The beach is GEORGOUS, but like I said the weather was awful today so I didn’t get to enjoy it too much.

Regardless of the size there’s still a fair amount to do. You can take a 2 hour walk up to this lighthouse which seems to be something that everyone does while here. I’m also planning on booking a day where you go kayaking with dolphins! That’s probably what I’m most looking forward to. They also do day trips out to Nimbin, so I’m thinking of going on one of those to check it out and if I like it I’ll book a couple nights stay at the end of Byron Bay and if I don’t, at least I went and got to see it.

The hostel’s pretty quiet though, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the weather or if there just aren’t that many people staying here. It’s probably a combination of the two though. Not a big exciting update, but I haven’t really done anything yet. When something more exciting happens I’ll be sure to post.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

TTYL, Sydney

So today I just finished checking out of my hostel in Sydney and dropped my GIANT red suite case off at the Work and Holiday place so I can go travel for a month! It's still early here and my bus doesn't leave for Byron Bay until 7pm so I have a lot of time to kill which will probably be spent back at the hostel reading American Psycho which I just started or relaxing on the deck by the pool. I am SO excited to be leaving Sydney for awhile and I made a bunch of friends who will still be here when I get back which is a comforting thought. My new official travel plan is to see Byron Bay, Nimbin and anything else in that area that sounds cool, then go to Fraser Island, and then head back to the Sydney area and see the vineyards in the Hunter Valley. Once I make my way back here I want to try to find a place to live in one of the surrounding suburbs because they're cheaper and have better job opportunities.

I've done a lot since my last post and still haven't taken a single picture with my camera. I know, major fail, but I always forget to take it with me places and when I have it there's nothing exciting to take pictures of. This is a bad habit I know I need to break but I've NEVER been the one to take tons of pictures (or any for that matter) so bare with me.

Last night was the Chinese New Year Parade which was cool for about 10 minutes and then it's pretty boring because you can't really see anything and it's a lot of the same stuff. It's the year of the rabbit which I THINK was when we were born (we being people from '88) but I'm not 100% sure.

Other than the parade I spent yesterday doing laundry and packing. Oh!! I almost forgot! I saw a bar fight last night. So me and this girl Sam who's in my room and who I've been hanging out with a lot went to Scubar, the bar right below my hostel, for some drinks and to play some pool. There was probably no more than 10 people in the bar at any given point because it was a Sunday and this one Aussie came up to us (CLEARLY intoxicated) and wanted to play pool. We said sure at first not thinking anything of it. He turned out to be a HUGE drunken douche. He wouldn't stop calling people the c word, he insulted me in many ways and kept being rude to everyone around. He was buying everyone drinks and wasn't out of control, just rude, so we just sort of ignored it. Then this one guy who wasn't drunk but apparently had a huge attitude got in his face and next think I know my drink got knocked out of my hand, the table fell over where we were sitting (don't worry guys, my phone almost got drowned but I saved it) and my friend Sam who's a cop back home was dragging him out of the bar. I was totally fine, no one even touched me, so don't worry, but there was broken glass everywhere and everything happened really fast. The bartenders said that almost every Sunday they get one local guy like that who causes a scene. I'm not judging any Aussie's based on his behavior though because everyone else I've met so far has been very nice and not rude at all.

So what a way to go, huh? I'm off to grab some breakfast and then chill out like I said. I finally got to skype with Katie and my dad yesterday which was SOOOO nice!!! I miss you all soo much!! Please let me know if you want your own skype date and that can easily be arranged :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bad Mood Blog

I don't know if it's the weather (which is currently 100 and its only 11am) or if everything I've done is finally starting to catch up with me and I'm just exhausted but today I am in a horrible mood. Two new asian girls have checked into my room and they are noisy and annoying as all fuck. Their luggage has taken over almost the entire floor space and one of them is STILL asleep in bed, snoring, probably because she was up on her fucking phone which wouldn't stop ringing all night in between her texting and click click clicking away. One of them is even sick and if she gets me sick I swear I punch her in the face.

Here's a funny story though about my night two nights ago which remembering might put me in a better mood. So there's a bar right below my hostel where most people go to party at night. The other night they did speed dating and I missed the first group but let me tell you, some of the most attractive people I've seen yet were going in this round. When it ended and they asked if I wanted to do the next round I enthusiastically said yes. What a mistake. One of the guys was mentally retarded (I'm not being mean, he actually WAS mentally retarded) another was about 300 pounds and spit in my face as he mumbled about who knows what, and one of the guys even got kicked out half way through because he was making the girls feel uncomfortable. As you could have guessed, I met no one interesting. After the speed dating though I did meet this one guy who I spent the rest of the night talking to and might even see again before I leave Sydney. We shall see.....

Yesterday I went on a walking tour with my hostel which was TONS of fun. Again I met a lot of cool people, but I also met a couple of jerks. This one Italian couple was much older (like our parents age) and on the sidewalks they say look right or look left so you know which way traffic is coming. I don't know if you've been to London, but it's the same there because not all of the world drives on the same side of the road. This couple noticed and says "Must be for the stupid Americans" I could have spit in their faces I was so offended and pissed off. I hope they go traveling in America and get hit by a bus because they looked the wrong way while trying to cross the road. There was also this guy from the Netherlands (I think) who made a few snide comments about me being American which I took as rude whether or not he meant it that way. These are the first and only anti-American things I've experienced and let me tell you, it never made me feel more patriotic. I wanted to shout a big FUCK YOU to all of them for their closed minds and ignorance.

Well this was slightly therapeutic. Tonight I'm going to dinner and then to see the Sydney Tower with the fourth girl in my room who I've been hanging out with a fair amount this week. It should be a lot of fun and should make up for my rotten mood.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

StumbleUpon IRL

OK so I only have about 15 more minutes of paid internet at the hostel before I get kicked off and have to buy more so I'll try to make this quick (edit- I bought more internet- my Australian life is just too exciting for 15 minutes).

Let me start with something that I find funny and encounter everyday but haven't yet shared with you all. So I'm walking everywhere. Probably like 5 miles a day. No Joke. Just down to the harbor and back is a 30 minute walk (45 for a normal person but I walk freakishly fast as you all know) and everyday I tell myself I'm not going to do that walk and everyday I find myself doing it more than once. That being said, if you don't already know, people drive on the other side of the road here. In America something I never thought about was when you're walking on the street, you walk on the right because that's the side you drive on. I cannot tell you how many people I walk into everyday because I'm constantly trying to move to the right and they're going to the left.

But now onto more exciting things. So the Work and Holiday people opened a bank account for me and today I went down to pick up my debit card. Once again I told myself I was going to explore other parts of Sydney, and once again I found myself making the walk down George Street towards the harbor to the Westpak bank on Pitt St where my card was waiting for me. Once I finished that, I made a spur of the moment decision to take a different route and explore some more and stumbled upon the Royal Botanical Gardens.

I really wanted to see them and even though I didn't have my camera or water or anything I would have wanted to bring when I saw them I couldn't resist just going now and checking it out. I took tons of pictures on my useless blackberry because it was better than nothing, but I hate not being able to share them with you. Honestly, in order to fully appreciate what I saw you would need sound and smell-o-vision. It was like Australia's version of the Arnold Arboretum but a lot cooler because I hadn't seen it before and it was much more exotic, showcasing plant life from all over the country, not just Sydney. There were so many cool animals like the flying foxes which are really bats but look a lot like birds. I've seen them flying around at night but here they were all wrapped up in their wings upside down in the trees. Everywhere you went it smelled amazing and different. I couldn't describe half of the things I experienced so you should all just come to Australia and see for yourself.

Today was fairly overcast and after feeling a couple raindrops I decided to head back. Again I told myself I'd take a bus instead of making the walk and again my curiosity got the best of my and I took a new route back to the hostel stopping at a crowded food court for a chicken kebob wrap. Luckily I didn't get rained on, but my spontaneous adventure I'm afraid caused me to add even more pink to my already rosy cheeks.

I have my RSA course tonight which I am NOT looking forward to but I suppose I'll be glad to have it out of the way. Tonight I think I'm going out with the same group I've been hanging out with for the past few nights and then possibly going to Bondi Beach with them tomorrow. We added a New Yorker who just arrived to our group of friends which was nice in some ways and not in others. It was comforting having someone around who sounded like me, but if we were in America I never would have hung out with this girl. She was nice, just not my type. I'm not sure what I'll do with myself to kill time before my course, but I'm off to figure it out!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What A Great Day!

OK I know I'm doing an excessive amount of posting but today was a really good day and I just wanted to quickly let you guys know where I'm headed next!

I check out of my hostel in Sydney on Monday and as I mentioned I am heading to Byrons Bay. I booked my bus ticket (it's a 12 hour ride with stops for food) and a week in a hostel there. I am SO excited and the travel guy who booked it all for me was just as excited and said it was very smart of me to do some traveling before settling down in Sydney. I couldn't agree more! So I get in on Tuesday morning and have a week to chill out on the beach and see all that Byrons Bay has to offer. As I mentioned, after that I'm still planning on going to check out Nimbim and from there I think my next stop is Fraser Island. It's the largest sand island in the world (not sure exactly what that means, but I think it's basically a giant sand dune). They say it's best to spend 3 days there to get the full effect. After that since I'm already headed north I might try to see the Great Barrier Reef, but because of all the floods and now Yasi (google it if you don't know) I might stay away and just have to head to Queensland once the wet season is over. After all that, I'll either look into wwoofing or try to hit the vineyards before settling down where ever I decide.

These plans are of course subject to change but it feels better to have it all laid out in my head (I'm not being anal at all...) Of course I will do my best to let you all know where I am, and seeing as how I'll probably be staying in YHA hostels which all have internet for $4 an hour I'll probably still post an epic amount of blogs.

But the real reason I wanted to post again was to tell you all about the AMAZING day I had. After sleeping in until around 10 (I had a late night last night) I was able to spend the first day alone which was so nice. No offense to Tchad who has been following me around, but I have been waiting to ditch out on him for awhile now. After booking my travel to Byrons Bay I took the ferry over to Manly Beach. What an amazing way to spend the late afternoon. No worries everyone, I got there around 2:30 and used plenty of sunscreen so I came away with more freckles and no burn! After relaxing in the water and sand I had a raspberry gellato and caught the ferry back so I could go to the apple store and get my laptop back!!! EVERYTHING got saved and I am posting this entry on it RIGHT NOW!! My faith has once again been restored with Mac products because of the amazing Genius Bar team. They never cease to amaze me.

Thank you all for your good vibes! They made it all the way to Oz and have severely improved my mood. I'm off to shower and get the sand off me and then get dinner and drinks with some new friends. I miss you all more than you know!

Please Don't Get Used to a Post a Day But For Now...

I'm starting to try to wrap my head around being in Australia so I thought I'd share my possible plans with yout (I love the comments btw thanks!) So after talking to a few people- one of them being my mother- I think instead of jumping straight into trying to have a life here (eg. getting a job and an apartment) I'm going to do something completely different. That was the point of coming here in the first place, wasn't it? So here's my plan (because even though I'm trying to be spontaneous I still need a plan, DUH!):

I think I'm going to take a month off from life and do some traveling. The Work and Holiday place will store you bags for free for up to a month so that's where I got my time limit from, but aside from that, I don't want to run out of money that fast. I already have my hostel booked for the rest of the week but I think after that I want to try to go to Byron Bay. It's a beachy, artsy, hippie town that just sounds more like the pace I want to be at right now. It's a 9 hour drive (I think 2 hour plane ride) from Sydney but it sounds like a cool place to go relax and get my head on straight about what I want to be doing here. After that, there's a cool town close by called Nimbin I very much want to check out. I'll let you do your own research on this highly interesting little town and draw your own conclusions on why I would like so much to visit. After that, depending on how I feel, I might try to travel more to some vinyards near Sydney and make my way back, go check out the Great Barrier Reef, or do something COMPLETELY different called wwoofing.

Wwoofing stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms. I know, most of you probably just re-read that sentence a few times because if anyone was trying to go work on an organic farm I bet I was dead last on that list. Hear me out though- it's basically like a home-stay situation, a family takes you in, feeds you and houses you, and you help out doing work on their farm. You don't make any money, but you also don't have any expenses. They say you become a part of their family, and right now when I'm still trying to get my bearings that sounds like a very comforting thing. It's something I NEVER in a million years thought I would want to do but something about it sounds appealing to me so maybe I should step out of my comfort zone and just do it.

Well that's my plan for now. Who would have ever thought this city girl would need a break from the city and decide to bum it around the country? I'll let you all know what my plans are (obvi) so keep an eye out. I had a lot of fun last night with some more Brits and Canadians (all new people this time) and can't wait to see what's in store for me in the future...