Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adventure with Maggalicious Eaton

Day 1: Maggie arrives safely in BrisbaneAustralia. Wait, hold on a second...Calee, don't you live in Sydney, Australia?! Yes, I do. Well then, why would Maggie want to fly there? Great question. There was a ton of fog in Sydney the morning of Maggie's arrival, so her flight had to land in Brisbane to refuel and wait for the fog to lift. Apparently, there hasn’t been fog like that in Sydney since last summer. Wonderful. Obviously, had Maggie been flying the plane she would have just powered through the fog and made it here on time. Anyway, Maggie arrived in Sydney 7 1/2 hours after her scheduled landing time. Needless to say, it was a very long travel experience that I am willing to bet Maggie would hope not to repeat. I, finally, get a call from an unknown number and am so excited to answer it. I answer my phone as patiently as a dog that sees their owner getting the leash out for a walk...only to be hung up on, twice. A little while later, I receive a text saying, "IAMHEREMAGGIE." Well that is lovely, Maggie. Where is here? Sydney? The airport train station? Kings Cross train station? Have you magically found my apartment that I forgot to give you the address to?

Side note: Probably should have given it to her, in case something like this happened, but oh well. I, also, later found out that Maggie had only enough change for a text and not a phone call, thus why I got hung up on.

I get a call a little while later from Maggie. I go out to meet her by the train station, which is a short distance walk to my apartment and the adventure begins…officially. We get to my apartment and guess what!? The elevator is broken. At this point, Maggie asks me what floor I live on. I start laughing and in between chuckles say, “the 4th.” A man comes out from behind a door, which I assume leads to the elevator mechanical stuff, and says it should be working. We get in and it “worked.” It had a little trouble with opening the door, but we didn’t get stuck!! BONUS!! Once Maggie got settled, showered, and fed, we headed to the Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbor with my friend, Clare. After that, we went to Helm for a drink and then to the aquarium, which is right next door. When we had finished at the aquarium, Maggie had started to hit her wall. We walked back to my apartment and went to bed pretty early. Good thing, too, because the next day we packed a lot of stuff in!

Day 2: We walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens, past the Opera House and Circular Quay. Then we met Karen for lunch in Westfield Mall, where the Sydney Tower is located. After lunch, we went up to the tower. Next, we headed back to Circular Quay to get the ferry to Manly. Granted, it was freezing, but I really want to show Maggie at least 1 beach in Sydney. After we sat/walked on the beach for about 20 minutes (my feet turned blue haha), we found a place to warm up. We had a few beers and pizza at the Steyne Hotel right across from Manly Beach. It had an awesome fire and a feeling of intimacy and community. Then, on the way back to catch the ferry we stopped at Max Brenner’s (a chocolate shop) and shared some chocolate fondue with fresh fruit! Yummy!

Day 3: Got up and headed to Paddy’s Markets and got our cheesy, tourist gift buying on. When we had finished shopping, we went to the Powerhouse Museum and got to see the Chronicles of Narnia exhibit. There were no photos allowed, but it was so cool! Gotta love being a nerd! We rushed back to pack for the weekend in Katoomba/Blue Mountains and avoid traffic (who are we kidding?! It’s Sydney. There is always traffic.). We headed to the car in the basement, packed it up, and went to get in only to realize Maggie was on the driver’s side and I on the passenger’s side. Good work, ladies haha J. By the time we got to the house, it was completely dark out. I kind of wish the neighbors had taken a video of us trying to find our way into the house or at the very least got to watch us find our way. Obviously, we had a key, but finding the pathway to the doorway from the driveway was comical to say the least.

Side note: Going to Katoomba is like going up north for us back home (not much street lighting).

Once we finished breaking in, we turned on the heat and left for the grocery store since we could more or less see our breath in the house. We just happened to find the liquor store before the grocery store, so we stopped there to grab some beer for the weekend. After we got back from the stores, we decided to watch a movie. Once we figured out the TV and put the volume as high as it would allow to faintly drown out the mechanical buzz that was pulsating from the speakers, and covered ourselves in blankets, we were both passed out by 10:00pm. Do we know how to party or what!?

Day 4: We both got up pretty early, although, oddly, it had nothing to do with the roosters and more of the time we had gone to sleep. We had a nice, leisurely morning and got to see the house in the light. It was beautiful!!! Later, we headed to the Blue Mountains and “hiked” around for a couple hours and then headed back. When we got back to the house, there were cockatoos, everywhere. They were on the roof, the deck, the trees, and all over the yard. I had way too much fun taking pictures, so there are, obviously, way too many. After it got dark, we headed into town for dinner.

Day 5: We got up, got our stuff together, and headed to Featherdale Wildlife Park. We got to see a number of different animals that are native to Australia, pet and feed kangaroos and koalas! After our afternoon at Featherdale, we headed back to Sydney and had another quiet night in.

Day 6: I woke up not feeling too well, so we abandoned our plans to go to the zoo and stayed in to watch the Olympics. For dinner, we headed down to the Woolloomooloo Dwarfs and I treated Maggie to her birthday dinner! Later, we packed our bags and got organized to leave for Perth early the next morning.

Day 7: CAMPERVAN DAY HAS ARRIVED. Maggie and I got up before the sun rose and flew to Perth where we grabbed a cab to take us to Travelers Autobarn. At this point, I was a nervous wreck waiting to see if I could figure out manual or not. We got insurance and were shown how to make the bed, where the pots and pans were to cook (HUGE joke because Maggie and I had no plans of poisoning ourselves on this trip with attempting to cook out of a campervan), how to check the oil and water levels, and then we were off. I am now shaking, since there was nothing else to do but drive the van out of there. We get in and I start to attempt what I thought was the impossible. I start the car perfectly and roll out of garage and turn the van, attempt to get the car to accelerate and BAM…I stall the car…twice. I am starting to freak out and then I look down at the speedometer and realize I had forgotten to take the emergency/parking brake off. Good work, Calee. I take this off and we get to Lesley and Gavin’s seamlessly after that!!!! I was so excited I did it and Maggie was a pro at keeping me calm and patient with myself.

Side note: I should mention that I did have one professional lesson because the person who said he could teach me ending up not having time to do it.

We arrived, parked, and Lesley came down to get us. She took us up to their apartment; we walked through the door and just about dropped our bags. Their view is gorgeous!!!!!!! To start, it has a 180 degree view of the ocean, huge balcony, and it was sunny with clear, blue skies! We got settled in and had a cup of tea. Lesley then showed us how to get into Freemantle using the free bus and showed us around town for a bit while we waited for Gavin to get done with work. Once he was done, we went to Little Creatures Brewery and had a delicious dinner. The brewery was amazing and the restaurant and bar area was inside the brewery, which I thought was amazing! We headed back to their apartment and Maggie and I were exhausted, so we headed to bed…at 9:00pm. Again, party animals!!

Day 8: Because Maggie and I went to bed before most children do, we both woke up pretty early. When we both had gotten ready and packed up our stuff, we headed to Margaret River. On the way, we stopped at the Busselton Jetty. For those of you who don’t know, it is basically just like a pier but EXTREMELY long. There will be pictures on Facebook, but I will say that Maggie and I had to find a way to keep ourselves entertained on the walk back. We went into the little town grabbed some lunch (we both will never eat fish and chips again in our lifetime haha). When we got to Margaret River, we stopped at the visitor center and got a lot of help from a man who clearly has gone over the map he gave us one too many times. He probably could have done the whole thing blind folded. He basically helped us figure out where to stay and planned our entire day for us!  We went to the campervan and of course got lost on the way there. Finally, we found it with a woman laughing at us because we had circled the park so many times looking for the office. Let’s face it, Maggie and I were close to tears because we were laughing so hard so I don’t blame that woman for chuckling at us. We set up our bed and walked the short walk into town for some dinner. We had a light dinner a few beers and then headed back to the van to get some shut eye.

Day 9: Maggie and I not only wake up to rain, but also we had to use the restroom and were freezing. Needless to say, we held it as long as we could (an hour, which is pretty impressive, in my opinion) and then bolted to the bathrooms. At this point, I was wide awake and had to coax Maggie to get ready, which as some of you know is like trying herd cats. We headed down all the way to the bottom of Australia (where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean) to Augusta which has the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. It is the tallest lighthouse on Australia’s mainland and is absolutely stunning. After we went on a tour of the lighthouse and the surrounding estate, Maggie and I headed back up through Margaret River. We went to a couple wineries, a brewery, a couple of chocolate factories, an olive oil and soap factory and a coffee place that had many different kinds of coffee and the BEST chocolate chai lattes. We packed a lot in and had to get on the road by 4:30pm so we didn’t have to drive back in the dark for the whole drive. The drive back got a little boring when it got dark, but Lesley and Gavin had dinner waiting for us when we walked in the door. It was the perfect end to a long day of being a tourist.

Day 10: This morning we woke up to rain again, and thought against about making our way to Rottnest Island. It is one of the most highly recommended things to do when you are in Perth/Freemantle, but we didn’t want to spend the money on the ferry and bike rental if there was a large chance it was raining on the island. It stopped raining inland midmorning, so we thought we would head into Freemantle and shop in the markets and look at a couple museums. On our way there, we walked along the beach because it had turned into a beautiful day!! After a nice afternoon in Freemantle, Maggie and I headed back to Little Creatures Brewery for a couple beers and a souvenir. Lesley met up with us after she was done painting and we planned what we were going to do for dinner. They cooked us a beautiful seafood meal and I peeled and deveined my first prawn/shrimp!!

Day 11: Our last day in Perth had arrived, s we got up packed and got ready to leave. We, fo course, got lost when we dropped it off and just barely got there before they closed and just in time to board our flight…stressful, but we made it!! We flew to Melbourne, found our hostel, which was another adventure to say the least. We headed to a bar we had passed on the way to the hostel for dinner and watched the Olympics. USA!!

Day 12: The next morning we both woke up pretty early (as per usual on this trip since we didn’t stay up past midnight the whole time). We heard the Melbourne Aquarium was pretty good, so we headed there first. It was probably 100 times better than the Sydney Aquarium and I love the aquarium here! We spent 2 ½ hours there and didn’t even realize it until we looked at our phones to check the time. Next we went to Chill- on Bar. It’s a bar where everything is made out of ice and there weren’t any pictures allowed, so I can’t show you what awesome Eskimos we made, but we looked ridiculous! After that, we bought tickets for a river shuttle. It was just ok, mostly because we couldn’t really hear what the guide was saying. We got to bring a bottle of wine on the tour and we kind of figured out most of landmarks ourselves, so all-in-all still a win. J A little while after the river cruise was over, it started to rain so we headed to the nearest bar, P.J. O’Brian’s we could find and ended up staying there for a few drinks and my birthday dinner!!!!

Side note: We weren’t together for our birthday’s so we celebrated while we were together we did!

Day 13: I woke up and realized Maggie was leaving the next day, so obviously I did what any normal friend would do and hustled her out of our lovely hostel room and packed in as much as possible! We headed to the Rod Laver Arena on the free Melbourne shuttle (which was amazing and if I ever go back I will do the entire tour). My dad had gone to the arena last time we were there and everyone else was too tired. I had gone with the intent to get him something because last time the T-shirt he got was a weird Aussie size and barely fit my sister. Long story short…really ugly merchandise so no souvenir. Oh well, I’ll find something better!! Since we were right by the AFL/Melbourne Cricket grounds we decided to go to the sports museum that was inside the building. It was pretty good, but had we known I think we would have chosen to spend more time at the Melbourne Museum, which we went to after. There, we saw that Batman Rises was showing at the IMAX at the Melbourne Museum and went to go see it. IT WAS AMAZING!!! For our last dinner, we found a whole in the wall sushi place and it was delicious and surprisingly cheap.

Day 14: The last day, of course, came too soon, but we flew back to Sydney and said our good-byes just the same. It was a fantastic trip and we have so many good memories and experiences from it!

Cheers x

Monday, July 2, 2012

I've Caught the Travel Bug

So every time I look at a map, which is quite often, I find more places I want to go...but, I am going to a ton of places in the next few months. I am pretty sure I will get my fix for awhile...or it will just make it worse and I'll find more places to go haha.

I'll just start out with the boring stuff and say I am still working as a bartender at Helm Bar and saving as much money as possible for my trips!! So, not too much new stuff going on, however; I booked all of my flights for the trip with Adrienne yesterday! (The one for the trip with Maggie have already been booked for a few weeks.)

Trip #1:
Maggie is coming to visit for 2 weeks from July 25th - August 8th...23 days and counting!!!!! I am SO EXCITED...obviously haha.
Wednesday, July 25th: Maggie arrives at dawn...7am. At this point, I will keep her busy the entire day, so I can get her on my time ASAP. We will be getting the ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo. Then get the ferry back and head to Darling Harbor to go to the Aquarium! Not sure what else I will attempt to make her do on that day, but will think of something else. Then I will let her pass out at 10pm haha.
Thursday, July 26th: Do more stuff around Sydney.
Friday, July 27th - Sunday, July 29th: Do stuff around Sydney until mid-afternoon and then head to the Blue Mountains for the weekend. We will be staying at Ben's parents house, which I have been told is beautiful!
Monday, July 31st: Do stuff around Sydney.
Tuesday, August 1st: Fly out to Perth and pick up our MANUAL/STICK-SHIFT, CAMPERVAN...this is going to be more than an adventure. I have never actually driven a manual car or been in a campervan...I'll let that one sink for a minute.

Side note: My idea of camping is going up north to my aunt and uncle's cabin where there is running water and a bed to sleep in. In short, this is going to be hilarious.

We will then stay with Ben's parents at their apartment for the night, just outside of Perth.
Wednesday, August 2nd - Friday August 3rd: Get up early and attempt to drive the campervan down to Maragaret River. It is only a few hours down to where we are going, so we will be stopping at a few places on the way. One stop is the Little Creatures Brewery!! Then when we get back, we will be spending that Friday night with Ben's parents.
Saturday, August 4th - Tuesday, August 7th: Fly to Melbourne and hang out there for a few days. When we get back on Tuesday morning, we'll have time to do whatever Maggie wants to do around Sydney.
Wednesday, August 8th: Maggie heads back to the States. :(

Trip #2:
Adrienne and I have just booked out flights, so this is just the skeleton of what we are doing. I will be sure to update you guys on what we are going to do once we get to our destinations!!
September 11th: Fly to Hong Kong and meet Adrienne!!!!!!!!!!
September 13th: Fly to Phuket, Thailand. We might be doing a day trip to Phi Phi Islands.
September 19th: Fly to Bali, Indonesia.
September 24th: Fly to Darwin, Australia. Possiblities of a day trip to the outback, going to Litchfield/Billabong, and/or an overnight trip called a Kakadu.
September 27th: Fly to Cairns.
September 29th: Go up to Port Douglas.
October 1st: Go to Airlie Beach. From here we will go out to the Great Barrier Reef and Hamilton Island.
October 3rd: Go to Noosa/Sunshine Coast.
October 6th: Go to Gold Coast.
October 9th: Go to Byron Bay.
October 15th (Possibly sooner): Go back to Sydney!!
October 20th-ish: Adrienne leaves. :(

Trip #3 (Possibly):
I am hoping I can find someone to head to Alice Springs with me for a long weekend before I leave!!

Trip #4 (Possibly):
On the way back home, next February 22nd or 23rd, I am meeting my friend, Mollie, in LA. We will then have an awesome road trip down and up the coast for a week and half! First, we'll head down to San Diego for a couple of days. Then, we will head back up the coast on Highway 1 through Napa Valley to San Francisco!!!

That is all of I have for right now!!

Miss you and love you lots!!

Cheers xx

Friday, June 1, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

Mom, that title was for you...I know you love this motto haha.

It's been awhile and I know you all missed me, so I decided it was time to write another novel haha.

Since my last update, I have been sky diving (there are pictures on facebook!) and attempted to go on a hot-air balloon ride. The hot-air balloon ride was canceled three times, so they refunded our money. I am hoping to go on a ride with Maggie or Adrienne when they come to visit me. If not, I will figure something out.

Side note: MAGGIE HAS MADE IT OFFICIAL AND BOUGHT HER PLANE TICKET OUT HERE!!!!! Fifty-five days and counting. As you can tell, I am not at all excited to see her.

Sky diving was amazing and didn't really hit me until I looked at my video and pictures. Yes, there is a ridiculous video...you all know how much I love to be in the spotlight...not haha. Anyway, you can watch the video (if you want) when I get back. My ancient paperweight will not allow me to upload the video to Facebook. No idea why, so any ideas as to how to fix this minor issue would be much appreciated. Also, same thing for the shark diving video, so when I get back you can view me looking terrified of being in front of a camera...oh and of the sharks and jumping from an airplane, too.

Other than those events, not much has been going on over here. I am just working and doing as much sight seeing as I can. I have more pictures to upload from a few museusms and of an awesome light show I went to see with my roommate, Michelle, and her fiance, Ben. I ended up not having to work last night, so I dragged my roommate out of the apartment and, after the whole escapade, she begrudingly admitted the "stupid american" (her lovely nickname for me haha) had an awesome idea for the night and she had a lot of fun. BUT, the light show was amazing!! They project lights on to buildings around circular quey...long winded desription short...its basically a showing of many different artists' light installations/projections on and around buildings. There will be pictures on Facebook, so you can see what I'm talking about.

(I've been updating this part of my blog in parts) A couple days ago, I found out that Helm will be doing some construction from early to mid-July, so I will need to find another job. Also, this week has been really slow because it is the start of the winter season. So, I am going to talk to Brittney, from the Office Team temp agency I have stayed in contact with. We talked yesterday and she has a few jobs that she thinks would be perfect for me. I just need to sort things out with Helm and let them know I can only work weekends, now. I need to make some serious cash for these awesome trips I have planned!

So to break down the trips/vacations:

Maggie: She is coming from July 25th to August 8th.The first weekend she is here we are planning on going to Perth (it is on the western coast). Its about a five hour flight, so we'll take the red-eye out Thursday night and the red-eye back Monday night. We will be staying with Ben's, (Michelle's fiance), parents. His mom, in particular, seem really pumped about us coming!! The second weekend Maggie is here we are going to go to the Blue Mountains for the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). Ben's parents have a house there and said we could stay! There is horseback riding, trails to hike, and so many other things to do.

Adrienne: We want to start the trip mid-September and end mid-October. (Let me preface this with I still have to talk to Karen, my Aussie mum and travel agent over here, to see if this is feasible in a month.) We plan on meeting in Phuket, Thailand, then on to Malaysia/Singapore, next Bali, and then Darwin for a few days. After that, we'll fly to Cairns and then get on a bus/train or rent a car to go from Cairnes down the east coast (which should take a little over two weeks) back to Sydney for a few days and then last, but not least, FIJI!!!

Also, at work last night, I won $50. Probably shouldn't be too proud of the fact that it was to educate a secret shopper about a particular brand of cigarettes. Anyway, Helm bar was the only bar that night that had a winner, so I bet my boss is pretty happy about that!

Love and miss you all!!

Cheers xx

Thursday, May 3, 2012

At Last

I left you all a month ago with a wonderful story of how I got things stolen from me in my old hostel and was about to move to another hostel…to say the least things have definitely taken a turn for the better!!

I am still working at Helm as a bartender and have quit my paid ($75/day) internship at Buchan PR. I debated on keeping the internship for my resume when I get back to the States, but we parted ways on good terms and they said they would love to have me back if and when I get more time in the future. (So I’ve got that going for me…Mollie name that movie.)

Anyway, the internship was getting to be too much. I was working for them 2 days per week. Then they asked me to bump it up to 3, so I was working for them for about 24 hours per week and at Helm around 30 hours per week. (And I was still trying to find an apartment, which was basically another job…yuck!!) I came here to explore Sydney and working most days and almost every night was not going to let me accomplish that. We, also, just had a couple bartenders leave Helm and I’m getting more hours, but I have most of my days free to roam and get to know the amazing city I am in!!

So with me free to roam the city and impatient being in the hostel, I FOUND AN APARTMENT!!!!!!! I have a home!! I can finally relax, and take the time to let everything go and enjoy Sydney. I do not think I have ever been so eager to do laundry or unpack in my entire life! Pathetic, really, but SO EXCITING!! I have completely moved and settled in, 4 suitcases and all. Because we are not allowed to hang anything on the walls (weird Sydney rules…kind of like paying rent weekly, which I don’t have to do, but different) I have only put up your calendar Mollie and it looks awesome!! It is literally the only thing on my walls which makes it even more awesome J. I am living with the girl who is the office manager of the Lounge. Her name is Michelle and she is the one who had been editing my CV and telling me where to go find jobs. She had an extra room to rent and offered it to me…she says I looked like a sad puppy dog and took pity on me haha. Anyway, I have my own bedroom and bathroom and could not be happier!! She also has a treadmill that I have started using pretty regularly, so I can get back into shape to take on the hills outside…damn hills.

My friend, Anita, helped me move (she helped me move last time) and took pictures of how ridiculous I looked again. It only took us 2 trips, and thank god my apartment is only 2 blocks away from the hostel. Do not worry I did repay her with food!

Side note: It’s kind of ironic that my balcony looks straight at my old hostel.

As I was moving in, I realized that the bartenders that were leaving Helm (Matty and Jonny) could see straight into my window…needless to say the shades were drawn whenever I was in my room. J I will post pictures on facebook of my apartment soon, but right now I am currently downloading a shitload of other pictures…305 out of 527…looks like I have a bit more time to kill.

I have been on a shark dive and YES there will be video and pictures on facebook!! Maybe not for a few days…God willing my ancient computer doesn’t die on me!

Side note: My computer is so old it wouldn’t connect to the wireless internet connection and I have to plug it in with an Ethernet cable…yes, my computer is that sad haha. Thank god my dad figured it out, because otherwise I would be the very proud owner of a nice HP paperweight.

I have more thrilling activities I have planned!!!!! I’m scheduled to go sky diving and on a hot-air balloon the upcoming Mondays!! I am soooo pumped! I will be sure to update you all when I land! I have always wanted to go sky diving and on a hot-air balloon and what better city to do it then Sydney?!?!? If you do know of a better city, tell me when I’ll get back!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bump In the Road

So, I left off with me saying, "No, thanks," to a guy from work...no issues whatsoever there. Yay!! I am still working at The Helm Bar, really liking it, and getting along with all of my coworkers really well. As far as the office work, I have been meeting with a bunch of people who have contacts with recruitment companies. I have a few leads, and possibly a few meetings coming up. Hopefully I will find something soon and can actually settle down and find an apartment. I will say, I am for sure not a fan of living out of my suitcase!! Probably, why it has taken  me a month to start thinking about doing my laundry...yep...just doing laundry for the first time today! DO NOT BE ALARMED...I have not had to re-use any underwear! Yes, mom, I said it...only because I know everyone was thinking it.
I do have an opportunity interning with the health team at Buchan PR. I had my first day yesterday, and I am not sure what to think about it yet. They seemed a little disorganized and I didn't recieve very much direction, so I'll just mark this one down as a learning experience, for now. I haven't been told if its paid yet or not, so this opportunity may not last very long if it is unpaid. It would be good experience and for my resume/CV, but I need to be able to live over here. After all, I am here for a number of different reasons!

Also, more news...not great news...I found out one of the roommates, who had not been with us in our room long, thank god, was stealing from us. She took money out of my wallet, but not my cards. So to be safe, I've canceled all of my cards and asked for new ones. They are on the way, but its going to take time. We got her kicked out and called the cops. She said she did it...don't know what's going to happen from there, but at least I have all of my stuff back (with the exception of the $30 she took...in the big picture not a huge deal). Since then, I have moved hostels (was planning on it anyway, because I found a better and cheaper one)!

I'm thinking this is why I have been in a funk (for the lack of a better word) for the past few days. I'm trying to take it one day at a time and really be patient with myself (easier said than done).

To end on a more positive note, I CANNOT BELIEVE I HAVE BEEN HERE FOR A MONTH ALREADY!!! Sometimes, I just need to stop and think how much I have done this month, so I can be more patient with myself.

Love and miss you all so much!!!

Cheers! xx

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Going with the Flow

As most of you know, I am a little particular about how I like to get things done. One of the goals I had in coming over here was learning to let go a little bit and become more flexible. I may or may not have come here with too many goals haha. I am slowly learning how to go with the flow...thanks for the anal retentiveness gene, Dad. I would be going crazy right now if I didn't let go of some stuff. My life over here changed dramatically in less than 24 hours!

So, I left off with me having no job, but going out to find one! I ended up getting a serving trial offer that would have been at 6pm on Thursday, March 8th, but it turns out I didn't need it! I got a call on Wednesday, March 7th at 3:15pm to come in for a bartending trial. At this point, I still needed to get my RSA certification (certification to serve alcohol here), which I wouldn't have needed as a server. After talking with Matt, the manager at the Helm Bar, I talked with Michelle (our jobs center woman who helps us with the certification sign up and job hunting) and she signed me up for a class that night. I hustled my ass to a 4:00pm RSA course and was certified by that night for my trial shift the next day, Thursday, at 4:00pm. Matt said he liked me and I had beat out another girl he had in earlier that day. He said he had one more trial coming in that night and that he would let me know the next day. I called one of my roommates, Anita, to tell her that it went well and I think I have a good chance of getting a job. She said her congrats and then said that she was just heading to a bartending trial herself...yep...we both ended up getting trials at the same bar. I didn't want her to do this, but she asked if how many people they were hiring and after hearing they were only hiring one, she passed on the trial. (She did have 2 more trials the next day, but still I thought Matt should decide who he wanted and not her.) BUT I HAVE A JOB!!! I worked Friday and Saturday nights and am getting the hang of it, but it is different here. They are not allowed to what we call free pour (doing counts of liquor instead of actually measuring, which is what we have to do). Anyway, everyone is really friendly and helps me out whenever I have a question. Right now, I have four shifts a week, so I am still looking for office work as well for during the day.

Side note: They usually close the bar early on a Friday night, so I got out at around 1:30am and walked home. Yes, I was safe and smart. There are TONS of people out at that time, so I just blended in with a number of different groups on the walk home.

Also, Saturday during the day, I went to Collaroy Basin (the suburb where Karen lives). I had to take a train and a bus there. It took about 2 hours total to get there, but I did get a little more familiar with both of the systems. Yay!!! I got to spend the afternoon with Karen and on the beach. She lives 1 1/2 blocks from a beach. I had the pleasure of walking on the beach for 45 minutes with nothing on my mind, but how beautiful the scenery was and how lucky I am to be here! After my walk, I went back to Karen's house and helped her get ready for a party she was throwing that night for her mother's birthday. Her youngest daughter, Sam (who I believe is 16 almost 17), got home from her friend's house and started helping, too. This was the first time I had the opportunity to meet her, and the dynamic between her and Karen reminded me so much of Susan and my mom!! It was almost like being back at home! The party got started around 5:00pm and I had to leave for work around 7:00pm. It took less than half the time to get back so I was just a little early for work...only an hour and fifteen minutes haha. I had time to sit by the harbor (Darling Harbor) and eat a sandwich and just enjoy being by the water, before what I was expecting to be chaos at the start of my shift. There was a musical festival that night, so it definitely was not as busy as it usually was (according to everyone). I was actually grateful for another night to get my bearings of how they run the bar. I actually got out early (2:30am...they usually close at 3:00am and have closing duties to do after) and walked home. AGAIN, yes, I was safe and smart!! I was so tired I think I was alseep before my head hit the pillow.

Woke up around 10:30am and started making plans to go to the beach. It was a beautiful Sunday, so a few of us decided to go to Manly Beach, which was voted the top beach in Sydney. It was a nice relaxing afternoon and after figuring out the ferry schedule, we decided to eat dinner in Manly and take the ferry back after. We got back to the hostel around 8:45pm and I showered to get ready to go out with a few friends from work. Got there and figured out how wasted most of them were. One of the guys, who I did not realize how drunk he was, asked if I wanted to go have a bottle of wine somewhere so we could actually talk. Me being the person that I am (now quickly adapting) thought he may have actually wanted to talk. We took a cab back to King's Cross (where I live...aka the Cross), which he paid for, so I bought the bottle of wine and a beer he put on the counter at the last second. Not five steps out of the liquor store he drops the beer...I'm thinking...AWESOME!!...you are wasted and I just agreed to share a bottle of wine with you. I apparently rattled him...shocking since he was the one who had called me an arrogant American a couple of times (then tried to justify it that I was a "traveling" American and thus not a "true" American...whatever the hell that means.

Side note: If you do know what that means, I would love to know.

Anyway, told him nothing was going to happen because I work with him and he got annoyed that I just assumed that he was trying to do something, then later tried to kiss me....AND I'M THE HYPOCRITE!!!...I moved said no, thanks, enjoy the wine, goodnight. He tried to apologize and I just said its fine, I'm here to be selfish and figure out me and that sleeping with a number of men was not on my "To-Do" list (no pun intended haha). So, that will be fun to deal with at work haha...although he said he has better things to do than annoy me at work...we'll see how that one turns out haha. So far, I am not too impressed with the guys I have met here...so no wedding on the horizon just yet.

Today, Monday, March 12th, I will be looking and applying for office work and then also an apartment!!!!

Cheers!! xx

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And So The Adventure Begins...

Bare with me…I know this is going to be long, but a saying I have heard recently that I’m going to stick with (no pun intended) is: I’ll just throw as much information/shit at you guys and see what sticks!

Day 1:
So as most of you know, I did arrive in Sydney safely; however, soon after I arrived the panic set in. On the drive to my hostel, I talked with the guy from my hostel and asked him, what I thought to be, a few standard questions to keep the conversation going. After we arrived, he helped me carry my bags TO my hostel. Keep in mind TO being the key word in this situation. Once I got there, I was on my own…I knew before I left that I packed WAY too much stuff. I was ready to kick myself in the ass for not getting rid of a suitcase after I saw how many stairs I had to climb. Fortunately, the airlines left my carry-on suitcase back in LA, so I only had to carry two, 50 lb. suitcases up not two or three flights of stairs but FOUR flights of stairs.

Side note: If anyone ever decides to move to Australia, make sure you are in shape before coming here! I have walked at least 4 or 5 hours a day since I have been here! (That doesn’t include stairs!!!) Also, its not nice Wisconsin flatlands, either, HILLS everywhere. I better have legs of steel when I get back to the states.

Back to the stairs…I carried up my luggage on my own looking absolutely ridiculous, which I can thankfully laugh about now. Once I got all of my shit upstairs, I went back down a flight of stairs to the bathroom, sat on the toilet seat cover, and started to cry…I was finally here and 100% freaked out. I knew I was going to feel alone and lost, but there is no way to prepare yourself for it…at least none that I know of. If you do know of a way to do so and didn’t tell me…SHAME ON YOU!!

Anyway, back to the toilet…I had no idea where to start and even though it has only been a week, it seems like so long ago. After about five seconds, I realized that crying would get me nowhere, so I went back upstairs to my room (another perk of living in a hostel…our bathroom is located on a different floor), changed clothes and tried to figure out what I needed to do. I immediately threw on sunglasses so no one could see my lovely red eyes and went out to run a few errands.

That night was the start of the package I had booked and we had Wine and Cheese night in the Lounge. (The Lounge is where we have to go to get internet, job hunting help, tax information, and a heap of other stuff.) I was so tired from traveling and being so stressed out I was ready to pass out at 7:00pm, but I knew if I did that I would struggle even more the next day. I made it until around 11:00pm and then passed out…until 1:30am. Yep, I got a few hours of sleep and then my body decided to wake me up and keep me up worrying about how, where, and when I was not only going to find a job, but also a place to live where I don’t have to wear shower shoes!

Day Two:
Finally, 8:00am rolled around and I got up to get ready for the activities that were planned for me. It was about 90 degrees out and so humid I drank about four or five 32 oz. water bottles. I was so anxious the whole day because I felt like I should be looking for a job already and found it hard to relax. I managed to befriend a couple of girls from the UK and chatted with them as we walked around Sydney and the beaches we had taken the ferry to get to. Our day in a nutshell was walking around Sydney (Royal Botanical Gardens, past the Opera House, and into Circular Quey) where we caught a ferry to Gap Point and continued to walk around there for another couple of hours before laying on a beach for about an hour. Then we took the ferry back and walked back the same way we came (past the Opera House and through the Botanical Gardens). Later, we had a group dinner at a local Aussie pub and then continued to go out to a bar called Trademark. Kim, Becky (the girls from the UK), and I met a few Canadians, who hung out with us for the rest of the week before they all moved on.

Day Three:
This was more of a logistical day, because we went to the bank to get that sorted out and ready to go and had an orientation. Michelle, the woman in charge, went over of all the information that the Australian Backpackers Co. can do, will do, and help me do while I am over here. Such as, get a job, edit my CV, recommend areas to go apply, pay taxes, get taxes back, etc. Later that day, our group had a jobs talk, which we each got to talk specifically about we wanted to do and how difficult that may or may not be over here…according to Michelle I should have “no worries finding a job.” I was still skeptical at this point and still not sleeping, but trying to enjoy the friends I had made while they were here.

Becky, Kim, Ang (another girl from the UK), and I all went out to Side Bar (a bar underground Becky and Kim’s new hostel). It was a lot of fun and oddly enough, quite similar to going out in the states because we listen to A LOT of the same music the Aussies do. I decided to walk home with Shawn, one of the Canadians we had met, to save some money…I, of course, did not want to believe that I had gotten us lost, so I ate my foot (I think that’s a saying, but I may have just made that up…) as I paid for the cab ride home… pure genius right there. Anyway, got home safe and sound and climbed into my bed (that feels like a shattering earth quake if the person below me moves an inch; another one of the many perks at my hostel!!) and attempted to sleep.

Day Four:
I got up to go with my group to go on a beach walk around Bondi Beach. It started out as a beautiful day and then it kind of took a nose dive to raining while sunny and then pouring with a full cloud cover. Later, we had another group dinner and a pub crawl. The Canadians met up with us before the pub crawl, so to uphold the traditional Wisconsin style we could drink before we went out drinking! (To all of my family reading this…Yes, I was safe and smart and did not have too many!! I may be blonde, but I’m not stupid.) We all had a lot of fun meeting new people and seeing new parts of the city.

Day Five:
Got up to go to a surfing lesson…don’t worry I think I brought some of the Wisconsin weather with me!! J It was probably a chilly 60 degrees, windy, and pouring rain the whole day. Basically, a perfect day to learn to surf! Also, on the way there, we were all informed that it was some sort of sharks breeding time (I don’t remember the specific species, but I remembered this next part), and one shark had attempted to procreate with a human last year. LOVELY!! Moving on, surfing was good…I think I swallowed more sea water than I drank in alcohol at my going away parties! I did manage to get all the way up on the board a few times, but then would wipeout two seconds after standing up…oh well, something else for me to do while I’m here! J When we got home, I scrambled to get ready to meet Karen for a few drinks.

Side note: My godmother, Candace, had met Karen when they were on a tour in the UK some years ago. They had kept in touch and Aunt Candace had emailed Karen to let her know I was coming. I have been emailing Karen for about the past year. Fast forward…Karen is my surrogate Mum over here and is looking out for me.

I met Karen, her husband, Tony, and her daughter, Sascha at the Royal Oak Hotel in Double Bay and was immediately introduced to a few people who said they knew a few people who thought they could help me find a job. We would swap phone numbers and Voila! I have made a few contacts. This happened the entire night! I feel so much better being here because of Karen. I know I probably could find a job without her, but she is the reason I have been able to finally sleep through the night!! I know I have someone looking out for me over here. I know I have so much support and love at home, but it’s nice to have love and support over here, too! I finally slept a whole eight hours and it felt A-MAZING!

Side note: Aussie men are different…I’ll leave it at that for now, because I haven’t met enough to make any sweeping generalizations…yet…but just to give you all a hint, I would not be worried about me leaving all of you for some Aussie boy haha.

Day Six:
I got up around 9:00am and went to the Lounge to send emails and follow up with the contacts I had made the night before. I got the chance to actually see my parents on Skype. Because of Karen, I wasn’t a teary, shambled mess. I got to talk with them and actually be excited about what I had to share.

Day Seven:
One of the contacts I had made on Friday night is the chairman or CEO of a rugby team called the Sharks. He invited me to a game and for beers before with a few friends to show me the neighborhood where the Tigers (their rival team, the team they played and lost to by a kick in overtime) were from. It, actually, reminded me a lot of Green Bay in the sense that it is such a small, tight-knit community/town AND finds a way to represent the larger community that makes the Packer Nation. We walked into the game and went to our box (yes, our box!) and proceeded to watch the game from there. I, of course, forgot my camera, so have no evidence of this, but am hoping I’ll get to go to one more while I am here so then I can show you all how awesome it was.

During the game, I was the annoying girl who asked a bunch of questions…irritating I know, but I learned so much about the game. Granted, I did not catch everything, but I have an idea of what is going on now, so hopefully I can explain it to you all when I get back…if you want to know.

Day 8:
Now as my days get more and more “normal,” I promise not to give you all of the details, because then I am pretty sure you will all stop giving me your love and support to be over here haha. I walked around downtown Sydney with a couple of friends to try and figure out another little piece to this giant city. Ang and I went to the Opera House today and had a tour! I will for sure put up pictures and descriptions of why I took certain pictures…because some of them might not look like they mean anything, but they do. It was so interesting and I’m hoping I can afford to go to a show there sometime!

Day 9:
Today (Tuesday, March 06, 2012) I caught up on emails, followed up with a few more contacts and edited my CV with Michelle at the Lounge. Then I went and walked around Darling Harbor and The Rocks handing out my CV. I do have one trial shift this Thursday as a server, so we’ll see how it goes! I am working on a few other things as far as applying to jobs online and reaching out to other contacts, but I’ll keep everyone posted as more of it becomes concrete!

Other than that novel, I think that is all I had to report! Let me know if you have any questions I didn’t answer and I’ll be sure to answer them!

Cheers! XX (everyone signs their emails and texts with this...mostly girls though...)