I don't want to rub it in, but it's very nice in Australia right now. I'm prancing around in a sundresses and thongs (....or flip-flops), and the sun is out until 9 pm. I have zero complaints here.
I've been working hard to keep in shape over the past couple of months with my P90X
workouts, and I don't want to lose my fitness abilities while I'm overseas for more than three weeks. Like many people, I have the tendency to get into "vacation mode" and stuff my face silly. Unfortunately, you gain just as much weight with "vacation food" as you do with "normal food". I've only been here for a few days, but here are some things I'm trying to do in order to avoid extra holiday pounds:1. Eat smart at the airport/on the airplanes (especially when you're traveling for 24+ hours)
Call me lucky or cursed, but airplane food makes me physically ill.
As a result, I really try to limit what I eat while I'm in the air. When you're on an airplane for more than half of a day, one of the last things that you want is an upset stomach. In order to keep myself happy, I avoid any food that could trigger any sort of sickness (such as the mystery meat and creamy foods). I don't always clear my plate, but I'd rather get off the plane feeling slightly hungry than gravely ill. Plus, when you're not moving much for that many hours, you don't want to to be eating too much.
Flying is also another excuse to avoid any fried or heavy food several hours before getting on a plane. If I need to get something from the airport, I need to eat light and healthy foods and avoid beer. I want everything to sit well in my stomach.
I got a light snack at the Brisbane airport: three samples of cheese with crackers!
2. If you have a kitchen at your accommodation, use it.
Alastair hardly has any food at his apartment. Luckily, I packed some Annie's macaroni and cheese
just for that reason. I stopped at the grocery store for frozen green beans and milk, and I made myself a delicious and healthy meal that lasted two lunches. It was cheaper than going out for lunch, and I'm sure that it was healthier.
I know that we're going to eat a lot of our meals in restaurants, but we'll make sure to use the kitchen as well. Cooking healthy meals in the kitchen is a guaranteed way to avoid weight gain on your holidays!
Despite having a gaping blister on my right foot and a broken sandal (already!), I can say without hesitation that I love walking around Melbourne. Walking, of course, is one of the best ways to fit in exercise while away from home.
Alastair works in the city, and his apartment is about a 45-minute walk from there. A few days ago, I walked into town so that I could meet him after work. I got great views of the skyline for most of the way.
Along the river, I passed the sporting complex.
Melbourne has a lot of Christmas spirit!
They have Christmas windows, just like Chicago (and plenty of other cities!).
We went to TGI Fridays that night, although that really doesn't have anything to do with anything here. I was just surprised that their food tasted better than any TGI Friday's I've been to in the States. That's all.
Yesterday, we walked from Al's apartment to St Kilda, which is one of my favorite spots in Melbourne. There were so many people at the beach.
Walking is the best way to explore a new city. Unless the weather is terrible, your shoes are uncomfortable, or you have too much to carry, you have no excuse to NOT do some strolling. Your body will thank you, too.
4. Exercise. A little.
It's so easy for me to throw my exercise routine out the window when I travel. However, I don't want to lose my ability to do 25+ push-ups on my toes at once and do many crazy yoga poses that I was never able to do before I started P90X. While I'm not going to follow the program exactly, I'm still doing exercises as much as I can. Here is what I have done so far:
- Tuesday: 30-min interval workout on the treadmill in Al's building. I did a 5-minute warm-up, followed by 25 minutes of running. I'd run at a reasonable pace for one minute, and then I'd sprint for one minute. After that, I found a power yoga routine online. I'd post it...but I can't find it.
- Wednesday: I found this crazy workout on Pinterest:
Do it at your own risk.
Yesterday and today, I completed workouts from my P90X DVD booklet. I did Cardio X yesterday, and I did Legs and Back today. Instead of using my power chords to "mock" chin-ups, I used that time during the video to do push-ups and triceps dips.
I actually bought a travel toga mat from Amazon.com. I highly recommend this one.
It weighs one pound, it folds up easily in my suitcase, and it works very well as a yoga mat. I also brought my resistance bands.
I go to Adelaide tomorrow, and I'm not expecting to do any workout videos while I'm there. I do plan on running outside, doing my push-ups, and using my resistance bands.
If I don't see you before Christmas, then have a great holiday! Also, happy Hannukah to my Jewish friends!
I'm back in the USA! It took a while, but I made it. I left Adelaide for Sydney at 9:30 am on Monday morning. I expected to be a sobbing hysterical mess when Al dropped me off at the airport, but I luckily only cried a little bit. I had to pause a few times in the lobby to wipe some tears from my face, but I was fine by the time I boarded the plane.
Since Qantas always serves food no matter what time of day it is, they gave us morning tea. We had a choice between a brownie, a muesli bar or an apple. I chose the brownie, and I knew as soon as I bit into it that I chose well. It was a black forest brownie made by Temptation Bakeries. It was perfectly moist and cakey, and there were even little pieces of cherry in it. I also had a cup of black tea.
There was nothing that I felt like watching on TV, so I kept myself occupied by read my book "The Dark Tower". It's the last of a seven-part series, so I will be really sad when I finish it. I'll tell you more about it when I'm done.
The flight went by quickly, and there was nobody sitting next to me. I always love having extra space. After an hour and a half, we landed in rainy Sydney.
The first flight was the only relaxing part of my day. As soon as we landed in Sydney, I realized that my big flight to Dallas was going to start boarding in 25 minutes. I should have known this before, but I really trusted the Qantas customer service that booked my flight for me. I never thought about how much time I would have in between flights. That's an amateur traveler mistake!
Luckily, big international flights start boarding very early since the planes are so big and there are a lot of people to get on them. The problem was that the international terminal in Sydney is separate from the domestic terminal, and you have to take a bus to get from one place to the other. I just missed the bus, so I had to wait a good 15 minutes while the bus drove to the terminal, unloaded the people and drove back. There was a TV screen in the waiting room with the international departure information, and it said "GO TO GATE" in huge letter for my flight. I was very tense (and sending my typical freak-out text messages to Al...as if he could do something magical to make me make my flight while he was in Adelaide), but I started to relax once I finally got on the bus. I started talking to some other Americans on the bus, and I learned that a few on them were on my flight. That made me more sure that Qantas would hold our flight if they knew that there were enough of us.
We finally made it there, and I sprinted out ahead of everybody, filled out my departure card since I stupidly forgot to grab one before, got through customs, wove in and out of people in the duty free area, went through another security check for the American flights and finally got to my gate. I was sweating profusely by the time I got there. When I finally made it to the front of the line and gave my boarding pass to the staff, my ticket wouldn't work. The staff member with my boarding pass asked me where I was going, and I said I was going to Dallas. He kindly pointed to the gate next to me and told me to go there. I then realized that I was trying to board the plane to Los Angeles. Silly me.
I was sure that my plane was about to leave without me, so I started running like I was being chased by a Hungarian Horntail (the most dangerous dragon in the wizarding world of Harry Potter) down the thing that connects the plane to the airport gate (what the heck is that called?). I finally stopped when I saw two male flight attendants standing at the door and holding out their hands as if they were pleading me to slow down.
The good news was that I made my flight. The bad news was that I rushed for no reason. Since it was so rainy in Sydney, a lot of the connecting flights were delayed. They were still waiting for flights to come in from all over the country. We ended up waiting about an hour before they closed the doors for good. At least I got a really good sweaty workout in for the day.
Again, I got super lucky with my seat. I was in the back of the plane in the middle section on the aisle (the seat I always request), and nobody sat next to me. There was also a really nice Texan-Australian couple in my row. They got on the plane after me, so they were pretty sweaty like me when they sat down.
The Returning Curse
I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but I never have a very good time coming back to the US. Going to Australia, I always sleep for several hours on the plane. I am comfortable, enjoy my food and the ride is over before I know it. Coming back is another story. Since we leave in the late morning or early afternoon, my body does not want to sleep. Then, something else usually goes wrong. Two times, I was stuck in the window seat next to a family with kids who never want to get up. Another time, I had a crippling stomach ache, barely slept and my flight from LA to Chicago was delayed for five hours.
Well, this time, I had the emotional distress of almost missing my flight. Then, I ate my dinner. I thought I requested my Oriental vegetarian
meal, but I must have done something wrong. I got the normal dinner. It was the same crap
that I ate on my last flight to Los Angeles. I was hungry, so I ate everything on the plate except for the nasty chicken.
I also had two of the little bottles of wine, because I figured that it might help me get to sleep. I stayed up for a while, and I watched a few movies. I started out with "Blue Valentine", then I watched "The Apartment" and "Tangled". I enjoyed all of them. Anyway, I finally started to feel sleepy in the middle of "Tangled", so I took a break to get some rest. I'm pretty sure that I slept about 30-40 minutes, and then I woke back up and watched TV again.
Soon after that, I realized that I felt really sick. I had terrible nausea. I wanted to go back to sleep, but my head spun every time that I closed my eyes. I knew that it couldn't have been the alcohol, because I drank the equivalent of two glasses of wine. It would be a very sad day for me if I got that intoxicated and sick from just that.
The nausea hit me about four to five hours into the flight, so I had a miserable eight hours or so of being awake. I watched some TV shows on demand, and I spent the rest of the time starting into space and wishing somebody could knock me out. I had sleeping pills, but it was too late to take them. Around the four-hour-to-go mark, I started dry heaving and gagging in my seat. I had the comfort of knowing that I had a barf bag under my TV, but I was also able to get up as many times as I wanted and throw up in privacy of the bathroom. My gosh, it was terrible. I don't know what made me so ill, but I would not be surprised if it was the plane food. I have a history of feeling very sick from it, but this is the first time I actually threw up.
Breakfast came a few hours later. I requested the continental breakfast, since I knew I would not be able to hold down fake eggs and sausage. It came with cereal, fruit and a bread roll. I was focusing on trying not to vomit in front of an audience, so I didn't take any photos.
The only thing I was able to eat was the outside of my bread roll. There was fruit in the middle, and that was just too much for me. When I feel that sick, I can only eat plain bread or crackers.
The last two hours of the flight, I was finally able to get some shut-eye. My head still spun, but my body really wanted to sleep. I woke up to the plane landing, and I was relieved.
Dallas is for happy people
The Dallas Fort-Worth airport, unlike LAX in Los Angeles, is full of happy people. With the exception of the man who stamped my passport, who was just normal, every staff person was exceptional friendly. Customs was clean and easy to get through (albeit HOT), and some of the people working there even wore cowboy hats. I adored everybody from the people who checked me in to my domestic flight to the people who worked at the bookstores. Some of the men even called me "ma'am". It doesn't get better than that.
I had some time to kill before my flight to Chicago, and I needed to get something to eat. Before I got sick, I was really looking forward to eating Tex-Mex food. I wanted a burrito or an enchillada or something like that. Unfortunately, I knew that eating something like that would send me right back to bowing to the porcelain throne (the toilet). I was smart, and I got a turkey sub from Subway. It didn't upset my stomach at all.
By the way, the route from Sydney to Dallas is brand new (it replaced the San Francisco route), so it's nice if you live in the Midwest or eastern parts of the US. Just keep in mind that the flight to Australia is about two hours longer than it would be from the West Coast. I despise LAX (rude staff, long lines, dirty airport, no tram system to get you from terminal to terminal, bums hustling you for money, etc), so DFW was a big treat for me.
A few hours later, I arrived in Chicago and greeted my very happy parents.
My dad heated up some leftover chicken and rice with broccoli. I knew I was feeling better, because it didn't make me feel sick.
I am one large chicken breast! Finish me if you dare.
I managed to stay up until about 10:30. This morning, I woke up thinking that I had slept all day. I looked at my clock, and it was 5:30 am. Oh well. I'll have to get used to some jet lag for a while. Luckily, my mom took me to Starbucks for some coffee and breakfast.
More on that later! For now, I'm just happy that I'm not on an airplane anymore.
Wow, was I happy when Jess picked me up from the airport! Not all friends are nice enough to wake up before 7 on a Saturday to pick up their friend from the airport (and do the similar thing the next day to drop them off), but Jessica is an exception.
She always takes me in when I go back and forth. The photo below is from last year. Flights going to Australia don't leave until about midnight, so I flew in earlier so that I could spend the day with her. We both grew up in the same area of Chicago. We became best friends at overnight camp when we were in the tween (not yet teen) category, and we still have no problem acting like we are 12 around each other. To sum her up in one word, she is awesome.
She took me back to her apartment so that I could take a quick shower and change my clothes. Once I was ready, she took me to brunch at Jack n Jill's Too
(different location but same menu as Jack n Jill's in Beverly Hills). Needless to say, my first breakfast
did not satisfy me.
I was nearly salivating as soon as we walked in, because there was a cupcake display in the front. YUM.
For my meal, I ordered the hi-protein scramble. It came with two sides, so I picked mini blueberry muffins and salad greens. It was all DE-LISH. The blueberry muffins melted in my mouth. They came before the rest of the food, so I split them with Jess.
How beautiful is this scramble? I never go out for brunch in Australia, so I haven't had anything like this in a while. The hi-protein scramble was egg whites with turkey bacon, chicken breast, onions, tomato and garlic with jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheese. The salad greens was an assortment of lettuce with blue cheese crumbles, chopped tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms and walnuts.
We also got some much- needed coffee. It didn't make a difference in the end, because I still nearly fell asleep at the table.
We went back to the apartment, and I slept for a good hour and a half. Jess had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, so she woke me up to ask if I wanted to go with her (as I told her to). I can't even describe how I was feeling at that time. I stared into space for a good ten minutes and then got up to get ready. You know that feeling when you wake up from a long nap, and you're very disoriented for a while? That's how I felt, but even worse. I could barely walk straight. I felt like I was floating on air. I wanted to be awake and alert, but my body didn't know how to let me. That, my friends, is bad jet lag.
I could have gone back to sleep (oh, how I wanted to), but that would be a bad idea. As I said before, you have to live in your current time zone. If I slept all day, it would just prolong the jet lag. I wouldn't be able to sleep through the night, and I'd be dead tired by the next afternoon. And the cycle would repeat.
As Jess was driving along to her appointment, I realized that there was no way that I would even be able to operate a car. My driving would be no better than drunk driving.
As the afternoon went on, my body slowly started to wake up. We left her appointment and went to the best frozen yogurt place in the world. I'm really not kidding. Jess said that when her mom and brothers were visiting, they went there three times in under a week. Look at the fro yo. Are you starting to get an idea?
is a genius concept. You walk in, grab an over-sized cup (that they want you to fill to the top so that you get more fro yo and thus you eat yourself to death and they get to pocket more of your money) and look at all of the flavors on the wall. It's all soft serve fro yo that you dish out yourself, and you can pack in as many flavors as you want (you can also sample them first).
I chose Devil's Food Cupcake Batter (tastes like it sounds) and Red Velvet Cupcake Batter (tastes like it sounds). Just when you think it could not get any better, I added some cookie dough bits, brownie bits and smashed Butterfinger. It was one of those times in my life when I thought I might cry when I finished it all.
When we finished (and I wiped my tears), we headed across the street to the ATT store. I swiped my Aussie sim card for an ATT sim card. I hated my pay-as-you-go plan the last time that I came here, but they had a new plan that only costs me $2/day for unlimited calls and text messages in the US. Bargain! It's a little bit more to call outside the US (actually, a lot), so I think I'll have to stick to Skype.
As the lady helping me set up my card, we talked about Yogurtland. I told her that if I worked there, I'd go there every day. She told me that she wished I hadn't mentioned it, because now she wanted to go.
Dinner time rolled around, so Jess and I met our friend Lexi (another one from our camp days) at Fat Fish Restaurant
in West Hollywood. On the walk over there, I sent some of my friends inappropriate text messages since they didn't know my new phone number. It was very, very funny.
Fat Fish was doing happy hour, so everything was half off. Mojito for $5? Yes, please!
I enjoyed a warm bowl of miso soup to start.
For the main event, I got the Las Vegas Roll. It was tempura eel, avocado, crab and cream cheese. It was great, although it wasn't as unique as my other roll.
I can't find the description on the website, but OH MY GOSH it was good. It was a standard run-of-the-mill roll with some sort of fish and rice and avocado that was invaded- literally melted over- by muenster cheese (and sun dried tomatoes and crunch tempura bits). I LOVE muenster cheese and haven't eaten in ages, so I was one happy girl. I definitely cleared my plate.
I was super energetic until we finished dinner, and then I crashed. I could barely keep my eyes open. We were supposed to go to a party after that, but I told them to go ahead without me. Lexi's friend was nice enough to drop me off at the apartment. I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow. I slept a full ten hours until my alarm went off at 7:30 the next morning. Unbelievably, I fought the worst of my jet lag.
Sunday morning, Jess brought me back to the airport. And the journey home continues....
I made it home! It took a very long time, but I am typing from the study in my house in the suburbs of (freezing) Chicago. Let's backtrack to Saturday morning so that I can take you through my whole trip!
On Saturday, I woke up at 4 in the morning to make my 6:05 am flight from Adelaide to Melbourne. Luckily, I was able to check my bag all the way through to Los Angeles.
I did NOT get the seat I requested for my long leg of the flight. I like the aisle seats in the middle rows (I am very particular about what I like now that I've done the journey enough times), but I got an aisle seat on the side. If you don't know what I'm talking about, there are ten seats in each row that are divided by two aisles. It goes: wall, three seats, aisle, four seats, aisle, three seats, wall. That would mean that I would have to get up several times for the people next to me, because there is not the option for them to go out the other side. I therefore ran to the Qantas customer service desk and snagged the last window seat of the flight. As I told you all a few days ago, I planned on sleeping and not getting up much.
The short leg from Adelaide to Melbourne was fantastic, because I had the window seat with nobody next to me. Those are always the best plane rides, because there is more room for my crap. And since Qantas is so fabulous, I got a complimentary newspaper with headphones (to watch "Modern Family" and "Mythbusters"). The "Dark Tower" book is mine, so I had to pay for that.
The flight was only 50 minutes (much different from the 12-hour flight I was about to face), but I still got my breakfast. It was much better than the last time
I got a Qantas breakfast. It included a small bottle of milk, orange juice, Light'n'tasty cereal, a fruity bread roll and an apple. The flight attendants also walked around with coffee and tea, so I asked them to fill my red cup with tea.
The cereal was so yummy.
I also got a beautiful view of the rising sun.
Everything was a breeze once I got to the Melbourne Airport. Unlike Sydney (and LAX, which is a bunch of different buildings), the international and domestic terminals are under the same roof. Since my bag was checked and I already had my boarding pass, I just followed the arrows to the international departures and went through security.
After going through security, everybody has to walk through the duty-free shop. In Melbourne's airport, though, it's more like a duty-free mall. I was greeted by lines of sales people holding shopping baskets and offering me alcohol samples. Several people asked me if I needed help while browsing. This shop seemed to go on forever. Look at all of the wine!
It's actually been a while since I've been through a duty-free shop that wasn't Melbourne or Auckland (I think Auckland has a nice one, too), so I'm not sure if there are nicer ones. I really wanted to buy a lot of things, though.
While waiting at my gate, I took a look at the departures board. I always enjoy looking at all of the destinations around Australia. They are basically all New Zealand, LA, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands (take me to Fiji, please).
Our plane to Los Angeles took off at 10:35 am, and we got our dinner at about noon. Do you see how these long trips can be a shock to the system?
Dinner included chicken in brown sauce with potatoes, peas and green beans (I also could have chosen a beef dish). There was also an orzo salad with tomatoes on the side with a bread roll, crackers and a square of sharp cheddar cheese. Everything was good except for the chicken, which was inedible. I need to remember to order a vegetarian meal for next time.
I ate all of this while watching "The King's Speech". Great movie!
Alcohol is free on international flights, so I snagged a bottle of white. It was from the Clare Valley
. How special! I drank the lot in hopes that I could fall asleep easier.
Before I attempted to really go to sleep for real (when my body thought it was the afternoon), I accepted a cup of Cadbury hot chocolate with a marshmallow. It was so yummy.
I also ate a mango ice cream bar.
I tried very hard to fall asleep after this, but it was more difficult than I anticipated. First, the man who sat next to me was very tall and large, and he had to sit with his legs open so that he could be comfortable. Unfortunately, this meant taking up my leg space. In addition, this large man was travelling with his wife, mother-in-law and his two young children.
He was a very nice man. In fact, he was so nice that he didn't feel the need to tell his children to be quiet while everybody else on the plane was trying to sleep. He let them talk loudly and play their Game Boy (or whatever it is these days) with the volume on. I was ready to tell him off so many times, but I didn't. I'm actually surprised that nobody else said anything! There were plenty of people around us and flight attendants going up and down the aisles while the lights were off. Anyway, I only ended up sleeping for an hour. I actually only blame the loud family for a small percentage of my inability to sleep longer. I really just wasn't tired. Perhaps I should try sleeping less the night before.
While I wasn't sleeping or trying to sleep, I watched "Love and Other Drugs" (decent movie) and lots of episodes of "Keeping up with the Kardashians". Who would have thought I would actually enjoy it?I also ate two chocolate chip coconut cookies and a granola bar, which was part of a snack pack that Qantas gave us.
Then, my TV stopped working during the last two hours of my flight. It just stopped loading shows. The same thing happened to the noise-loving father next to me. I just stared at the flight map (since that was one of the only things that would load) and watched the plane get closer to LA. Once the lights came back on, I took off my headphones and read my book. I was slightly crabby by this point. It was something like 1am on my body clock.
Breakfast came around during the last hour. I ordered the hot breakfast (instead of the cereal), and kind of wish that I went with cereal. It was runny eggs with a sausage (that looked like a brown ding-dong) that I wouldn't touch and tomatoes and spinach. There was bacon under the veggies, but I wouldn't touch it either. There was also melon, a croissant, orange juice and much-needed black tea. I really need to remember to request vegetarian meals from now on. The meat just isn't safe.
Eventually, they took away our trays, and I could see a coast line outside the window. Land ahoy! We all shuffled off the plane on our sea legs (er, plane legs) and went through customs. That took what felt like forever, because there was only one customs agent working each line. Usually, there are several. I watched the same "Welcome to America" video numerous times. They played it in English and Spanish, which made me so happy to be home. I love our bilingual-ish country.
After, I went to grab my bag off the carousel. I laughed when I found mine, because it was piled on top of a bunch of other suitcases. I had a lot of trouble getting it, but I was eventually able to yank it off.
Finally, I waited for my bestie Jess to pick me up from LAX. My flight to Chicago wasn't until the next day, and she agreed to wake up around 7 am on a Saturday morning to collect me. While I waited, I took some pictures of the international arrivals area. It just makes me happy.
Get ready for an LA recap and then some more stories on the rest of my journey back to Chicago!
Ladies and gents, this will be a short one today. I just came back from a mouthwatering dinner at Grumpy
and Gramps' house, and I want to try to get some rest before it's too late. The next few days will put a lot of stress on my body and mind.
In under 48 hours, I will start my journey towards Chicago. There will be a lot of stops on the way. The longest leg of my flight will be something like 16 hours. In addition to spending a great deal of time on planes and sitting around airports, I am going into a completely different time zone. Do you know the time difference between Adelaide and Chicago? Right now, it's 15.5 hours. I'm also spending a day in Los Angeles, and that time difference is even greater.
Here is a check list for me that will help make my journey home more pleasant. This is my third time making the trip back, so I have some learning experience.
- Drink lots of water during the days leading up to the flight. The more hydrated, the better. Not only is it good for the complexion, but it will keep me energized and feeling better overall.
- Speaking of complexions, bring soap for washing my face on the plane or at the airport.
- Sleep as much as I can during the flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles. It's difficult with all of the movies and TV shows to watch on the personal TVs, but I need to be well rested by the time I land in the US. One of the key tips to fighting jet lag is staying on schedule wherever you land. In other words, I can't sleep all day when I get to LA. I would never adjust to the current time zone.
- Bring important items in my carry on bag such as a phone charger, change of clothes, toothbrush/toothpaste. Who knows if the airlines will lose my bags?
- Bring warm socks. Qantas usually gives them out, but it's not something I want to risk. If my feet are cold during a long flight, I am miserable.
- Check once, check twice, check three times to make sure that I have my passport and all of my flight information with me
- Buy gum beforehand so that I don't have to spend more money on it at the airport
- Don't eat food that will upset my stomach the day before and the day of flying. To be safe, bring Tums, Rolaids, anything like that
- Bring a bright-colored suitcase. I don't want to spend forever searching for it later. Plus, it's easier to describe in case they lose it.
Again, these are all things I have learned from experience. I also hope that I remember to pack. I always have nightmares before I go away somewhere that I forget to pack a suitcase and show up at my destination with nothing. At least I still have a lot of clothes at home.
I got to work this morning and turned on my computer only to find that it had a terrible virus. I couldn't access my work e-mail or the internet. Huge bummer. We only have IT guys at our head office in Sydney, so they had to fix everything from there. I hardly had anything to do at work. I had a very bad day.
My fiance, however, had a very good day. He was offered a job here:
He'll be working for the wine division of Foster's IN A WINERY! It's the one that we drove through a few weeks ago near our house. He'll be an export analyst for the company. We may be getting discounts on wine and free beer! We're gonna get the hook ups.
Since we're going to be working on opposite sides of town now, we're going to have to make some changes to our daily routine. We won't make any decisions until Al finds out more details about his job (he's going to make some day trips to the Barossa Valley, but he's not sure how often). As of now, Al will bike or take the bus to work, and I will drive his car. There's only one teeny tiny problem, though. I don't know how to drive a manual car! He's been driving me around since I moved here, because we're too lazy to learn. My friend Shona has been giving me some lessons in her car, but I'm going to have to learn fluently at an accelerated pace! There's also the small chance that Al could sell his car and buy an automatic, but it seems like a headache. We'll see what ends up happening....
My Favorite Travel Adventure
I'm a member of 20-Something Bloggers
, and they're doing a contest where we submit our favorite travel stories. The winners get a year-long subscription to LiveMocha, which teaches online language classes. Hey...I certainly wouldn't mind brushing up on my Spanish lessons! Well, I've done a lot of traveling, and I love to talk about it. Why else would I blog about my time in Australia?
In the spring of 2007, I spent a semester abroad in Perugia, Italy. I lived in a breathtaking hilltop medieval town during the week, and I traveled to other parts of Europe on the weekends. One particular time, I "jetsetted" to Brussels, Belgium with three of my friends.
We booked our flights separately, and our friend Mariel booked our hostel on Wednesday night. We left Thursday after our classes. We dragged our bags up the seemingly 90-degree hill to the top of the city center, caught the bus for a 15-minute drive to the train station at the bottom of the hill and boarded a train for a 2.5 hour ride to Rome. We then caught another 15-minute train to a shuttle station. We waited for a shuttle ride that finally took us to the airport for our Ryanair flight to Belgium.
If you're familiar with Ryanair at all, then you know that they never use airports that are anywhere near your destination. You may buy a cheap ticket, but you'll probably make up for it with the money you spend on getting from the airport to your hostel/hotel. Our airport, as expected, was at least an hour outside of Brussels. We took a long bus ride to the city bus station, and then we finally caught a cab to our hostel. By this time, it was past midnight.
We were exhausted after all of this travel, to say the least. All we wanted to do was check in, find our beds and pass out. We walked in the front door, only to find that the reception desk was closed and locked. We looked around for any idea about how we could get our room keys, when another group of girls from our bus walked in behind us. As if rehearsed, they grabbed an evelope that was taped to the reception window. It evidently had their names on it, and all of their keys were inside. Apparently, the hostel left these for late arrivers. They walked off to go to sleep, leaving us in the empty entryway. There were no evelopes remaining.
We looked at each other, baffled, Why did those girls get their keys and not us? We looked over Mariel's confirmation letter again and again, looking for some obvious error. All of the details were there on the page. The deposit had been paid. Our names were on it. The date was correct. The address matched. Our arrival time was 12...OHHHHH!!! Poor Mariel made that same error that I'm sure many Americans have made while traveling to European countries that use MILITARY TIME. She listed 12 as our arrival time. In her head, she meant midnight. The hostel where we made the booking, however, expected us to come at noon the day before. We were **gulp** homeless in a strange city.
Poor Mariel. She called the hostel owner, who basically called her a foolish American and insisted that he was not getting out of bed to let us in. Bummer. There was nobody around on the streets, and we had no clue where to go. We literally wandered aimlessly in the dark, not sure if we should be thinking this was hysterically funny or downright scary. Honestly, I think we were all too exhausted to feel any emotion one way or another.
We finally found a hotel with a lit reception area. Sitting at the check-in desk was a grinning gap-toothed English-speaking receptionist. He immediately took pity upon us and allowed the four of us to stay in one room. He also offered to make us pancakes.
We spent our holiday in a lovely hotel with a free continental breakfast for a cheaper price (one room split by four) than we would have spent on our hostel. That weekend, I fell in love with Belgian beer, ate waffles sold on the street, met the mannequin piss and basically had one of the best times of my life.
Isn't it funny how a terrible situation can turn into something wonderful? And it's all because my friend wrote 12 instead of 24....
Me and Mariel enjoying a beer after a brewery tour
Lizzy, me and Amy holding a Belgian waffle and licking our fingers
I miss my Euopean travels SO MUCH!!! We had a lot of headaches, but they were all worth it in the end.
By the way, I was torn between writing about this or the time that we missed our train to Perugia after flying in from London and had to sleep on the ground with homeless people outside the Rome train station. I'm glad I wrote about this one, though.