Location: Melbourne, Australia
Ho Ho Ho!!
Well the annual Santa Pub Crawl was the place to be in Melbourne. 1200 or more (depending on who you talk to) did a tour of sth melbourne pubs and had a tops time! Thanks Tys and head santas everywhere for organising it and Bea and her other elves for the super outfits! Lots of fun and beer was consumed, as well as much cutting the rug at numerous pubs on the crawl..ah never had so much fun dancing to bad eighties songs! ( yeah I lie, I always do!) I'm sure the event raised lots of money for St Vincent de Paul and Surf Lifesaving (correct me tys if I am wrong). Great hanging out with all you melbournities, as always.
Merry Christmas everyone!!! xx
Location: Jerome, Sedona & Flagstaff AZ, USA
Well another trip this time in the US. Off to the Grand Canyon yippee!!! However to break the trip up a bit we are travelling up to Flagstaff which is south of the Canyon and also where the australian swimming team had been training, alas I think they may be already in Athens or nearby, oh well. Tomorrow we are then driving up to the Canyon.
So drove north through the desert of Arizona. A lot different I think to our's in Australia. More plants and mountains. Lot's of cactus which was great, went a little snap happy there.
First stop was a town called Jerome which used to be an old copper mining town and went into ruin. It is built into the side of the mountain. Anyway some bikies decided it was a nice town and made it nice again so then all the rich people bought in and moved them all out! They still come around...they seem to meet at the hotel, well it's what we thought. Quite a pretty town, very small only a few buildings, lots of touristy shops with pricey jewellery, not really my scene.
Next was the drive down the mountain to a town called Prescott where we had lunch in a diner, most enjoyable. Not much to see here, looks like a small town like you may see on telly.
Then more driving the windy highway 89a towards Sedona which is a town in a valley and the rocks are an amazing red colour, so I'm told. Well they were right. A town with the most beautiful scenery and the homes and buildings have been painted the same colour as the landscape as not to stand out and take away from the surroundings, great idea. Another town with lots of touristy jewellery stores and galleries so we just drove around, visiting a church, not mormon which was a surprise. The church is built into a cliff and is beautiful. See photos. Sedona is another place I am to buy a mansion when I win the 238 million US lottery, just gotta buy a ticket! Housing here is pricey as most of the town is national park and unable to be built on which is great.
Then last stop was Flagstaff for the night. The Australian swimmers were here training because of the altitude. It is located 6000 feet above sea level, the only thing I noticed we were that high was that my ears kept popping on the highway when we were getting here. There's a university here so the downtown area was busy and pumpin, then realised it was a Saturday night. Well I am on holidays and have no idea on what day it is! Have a meal then wandered about. Even got a bit cold, too used to the 38 degree weather in Gilbert. (Flagstaff was only about 28, yep freezing!) Anyway on the way back to the motel my aunt managed to miss a one way sign and we were pulled over my the cops. Second time I've been with her when this has happened, but be a sign. Quite funny, poor Nick was freakin out a bit. That kid will never grow up to be a criminal. Managed to get a bit of sleep as Flagstaff also happens to be on the main train line for Arizona and has trains running all night. And of course the town is built around the track, hmm smart move. Tomorrow the Grand Canyon!
Location: Salmon Arm, Canada
Well after driving for four hours (nothin to an Australian) and stopping in Kamloops we arrived in Salmon Arm which thankfully was much nicer than Kamloops. Salmon Arm is where I have visited before when I lived in Vancouver last year and had a great time hanging out with my cousins everytime and looked forward to bringing Susie and Nick with me this time.
We arrived on Saturday and had lunch at my cousin Debbie's house with her kids and then did a tour of the town. It's amazing how much my aunt remember's about living here with my dad and grandparents even though she hasn't been back since the 1940's, it shows how much the town hasn't changed. We also went to Canoe which is where my dad and aunt lived for a little while before they moved to Kamloops. A very small place, probably still a population of about 10 people. It's where my dad taught my aunt how to swim, he threw her off the pier and said 'swim back to shore!' Thankfully he was a bit nicer to me when he was teaching me how to swim!
The next day was spent hanging out at the lake with everyone which I have done before and knew it was going to be great! Nick had been pestering me since we arrived about tubing and thankfully we did that, and my bum is still sore! He had a great time hanging out with the boys Brendan and Riley. Was really relaxing and ate so much I may have to roll back to Arizona with my aunt and Nick.
Yesterday we were tourists and drove around the Okanagan (area that Salmon Arm is in and has many lakes) and bought some touristy trinkets in Vernon where my dad's cousin Paul is a local and showed us around. They're two ski fields nearby Silver Star and Big White. Dinner was a spit roast at the Turners and family research and lots of catching up.
Today we made our way back to Vancouver as we have a flight tomorrow back to Arizona. Drove around Vancouver and showed Nick and Susie where I used to hang and live and and we went up to one of the mountains, Cypress, to look at the great view. Unfortunately didn't get to catch up with my workmates again or shop, but that just means I'll have to return sooner rather than later!
Location: Kamloops, Canada
Well after leaving Vancouver, the three of us (Susie, Nick and I) headed into the wilderness of British Columbia to visit an old school friend of Susie's in Kamloops and stay over there. More education for young Nick as unfortunately we can't wait to leave Kamloops as we have met possibly the most sedate and boring people. My aunt's friend is nice however her husband is another strange one and Nick and I may die of boredom. Thankfully I can use the excuse of having jetlag to get out of looking at the endless array of photo albums that Elly's (my aunt's friend) husband Paul kept bringing out. Took Nick away with me, unfortunately couldn't help my aunt. We did meet their son and his family and had a fun time playing with their son Carter, and eating icecream cake and fruit salad, the only highlight of Kamloops.
We did a tour of Kamloops as it is where my dad and aunt lived for awhile when they were kids after their mum died. It seems it hasn't changed much and my aunt remembered most of the places her and my dad played and hung out which was good, but the town itself was quite dull and we couldn't wait to get to Salmon Arm to hang out with the non-strange family members and have fun. I'm glad to have done it and thankfully never have to do it again.
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Well back to Vancouver (via Gilbert ARIZONA), this time with my aunt and cousin Nick (another one) for a week to catch up with family. Should be great, my aunt hasn't been back to Canada for 40 years!!
We arrive last night and had dinner on the beach with my friends Mel and Lena and some of their friends. Was lovely and warm! Much different than when I left Sydney. Today was the tour guide for Susie (my aunt) and Nick and then left them to bike around Stanley Park to have lunch with some more work friends. Beautiful day, so after meeting up again we had more sightseeing. Quite an education for my young cousin, first time to see homeless people and gay men (hanging out on Denman and Davie St). I've had to keep telling him that Canada is indeed another country with their own currency and government! I have no idea what they are teaching in schools in the U.S.!! Itching to hit the shops but may have to wait til after we get back frrom the interior to visit more cousins. We did meet up with a cousin today that lives in Vancouver which was interesting. He's 71, lives by himself and is quite strange. He used to hang out with my dad's parents when he was younger before they died so he had some stories. Thankfully he's not blood so the strangeness is not inherited by me hopefully (although some of you may dispute that).
Tonight I have drinkies with my friend Lena again before Susie, Nick and I go to Salmon Arm and Kamloops tomorrow for visiting!
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Finally can check a city off my 'to do' list yay! have wanted to visit Hungary and especially Budapest for years!
Caught the train up from Vienna and arrived at my hostel very frazzled (got a bit lost) and hungary (he he eh). Was met in reception by my guide-to-be Balazs. A friend of a friend (Rosie in vancouver) who has offered to show me the town. So after a quick shower and change we were off for a trip around town in his car. The city was beautiful at night and we drove up to the Citadella where the view was spectacular. Photo time (lots of those). This is where the Freedom Monument is which is quite famous and a statue that Hungarians are very proud of. Next was more driving then onto a local where Balazs has a weekly dinner and pool night with friends. Met his mate Leslie (Lazslo really...cool eh) for a great cheap, typical hungarian meal and upstairs for pool and a bottle of Hungarian beer. Not bad at all. And I didn't suck that bad at pool either! Alas couldn't stay there all night as of course some people have to work so another quick sightseeing tour before getting dropped off. Thank you so much to both of you and you sightseeing tips were great!! I must return the favour some day!
Then with my list of must-do sights from the guys and my tour book I hit the Houses of Parliament (based on Westminster in London), Opera House, some shops (M&S yeah) for food and a museum. Lots of history and a really great day. Left a couple of things for today where I went up to the castle, and the Fishermans Bastion and church and finished up at the cities Basilica where a saints hand is preserved in a glass box for all to see...nice. Also walked around the Labyrinth under the city..way cool. It had a water fountain there as well as a wine fountain for those thirsty travellers. I didn't indulge though.
Sad to leave as had a great time in the city. Will come back and next time have more time and go to the famous baths!
Location: London, England
Well first leg on Pip's trip home.
First stop was two weeks in London catching up with old friends, having a few of course and hanging out with my Grandma. Arrived at Heathrow and remembered how lovely and friendly some of the Londoners are!!???Anyway made it to Grandmas and spent the next couple of days recovering and eating my beloved Katsu Curry at Wagamama, delicious! had a night out on the beers at an old local with my ex-work mates from Jellycat. Oh my time in Canada has made me a bit slow in the drinking dept. oh well..still managed to feel like poo the next day. Stayed at Kev and Caz's and spent the day on their sofabed watching the Two Towers..ah heaven! Caught up with my friend Amy, living in the 'poor person's Clapham', Shepherds Bush (as I was told) a few times. Went out to her local and also managed a trip to Camden markets where we also met up with an old mate from school, Todd who's been in London for five years and this is our first meeting..crazee. Also did a few tourist traps..Madame Tussards, the man in the perspex box and a Lord of the Rings exhibition with Caz. Oh schawing!!!! C'mon december for the next one!!!! Also managed a lovely lunch with some more work colleagues at the Refugee Council and a trip for fun to Heathrow to see Sarah, Oscar and Joe! Will see them at home though. Last weekend in town was Caz's birthday at the Ruby Lounge in Bond St and another big night...with dinner and a movie with her and Kev to end my trip to London on a big high! I wish they'd hurry up to Oz and visit!
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Well last day in canada and have had a great week. After Seattle Miho and I went to the Okanagan and stayed in Salmon Arm. we hung out with my family there and also did a lot of touristy things. We went to two cheese factories... didn't partake in any tastings of course and a winery in Kelowna. Unfortunately there are still fires around there but they seem to be under control.
Then back in Vancouver, still at Lena and derek's (thank you) and doing errands about town and touristy things. Went out for a drink with Miho and Miwa on thursday and also saw cast and crew of Will Smiths new movie. Will wasn't there but a couple of others were including a gal that used to be on Sex and the City! (the one married to Mr. Big). Then had a last lunch of potstickers with Miho and Nick today before I had a drinky thing on tonight! Candice was kind enough to have the gals from work over and we had a little party before I leave tomorrow. It was great thank you everyone for all my gifts I love everything! And the food was spectacular!! Alas had a bit too much wine and didn't make it back to Lena's until 2ish before I had to get up at 5ish to pack (yep very last minute!) and leave for my flight to London!! Bye vancouver it's been great!
Location: Seattle, USA
Well have now officially finished work and have a week before I leave to go to London. lena, Derek and I went to a party at a work colleagues last night whose apartment in located inside an old church. So cool and he even had eighties on as well!! Beautiful evening to finish off my last working day for awhile!!
First stop Seattle! Miho, Nick and I drove the 240kms to Seattle where Nick's sister Paula was kind enough to let us stay while she was away. After getting our stamps at the border we got to Seattle in the afternoon and walked down to Pike Place market where we went to the first ever Starbucks (which there are many) and a bit to eat at Joe's Fish & chips. Probably one of the best Fish and chips I ever had and also had some clam chowder...yummy!!!
Then walked around town a bit more before pizza and beer for dinner and a drive around town. After getting pretty lost we stumbled finally onto a park where there is a great view of the city. After spending about an hour trying to find the place we then spent a total of about 5 mins there as it was pretty cold and PDA everywhere.!! Then drove to see the troll and the volkswagon under the bridge and other stone sculptures that are scattered around town.
The next day we went on an underground walking tour of the city..very cool. The city is actually built above the gorund and there is a whole maze of pathways under street level. So interesting. We then walked about a bit before jumping onto the car and going to the Museum of Flight located next door to the Boeing factory. Too cool and they had a Star Wars exhibition, very exciting. Darth Vader walked past me at one point...very scary!! One of the best museums around and I've been to a few! we then drove into town and went to Bruce and brandon lee's grave and walked around before getting something to eat before going back to Vancouver. Seattle is great! So glad I managed to go before I left. A must for everyone!
Location: Tofino, Canada
Well an update on how our trip surfing went. Totally rad dudes!!!!! So much fun everyone should definitely give it a go! We left bright and early on saturday moring for the ferry ride to Vancouver Island for the drive up to Tofino. We got to our campsite in the afternoon and sent up camp, had a bite to eat and decided to go looking around the area. We went to Tofino where we wandered about and had a coffee (we were very tired). The town is very small and a typical surfie town...reminded me a lot of the north coast and Tathra. Except colder!! We then went walking on a couple of beaches and to the Wikkanninish Hotel where it is the place to stay. Especially in the winter time when tofino has awesome storms and people pay lots of money to watch from there luxurious rooms.
Back to the campsite for dinner and smores!!! Yummy!!! And met some guys who sat with us at our raging campfire (good one Steph). Only name I remember is one called Potato and another one that was trying to tell how good a new movie with Heath Ledger called Two Hands was. Poor guy didn't realise he was talking to the entertainment queen....had to correct him a bit.
The next day was surfing day!! We were all a bit scared, but I was scared of the freezing water...would I cope? Well we went to Longbeach and met our teacher Naomi who gave us our wetsuits to put on. Geez louise so the most fun thing to do but we managed it. No booties or hood though, which made me even more apprehensive. But after nearly decapitating Lena with my board we made it to the beach for our lesson then into the water. Okay feet pretty much felt like they were going to freeze off but with trying to manoever our boards and get out of the way of other beginners how cold we were was soon forgotten. And it was fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone should do it! After catching a few waves we went back onto the beach for a final lesson in how to get up and stand on the board. Lena and Rosie were good, I however was hopeless. But back into the water and pretty much just had fun for the next hour. Tiring and a bit scary but so much fun! Definitely going to try and continue in Oz.
Back to the campsite for arvo naps which were seriously needed. Then Lena, Rosie and Steph went driving whilst I stayed warm at camp.
The next day we packed up camp and stopeed in town for a farewell drink then back across the island in our hairdresser car for the trip across the water back to Vancouver. Needless to say I slept pretty well for the next few nights even though my hair reeked of campfire for the next week!!