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Friday, 29 August 2014

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Well, we've been in Australia for a month and Yeppoon for 1 week! This small, beach town, 25 thousand people, is my new home for the next 3 months. Danielle, Kayce, and I accepted a woofing, work for accommodation, position at The Coral Inn - Flashpackers resort/hostel. 

However, our trip took 3.5 days! From Adelaide we flew 3 hours to Brisbane. We stayed at Blue Tongue Hostel. I don't recommend this joint. The location is about 2 miles from the city and it's on a hill so we had to lug our suitcases up very steep stairs, in the rain. For us, it would've been more economical to stay at the hostel in the city pay a few extra bucks a night, rather than paying for public transportation. But you live and learn, and we were only there for about 36 hours. Unfortunately, it rained the whole time we were in Brissy, so the most exciting things we did included: visiting an old church, climbing the bell tower, and sitting on the ferry that takes you around the whole city. 

View from the bell tower of the church we visited:




Next stop was Rockyhampton. We took a 7 hour train from Brissy to Rocky. I much prefer trains because there's always so much to see! But be warned, train luggage weight limits are often a few kilos less! I had to wear a few extra layers. We stayed one night in Rocky. Nothing noteworthy here, except we ate Dominios pizza!

Finally, we took a 30 minute bus to Yeppoon! The bus stop is about 500 meters to the resort/hostel, which is fine except we had 40 kilo of luggage and it was about 23 degrees Celsius. 

Alas, we made it! There are 2 dorm rooms for backpackers, 9 private rooms that accommodate 2-3 guests, plus a honeymoon suite. We have our own private staff room, which has a bunk bed, single on top and full on the bottom. Danielle and I are great snuggle buddies, except when I steal all the covers. Basically our mornings are busy with cleaning. We have to strip the beds, clean the bathrooms, vacuum, do the laundry, clean the kitchen and pool area in addition to any miscellaneous tasks the owners, Tom and Gabi, give us. Basically my life is fitted sheets and duvet covers. Remember trying to add a fitted sheet to your bunk bed in college? Yeah. I have to do that everyday. We generally work from 9:30a-2p - not a bad gig! If anything this job made me realise how utterly filthy my college apartment was...


Coral Inn - Flashpackers


In the afternoons/evenings we walk to the beach, go on a run, hike, and explore this little yet beautiful town. The beaches along Yeppoon are one of the only beaches on the east coast of Australia that you can swim in all year long because there are no-stinging fishies! There are loads of tiny of islands on the coast that we plan on visiting. Tom and Gabi have a boat and will take us on some adventures. They are really sweet people. Originally from Germany, they've travelled the world and moved here about 11 years ago and opened up this inn a little over a year ago. They have 2 kids and 2 dogs. I'm going to steal the dogs - they're sooooo cute I can't stand it. 

The other day was Danielle's birthday! Tom and Gabi made a cake and let us off early to celebrate. We went to Kepple beach and climbed the "mountain" to the turtle lookout! (People in Aussie call most hills mountains.) We saw lots of turtles and a school of fish. Then we walked along the beach, ate ice cream and made our way home. 


Birthday girl!!



On our way back from the beach we saw BATS. And not just a few, probably close to 100. Later, we learned that Yeppoon is home to 200,000 flying fox bats.







Today is the last day of winter! It's been a solid 75 and sunny all week but the nights are pretty chilly! I'm looking forward to summer weather and warmer water. Mostly, I just can't believe this is my life, everyday. Danielle and I have been jogging during our free afternoons or early mornings and honestly I don't think I've ever seen a prettier view. The sunset the other night, for lack of a better description, looked like Easter. A picture couldn't do it justice


Xx

Some other Aussie phrases:
People say "how are you going?" Instead of "how are you doing?" 
Instead of "hi"or "hello" EVERYONE says "g'day"
"Trackies" are sweats/sweatpants
Also, people make fun of us for our "Chicago" accent, especially how we pronounce A and O. 
Everyone associates Chicago as the "Windy City" or a mob city.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Our Hostess Is The Mostest

Adelaide has been too good to us.

Our hosts, Diane and Tom, have been more than welcoming and absolutely splendid. Not only did they invite us to stay with them for 3 weeks for free but they invited us to join their volleyball league, even if we are the worst players on the team we've been asked back every week. Diane has made us two amazing dinners. The first was salmon, veggies, and PAVLOVA. I'm actually obsessed with pavlova. Then, I mentioned how I love that all vegetarian options in Australia include pumpkin. Well, the next day she surprised us with homemade pumpkin soup and strawberry icecream. Among many other helpful dinners, snacks, car rides and much more, Diane and Tom have made this transition very smooth and easy. Much appreciated.

This past week Danielle, Kayce, and I have been to a number of places. We visited a cemetery, upon Kayce's request, which was actually pretty cool. It was a cemmetary of several different dominiations all segregated by heritage.We took a stroll through one of the city parks and visited the university, meanwhile getting our hands on all the major sweets and city cafes.

Our most memorable expierence was at Gorge Wildlife Center up in the hills of Adelaide. Here many animals, like kangaroo and many birds, roam freely. We were able to feed the kangaroo, camels, monkeys, and more. We saw grey and albino kangaroo, some even had little joeys! But the most magical part was holding a koala bear. Their fur is extremely soft and furry. Honestly the cutest animals!


                                           


It rained for 2 days so we decided to watch all the Lord of Ring and Hobbit dvds. Luckily, I'm not the only nerd on this adventure. Kayce and Danielle share my passion for geeky things such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and now Lord of the Rings and more. So, when we're not exploring, eating, or sleeping you can usually find us all snuggled up reading or in some cases re-reading some of our favorite series. :)

Over the weekend we went to an Irish pub, PJ O'briens. We got our first drinks, even Danielle! The bar was filled with men because there was a footy game on and Kayce was hit on by a Brazilian/Australia, which made for a very interesting accen! 

We went on a 2.5 hour/ 5.3km hike at Morialta Falls. My butt paid for it the next morning... We saw a wild kangaroo about 20 feet from us and koalas everywhere! Apparantly koalas napping in trees here is just as common as deer crossing back home. So while the three of us ate our icecream, we marveled at the koala sitting directly above us but other trailblazers were not as impressed, except maybe the children under the age of 10. Morialta falls has 3 waterfalls but due to flooding a few years ago you can only hike to the second water fall. Danielle and I climbed on the rocks at the top of the fall and sat on the edge, which over looks the hills, Adelaide, and in the distant you can even see the beach. Truly beautiful.

                


We took a trip to Hahndorf, a German town about 30km SW of Adelaide. The bus ride was fairly scenic as it took us through the outskirts of the hills and farms where we saw sheep and cattle. The Hahndorf strip consisted of tiny shops, cafes, restaurants, lollies (candy stores), and small motels. None of the buidlings were over 2 stories high and often Kayce had to duck when walking through door ways. We ate a garden cafe, Herbees, and I ordered the vegi wrap that included: pumpkin, eggplant, capsicum, tomato, feta, lettuce, and pesto aioli. I died. Even though it was only 52 degrees, everywhere in Hahndorf, and Adelaide for that matter, has outdoor seating. It amazes me because everyone, us included, generally choose to sit outside in the cold (most places have spaces heaters but still, 50 degrees!).  In almost every shop we walked into we were immediately asked where we were from. One women asked us all about our plans and whether or not we will be "woofing" because she used to house travelers in Queensland for woofing (well, it's definitely on our bucket list!).




Finally, we went on a Haigh's Chocolate tour. Haigh's has been family owned and run since 1915 and originated in Adelaide. We got to sample all different kinds of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate covered coffee beans and almonds. I ended up purchasing Espresso Chocolate bars - amaze!

It's our late night in Adelaide, and we begin our adventure to Queensland tomorrow night. I thank Diane and Tom for their warm and lovely hospitality. We hope to see you in the summer!


Thursday, 14 August 2014

A blonde, brunette, and redhead take on OZ

Well, I've officially been in Adelaide for an entire week! It's strange how quickly one becomes accustomed to a whole new country, culture, accent, and more. My traveling buddies, Danielle and Kayce, and I have been doing lots of exploring the city of Adelaide all week. The first 2 days were mostly spent getting over our jet lag (I actually fell asleep at 7pm the first two nights!), setting up our Australian bank accounts, applying for our tax numbers, and learning how to use the 3 different modes of public transportation (city bus, o-bahn, which is similar a trolly but the tracks look like an old roller coaster, and the tram, which took us to the beach several times!) Driving on the left side of the road doesn't feel so foreign to me anymore. 

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday exploring the "downtown" area of Adelaide. It is very cute and quaint. The University of Adelaide, shopping center, museums, and the hospital are all located in the city. The University or "uni" is really gorgeous and looks like it could've been removed right out of England with all the ivy leaves and english influenced buildings. The shopping center is a strip about 3 blocks long with a pedestrian walk way through the middle and loads of shops on either side, a mini mall in the center that includes a food court and dozen other shops. Many shopping centers have aisles called "arcades" which often refers to higher end or boutique shops - nothing that us poor lil travelers can afford but lovely to browse through!  We've made it to two of the museums. The first was an art gallery from Indigenous people, Tandanya. While very interesting, we quickly learned quickly that none of us are that attuned to or can really appreciate art the way it should be so we quickly browsed and moved onto the South Australian Museum. This showed more history of animal life, rock and crystal formations, life before Australia, and the indigenous people. This museum was far more interesting to us and included lots of historical information. 

Panoramic view of Glenelg Beach, SA.


Thursday was a BIG day. Well, for me at least. Referring back to those "hiccups" that occurred during our 26 hour excursion to Adelaide, when we landed in Melbourne we had to go through customs since it was our last international flight, and then recheck our bags for our final domestic flight to Adelaide. Everything went swimmingly through customs until we were ready to retrieve our final boarding passes. I grabbed my wallet (which didn't exactly fit my passport and boarding passes) to NOT find my passport in my wallet. Slightly panicking, I checked my purse, backpack, and suitcase pockets  but couldn't find it anywhere. Before screaming and crying, I decided to retrace my steps. Melbourne Airport while large isn't quite the size of O'hare and it was early and not many travelers were there. I traced my steps exactly they way we arrived from customs, since that was the last place I had used my passport. It was nowhere to be found and had been a solid 15 minutes since leaving the customs area. Starting to actually panic, I asked a desk clerk where lost passports were returned and she informed me that all passports are returned to Immigration at the end of the day. So naturally immigration hadn't received anything yet and gave me their card to call back in 24 hours. Forgetting that my last flight was  a domestic flight I was freaking out that I would miss my flight and get left behind. But thankfully a kind airport attendant told me not to worry that I didn't need my passport to get to Adelaide and it will all probably turn up otherwise I'll have to make a stop at the American Embassy...oh sure. Because getting a whole new passport would probably be really quick in easy in another country. With no other options, I got on the plane and decided that it was out of my control and panicking was not worth the fuss.  If in the morning my passport didn't show up there was always plan b.  After sleeping for roughly 11 hours, I called immigration and YAY, THEY FOUND IT!  See no reason fret. They graciously posted my passport and it arrived on Thursday. Now I can finally get a drink, yes!

Sorry you had to find out this way mom and dad but there was never a reason to worry you.

The remainder of the week was spent at the beach soaking up the warm winter's sun, exploring new shops, the flea market and a book sale, and endless amounts of card playing, reading, and tea drinking.

Danielle, who has been our chef, has managed to slice her thumb! Kayce and I have put her on bed rest until further notice. She is now doomed to our feeble attempts at cooking dinner...

We will be staying in Adelaide another week and hopefully moving north east towards Brisbane for warmer weather and a potential job. Cross your fingers!

Xx

A few take-aways
> I highly recommend getting a travelers purse. I purchased one after my passport was returned safely and now I really don't have a reason to lose it in the future...
> A purse means wallet here and a bag means purse - the lady at the store was quite confused when trying to help us. Now we know.
> One does not "root" for a footy team in Australia. One supports a team. To root would mean to have intercourse with another person...that was awkward.

Sweet Home Adelaide

After 26 hours of travel and 4 flights, we finally made it to Adelaide! It wouldn't be an adventure without a few hiccups along the way. Our flight to Chicago was about 40 minutes late which had a ripple effect on our following 3 flights. Our lay over from LA to Sydney was only 38 minutes...We arrived at LAX 15 minutes after our scheduled departure. Luckily our flight was delayed 30 minutes so we had exactly 15 minutes to gather our carry on luggage, run to the next terminal, show our boarding passes, and find our seats on the plane. A little stressed and sweating from running and anxiety about missing our flight, we arrived just in time for take off. We were greeted with dinner and a movie of our choice (Thank you, United, for updating your airplanes!). Then I slept for the next 8 hours of our 14.5 hour flight. Our next stop was Sydney, then Melbourne where we had to go through customs and finally Melbourne to Adelaide. We landed in Adelade at 1pm on Sunday 8-3-2014...totally skipping over Saturday. Very strange. Since we were flying at night and into the morning, we saw the most amazing sunrise while flying into Sydney. Above the clouds was a beautiful crimson, orange, and blue rainbow like sunrise. It felt like a warm welcome to a new country and just what I needed after hours in the dark.

We were flagged down by a family friend, who has graciously welcomed us to her home with a place to stay and a home cooked meal. Exhausted from our flights and technically still on Chicago time, we slept for 10 hours and woke up early this morning to start our new lives in Australia.

Cheers

M

> Picture my mom took before Danielle, Kayce and I got on the plane at O'hare Airport!

T-minus 48 Hours Until Take Off!

After 5 months of planning, researching, learning, packing, and of course stressing out, my take off is finally in sight! As I make my final checklists and stuff the last "must have" items in my suitcase, saying my final goodbyes to family, friends, and coworkers is finally making this trip feel real and bit scary! I can't explain how excited I am for this new adventure and chapter in my life. I want to thank everyone who has supported me through this and can't wait to see you on the other side.